01 September 2014

Items to Share: 31 August 2014

Education Focus
  • Inquiry | Webs of Substance 'As Pinker suggests with respect to maths, it is apparent that anything worth doing requires a lot of hard work which is not immediately rewarding. This is why people tend to do better in life if they can defer gratification. In addition, until you know something about an area of study then you are unlikely to find it particularly interesting. [...] Interest grows with knowledge. And it is one of progressive education’s deep ironies that the things children really do have an innate interest in – the existence of aliens, dinosaurs, battles, king and queens, foul diseases, space, whether there’s a God – tend to get displaced from Inquiry based programmes in favour of those wet paper towels.
  • Does It Help to Know History? [newyorker.com] '[T]he best argument for reading history is not that it will show us the right thing to do in one case or the other, but rather that it will show us why even doing the right thing rarely works out. The advantage of having a historical sense is not that it will lead you to some quarry of instructions, the way that Superman can regularly return to the Fortress of Solitude to get instructions from his dad, but that it will teach you that no such crystal cave exists. What history generally “teaches” is how hard it is for anyone to control it, including the people who think they’re making it.'
  • Individual Learning Plans: Scratching an old itch | Sam Shepherd '[W]hile there may be a little motivational/engagement value to target setting for some learners, there is actually very little in general educational literature supporting their use, and nothing at all in second language acquisition/learning theory which suggests that they have any value whatsoever. Simply: there is no evidence that target setting works.'
  • How to handle bullies [theconversation.com] 'The experts generally agreed on which were effective and ineffective strategies. There was consensus that the same strategies were appropriate for all types of bullying. They rated strategies such as talking to family members or professionals outside school, talking to teachers and counsellors at school and using the school’s anti-bullying and harassment policies and procedures as the most effective. [...] Least effective were denying that the bullying was happening, using drugs to avoid the pain or staying away from school. However, it was found that seriously bullied students reported they would not use the strategies the “experts” thought were effective. Instead, they would use strategies such as avoidance and denial.'
Other Business
  • Against Empathy | Boston Review (Paul Bloom) 'Most people see the benefits of empathy as too obvious to require justification. This is a mistake.' Useful distinction between cognitive empathy and emotional empathy.
  • How neuroscience is being used to spread quackery in business and education [theconversation.com] 'The phrase ["cargo-cult science"] has since been used to refer to various pseudo-scientific fields such as phrenology, neuro-linguistic programming, and the various kinds of alternative therapies. Practitioners of these disciplines may use scientific terms, and may even perform research, but their thinking and conclusions are nonetheless fundamentally scientifically flawed.
  • Environmental Enrichment May Help Treat Autism — and Help Us All - Scientific American 'After six months, all of the children were evaluated by assessors with no knowledge of their group assignment. We found that 42% of the enriched children showed a clinically significant improvement in their autism symptoms, according to the Childhood Autism Rating Scale, while only 7% of those receiving standard care did. In addition, the cognitive score of the enriched children (measured with the Leiter International Performance Scale – Revised) was more than 10 points higher than those receiving standard care. We have now repeated and extended the original study with many more children.' Yes, but; why publish in Scientific American, with no link to any peer-reviewed evidence?

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