A Prelude to Pedagogy – Ilia Zenkov

LigImage of Neural Pathways in a Brainhts dim. A bright yellow beam illuminates the path to an exquisite 480kg creation: A Steinway & Sons Model D. The instrument’s golden cast-iron plate is striking against its velvet black finish. The silence is deafening. Energy and anticipation emanates from my fellow audience members. Without a semblance of warning enters Denis Matsuev – winner of the 11th International Tchaikovsky Competition at age 23. As if struck by lightning, the piano begins to produce a breathtakingly intricate melody.

A brief pause arrests your attention. Two seconds of profound silence follow, the air all but crackling with emotion surging through the concert hall.

The audience’s inaudible sigh of relief is palpable as the second movement begins. We slide back in our seats, relax our shoulders, and resume breathing.

However, there is more to be examined here than a simple pause. These interludes are not just a component of the spectacular solo put on by Matsuev this past weekend – rather, the very nature of these interruptions has a deep-seated rooting in the neurological wiring of our brains.

Event segmentation: “The process by which people parse a continuous stream of activity into meaningful events” and “A core component of ongoing perception, with consequences for memory and learning.” (Zacks & Swallow, 2007).  The brain naturally separates perceived information into spatial (Biederman, 1987) and temporal parts (Zacks & Swallow, 2007). For example, a lecture hall contains chairs, desks, a podium, and a board. The brain automatically segments your perception of the lecture hall into such components so as to better remember it – to better store it in memory. In much the same way, boundaries in time allow the brain to temporally segment your perception of, for example, a piano concerto. Untitled

A graph of BOLD (Blood Oxygenation Level Dependent signal) responses in various regions of the brain in a 10 second window surrounding a transition period, whereby the body rapidly increases blood flow to active neuronal tissues. From Sridharan et al (2007).

 

Perhaps by using these concepts and even combining them in lectures, we can better cater to the brain’s natural information processing circuitry and facilitate a greater degree of learning. According to Zacks & Swallow (2007), ”Those who identify appropriate event boundaries during perception tend to remember more and learn more proficiently.” By creating appropriate temporal and spatial boundaries in lectures – perhaps a minute break between two related notions, a short discussion period, or even carefully planning how to situate problems and solutions on a board – professors may well aid their students’ learning by approaching pedagogy with event segmentation in mind.

Stanford University School of Medicine researchers have shown that the peak of brain activity is at those moments of silence between transitions, when it indeed appears that nothing is happening (Sridharan et al, 2007).

fMRI images taken of subjects’ cognitive activity in the left and right sides of their brain while listening to music show that neurological signaling increases dramatically around the point between two movements. From Sridharan et al (2007). 

Perhaps most notable about this study is that while subjects’ attention to music differed, the anticipation of a transition point between movements was a universal phenomenon. Considering that the way our brains resolve our ongoing perception into discrete events is directly related to how our long-term memory updates from our working “short term” memory (Kurby & Zacks, 2008), this may very well be an effect worth exploring.

To encapsulate this compelling feature of the brain, I will provide a rather simplified analogy. Imagine a resonance effect: When you push a swing at just the right moment, you not only preserve the energy from its descent but add more energy to the system. However, if you push at the wrong moment you will not add energy. In fact, you will be taking it away! Similarly, we must use the brain’s inherent approach to information processing to our advantage, not to our detriment. Instead of longwinded lectures to drain students of motivation, it’s better to push them often and at just the right moments to promote a higher degree of learning. Event segmentation can help educators rethink the structuring and organization of their lessons, which in turn will help students expand on concepts and develop a more complete understanding of the ideas presented to them.

For further reading, this research and supplementary data is available online at these links:

Event segmentation

Segmentation in the perception and memory of events

Neural dynamics of event segmentation in music: Converging evidence for dissociable ventral and dorsal networks

References

Biederman, I. (1987, April). Recognition-by-components: A theory of human image understanding. Psychological Review, 94(2), 115–117

Kurby, C. A., & Zacks, J. M. (2008, February). Segmentation in the perception and memory of events. Trends in Cognitive Science, 15(2), 72-79.

Sridharan, D., Levitin, D.J., Chafe, C.H., Berger, J., & Menon, V. (2007, August). Neural dynamics of event segmentation in music: Converging evidence for dissociable ventral and dorsal networks. Neuron, 55(3), 521-532

Zacks, J. M., & Khena, M. S. (2007, April). Event segmentation. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 16(2), 80-84.

