23 August 2010

What About Love?

Here's the welcoming comments of Rev. Kieth Ellison a the beginning of the Unitarian Universalist General Assembly in Minneapolis. This makes me proud to be a UU:

Presentation Zen

Garr Reynolds Presentation Zen is one of the blogs that I regularly follow and have a copy of his book. This is a talk he gave a Google.

Data Visualization Talk

Here's David McCandless on the value of getting data into forms that we can more easily comprehend:

14 August 2010

No Dog Left Behind

Marion Brady has found an excellent metaphor for one of the most important problems with the current high fashions in school reform.

Amplify’d from voices.washingtonpost.com

There are all kinds of things [dogs] can do besides herd, rescue, and engage foxes. They can sniff luggage for bombs. Chase felons. Stand guard duty. Retrieve downed game birds. Guide the blind. Detect certain diseases. Locate earthquake survivors. Entertain audiences. Play nice with little kids. Go for help if Little Nell falls down a well.

So, with No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top as models, let’s set performance standards for these and all other canine capabilities and train all dogs to meet them. All 400 breeds. All skills. Leave No Dog Behind!

Two-hundred-pound Mastiffs may have a little trouble with the chase-the-fox-down-the-hole standard, and Chihuahuas will probably have difficulty with the tackle-the-felon-and-pin-him-to-the-ground standard. But, hey, no excuses! Standards are standards! Leave No Dog Behind.

Read more at voices.washingtonpost.com

Brain Wave Recording Innovation

Here's a TED Talk by Tan Le about a new device for recording brain activity that has the cool property of unfolding the brain topologically to localize the signal. Plus it can simply be put on like a hat without requiring extra moisture for conductivity or a huge tangle of wires.

09 August 2010

New Science of Morality Conference from The Edge

These are a bunch of heavy hitters in the world of morality studies in conversation with each other. Except for the fact that the follow-up discussions are being trickled out at snails pace, I really find the whole conversation fascinating.

Amplify’d from www.edge.org

Roy Baumeister, Paul Bloom, Joshua D. Greene, Jonathan Haidt,

Sam Harris, Marc D. Hauser, Josua Knobe,

Elizabeth Phelps, David Pizarro


Something radically new is in the air: new ways of understanding physical systems, new ways of thinking about thinking that call into question many of our basic assumptions. A realistic biology of the mind, advances in evolutionary biology, physics, information technology, genetics, neurobiology, psychology, engineering, the chemistry of materials: all are questions of critical importance with respect to what it means to be human. For the first time, we have the tools and the will to undertake the scientific study of human nature.

Read more at www.edge.org

08 August 2010

Self -organization video

This is a short video (4 1/2 min) on the implications of self-organization:

03 August 2010

Thingification in Education from Thomas Moore

Here's a good point made by Thomas Moore of Care of The Soul fame:
In a thing-centered culture, we believe that our job is to teach the young what they need to have a job and support themselves. Students are left on their own for learning how to cope with life's existential challenges, how to relate well to others, how to lead maturely in business and government, how to raise children and how to be married. How to develop taste and values and come to grips with human mortality and make a contribution to world culture--these are largely left alone by educators with the hope, apparently, that people will find their way unconsciously. It's a false hope ... .

My comment:

It's one thing to criticize the metaphor, it quite another to replace it with another metaphor that better captures the essential qualities that you value in the educative process.

Part of the challenge is that the thingification urge is not utterly wrong, just inadequate. But our system has swung to an extreme reliance on the thing aspect and the subtler aspects are more difficult to articulate.

My own basic proposal for steering us away from this reification of "things" is to reconceptualize the proper outcome of education as access to optimal states of mind, instead of the delivery of knowledge, skills, and information. This is based on a synthesis of some of the work in positive psychology by Seligman, Csikszentmihlayi, and others. This shifts the task from downloading bits into little heads, to assisting in a process of cognitive mapping of the world in which the students exist. Naturally maps have content but what makes a map useful is not the data points, but the proper depiction of the relationships between data points according the goals of the end users of the map. Thus there is maintained a proper respect for the data (subjects) but the emphasis is shifted towards the relationships that are meaningful for making sense of that data.

Don Berg

Site: http://www.teach-kids-attitude-1st.com
Free E-book: The Attitude Problem in Education

Tip o' the Hat to Teaching Now blog

01 August 2010