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The Inventivity Pod
Applying Neuroscience to Education and Sports

What can we learn from the brain about learning itself? Based on the latest findings of neuroscience about how the brain learns best, Noel Foy offers training to teachers, parents, students, athletes, and coaches. For instance, improving executive function helps master impulsive behavior and reduce anxiety, both valuable traits for students and athletes. Noel also talks about how her son’s experience with concussions influenced her journey from school teacher to “neuro-educator.” *This episode was originally released on May 20, 2020.*




Intro: 0:01
Inventors and their inventions. Welcome to Radio Cade, a podcast from the Cade Museum for Creativity and Invention in Gainesville, Florida. The museum is named after James Robert Cade who invented Gatorade in 1965. My name is Richard Miles. We’ll introduce you to inventors and the things that motivate them. We’ll learn about their personal stories, how their inventions work, and how their ideas get from the laboratory to the marketplace.

Richard Miles: 0:39
What can we learn from the brain about learning itself? I’m your host, Richard Miles. Today my guest Noel Foy, founder of a company called Ammpe – A M M P E, which offers training to teachers, parents, students, athletes, and coaches based on neuroscience findings about how the brain learns best. She’s also the author of a children’s book called “ABC Worry Free”. Welcome to Radio Cade, Noel.

Noel Foy: 1:03
Thank you Richard , for having me.

Richard Miles: 1:04
Noel, one of the reasons you wrote your book “ABC Free” was to help students, teachers, and parents manage anxiety. So this has gotta be a golden moment for you, right? I mean, now we have an entire country of anxious households, and so I’m guessing for you, an opportunity.

Noel Foy: 1:18
Well, I am not responsible for the pandemic. Let me just put that out there, I certainly am seeing an increase in anxiety. I’m hearing from more students and parents about a little uptick. Certainly something like this would trigger more anxiety and I’m working with more teachers remotely doing some lessons in their classrooms to help their students manage their anxiety. So, I think it’s a timely experience for folks to take a closer look at what kind of coping skills they have in their pocket. And if they don’t, this is a great opportunity to develop some coping skills, not just for a pandemic, but for just how to manage anxiety-provoking moments in our lives. Anxiety pops up all the time. Something that is to be expected, it’s normal from time to time. When we’re worrying too much, then it’s something that we want to really have some strategies for. So I think really helping kids develop into adults have some strategies that they can rely on in these times is really important.

Richard Miles: 2:20
Right. So were chatting before the show, you’re from Boston but you’re actually in Martha’s vineyard right now. So I assume that meant nothing but Netflix and Chardonnay.

Noel Foy: 2:27
Believe it or not, it’s been a great opportunity for me to get some things done that I haven’t had much time to do. So, for example, I made some videos, I figured if ever a time to help parents and teachers and coaches and students with anxiety and coping skills, It’s now. So I have been working on some videos I put up on YouTube and writing a lot of articles on how to cope in parenting. What are some things we can do in our parenting that can help bring the anxiety down, can we do in our parenting language in our modeling that can help these stressful times go a little bit better.

Richard Miles: 3:04
So as I mentioned, the top of the show, your model is based on findings of neuroscience and that’s been a field in which there has been tremendous growth and research in the last 10 to 20 years. We know things now that we had really no clue at the turn of the new century. So, why don’t we start there, what are some of the key findings of neuroscience that have informed your work and inform your teaching and your coaching model?