Ilia Zenkov

Special Projects Assistant for the Centre for Teaching Excellence for Winter 2016, a 3A Biophysics undergraduate.

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Better Teaching Through Chemistry — Dylon McChesney

analogyBecause I do research in philosophy, it might be confusing to some people why I talk about the hard sciences so much in relation to teaching. The reason is simple: philosophy is very abstract, and abstract things are not so easy to understand, thus I look to outside disciplines for strategies to concretize ideas. It turns out, of course, that philosophy has no monopoly on abstraction. Dorothy Gale (1999) shows that even elementary chemistry, that is, the kind of material covered in grade school, is abstract and “inexplicable without the use of analogies or models.” It is easy to assume that because a subject has to do with the natural world (for example) that it is de facto concrete, but this assumption is harmful to pedagogy.

Chemistry—like so many other things—is taught through dividing the world into hierarchical levels of abstraction: we establish the relationship between macro level phenomena like a glass of water, and the sub-micro level (H20) of that same phenomena. Simple, right? Well, as Gale notes in the aforementioned article, there are numerous obstacles to strengthening the understanding of each level and how they are interrelated. One obstacle is language choice. Many technical terms have different meanings when used in everyday communication, which can lead to a situation where a “student will be thinking one thing, the instructor another” (ibid.). Surely this situation is a nearly universal academic experience, a kind of growing pain for students and (hopefully) a wakeup call for instructors. Philosophers could be more self-aware that the term “realism” refers to a class of ideas that probably seem anything but realistic, and what counts as a valid argument in formal logic can look like a completely invalid argument from a common sense perspective. So, one thing we can all learn from Chemistry is to anticipate a struggle to “override” intuitive, non-technical definitions and concepts. From the privileged perspective of hindsight bias, these struggles might seem trivial, but they are not.

Perhaps the problem of technical language use is obvious, but what is likely less obvious is how we do—and how we should—use analogies in teaching. If Chemistry (taken here to be paradigmatic) is “inexplicable without the use of analogies or models” then we need to be very aware of the strengths and weaknesses of analogies. A convenient example is the Bohr “solar system” model of the atom. Because atomic particles are unobservable, they are much more difficult to conceptualize than dogs, trees, or even the components of cells which can at least be viewed through microscopes. But since planets are observable, a solar system is relatively easy to conceptualize. Drawing an analogy between a solar system and an atom (where the “star” is the nucleus and “orbiting planets” are electrons) allows for some visualization and a sort of functional template of understanding. This is extremely powerful! Unfortunately, sometimes these templates can cause misunderstandings. The Bohr model of the atom, despite its elegant simplicity, is not the best model. In fact, we now know it is misleading; yet for many the cognitive damage is already done and the inherent virtue of learning through connections will consequently be difficult to reverse.  Thus we have a ubiquitous example of how analogies can help and hurt all at once; although we need them to teach and learn, we also need to learn how to teach with them carefully. While it is unlikely that many of us will be able to anticipate specific paradigm shifts, such as transition from classical mechanics to quantum mechanics, we need to at least anticipate that some paradigm shifts are likely on the horizon. Analogies and models are indispensable, but promoting a critical stance and stressing the limitations of our best knowledge-generating tools might be even more so.

Although the objects of analysis differ substantially from discipline to discipline, ultimately we all face the same difficulty: making the leap from unknown to known. For both the arts and sciences this leap is theoretical and requires special attention to methodology. Since our theoretic knowledge of, well, almost everything, is so dependent on analogy, we are impelled to reflect on how it factors into our teaching in order to use it to its full potential.

References

Gale, D. 1999. Improving Teaching and Learning through Chemistry Education Research: A Look to the Future. Journal of Chemical Education, 76(4).

Notes from the Music Studio — Christine Zaza

playing pianojpgWhen I reflect on teaching and learning in higher education I realize that much of what I learned, I learned when I was a music student. Here are some of the highlights from the music studio that are just as applicable to university teaching and learning:

Practice, practice, practice. Actually, this would more aptly be phrased Practice-Feedback, Practice-Feedback, Practice-Feedback, but the rhythm just isn’t as good. I wouldn’t expect anyone to become a professional violinist without regular lessons with a qualified teacher. Regular feedback is critical to guiding students as they develop new skills. Without regular feedback, bad habits can become engrained and difficult to correct. In university, students learn a number of new skills and new ways of thinking and they need multiple opportunities to practice these skills with regular feedback. To ensure that students focus on the feedback and not just the grade, instructors can give a follow-up assignment students to make revisions highlighting how they have incorporated the feedback that they received on their first submission.

