Book of the month—the extraordinary When Cultures Collide: Leading Across Cultures

27th January 2017

Cheery Friday greetings to our Learning How to Learners!

Book of the Month

Our book of the month this month is the extraordinary When Cultures Collide: Leading Across Cultures, by Richard D. Lewis.  Lewis is a polymath who speaks 10 European and 2 Asiatic languages. He has worked with many of the world’s leading industrial and financial companies to help them understand local sensibilities and negotiating strategies. In but one example of his expertise, he has served as tutor to Empress Michiko and other members of the Japanese Imperial Family.

Lewis’s book will give you a profound understanding of how the “you” that seems so right and so solidly a part of the way the world should rightly work is deeply shaped by the culture you grew up in. Even the way you learn can be affected by your cultural upbringing.

When Cultures Collide is one of the top ten books we’ve ever read—even its slightly out-of-date nature lends insight as it reveals the thin layer that current events places over culture. Highly recommended! (Our thanks for the recommendation to Näriman Dästpak, our Learning How to Learn Persian Lead.)

If you are interested in or working with other cultures, other highly rated books on intercultural interactions include:

Learning Chemistry in  Year

Here’s a wonderful article by our friend Alistair McConville about how, as a virtual science phobe, he decided to tackle chemistry in a year “Taking GCSE chemistry in a year? I must be mad.” Among the many important ideas of this article is that it can be invaluable for a teacher to occasionally step into the role of student.

Barb’s new website!

Barb is very happy to unveil her brand new website at On this website, you’ll find not only a trove related to Barb’s writing and books—you’ll also find all the past “Cheery Friday” emails.  Some perceptive followers have noticed that  the November 24th, 2016 email was missing from your inbox.  This email was sent, but due to the magical imps of the internet that were operating on that Thanksgiving (Barb’s birthday!), the email was somehow never delivered.  To read this elusive email just go to and have fun looking around the website.  While you’re there, feel free to sign up on Barb’s email list for occasional extra insights.

Barb’s website was created by Bookswarm, a digital agency dedicated to delivering projects for those in the world of books—and MOOCs.  If you are a publisher, author, or you work at all in relation to online materials, we highly recommend Bookswarm as a friendly, highly competent agency to help you put your best digital foot forward in a cost-effective way.  If you’ve been planning on a website design or redesign, reach out to Bookswarm today!

Failure to replicate Dweck’s “Mindset” Theory

Mindset theory posits that praise for intelligence can dramatically lower students’ cognitive performance, and that children’s cognitive ability and school grades depend heavily on whether they believe basic ability is malleable. This theory, and Carol Dweck’s associated book Mindset, have been popular for years, although there has been some perceptive pushback from the edges.  However, just out is a major study, “Does mindset affect children’s ability, school achievement, or response to challenge? Three failures to replicate,” by Yue Li & Timothy C. Bates, with the following conclusions: “Praise for intelligence failed to harm post- challenge cognitive performance. Children’s mindsets had no relationship to their IQ or to their school grades. Finally believing ability to be malleable had not association with improvement of grades across the year. We conclude that the belief that basic ability is fixed is harmless, and that implicit theories of intelligence play no significant role in development of cognitive ability, response to challenge, or educational attainment.”

These kinds of findings that upend “settled” science lead inevitably to major defensive turf wars by those with a strong vested interest in having the science remain settled.  Sit back and enjoy your popcorn as the battles begin!

Ivy League MOOC Collection

Here’s a great collection of Ivy League MOOCs by Class Central.  And from the University of Michigan, we’ve been hearing good things about the course “Finance for Everyone: Smart Tools for Decision-Making”  with Gautam Kaul. The University of Michigan, incidentally, is betting big on MOOCs—putting over 200 of their on-campus courses into MOOC form. Barb visited U of M’s MOOC-making studios—there’s no question but what they are doing a good job behind-the-scenes in working to produce top-notch courses.

That’s all for this week. Have a happy week in Learning How to Learn!

Barb, Terry, and the entire Learning How to Learn team
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