Want to keep working? Plan ahead

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A study done at the University of Gothenburg says if you plan to work in your senior years, you should start planning before age 50.

The researchers, psychologists Kerstin Wentz and Kristina Gyllensten, say their participants engaged in what they call career crafting. This meant taking themselves seriously and thinking about what they wanted in life. Remaining employed at least part time allowed them to flourish and avoid boredom while maintaining a social life. They were proactive about learning new things.

The researchers advise vocational counseling for those age 45 similar to what is given to teenagers. They also advocate making student loans available.

As an avid devotee of MOOCs and webinars, I love this idea. Personally, I grew to hate the career in the insurance industry I stumbled into at age 18. At age 45, I embarked on a master’s degree to pursue something more meaningful. I cycled through several stop gap jobs until I finally got a job at a community college. That whole process might have been shortened if I had done better research and planning.

What’s your story? Will you continue working past “normal” retirement age?

Pareto strikes again

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All those records of people’s lives are finally proving useful.

Researchers have tapped into New Zealand’s extensive digital databases to examine the lives of 1000 subjects from birth to age 38. They found that the Pareto Principle, or more commonly the 80/20 rule, holds true for illegal and other non-desirable behaviors.

The scientists from Duke University, King’s College London, and the University of Otago in New Zealand say 20% of those studied accounted for a whopping 81% of incarcerations, 77 % of fatherless child rearing, 75 % of drug prescriptions, and 66% of welfare benefits plus more than half of nights in the hospital and cigarettes smoked. They were more likely to be obese and to file personal injury claims too.

In the study, they gave participants tests at age three to measure what they called “brain health.” This consisted of intelligence, language and motor skills, frustration tolerance, restlessness, and impulsiveness. Low scores in brain health even at such an early age predicted high healthcare and social costs as adults.

The results point to the continuing need for early interventions with disadvantaged children. The components of brain health can be taught or improved upon. Such education would benefit not only the individual children but ultimately society as a whole.

Lead researcher Avshalom Caspi says the return on investments to undertake this sort of intervention would be remarkable. Indeed.

Educators, what kinds of interventions have you seen in your community?

Blaming the victim?

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A recent study about bullying caught my eye. Chad Rose, an assistant professor of special education from the University of Missouri College of Education, and Nicholas Gage, an assistant professor from the University of Florida, say that children with disabilities are bullied significantly more often than those without disabilities. This inequality in bullying continues over time. It peaks in third grade, subsides in middle school, and increases again in high school.

They conclude that the disabled students aren’t developing the social skills to defend themselves as they mature. They recommend that schools teach “appropriate response skills.”

Apparently, the conduct doesn’t end in school. When a relative of mine with a disability was bullied in the workplace, I did some research and blogged about it.

Of course, it is important for the disabled students to learn better communication and coping skills. But isn’t it even more important that the bullies are taught better behavior?

To be fair, Rose and Gage are in the field of special education and focusing on improving conditions for at risk children, not on the general school population. They do assert that social skills are no longer taught to anyone. Still, it seems to me another instance of blaming the victim.

What say you?

 

Give it a Rest

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I venture a guess that no woman in America will be surprised by the results of research done by Cornell University, the University of Minnesota, and Minnesota Population Center. They studied time diaries from 12,000 parents and concluded dads are happier when parenting than moms are. It seems moms do more of the work tasks while dads do more fun tasks. Ya think?

Moms were often alone with their kids, but dads often spent time with their kids in social situations with other adults around to give support. Moms were also more likely to be on call 24/7, so dads got more uninterrupted sleep.

For a fictional look at how this can play out, I recommend Leave Me, a novel by Gayle Forman. The mom in this book suffers a heart attack and subsequent bypass surgery only to return home to whining, demanding children and a husband who thinks she can make a full recovery in a week so as not to inconvenience him.

Having facts from a study like this one to back up fiction and anecdotal evidence is good, but when will this situation change? I don’t have children, but I do find myself jumping in to do things that others could and should do for themselves and then feeling resentful. I need to learn to back off, set better boundaries, and ask for help instead of playing martyr. Do you?

Without a net

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Are you one of those people who always have a Plan B? Turns out that might not be such a good idea.

Two management professors, Jihae Shin of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and Katherine L. Milkman of the Wharton School of Business at Penn, undertook a study to see if having a backup affected how hard people work toward a goal and their chances for success. Turns out if it is a goal that requires hard work, it does. People don’t put as much effort into achieving their goal and consequently don’t achieve less.

A goal that is dependent on having high innate skill isn’t affected by this dynamic.

The professors acknowledge that making an alternate plan helps reduce uncertainty and stress. They suggest, however, waiting until later in the process to think about Plan B. Do the work first and see what happens.

What is your best strategy for achieving goals?

Help the new prof

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For the first time, I will be teaching a class at out local community college for the fall term. It is called Cornerstone here, and is the basic freshman success class that is now mandatory in many schools.

I’m looking for suggestions from experienced teachers on activities and resources I can use besides lectures. I want to keep the students engaged.

Some of the topics I’ll be covering are time management, diversity, critical thinking, financial literacy, and careers.

What about it, fellow educators? Any ideas you’d like to share?

Grow where you’re planted

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I confess it was never my intention to live in Florida. Yet nearly two decades later, I am still here. Moreover, I live on a relatively rural island a good drive away from the nearest city. I grew up and lived my whole life in the suburbs of Pittsburgh. If there was ever a fish out of water, I’m it.

When I spotted Melody Warnick’s book This Is Where You Belong: The Art and Science of Loving the Place You Live, i grabbed it off the shelf. Maybe I could find some helpful advice within.

Warnick’s issue was a little different from my own. She had moved multiple times, never feeling at home in any of her locations. When her professor husband got a job in Blacksburg at Virginia Tech, she resolved to find out what leads people to feel attached to their town or city.

Her extensive research led to some practical suggestions. The first is to walk whenever possible to get a sense of place. That one is only marginally doable for me. I can’t really walk to any destinations, just within my immediate neighborhood. Doing that, however, would accomplish another tactic, getting to know my neighbors. In the time we’ve lived here, people have moved away or died, and we’ve never made the acquaintance of their replacements.

Warnick’s other advice includes volunteering and doing something creative. I do those things  but in the nearby city, not on the island. Doing activities most other residents find pleasurable won’t work for me. I’ve never fished and never will.

My one gold star is that I do try to patronize local businesses.

Is there hope for me? Like Warnick, should I push myself a bit more? Do you feel at home where you live? Why?