Practice the performance. When preparing for a recital or audition (a summative test), music students are advised to practice performing in front of friends, family –teddy bears if need be – several times, before the actual performance. Preparing for a performance is different from preparing for weekly lessons. Good performance preparation is crucial because in a performance you get one shot at the piece. There are no do-overs on stage. Similarly, when writing music theory or history exams, practicing the exam is an expected part of exam preparation. To facilitate this preparation, the Royal Conservatory of Music sells booklets of past exams. The Conservatory also returns graded exams so that students can see exactly where they earned and lost marks: considering that the Royal Conservatory of Music administers thousands of exams, three times a year, across the globe, this is a huge undertaking. At university, we know that self-testing is an effective study strategy and some instructors do provide several practice exams questions in their course. However, due to academic integrity concerns, the common practice is to deny students access to past exams as well as their own completed exam. I wonder if academic misconduct would be less of an issue if students were allowed to use past exams as practice tools. Amassing a large enough pool of past exam questions should address the concern that students will just memorize answers to questions that they’ve seen in advance.

Explicit instruction is key. It’s not very helpful to just tell a novice piano student to go home and practice. In the name of practicing, a novice student will, more than likely, play his or her piece over a few times, from bar 1 straight to the end, no matter what happens in between, and think that he has “practiced.” I know. I’ve heard it hundreds of times, and if you have a child in music lessons, I’ll bet you’ve heard it too. Explicit instruction means addressing many basic questions that an expert takes for granted: What does practicing look like? How many times a week should you practice? For how long should you practice? How do you know if you have practiced enough? How do you know if you have practiced well? Similarly, not all first students arrive at university knowing how to study. Many students would benefit from explicit instructions about learning and studying (e.g., What does studying look like? How do you know when you’ve studied enough? I’ve gone over my notes a few times – is that studying? Etc.

Know that students can’t learn it all at once. A good violin teacher knows that you can’t correct a student’s bow arm while you’re adjusting the left hand position, improving intonation, working on rhythm, teaching new notes, and refining dynamics. In any given lesson, the violin teacher chooses to let some things go while focusing on one particular aspect of playing otherwise the student will become too overwhelmed to take in any information at all. Suzuki teachers know that you always start by pointing out something positive about the student’s playing and that you can’t focus only on the errors. Students need encouragement. I think this is true at university as well. Becoming a good writer takes years and novice writers will likely continue to make several mistakes while at the same time improving one or two specific aspects of their writing. While giving feedback on written assignments, it’s important to acknowledge the positive aspects – that’s more encouraging that facing a sea of red that highlights only the errors.

Even if you didn’t take piano lessons as a child and even if have registered your 6 year old for hockey rather than violin lessons, I hope you’ll find these lessons from the music studio applicable to the university classroom.

 Photo privided by Samuel Cuenca under a Creative Commons license.

Keys for a TA to Succeed in the Classroom — Aser Gebreselassie

TutorialAs an undergraduate student currently in my third year of ERS at the University of Waterloo, I have had the chance to interact with various types of Teaching Assistants (TAs) over the course of my studies, whether it be in labs, tutorials, in class, via email, or having assignments marked by them. There are plenty of great stories about TAs whom I have had in the past, and unfortunately, a few stories of some questionable TAs as well. Being a successful TA consists of many different aspects, but the three characteristics that I appreciate in a TA is their ability to relate to students, knowledge of the course content, and an ability to communicate effectively and efficiently.

Relating to your students helps build trust between the TA and the student which helps to manage the classroom effectively, as the students will have respect for the TA. Quick but effective activities which I have personally seen in my classes include icebreakers during the first day of meeting your students, as well as having a sense of humour and giving out a positive vibe. A few new things I learnt during the Building Rapport with Students workshop earlier this week was that maintaining positive body language throughout the session gives the students a positive impression about yourself, and learning the student’s names as soon as possible to help develop trust and understanding between the TA and the student.

