Education’s Future: What Will Replace K-12 and College?

The cat is slowly scratching its way out of the bag. Ever more people are becoming aware of the colossal waste of money, tragic waste of young people’s time, and cruel imposition of stress and anxiety produced by our coercive educational system.

Children come into the world biologically designed to educate themselves. Their curiosity, playfulness, sociability, and willfulness were all shaped by natural selection to serve the function of education (here). So what do we do? At great expense (roughly $15,000 per child per year for public K-12), we send them to schools that deliberately shut off their educative instincts–that is, suppress their curiosity, playfulness, sociability, and willfulness–and then, at great expense and trouble, very inefficiently and ineffectively try to educate them through systems of reward and punishment that play on hubris, shame, and fear.

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What Are the Proper Purposes of a System of Schooling?

The people who started the first widespread systems of compulsory schooling—the systems that still provide the model for our schools today—had a very clear idea of the purpose. These people were Protestant clergymen, in Europe and the American colonies, at the time of the Protestant Reformation, in the late 17th and early 18th century. They stated clearly that the purpose of schooling was indoctrination and obedience training.

Their firm belief was that children are naturally sinful and the only way to salvation was through Biblical indoctrination and the suppression of free will .  The schools they created were well designed for that purpose.

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How emotions affect logical reasoning

Recent experimental studies show that emotions can have a significant effect on the way we think, decide, and solve problems. This paper presents a series of four experiments on how emotions affect logical reasoning. In two experiments different groups of participants first had to pass a manipulated intelligence test. Their emotional state was altered by giving them feedback, that they performed excellent, poor or on average. Then they completed a set of logical inference problems (with if p, then q statements) either in a Wason selection task paradigm or problems from the logical propositional calculus. Problem content also had either a positive, negative or neutral emotional value. Results showed a clear effect of emotions on reasoning performance.

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Negative effects of individualism on interpersonal relationships and happiness

We examined the negative effects of individualism in an East Asian culture. Although individualistic systems decrease interpersonal relationships through competition, individualistic values have prevailed in European American cultures. One reason is because individuals could overcome negativity by actively constructing interpersonal relationships. In contrast, people in East Asian cultures do not have such strategies to overcome the negative impact of individualistic systems, leading to decreased well-being. To test this hypothesis, we investigated the relationship between individualistic values, number of close friends, and subjective well-being (SWB). Study 1 indicated that individualistic values were negatively related with the number of close friends and SWB for Japanese college students but not for American college students. Moreover, Study 2 showed that even in an individualistic workplace in Japan, individualistic values were negatively related with the number of close friends and SWB. We discuss how cultural change toward increasing individualism might affect interpersonal relationships and well-being.

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Effects of music on cognitive function, mood and quality of life in older adults

Reading music and playing a musical instrument is a complex activity that comprises motor and multisensory (auditory, visual, and somatosensory) integration in a unique way. Music has also a well-known impact on the emotional state, while it can be a motivating activity. For those reasons, musical training has become a useful framework to study brain plasticity. Our aim was to study the specific effects of musical training vs. the effects of other leisure activities in elderly people. With that purpose we evaluated the impact of piano training on cognitive function, mood and quality of life (QOL) in older adults. A group of participants that received piano lessons and did daily training for 4-month (n = 13) was compared to an age-matched control group (n = 16) that participated in other types of leisure activities (physical exercise, computer lessons, painting lessons, among other). An exhaustive assessment that included neuropsychological tests as well as mood and QOL questionnaires was carried out before starting the piano program and immediately after finishing (4 months later) in the two groups.

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Posted in Aging, Music | Tagged ,

The Beauty of Words: A Neurocognitive Poetics Perspective

In this paper I would like to pave the ground for future studies in Computational Stylistics and (Neuro-)Cognitive Poetics by describing procedures for predicting the subjective beauty of words. A set of eight tentative word features is computed via Quantitative Narrative Analysis (QNA) and a novel metric for quantifying word beauty, the aesthetic potential is proposed. Application of machine learning algorithms fed with this QNA data shows that a classifier of the decision tree family excellently learns to split words into beautiful vs. ugly ones. The results shed light on surface and semantic features theoretically relevant for affective-aesthetic processes in literary reading and generate quantitative predictions for neuroaesthetic studies of verbal materials.

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Listening, not testing, will improve children’s vocabulary

Every few months a story appears about the declining speech and language skills of children arriving in primary school. The epithet “the daily grunt” was invented by one newspaper to capture the lack of communication between parent and child, implying it caused poor communication skills and a lack of “school readiness”.

Now a new report by the UK school regulator Ofsted – its first on the early years – has called for children to start school at two years old, in part to help those from lower-income backgrounds who arrive at primary school with poor reading and speech.

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Reading to your child: the difference it make

If you are a parent or a teacher, you most probably read stories to young children. Together, you laugh and point at the pictures. You engage them with a few simple questions. And they respond.

So what happens to children when they participate in shared reading? Does it make a difference to their learning? If so, what aspects of their learning are affected?

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Posted in Children, Parenting | Tagged ,

Why more grandparents are raising their grandchildren

Sunday, Sept. 10, 2017 is Grandparents Day. Many grandparents will receive loving cards, calls and emails from their grandchildren.

However, a significant number of grandparents – approximately 2.9 million – will do exactly what they do every day. They will make their grandchildren breakfast, organize their activities and help with homework in the evening.

So-called “custodial grandparents” have primary responsibility for raising one or more of their grandchildren. As researchers and health and social service professionals, we know that this is a growing group of often invisible caregivers.

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Ageing in harmony: why the third act of life should be musical

It’s never too late to pick up a musical instrument. In fact there are many reasons why it’s a great idea, particularly in old age.

We normally hear about reasons to increase music education for children, and for good cause. There are many cognitive and social benefits to playing an instrument that aid a child’s development. Consequently, as an older adult, there are long-term effects of having taken part in these musical activities, as it can limit cognitive decline.

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