You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘education’ tag.

The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains

A young friend recently introduced me to this book, which is required reading in a local high school curriculum.  I was really not in the mood to read this sort of thing at the time, but once I started it, I was hooked. Drawing from sources in neuroscience, philosophy, history, and literature, Carr proposes that technology steadily alters our patterns of thinking. Our use of the Internet in particular is rewiring our brains in the areas of working memory, long-term memory, attention, and comprehension.  In a nutshell, the process goes something like this: with the abundance of information in hypertext links, posts, updates, emails, ads, crawls, and flippers, and various other pings, and dings that we’re multitasking,  our  concentration becomes fragmented, which overloads working memory, which causes information to not be processed deeply enough to find its way into long-term memory, which interferes with comprehension. So our brains get really busy and excited when immersed in electronic media, but not  in a way that promotes contemplation and comprehension.  Sustained attention is necessary to forge those deeper links.

The chapter on memory was my favorite — well-researched and simply explained.  The ideas raise all sorts of interesting questions.  What are the long-term consequences of outsourcing our cognition to machines – on an individual and societal level?

Will habitual use of electronic media, particularly among children, erode the desire, or even the ability, to develop sustained attention? Being in schools and classrooms across districts everyday of the week I see more and more “smart” technology being implemented in classrooms at earlier and earlier ages.  Given the hand-brain-cognition connection (see Levin’s book The Hand for a comprehensive review of that topic) do preschoolers really need to have more iPads instead of 3-dimensional toys to manipulate with their hands? What are the gains and are they worth the cost?

Advertisements

“…have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves…Live the questions…live  your way into the answer.”

–Rainer Maria Rilke

~~*~~

Last year Parker Palmer shined my teacher’s heart when it when was tarnished.  His book The Courage to Teach got me through a teacher’s heart crisis and showed me how to teach (and live) with greater integrity.

Though untarnished this year at semester’s end I figured the teacher’s heart was due for routine maintenance, so I picked up a copy of The Heart of Higher Education: A Call to RenewalPhysicist Arthur Zajonc joins Palmer to bring educators back to the big questions underlying what we do.  In this work lives the question: “How do we promote educational efforts that address the whole human being (mind, heart, and spirit) in ways that contribute best to our future on this fragile planet?”

This and other questions posed in their work remind us that education is transformation. It is not merely “the conveyance of information concerning objects, but a leading…through the manifold layers of experience and reason to occasions of epiphany…to the exalted experience of genuine insight.”

They remind us that community and conversation are often the driving force behind this transformative experience. They remind us what conversation can bring about when done well, “The point is not to convert, but to cultivate the possible by collaboring with people who hope to bring it into being.”

Twice this week I’ve come across the Bantu word ubuntu once in this book and then later in Boyd Varty’s wonderful tribute to Nelson Mandela (see video below). Varty’s story gets at the essence of the word’s meaning: I am because of you.

I am; because of you. If you want a real education, try living that one.

And yet for transformation to truly take hold, we must strike a balance between community and solitude.  Our institutions and culture have a growing tendency to encourage living at a frenetic-pace. When left to our own devices (and I do mean devices) we are increasingly engaged in a world that keeps us pathologically distracted and distanced from our own minds.  Abha Dawesar makes this point by distinguishing between two nows: the present now and the one that technology provides us, which she calls the “digital now.”

Parker and Zajonc remind us that we need ample time for “quietude that allows for real reflection on what we have seen and heard, felt and thought.”  They promote a contemplative pedagogy that creates time and space for silence with practices that develop concentration and deepen understanding because:

“Education is a vital, demanding, and precious undertaking….if true to the human being education must reflect our nature in all its subtlety and complexity.  Every human faculty must be taken seriously, including the intellect, emotions, and our capacity for relational, contemplative, and bodily knowing.”

And if you managed to read this far, thank you. 🙂 Ubuntu. Please share what’s on your mind.

December is half over and I have had too little farmy fun to show for it.

