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Dr. Bob Sornson, the acclaimed leader in education, asserts that: “Empathy is the heart of a great classroom culture.”

 

Indeed, recent studies show that the most successful classrooms are those designed around the needs of students, and that the most effective teachers are those that start their journey by asking the question: “what do my students need?” In the digital age, customization has become easier than ever as technology allows us to customize lessons to the abilities of individual learners.

Empathy leads to trust, positive relationships and understanding. The power of empathy extends beyond the classroom and benefits the community as a whole. In a globalized world and in heterogeneous communities formed by a mosaic of cultural, ethnic, and socioeconomic backgrounds, empathy is essential to forming positive relationships built on trust and understanding.

What we know about empathy includes a very important fact: it gives birth to great leaders, whose understanding of the needs, aspirations, and circumstances of those who follow them is essential. This is how leaders make their team members feel valued and appreciated. This validation, and the ability to understand and share the feelings of others is at the heart of great communities and organizations.

In a recent lecture presented at Stanford University in the United States, leading researcher in the field of education, Professor Candace Thille discussed the latest findings in learning research and the use of technology in higher education.

The classical answers are:

  1. Increased access and convenience (the MOOCS argument)
  2. Simulation (learning from online/digital resources and models)
  3. Connection and crowd-sourcing (connectivity, internet, and interaction)

While these are indeed important advantages to technological advancements, the new approach in learning goes further to offer educators and learners additional and critical new breakthroughs in their educational journey.

Learning from leading Silicon Valley firms whose business models depends on large data and customer behavior, educational institutions of the future will utilize technology to learn about the learners. The interface would allow instructors and institutions to observe, collect data, and understand the needs, habits, strengths, and weaknesses of the student, allowing us to serve him/her better.

Collecting student interaction data in such a set up will drive powerful feedback loops to multiple actors in the teaching and learning system. Such loops would inform the learner, the teacher, the designers of the technology, and the researchers of science of learning.

As an educational institution that is founded on science and that prides itself in bringing research to practice,  is involved in studies and projects that develop such platforms and interfaces. We would be happy to answer your questions in this regard.

To watch the full video, refer to this link.

 

Inspired by H.H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum’s plans to “make the UAE among the best countries in the world” by the year 2021 (Golden Jubilee of the Union; UAE Vision2021), MECAT announces its programs in Design Thinking and Growth Mindset, targeting the region’s educational institutions.

 

Vision 2021 places innovation, research, science and technology as the cornerstones of a knowledge-based, highly productive and competitive economy, driven by entrepreneurs in a healthy environment where public and private sectors form effective partnerships. In a similar vein, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia announced its own version of this plan, dubbed Vision 2030, aiming at creating a modern economy that is less dependent on oil production. For decades, the Arab World has struggled to find a strategy that invigorates and stimulates creativity among its youth, an asset that is largely untapped or under-rated. The balance between rigid discipline and creativity has always been tilted towards the former, stifling originality and critical thinking among our youth. As the UAE leads the way in finding a new path towards modernization, our hope is that MECAT will be a pioneering institution in this venture. As a multi-national, multi-disciplinary, and science-rooted organization, MECAT is well positioned in this effort.

Design Thinking
Design Thinking introduces an innovative way of approaching challenges that we face on a daily basis, in schools, in the workplace and in our personal lives. It is a human-centric, interdisciplinary approach that surpasses traditional mindsets, employing visual, creative, and empathetic thinking to find new solutions to problems. Design Thinking questions old assumptions and what we think we already know. It disrupts the status quo in all disciplines, from education, health care, government, business management, engineering, media, tech industry, or services.

In other words, Design Thinking is synonymous with innovation; it offers a pathway towards innovating and discarding preconceptions, tired and tried ideas.

Growth Mindset
Mindsets are beliefs that we hold about ourselves and our abilities and natural components like personality or intelligence. Some people hold a fixed mindset while others hold a growth mindset. A fixed mindset assumes that qualities of human character are innate and cannot be changed. People with a growth mindset, on the other hand, think of human characters as malleable and adaptable. Neuroscientific evidence has revealed significant differences in the brains of people with a fixed mindset and those with a growth mindset. Our training in this field leads to improvements in academic, social, and professional achievement, and results in increased resilience and motivation.

Our Role
MECAT is the only training center that offers workshops in Design Thinking and Growth Mindset in the Middle East. We aim to introduce these two concepts into the lives of our youth in order to harness their creative abilities, and improve their resilience and motivation. Introducing these two processes into our professional lives also leads to demonstrable increase in creative thinking and productivity.

Our experts and trainers are educators who are keen on changing the world. As the region embarks on a new age of fostering innovation and creative thinking, MECAT training and workshops will be at the forefront of education and innovation in the region.

For further details on our workshops and training, contact us via e-mail: info@mecat.net or by phone: +971 4 458 1326. You can always find us on social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube): @MecatAcademy

 

In his writings exploring moments of greatness that separate exhilarating success from monotonous hours of mere competence, Robert E Quinn, University of Michigan’s Professor of Management and Organization, defines two “states of being”. The Normal State refers to the comfort-centered (sticking with what we know), self-focused (placing our interests above those of the group), externally-directed (complying with others’ wishes to avoid conflict), and internally-closed (avoiding risk-taking) set of behaviors that direct our day-to-day lives on the professional and personal levels. Quinn suggests that while the normal state of being is comfortable and safe, it leaves us with a feeling of languishing and emptiness. The second state Quinn describes is the Fundamental State of Leadership, which he suggests is critical to creating moments of glory and accomplishment. In a nutshell, the Fundamental State is everything that the Normal State is not. Rather than being consumed with self-promotion and personal interest, driven by pleasing others, worrying about their perceptions of you, and following the easier path, the Fundamental State prompts you to focus on one goal that trumps all else: delivering results. This state is usually attained under duress, time crunch, and exceptional circumstances where project completion becomes of existential importance for the organization/ team.

Under such circumstances, leaders become results-oriented,  fixated on the issues that matter the most and ignoring distractions because there is no other way forward. The result? Moments of brilliance and extreme productivity. When dissected, the foundations of the Fundamental State could be utilized to attain enduring, rather than fleeting, times of glory and triumph. According to Quinn, these foundations are: 1. Being results-centered, 2. Being internally-directed, 3. Becoming team-focused, 4. Opening up for feedback and adaptability.

 

An essential step towards implementing those foundations is defining your core principles. You cannot be relentlessly results-oriented without asking the core question: “What results do I truly care about?”. Neurologist and psychiatrist Viktor Frankl similarly postulates that our ability to thrive lies in finding a greater meaning to our existence (Man’s Search for Meaning, where he defined logotherapy, a form of existential analysis, explores this concept in more detail).

Maya Angelou once said that success is “liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it”. It is impossible to imagine success in those terms if one has not defined their purpose and their passion in life, then striving to achieve it on a daily basis. For leaders, it is becoming clearer that the essence of excellence is dedication to benefit the collective, rather than one’s self. A lesson that could not be stressed enough in a world that appears to glorify hostility in the business world.

“In a time of drastic change, it is the learners who inherit the future.”

Reflection on the Human Condition, Eric Hoffer

Eric Hoffer’s words ring true like never before as our region gets engulfed in a wave of drastic political upheaval, economic downturn, vociferous demands for social change, and unprecedented technological advancement. These changes have left Lebanon and the Arab World torn between the nostalgia of our (distant) past accomplishments, and the allure of modernity and globalization.

At the beginning of a new academic year, your ability as students to keep a clear head, and wade through the chaos becomes exponentially more difficult; yet, it is equally critical to do so, for the survival and well-being of our nation depends on it. The path ahead, therefore, can take one of two forms. The first is the result of giving in to the crises we are in, and wallowing in the tragedy that we have inherited. The end result of that choice is an image of the present state we are in, and possibly worse. The second option is to dig in, commit to change the world and our circumstances, and buckle up for the ride of our lives in a journey of challenges, discovery, and small – but invaluable- steps toward a better future.

At the Modern University for Business and Science (MUBS), we have been vigilant in our pursuit of these latter higher values, working with our students, faculty, staff, and world-renowned scholars from Europe and the United States to establish a university that offers the latest in pedagogical approaches, hands-on learning experiences, modern laboratories, and access to the highest quality research. Fifteen years into our journey, we are reaping the rewards of our commitment, establishing a Research Office that is at the center of projects exploring a wide range of topics, from the role of parenting in academic achievement and social behavior (a collaboration with San Jose State University and UC Berkeley, in California), to understanding the psychology of success (in collaboration with Stanford University), the molecular mechanisms involved in motor neuron disease (with St Jude Children’s Hospital in Tennessee), and exploring the micropollutants in Lebanese water sources (in a joint project with Université d’Orléans in France), among many other projects supported by internal university funds and external grants from the European Union and the National Institutes of Health in the United States.

