Antarctic Adventures is more than a set of guidelines for how to take control of our lives through goal setting, decision making, and problem solving. It is also an approach to living a productive life characterized by inquiry, critical thinking, learning to pay attention to natural wonders, and being fully awake to life's mysteries and opportunities. Based on the author's experiences exploring Antarctica, this book finds life lessons in the most renowned polar explorers as well as those like Sally Ride, who explored outer space, and successful men and women in sports and business.
Introduction Flying home at 35,000 feet across the great plains of our midwestern states, I asked my-self this question, "What have I learned from exploring Antarctica and from studying its history, geology, glaciology, literature and art?" As we flew past the Rocky Mountains and off toward home here in New York City, I thought of some answers and jotted them down on one page of my Journal. As you will note from the Table of Contents that follows, most of what seemed important had to do with learning to make the most out of our lives: dreaming big, figuring out how to get what we want, solving hard problems, working with others in teams, thinking critically and using our imaginations to the fullest. Some might say all these add up to becoming successful in life, being able to live life to its fullest, meaning taking advantage of all opportunities we create. Each chapter has a focus on one aspect of this journey-dreaming of our futures, figuring out how to avoid the pitfalls and crevasses along the way. Within each chapter I have identified what I consider to be the Life Lessons, the general principles derived either from others' stories or from research on how our minds work. Here you will find Dr. Carol Dweck's work called mindset: The New Psychology of Success (2006) a substantial support for what we say. Her point is that we have control of our minds, how we think, and our positive thoughts can have a huge impact on our success or lack there of. For example, we learn that we do not have to live with messages we hear from others or we might say to ourselves such as, "I'm no good at athletics, or science or music." We can change how we talk to ourselves: "I can get better at anything if I apply myself. . . I can succeed in baseball if I work hard enough, visualize success and learn from experts." Our minds and the thoughts we we have are not fixed, written in stone. We can change our attitudes toward ourselves and our pursuits in and out of school. Our success is just as much the result of how we think about our abilities as those abilities themselves. But "success" isn't what life is all about, however. More significantly I hope the various chapters introduce new ways of looking at our own lives and to persons who have a great deal to teach us-both you and me. Life is all about what we're doing now-learning about ourselves and the world. And enjoying it! One of the best ways to get the most from what we are experiencing-in school, at home, out on a playing field, or on a job-is to follow the words of the mother of one of our most re-nowned scientists, Isidore I. Rabi, a nuclear physicist who won the Nobel Prize in 1944 for his pioneering work on the characteristics of the electron. Someone body once asked Rabi how he became a scientist. He told this story: My mother made me become a scientist without ever intending to do so. Every other Jewish mother in Brooklyn (NY) would ask their child upon returning from school, "So, did you learn anything today?" But not my mother. She asked a dif- ferent question. "Izzy," she said, "did you ask a good question, today?" That dif- ference-asking good questions-made me become a scientist." I hope in reading any of these chapters you keep Izzy's story in mind and that you will pose your own good questions about the lives of the explorers, astronauts, athletes and others within. Being inquisitive, asking our own significant questions, can lead us to explore new and challenging territories and it will, undoubtedly, lead to many exciting and enriching discoveries. I'd be very interested in learning what questions you do ask and are investigating. You can write me at: email@example.com. Best wishes John Barell firstname.lastname@example.org www.morecuriousminds.com New York, NY July, 2016
John Barell delved deeply into Antarctic literature at age thirteen, and his inquiries led to meeting Admiral Richard E. Byrd and sailing to Antarctica as part of Operation Deepfreeze to explore that continent. After Antarctica, he became an educator in New York City public high schools then at Montclair State University in teacher education and world literature (now professor emeritus). Subsequently, he was a consultant at the American Museum of Natural History where he continued his work fostering inquiry in school, home, and out in the field. See his projects at www.morecuriousminds.com.
Having known John Barell as a gifted high school classmate, I ordered his new book, "Antarctic Adventures" as soon as I became aware of it I was immediately struck by how attractively this book is laid out and formatted. The color illustrations and cover certainly add to the book's appeal.
It was interesting to learn about John's thought processes and activities as a student, including the profound effect upon him of his contact with renown explorer Admiral Byrd, and then to learn about John's life and adventures as a naval officer and educator later on. Clearly his good habits in the realm of planning, writing down things, and being well-organized put him way ahead of many of his contemporaries at an early age.
The content of the book is excellent, and shows a lot of ingenuity in the way the various practical life lessons are woven into, and illustrated by, the adventures of the author and other explorers, as well as the analogies drawn from the experiences of prominent individuals in the space program and the author's own experiences during his student days and as an educator.
While I'm sure I could have benefitted from reading this book at an early age had it been available then, it certainly is interesting and educational reading for people of all ages, as well as being very suitable for classroom use. I plan to share it with other family members, including a son who is a teacher.
Jonathan C. Gilman