Knowledge of course content is also key. Most people think that their TAs are those who have taken the course before and have done fairly well in it. This isn’t always the case. Sometimes the TA may never have taken the course, or sometimes they didn’t complete their undergraduate degree in the same faculty as the course they are TAs for. If this is the case, doing the readings and making detailed notes would help a lot. The students understand that a TA is a student as well, and if you as a TA can’t answer a question but are willing to do some research to find the right answer, students find that extremely helpful and are willing to wait to get a right answer, instead of getting a wrong or incomplete answer immediately.

Being able to communicate successfully can make or break the trust and respect that students have for a TA. Setting basic rules on the first day can help a TA significantly. I have had TAs in the past tell us a couple of ground rules: for example, they only will respond to emails during business hours (9 am to 5pm), and that students should not email questions about a majoTutorial 2r assignment the night before it is due as it will be too late to get a response of any value. Prompt responses and setting ground rules can help alleviate pressure from students, and can significantly help boost a TA and student’s relationship. Sometimes TAs respond weeks, even months after receiving an email and it destroys any rapport that they have built with the student.

Lastly, my pet peeve: it is frustrating when students compare grades after an evaluation, and have written two very similar things on their paper, but get two completely different marks. The TA has now lost a lot of the positive feelings that they may have gained over the semester by being inconsistent. Both students are now alienated and concerned, and will go through every little detail of their evaluation to make sure nothing else was missed. Both students will come to the TA with many concerns about their marks. Being consistent, whether it be giving both those students an 85% or a 55%, will save a TA a massive headache.

 

Making Teaching and Learning Visible at the University of Waterloo’s Teaching and Learning Conference – Julie Timmermans and Crystal Tse

owl

 It is moving and inspiring to see 250 colleagues gathered for a day of thinking and talking about teaching and learning.  This year’s Teaching and Learning Conference took place on Thursday, April 30th, with over 200 people from the University of Waterloo and numerous colleagues from neighbouring universities participating in over forty research-based and practice-based sessions.

Vice-President, Academic and Provost, Ian Orchard, set the tone for the day: he opened the Conference by underscoring the value placed on teaching and developing as teachers at the University of Waterloo:

“The University of Waterloo values excellence in teaching, just as it does in research. […] Investing time in developing teachers is a vital aspect of fostering a culture that values teaching and learning and that develops teaching in a community environment.  This conference helps foster community, and makes the sharing of teaching experiences possible, creating a community of scholars of teaching.”

The theme of this year’s Conference was “Making Teaching and Learning Visible.” There is indeed much about teaching and learning that remains unintentionally hidden and unspoken.  And so, through this theme, we explored what we can do to clarify and communicate the processes underlying teaching and learning so that learners and teachers work towards the same outcomes.  We explored challenging and provocative questions, such as “How do we know what students already know, what they don’t know, and what they have learned?” and “How can we make the thinking underlying our instructional decisions more explicit for ourselves, our students, and our colleagues?”. Each of the day’s panel discussions, workshops, and presentations attempted to reveal and communicate assumptions or practices in some way.

Presidents’ Colloquium Keynote Speaker, Dr. Linda Nilson, pursued this theme in her talk, “Making Your Students’ Learning Visible: How Can We Know What They Know?”. During this session, Linda delved into one of the most common yet challenging questions we have as teachers: How can we gather evidence of and measure student learning? She advocated for setting measurable learning outcomes in our courses, and for ensuring alignment between these outcomes, teaching and learning strategies, and assessment methods. Drawing on examples from across the disciplines, Linda provided concrete strategies for measuring and interpreting gains in student learning.  If you’re intrigued by these ideas, you are welcome to download the slides and handouts from the keynote session, available through the Conference website.

A highlight of the Conference was the “Igniting Our Practice” session.  Two inspiring and award-winning University of Waterloo professors, Gordon Stubley, Associate Dean, Teaching in Engineering, and Jonathan Witt, Teaching Fellow in Biology, each taught us a concept from their courses and, in doing so, drew us into the ways of thinking of their disciplines. Does the impressive display of feathers in the tail of the male peacock serve an evolutionary purpose?  What do pre-tests reveal about fourth-year students’ knowledge of particular concepts in their third fluid dynamics course?   Through vivid examples, Gordon and Jonathan led us to think about designing teaching for student learning, and how we might integrate these ideas into our own teaching.

