30 December 2010

Jinan on Biology of Learning

Here's an interesting perspective on the distinction between intellectual and biological learning:

Part 1 - What is biology of learning? from mokoflip on Vimeo.

An interview with Jinan Kodapully about his experiences and views on the 'biology of learning' coming from his work with tribal artisans, villagers, illiterate communities and in children's development in the last 20 years.

Part 2:

Part 2 - The way we live from mokoflip on Vimeo.

Part 2 of the interview with Jinan Kodapully conducted in November 2009. It is about his experiences and views on the 'biology of learning' coming from his work with tribal artisans, villagers, illiterate communities and in children's development in the last 20 years. In part 2 Jinan talks about his views on the way we live.

It seems to me that he romanticizes or idealizes the "biological" aspects of learning when he talks about how we have separated ourselves from the children by building kitchens and enclosed spaces. There are certainly consequences to the changes that have been made in the human world, but we are biologically extremely adaptable, so I am sure we can figure out how to access our learning abilities in a variety of contexts, even intellectual contexts.

Part 3:

Part 3 - How do we know? from mokoflip on Vimeo.

Part 3 of the interview with Jinan Kodapully conducted in November 2009. It is about his experiences and views on the 'biology of learning' coming from his work with tribal artisans, villagers, illiterate communities and in children's development in the last 20 years. In part 3 Jinan talks about how we come to know, exploring the question of how we learn to learn.

Part 4:

Part 4 - Dealing with alienation from mokoflip on Vimeo.

Part 4 of the interview with Jinan Kodapully conducted in November 2009. It is about his experiences and views on the 'biology of learning' coming from his work with tribal artisans, villagers, illiterate communities and in children's development in the last 20 years. In part 4 Jinan talks about his search for knowledge, when he stopped reading for 7 years and learned from being in illiterate communities and from being with children.

27 December 2010

The UU Elevator Speech Quandry

Here's UU blogger Doug Muder's take on the UU elevator speech challenge, as summed up by commenter Kay Slama:

Unitarian Universalism is an evolving, democratic religion based on experiences and actions in this life and a focus on both goodness and happiness. We respect all people and all of existence, and we use both reason and loving emotion in our spirituality. See our 7 principles on uua.org.

19 December 2010

Breaking Parenting Taboos

Here's the first TED Talk on parenting that I recall seeing. It's a great look at how our culture sets up a bunch of taboos about what is acceptable to talk about in regards to parenting and how it results in a diminished experience for parents. The parents who give the talk run a web site for parents:

Better Teaching from the Front Lines

Here's a wonderfully passionate and straightforward TED Talk from Diana Laufenberg about what we already know about how to improve teaching and learning:

16 December 2010

Math Video Extraordinaire

Here's one I can't resist:

05 December 2010

Population Reassurance

Here's a quick video with reassuring news about population growth:

26 November 2010

Green School Innovation in Bali

Here's a TED Talk about a new school in Bali:

Design in Education

Here's a TED Talk from a designer who has made a comittment to rural public education in North Carolina and brings innovative thinking into the whole community:

22 November 2010

Empowering Teachers in Harlem

Here's a passionate woman who founded a successful charter school that has done well because they set up a system that fully empowered teachers. I think it's a great idea, and I'd just ask that the exact same principles be applied to students.

21 November 2010

New Democratic School in Israel

Here's a video about one of the new democratic schools in Israel:

07 November 2010

The Connection Theme

This seems to be an important theme that is arising as a fundamental for human flourishing: connection.

Hardwired to Connect

06 November 2010

Difficulty of Layman's Explanations

Richard Feynman, the world renowned physicist, explains to a BBC interviewer why he cannot explain why magnets repel each other. This is the perpetual dilemma of technical sophistication.

20 October 2010

The Kiva Story, Plus the Sequel

Here's the story of the incredible microfinance success story Kiva.org form the founder and the announcement of her follow-up project (Profounder.com)for crowd-sourced funding for entrepreneurs:

Brilliant Innovations for Addressing Environmental Issues

Here's the most brilliant new approach to environmental issues I've ever seen:

14 October 2010

Ken Robinson is Getting Bolder

In this animated condensed version of a longer talk Sir Ken Robinson talks about some key aspects of what is needed in education. He's on the right track.

26 September 2010

Early Academic Computing at Reed

There's a hilarious scene of students packing up a Mac in a wooden box and taking it to a lake to make drawings.

The old style diskettes bring back fond memories of the toaster game that was required if you had to run a program that was more than 512K capacity of one disk. The toaster game was the process of one disk popping out and the computer asking for the next one. And sometimes you would have to switch back and forth many times.

02 September 2010

Muder on Spirituality (responding to humanist concerns)

Here's what Doug Muder considers to be spirituality:
So here's my best shot: Spirituality is an awareness of the gap between what you can experience and what you can describe.
This is the best definition I've ever heard. If it does not make immediate sense to you then I suggest you read his post which goes into detail on his thought process and the context in which that process was engaged.

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

27 July 2010

Unitarian Universalism, All Soul's Church in D.C.

