Family & friends

Cherry blossoms

Cherry blossoms are a sign of spring. There are festivals in many countries to celebrate the bloom of these flowers. The flowers don’t last long and fall off after a week. In Japan, people have picnics under the cherry blossom trees. This is called hanami.

The US also has this tradition because Japan gave them cherry trees in 1912. The flowers mean new beginnings. Now, people sell things that taste like cherry blossoms, such as ice-cream and cookies. They also watch the weather to see when the flowers will bloom.


The importance of close bonds

According to The New York Times, research shows that close friendships are necessary for optimal health and well-being. A key to close friendship is intimacy, and a big part of intimacy is being able to be fully yourself and be understood by others.

If close friendships really are vital to people’s well-being, one might assume we would be able to make them easily. However, it turns out that the opposite may be true: close friendships are important to people because they are so difficult to form.

According to John Cacioppo, a social neuroscientist, humans evolved a natural bias against easily making friends because, in the past, avoiding an enemy was more important than making a friend. If a person mistook a friend for a foe, then that would not endanger their survival, but mistaking a foe for a friend could lead to death.

Advice for effective parenting

Raising children can be challenging. Here are some helpful tips. If you don't have kids, then think about when you were a kid.  

First, praising a child’s accomplishments boosts their self-esteem.

Children develop their understanding of themselves through their parents’ attitudes. Everything counts: parents’ words, body language, voice. 

If you praise children for even small accomplishments, you will make them feel worthy and proud. If you trust your children to do things themselves, they will feel capable and strong. On the other hand, if you compare your child to others or belittle them, children might feel worthless and doubt themselves. 

Second, try to compliment more than you criticize 

Imagine you have a boss who always criticizes and never praises you even when you are trying really hard.

Short film: "Float", and metaphor

First, make a choice about how to watch the film. It is about 7 minutes. You have a few options.

  1. Watch the film before the lesson as pre-study homework.
  2. Watch part of the film in the lesson.
  3. Watch the whole film in the lesson. 
    • If you choose to watch the film, please do your best to describe and discuss it as you watch. There's almost no dialog, so you can easily talk while watching.

This discussion topic is based on a short film by Pixar, called "Float". It uses metaphor to express a complex truth in simple terms.

What is a metaphor? It's saying one thing is another thing, but it's not literally true. Here are some examples: