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Welcome back to the Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning Podcast for our very FIRST Panel Interview and EPISODE #177.

Watch the interview on YouTube here.

For those new, or returning guests, welcome! I’m Andrea Samadi, author, and educator from Toronto, Canada, now in Arizona, and like many of you listening, have been fascinated with learning and understanding the science behind high performance strategies that we can use to improve our own productivity in our schools, our sports, and workplace environments.

This week, I’m thrilled to welcome back 4 guests to our very first panel interview, with Horacio Sanchez, from, Dr. Jon Lieff, MD from, Dr. Howard Rankin, PhD. from, and Tom Beakbane, author of How to Understand Everything. Consilience: A New Way to See the World

This panel was actually Tom Beakbane’s idea, after his EPISODE #144[i] this summer, he mentioned that he had listened to Dr. Lieff’s episode on his book, The Secret Language of Cells, and thought it would be a good idea if we hosted a panel discussion in the near future. Not wanting to miss any opportunity to learn something new, I agreed, and wrote down the idea, thinking of late Fall for this panel discussion. When the time felt right, I emailed Horacio Sanchez, Jon Lieff, Howard Rankin and Tom Beakbane with the idea, and all agreed immediately, and it was set in stone.

Today I want to welcome back all 4 speakers to our discussion, and will give their background, so you can see where they have come from, as you listen to their thoughts and ideas on this episode.

The topic for today will be “What is the most significant insight from neuroscience that can transform the future of education” so as I read through each speaker’s bio, you can think of how their experience can contribute to this topic, with some ideas that we can all take away and think about the action steps that we can bring to our schools or workplaces. I really do believe that these ideas can transform our results, and it just takes you, the listener, to implement one idea at a time, for this change to occur.

Here’s today’s panelists.

1. Horacio Sanchez

We have had Horacio on the podcast twice before, so this will be his third episode. What I love about Horacio is that he was mentioned as an expert in educational neuroscience in our first interview with Ron Hall, from Valley Day School, who said what he learned from Horacio changed the trajectory of his career in education. I just remember putting an image of him in Ron Hall’s video and thought for someone making such an impact in the field I’m most interested in; I should learn more about his work. And that’s where my friendship with Horacio began. You can listen to both his episodes to learn more: EPISODE #74 we covered “How to Use Brain Science to Improve Instruction and School Climate” with a focus on his book The Education Revolution, and on EPISODE #111 we focused on his most recent book “The Poverty Solution.”

2. Jon Lieff, MD

Our next panelist, Dr.Jon Lieff, I was introduced to last summer, with his new book, The Secret Language of Cells that we discussed on EPISODE #143. His topic was fascinating and inspired me to write EPISODE #147 on “Improving Mental Clarity by Understanding our Brian States, Brain Fog, and How It’s Created” and gave me a new understanding of how our cells communicate with each other, how T cells send messages to the neuron to stop making so many memory cells when we are stressed, creating brain fog and making me think of new ways to support brain health. I had lots of feedback from Dr. Lieff’s interview that showed how it opened up many people’s eyes to new ways to approach health and wellness. There was one point that I remember someone emailed me about—it was how they were shocked to learn that “scientists can observe immune cells in the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) that bathes and protects the entire brain. This fluid was thought to function only as protection for the brain when jostled. But now it is known to be a river of wireless communication, with signals coursing throughout the brain from all regions and all types of cells. It is now known that at most times there are 500,000 T cells in the CSF along with smaller numbers of other immune cells.” (Secret Language of Cells, Dr. Lieff, Page 35). If you think this might sound a bit advanced, it’s really not, when we take the time to understand this. Just this weekend, I was at a wedding, with 2 of our friends who were getting married after meeting a few years back at the library while they were studying to become doctors. When the conversation at the wedding took a turn towards CSF and the brain, I smiled and remembered what I had learned from Dr. Lieff. We can all understand how our brain and body functions, so we can be in charge of our health and future.

