Tag Archive for education

Using Computers to Teach Children Without Teachers

Johnathan, F . (2010). “Using computers to teach children with no teachers” BBC News. Retrieved on 21 July, 2010: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-10663353?print=true Summary of the article: The article summarizes studies conducted by Prof Mitra on the learning curve of children using computers for education with teachers. Results of the study prove that the teaching methods employed have been quite successful based on the fact that: Children who are not exposed to computers are highly motivated to teach themselves skills they want to learn Children have had a steep learning curve in picking up complex tasks with minimum supervision Learning by discussion and in groups ensures that content is retained and not skimmed through by children. Motivation levels of students are kept high with a grandmother figure in the picture. The best results of the study have been combined to create Self Learning Environments where children in groups of 4 share a computer to assimilate information. Virtually present volunteer grandmothers keep the student motivated and support the learning process. On Environment: The need for self-organized learning essentially arises in developing nations and the ones who do not have access to education. Children living in such conditions have a natural survival instinct, which keeps…

Science vs. Media: Degree of Public Involvement

Recently, there has been an explosion of public discourse (fueled by the media) on whether we should do away with tenure in our institutions of higher learning. The basic argument boils down to “tenured teachers can do as they please due to job security and education suffers as the result.” Tenured professors, we are told, focus on research and publishing incomprehensible articles aimed at a few individuals in the world who could even understand them. What’s the use in that, people ask? My son/daughter/neighbor’s kid are being taught by a TA (with poor language skills) while we pay thousands of dollars for the privilege of these children attending universities with all those lazy good-for-nothing tenured professors! You might say that my summary of this world-view is extreme and simplifies the ideas to their comic representation. But that’s the point: the articles (and the readers’ comments they inspire) are written to get an emotional response. The issues of tenure, of the research that these tenured professors are engaged in and the articles they publish, and of teaching styles are complex. To evaluate the contribution of a scientist to his field, one needs to have a certain amount of expertise in that…

Metacognition Failure: If I find it easy, it must not be important

Making something easy to understand is extremely difficult. A good designer knows this, knows how hard one has to work to make something comprehensible and easy to use. Unfortunately, users and consumers of products (including education) tend not to get it. We live in society ruled by “More is Better” p-prim: more stuff is better, more money is better, more food is good, more medication is great…more, more, more. Movies, television, newspapers, magazines, all reinforce this idea in our minds. We live in a “super-size me” world. But this basic decision-making algorithm leads to very faulty reasoning. There are multiple corollaries to the “more is better” axiom: thick books without graphics are more educationally valuable, more important (this is based on research I did many years ago with 5th graders); longer essays are clearly better and should get higher graders (the students worked harder/longer on them); big words are better than small ones in expressing ideas (thus we get very pretentious writing); work should be judged by the time it took to complete and not by the quality of the results it produces; more expensive clothes (cars, stereos, etc.) are clearly more valuable (this is a true statement, but most…

On “The Children of Cyberspace: Old Fogies by Their 20s” by Stone

Stone, B. (2010). “The Children of Cyberspace: Old Fogies by Their 20s.” The New York Times. Retrieved 30. June, 2010. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/10/weekinreview/10stone.html?pagewanted=1&_r=1 Summary: Stone points out the significant generational difference gaps due to the rapid rate at which technology is developing. Kids born into the world today are growing up in a time when high-tech devices like the Kindle, iPads, iPhones, and Skype are part of daily life. With such technology as a normal part of these kid’s lives, they’re going to participate in and view the world in a much different way than individuals born fifty, twenty, or even ten years ago. Today’s young kids are going to have distinctive expectations of the world. Researchers are looking into the result of this accelerated technological change, and many theories have been posited. For example, growing up with the iPhone and iPad these kids will probably expect all computers to have touch screens. Dr. Larry Rosen’s ideas about the “i-generation” are referenced in the article, stating that these kids who were born in 90’s and this decade communicate through texting and instant messaging and have a higher multi-tasking capacity – performing seven tasks at a time during their down-time rather than the…

On “Singing ‘Rewires’ Damaged Brain”

Gill, V. (2010). “Singing ‘Rewires’ Damaged Brain.” BBC World News. Visited on 24 June 2010. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/8526699.stm Summary: This article discusses how singing can teach stroke patients to recover their speech abilities. Singing uses a different part of the brain than the areas that involve speech. The idea is that if the “speech center” of the brain is damaged patients can use their “singing center.” Already established as a medical technique, “melodic intonation therapy” was further studied by the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Harvard Medical School with the findings presented to the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Using medical technology to scan the brain doctors were able to deduce that most speech took place on the left side of the brain, but melody and singing took place on the right side. This study is one of many larger studies examining the general effects of music and the brain. Dr Nina Kraus, a neuroscientist from Northwestern University, has concluded that musical training is an important part of children’s education. This article is important because many people have experienced or know someone who has experienced a stroke. Reading this article may prompt further investigation for those affected to seek…

A Curiously French Complaint

Kirby, E. (2008). “ A Curiously French Complaint,” BBC News.  Retrieved on 2008/12/13. http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/programmes/from_our_own_correspondent/7779126.stm Summary: This article focuses on the cultural differences between the French and British populations in regards to their medical care. Each culture has their own script of understanding, which people rely to set their expectations during a medical crisis. The author Emma experienced a cultural ‘shock’ during her first encounter with a French doctor due to her vastly different set of expectations. She visits a doctor in France due to the severity of a sore throat, where she is “diagnosed with a severe lung infection, mild asthma and had in my hand a prescription for six different types of medicine, an appointment at the local hospital’s radiology department and an emergency referral to a specialist in pulmonary disease (article).” Upon her return to Britain a few days later, she visits her family physician, who within a few minutes diagnoses her with only a ‘common cold.’ Her article then explains how the French expect a much more sever diagnosis to support their physical suffering. France is also the leading country of consumers who take prescription medications. While in England, there’s a more ‘keep a stiff upper lip’…

Teaching Boys and Girls Separately

Article: Weil, E. (2008). “Teaching Boys and Girls Separately.” NY Times. Visited on 2 March 2008 http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/02/magazine/02sex3-t.html The article explores the potential impact that differences in emotional and/or cognitive development in boys and girls have on a child’s ability to learn.  In order to address these inherent difference and subsequently the ‘chronic achievement gap between richer and poorer students and between white and minority students’, one school of thought promotes gender segregation in schools. The most outspoken proponent of this solution and the main focus of this article is Leonard Sax, a former family physician with a Ph.D. in psychology. According to Sax, the basis for the need to separate boys and girls is biological as opposed to social. He sites psychological as well as neurobiological studies which utilize brain scan technology. The need to segregate boys and girls in the classroom is rooted, according to Sax, in biological differences such as: •     boys do not hear nor smell as well as girls •     boys and girls respond differently to different shades of light •     boys are more apt than girls to see action •     boys are not as capable as girls of recognizing subtleties in…