Noel Foy: 3:27
So as you said, there’s a lot of exciting findings in the last 10 to 20 years. We’re learning so much about the brain. Uh , some of the things are these neuro myths that we used to believe to be true, such as that we only use 10% of the brain or that the brain is set at childhood. So now knowing about neuroplasticity and this process of our brain being malleable and that it continues to grow and change throughout our lives based on how we use it is really exciting information and learning a lot about emotion and the connection of emotion to learning has been really, really powerful. So as a neuro educator, I’m bringing in findings from neuroscience, cognitive science, psychology and education, and taking those findings and turning them into practical applications for teachers, coaches, parents and students. And that piece about the emotions has been really, really powerful. Judy Willis’s work out at the University of Santa Barbara has been really instrumental in helping us learn about what happens when we’re in states of fear, frustration, anger, boredom, or lack of relevance to what we’re learning and how that can kind of create this virtual stop sign in our brain and block learning from happening. We’re not receptive to learning in those states. So I’ve spent a lot of time in that space helping teachers and students and coaches and athletes decrease the stress. Since we know that this emotional piece is connected to learning, whether you’re learning how to do a math problem or how to write a paper or how to make a speech or how to execute a play, we’re learning. We’re learning in our jobs every day and stresses and anxiety can get in the way. And the emotional piece with Daniel Goldman’s work with social and emotional learning has been really powerful. He has found that EQ so that emotional quotient is twice as important than IQ and technical ability and driving performance. And we’re seeing now in schools that they’re paying a lot more attention to social and emotional learning and developing competencies and standards in those areas. And then the research in cognitive science has been really exciting about how we learn how we process and apply and remember information and Russell Barkley’s work on executive function. Executive function, emotional social skills are on every list of employers skills they’re seeking in their candidates. Yet we don’t typically, explicitly teach these in school. So I’m really excited to see that we’re seeing more attention given to these, seeing that they’re are so important to success in school relationships, sports, jobs and life. Carol Dweck’s work on mindset is really exciting. Fixed and growth mindset are two terms that she coined about really exploring our attitudes about intelligence and ability and how we praise our students, how we praise our kids, what feedback we get and our thoughts about effort and motivation and how that connects to achievement and how it connects to how we face challenges or do not face them. That work has been really powerful for me, as has been John Kabat-Zinn’s work on mindfulness and research on cognitive behavioral therapy. Cognitive behavioral therapy and mindfulness are two of the most effective treatments for anxiety. So I’ve incorporated those into the ABC strategy from the book “ABC Worry Free”. So I’ve come up with a strategy to help people decrease that stress so that they can be in that sweet spot. We need a little bit of stress, right? To get up every day and to compete. But when we have too much stress, we’re not receptive to learning and we’re not going to remember what we learned and we’re not going to be able to execute. So helping folks have that strategy has been one thing that I’ve developed from a lot of that research.

Richard Miles: 7:25
So Noel, “ABC Worry Free” it’s targeted for a younger child. What is the general age range for that book?

Noel Foy: 7:31
Well, that’s interesting. It is targeted, it’s geared towards kids. So I have used that book as young as preschool through adulthood. Although it’s written as a children’s book, I find it just an approachable way to tackle a topic that some people feel embarrassed about or insecure about. And through the character we can learn about the patterns of anxiety. We can learn what happens in our mind, in our bodies when we get anxious and we can start to see how we avoid things when we’re anxious or we step away from challenges. So everybody has a bee’s nest in the book. The character Max is afraid of bees and then decides he’s never going to go outside and play again. And he’s excessively worrying that every time he’s going to go outside he’s going to get stung . So when I’m working with older kids and with adults, we talk about, well, what’s your bees nest ? What’s your trigger? And we can learn from the character about the patterns and then we can learn the ABC strategy, relative to that person’s trigger. So I have used it with all ages and the first time I used it with high school aged students, I thought I was going to be booed off the stage. And I was probably halfway through the reading and one student just yelled out randomly “relatable!” So, the stress response works the same for kids and adults. So I feel it’s for anybody.

Richard Miles: 8:55
So Noel, now tell me a little bit about how the methodology, how it works when a student or a parent comes to you and says, “Hey, my child is anxious and learning this particular subject” or a teacher comes and says, “my students are anxious.” Do you walk them through a series of practical oral exercises or written exercises or what is it that they do to overcome or work through that anxiety in that particular subject?

Noel Foy: 9:15
Usually one of the first places I start is with teaching kids about their brain or teaching teachers and coaches about the brain. We are required to learn every muscle and bone in our body as kids, but we don’t really learn about the brain in practical ways that we can understand it in real time. So if my thoughts are getting into a worried place, I have to start to pay attention to that. And I was never taught about that as a kid. And to this day, most teachers are not trained in how to help kids with anxiety or are teaching them about the stress response and what you can do in real time when you notice worry thoughts and when you notice those physiological changes in your body. So I start there usually, is start to teach them about their brain and I teach them about neuroplasticity because for some kids they really love that it’s based on science, but for others they just need that sense of hope that you can change. And a lot of folks have a mindset that they don’t think they can change, that this is something that they might be stuck with for the rest of their lives. They have this sense of permanence.

