Saturday, October 15, 2011

Prehistoric Artist Paint Factory

Monday, October 03, 2011

Learning Games Through The Ages

Plato observed one could learn more about another person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation. Learning though play and games is primal. The word game stems from old English gamen– meaning joy, fun, amusement. This is echoed in the ancient Greek en Theos meaning god within, the basis of enthusiasm. A special kind of learning occurs during play and games when students are enthusiastic and joyful. The following is a brief, incomplete survey of some innovative learning games through the ages. It's inspired by and builds on Don Pavey’s Art-Based Games published in 1979.

Arenas: A circle provides the basis for learning games in many different cultures. The arena is the most common example. Spectators sit around the circumference and are able to watch the game play from all points. In some cultures, such as the Maya, these games were sacred events of life and death.
Mandalas: Mandala’ is "circle" in Sanskrit. It symbolizes the cosmos. Its root words are manda, meaning essence and la, meaning to partake. Mandalas generally feature four cardinal points. Working co-cooperatively, each area is filled in with color. In Buddhism this is meant to bring together the four attributes - loving kindness, compassion, sympathy, and equanimity.

Medicine Wheels:
Medicine wheels made of stone are found throughout the high plains of North America. The First Peoples of this continent created them to symbolize Mother Earth. Some are 5,000 years old. Many have diameters of 70 feet. Like Mandalas these are also divided in four cardinal points. Medicine Wheels are still reverenced by today’s First Peoples. They are also called Sacred Hoops.

Snakes + Ladders: The popular board game Snakes + Ladders was invented in India about three millennia ago. In the 13th century C.E. The Tibetan monk Sa-pan created a Buddhist version for educational purposes and as occupational therapy [Pavey, 1979]. Sa-pan’s innovation featured “a table of Buddhist moral and spiritual principles ... [A] throw of the dice determined the aspirant’s progress towards liberation” [Pavey, 1979:7.8]. The ladders are located on squares representing various types of good. The more numerous snakes are based in squares representing various forms of evil. The good squares allow a player to evolve higher in life whereas evil will throw a player back through the aegis of reincarnation to lower levels of existence. The last square represents Nirvana or transcendence. Sa-pan wrote: Words have no real pith. By means of a dharma of conventional usage one will not gain enlightenment. He understood effective learning is done intuitively, non-verbally, and creatively. 

Putting It Together, Taking It Apart: Friedrich Wilhelm August Froebel (1782-1852) is considered the creator of the modern kindergarten. Compare Froebel’s thinking with that of Sa-pan several hundred years earlier - "The mind grows by self revelation. In play the child ascertains what he can do, discovers his possibilities of will and thought by exerting his power spontaneously. In play he reveals his own original power." (Froebel, Education of Man) [] Froebel believed that humans are essentially productive and creative - and fulfillment comes through developing their gifts. He went on to create special materials [such as shaped wooden bricks and balls], a series of recommended activities…and movement activities, and a linking set of theories [].

Surrealist Games: In the 1760s, an English schoolteacher – John Spilsbury – developed a teaching tool made of dissected puzzles in order to assist children’s studies of history and geography [Pavey, 1979]. Another example is the nineteenth century ‘Metamorphosis game’ which consisted of a set of tiles or slabs with dissected images on each face” [Pavey, 1979:9]. The introduction of the jigsaw, which could turn out mass produced standard cut out shapes, revolutionized the use of dissected puzzles for learning and for social leisure activities. The early 20th century Surrealists created their own versions of these older games of dissected images including Hybrid, Cadavre Exquis “a version of the party game ‘Heads, Bodies and Legs’ in which they drew objects and landscape as well as human and animal details. After each portion was finished it was covered with paper so that the next artist would not be influenced by what went before. These exercises did a great deal to stretch the imagination of players and to show how plastic and malleable our conceptions of reality are. 

Collaborative Creative Play: Certain art-based games naturally encouraged creative collaboration. Pavey was “particularly interested in the Bauhaus idea of integration, and in their group exercises and experiments which aimed at training both the intellect and the emotions” [14]. This helped establish a certain appreciation within education that ‘play’ as a serious element could lead to ‘purposeful results’ through largely non-verbal and non-didactic means. For example, Vige Langevan, the WWII French Resistance fighter, animated all sorts of striking collective mural painting with large numbers of children.

