Archive for February 2012
Promoting innovation and evidence-based approaches to building resilience and responding to humanitarian crises
At the end of 2011, the United Nations called for humanitarian assistance to be both scaled up and made ‘smarter’ as global emergencies continued to expand in both frequency and complexity. DFID has launched a new strategy to meet this challenge. The strategy, ‘Promoting innovation and evidence-based approaches to building resilience and responding to humanitarian crises’, aims to go beyond simply responding to crises by investing in approaches that promote resilience.
It tackles directly four key problems in the global community’s current response to crisis to humanitarian crises: First, that decision-makers do not have routine access to good information about risk; second that we don’t really know which interventions are most effective in reducing risk, saving lives and rebuilding livelihoods after crises; third, that there is insufficient capacity to build resilience or mount responses when disaster strikes; and forth, that decision-makers are not always using available evidence to inform their decisions.
Since the 1980s, the main driver of Finnish education policy has been the idea that every child should have exactly the same opportunity to learn, regardless of family background, income, or geographic location. Education has been seen first and foremost not as a way to produce star performers, but as an instrument to even out social inequality.
In the Finnish view, this means that schools should be healthy, safe environments for children. This starts with the basics. Finland offers all pupils free school meals, easy access to health care, psychological counseling, and individualized student guidance.
The economy has changed, probably forever.
School was invented to create a constant stream of compliant factory workers to the growing businesses of the 1900s. It continues to do an excellent job at achieving this goal, but it’s not a goal we need to achieve any longer.
In this 30,000 word manifesto, I imagine a different set of goals and start (I hope) a discussion about how we can reach them. One thing is certain: if we keep doing what we’ve been doing, we’re going to keep getting what we’ve been getting.
Our kids are too important to sacrifice to the status quo.
We all want our children to use necessary critical thinking skills. Thanks to Bloom’s Taxonomy, parents can help develop and strengthen their child’s thinking abilities at home. Unfortunately, teachers and parents are more likely to ask children questions at the Remembering level which is the lowest level of thinking. This includes questions like: who, what, where, when and why. These types of questions only require children to use memorization in order to respond.
Bloom’s Taxonomy is named after Benjamin Bloom, a psychologist who in 1956 developed the classification of questioning according to six levels of higher level thinking. Bloom’s Taxonomy was revised in 2001. Most if not all teachers are taught to use Bloom’s Taxonomy in preparing lesson objectives for their students. However, most parents have not been taught how to use Bloom’s Taxonomy in talking to their children. If it is good for teachers, it is surely good for parents.
Interactive pedagogy, for example, turns passive, note-taking students into active, de facto teachers who explain their ideas to each other and contend for their points of view. (“The person who learns the most in any classroom,” Mazur declares, “is the teacher.”) Thousands of research studies on learning indicate that “active learning is really at a premium. It’s the most effective thing” “That means focusing on what students actually do in the classroom, or in some other learning environment. From cognitive science, we hear that learning is a process of moving information from short-term to long-term memory; assessment research has proven that active learning does that best.”
Active learners take new information and apply it, rather than merely taking note of it. Firsthand use of new material develops personal ownership. When subject matter connects directly with students’ experiences, projects, and goals, they care more about the material they seek to master.
Read also: Another nail in the lecture coffin
Five months ago, in September, 2011, I posted an essay (here) introducing readers to the unschooling movement and inviting unschooling families to participate in a survey. The survey questionnaire–which was posted on Pat Farenga’s Learning Without School site and Jan Hunt’s Natural Child Project site–asked unschooling families to tell us a bit about their family, including the age and sex of each child, the employment of each parent, and the history of schooling, homeschooling, and unschooling of each child. It also asked the respondents to define unschooling as it is practiced in their home, to describe the path that led them to unschooling, and to tell us about the biggest challenges and benefits of unschooling for their family. My colleague Gina Riley (adjunct professor of special education at Hunter College) and I have been working on analyzing the results and preparing a report for publication in an educational journal.
Read also: What Is Unschooling? Invitation to a Survey
Co-versando con una pregunta que tiene que ver con cómo es que somos seres amorosos, siendo que podemos vivir en el dolor, la rabia o la envidia.
En este co-versando, los fundadores de Matríztica – Humberto Maturana y Ximena Dávila – hablan resumidamente sobre su entendimiento de los fundamentos biológico-culturales de lo humano y apuntan que “para vivir en el amar hay que cultivar el amar, y para vivir en la colaboración hay que cultivar la colaboración”.
Athenaeums, after all, are social libraries, cornerstones of a community where you don’t just borrow books – you can visit cherished antiquities, hold talks, attend parties – and even bring your dog.
“Fundamentally, the Athenaeum is about community,” he says. “The salons are about fostering that interaction within the community and creating that exchange of ideas that you can’t have listening to a podcast, and you can’t have blogging and Twittering and Facebooking online. It’s not your grandfather’s library.”
It’s nice, though, that it looks that way. On a recent quiet Saturday, the Ath filled up with visitors old and new.
The decline in resources available to support societal complexity will generate a centrifugal force breaking up existing economic and governmental power structures everywhere. As a result there is a fight brewing—a protracted and intense one, impacting most countries if not all—over access to a shrinking economic pie. It will manifest not only as competition among nations, but also as conflicts within nations between power elites and the increasingly impoverished masses.
As economies contract, a global popular uprising confronts power elites over access to the essentials of human existence. What are the underlying dynamics of the conflict, and how is it likely to play out? As the world economy crashes against debt and resource limits, more and more countries are responding by attempting to salvage what are actually their most expendable features—corrupt, insolvent banks and bloated militaries—while leaving the majority of their people to languish in “austerity.” The result, predictably, is a global uprising.
Complexity scientists have made great strides in understanding the behaviour of single networks. Now they want to know what happens when networks become connected to each other. In the last decade or so, the study of networks has had a profound effect on the way we understand the spread of everything from fashion and ideas to forest fires and disease. But this better understanding of individual networks has revealed a gaping hole in our knowledge of how networks interact with each other. That looks to be hugely important. Many systems, rather than being individual networks, are actually networks of networks: the financial system, the economy, our brain and our genetic control system to name just a few.