Richard Miles: 10:23
If I could interrupt, neuroplasticity is this idea or this finding that we know is true, that the brain is such, it can be rewired. And I think one of the best examples that I’ve heard is, for instance, people who lose a limb that let’s say they lose their left arm in an accident, the brain can actually train itself to use rewire said now that the right arm for instance, is much more effective. Is that what we’re talking about with neuroplasticity?

Noel Foy: 10:46

That’s an example. So when you start doing something new, whether it’s just thinking in a new way or feeling in a new way or doing something in a new way, that’s basically neuroplasticity in action. So the neurons start talking to each other and you might be starting to carve new roads and new pathways in the brain because you’re doing things in a different way. And at first it’s hard because you’re teaching the brain something new and you may be thinking in a way that’s different. Well , let’s say I was an anxious kid and I might be thinking that I can’t do science, right? And I might have certain behaviors and certain thoughts that are kind of bundled together when I go into that science class. And if that happens habitually over a year or more, maybe several years, that becomes my default. My brain is thinking, Oh , that’s how you roll, when you go into science class. But when I start to teach it new ways of thinking, so mindsets would be one thing I’d be working on. Back to your earlier question, I’d be teaching them about their brain, about neuroplasticity, about the stress response. They need to pay attention to their worried thoughts and the physiological changes in their body. And then I teach them the strategy. ABC strategy is one strategy I would teach them. I basically incorporated research about mindfulness and cognitive behavioral therapy as well as some executive function and mindset shift in that strategy. So that A is about accept how you feel. So that’s about mindfulness, accepting how you feel and in moments of stress instead of denying it or dismissing it or let’s say judging yourself, just accepting that. And that can bring down the anxiety and notch right there. And the B is about breathe slow and deep. And we know that slow, deep breaths , send a message to the nervous system to slow the game down so you can get your legs back under you and reset. So you can think clearly again. And then the C step is change your thinking. And that’s about making that cognitive shift in your thought process and your perspective and think in a new way so that you can step into problem solving mode and move forward. So those three steps come together as a result of my research on mindfulness, cognitive behavioral therapy and Carol Dweck’s work on mindset. So those are some of the things I do and then I also spend a lot of time helping kids build their executive function skills and their social and emotional skills.

Richard Miles: 13:18
And by executive function, Noel , it’s basically the ability to step outside yourself and judge your own actions. Like, that’s a good idea or not a good idea.

Noel Foy: 13:26
So that what you’re describing there is really metacognitive thinking, where you have that ability to kind of step back and say, okay, is this a good approach? What would be the best approach to use in this moment? Or for this task.

Richard Miles: 13:38
Young kids are not famous for executive function. Correct?

Noel Foy: 13:41
Right. So executive function is something that develops over time. Our executive functions reside in our prefrontal cortex and it’s the last part of our brain to develop. They can be built and taught, but it’s something that through a lot of practice and training we become better at executive function, or those who don’t get a lot of practice and training or good quality instruction, they may not develop the executive function skills as well as we’d like them to be successful in school or in their jobs. So your executive functions are basically like the CEO of your brain and there are a set of skills that include attention, memory, planning and organizing, self regulating your emotions, having that ability to make a cognitive shift in your mind and having cognitive flexibility and self monitoring, being able to see how I’m doing, make some adjustments if necessary. These are a set of skills that we need to produce. Task initiation is another big one. So if I’m having trouble getting started on a task, that’s an underdeveloped skill that I would need to work on. So, I spend a lot of time in that place with students because these are underdeveloped skills for a lot of kids and they can be built and taught. We do a lot of activities to help them develop those skills. Kids who have weak executive function are usually missing like a mental schema in their mind of what it looks like, like what the finished product looks like or what the set of steps look like of how I would approach this task and so they need some practice with activities that would help them build those skills.

