Archive for September, 2014

Straits Times: Prolonged use of mobile phones bad for school test scores: Japan study

Wednesday, September 17th, 2014

Saving this article as a potential discussion point for problem identification. May be particularly appropriate for our students from Japan, but there may be a problem-adaptation opportunity for students from another country.

This would be an opportunity in YCISL workshops to practice:

– empathy

– turning a problem into an opportunity

– agreeing or disagreeing with an adult view

– brainstorming

– prototyping

– developing an elevator pitch (e.g., to encourage youth to use smartphone more smartly)

– using youth as an advantage (smaller age gap)

WSJ: Fighting the Internet Invasion of Childhood

Sunday, September 14th, 2014

This entry refers to the article “Fighting the Internet Invasion of Childhood” by Martin Kutnowski in the WSJ on Wednesday September 10, 2014 on page A13 (Opinion section).

Reading about the efforts that Kutnowski has made to ameliorate the negative impacts of accessing the Internet is interesting and sparks my empathy as a parent. From my perspective, the Internet, especially in its early adopter days, was a research and academic tool with its main feature being communication innovation. These were its best days which are now faded because of the extensive pollution that it now carries – like river basins overcome by industrial waste. The Internet poses relatively minuscule benefit today thanks partly to the push to monetize its access and use. That is a major reason why the Internet is a negative factor in childhood development – in academics, family and social ways.

I like how Kutnowski describes his strategy to program his wireless modem (router actually, I would presume) to set access enabled times. Hopefully, he has learned how to program restricted web sites and read router logs too. I’m not sure why he uses “hacking” to describe what he did with the modem; perhaps its because he was not aware this was necessary in the parenting skill set.

I like too that he shares his experiences upon returning home, at dinner, and play time. This is really good insight into the parent experience and can help youth appreciate the experimental nature of parenting. As we read about the experimental trials in this story, we learn that the parent needs to build and maintain intrinsic motivation. But what’s important to remember is that intrinsic motivation comes from advancement in mastery, autonomy and purpose. An empathetic positive and growth mindset also helps with sustaining this motivation between the parent-child pair.

What is concerning though in this story is the fear (as suggested by words such as “parasitic”, “zombies” and “shudder”) that is cast over the condition of internet addiction, and it would be far more beneficial if the parent could, using intrinsic motivation, make childhood far more resilient by enhancing the positive mindset in his children so that the internet is supportive rather than invasive.

Creativity Exercise: Composing the next installment

Friday, September 12th, 2014

This is an idea to include an exercise where students compose a followup to a story. This exercise would involve imagination, creativity, active listening, storytelling and growth mindset elements. It is a YCISL workshop variation on improvisation such as one can view on the television show “Whose Line Is It Anyway?”

There are several ways that this exercise could be set up:

1. Use a passage from a book. Good starts might be a mystery that reveals a setting at the start. Another might be from a biographical story where life path choices need to be made.

2. Have students tell a part of their personal story and others would compose a story about how the future turned out.

3. Create a Mad Libs type of passage and have students fill in the blanks. Then the students would have to continue the passage using the context created by the Mad Libs part of the exercise.

4. Use a cartoon strip and blank out the last frame. Have students create that frame on their own.

Option: this could also be made to be a PostIt brainstorming (divergent thinking) exercise with participants coming up with as many continuations to the story as they can.

WSJ: The Best Language for Math

Wednesday, September 10th, 2014

This entry refers to the article “The Best Language for Math” by Sue Shellenbarger in the WSJ on Wednesday September 10, 2014 on page D1-D2 (Personal Journal section).

Misguided “glass half empty” mindset comes to mind when I read this article. Building “numeracy in small children” is not to be admired – it is another one of those despicable pressures that deprives children of their creative opportunities and development. Think about it: who is concerned? It’s adults. Do children care? Not one bit.

People who cite rankings in international achievement tests are similar to those who care about and cite university rankings. Both types of rankings are trivial and lack meaning. They are multivariate sets of functions with inconsistent variable sets. As if the education paradigm is the sole predictor of academic achievement. As if a top-ranked university is suitable for everyone.

Researchers should be looking at the needs for customization in education – especially in cores subjects such as math and language – rather than choking creativity out of early childhood education. Such customization should promote finding learning PREFERENCES, and after that, it’s PRACTICE that makes the difference (this is greatly affected by the availability of tutoring and after-school programs in the countries compared in the article).

How much does it matter that 27 is written as twenty-seven in English? How do YOU add two numbers? “32+17=49” or “thirty-two plus seventeen equals forty-nine”? The difference between these two approaches reminds me of the consequences of the shift from numerical math lessons to verbalized math lessons.

Move along. Nothing to see here.