My work life this semester was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced.  For starters there were over 800 preschoolers involved.  I wish I was exaggerating, but I’m not. I stopped counting at the beginning of November when we were at 786. Add to that my little afternoon friends who I visit, the usual weekly yoga classes, and a new teaching gig: a university course called “Piyo.” When I was asked to apply for the job I had no idea what “Piyo” was or how univeristy physical education courses worked as I had never taken any as a student. Piyo turned out to be a blend of Pilates and yoga, and I invented the curriculum as I went. After chaotic mornings with preschoolers, Piyo was my saving grace. The course turned out to be the most fun and authentic teaching experience I’ve ever had.  I got to completely nerd-out on anatomy and delve deeply into somatic learning. And while I have taught several college courses, I have never before taught one barefoot.  After teaching the course barefoot all semester, I’ve come to the conclusion that shoes change everything about the teaching experience.  Shoes make your feet all claustrophobic and rob you of sensation and connection to the environment. They make you teach like “I’m somebody wearing shoes”…which is to say all formal and like you have somewhere else to go or like you’re going to step on something disgusting or dangerous.  Who knew?  Anyway, it was just awesome to not have desks, to kick off shoes, to cut the lights and learn cool stuff. The students, freshmen and juniors, were the youngest college students I’ve ever taught and they were unexpectedly fabulous.  They were an interesting, smart, fun, diverse, and engaged group that gave me much hope for the future.  It was such great experience.

Today I finished grading, posted grades, and completed an article review. Tomorrow I meet the last of the preschoolers for 2013, write recommendation letters, and then I’m free from university obligations for this year and I intend to get back to farmy fun and hopefully experience some goaty goodness.

Title: Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead

Author: Sheryl Sandberg

Synopsis:  Facebook’s COO, Sheryl Sandberg, gives women career advice. She also discusses the problems women face in getting leadership roles and how to overcome them.

Why I Read It: Someone at a convention raved about the book during a talk.

Full Disclosure: My opinions may be biased by my dislike of her employer. I don’t do Facebook; the whole phenomenon seems at best a waste of mental resources, and at worst a dismaying invasion of privacy.  All that said, I read the book because Sandberg is an accomplished woman writing on a topic, women in leadership, which is interesting and relevant being that I’m a woman and all.

Highlights: It was a quick, easy, well-organized read. Every chapter is concentrated into its one sentence essence (so tidy!!), which made the content memorable. There were a couple of these that stood out:

  •  Don’t Leave before You Leave, in which she discusses the problem of being focused on some future event rather than on your present job, and
  •  It’s a Jungle Gym Not a Ladder, in which she discusses the trajectory of a career and how it’s ok to move laterally and all around instead of constantly climbing up, up, up.  I appreciate the playfulness of this metaphor.

Lowlights: I had a hard time relating to Sandberg. First off, I am drawn to work that is academic and not corporate. My fields are already dominated by women. I’ve been mentored by women, promoted by women.  Likewise, I teach women and promote them.  As a result, sometimes the issues she wrote about seemed remote.  Secondly, her writing style was safe and overly-processed….a little too polished.

Recommended to: 1.) Men – every last one of you should read it.  2.) Working women with children. 3.) Ambitious women just beginning their careers.


If You Liked This Book You Might Also Like: Leadership by Rudy Giuliani, which I reviewed (very briefly) here, and which I found equally as helpful and more compelling.

Best Quote:

“It’s not about biology, but about consciousness”

–Gloria Steinem

If you want to learn more here’s a Ted Talk she gave on the topic.

Dearest Readers,

If you have been around this blog for a few years, then you may think I sometimes get a little too preoccupied with toilet technology.   While I would have to disagree, I do appreciate you enduring these episodes if you find them uncouth.

If you are just joining this party, welcome to the fold.  And just let me say  I think “preoccupied” is really too strong of a word for what goes on here.  You may want to consider it more like an occasional recurring theme. Rest assured, whatever label you want to put on it, this too shall pass, and we will soon resume our regularly scheduled programming.

And if you’re only here to get the bruise status update, well today it features a pink crescent moon entrapped within a fushia hexagon from which a cloud of navy smoke billows.  May you sleep better knowing.

So my interest in toilet technology began a couple years ago with a TedxTokyo Talk called Toilet Talks, which opened my eyes to how far we Americans lag behind the Japanese in lavatory engineering. Still reeling from that revelation, a couple weeks later I encountered another disturbing sign in a university bathroom stall indicating America’s ineptitude in latrine design and the lengths those in the ivory tower will go to enshroud this truth with their propaganda. The problem was made personal with some unfortunate business that occurred on I-40 in a snowstorm.  Then that summer I learned that Japan is not the only country wildly ahead of us when I learned of Ayurvedic medicinal herbs and I tried the Poo-Poo Tea at the ashram.

Today I discovered a video that provided a ray of hope. Other minds are acknowledging the errors of our ways. Mark my words: innovation is coming.

Pioneers final

Elizabeth Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, & Lucretia Motts

Would you be willing to trade part of your anatomy for the priviledge of going to school?

For Kakenya Ntaiya, this was not a hypothetical question. It was her reality. She tells her astounding story in the Ted talk below.

 

Just the expressions written on the faces of those children, before and after, tell the story. I replayed that footage again and again. 

