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The value of technique: My student connects with a billionaire and gets invited to Harvard using skills from the course!

posted by Joshua on April 27, 2017 in Education, Entrepreneurship, Relationships, Stories
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I was delighted to read the email below from a former student.

You can tell that English is not her native language, nor is America her native culture. Yet you’ll see she turned a standard business meeting assigned to her into a meaningful connection.

That’s the value of technique: it works even when you wouldn’t know what to do. You can fall back on it. The more you practice and rehearse it, as my class does, the more automatic it becomes.

Then you create opportunities where you never saw them before.

I posted the exercise, called Meaningful Connection, from the course that she used, along with an excerpt from my book, Leadership Step by Step, and videos of me practicing the exercise with my mentor, Marshall Goldsmith.

She wrote:

Dear professor Joshua:

My name is Jingming and I was your student for your leadership class at NYU. I just want you to know that I used the skills you taught during the class and made a really good connection with people.

I was assigned to interview one of my client for the company I am currently interned for. When I got there, I heard he talked about the last interview he did was for Monday Night Football, then I looked around his home, a lot of pictures are about football.

Although I know nothing about it, I kept asking questions about football and he seemed really enjoyed our talk. And the more I asked, the more he shared and finally he told me his father actually was the owner of the New England Patriots!!!! Since I noticed he is really interested in sports. I mentioned I graduated from U Conn and talked about our basketball team. He looked very excited and told he remember that year!!! He even let me wear the first helmet in his collection! And the interview went so well than I thought. After the interview, he even invited me to a Easter supper at Harvard Club!

I am so glad I can use the skills I learned from your class to make such a good connection with people. I just want to say thank you and hope more people can join your class.

I attached the photo of me wearing the first helmet of New England Patriots. Hope you like it!!!

Jingming in patriots helmet

Jingming in New England Patriots helmet

I asked her if I could share her results and clarify which exercise she did. She responded:

Hi Professor,

I don’t mind at all. If You can share it in you blog it will be mine honor! I just hope more people can learn this skill and help them to improve their social networking.

I combined meaningful connection exercise as well as [the next exercise in the course and book] Making People Feel Understood. I listened very carefully about what he said and tried to find a common dot to link everything and then made him want to talk to me more and share more things with me.

Now it’s your turn to create meaningful connections with billionaires or what’s important in your life. You can develop the skills as much as anyone can.

More of why I don’t think of vegetables, fruit, and exercise as preventing cancer, heart disease, and diabetes

posted by Joshua on April 26, 2017 in Fitness,, Models, Tips
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My article today, Why I Don’t Think of Vegetables, Fruit, and Exercise as Preventing Disease, begins

Why I Don’t Think of Vegetables, Fruit, and Exercise as Preventing Disease

Why consider unhealthy normal? Why not consider healthy the default?

I’ve written before that I don’t think of diet, exercise, and behavior as preventing cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. I’m not a medical doctor, so this article isn’t about medical advice.

It’s about leading yourself. It’s about beliefs and mental models, which you can choose, which influences yourself, your behavior, and others’ too.

Recent articles touting “Exercise ‘keeps the mind sharp’ in over-50s, study finds” and “Cycling to work can cut cancer and heart disease, says study” prompt me to follow up.

I love that people are promoting healthy activity, but I notice something I consider counterproductive: they treat lack of exercise as the default.

Read the rest at Why I Don’t Think of Vegetables, Fruit, and Exercise as Preventing Disease.

My article today

My article today. Click to read it.

Lies we tell ourselves about food and integrity

posted by Joshua on April 25, 2017 in Leadership
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A healthy diet results not from how much healthy food you eat but how little unhealthy food.

You can eat all the spinach and kale you want. If you also eat tons of sugar, your diet isn’t healthy.

Same with leadership. If you lead effectively 90% of the time but not the other 10%, you probably don’t lead well.

Leadership is like how Vince Lombardi described winning: it’s not a sometimes thing. It’s an all the time thing. You don’t succeed by trying some of the time, whether in leadership, winning, or food.

If you don’t eat healthy all the time, you don’t eat healthy.

If you don’t lead effectively all the time, you don’t lead effectively.

Those are my views, anyway.

