18-37 Segment 1: Learning Happiness

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With social media streams dominating our time, sometimes our self-esteem can plummet. We talk to two experts on what we can do to get in touch with ourselves and learn to have a happier, more positive disposition throughout our lives.

Guests:

  • Neil Pasricha, author of Two Minute Mornings: A journal to win your day every day
  • Sharon Weil, author of ChangeAbility: How artists, activists, and awakeners navigate change

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18-36 Segment 1: Soldier Poetry

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There’s a long history of soldiers processing their experiences through poetry. We talk to Adam Gilbert, a war historian and author of A Shadow on Our Hearts: Soldier-poetry, morality, and the American war in Vietnam about the history and future of these soldier poets.

Guest:

  • Adam Gilbert, war historian and author, A Shadow on Our Hearts: Soldier-poetry, morality, and the American war in Vietnam

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18-29 Segment 1: The Italian Mothers Who Stood Up To The Mafia

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While we know about the Sicilian mafia from the Godfather movies, another more powerful Italian mafia has recently come to light: the ‘Ndrangheta. Established in the late 1800s from a group of 140 families, the secret to this mafia’s success is secrecy. But, their secret was revealed when four women from the clan testified against their own families to bring their works to light. Alex Perry, author The Good Mothers: The True Story of the Women Who Took on the World’s Most Powerful Mafia, gives more details about this mafia and the brave women who exposed it.

The ‘Ndrangheta are highly influential globally and part of practically all our lives at one point or another. We work in their businesses, eat in their restaurants, and vote for their candidates, but most of us have never even heard of them. They are responsible for running 70% of the cocaine industry in Europe, running global arms businesses, dumping nuclear waste in the Red Sea, and much more, earning themselves 50-100 billion dollars a year. The reason for their success is a reliance on a brutal family structure, where betrayal becomes unthinkable.

The secrecy and misogyny in this mafia are what ultimately led to their exposure. The men in the family are raised to run the business and be killers, but the women are treated as slaves. They are confined to the home from birth and married off at a young age to clan alliances, where beatings are a regular occurrence. Any misbehavior or unfaithfulness will result in their murder, where their bodies are dissolved in acid to get rid of the family shame. But, a few courageous women went against their families to expose this mafia. Two of them were murdered, but their legacy stands behind them, as they exposed the ‘Ndrangheta for the first time and were able to put 64 of their members behind bars. While these women made a difference, the mafia is still alive and well, due to their adaptability. Perry says they are concealed in every part of the financial market, and you could be doing business with them any time you make a transaction.

For a copy of Alex Perry’s book, visit the links below.

Guest:

  • Alex Perry, author of The Good Mothers: The True Story of the Women Who Took on the World’s Most Powerful Mafia

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18-29 Segment 2: Learning How To Identify and De-bunk Actual Fake News

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Fake news has been a hot topic in recent days, but it’s often misunderstood. Stories written by non-journalists to intentionally mislead readers are a real danger to our society, especially when those in power are misusing the term or employing it for their own benefit. Dr. Robert Probst and Dr. Kylene Beers, educators and co-authors of the book Disrupting Thinking: Why How We Read Matters, explain more about how we can identify fake news and stop its progress.

Fake news does not apply to stories, satirical or otherwise, from a credible, professional organization. Rather, it refers to fictitious stories, although sometimes loosely connected to real events. They are usually written in order to create bias, start controversy, or serve as clickbait for an organization’s profit. Dr. Beers explains how sharing news started as a way to encourage an informed democracy, but it has now become a way to chase profit.

Many students, adults, and teachers are untrained in how to recognize fake news stories. Dr. Beers says this is largely a result of seeking a simple answer to a complex problem with many perspectives. Learning to think critically, ask questions, and have an open mind are the crucial skills needed in our digital generation. Those growing up in the digital environment or those with age and experience are not immune to being tricked by fake news. By asking three questions of a news story, readers can spend more time noticing suspicious details and thinking about its validity: How does it look? What does it say? How does it make me feel?

To learn more about spotting fake news or to get a copy of our guests’ book, visit the links below.

Guests:

  • Dr. Robert Probst, educator and co-author of the book Disrupting Thinking: Why How We Read Matters
  •  Dr. Kylene Beers, educator and co-author of the book Disrupting Thinking: Why How We Read Matters

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18-28 Segment 1: Appreciating the Introvert

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Our culture celebrates the extrovert, the person who is the life of the party. But, the introvert, the one who often leaves the party early, also has a lot to offer. Todd Kashdan, Professor of Psychology at George Mason University and author of The Upside of Your Dark Side: Why Being Your Whole Self–Not Just Your “Good” Self–Drives Success and Fulfillment, and Sophia Dembling, introvert and author of the book The Introvert’s Way: Living a Quiet Life in a Noisy World, discuss their thoughts on the value of introversion.