Richard Miles: 15:19
Just as a comment, at The Cade Museum, we also have as we design exhibits and the programs, try to incorporate a lot of neuroscience findings in there as shorthand called it the head, heart and hands. Now idea behind is that it’s much easier to remember a fact, let’s say a scientific fact or something in chemistry, if at the same time you’re learning about it, you’re actually doing it. A Hands-on experiment or somebody’s telling you about it in an interesting way is much more effective long term or even short term, as opposed to simply reading it in a book or in a fact sheet or whatever. And there seems to have been a lot of studies that validate that, that you’re much more likely to remember something if you can associate it with another experience, particularly if it’s engaged as one of your other senses, much more likely to retain it.

Noel Foy: 16:00
Yeah. I love one of The Cade Museum’s missions about teaching and inspiring and not through just one discipline, but connecting it to daily life and making it relevant. When I mentioned Judy Willis’s work earlier, when you’re doing something that’s not relevant, that can be stressful, right? So you have a lot of kids that are in school saying, why do we have to do this? I’m never going to use this, and helping them find ways to make it meaningful and see the relevance of this can definitely boost the motivation.

Richard Miles: 16:31
That comment that you made earlier was what triggered me because one of the things that we decided from the beginning was we thought if we teach science to inventions, right? You’re basically telling them the answer. At the beginning you’re saying this is what this technology can produce, this thing that you have in your hand, whether it’s an iPhone or it’s anything really, you’re telling them the relevance upfront of why the chemistry and the biology and the physics that went into developing that particular technology are important because it produces this whatever this is, and we seem to have found that for kids in particular who don’t think that they’re really interested in those subjects, they become interested if they understand the connection, as you said, the relevance to technologies that they use or experience or are affected by every day.

Noel Foy: 17:12
If there’s that little hook, then that usually will boost their motivation and then that will usually increase, let’s say more positive emotions associated with this. Then you have more dopamine going in the learning process, which makes for happier moods. You start to associate that whole experience in a more positive way. So that whole piece about emotions and learning being linked I think starts to come to play through just that one example.

Richard Miles: 17:38
Noel, some of your work is with athletes and coaches, which I think is fascinating to a lot of people because in sports mental engagement is key, right, to success, particularly at a certain level it’s already given that whether it’s a young kid or professional athlete that physically they’ve got what it takes to be participate in that level. But a lot of it comes down to the mental executive function, discipline and so on. Give me an example, for instance of your clients and without naming any names, but when they come to you, let’s say a coach or an athlete, what is a typical problem that they’re dealing with and how do you help them?

Noel Foy: 18:10
Sure. So most of my work with athletes has been at the high school level and what coaches are noticing is that their athletes are having harder time paying attention. So attention is something that’s coming up a lot. Lacking self-direction and self-awareness is coming up a lot and self-regulation issues is coming up as well. The coaches are feeling like they’ve taught the plays, but they’re feeling frustrated that the students aren’t executing them, so they’re trying to figure out ‘what am I doing wrong?’. We go through a lot of the things we’ve chatted about so far, but one of the things I try to teach them about is the brain. Again, how we can build these executive function skills cause a lot of those challenges that they’re dealing with are related to executive function. When, let’s say you’re feeling very stressed, your executive function skills can be blocked, so it’s like a virtual stop sign could be going up in the brain. Now is that coming from a place of fear? Is it coming from a place of anger? So if you have some athletes that are, let’s say, not self-regulating, their executive functions could go offline, but we need those to be in place for them to execute the play because they’re not going to really remember it. If those executive functions aren’t online, they won’t be able to execute. We do a lot of activities with self-regulation, self-awareness, teamwork, collaboration, all those things will be enhanced when kids executive function skills are online. But when the stress response is activated, those executive function skills will go offline, helping them understand what’s happening there, and then they can hopefully interrupt their stress response. For example, we’re seeing a lot of kids in chronic stress these days and the brain does not discern the difference between, let’s say, a real or a perceived threat. So let’s just say for an athlete, the perceived threat might be, I’m going to get yelled at by the coach, or I’m going to be taken out of the game if I make a mistake, right? So if that’s the perceived threat, it could be enough to trigger that athlete’s stress response to activate. So if that’s happening, their body’s feeling all sorts of physiological changes, which is going to get in their way, and then they’re going to go to fight, flight, or freeze, then they’re basically not going to be effective to execute the play. So I try to help them discern and really pay attention to your thought process. And you can interrupt that stress response cycle. If you start to notice those worried thoughts and you start to notice that your body starting to feel different. Those are two great warning signs for you to pay attention to. And then let’s now implement one of the strategies, that we’ve been practicing to help you reset and get yourself back into a receptive state so you can execute the play.