Montessori: Maria Montessori [1870–1952] was an Italian educator and physician who pioneered the use of basic games or play exercises using colours and forms. Montessori was also the first woman in Italy to ever receive a medical degree. Echoing Sa-pan, Froebel, and the Bauhaus, Montessori practitioners believe that individuals and groups learn best through self-directed exploration and discovery. She developed a suite of tools and learning games designed to further individual and group abilities and interests. Teacher observers intervene only if help is needed. Pavey [1979] also examined initiatives like the Islington Circle Project, a maze-painting system in which children painted large mazes up to 40 feet in diameter.

Glass Bead Game: In 1949, Herman Hesse described a multidimensional, international game played in the 23rd century. The Glass Bead Game attempts to unite science, mathematics, logic, philosophy, art, music, and spirituality into a single grand theory. The players play the glass bead game by identifying and correlating the knowledge of different times and cultures – and creating unique but intellectually rigorous theses or artifacts - thus establishing entirely new and plausible departure points for further inquiry, that also become grist in the game’s ever-spiraling whirl. The winner becomes a Magister Ludi, or Master of the Game. At the heart of Magister Ludi is an understanding of creativity and learning as a kind of bricolage. Bricolage is defined as “something that is made or put together with whatever materials happen to be available” [Encarta World English Dictionary]. Western education and art derive from this approach. Five hundred years ago, a Master of Arts degree holder was someone who has successfully ‘joined together’ several ‘branches of learning’. In the 1960s, Jerome Bruner advocated has therefore less to do with learning facts and more about learning how to connect ‘the dots’ and identify the hidden patterns they create. Indeed, this dynamic, unpredictable lateral, synthetic, and transformative capacity is the basis of all creativity, invention, and innovation. Learning games can help us to grasp the holistic, systemic nature of our connection to each other and to our greater world. There is a growing recognition of their value and increasing use today. What was old is new again....

Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Blue Rose

My study of the imagination began several years ago. The more I learn, the more mysterious this faculty becomes. I mean this in the original sense, from the ancient Greek mysterion for what is sacred and hidden. From the start, I’ve sought symbols to help convey what words alone cannot. One spring evening, as I lay half asleep, a blue rose came to mind out of nowhere. In the twelfth century Attar wrote the secret is hidden in the rose. Dante described it as the divine word made flesh. If the rose is queen of flowers, the blue rose is sublimity, for it lives only in the imagination.

The Blue Rose Society
The twentieth century dawned with a global revolution. Traditional order was overthrown and modernity emerged in the carnage. It wasn’t simply that empires collapsed. Explorations in science and the arts challenged every fundamental notion and belief. Powerful, invisible forces were brought to light such as microbes, X-rays, and the unconscious. Nowhere was this revolution felt more powerfully or violently than in Russia, straddling the great fault line between the West and Asia.

Against this tumultuous backdrop, a number of St. Petersburg artists and philosophers banded together in 1907. Guided by a radical political doctrine called Mystical Anarchism, their aim was to reconcile individual freedom with social harmony. They called themselves The Blue Rose Society. Nicholas Berdyaev, one of its illustrious members, later wrote Man is not a unit in the universe, forming part of an unrational machine, but a living member of an organic hierarchy, belonging to a real and living whole.

Nicholas Roerich was another prominent member. Among other achievements, this artist, explorer, diplomat, and mystic helped establish the first Tibetan Buddhist temple in Europe. Also located in St. Petersburg, it was dedicated to the ancient teachings of the Kalachakra Tantric School. In Sanskrit, Kalachakra means the Wheel of Time and Tantra means the everlasting thread. These teachings aver that the outer conditions of our world are the reflection of the inner condition of our state of mind collectively. Our goal is therefore to strive for enlightenment and to serve all who suffer. No doubt these teachings also profoundly influenced the society’s members.

Why they chose the blue rose for its symbol is unknown. There’s a possible clue in Slavic myth of Baba Yaga, the goddess of death and rebirth, which the members likely knew. Sometimes a friendly guide and sometimes inimical to humans, she was believed to live in the darkest, deepest forest, far removed from civilization. Baba Yaga could only be renewed drinking tea brewed from the blue rose. She’d also therefore grant the wishes of those few brave souls who brought her one.