The Conference closed with a wine and cheese reception where colleagues had the opportunity to connect over a drink and some food.   Associate Vice President, Academic (AVP-A), Mario Coniglio closed the Conference, thanking people for their commitment to enhancing teaching and learning.  He also took time to recognize the many people who had contributed to the Conference, including the participants and presenters, the Teaching Fellows, members of the Centre for Teaching Excellence (CTE), people who chaired sessions and provided technical support, Creative Services, as well as FAUW.  At CTE, we’re particularly grateful for the vision and financial support AVP-A, Mario Coniglio, and Vice-President, Academic and Provost, Ian Orchard.

And now, it’s time to pursue the ideas that were sown at the Conference. And these actions have meaning and impact.  As Ian Orchard said,

 “All that you do as individuals allows students to be successful, allows teachers to be successful, and, if individuals are successful, the community is successful and therefore the University as a whole can be successful.  Thank you for all you do.”

For details about this year’s Conference, please visit the Conference website.  Planning for next year’s event has already begun!

(Image credit: Sanatanu Sen)
Crystal Tse

Crystal Tse

As the Instructional Developer, Research and Consulting at the Centre for Teaching Excellence, Crystal Tse supports faculty and staff members on conducting research on teaching and learning by providing consultations, facilitating workshops on designing teaching and learning research projects, adjudicating the Learning Innovation and Teaching Enhancement Grants, and chairing University of Waterloo’s annual Teaching and Learning Conference.

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Getting The Most Out of Your Studying – Kelly Stone, CTE Co-op Student

Most people view lecture and lab time as the largest part of learning; however, it’s not what students spend the most time on. For me, studying takes up the majority of my time and I’ve been learning how to optimize it. Throughout my education, I’ve been introduced to different ways of studying, all of which I have tried at least once; you never know what works best for you until you do. Since midterms are currently in full swing, and exams are about one month away, I thought I’d share my opinion on these various types of study methods.

Plate of Smarties arranged by colour.During first year, living in residence meant study buddies were available at all times. Having other people to study with can be quite valuable, especially in courses that are heavy in memorization. By talking through concepts with other people, you become aware of topics you are unsure of. Becoming aware of the materials you haven’t memorized allows you to refocus your efforts for better use of your time. Afterwards, I find meeting with your study buddies again the night before the midterm or exam is extremely beneficial – especially when you introduce food incentives. In first year I took Introductory Zoology, a course that required a lot of memorization regarding phylum names. Two roommates and I created our own study game the day before our final exam. We purchased Smarties and separated them onto a plate based on their colour, which we gave phylum names, producing eight groups with nine per group; therefore you could choose a question from a phylum up to three times. By introducing food incentives, and categorizing those incentives, my roommates and I ensured we reviewed materials from all of the relevant phyla we needed to know.

Despite the benefits of studying with other people, some courses are difficult to collaborate on, such as Chemistry or Mathematics. For courses such as these, working through practice problems is the typical method. But there are other ways to ensure you actually understand the problems, instead of memorizing numbers. Whenever I have to use equations to solve problems presented to me, I break down the process instead of focusing on the numbers. For this I write an equation on my whiteboard that I am expected to know. I then isolate each component and talk out loud about what it is and how to recognize what piece of information from a question would be used. After talking through what is used in an equation, I work through step-by-step how the numbers are used, especially in classes such as Mathematics. By breaking down the process for solving problems, I am better able to answer questions on exams because I understand the steps I need to go through, not just the numbers from practice problems.

In addition, I have tried other study techniques for when I am unable to study with other people. The first way I have tried, and still use to this day, are flash cards and – what I have called – flash tables. The benefit of these mainly comes from making them. For terms, making flashcards ensures I cover all those discussed in lecture, with a definition worded in my own way that makes sense to me. For concepts or groupings, such as phyla, I create “flash tables” where I write a profile for that concept; this includes the name of the concept, a general explanation, how it’s used, how it’s related to other concepts, and any defining characteristics. The process of creating these “flash” papers helps me to determine what I know, what I sort of know, and what I need to focus on.

Life cycle of a jellyfishAlong with creating these “flash” study resources, I incorporate mnemonics into my studying. During Introductory Zoology, we were expected to memorize reproductive cycles of various phyla; that meant we had to know the names of the life stages. For example, the jellyfish lifecycle consists of five distinct stages – Planula Larva, Scyphistoma, Strobila, Ephyra, and Mature Medusa. With help from my roommates, we created a mnemonic to remember the stages, based on the first letters: People Love Seeing Stars Even Monday Morning. Needless to say, I still haven’t forgotten the life stages of the jellyfish!