Richard Miles: 20:50
Is there a particular sport that those athletes or coaches come to you and if so, even a particular position or do you see all sorts of different sports and all sorts of different positions?

Noel Foy: 20:59
The coaches that have approached me most have been basketball coaches. I have worked with AD’s though, I’ve done presentations for all of their captains and then train the captains and then the captains go back and train their student athlete peers. And then those coaches are relying a lot on those captains to train the kids. So I’ve worked with whole teams, I’ve worked with just captains. I work with the coaches of course too , cause it really needs to start from the top down. You need to really model it and live it. If a coach, say for example is let’s say going after a ref for a bad call and not self-regulating, of course there’s going to be stress and of course they’re going to be upset, but if it’s done in a way that that coach gets kicked out of the game or has gone into that out of the sweet spot stress zone, then that’s not going to be a great model for those athletes. So I really believe that the coaches have to be trained and then the athletes, you kind of have to live it and model it in practice. And a lot of the athletes are feeling afraid to make mistakes. A lot of the athletes are having trouble rebounding, no pun intended there with the basketball, but rebounding from mistakes and showing resiliency, they’re getting stuck in that negative place that they made a mistake and then they’re having a hard time moving on. So we do a lot of practice with how to build resilience and how to come back from a mistake and how to face the next challenge, embrace it instead of fearing it and how to keep your mind and your body in that sweet spot. So a lot of the strategies I’m doing, whether I’m working with athletes or teachers or parents, is I am giving them key information and proven strategies that appeal to how the brain learns best. You can think of them as if they’re mental Gatorade for the brain and they’re helping decrease stress and sync the social, emotional, and cognitive parts of the brain so that you can boost your learning, boost your metacognition, boost your executive function, boost your execution and your performance.

Richard Miles: 23:00
Noel, how do you validate your results? Do you do surveys afterwards of the teams, for instance, the classrooms that you work with or do you look at their test scores or even in the case of an athletic team, how are they doing it and season and so on? How do you hold yourself accountable to make sure that your methods are on the right track?

Noel Foy: 23:17
So with teachers, I will have them answer some evaluations. And there’s one school that I was working specifically with two teachers for about a two month period, and I was in there just about every day. So first before I started, we had all the information about how often kids were participating in class, how often were they having behavior issues in class, I had all their grades. So we started to track after they were trained, were the kids participating? So that was very measurable. Typically, we’re seeing in most classrooms about the same four to five kids. Let’s say you have a class of 20 to 25 kids, you’re seeing about the same four kids raising their hands on a regular basis. So what about the other 20 kids? We don’t know what they’re thinking and those four kids are getting continual practice, but the others, we don’t really know what they’re thinking. So we saw an increase in participation that was very measurable. You could now see 15 hands going up at the same time in the classroom. We could certainly see a decrease in behavior issues, less times going to the principal’s office or less times having to leave the class. We are seeing an increase in anxiety over about the past decade, about 17% increase in anxiety in kids, which is going to make it harder for teachers and for coaches. Right? And if they’re not trained and have some knowledge about the brain and some strategies and the stress response, I think it’s going to make their jobs really more challenging than they need to be. So we’re seeing more kids putting their head down on the desk, spacing out, acting out, freaking out, wanting to go to the nurse, going to the bathroom multiple times in a class. So we saw those numbers go down, way down. We saw the performance go up. So teachers would say that they were able to cover more content, that they could go deeper with the learning, get into critical thinking more. Kids were cooperating with each other more. They were taking more academic risks, they were feeling more comfortable. That’s something I should mention, psychological safety is absolutely critical. It’s connecting back to that emotions. And cognition being interwoven. A lot of kids aren’t feeling safe. Not that the teacher’s going to hurt them of course, but just emotionally, not feeling safe, afraid they’re going to be made fun of if they make a mistake or afraid to put themselves out there. Now you have other kids coming in with all sorts of other issues too. Could be trauma, or situations going on at home, but when they’re in the classroom, there could be things that we could cultivate to make the kids feel safer and the same on a team. The kids aren’t feeling like this doesn’t mean that we can’t be rigorous and can’t be demanding of course, but they need to feel that they can make a mistake, own it, learn from it, and not be, let’s say judged for it. So we saw kids definitely self-regulating better. What was really fun to watch when they were in games that were really close when the stakes got higher and the stress got higher, they were able to self regulate and when let’s say a ref made a call they didn’t like, they were able to process it, accept it and move forward. And same thing if they made a mistake, they made some kind of execution error with the play. They were able to come back and just put in more effort on that next play, either rebounding more or trying to make a great block or just be there for their teammates emotionally, physically in ways that they were kind of checking out before they were getting more wins. So that’s very measurable. They were winning more and less, let’s say, tension on the team, a lot more collaboration, greater teamwork, and teachers basically said a lot of the same things.