This depiction of the sacred feminine in her light and dark aspects is primal. So is her association with the rose, with its own duality of beautiful fragrant bloom and painful bloody thorn. Indeed, its Sanskrit root wrdho means thorn, from which rose and red derive. A beloved teacher once said to me: The nightingale cannot sing until the thorn pierces its breast. And so, only the blue rose can renew Baba Yaga, goddess of death and rebirth. Curiously, two famed British authors of that era, Maurice Baring and Rudyard Kipling, each touch on this theme in their writings. Baring was actually a journalist in St. Petersburg when the Blue Rose Society was founded and likely knew its members. He penned a charming story about the daughter of an ancient Chinese emperor who desires a blue rose for a very clever reason. Kipling’s poem is about a silly love that dies seeking one with her last breath. Whatever the inspiration for choosing the blue rose as its symbol, the member’s intention is unmistakable. This is echoed in the society’s credo, coined by Viacheslav Ivanov another of its luminaries. De realibus a realora, meaning from the real to the more real.

The Scientists
The reason that blue roses don’t exist in the natural world is molecular. Simply put, roses don’t have the gene pigment needed to produce blue petals. Over the centuries, there’s been a sustained effort to grow one, without success. For the past several years, a flurry of costly scientific activity has been devoted to growing the worlds first blue rose. The first news story appeared 2002. -

Biotechnology aiding pursuit of blue rose... Breakthrough in research on plants, human liver provides clues. For the past several years, a biochemist by the name of Elizabeth Gillam has been working in the labs of Vanderbilt University's Medical School. Her research is focused on how drugs metabolize in the human liver. One day, during an otherwise routine experiment, a human liver enzyme she had inserted into a flask of bacteria unexpectedly turned the bacteria blue. Making an imaginative leap, she thought that perhaps this human enzyme might be similarly inserted into the genetic material of a rose to turn it blue too. Now she and fellow biochemist Peter Guengerich are talking to biotechnology companies to help them to do exactly this for commercial purposes. Guengerich in an interview with the Associated Press stated that: I would have called you crazy five years ago if you told me I would be pursuing a blue rose. [Associated Press, November 25, 2002]

This initiative appears to have ended without success. Then, in 2005, another news article appeared. Again it promised the creation of a blue rose, this time from a different company using different scientific methods.

Today A Lavender Rose, Tomorrow True Blue? A promising tactic in biotech called RNA interference may succeed where gardeners over the centuries have failed -- creating blue roses that grow "naturally" on the bush. Although more than 25,000 rose varieties exist, growers have never been able to create blue ones, other than by dying them, because rose petals lack the gene that codes for delphinidin, the enzyme that produces blue pigment in flowers. An Australian company, Florigene, says its RNA-i technique has produced lavender roses, and the company's bioengineers are closing in on blue ones. Florigene, which is 98.5% owned by Suntory of Japan, first tried splicing blue genes from petunias into roses, but powerful red and orange enzymes drowned out delphinidin. Florigene then used RNA interference to silence the enzymes that compete with delphinidin. Florigene says it could be selling blue roses within three years. [BusinessWeek July 18, 2005]

In fact, scientists have only produced a dark blue-violet bloom thus far. This perennial quest has aptly been compared to that for the Holy Grail. We have ever been driven from the beginning to materialize our dreams and deepest longings. Sometimes these are noble and sometimes base. Certainly the creation of a true blue rose would have enormous financial reward for the owners of the genetic code. Suntory’s sale of alcoholic beverages runs in the billions. Its management therefore understands how to cater profitably to our universal thirst for intoxication. The company’s success first began in 1907 when it produced the first Japanese red wine. In a strange synchrony, the Blue Rose Society was also founded the same year. Its members that the imaginal realm is well beyond the grasp and measure of the rational mind. So it is this sublime bloom. De realibus a realora

Appendix - Rosa Mundi

The domestic rose likely originated in Asia five thousand years ago. Its name derives from the Sanskrit for red. With their ineffable bloom, haunting perfume, and prickly thorns - roses have enchanted humans from the dawn of recorded time. And for as long, it has been used as a spiritual metaphor and sacred symbol. The rose has been especially associated with the feminine aspect of the divine. Ancient Hindus, for example, believed that the goddess Lakshmi, most beautiful in the pantheon, was born of a rose. Ishtar, the Babylonian goddess of Heaven was also depicted with roses. The rose also prefigures in narratives about Aphrodite and Mary.