Kashdan defines introverts as those who like to spend time alone, are recharged by being alone, and are often easily overstimulated by their environment. Dembling says that this doesn’t mean that introverts are antisocial, stuck up, or shy. Rather, they have a different way of approaching the world and other people. Both guests encourage others to acknowledge the strengths that introverts can bring to the table, such as being good observers, being able to empathize, and picking up on nonverbal cues quickly.

When thinking of great leaders, most people think of the visible examples with charismatic and electric personalities. But, Kashdan says there have been plenty of introverted leaders who have different leadership strengths, like being prudent, being cautious, or controlling their emotions. Many introverts are capable of acting like extroverts for a time, but they are saturated by socialization faster. In fact, many actors are introverts. By portraying very social characters, they get the best of both worlds. Kashdan offers some tips for helping introverts enter stimulating environments better, such as playing music or being in nature to get in the right mindset beforehand.

For more information about introversion or about our guests, see the links below.

Guests:

  • Todd Kashdan, Professor of Psychology at George Mason University and author of The Upside of Your Dark Side: Why Being Your Whole Self–Not Just Your “Good” Self–Drives Success and Fulfillment
  •  Sophia Dembling, introvert and author of The Introvert’s Way: Living a Quiet Life in a Noisy World

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18-28 Segment 2: Breaking Down The Pesky English Language

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We all know the rule: “I before E, except after C,” but it’s not applicable in “weird” or “science” or many other words. The English language has many exceptions to its rules, and these irregularities make it a difficult language to spell. Vivian Cook, Professor Emeritus of Applied Linguistics at Newcastle University and author of Accomodating Brocolli in the Cemetary: Or Why Can’t Anybody Spell, and Niall McLeod Waldman, author of Spelling Dearest: The Down and Dirty, Nitty-Gritty History of English Spelling, explain more about where these complex spelling rules come from and what can be done about it.

The English language is a melting pot of several languages all jumbled together over its long history. Combining the spelling and pronunciation of old English, French, Latin, Dutch, and others has produced a language with silent letters, varied spellings, and many exceptions to its rules. Some of the influences on the formation of the English language were the conquerors infiltrating the country, the church writing the books, and the academics refining the language.

Many people have brought up ways to change this problem and fix one of the most inconsistent language systems in the world. When the English language came to America, it became even more complex, because Noah Webster, trying to simplify English spellings, gave us two ways to spell the same words, “labour” or “labor” for example. Some have proposed a phonetic spelling, but with all the different accents in the world, Cook says it would do more harm than good. Waldman proposes adjusting the exceptions to fit the rules, in order to make the language more consistent. In any case, they both suggest that in future we create a set of rules to add consistency to new words entering the English language.

To learn more about our guests and their thoughts on the English language, visit the links below.

Guests:

  • Vivian Cook, Professor Emeritus of Applied Linguistics at Newcastle University and author of Accomodating Brocolli in the Cemetary: Or Why Can’t Anybody Spell
  •  Niall McLeod Waldman, author of Spelling Dearest: The Down and Dirty, Nitty-Gritty History of English Spelling

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18-27 Segment 1: American Illiteracy

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A third of all the children in the United States graduate the 8th grade with below-basic reading skills.  At this level of illiteracy, many of them are unprepared for the workplace or other factors of adult life. Dr. Mark Seidenberg, research professor in the department of psychology at University of Wisconsin-Madison and author of Language At The Speed of Sight: How We Read, Why So Many Can’t, and What Can Be Done About It, explains that this problem arises  from an improper understanding of how to teach reading, which itself comes from a disconnect between teachers and researchers.

While many teachers believe that  every child must be uniquely tailored to, the research shows that there is still a level at which children converge when learning to read, specifically how and what they need to learn. Dr. Susan B. Neuman, professor of childhood and literacy development at New York University, says that when a child starts to understand that the letters they see in the written word correspond to the sounds they know from spoken word, they begin to learn how to read. This practice of teaching how to decode language is called phonics and has often been ignored in traditional teaching methods. On the other hand, too much reliance on phonics can also be harmful. Dr. Marie Ann Donovan, associate professor of teaching education at DePaul University, encourages a balanced literacy approach, which includes a phonics component but also focuses on reading comprehension- learning to identify words, know what they mean, and put them together into sentences.

Parents often think that simply reading to their children will teach them to read. Although reading with your child prepares the way and motivates them, it isn’t enough by itself. Dr. Seidenburg says that no matter how hard it is, we need to focus on getting kids prepared for the real world with adequate reading levels. What we can do right now is to ask questions about what our teachers are taught and believe about the process of learning to read. Bridging the gap between education and research may be the first step to solving American illiteracy.

To learn more about literacy or about our guests, visit the links below.

Guests:

  • Dr. Mark Seidenberg, research professor in the department of psychology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and author of Language At The Speed of Sight: How We Read, Why So Many Can’t and What Can Be Done About It 
  • Dr. Susan B. Neuman, professor at New York University
  • Dr. Marie Ann Donovan, associate professor at DePaul University

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