Richard Miles: 26:56
That’s fascinating. So you started out as a teacher and then you got interested in neuroscience and then from there you developed this role as an educator dealing with the neuroscience concept . Tell us a little bit about that, your career path. What did you start out teaching in what level, what grade, and then how did you first hear or get interested in neuroscience?

Noel Foy: 27:14
So I have been teaching on my gosh, close to 40 years as an educator now. I started out teaching dyslexic students, at a school called Landmark School and then I was a learning specialist at the Roxbury Latin school for about 25 years and then at the same time I was also a teacher trainer, worked for a company called Keys to Literacy, doing teacher trainings. I slowly evolved into being a consultant and a neuro-educator from an unfortunate situation with one of my sons, so one of our boys had multiple concussions that got me to neuroscience conferences because I wanted to learn more about the brain and how this was going to impact his life, how it was going to impact school and his ability to concentrate, pay attention. Going to those neuroscience conferences were just like eyeopening . And then that got me to conferences called learning and the brain conferences. That was my first encounter with Judy Willis. Where started to just have like one aha moment after another. It really started with learning about the impact of stress on learning, and I started to have these aha moments that, ‘Oh my gosh, that’s why I had such a hard time in science’, or ‘Oh, this helps explain why my kids love learning, but they hate school’. They were, and I was in those states of stress, the fear, the anxiety, the lack of relevance, sometimes anger and the frustration, those stressful moments were getting in the way of learning. So that just really inspired me to do something about this lack of information that most teachers weren’t getting trained in. That was not part of my teacher preparation and to this day, it’s something that still is in need of a lot of work. Thankfully there’s an organization called Deans for Impact, that is working on trying to change this. But right now I’d say the majority of teacher preparation programs might have a class or two on some kind of educational psychology. But teachers are not being trained in how to prepare adequately for the real time kinds of problems that we’re experiencing in the classroom and setting them up for, I think the best success we could about the knowledge that we have related to emotions and learning and how they’re interwoven and how to deal with the 17% increase in anxiety and the increase in depression and how are we going to manage all of this in the classroom. So I decided I needed to come up with trainings that would help empower teachers to build these skills kids and to build these skills in the teachers themselves. So if we think about teacher prep programs, the professors themselves would need to learn this new information in order to train the teachers. So that’s something that’s ongoing, but still a long way to go.

Richard Miles: 29:57
So I imagine as you talk to teachers, you probably have a fair degree of credibility having been one yourself. Right? So you’re not just some consultant parachuting in telling them, well here’s what science says. The fact that you have been in their shoes, helps you understand what they’re looking for and what they’re going through.

Noel Foy: 30:13
It absolutely does. Being a classroom teacher, a former classroom teacher, does give me some street cred and I still try to keep myself real by working with students to this day. So even though I’m a consultant, I still have my own students. I use all of the strategies on my students as well to make sure that I can be able to say, here’s how the student responded. Here are the results, here’s about how long it might take for you to start to see results. Here’s typical feedback I might get from students about this strategy. So yes, it definitely helps.