Rose wreaths have been found in Egyptian tombs dating back thousands of years. The first known painted roses appeared in Minoan wall frescos about1450 BCE. A seventh century Babylonian cuneiform tablet describes a wild rose. The Torah contains three notable references. In Ecclesiastes, it is written, "Wisdom grew up as a rosebush in Jericho" [24:14]. In the Song of Songs, Solomon rhapsodized, "I am the rose of Sharon, and the lily of the valleys" [2.1-17]. In Isaiah it is written "when the kingdom of righteousness shall be established on earth, the desert shall rejoice and blossom as a rose" [35.1]. There is also a Cabalistic legend that Adam was placed in the Garden of Eden to grow roses.

The rose also played a prominent role in ancient Grecian thought. It was believed, for example, that when Aphrodite sprang to life from the ocean, white roses grew wherever sea foam fell. Homer sang of its perfume in 800 BCE. In the Iliad, Aphrodite anoints Hector's body with rose oil. In another tale of Aphrodite, while helping her wounded lover Adonis, she is badly scratched by the thorns of white roses. The blood she sheds turns the roses red. The Greeks also believed that Cupid bribed the God of Silence with a rose. When they conducted a secret meeting, a rose was always suspended from the ceiling. The meeting was therefore called sub rosa, a term still in use today. The Greek philosopher Epicurus had his own private rose garden in Athens, where he taught students about the highest pleasure.

Grecian rose symbolism was transplanted to Rome. Major Roman military successes, for example, were celebrated by wearing rose wreaths. During a festival called the Rosalia, rose buds were left as offerings to the deceased. Many frescos have been discovered featuring roses including at Pompeii. The Romans were so avid for roses they developed hothouse technology that allowed them to speed up the blooming process. They also imported massive quantities of roses from Egypt. In the 1st century CE, Pliny the Elder recorded thirty-two different medicinal uses of the rose. Roses were used in official medicine well into the 1930s when a tincture of the Apothecary’s Rose was prescribed for sore throats. They were also widely used as mild astringents and to flavour other medicines. Their use in alternative and non-western healing has continued to this day.

Both Arab and Persian society cultivated roses with ardor. They also represented it in their literature and artwork with great sensitivity and subtlety. The Persians, for example, believed that when a nightingale sees a rose plucked it sings mournfully. In the twelfth century CE, Fariduddin Attar wrote that 'Mystery glows in the rose bed, the secret is hidden in the rose". Sa'adi of Shiraz wrote, "I shall pluck roses from the garden, but I am drunk with the scent of the rose bush." Shabistari wrote The Secret Rose Garden. Abdelkadir Gilani, yet another contemporary Sufi, was called the Light of the Rose. The rose also played a central role in the Tale Of The Genjii, a classic of Japanese literature from the 11th century.

Given such ancient roots, the domestic rose came relatively late to the West. During the middle ages, Christian knights brought home rose-cuttings they’d plundered in the Middle East. These violent and crude warriors, who had bathed the streets of Jerusalem in the innocent blood of Jews, Muslims, and Christians alike, could not help becoming enchanted. Roses were cultivated in secret sacred gardens called Hortus Conclusus designed to promote contemplation and prayer. These gardens also generally featured a small fountain, well, or spring. As the rose garden spread so did its influence. In the fourteenth century, Dante wrote that, the rose is “the divine word became flesh." This sensibility is perhaps best expressed in the exquisite stained-glass rose windows featured in Gothic cathedrals.

In the early 1400s, paintings began depicting the Annunciation in a new way. For the first time, this is shown occurring in the Hortus Conclusus. Some paintings also featured Mary in the act of fetching water. This image echoes ancient beliefs about the divine feminine as the source of all life. The Song of Songs, for example also uses images of an enclosed garden, a fountain, and roses, to celebrate the divine feminine, or Shekinah. With the rose’s advent in the West, men slowly started to become gentler and women accorded more respect. Courtly love, took the relation between men and women to a more idealized and symbolic level.

This symbolism was elaborated upon, century after century. In 1476, the artist Froment painted an ancient legend that God spoke to Moses through a burning rose bush. The 1500s saw the widespread introduction of the rosary, initially made from dried rosehips or carved from rose wood. In the 1600s, Rosicrucians circulated images of a rose at the center of a cross. This illustrated a then popular maxim, "as the rose blossoms under the sun, I shall blossom under the eyes of God". And, Shakespeare penned, “by any name a rose would smell as sweet.” No wonder that Christian theologians and mystics called it Rosa Mundi, or soul of the world.

