Can’t Hurt Me

21st December 2018

Cheery Friday Greetings to our Learning How to Learners!

Book of the Month

This week’s astonishing book is Can’t Hurt Me: Master Your Mind and Defy the Odds, by David Goggins. David grew up in an unbelievably tough environment with a deeply abusive father. He experienced prejudice and poverty, and suffered learning difficulties that left him graduating from high school barely able to read or do math. He became a depressed, overweight young man with an attitude.  But shockingly, he turned himself into one of the world’s greatest endurance athletes, and became the only man in history to complete training as a Navy SEAL, Army Ranger, and Air Force Tactical Air Controller.

To find a self-published book as #2 on Amazon, with a five star rating and over 400 reviews, speaks volumes about how good it is. If you’re trying to do more in your life, or change your life, you’ll find Goggin’s book to be a terrific inspiration.

Learning How to Learn#1 of All MOOCs Worldwide!

Jeff Maggioncalda, Coursera’s CEO, gave an insightful interview about the skills we need to succeed for 2019. The article’s conclusion? “AI, data science, and industry skills may have been the most in-demand this past year, but it’s impossible to know if these same skills will dominate the market in the coming five to ten years,” says Maggioncalda. It is on this basis that he encourages everyone to learn how to learn. As he says, “Learning how to learn is the key to lifelong career success in today’s dynamic workforce.” So, how does one get started? Predictably, Maggioncalda highly recommends… Learning How to Learn.  The MOOC, which was originally shot in Oakley’s basement with the help of her husband and daughter for a mere $5000, is the most popular MOOC offered by Coursera and apparently, the most popular MOOC in the world.


Axonify is a relatively new company that uses micro-learning (3 to 5-minute training bursts)  to help students avoid the forgetting curve. This approach has been helping companies such as Walmart, Bloomingdale’s and Merck. As Kira Virmond of University of Waterloo Magazine notes: “Rather than suffering through an afternoon of learning the latest safety procedures, regulations or marketing strategies, employees play bite-sized training games for a few minutes each day, racking up points and even winning prizes. Much of the material gets repeated so it sticks.” [Hat tip: Dennis Wilson.]

College Bloat Meets ‘The Blade’

In this Wall Street Journal article (behind a paywall, sorry!), Mitch Daniels, President of Purdue University, tells how he’s kept tuition from rising:

“Mr. Daniels, 69, is the most innovative university president in America. Like his counterparts at other schools, he believes higher education has been ‘a competitive advantage’ for the U.S.—’a nice little export industry, if you add up all the dollars that come here to purchase the education of students from other places.’ He regards the rumbling in Washington about curbing visas for foreign students to be ‘very shortsighted.’ But he also thinks American higher education has grown fat and complacent. He’s making inventive, even radical changes in the way his institution finances itself and imparts an education.

Mr. Daniels kicks off our conversation with a morality tale: ‘I’ll speak to an audience of businesspeople and say: Here’s the racket that you should have gone into. You’re selling something, a college diploma, that’s deemed a necessity. And you have total pricing power.’ Better than that: ‘When you raise your prices, you not only don’t lose customers, you may actually attract new ones.’For lack of objective measures, ‘people associate the sticker price with quality: ‘If school A costs more than B , I guess it’s a better school.’  A third-party payer, the government, funds it all, so that ‘the customer—that is, the student and the family—feels insulated against the cost. A perfect formula for complacency.’ The parallels with health care, he observes, are ‘smack on.’

Mr. Daniels takes a different approach. In 2001-03, he ran the White House budget office for President George W. Bush, who dubbed him ‘The Blade’ for his cost-cutting skills. Mr. Daniels brought his paring knife to Purdue. Examples of his efficiencies include replacing full-time dining-hall employees with student workers, scrapping the vast fleet of university-owned buses in favor of a private contractor, and saving $61 million on capital projects through what the university calls ‘innovative construction management.’

His most eye-catching achievement has been to keep costs down for students. By graduation day in 2020, tuition won’t have risen in eight years. ‘We’re able to say,’ he says, ‘that the total cost in nominal dollars of going to Purdue will be less in 2020 than it was in 2012.’

Mr. Daniels says widespread adoption of Purdue’s ‘affordability campaign’ would improve higher education. ‘Everybody is worried,’ he says, furrowing his brow. ‘What are we at? A trillion and a half of student debt, twice as much as the total credit-card debt. It’s a social and economic problem.’ He offers up a list of life’s milestones that people delay because of college debt: ‘marriage, household formation, child raising, homeownership, business-start formation—all of these things are being pressed down by college debt.’ The ‘obvious first step,’ Mr. Daniels replies, ‘is don’t charge so darn much in the first place.’”

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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