President Edward Burger

Higher Ed Episodes

President Edward Burger and Jennifer Stayton of Austin National Public Radio affiliate KUT explore topics of higher education, lifelong learning, and exercising the brain in this lively and entertaining weekly podcast.

President Edward Burger and KUT's Jennifer Stayton

Episodes

Posted: December 8, 2019 at 6:00am

In the very first episode of KUT’s podcast “Higher Ed ,” Southwestern University President Dr. Ed Burger and KUT’s Jennifer Stayton talked about the importance of failure to learning. Has any thinking changed about that concept in the past five years?

Ed says he has greater clarity now than he had five years ago about one aspect of effective failure. He says he better understands the difference between just bouncing back from failure and actually learning from it.

“It’s not the mistake, it’s what comes next,” says Ed. “If you make a mistake and say ‘well, that didn’t work; I’m going to try something else,’ that’s tenacity, which is fantastic and perseverance, which is wonderful. But it’s not effective failure.”

So what exactly is effective failure?

“It’s stopping and it’s holding that attempt that didn’t work, ” says Ed. “And instead of doing the cultural norm, which is to pretend it didn’t happen and sweep it under the rug…instead of focusing on perfection, focus on the process.”

Ed believes that what makes a failure “effective” is the evaluation that follows.

“You hold that failed attempt in your mind until you have an epiphany, until you have an insight,” suggests Ed. “Until you see something that was there but you hadn’t seen before. And then you can dismiss it, let it go and do something else.”

And Ed says that “letting go” is crucial to the process so that people do not get stuck wallowing in their failures.

“That letting go… can be challenging for some people who do not want to let go and who say ‘see,  I’m not good at that; I can’t do it,’ ” Ed points out. “But instead … the letting go is just as important as the learning.”

Listen to the entire episode to hear more about incorporating effective failure into daily life and learning. That opportunity may present itself before the episode even ends (depending on the solution to last episode’s puzzler about art with matchsticks!).

This episode was recorded on Oct. 22, 2019.

 



 

Posted: November 24, 2019 at 6:00am

“Thank you” may not always be the words that come to mind when struggling through a difficult lesson or dealing with a mountain of homework in school. But in this episode of KUT’s podcast “Higher Ed ,” Southwestern University President Dr. Ed Burger and KUT’s Jennifer Stayton discuss the role that gratitude can play in learning and education.

Ed firmly believes that those two little words can play a big part in enhancing learning – especially when the going seems tough.

“What if that frustration actually ended up being kind of a positive? What if we became grateful for being frustrated, as a state?” asks Ed. “The truth is, I think that gratitude is such a powerful mindset to move us in a positive direction.”

Ed maintains that expressions of gratitude have a ripple effect on all manner of work in and out of school.

“If we can embrace gratitude and be thankful for any aspect of life or any aspect of one’s work, it uplifts us,” says Ed. “It allows us to be more creative, to be more innovative, to see things more clearly, [and] to look for opportunities and potential.”

For some people, expressing gratitude feels difficult. Ed understands where that comes from says the benefits are worth the effort.

“It’s a vulnerability, and we don’t like being vulnerable. We don’t like to put our feelings and our heart on our sleeves,” says Ed. “But, we have to remember that we are human. To embrace our humanity is a great gift to ourselves and to others. And one way to embrace our humanity is to show appreciation and to express gratitude.”

Listen to the full episode to hear more about the benefits of being grateful. And hopefully. you will be thankful for a new puzzler.

This episode was recorded on Oct. 22, 2019.



 

Posted: November 17, 2019 at 6:00am

Who does not appreciate making high grades in a certain subject or getting glowing performance reviews at work?  In this episode of KUT’s podcast “Higher Ed ,” Southwestern University President Dr. Ed Burger and KUT’s Jennifer Stayton explore the lure of the “success trap” and how to avoid it.

What exactly is the “success trap?” It is the pull or desire to continue doing that which brings the greatest external praise or reward just because of that success. (Think: I’m really good at Math. I’ll major in that. I hate it, but I’m good at it.)

Here is how Ed sees it:

“When someone is successful at something….that’s a silly reason to actually go and pursue it,” Ed believes. “But the question is: just because one is good at something, does that potentially dismiss the possibility of doing something that might bring you greater joy [or] might be actually something you’re even better at or something that you’re just actually drawn to and otherwise you wouldn’t give it a shot?”

Ed is quick to add that he does not think people shoud ditch their successful endeavors and move on if those pursuits still bring joy.

“If that success is something that continues to bring an individual satisfaction and joy and a sense of accomplishment, that’s great; I’m not suggesting everyone’s gotta shake it up,” says Ed. “That should not confine us to look at other possibilities and other opportunities because maybe your gifts and your talents can be amplified in a different direction that we wouldn’t consider otherwise.”

So how can people break out of their comfort zone and avoid that “success trap?”

Ed says it begins with deliberate and thoughtful effort.

“It’s all with intentionality,” says Ed. “If you’re going to hope that you accidentally stumble upon something I would say you have to be really lucky…. you can create your own good luck with intentionality – intentionally assessing.”

Listen to the fill episode to hear more from Ed about when the time is right to do that kind of assessment.

It is definitely the right time for the solution to last episode’s puzzler about dealing with cards missing from a deck.

This episode was recorded on Oct. 22, 2019.