3. Howard Rankin, Ph.D.

Our third panelist, Dr. Rankin, appeared three times on the podcast, first, with his book, How Not to Think, and second when he interviewed me, and thirdly, with Grant Renier on their new book “Intuitive Rationality: predicting Future Events with the New Behavioral Direction of AI.” I immediately connected with Dr. Rankin, as he opened my eyes to cognitive bias, and ways that my thinking was flawed. I’m still not 100% sure how I’m supposed to think, but know that whatever it is I am thinking, it’s probably wrong and full of biases, so I will keep learning, and hopefully with time and experience, will be all the more wiser. This will be Dr. Rankin’s 4th appearance on this podcast, and I’m looking forward to the insight he will bring to the panel. I know he will share his understanding of how we shouldn’t think—with our cognitive biases running our mental programming.

4. Tom Beakbane

Tom Beakbane, our 4th panelist, and the one who came up with the idea for this episode, opened me up to the fact that I don’t need to know everything and gave me a sense of freedom with these interviews. His book, “How to Understand Everything” stumped me, (and I admitted to not being sure what consilience was) in the first few minutes of our interview. While I think at the end of the interview, I had a new way of looking at the world, through this new lens of Consilience, which reveals how things self-organize from the bottom up, in contrast to how we think and communicate, which is top down. I’m certain that there’s much more to learn from Tom and his way of looking at the world.

I can’t wait to see all four of our guests and see what they will say about how simple neuroscience can transform the future of education.

I want to welcome each of our guests to the podcast today: Horacio Sanchez, Dr. Jon Lieff, MD, Dr. Howard Rankin, Ph.D, and Tom Beakbane. Welcome! It’s incredible to see you all again. Thanks for being here.


I want to thank all of you for coming back on the podcast, to keep the conversation going with your books, interviews, and the work you have been doing since we spoke last. I really do feel lucky to have this chance to speak with you again. At the end of each of your interviews, I wish I could stay on longer, asking more questions, but know that the learning will continue as we revisit your episodes, and re-read your books. I really do believe in life-long learning and am grateful for this platform to share your expertise with those who tune in, around the world.  So, thank you!

Which brings us to the topic of discussion for today’s episode that Tom Beakbane’s idea.

TOPIC: “What’s gone wrong with our educational system and what’s the most significant insight from neuroscience that can transform the future of education?”

If I could begin with Horacio, whose work at deals directly with educators and students in today’s classrooms, to launch this discussion. Horacio, what do you think?

Q1: What’s gone wrong with our educational system?

Horacio answers—

What’s gone wrong with our educational system?

Dr. Lieff, Dr. Rankin, and Tom I’d love to hear your perspective as well.

Q2: What’s the most significant insight from neuroscience that can transform the future of education?

I would like to begin with Dr. Lieff, because I am curious of his perspective from The Secret Language of Cells, and mental health, that is crucial for today’s students AND teachers.

Horacio, Dr. Rankin and Tom what’s your perspective?

I would like to know Horacio’s perspective with what he sees working directly with students and teachers with brain science, what he thinks could transform the future of education.

Howard and Tom, I would like to know your perspective on how our thinking can be taking us off course, and what can we do to get back on track and make an impact on our future generations.

Q3: I’m a big dreamer and really do believe in dreaming big. It’s usually what I say when I’m signing one of my books for someone because I believe in the possibilities in the world, and that each person has tremendous power within them to make a lasting impact on this world.  Let’s imagine that we were given a grant for $100 million (and I choose that amount because 5 years ago I submitted an idea to the MacArthur Foundation’s 100 and Change Grant Contest)[ii] and it involved budgeting $100 million for your idea. It was an incredible experience to even open up your mind to how you would distribute these funds to make a global impact on the future of education. I know where my idea fell short, but what would you say?

What would be YOUR plan for $100 million if we were awarded this grant to use neuroscience to change the future of education?

I would like to begin with Tom and then Dr. Rankin for their perspective on this.

Then Horacio and Dr. Lieff?

I want to thank you all for coming on our FIRST panel interview, so we can all continue to learn from you, and keep the conversation going as it relates to neuroscience making a change in our future generations.

I hope that those listening can take away some ideas to think about and implement right away to make the changes that I know are possible.


[i]Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning Podcast EPISODE #144

[ii] Andrea’s Video Pitch for the MacArthur Foundation’s 100 and Change Grant Published on YouTube October 2, 2016