Multiplying like rabbits

The growth of over confidence…

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Conejos_en_una_conejeraHave you been a the position in which someone who was purported to be knowledgeable, or even an expert in an area at work gave you instructions that were impossible to follow once you got into the details… huge chunks of the process were missing or instructions, replete with jargon, were garbled with no real information. However, this person didn’t do it just once or twice, but so frequently you began to wonder if they were out to destroy your reputation at work, or just plain stupid. According to recent research on overconfidence there is a good chance that were probably not as knowledgeable in the field as you, but didn’t even know it.

Two recent studies have shown that overconfident people have deceived themselves into thinking that they know more than they do. Unfortunately other people believe this, too, which only reinforces this delusion.

One study conducted within the…

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Too rigorous for creativity

Creating is going to be messy….

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reading2A teacher voiced his frustration about getting gifted students past the hurdle of simply looking at events of a story to the uncover the devices that the author used in writing the story.  The students need to interpret the effect these literary devises had on the readers.

At that point I worked with children who had made this leap, despite needing help in reading due to dyslexia.  They did this because they were attempting to write stories themselves.  I suggested to the teacher that he could have students write short fiction so they could understand the process that an author went through. His response, “The curriculum is too rigorous and doesn’t allow time for creative writing. They can take that course if they want to.”

I don’t find this the most sensible route to take for many reasons. Blooms taxonomy used to place Evaluation on the top rung. The critic…

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To cheat or not to cheat

With apologies to Shakespeare…

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“To cheat or not to cheat, that is the  question
Whether ’tis nobler to in the mind to suffer
The sleepless nights of outrageous homework
Or to take arms against a sea of academia
And by opposing end it. To cheat, to pass —
No more– and by passing to say we end
The headache and the thousand hours of study
That students are heir to. ‘Tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wished. To cheat, to pass–
To excel–perchance to be caught:
Ay, there’s the rub”

With apologies to William Shakespeare for  revising his work, I find this a fitting way to point  to a major dilemma in education today.

Living in a global village makes information easier to obtain. Therefore, instructors have requested increasing amounts of work, which has a tendency to lead to increasing amounts of academic dishonesty. In…

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Bucking creative standards

What is really original?

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Fredricksburg 046a
A few years ago, my daughter and I visited the National Portfolio day in Dallas. Over fifty leading art colleges were present to review students’ art work – a sort of hotbed of the creative future. My daughter quickly realized that while considered extremely artistic and original in her own school, she was below average when compared to students across a multi-state region.

Most people want to assume they are above average, but statistically they cannot be. Looking at average grades in high school will reveal that the bell curve doesn’t come down as low on the high end. More students make A’s than F’s. This grade inflation tends to make grades less meaningful and the dependence on standardized tests greater. It also helps to promotes the “I’m better than average” illusion.

We often hear high praises for the experience of living in a global village, but there is a…

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Teaching academics like athletics?

Two different types of learning…

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Sometimes students wish academic classes were more like performance based sports, but how would it work? How do they respond differently to coaching for physical skill versus teaching a cognitive skill?

Warm ups

In athletics students spend time warming up with exercise routines before hitting the field to actually perform the sport. Why. To stretch their muscles  and slowly raise the heart rate. These routines are to loosen joints, which help to decrease injuries, and increase blood flow because the stress of sports requires more oxygen. The warm up prepares the body to be pushed beyond normal  physical activity.

in a class room teachers typically use warm-ups as a classroom management technique to get students quiet and focused. Sometimes they also serve as a daily assessment to identify students that are falling behind. In an upper level academic class, there are typically no warm-ups. Why?  Learning is a class…

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Who is responsible for learning?

Who plays the most important part in a child’s education?

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swimmerOne of my friends mentions the local swim team as a possible activity for my children in the summer. For the first one it was a good fit. When younger he had taken a swim class, it  had only two students due to the overlapping the first week of school. He had opportunity to practice frequently at a friend’s pool. When the second child was the same age, it was a different story. The initial swimming class had been over crowded and useless; the friend with a pool had moved away.  It was fine to put the older child on a team with coaches.  But the second one needed a swimming teacher.

How many times have you overheard  teacher discussing a class say the words “they should already know how to…”  For students who just require coaching to learn, that is probably true. They have already been exposed to the…

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Learning from inside out

What brain-based learning research really tells us…

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London__map copy

The instructor in my high school English class was rather dry. She would drone on about difference between past and subjunctive verbs, and participles and gerunds. However, she was a well-read and well-traveled person. On the side wall she had tacked up a poster of the London subway system, brought back as a souvenir. It had exotic named stations like Piccadilly Circus and Knights Bridge that seemed far more interesting than dissecting English grammar. So, when my eyes started to glaze over, I would stare at the poster and try to absorb the feeling of what it would be like to travel in London.

The real difficulty with applying education on the latest brain research is knowing exactly how to manipulate the environment outside the student in order to affect what occurs on the inside. Proponents of brain-based learning have done scant studies on what kind of manipulation actually works…

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Learning in the eye of the beholder

Do you really learn more by what you see?

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Eye-1During a post graduate course in learning design, one of the students attempted to present instruction on the solar system without the use of any visuals. After the professor gave a curt lecture on importance of multi-sensory instruction, she asked the student to at least draw the solar system on the board.  Seeing the embarrassed student cringe and apologize for complete lack of artistic ability, I agreed to illustrate the planets.

Astronomy is not one of my strengths, and the college classroom did not have the latest in drawing materials. In fact it was a rather archaic one with real slate blackboard. Grasping a quartet of pastel chalk, I began to illustrate Mercury as dusty yellow, Venus as a swirl of colors, and the earth in pastel blue and green. The red planet, Mars, I rendered in pink and then began working on the gas giants. I realized any drawing…

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The “I”s do not have it.

Do you use “I” frequently?

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15-07-05-Schloß-Caputh-RalfR-N3S_1712People assume that others who often talk about themselves are egotistical.  But, if you really want to find out how people view their own status,  pay attention to pronouns that they use.

There is a reason that kings, queens and various heads of state use “we” rather than “I” because it indicates the power to speak for others. You might run into an ordinary Joe who makes a habit of using the royal “we” such as, “That’s the way we’ve always done it around  here.” That person wants you to believe they speak for the group and have control over others. They are more likely to be egotistical than a person who offers the more humble explanation, “But, that’s the way I’ve always done it.”

You may also recall teachers in school using the patronizing form of “we,” saying such things as “We don’t run in the halls.”…

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How to inspire others

Is charisma training really effective?

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Picture 012a3Ask the average Joe on the street what makes a good leader and a frequent answer will be high confidence. But that is only part of the equation. Charismatic leaders must show solidarity with the people in order to win their approval. They must be seen as representative of the group. People want to know that leaders share their sentiments– feel the same way that they do. 

If a leader wishes to be a pathfinder, out of in front of the crowd, the crowd will not perceive them to be as appealing. This results is pressure on the leader not only to perform, but also to appear to belong.

Leaders must also express the high standards that they hold for themselves along with the confidence that followers can meet these standards simply by association. One of the most important rules of speaking to enhance charisma is to make statements…

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