Posts Tagged ‘evolution’

Inspiring learning or learning inspiration?

November 21, 2010 11 comments

Learning to unlearn is the highest form of learning. ~ Buddhist proverb

At its very core, education is an innate expression of curiosity; a longing to understand and be part of the world; a manifestation of purpose and passion that every person carries within them. ~ Carey Elizabeth Smith, Co-Director of the Body Therapy Institute*

Image credit: IQ Matrix

I’ve been troubled lately with the question “How do we learn?” I don’t mean specifically  how kids learn in school, or how adults learn at a new job position… I’m rather curious how do we learn anything in general!
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Crying for Superman, waiting for Mr. Anderson

November 8, 2010 8 comments

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Imagine your friends are doing research around the schools they consider for their kids and they ask for your advice. You decide to do a bit of digging yourself and soon you end up with this:

“It is nothing short of a miracle that the modern methods of instruction have not yet entirely strangled the holy curiosity of inquiry.” — Albert Einstein, one of the most influential and best known scientists and intellectuals of all time

“I suppose it is because nearly all children go to school nowadays, and have things arranged for them, that they seem so forlornly unable to produce their own ideas.” — Agatha Christie, British writer, famous for her detective novels

“Drop out of school before your mind rots from exposure to our mundane educational system. Forget about the Senior Prom, go to the library and educate yourself if you’ve got any guts.” — Frank Zappa, American composer, electric guitarist, record producer, and film director

What advice would you give to them?

Curious as you are, you start to grow interest in the history of education: How compulsory schooling started? Why — if these thinkers are right about it strangling curiosity — it got so widely accepted? …
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The social train

October 29, 2010 5 comments

This essay was inspired by an article titled A soft key radio and the Melting pot, written recently by a dear friend and fellow blogger. I hope to develop it further and use it as a backdrop story for discussing a topic that has been on my mind for some time — the impact of technology on morality. Stay tuned! 😉

“Welcome aboard”, said the tall girl as she greeted me in front of a funny-looking train — instead of tracks and wheels, this one seemed to be just sitting there idly as a dead metal shell on the floor of a fairly big room that looked nothing like a train station!

As I was trying to meet the eyes of my hostess, I was captivated by her long streaks of dazzling red hair falling down her shoulders. They were protruding from underneath what looked like one of those traditional conductor caps my grandfather — who worked for the old railroad long time ago — used to let me play with as a kid. Instead of the railroad logo, though, this one had Tranzt Wrld embroidered at the front with big golden letters.

Tranzt Wrld was one of a new breed of companies trying to add tactile interface to an aging platform — the ubiquitous Soccet — the global social network that long ago replaced the Internet. Soccet allowed virtually anyone on the planet to access any information in the public domain. More importantly, it let anyone connect and interact with anyone else in any other location on the planet — including the newly formed Moon base that by now hosted about 100 astronauts, scientists and other staff.

“We in Tranzt Wrld care a lot about providing realistic experience to our customers”, continued the girl as she was leading me inside what looked like an empty train car. As I started looking around I realized that despite the external appearance, inside it looked very similar to the train cars being used in the public transportation systems of the big cities like London — though now almost no trains were running as more and more people were tele-commuting in a bid to save the planet from energy overconsumption and greenhouse gas pollution.
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Compassion in a flat world

October 3, 2010 4 comments

A friend of mine (42, mother of three girls) got recently diagnosed with breast cancer. As you can imagine, finding this out was distressful and made me feel terrible. I felt a flood of familiar feelings we all usually get when we learn about someone we know suffering — sadness over the situation and frustration with life’s brittleness, commiseration for her suffering and empathy for her family…

The bit that was different for me than most of my previous encounters with others suffering is that she decided to make her experience publicly documented into a blog journal. It took me a while to understand why she did it, what it meant to her, what it means to me and others reading it, but now I think I know: By inviting me to read her daily journal through her blog, my friend offered me a chance to experience compassion! Furthermore, by opening her life to any anonymous reader stumbling upon her blog, she extended that offer to the world!
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Group identity: a sense? an emotion? a state of mind? is it even real?