Richard Miles: 30:48
So obviously in addition to being a teacher, you’ve also been a student. Tell us about you growing up. What were you like as a student? Were you a good one, a bad one where you’re curious, not so curious? And then any indicators that you can remember as a young child being interested in the brain.

Noel Foy: 31:03
So I was a good student. I loved school. I will say that the healthy understanding of failure and I would put myself in situations that I knew I’d succeed in. So I wish I had a little bit more of understanding about mindset. I didn’t have any strategies so, I was that kid that got anxious in science class. I was that child that just walking to science class activated my stress response. So I went in on high alert and instead of listening to the teacher and taking in the science, I was just thinking, ‘Please don’t call on me. I have no idea what you’re talking about’. So that’s what I remember about that class instead of the science. That class, I can say I lived that experience about the connection of emotion to learning. I was in a state of fear and it blocked my ability to learn in that class and the way it was taught at that time period. It was not relevant to me at all. I had no idea that I would ever use science. So, I am very grateful that a point came in my life, unfortunately through my son’s concussion, I started to see the relevance of science and the applications just seem limitless for the classroom, for sports, for relationships, for the corporate world. There’s just so many applications.

Richard Miles: 32:17
So the other fascinating part of your story, one that we’d like to talk about at The Cade museum, it’s an entrepreneurial aspect. When you went from being a teacher, I assume in a public school or even a private institution, but essentially then became an entrepreneur running your own business, what sort of advice would you give? Because it’s something that a lot of people dream of, right? They think, well, I’m going to leave my first job and I’m gonna start a second career in own business. And that generally is a little bit harder than it sounds. Tell us about that experience of becoming your own boss and running your own organization.

Noel Foy: 32:48
Well, it’s really fun. It’s really challenging and it’s about something I really care about. I’m obviously passionate about it. It’s certainly something that requires a lot of persistence and resilience. There’s definitely times where I’m thinking, wow, I’ve worked really hard on this, am I making the progress that I feel I should be making or you certainly make a lot of mistakes and certainly have a lot of failures. For example, the book ‘ABC, Worry Free’, I had written a children’s book when my first of four sons was born years ago. I think I just thought I was going to put it out there and bang, somebody was just going to pick it up. Well that didn’t happen, but at that time period of my life I didn’t really have a growth mindset and understand the power of failure and that, okay, maybe take a look at your approach. There’s something to be learned here, so that ability to shift my mindset and really look at failure in a new way and have a healthy understanding of it, has really helped my work a lot to put myself out there and teachers and coaches have been very receptive. I’d say one of the biggest hurdles is time. Many teachers are feeling that, Oh man, I have a lot on my plate already, now I have this one more thing. That’s how they’re thinking about it is how am I going to add these strategies when I’m already feeling I don’t have enough time to cover my content. So you run into challenges throughout this process, but it’s so worth it and so fulfilling, especially when you start to see results.

Richard Miles: 34:14
I love that phrase and well, a healthy understanding of failure. I think a lot of entrepreneurs and inventors that we talked to describe something very similar. It’s not if you fail, it’s when you fail because you will have failures along the path and obviously even for athletes and so on, it’s how do you use those failures, learn from them, and then leverage them into your next achievement. But not to be surprised when they happen. Noel, this has been great conversation and at this moment you don’t look like you’re failing to me, so keep it up . Of course in the Epic we’re in now, maybe we’ll all just sit around, like I said, Netflix and Chardonnay, and that’s what the next three years are gonna look like. But hopefully not.

Noel Foy: 34:50
You’re probably going to learn something new, so you’re keeping that neuroplasticity going through this period.

Richard Miles: 34:56
Thanks very much for joining me on Radio Cade today and wish you the best.

Noel Foy: 34:59
So thank you so much for having me. It was great.

Outro: 35:02
Radio Cade is produced by The Cade Museum for Creativity and Invention located in Gainesville, Florida . Richard Miles is the podcast host and Ellie Thom coordinates, inventor interviews. Podcasts are recorded at Heartwood Soundstage and edited and mixed by Bob McPeak . The Radio Cade theme song is produced and performed by Tracy Collins and features violinist, Jacob Lawson.

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