John Mattone’s Expert Interview Series: Joshua Spodek of Spodek Academy About Embracing a “Just Do It” Attitude Toward Leadership Coaching

posted by Joshua on April 24, 2017 in Education, Leadership
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I am honored that John Mattone interviewed me as part of his Expert Interview Series and posted the interview, “Joshua Spodek of Spodek Academy About Embracing a “Just Do It” Attitude Toward Leadership Coaching.”

I’ll tease you with the first few interview questions. For the answers, read the whole interview!

  1. As someone who is well-educated in a variety of disciplines, could you tell us what drew you to the study of leadership?
  2. Since you’re one of the relatively few Americans who has visited North Korea, could you tell us whether the portrayal of that country in the media is accurate? What surprised you most about what you saw there?
  3. Which aspects of leadership do your clients struggle with the most?
  4. In order to be an effective leader, why is it important first to understand yourself?
  5. Is it possible for someone to be an effective leader and still have “fun” while doing it?
  6. What is your approach when it comes to leaders engaging in conflict resolution?

Okay, that’s enough teasing.

Read the full interview!

Here is John Mattone from his About page:

Meet the World’s #1 Authority on Intelligent Leadership and #2 Ranked Executive Coach

John Mattone is the world’s top authority on Intelligent Leadership (IL) and the creator of the IL Executive Coaching Process and Certification. John Mattone is globally respected as a uniquely distinguished authority who can ignite and strengthen a leaders inner-self and talents, which enables them to realize four “game-changing” outcomes that they can leverage in their business and life: Altruism, Affiliation, Achievement, and Abundance (The 4 A’s).

The 4 A’s are the seeds to achieving sustained greatness and creating a lasting legacy. John Mattone is a powerfully engaging, internationally-acclaimed keynote speaker and top-ranked executive coach. Whether John is keynoting an event, conducting a retreat, or coaching an executive, he has earned a global reputation for possessing a special ability that unlocks and unleashes greatness in leaders at all levels. Since 2015, the research organization,, has ranked John Mattone as one of the world’s top leadership authorities and speakers. In 2015, John Mattone’s Intelligent Leadership, along with Tony Robbins’ Creating Lasting Change and John Maxwell’s 5 Levels of Leadership were named the three Top Advanced Leadership Development Programs that Change Lives.

In addition, John is widely regarded as one of the world’s leading authorities on corporate culture and culture transformation. He is a respected advisor and coach to CEO’s who lead small to mid-sized entrepreneurial organizations as well CEO’s who lead large global businesses, on how to create and sustain a leadership and talent culture that drives superior operating results.

Recently, John was honored by his executive coaching peers (The Association of Corporate Executive Coaches), with the prestigious 2015 International Executive Coach Thought Leader of Distinction Award, in recognition of his thought leadership and his work as a global executive coach. In 2014, the Award was humbly accepted by Marshall Goldsmith, the world’s top-ranked executive coach. John is one of nine executive coaches in the world who have been awarded the coveted Master Corporate Executive Coach (MCEC) certification from the Association of Corporate Executive Coaches.

John Mattone is the creator and master of the unique, powerful and game-changing Intelligent Leadership Executive Coaching blueprint for success. Since 2010, John has used this blueprint having personally coached over 250 leaders, including 25 global CEO’s to help them become stronger, more effective and vibrant leaders and people. John Mattone is the former executive coach to the late Steve Jobs and the former legendary CEO of PepsiCo, Roger Enrico, who sought John’s advice after his PepsiCo days in helping him transition as a coach and mentor to young leaders. John Mattone is now one of the most in-demand C-level coaches in the world.

John is the creator of John Mattone University (JMU), which features the Intelligent Leadership Executive Coaching Certification Program as well a series of award-winning virtual and online leadership development and HR certification programs including The Intelligent Leadership Program, recently named one of the top three advanced leadership development programs in the world. He is also the creator of a number of breakthrough leadership and culture assessments, including the Mattone Leadership Enneagram Inventory (MLEI), which served as the centerpiece of the two coaching sessions he conducted with Steve Jobs in 2010, the 5 Cultures of Culture Assessment (5CCA), and the Cultural Transformation Readiness Assessment-40 (CTRA-40).

