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.