Of course, with every successful discovery, there are always some failures. A high school teacher suggested I record myself saying my lecture notes. Then, with these recordings, suggested I listen to one lecture each night before falling asleep since short-term memory is transferred into long term overnight. Since I was still determining the best study method for myself, I decided to give it a try. I found saying my notes out loud as if I were presenting the material to be quite helpful; however, listening to my recordings later was not as beneficial as I thought it would be. Personally, by the time I reached my bed, I no longer had the concentration to absorb the material. But it was an interesting experience that led me to talking out loud instead of simply reading my notes.

In the end, studying is different for everyone and we all gravitate towards methods that might not work for someone else. I have learned that verbal studying is extremely beneficial and to never be afraid to ask someone else to explain an unclear concept. Collaboration helps you determine the topics you may have missed or perhaps interpreted incorrectly. With all that said, happy studying and good luck on your midterms and exams!

Kelly Stone

Kelly Stone

Special Projects Assistant for the Centre for Teaching Excellence for the duration of the Winter 2015 term. 2nd year Biology co-op undergraduate student at the University of Waterloo. Currently a member of the UW Hip Hop club. I love baking, playing guitar, reading and blogging!

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You can’t see me — The Spotlight Effect – Sherry Lin, CTE Co-op Student

spotlightThinking back to before I can remember, my peers and educators have identified me as a shy and quiet individual: slightly inadequate in class participation, but excelling with regard to listening skills. After acknowledging this about myself and given time to reflect, I have since been challenging myself to become more outspoken and pushing to leave my anxiety-neutral condition — to step outside of my comfort zone.

Just last week, I had the wonderful opportunity to sit in on and participate in the CTE Fundamentals of University Teaching workshop “Teaching with Confidence”, facilitated by Angela Nyhout. Participants were able to reflect on aspects they were less confident about in their teaching methods, and discuss why this may be so. One of the most relatable and interesting concepts I took away from this workshop was the social psychological aspect of confidence.

I believe we have all felt it at some point in time: the feeling we’ve coined as ‘butterflies in our stomachs’. The psyche holds much more power than we think, and this reflects in our actions; it could be in the form of an uncharacteristic stutter, quivering of the voice, or an uncontrollable tremor of the hands. These behaviours are a result of what we call “The Spotlight Effect.”

The Spotlight Effect phenomenon refers to the tendency to overestimate the attention you are receiving from the audience you are interacting with. One is left with the constant awareness brought on by a glaring forehead zit, or the paranoia about whether or not there are pieces of spinach stuck in between the teeth. Were your hands too clammy when you shook the ones of your future employer? What about the possibility of a mustard stain on your shirt, when giving an important speech in a sea of attentive eyes? If we take a moment to think about it, each and every one of us can probably recall a situation where self-consciousness took over and the impulse to fold into yourself and self-destruct, or run away, arose.

Speaking to a few participants in the workshop, I realized anxiety and self-consciousness is a trait we all hold – it’s just that some people have it to a greater extent than others. Regardless of whether you are far skewed on the extrovert side of the scale, or a shy and introverted individual, feelings of anxiety and self-consciousness are universal, and do tend to occur now and again. I also learned that, to my dismay, anxiety will likely follow me to postgraduate studies and beyond. Fortunately, through taking this workshop, I have discovered ways to combat this predicament. The key, as I had always known but had trouble acknowledging, is practice and experience. More practice will provide one with more experience. By accumulating more experience, confidence will naturally be boosted through familiarity and routine. Other tips and tricks include eating something small or chewing a piece of gum. This will trick the mind into thinking that if one is eating, there is no imminent danger. Without the threat of danger, it will rid the mind of the “fight or flight” adrenaline response that may kick in.

Narcissistically speaking, we are the centres of our own universes and therefore we are apprehensive of judgment from others. Unfortunately, we are also our own worst critics. In the clashing of these two fates, we tend to beleaguer ourselves regarding our letdowns, and overlook or make light of our achievements. We subconsciously believe that the only way to feel accomplished, that we did a job well, is to please everybody. I think something we often forget is that we spend so much time worrying about ourselves that we do not have time to worry about others. The figurative double-edged sword runs both ways, in that others likely do not find the time to worry about you. Thus, it turns full circle. You can’t see me; so I can be confident, because there is nothing to worry about.