He was nominated for the prestigious 2013 Thinkers50 Leadership Award, which recognizes the global thinker who has contributed most significantly to our understanding of leadership over the last two years. He was named to the Thinkers50 “Guru Radar” in 2011 and 2013, which recognizes the world’s fastest rising stars in the fields of leadership and management thinking. He is also currently recognized by and Warren Bennis’ Leadership Excellence Magazine as one of the world’s top independent leadership consultants, executive coaches, and speakers.

John is the author of eight books, including three best-sellers: Talent Leadership (2012-an Amazon Best-Seller), Intelligent Leadership (an Inc. Magazine and Amazon Bes-Seller) and Cultural Transformations: Lessons of Leadership & Corporate Reinvention (Wiley-January 26, 2016), which just became an Amazon #1 Best-Selling release in Human Resources and #2 in Management as well as an Inc. Magazine Best-Seller.

John is the co-author of one of the most respected studies of leadership and talent development in the world, The Trends in Leadership Development and Talent Management, which is published bi-annually by Pearson. John was recently appointed Distinguished Senior Fellow of one of leading business schools in the world, the Hult International Business School and he is the host of his own show, The CEO Magazine’s C-Suite Coaching Show.

John Mattone’s work has been featured by The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Fast Company, Businessweek, Inc. Magazine, MarketWatch, The Huffington Post, The CEO Magazine,, CLO Magazine, CIO Magazine, The Globe and Mail, Harvard Business Review, and many other respected global news outlets. John Mattone and his work have also been the subject of a 30-minute documentary produced by PBS.

John has over 30 years’ experience in the fields of executive development, leadership and talent development, human capital management, as an entrepreneur who has built two successful human capital consulting firms, as the President of a multi-million dollar leadership consulting firm, and as a leading researcher and author known throughout the Fortune 500 as a cutting edge thinker in the area of trends in executive development and developing high-potential and emerging leaders.

John is the founder and CEO of John Mattone-Global. Prior to this, John was the President of one of the top leadership consulting firms in the world, Executive Development Associates, Inc., (EDA) and prior to EDA he was the Vice President of Assessments for Linkage, Inc. Prior to Linkage, John was the Vice President of Sales for Drake Beam Morin, the global career and outplacement firm. Before joining DBM, John spent 10 years building his first successful consulting firm, Human Resources International.

Career Highlights

  • Consulted for more than 250 organizations and coached more than 200 executives
  • Addressed more than 500,000 people in over 2,000 speeches and seminars in the U.S., Canada, and other countries worldwide
  • Co-author of Trends in Executive Development & Talent Management Research Reports (Pearson, 2011 & 2013)
  • Author of the award winning The Role of Assessment in Driving Operating Results, published in Jac Fitz-enz’ book, “The New HR Analytics” (AMACOM, 2010)
  • Author of Predictive HR Leadership, published in Jac Fitz-enz’ “Workforce Intelligence Report” (2008)
  • Author of Talent Leadership: A Proven Method for Identifying & Developing High-Potential Employees (AMACOM, 2012). An Amazon Best-Seller
  • Author of Intelligent Leadership: What You Need to Know to Unlock Your Full Potential (AMACOM, 2013-Foreword by Marshall Goldsmith). A Bloomsberg/Businessweek Best-Seller
  • Author of Cultural Transformations: Lessons of Leadership and Corporate Reivention (Wiley, 2016). An Amazon #1 Best-Selling Release and Inc. Magazine Best-Seller
  • Author of Powerful Performance Management: The Leader as Coach; Powerful Executive Coaching: A Roadmap to Unleashing Greatness in Your Current & Future Leaders; and Succession Planning & Management (AMACOM, 2012)
  • Author of Success Yourself (MasterMedia, 1996) and Positive Performance Management (National Press, 1996)
  • John’s has written over 100 professional articles; his work has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Globe and Mail, Huffington Post, CEO Magazine, CIO Magazine, CLO Magazine, Leadership Excellence Magazine, HR Executive Magazine, Entrepreneurs Digest (Singapore), Conocimiento Dirrecion (South America), and many others.
  • Written and performed in numerous audio and video programs, including Hiring & Performance Management, Focus on Success, The Essentials of Delegation, and the award winning Street Smart Supervision

Professional Qualifications

John Mattone holds a B.S. Degree in Management and Organizational Behavior from Babson College and an M.S. in Industrial/Organizational Psychology from the University of Central Florida. John serves as an MBA faculty member at Florida Atlantic University where he teaches his popular course Global Leadership Assessment and Development and he also serves as an adjunct faculty member at ZfU International Business School in Zurich, Switzerland. John also serves as a Sr. Talent Management Consultant and Master Executive Coach for Executive Development Associates (where he formerly served as President) and he was recently named President of the International Center for Business Communication (and ICBC’s first Hall of Fame inductee).

John is a member of numerous professional associations including the Association of Corporate Executive Coaches (ACEC), where he was recently named to the advisory board of The University of Continuing Education Coaching Education (UCECE) and was also appointed as ACEC’s Middle East Ambassador.

What Else About Me?

I am married to my incredible wife Gayle (we recently celebrated our 37th anniversary!). We have four adult children–Jared, Nick, Kristina, Matthew and one grandson, Luke Dominic. Gayle and I enjoy all sports activities especially skiing and bicycling (we typically ride 80-100 miles per week). We travel frequently to visit our children who live in south Florida and Tennessee and other family members in Boston, New York and North Carolina….

Left to Right - Nick, Kristina, Jared and Matthew

Left to Right – Nick, Kristina, Jared and Matthew

Left to Right - Me, Our Grandson Luke Dominic Mattone, and My wife Gayle

Left to Right – Me, Our Grandson Luke Dominic Mattone, and My wife Gayle

Read the full interview!

Non-judgmental Ethics Sunday: Does Confining Deplorable Remarks to Your Home Make Them All Right?

posted by Joshua on April 23, 2017 in Ethicist, Nonjudgment
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Continuing my series of responses to the New York Times’, The Ethicist, without imposing values, here is my take on today’s post, “Does Confining Deplorable Remarks to Your Home Make Them All Right?

My husband and I are on opposite ends of the political spectrum, which has often made for interesting conversation. We have been married for more than 20 years. He has many wonderful attributes and has been a supportive husband and father. However, I am disturbed when he makes comments that are racist (linking skin color to a store’s clientele) or classist (saying that “scholarship” students have no right to criticize their college, or that “scholarship” students at a private school, not those who pay “full freight,” should have the student teacher). When reminded of such comments afterward, he seems uncomfortable. And of course, he would never voice them publicly.

In an effort to discourage such remarks, particularly around our children, I suggested a simple litmus test: Would you be reluctant or embarrassed to make such comments outside the privacy of your home? To me, answering “yes” to that question suggests that you know that such comments are wrong. My husband believes that he should be able to say what he wants in his own home, calling it a “zone of privacy.” My response is that just because you “can” do something does not mean that you “should.”

I acknowledge my personal shortcomings and do not always behave in ways that show my best self, but I do aspire to conduct myself in private in a manner that would not make me uncomfortable were it made public. My husband dismisses this as my being morally superior. What do you think about the private-public litmus test as I’ve framed it? Am I acting in a way that is “morally superior”? Name Withheld

My response: What do I think of the litmus test? I see two people with different values and you want to impose yours on him. Everyone talks tolerance but few practice it when it means them letting up on their values. They don’t think of themselves as inflexible or self-righteous. They just think the world is that way and they happen to get it.

You suggest he would “be reluctant or embarrassed to make such comments outside the privacy of your home,” but I know of plenty of communities that would welcome his views and probably shun yours. In those communities, you might feel reluctant to share your views. You’d just feel they were wrong. Well, he probably feels the same way.

Are you acting in a way that is “morally superior”? What do you think? Here’s another litmus test: do you feel you are right and he is wrong, but you wouldn’t outright say it? You sound like it to me. What could be more “morally superior”?

The New York Times response:

In other instances, though, such lip service honors and reinforces worthy ideals. When the public culture comes to shun sexual harassment or racist behavior, we should be glad that workplace behavior can shift long before every heart is won over. Once, in conservative communities, homosexuality was often met by public disapproval and private tolerance; on balance, it’s a sign of progress that the reverse may now be more common — that even the privately disapproving tend to go along with public acceptance. Virtue, as La Rochefoucauld knew, readily accepts the tributes it receives from vice.

A reluctance to venture a comment outside the domestic sphere, you propose, suggests that a person knows the comment is wrong. But consider, as Kuran does, the members of the Soviet Writers’ Union, who back in the 1950s voted to denounce Boris Pasternak, however they may have really felt. We can regret their ballots, but it would have been worse, not better, if those writers had held to the party line about the author of “Dr. Zhivago” when speaking among their intimates. In this country, a progressive in an evangelical community may speak very differently about Planned Parenthood in private than in public. Are our public selves bound to be our best selves? I spent too much of my youth in a military dictatorship to find this a plausible generalization.

The point is that social norms don’t necessarily coincide with moral ones. Nor should liberals dismiss the zone of privacy. At the dinner table, you can explore incipient doubts about your official commitments, grouse about your boss’s tendency to hire from his alma mater, speculate about how many Botox injections your colleague in marketing has had, try out half-baked arguments, indulge your personal revulsions and enthusiasms. The maxim that everything said in the home should be sayable in public is too demanding.

Your litmus test has the elegance of simplicity. But we can’t get around the task of moral evaluation. What’s wrong with your husband’s attitudes is not that he expresses them but that he has them. You are morally superior to him because you don’t have these attitudes (unless you have offsetting moral deficits). We let ourselves off the hook when we reflexively use “morally superior” as disparagement, as a synonym for toxic condescension. News flash: It’s morally superior to be morally superior.

For many years, our next-door neighbor’s house was a blight on the street. It would be impossible to describe the foul odors and clutter that emanated from the inside and the outside of her house. The house was a bona fide health hazard; the health department came and shut down an illegal puppy mill a few years ago. She was a hoarder and a chain-smoker.

The house was foreclosed on and sold at auction for a rather high price because of the desirability of the neighborhood and the lot. We peeked in the house at that time and were nauseated by the scene: black mold growing up the walls; dog feces and cigarette butts all over the floor; unimaginable stacks of clutter; the stove, refrigerator and kitchen walls black with rotting food, grease and grime; the wall between the garage and the living room completely moldy and destroyed by water damage. We could not spend more than one second in the house before gagging and fleeing.

We assumed that it would be a tear-down, but the new owners set about cleaning the interior. First to arrive was a cleaning team wearing hazmat suits and respirators. They worked for months and appear to have done a good job gutting the house and making it safe and livable.

Yesterday while I was out in my yard, a prospective buyer or real estate agent (I assume) pulled up and asked me what I could tell her about the history of the house. I just muttered that I did not know anything and bid her good luck and farewell.

What is my ethical obligation in this situation? It is possible that they have eliminated all the odors, dangerous mold and filth and that the house is safe and livable. But it is also possible that they have just cosmetically and structurally fixed the house and that some odor and unsafe mold will take root in the future. I would not personally live there knowing what I know. But really, it is none of my business, and given the choice, I would not talk to anyone about what I know. While it feels like a lie of omission not to answer the direct question, I also feel that it is not my place to potentially sabotage the seller’s business deal or investment. If I am asked again, what should I say? Name Withheld

My response: I’ve written too many times about abstract concepts like obligations and the lack of a book in the sky or any other absolute measure of obligation. Likewise, asking others for ideas and advice sounds productive but asking what you should say sounds juvenile. You have your values. You’re an adult. Figure it out. If you want help, I recommend asking for help, not the answer.

I suggest you consider the effects of your choices and actions and how they will affect others and yourself. I would try to create options. Then act based on this empathy and problem solving.

You know, many of the plants you eat were fertilized with manure.

The New York Times response:

Another home with hidden squalor? You say you wouldn’t live there “knowing what you know.” But what do you know? The place has been cleaned for months by workers in hazmat suits, you say. That suggests it has an excellent chance of being in tiptop condition.

There will surely be a home inspection before the sale is concluded; if serious contamination remains, it should be discovered. And your concerns that you’ll be sabotaging the seller if you tell people the whole story are well founded. People seem to be wired that way.