July 30, 2010 3 comments

You’ve probably heard it many times — our biology teacher in grade school was wrong to teach us we only have five senses: sight, sound, touch, taste, and scent. We have many more — though there’s disagreement how many exactly, the number is probably higher than 10 — from some which sit on firmer scientific ground, like the sense of balance or gravity in our inner ear, to some which are murkier and may fall into the myths and legends rubric, like your parents “feeling” when you’ve got yourself in trouble 😉

How about emotions? Many researches have tried to answer this and everyone seems to be in agreement that one can’t enumerate all possible emotions as they’re virtually limitless, but could still distill what is believed to be the set of basic emotions leading to all of the others. However, even the number of basic emotions is disputed and ranges from as low as only 2 (pain and pleasure) to 11 or more (anger, aversion, courage, dejection, desire, despair, fear, hate, hope, love, sadness).

Being interested in human personality and what shapes it, I can’t stop but wonder if we’ve truly explored the effect of the emotions on what most people (including myself) call group identity — the main driver that seems to be shaping individual humans that belong to a given group to behave more alike, thus increasing the group coherence.
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If you can’t win them … invite more! – Can parents soften the influence from the peer group?

July 25, 2010 3 comments

How is it possible that kids who don’t have a chance to attend the best schools or grow up in “not so nice” neighborhoods sometimes manage to “escape” from the grip of their environment and grow into adulthood to be regarded as well-mannered, successful, respected, etc? The opposite may happen as well — most parents would say it happens way too often — but the question of going from bad to good has a less obvious answer than what the common sense may suggest for the good to bad direction.

I find many people confusing the notion of peer pressure and peer group influence when it comes to the question what shapes their kids’ personality. They’re too quick to jump to the obvious conclusion: the kids go to school and this is where they socialize with their peers, so it is this interaction and pressure to conform to fashions and accepted trends among the peers in their school that ultimately has the biggest influence to them. The accepted wisdom, then, suggests the answer is simple, in their early school age years, the kids are shaped by their schoolmates!

It’s compelling to extend the same line of reasoning to the cases where the kids spend a lot of time doing activities outside school — like spending lots of time “on the street” with the neighbourhood kids, training for a certain sport for many hours each day, spending huge amount of time on Facebook and similar. To make the answer work for those case instead of referring to the school peers, we can just point at the peers in these other groups as the ones shaping the kids in question. If only this was so easy — good parenting would simply turn into a research to find the best school to send your kids to, or the best sports club to sign them into! While parents do this (including myself here too 😉 the answer is unfortunately not that simple.
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Ideas worth sharing – is “open” the new enlightenment?

July 20, 2010 4 comments

I have two daughters (aged six and one and a half) and one of the things that we (my wife and myself) as well as their caregivers in daycare and similar centers they attended so far are trying to teach them so hard is the act of sharing. I believe that teaching kids to share is a very common practice across the world — growing up in one culture (Macedonia) and raising my kids in another (Canada) gives me some confidence this claim is indeed valid almost everywhere.

The question that bugs me for some time now is this: If teaching kids how to share is so ubiquitous, how come we’re not good at it as grown ups? I can’t help but wonder if our ability to share is lost somehow as we move from childhood to adolescence to adulthood? Or is it that humans are innately bad at sharing and us teaching our kids is an anomalous state of affairs that gets corrected as they grow up? I believe the former is true and I’ll explain why below as well as share with you some ideas how to correct ourselves.

Recently, I’ve thought a lot about open this, open that, the power of communities, the power of sharing knowledge, ideas… I believe we sit on an opportunity to start a new enlightenment era not dissimilar from the one back in the 17th and 18th century — if the old age of enlightenment was the way of science, this new age could be the age of unprecedented sharing. Let me give you some examples.
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