Here's a good interview with the ministers of All Soul's Church in Washington, D.C.

24 July 2010

Lord of the Flies was the Adults Fault, not the boys

Here's a post at SpecEdChange that addresses Golding's Classic Lord of the Flies from the perspective of how the situation was partly determined by the adults who taught the boys, not an inevitable result of boys being boys.

14 July 2010

Perpsective on Human Exchange/Economy

Here is a brilliant TED Talk by Matt Ridley that explores the nature of human exchange and it's role in our lives:

10 July 2010

Hans Rosling's Case For Global Social Justice

The world's foremost global statistical analyst, Hans Rosling, presents a case for focusing on child survival as one of the key components in stopping the population explosion by the year 2050:

05 July 2010

What's a year?

Here's a video that explains the astronomical variations on the calculation of a year:

25 June 2010

Innovation in Education

Finally a TED Talk that gets what is really needed in education. Charles Leadbeater gives this talk focusing on the needs of the urban slum dwellers, but it gets at the heart of the kind of innovation that is truly needed.

13 June 2010

Pinker Countering the Media Critics

Here's Steven Pinker's counter arguments to those who criticize the electronic media environment for dumbing us down and causing distraction.

PowerPoint, we’re told, is reducing discourse to bullet points. Search engines lower our intelligence, encouraging us to skim on the surface of knowledge rather than dive to its depths. Twitter is shrinking our attention spans.

But such panics often fail basic reality checks.

12 June 2010

Famous Neuroscientists on The Basics of Their Field

The panel includes: Daniel Levitin, Sam Wang, Rebecca Saxe, & Michael Gazzaniga with moderator Carl Zimmer.

Each taking their turn answering some questions:

31 May 2010

Zimbardo on Time Animated

Philip Zimbardo, Stanford Psychology professor, on the different time perspectives that people have and some of the consequences of having them.

And here's the whole talk:

28 May 2010

An Important Message To The President

This is from George Lakoff to President Obama:
Empathy and the discipline to act effectively on it, when seen as the basis of democracy and American values, can be powerful. It can unify the major policies of the administration, and unify people of good will — and that is a majority of our citizens. But only if the president communicates empathy effectively, and acts on it consistently.

26 May 2010

Sound and Sand, order out of chaos

5 Steps to Create Anti-Education Schools

This is a TED Talk by film maker Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoyabout how the Taliban are recruiting and training children to be suicide bombers. For a more sophisticated approach consider the insights that Stanford Psychology Professor Philip Zimbardo in his book The Lucifer Effect. Here's his TED Talk on that book.

This exposition on the Taliban schools raises the question of what it means to be "educated." Are these children "educated" by the learning processes that they are subjected to in their schools? If the definition of what counts as "educational" is limited to the delivery of knowledge skills and information that is deemed appropriate by an authority, then they become educated by those processes and the only difference between the Taliban and the Texas Board of Education (or any other federal, state or local school board setting academic standards) is the knowledge, skills and information that they authorize to be taught.

I take exception to the academic standards approach. For me, when someone is educated they are able to perceive accurately, think clearly and act effectively to achieve self-selected goals and aspirations. (Here's my definition of education page at Teach-Kids-Attitude-1st.com) Those children have been cut-off from the sources of information about the world that could enable them to perceive the world accurately, from their family, friends, from themselves (by the anxiety of constant threats). The do not have access to their own thoughts and they certainly cannot act effectively in the world to further their own goals since they do not actually have their own goals.

If we want to assess whether children are becoming educated we need to assess more than merely their acquisition of knowledge, skills and information. We have to get to know the students goals and how effectively they act to achieve them. The problem with the academic standards approach is that it never even asks whether the standards they set have any relation to the intended outcome of an educated person. It is simply assumed that the correlation between having knowledge, skills, and information and being educated is causal. If I am correct that the correlation is a coincidence and having that stuff in your repertiore does not cause that person to be educated, then the question is what does cause someone to be educated. I propose that the process of self-generating goals and then successfully overcoming challenges to achieving those goals is the causal factor.

24 May 2010

Ken Robinson on Personalized Learning

I particularly liked his analogy between fast food versus personalized restaurants and mainstream versus personalized learning.

On the other hand I dislike the metaphoric argument he makes for moving from factories to agraculture. What we do not need is a reflection of the dominant system of agriculture filled with vast mono-culture fields managed by machines and chemicals. He must have had a romantic notion of a family farmer in some wondrous communion with his fields, but that's not how most farming works anymore. I am skeptical of trying to fight the fantasy about schooling as a factory with another fantasy about farming.

18 May 2010

Bizarre Cornstarch on Speakers Videos

#1- Hat tip to Wimp.com


#3 Link

Differential Gear Explained From First Principles

This is a old fashioned black and white educational film. Not at all sexy, but gives a thorough step-by-step explanation.

Hat tip to Wimp.com

17 May 2010

Diet Makes The Difference for Developing Diseases

This TED Talk by William Li addresses research into how the body's system for regulating growth and pruning of blood vessels can be leveraged to prevent disease.