Paul Rozin, a psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania, once did a memorable experiment. He gave adults a beverage that contained a dead cockroach and assured them that the insect had been sterilized. There was no rational reason for not drinking it. Most couldn’t, even though the cockroach was removed. They found the idea too disgusting. In a similar experiment, adults wouldn’t drink apple juice from a perfectly clean bedpan. Your repugnance at the house next door may be like that, and you could transmit it to potential buyers. So keep any future answers to prospective buyers accurate but brief.

Will market forces fix global warming? It would be a global catastrophe.

posted by Joshua on April 22, 2017 in Nature
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In the past: “We don’t have to act on global warming. The market will take care of everything.”

When the market responds to global warming: “Help! Subsidize us! Protect us from the market!”

Many people think we’ll avoid the worst predictions about global warming because market forces will drive up costs of fossil fuels as they become more scarce and motivate entrepreneurs to create new solutions.

I don’t think they realize what “market forces” means in this context.

A business that becomes unprofitable often downsizes, meaning it finds the part of it that is losing money most and sells it. Doing so is often difficult, but when a company has too many people it has to get rid of them.

If the Earth’s ability to sustain civilization and human life decreases, we can’t sell off a division. The global equivalent of selling off a division or downsizing is that people die. That’s what a “market correction” means when it’s about population size, not share prices.

There are no banks with connections to spare planets that might buy our extra population like an underperforming division. Even if we could colonize the Moon or Mars, we would only send a few people to start the colonies. We can’t move that many people from here to there. If we trashed this planet, there’s a reasonable chance we’ll trash the next one too.

I’m writing about the problems with hoping market forces will help us because of this New York Times story,

When Rising Seas Transform Risk Into Certainty

Along parts of the East Coast, the entire system of insuring coastal property is beginning to break down.

NY Times Rising SeasWhat this article is about

Rising sea levels are flooding homes on the United States east coast. The effect is increasing. It’s happening globally, but the article only looks at this coast.

The government, instead of letting the market decide prices, can’t help subsidizing the market, preventing market forces from changing behavior. In other words:

In the past: “We don’t have to act on global warming. The market will take care of everything.”

When the market responds to global warming: “Help! Subsidize us! Protect us from the market!”

What the effect means now, before the problems start in earnest, about a woman whose house got flooded by rising sea levels:

Staton lay awake at night wondering what to do. “I hate that house—that house has been my nightmare for 10 years,”

She loved the house when she bought it. Now that rising sea levels are destroying it, she hates it.

Get ready to start experiencing that effect about the planet within a couple decades if we don’t work as hard as we can to change our behavior to reduce our warming behavior a lot.

We can’t undo the past, and a lot of rising will happen no matter what we do now, but there are degrees of problems. We can at least step off the gas.

Science: College Can Decrease Your Understanding of It. A Harvard Physicist Is Undoing the Damage

posted by Joshua on April 21, 2017 in Education,, Nature
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My article, “Science: College Can Decrease Your Understanding of It. A Harvard Physicist Is Undoing the Damage,” begins

Science: College Can Decrease Your Understanding of It. A Harvard Physicist Is Undoing the Damage

Studies show that traditional lectures tend to lower students’ understanding of physics. Harvard professor Eric Mazur developed techniques that work, and innovators can learn from them.

If we want to improve our world, we need to know science–not just to solve problems, but to understand the underlying patterns of nature. Many of humanity’s greatest advances came from physics: radio, transistors, lasers, the world wide web, leaving Earth, and so on.

Science and physics will be essential in solving our future challenges: global warming, fusion, alternative energy, and so on. Society, innovation, and entrepreneurship depend, not completely, but a lot, on science.

(I may be biased, as I have a PhD in physics, though I’ve found my training applies to my subsequent practices of entrepreneurship and leadership.)

Problems at the root
Given the importance of physics and science, would it surprise you to learn that studies have shown that traditional introductory college classes can decrease students’ conceptual understanding of the subject?

A 1998 University of Maryland study on “student attitudes and beliefs about university physics and how those attitudes and beliefs change as a result of physics instruction” found

At every school we studied, the overall results deteriorated as the result of one semester of instruction

Read the rest at Science: College Can Decrease Your Understanding of It. A Harvard Physicist Is Undoing the Damage.

Inc Mazur Spodek