The Language of Human Thriving

In a TEDx talk, the late Peter Benson, a leader in the positive youth development movement, once said,

I like to ask adults: “What is your highest aspiration for our young?” 

Some interesting things happen.

No one has ever said, “This child of mine, my fondest wish is that they will ace statewide benchmark math and science test when they’re 16.”


I’ve never heard anybody say, “Oh, my fondest wish is that this young person will help make America more competitive in the global economy.”

No, when you actually listen to people’s statements about their dreams for our kids, you hear a very different language. 

“Kids who experience joy, kids who are connected and engaged. Kids who fall in love with their life and all of life, kids with kindness, and generosity. Kids who are happy, kids who contribute.”

That is the language of human thriving.

The best, deepest learning facilitates personal and societal transformation.

We proposed a model to help young people to thrive by finding stepping stones from curiosity to career, building on Peter Benson’s work, as part of our work in Leadership Maine in 2012.

From problem solvers to problem finders

In the classrooms in which I work, students explore the twenty or so themes upon which our planet really depends, immerse themselves in the ideas and information their teachers, peers and whole communities can impart, find the problems they feel are worth solving, theorise which ones will work and then try them out in a prototype. Continue reading

Anna Popova on networked knowledge

Creativity is combinatorial, that nothing is entirely original, that everything builds on what came before, and that we create by taking existing pieces of inspiration, knowledge, skill and insight that we gather over the course of our lives and recombining them into incredible new creations…

In order for us to truly create and contribute to the world, we have to be able to connect countless dots, to cross-pollinate ideas from a wealth of disciplines, to combine and recombine these pieces and build new castles…

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DIY: From Whole Earth Review to This Old House

“In the 1970s, DIY spread through the North American population of college- and recent-college-graduate age groups. In part, this movement involved the renovation of affordable, rundown older homes. But it also related to various projects expressing the social and environmental vision of the 1960s and early 1970s. The young visionary Stewart Brand, working with friends and family, and initially using the most basic of typesetting and page-layout tools, published the first edition of The Whole Earth Catalog (subtitled Access to Tools) in late 1968….

“The Catalog’s publication both emerged from and spurred the great wave of experimentalism, convention-breaking, and do-it-yourself attitude of the late 1960s. Often copied, the Catalog appealed to a wide cross-section of people in North America and had a broad influence. …

“In the 1970s, when home video (VCRs) came along, DIY instructors quickly grasped its potential for demonstrating processes by audio-visual means. In 1979, This Old House, starring Bob Vila, premiered on PBS and started the DIY television revolution. The show was immensely popular, educating people on how to improve their living conditions (and the value of their house) without the expense of paying someone to do it.”

Discovering the Warriors series of children’s novels

My 7-year-old daughter has discovered, and become enamored by, a series of novels called Warriors. The observations of animal behavior, human archetypes, and themes of integrating opposites have caught my interest, too. A definite improvement over fairies and princesses.

“Warriors … follows the adventures of four Clans of wild cats in their forest homes…. The New Forest in southern England was the base for the forest where the original series took place. Other influential locations include Loch Lomond, the Scottish Highlands and the Forest of Dean.

“Authors that Tolkien, Ursula K. Le Guin, Shakespeare, J. K. Rowling, and Enid Blyton. Major themes in the series include forbidden love, nature versus nurture, the reactions of different faiths meeting each other, and characters being a mix of good and bad.”

Excerpts from Wikipedia