#31: 2015 in Review: Some of Our Best Moments

If you want to get of sense of what we're about, this highlights show may be a good place to start.  We've put together a "best of" podcast that reflects our values and makes the argument for why we're worth listening to.
 

From Episode 4, released in June, reformer Philip K. Howard made the case for better government and simpler, shorter laws, instead of all the red tape and tangled mess that we have today. In his Ted Talk lecture and his latest book, “The Rule of Nobody,” Philip argues passionately for legal and government reform.
 

Not many parents can say their lives were changed by an uneventful subway ride. Lenore Skenazy, our guest in Episode 20, tells us about the uproar that followed her decision to let her 9-year-old son ride the subway on his own.  Her column about it led to the movement, "Free Range Kids."

Other guests on this highlights show include Hara Marano of Psychology Today, who says there's a mental health crisis on American college campuses and Greg Lukianoff spoke to us in September. His groundbreaking article in The Atlantic alerted us to why trigger warnings are part of a threat to free speech at colleges.

Mike Rowe of "Dirty Jobs" and "Somebody's Gotta Do It" fame on CNN made the case for a change in emphasis in education, giving greater pride of place to training and knowledge about skilled trades occupations.  Our best of 2015 also includes an excerpt from Episode 13, a show every parent should listen to.  Elizabeth Green, author of "Building a Better Teacher," argues for teacher training reform and understanding the importance of the craft of teaching. 

University of Tennessee Law Professor Glenn Reynolds who runs the popular blog, Instapundit.com, was on Episode 10, talking about his proposal for a revolving door surtax. The aim is reduce influence peddling by current and former government officials in Washington D.C.  

All of our guests came armed with thoughtful, constructive and independent ideas with the aim of making the world a better place.

 

#30 How The Internet Is Messing With Our Brains. Abigail Baird: How Do We Fix It?

We love our smartphones, tablets, laptops and game consoles. But what is the explosion in mobile technology doing to our brains?

Our guest, Professor Abigail Baird, is a developmental psychologist, expert on the teenage brain and mother of two young children. She says technology has great benefits, but also could have a negative impact on our conversations, memory and social life. 

The brain's craving for novelty - for constant stimulation and instant gratification - makes our tech toys seem irresistible. So how do we put balance in our lives?

Abigail's fixes include time-out zones and no-screen places and events. Parents, she says, "should consider what is best for their families.  For instance, I love the idea of 'no phone in the car.'"

Another tip for parents is to beware of tethering - when college students sometimes call home at least several times a day.

"Hard as it is for parents, once kids head off to college, they really need to rely on their interpersonal networks at school, not calling home." 

Another fix: "As adults we have to set good examples to our children and not get too attached to our own screens."

#29 Are College Students Too Emotionally Fragile? Hara Marano: How Do We Fix It?

From angry scenes over Halloween costumes at Yale to protests against racism at the University of Missouri, student activism is back.  More than at any time since the late 1960's, America is in the middle of a wave of college unrest. 

To what extent do students today have genuine grievances? Are at least some of them rebels without a cause - angry because their feelings have been hurt? 

Step by step colleges are being transformed into something more akin to mental health wards rather than citadels of learning,” says our guest, Hara Marano, Editor at Large of Psychology Today and author of the book, "A Nation of Wimps".  

While calls for greater diversity among college professors are an important cause, Marano tells us of fundamental changes in the student population. 

"Rising numbers of students are breaking down with anxiety and depression, self-mutilation, burning, cutting, binge drinking to obliterate all of their anxiety," says Marano. "Even the slightest disappointment pitches them into crisis mode."

"The American College Mental Health Association has been documented rises in all of these conditions." Many students "get so distressed so readily."

Are many young people over-protected and even narcissistic, demanding protection from ideas and concepts they find too uncomfortable to listen to?  This episode digs into these questions, suggesting fixes for colleges and parents.

#26 The Trouble With Today's Toys: Richard Gottlieb: How Do We Fix It?

The holiday shopping season is underway and finding the right toy or game for his or her kids is the goal of every parent. A vast range of new toys has been introduced in recent months.

Joining us in this episode to look at the recent changes is consultant and branding expert, Richard Gottlieb, of Global Toy Experts.

"The toy industry is a nineteenth century industry that's trying hard to break into the twenty first," says Richard. "It's had a lot of difficulty dealing with the digital aspect of play that's become so popular."

On this show we ask whether today's technologically sophisticated toys are scripting the way kids play.  Do they force children into a pre-written narrative when they should be allowing for open-ended play? 

Toy stores have many traditional toys, such as blocks, construction sets and craft kits, but kids also have fun with "video games, apps and even social networking," says Richard. These new trends have "confronted the industry with a sort of existential crisis: Who are we, what is a toy and how do we play?"

Richard has many positive, playful and out-of-the-box ideas on how to view toys and the nature of play in a digital society. 

"I think it's wonderful that children has all these choices," he tells us. "I wish we had all these choices."

 

#22 Gender Inequality at Work with Laura Vanderkam. How Do We Fix It?

Women in the workplace face huge challenges, including discrimination and low pay. The Pew Research Center says women's hourly wages are 84% those of men. The White House says the true number is lower. Many firms insist on rigid working hours, making it hard for many employees to balance work and family life.  

How Do We Fix It? Enter time management and productivity expert Laura Vanderkam, author of "I Know How She Does It: How Successful Women Make the Most of Their Time" and "What The Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast. "

Laura shares practical ideas for women and men to make the most of their free time and boost work productivity.  She has innovative fixes for working mothers, companies and government policy.  Flextime, paid parental leave and family-friendly reforms to Social Security should all be considered," she says. 

Gender discrimination is "definitely a problem in the workplace," says Laura.  "But there is also a personal side to it as well."