It made me deeply grateful for the myriad of choices available to me, for the brave women who laid the groundwork for such freedom, and for the presence of strong women in my life — my family, my friends, my professional mentors.

Yesterday was Labor Day. It was a day to reflect on the work we do in this world and the impact it has on others. It was an opportunity to consider how we are supported and sustained by the labor of others.

Today I am thankful to get back to the work.

9-3-13 004

Picture3

————————————————————————–

This post was my submissions for Kozo Hattori’s Monthly Peace Challenge for September: “Let’s inundate the internet with a peace collage of powerful words and images.”

b4peace

I’m in teaching mode. I have been all month and will be until August. Teaching mode means my perspective of the outside world is shrinking by the day as I laser hone my thinking around one topic.  Teaching mode involves books, notebooks, folders, and papers scattered and spilling over all available surfaces in the vicinity.  Butcher paper is rolled out across the floor of the greatroom and scented markers are strewn about as I map out the curriculum.  Dishes and laundry go unwashed. Sadly, Yip has to remind me to feed her with repeated attempts to trip me in the direction of her food bowl.   Blogs go unread, comments go unacknowledged, and my own posts get spacey (in a multitude of ways).

This is an example of what the preliminary stages of teaching mode looked like:

june 6 012

This is how it smelled: to do lists in cherry, case studies in blueberry,  and activities in sour apple. (A-whop-bop-a-loo-mop-a-lop-bop-bop — Tutti Fruitti!) 

Teaching mode is a little consuming. Every week I read like a maniac, convinced I know nothing about this topic I’ve been studying for over a decade.  Every week I spend hours making these elaborate plans and putting together PowerPoint presentations and lectures to dazzle my students. Every week so far I have intensely disliked my entire plan and so I have wound up throwing it all out at the last minute and winging my way through class discussions.

I despised class discussions when I was a student.  I was painfully shy and horrified by the very idea of having to talk to anyone. Just tell me what I need to know and I will sit here quietly absorbing it!

On the teaching end of things, class discussions are possibly even more terrifying. It’s hard to blend in to the crowd when you’re front and center. When I stepped into the classroom on that first day without a clear plan of action I had an instant panic attack.  I broke out into a sweat, my heart rate skyrocketed, and I had an urgent need to go to the bathroom.  Why did I toss out that plan?! What is going to happen here?  What am I going to say?  What if no one says anything back?! Fortunately there was no one else in the classroom when I had my little crisis.

