Lifelong Learning

Hello friends!

I hope you had a great weekend! We celebrated my father-in-law’s 89th birthday (yay, Howard!) and are getting ready for a much anticipated family trip to Topsail Island, North Carolina. We’ll be celebrating my parent’s 50th wedding anniversary with all 31 of us in a big beach house (?!) If you don’t hear from me next week, send a search party. I might be trapped under a mountain of beach towels. I am really looking forward to the 14 young cousins get together. Ages range from barely 2 to almost 18.

Being around kids makes you marvel at how their minds work and how they learn. Grant uses the words “actually” and “amazing” in addition to “disgusting” (re morning breath) and “frustrasting” (describing his feelings when his new DVD player ran out of charge!) He is learning about humor, and death (2 pets in our extended family have died.) I love his school, Children’s Montessori Center, and the Zen-like feeling I get when I drop him off, knowing that he is learning life skills as well as words and numbers. I always tell him that I love him as high as the sky and as deep as the ocean. He has added “as big as Macchu Picchu” since South America was the featured continent last month. Segue into Lifelong Learning…I hope you enjoy it! Please send me your comments and suggestions, and pass it along!

“You can teach a student a lesson for a day; but if you can teach him to learn by creating curiosity, he will continue the learning process as long as he lives.” -Clay P. Bedford

My sister Shelley and I used to get in trouble for reading. We would read in the twilight at Grandma Agnes’ house (“You’ll ruin your eyes,” she said.) We got scolded while shuttling around in the car between Southern California sites (Disney and whales!) during a grade school visit to Grandma and Grandpa Mathison. “Enjoy the scenery. There are no palm trees in ND!” they stated, emphatically. I was plotting a way to smuggle a book into Sunday Mass, but the hymnals were a bit too thin for good camouflage, and my mom would have gone through the roof. If only I had a Kindle back then! Books, experiences, people, nature…so much to learn.

The Internet adds another mode/style of learning. With the availability of multi-media (combining written, audio, video, workbooks and feedback) through the web, it makes me wonder about all that is possible with stimulation of multiple learning styles: visual, auditory and kinesthetic. WOW!

Shelley passed along to me a very cool site: Started by Salman Khan, a young man from New Orleans. He studied math, and eventually worked for an investment bank in Boston. In 2004, he began remotely tutoring his 12-year old cousin, Nadia and her younger brothers, Arman and Ali using the phone and Yahoo Doodle as a shared notepad. Word spread though family and friends, and it became difficult to schedule around his full-time work, soccer practice and differing time zones. He started to make YouTube videos for them to watch in their own time, at their own pace. These were publicly available, and it didn’t take long to see that other students (including adult learners) were hungry for videos like these so he kept going!

Khan’s site now has 2400 videos, with wide ranging topics from simple math to finance, organic chemistry to an analysis of the economics of the government bailout. I wonder what his thoughts are about the historic debt ceiling legislation?

He has problems and questions for students to track and assess their knowledge and progress. His young cousins preferred the digital method of learning to chatting on the phone with him! Bill Gates calls his method the educational method for the future. Check out his site, and if you have a few minutes, watch the lecture he delivered at TED.

TED is an annual conference that presents brilliant people with amazing ideas, in a casual, no ties allowed setting. The stage is shared by celebrities, authors, artists, chefs, and CEO’s presenting ideas on how they are and will make the world a better place. There are 800 lectures available to watch for FREE on Some of my highlights: Jamie Oliver (Naked Chef, Food Revolution), Emily Gilbert (Eat, Pray, Love) and Brene Brown (author, her lecture is on vulnerability.) There is a related site, with a more limited, but still wonderful selection. I attended TEDMED in person last year, and am signed up again this year!

I am also a big fan of my “University on Wheels” and listen to audio books whenever I am alone in my car. Lots available on Amazon, of course. You can also check out, and I have found great deals (up to 90%) on

What keeps your brain going? Any great online resources you’ve discovered for yourself or your kids? I’d love to hear about them!

“Just read your most recent post and wanted to mention that I LOVE Joseph Campbell, and have quoted his “follow your bliss” more times than I can remember. Thanks for the reminder right now, when I’m feeling tired and stressed at all of the delays with opening our new chiropractic practice.” -Marissa Heisel, Life In Motion Chiropractic, Toronto, Ontario

My friend, Sara Jensen-Fritz, and her colleagues Paula Jones-Johnson and Thea Zitzow, work with kids struggling at home and school. They yearned for something more creative and innovative to help these kids. So together, this school psychologist, social worker and special education teacher started their own company to launch projects offering proactive, solution-based tools to help kids create positive self-concepts. Their first effort, a 2008 book for children of deployed soldiers, is in its fourth printing with 17,000 copies to date. Their second book, “Every Kid’s Guide to Living Your Best Life,” was released in May. Both books encourage positive thinking, emotional competence and coping skills through adult-guided activities and games and a friendly illustrated pooch. The books, geared toward elementary school students, teach kids to identify their feelings, choose positive thoughts that lead to positive feelings, and use relaxation techniques like deep breathing. You can buy these books at their site (Source: Sherri Richards,

p.s. I’d love to hear your comments and questions! What do you want to know, but are afraid to ask?

Enjoy a Positively Beautiful Life!

Dr. Susan Mathison

Susan Mathison, M.D.

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