Nothing’s boring if you’re Batman

School supplies = notebooks and pens, tablets and smartphones, and Batman costumes.

“New research finds that kids aged 4-6 perform better during boring tasks when dressed as Batman” (from the World Economic Forum)

I’d be willing to bet it works for older students, and is not limited to Batman. Time to stock up on Doraemon and Anpanman costumes?

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The best of 2017, part 1

(image from Pixabay)

Today and tomorrow, I’ll share a couple of lists about the best of last year. Today is a list of “The 99 best things that happened in 2017” (from Quartz).

Some inspiring statistics on the list:

#27: Eleven countries are building a wall of trees on the border of the Sahara desert to slow desertification, and it’s already working. (video from BBC)

#38: 16,000 schools were built in Afghanistan, where the literacy rate increased by 5%, and the youth literacy rate increased by more than 16%. (from USAID)

#68: Almost a quarter (23%) of worlwide parliamentary seats are occupied by women. That’s up from 12% 20 years ago. (this and much more about gender equality from the World Bank)

#71: The number of biracial couples in the U.S. is now at 17%, five times as many as there were 50 years ago, when it was legalized in 1967. (from Pew Research)

#99: India and Italy banned the use of wild animals in circuses, making the total 40 countries which have done this. (from Inhabit)


Something you could do in your portfolio: make a list of a few of the best things that happened in Japan in 2017.

Poop coming in handy

Yes poop. 💩

Here are two ways poop came in handy this year:

In Japan: “Professor Poo bestseller brings scatology-based study to Japan” (from the Guardian). This book is helping kids learn to write kanji characters, and the term うんこ漢字ドリル(Poop Kanji Drills is the name of the book) was one of this year’s Words of the Year in Japan. (“The Japanese words that perfectly sum up how the country felt this year” from Quartz)

Read more about the workbook at Spoon and Tamago.


In the US: turning cow poop into electricity

Read more about this “methane digester” at the Strauss Family Creamery in California.

A day in the life

The California Sunday Magazine has a whole issue about teenagers this month. Because:

“We wanted to see how they’re living right now in the world adults made for them and how they’re beginning to change it — and maybe get a glimpse of where we’re all headed together.”

Here’s the cover photo:

Stories include:

Life advice from teen experts — how to meet new people, how to get people to care about something, how to say no, how to throw a good dance party (and more)

The two hour commute — see how three teenagers commute, with illustrations

How they do lunch

A conversation about social media and politics

Hanging out

This is a great model for a cross-cultural comparison or a research project about teenagers or university students in Japan: Find people to survey, ask good questions, analyze their answers, add photos and illustrations.