When everything in me was screaming, “RUN!!” I did what the last two years of yoga training taught me to do:  I sat down, closed my eyes, and breathed. I opened myself to the possibilities. I let go of my attachment to results. I was completely disarmed with this knowledge: I am pursuing that which makes my heart beat.  Then I opened my eyes, got up, and stepped into the present with a smile.

~~~~@~~~~

I would say this is a completely unrelated note, but it’s all related and intertwined and linked to the topic of transformation.  Perhaps this is just another reflection of teaching mode.

little frog

This little guy was among the hundreds of tadpoles I fished out of the frog pond a couple weeks ago when I changed out their water. He’s at that awkward in-between stage of frog development. He’s still a little tadpole-blobby and his tail can be seen in the picture on the right, but he has all four legs.
That’s all. He just needed to be shared.

Thank you, thank you, thank you to all who participated in Yoga for Water!

 

Why water?  Here’s a little video to explain…


Together we raised $104!

If you couldn’t make it to yoga, you can still help the students of Drummonds Elementary meet their goal of raising $1000 by July. Contribute here:  http://my.charitywater.org/DESgives

In case you don’t know yet, that’s my doggy, Moon Pie.

Let’s geek out for a bit, shall we? I filmed the above video today. Moo Moo is three months into her training. She is doing better with action words than nominals. Her repertoire of action words includes: Sit, Down, Off, Come here, Get, Outside, Touch, Drop it, No, and Listen.  She’s currently working on Stay. Her nominals include: Ball, Panda, Yip, Nickel, Kitty, and Squirrel.

Due of my own training, my approach with Moo Moo relies heavily on behaviorial theory with a linguistic spin.  Recently though, I’ve been learning about “dog psychology” from Cesar Millan.  Skattur has been telling me to check out this guy for awhile. She watched his show religiously, despite the fact she doesn’t have a dog. I finally broke down and got his book, Cesar’s Way: The Natural, Everyday Guide to Understanding and Correcting Common Dog Problems. It was fabulously undogtrainingguidebookish.

I abandoned most of the dog training books in my gianormous stack within a few chapters (and sometimes within a few pages) because they were horribly boring or just too campy.  But Cesar Millan’s book was different.  First off, he does not consider himself a dog trainer.  He describes himself as a “dog psychologist,” which for me instantly brought up a mental image of a dog reposed on Freud’s couch. Based on that image alone I was prepared to not like this book. Then there’s the fact that he works with all these celebrity people and he frequently uses the word “energy.”  Psychology, celebrity, and energy — the combination of the three made me roll my eyes in self-righteous derision. So, I surprised myself when I stayed with this book until the end. I was even more surprised when I realized I like him and his book. Millan is a ballsy guy who bootstrapped his way to success. His insights on dogs are based on sound experience.



The only other book I’ve found about dogs recently that I liked was a work of fiction — Nora Robert’s The Search.  The blogger behind roughwighting.net recommended it. I haven’t read Nora Roberts in years, so I was due for one.  The woman has written about a bajillion books and her writing style has definitely evolved since the last one I read. Romance isn’t my usual reading fare, nor is it my go-to genre for dog information, but I felt strangely compelled.  This was no ordinary romance novel.  There were serial killers, murders, a bit of mystery, and lots of dog training tid-bits. The romance seemed ancillary, though there were steamy parts.  Table sex was involved.  It was a good read on all counts.

Back to Moo Moo.  More videos of Moo-Moo’s genius may be found in the following posts.  I highly recommend viewing them at work due to their Power of Kawaii (Nittono, Fukushima, Yano, & Moriya, 2012), which improves your productivity. More information on that following the reference. 🙂

This Week on the Farm:Dreams, Rescues, Attacks

This Week on the Farm: Project Moon Pie

Just Another Day at the Office

Reference

Nittono H., Fukushima M., Yano A., Moriya, H. (2012) The Power of Kawaii: Viewing Cute Images Promotes a Careful Behavior and Narrows Attentional Focus. PLoS ONE 7(9): e46362.  doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0046362

Blessed are the hearts that can bend; they shall never be broken.

–Albert Camus

I recently discovered Grace Brown’s Project Unbreakable.  TIME magazine named her website one of the top 30 Tumblr blogs to follow. The video below provides you with some context.

…and that is the astonishing power of art – art can go through where other things can’t.  You can’t have barriers because it breaks through your prejudices.  It breaks through everything that you have as your mask that says, “I am this… I am that.” No. It breaks through those and it reaches somewhere where other things don’t.  And in a world where attitudes are so difficult to change, we need a language that breaks through.

–Mallika Sarabhai’s

That is why we will dance to change the world.

Please consider joining us….

SMM pic

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Archives

THE GODDESS ATTAINABLE

For women like me, who want to live healthily and inspired, who live on a modest income, and who strive for happiness and peace.

roamwildandfree

Work Less // Play More // Be Free

The Druid Herbalist

An ongoing journey with the healing power of plants

The Fledgling Belly

The Adventures of a Discerning Bellydancer

It's Just Life

Finding the Extraordinary in the Ordinary

Down the Forest Path

A Journey Through Nature, its Magic and Mystery

Kelly McGonigal, PhD

Where science and compassion meet.

Project: Motion Blog

Modern. MOVEment. Memphis.

Alexx Hart

Becoming the Warrior Queen

The Human Rights Warrior

"There is some good in this world...and it's worth fighting for." ~ J.R.R. Tolkien

The Tragic Life of Frank

Around five minutes ago I had this sudden revelation; that my life is quite sufficiently, tragic.

zona pellucida

...blinded by the light

Donna Mejia

Dance Artist/Scholar/Cultural-Creative

Threading the Web

One author and writing coach sharing the threads of writing life

shimmymobmemphis

dancing to change the world

samrarose

Just another WordPress.com site

Peaceful Hands Reiki

Where love flows

LibrarianShipwreck

Libraries, Archives, Technology, Impending Doom

Sorry Television

Reading a book a week

Mark Coakley

Author of "Hidden Harvest" and "Tip and Trade"

Garden Variety

A Gardening, Outdoor Lifestyle and Organic Food & Drink Blog

CultFit

Form, Flow and Grace

Owls and Orchids

Life, Love, Spiritual Living and the odd Catastrophe.....

Life Beyond Beliefs

Never give up

West Seventh Freelance

Photography, seeking, writing...and learning along the way. Want to come along?!

chriscondello

Green Thumbed Vagabond

Skatturcast's Blog

Crafting is good for the soul!

Peri's Spice Ladle

Indian-inspired Food for the Global Palate

everyday gurus

Everyday, Everywhere We Are Guided Towards Happiness

Lake Superior Spirit

Blogging from the Upper Peninsula North Woods...

Memphis Backyard Farmer

Country life in the big city of Memphis