16 May 2010

Baby Morality

Here's links to the New York Times Article and Video about the study of morality in infants:

The Article

The article is an in depth look at the field of study and the reasons it is interesting.

The Video Warning: If you use this link rather than seeing it embedded in the original article you will have to endure a video ad at the beginning.

Ultimate Tongue Twister Scene

BBC Cartoon Duo Tongue Twisting Scene

With Thanks to Wimp.com

10 May 2010

Social Networks Matter for Our Super Organisms

Excellent explanation of the development of the idea of super-organisms as a distinct field of study by analogy with the difference between carbon atoms, graphite and diamonds. Important ideas for looking at democratic education.

22 April 2010

Intrinsic Motivation Primer

Drawing on insights from researchers Dan Ariely and Dan Pink this video by Jeff Monday does a pretty good job of hitting the high points:

Here's my post on Dan Pink's talks.

14 April 2010

Happiness is the goal of 4th Grade in Japan

At least in one man's classroom. Check out this documentary:

Part 1 of 5

Part 2 of 5

Part 3 of 5

Part 4 of 5

Part 5 of 5

06 April 2010

Multiple Rationalities

The following video makes an important point about the multiplicity of rationalities that exist for human behaviors. In this instance behaviors that affect public in the areas of HIV, sex and drugs.

03 April 2010

Parents Abdicating Responsibility to Schools

"According to a report released Monday by the U.S. Department of Education, an increasing number of American parents are choosing to have their children raised at school rather than at home.

Deputy Education Secretary Anthony W. Miller said that many parents who school-home find U.S. households to be frightening, overwhelming environments for their children, and feel that they are just not conducive to producing well-rounded members of society.

Thousands of mothers and fathers polled in the study also believe that those running American homes cannot be trusted to keep their kids safe."

(Thanks to Free-Range Kids and The Onion)

Straight from A Kid's Mouth

Here's a TED Talk by Adora Svitak (12 yrs. old) in which she points out the totalitarian nature of the relationship between teachers and students:

22 March 2010

Objective Morality?

Sam Harris, well known for his polemic attacks on religion makes some interesting points in this TED talk:

21 March 2010

Life Saving Power of the Mind

In this TEDMED Talk Dr. Ken Kamler talks about how a climber on Mt. Everest marshaled his mental resourcefulness to save his life after he was left for dead.

20 March 2010

Golden Mean, Fibonacci, & Life

Videos about these related concepts:

Awesome eye candy video:

Explanatory Video Series- Episode 1 of 9

Episode 2

Episode 3

Episode 4

Episode 5

Episode 6

Episode 7

Episode 8

Episode 9

02 March 2010

Distinguishing two kinds of happiness

Here is Daniel Kahneman's TED Talk in which he sounds an important warning to those who are on the happiness bandwagon:

23 February 2010

Transforming the Legal System into a Justice System

This TED Talk by Philip K. Howard lays out a basic case for the need to transform our legal system into a justice system and how to do it. In my opinion one of the most basic features of the democratic education movement is based on having implemented these principle already.

20 February 2010

Explaining the Power of Relationships

In this POP Tech presentation James Fowler shows that our intimate network of friends is an important influence on us, and just as importantly, the extent of our most powerful influence.

The Power of a Healthy Lifestyle: Dean Ornish Videos

TED Talks:

POP Tech Talk:

19 February 2010

True (but not real) Public School Sign

Here's a link to the Education for Well-Being blog post where I found the best public school sign ever (at the bottom).

The Importance of Relationships in Education

Here's an article that makes it clear that certain kinds of relationships between teachers and students are central to education. The article is focused on how Bill Gates and his foundation have misunderstood what the folks who believe this have been telling them. With the consequence that much money was wasted on ineffective programs that may have given lip service to relationship building, but acted contrary to what is necessary to build appropriate relationships.

02 February 2010

Patients Taking Responsibility for Health Care

Here's a TED Talk on a web site that facilitates the opportunity for patients to take responsibility for gathering meaningful data about their disease and the treatments they choose.

31 January 2010

Student Testament on Facilitative Teaching

From Steve Miranda's Blog:

"Physics has been my favorite class this year by far. The reason? The way the class is taught (or not). Mr. Smith [not his real name] essentially allows us to learn the material (extraordinarily difficult) on our own. He’s there for guidance if we need it, but not there to pound the material down our throats.
“Maybe it’s just that I find myself actually enjoying physics, but I really like the ability to learn at my own pace. Essentially, I have all the resources available to me to learn as much or as little as I want to about physics, and for the first time in a long time, I’m gobbling up everything possible in a class, putting in my full effort. I’m doing well on the tests, and it has brought me to consider physics as a potential college major and career. I’m reading books about physics right now, and it’s the first time I’ve been reading for pleasure in a very long time."

Teaching with Your Mount Shut

27 January 2010

Girl Power

Here's a TED Talk from Eve Ensler that ends with a powerful poem that makes the difficult to hear stuff in the beginning worth it:

25 January 2010

Intro to Geo-Medicine

Here's a TEd Talk that introduces the field of geo-medicine: