“Removing Suffering and Finding Happiness as a Department Chair”

Wow! Lessons from the Buddha for department chairs: an eight-point plan for surviving and thriving in “one of the most complex jobs in higher education.” Here’s an excerpt from a post in Tomorrow’s Professor by Randel Brown and Diana Linn:

Right speech seems to carry the most weight in finding happiness as chair. it requires speech that is truthful, reliable, and worthy of confidence. Department chairs should never knowingly speak a lie or untruth either for their advantage or for the advantage of others. A simple way to practice right speech is to speak only what is true, only what is necessary, and only what is kind. To speak truth in kindness sometimes feels conflicted; however, if a student or faculty member is not measuring up, the kindest thing to do is to give them opportunities to improve by discussing the problem directly. It may be difficult for the listener, but it provides him or her with a pathway to happiness.


Walking for enhanced creativity

Another reason to take a break from your office — or offer your students an opportunity to do some productive thinking outside of the classroom!

At last fall’s Faculty Forum on the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, Professor Hannah Israel shared her own experiences with using walking as a tool for students’ learning (“The Art of Walking”). Here’s a new study that offers scientific evidence for walking as a tool to enhance anyone’s ability to think creatively:

For almost every student, creativity increased substantially when they walked. Most were able to generate about 60 percent more uses for an object, and the ideas were both “novel and appropriate,” Dr. Oppezzo writes in her study, which waspublished this month in The Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition.

But the practical import of that finding would seem to be negligible, if creativity were to increase only while someone was walking. Most of us cannot conduct brainstorming sessions on treadmills. So Dr. Oppezzo next tested whether the effects lingered after a walk had ended. She had another group of students sit for two consecutive sessions of test-taking and subsequently walk for about eight minutes while tossing out ideas for object re-use, then sit and repeat the test.

Again, walking markedly improved people’s ability to generate creative ideas, even when they sat down after the walk. In that case, the volunteers who had walked produced significantly more and subjectively better ideas than in their pre-exercise testing period.