Along the same line of thinking, MUBS has launched the first University Community Center (UCC) in the Arab world, as a unique effort that capitalizes on the ability of an academic institution to utilize its resources, scientific capability, and human capital in the service of the community. The UCC, located in Jal-el-Dib, epitomizes everything that we stand for. In its essence, the Center is a project that bridges the creative, abstract, and scientific world of academic theory, and the concrete realities and struggles of our society. In other words, it is a commitment to the prosperity of our community through scientific and cultural engagement that benefits our society and offers our students the freedom to expand their horizons and develop their skills in the real word. Most importantly, MUBS, the Research Office, and the UCC are a chance for our students to be the explorers, adventurers, and learners Eric Hoffer so ingeniously predicts will inherit the future.

And so, I urge you to shed the past and its archaic ways, and explore the future with open eyes, through the lens of scientific research, and a commitment to face the challenges head-on, because hardships are lessons and opportunities for growth in disguise.

 


"Whether you think you can, or think you can't- you are right" - Henry Ford

A new year signals an opportunity for a new start, a chance to achieve our aspirations, appraise the past years' decisions and steer ourselves in new directions. And while taking the chance to start this year down the path of a healthier routine, a cleaner diet, more rewarding relationships, or even career moves, none is more essential than endorsing a mindset of success. Mindsets are beliefs that we have about ourselves, our abilities, and natural traits, like personality or intelligence. Mindsets also determine the lens through which we see others and their worth. A growth mindset entails a dedication to active learning and an approach to challenges that does not associate failure with lack of talent, intelligence, or worth; rather, failures are seen as opportunities to learn and grow.

Neuroscientific evidence shows that brains of individuals with a growth mindset are morphologically and chemically distinct from those with a fixed mindset. Even better, research also shows that mindsets can be altered, just like our brains are able to develop and respond to the input we provide, allowing for growth and personal development (neuroplasticity). Scientific evidence of brain malleability offers educators and learners a platform to develop curricula and methods that lead to long-lasting results and deep mental processing.

MECAT Dubai introduces new approaches to teaching and training. Inspired by our belief in scientific research, MECAT Dubai utilizes the latest discoveries in neuroscience research and teaching methods to deliver its workshops. Courses are taught by a select team of trainers and mentors who are active movers and shakers in their fields of expertise.

Guided by principles of growth mindset, design thinking, and active learning, as well as its access to esteemed partners that are actively engaged through MECAT USA- based in California- we are confident that our lofty and ambitious goals will become a reality. Happy new beginnings; happy new year!

In his writings exploring moments of greatness that separate exhilarating success from monotonous hours of mere competence, Robert E Quinn, University of Michigan's Professor of Management and Organization, defines two "states of being". The Normal State refers to the comfort-centered (sticking with what we know), self-focused (placing our interests above those of the group), externally-directed (complying with others' wishes to avoid conflict), and internally-closed (avoiding risk-taking) set of behaviors that direct our day-to-day lives on the professional and personal levels. Quinn suggests that while the normal state of being is comfortable and safe, it leaves us with a feeling of languishing and emptiness. The second state Quinn describes is the Fundamental State of Leadership, which he suggests is critical to creating moments of glory and accomplishment. In a nutshell, the Fundamental State is everything that the Normal State is not. Rather than being consumed with self-promotion and personal interest, driven by pleasing others, worrying about their perceptions of you, and following the easier path, the Fundamental State prompts you to focus on one goal that trumps all else: delivering results. This state is usually attained under duress, time crunch, and exceptional circumstances where project completion becomes of existential importance for the organization/ team.

Under such circumstances, leaders become results-oriented, fixated on the issues that matter the most and ignoring distractions because there is no other way forward. The result? Moments of brilliance and extreme productivity. When dissected, the foundations of the Fundamental State could be utilized to attain enduring, rather than fleeting, times of glory and triumph. According to Quinn, these foundations are: 1. Being results-centered, 2. Being internally-directed, 3. Becoming team-focused, 4. Opening up for feedback and adaptability.

An essential step towards implementing those foundations is defining your core principles. You cannot be relentlessly results-oriented without asking the core question: "What results do I truly care about?". Neurologist and psychiatrist Viktor Frankl similarly postulates that our ability to thrive lies in finding a greater meaning to our existence (Man's Search for Meaning, where he defined logotherapy, a form of existential analysis, explores this concept in more detail).

Maya Angelou once said that success is "liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it". It is impossible to imagine success in those terms if one has not defined their purpose and their passion in life, then striving to achieve it on a daily basis. For leaders, it is becoming clearer that the essence of excellence is dedication to benefit the collective, rather than one's self. A lesson that could not be stressed enough in a world that appears to glorify hostility in the business world.