25 January 2011

Isaac Asimov Talks Education with Bill Moyers

This the second part of an interesting interview from way back in 1988 and they exchange some interesting ideas about education. The meat of the education discussion starts about 9 minutes in and goes for about 10 minutes.

24 January 2011

The Story of School video and Atittutor Media are coming!

I am very proud to announce a new project and the formation of an organization to make it, and future projects, happen.

The project is called the Story of School and it is a presentation that will become a video about one of the deep cultural roots of the problem with current school reform efforts. As long as we have a school system that forces adults responsible for children to sacrifice their moral duty to nurture those children on the alter of academics, then school reform will fail.

Attitutor Media is a company that I am forming to create media products and deliver public speaking and consulting services to school leaders.

Contact me if you would like to know more.

20 January 2011

Strict or Indulgent: The False Choice in Parenting

Here's an interesting article by Amy Chua defending the stereotype of the demanding parent and here's a very thoughtful response to it by David Brooks.

I'm with David on this one. He explains that the irony of Ms. Chua's approach to parenting is that while she believes she is being demanding of her children, in fact, because she is making all the decisions her children are being deprived of crucial lessons about how t make decisions. By being excluded from social situations by the demands of academic rigor their social skills will be retarded.

And here's a reaction from the Asian community. One of the criticisms is that Chua's article paints Chinese (and by extension all Asians) with an abusive brush. But the real problem is that the article that is causing so much controversy is supposedly an excerpt from Chua's book, but it gets the story badly wrong.

19 January 2011

Testimonial to the Importance of a Fair System

This is a powerful story of a crime and the consequences of having too much faith in one person's memory:

18 January 2011

Trade-offs in Teaching

Here's Ed Yong at Not Exactly Rocket Science on the trade-offs that occur depending on the style of teaching that is used. Reminds me of Ellen Langer's work in minful learning.

This is the experiment in which the experimenter either played with a toy in front of the child, talked with it to another adult, talked with another child about the toy, or showed the child a feature of the toy. The more direct the "instruction" the less likely the child was to find other features.

Relating to Disease

Here's an incredible story about how to relate to disease from a woman who survived a double lung transplant:

This American Life on Brooklyn Free School

This episode of This American Life on NPR radio is called "Kid Politics" and covers briefly the unskilled use of democracy in a Chinese elementary school from the movie "Please Vote For Me" and in the third segment a report on the Brooklyn Free School. The Free School piece is an unusually considerate story about how the kids participate in the decisions about what happens. The reporter took real time, a month she says, to get to know the school and get in on some interesting decisions, one on screen time and the other on an incident of swearing by nine and ten year olds.

It is unusual to get a report that takes the time to get to know what's going on in terms that are not automatically framed in terms of how important adult control is. She looked deeply into not only the decision but the aftermath of the decisions. She noticed that follow-up on many issues is called for but may not actually happen. This is naturally part of how life works. Bringing attention to many issues is enough to encourage everyone to be more considerate about how the handle it in the future, thus avoiding the necessity of further action.

The "Please Vote For Me" segment is the prologue to the episode. The first segment is primarily on how kids are given a role playing opportunity at the Reagan Presidential Library. It's a clear demonstration of how NOT to educate kids, but how to train them to do what the adults expect them to do. The "role play" breaks complex decisions into simple binary choices and if the kids choose differently than Reagan did then they get a harsh claxon whereas if they parrot Reagan then they get a nice bell sound. Not to mention that they frame the whole situation in terms that make any deviation from their agenda seem wrong.

I didn't listen to the segment on climate change.

17 January 2011

A vision for Humane Education from TEDxDirigo

Here is a talk by Zoe Weil on her vision for humane education and the development of a generation of solutionaries:

Hat tip to DemocraticEducation.com

Keeping it all in perspective

Monty Python has a certain knack for this:

15 January 2011

Brene Brown on the importance of vulnerability

This is a really important perspective on how to achieve whole-hearted living:

Here's an interview with her that explains her work in a slightly different way:

And here's how she addresses the critics who assert that shame is necessary for people who do bad things:

Finally here's how she expanded on the topic at TEdxKC:

13 January 2011

08 January 2011

Solar Daytime Heating for Free

Here's a video about Cansolair heating panels, which one person says cost him about $2500.
[I previously had other links but they went dead.]
Hat tip to Wimp.com

06 January 2011

04 January 2011

Computational Proof that Reality Trumps Stories, Rules, & Theories

This post by Psychologist Mark Changizi explains how vagueness is inherent to all concepts. The direct implication of this observation is that all abstract ideas can be rendered impractical, which provides the opponents of any proposal an opening to criticize it.

[V]agueness is intimately related to the ancient sorites paradox, where from seemingly true premises that (i) a thousand grains of sand makes a heap, and (ii) if n+1 grains of sand make a heap, then n make a heap, one can derive the false conclusion that one grain of sand makes a heap.

When you or I judge whether or not a word applies to an object, we are (in some abstract sense) running a program in the head.

The job of each of these programs (one for each word) is to output YES when input with an object to which the word applies, and to output NO when input with an object to which the word does not apply.

That sounds simple enough! But why, then, do we have vagueness? With programs like this in our head, we’d always get a clear YES or NO answer.

But it isn’t quite so simple.

Some of these “meaning” programs, when asked about some object, will refuse to respond. Instead of responding with a YES or NO, the program will just keep running on and on, until eventually you must give up on it and conclude that the object does not seem to clearly fit, nor clearly not fit.

Our programs in the head for telling us what words mean have “holes” in them. Our concepts have holes. And when a program for some word fails to respond with an answer — when the hole is “hit” — we see that the concept is actually vague.

Your ability to see the boundary of the borderline region [of the holes] is itself fuzzy.

Our concepts not only have holes in them, but unseeable holes. …in the sense that exactly where the borders of the holes are is unclear.

And these aren’t quirks of our brains, but necessary consequences of any computational creature — man or machine — having concepts.

The discussion below the original posting of this article includes Changizi's responses to basic criticisms of the computational premise of the argument.

02 January 2011

Student Poetry

Here's an amazing performance of poetry from high school age kids from New Mexico. It's called "Love Letter to Albuquerque Public Schools":

Healthy Aging Sholarly Video

Here's an extremely academic video of professional academics talking about the effects of early experiences across the lifespan in various scientific studies (2 hours with 6 presentations of 10-15 minutes):

The first talk raises interesting points about how important a warm nurturing environment is for those who have had the opposite experience. She also points out that her data seems to suggest that stress reactions are sensitive to social context.

Interesting insights into positive vs. negative emotions and emotional regulation in the second talk.

Third talk is about loneliness and she concludes that loneliness is not treated effectively by putting people in groups. (Not enough time to go into more.)

The fourth talk is about three studies showing the effect of relationships on men and how we are susceptible to additional risk factors when marriage relationships are disrupted.

Fifth talk on happiness.

Sixth is on stress bio-marker, telomerase (the genetic cap on the end of chromosomes that enable reproduction which decline over lifespan.)

Tip 'o the Hat to the Situationist Blog