Today hundreds of varieties of roses featuring thousands of colours are grown around the world. Moreover, horticulturalists are always growing new types. However, perhaps our greatest delight comes not from the rose but from its essence, called attar. To produce one pound of attar some four thousand roses must be distilled. One ounce of attar sells for $700 US. By comparison an ounce of gold sells for less than half. Adding to its rarity, practically all attar is produced in a very small region in Bulgaria.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Airbender: Elemental Truths

The new film Airbender, based on the popular animated TV series, is worth examining more closely. In the storyline, humanity “is divided into four nations: the Water Tribes, the Earth Kingdom, the Air Nomads, and the Fire Nation. Each nation has its own natural element, on which it bases its society … Each country is also associated with a season: autumn for the Air Nomads, winter for the Water Tribe, spring for the Earth Kingdom and summer for the Fire Nation”. This idea of the world being made up of these four elements is shared by many ancient cultures and philosophies including Hindu, Taoist, Buddhist, and Greek. In the new film, the heroes must save the world, by defeating the Nazi-like industrial Fire Nation and its evil Fire Lord.

It’s interesting that of all the elements fire is the great problem. In fact, each element has a natural destructive capacity. Tornadoes from air, earthquakes from earth, floods from water. Fire in particular however is associated with industry. In 1804, William Blake wrote of the “dark Satanic mills’ in reference to the advent of the Industrial Revolution's destruction of nature and human relationships.

Airbender is an exteriorization of very deep subliminal archetypes. The Pythagoreans called the elements the “Fourfold Roots of Everything”. The ancients believed all was well when the elements were in harmony. This is mirrored in the enduring First Nations worldview here in North America. For example, the contemporary Cree Elder, Pauline Shirt Dodem Kanosha’ states: What we have to do is teach all the four colours so we can work together, all peoples, in a good way.

The influence of the four-fold model, or quaternary, is more present in our lives than we realize. The Western Age of Reason banished holism for centuries. However, the four-fold model resurfaced in the 19th and 20th centuries as a response to the increasing fragmentation of society and alienation from life. My initial research has identified over 35 distinct models introduced between the 1800s and 1990s. Perhaps the best-known example is the work of Carl Jung in the early 20th century. Trained as a psychiatrist he identified four basic psychological temperaments - Thinking, Feeling, Sensation, and Intuition. This pioneering spurred further research and development. Examples include the Myers Briggs Type Indicator and the Keirsey Temperament Sorter. Both psychometric instruments are used in over thirty countries by schools, business, hospitals, non-profits, and the military.

If there's any doubt how deep and pervasive these elemental dynamics are consider the following corporate logos. Hint - fire is red, water is blue, earth is green, and air is yellow [representing breath and spirit] --

Monday, May 24, 2010

Red Shift, Black Swan, & Blue Ocean

Each of the following colorful metaphors calls for a tremendous stretching of the imagination vis-a-vis the vastness of time/space, anticipating unforeseeable events, and ingeniously envisioning new enterprise.

Red Shift

Red Shift describes how we perceive the expanding universe relative to our position on earth. The light from stars we see is from the distant past. Light coming to us from great distance shifts into the red spectrum. The greater the distance is the greater the red shift. In April, astronomers received data from NASA’s space-based Swift satellite that shows the most distant, farthest object is 13.1 billion light-years away.

Black Swan

Nassim Nicholas Taleb is the author of The Black Swan: The Impact Of The Highly Improbable. It explains how we deal with very hard to predict, very high impact events such as the plane attacks on the World Trade Centers on September 11 2001 in New York. In a nutshell, randomness occurs more than we believe. But we develop retroactive interpretations that provide a false sense of security and predictability after the fact. Taleb calls for a profound mind shift that accepts escalating unpredictability as the norm and not the other way around. The term Black Swan historically meant rarity in that only white swans were known in the West. This changed in 1697 when a Dutch expedition encountered the black swans of Australia for the first time. The meaning of Black Swan then evolved to signify not the impossible per se, but the impossible as possible. For Australians the Black Swan proudly symbolizes their antipodean culture as distinct from the white swan-ness of the northern hemisphere.

Blue Ocean

Blue Ocean Strategy is the title of a book by W. Chan Kin and R, Mauborgne from the institute of the same name at INSEAD. Essentially, this proven strategy promotes the idea that enterprise succeeds “by creating new demand in an uncontested market space, or a "Blue Ocean", than by competing head-to-head with other suppliers for known customers in an existing industry ... BOS frameworks and tools are designed to be visual in order to not only effectively build the collective wisdom of the company but also allow for effective strategy execution through easy communication.”

Blurring Boundaries, Quickening Magnitudes

In 1964, the philosopher Henri Corbin wrote, “The most astounding information of modern science regarding the physical universe remains inferior to [the imagination].” It appears that the more we learn, the subtler the line becomes between what is real and what is imaginary. This is not simple metaphor. Cosmologists and physicists are studying ever-larger vistas of space and ever-smaller units of matter. Just how fine is the line between mind and matter, imagination and reality? The answer is pithily summed up in a recent luxury car advert: “What if has become what is.” Or, as William Blake once noted, “What’s now proved was once only imagined.”

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

More On The EQ Gap

New York Times columnist David Brooks posed a question to his readers today. Would you exchange a professional triumph for a personal blow?” This is problematic. One does not choose between these things. Worse, he gives this false choice more weight because he uses the example of a public figure. [The American actress Sandra Bullock recently won an Academy Award for Best Actress of the year. Shortly after, it was revealed in the public media that her husband, also a celebrity, was in an adulterous relation with yet another celebrity.]

Notwithstanding Brooks particular biases or agenda, he rightly acknowledges that “teams of researchers have been studying happiness ... [with] an impressive rigor”. He also states “Modern societies have developed vast institutions oriented around the things that are easy to count, not around the things that matter most. They have an affinity for material concerns and a primordial fear of moral and social ones”. If there was any doubt of this, consider the billions of dollars spent in education to test literacy and numeracy against the rising costs of school dropouts and bullying, also in the billions. We can teach people to count but teaching empathy is a different matter. Dr. Nancy Snyderman, NBC News Chief Medical Editor, refers to this an ‘EQ Gap’.

Brooks “overall impression from this research’ is a bit muddled. He states for example “that economic and professional success exists on the surface of life, and that they emerge out of interpersonal relationships, which are much deeper and more important.” I’d state this somewhat differently. Economic and professional success is the result of mastery of one’s m├ętier, hard work, good fortune, and strong interpersonal relationships.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

The EQ Gap

The news media regularly report on yet another famous individual caught out in inappropriate, injudicious behaviours [often through arrogance and/or greed]. This includes leaders in industry and government as well as popular ‘stars’. Such individuals, despite their brilliance, talent, wealth, and power, are shown to have feet of clay. This metaphor is from the Book of Daniel, written over 2000 years ago. We’ve known about our self-delusional and self-destructive capacity for a long time indeed. As television night show host Jay Leno famously asked of the British actor Hugh Grant, “What were you thinking?” This “EQ Gap” plays out in our own lives at school, work, and the community. While it usually doesn’t become a news story, the consequences are just as dramatic and destructive. The term the EQ Gap is from in an article by Dr. N. Snyderman in which she decried the lack of emotional intelligence on the part of the automakers who flew to Washington in private jets to ask for financial aid.

EQ, also known as Emotional Intelligence, has four broad dimensions - self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and relationship management. It’s a natural complement to Cognitive Intelligence, or IQ. Like IQ, EQ is also needed at all life stages. However, the development of EQ is largely ad hoc and informal. This is in stark contrast to the importance given to cognitive development within K-12 education. As a result, schools are seeing alarming rates of bullying and dropping out. Both are linked to poor EQ. These epidemics are costing society billions of dollars.

Problematically, this imbalance between cognitive and emotional intelligence continues into adulthood. The continuing EQ Gap is responsible for the same kinds of problems at work as at school. Except now the consequences and costs are even higher. Consider the following negative impacts, all of which are rising: Absenteeism & turnover, Presenteeism, Depression & anxiety, Declining morale, Declining work productivity & focus, Increasing conflict & bullying, Increased disability premiums, Rising health & benefits costs, Employment replacement costs. Bullying in particular is worth singling out. ABC News reported that over 54 million employees experience bullying, this is 37% of the US workforce [10/2009]. The good news is systemic EQ development is being introduced increasingly throughout education and industry. Good social and emotional skills are seen as a crucial prelude to learning academically as well as to workplace productivity and wellbeing. Even better news is that EQ is easy to cultivate and can be done at any age.