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Posts tagged ‘ymcaacademy’

18
Oct

Question Authority – (6 of 6)

Humankind is Both Art and Science – The Art and Science of Learning Disabilities

Sixth, and final, in the series of Humankind is Both Art & Science based on the TEDx talk given on Oct. 1, 2011 at TEDxYMCAAcademy.

  1. Humankind is Both Art and Science; 2. Limited, and Fooled, by Our Senses; 3. The Trickery of Temporary Truths; 4. Post Gutenberg Parenthesis; 5. Emotional Rescue; 6. Question Authority

Question Authority

Question Authority!

I am often in trouble. Perhaps it is because I am a product of the sixties – of (r)evolution  – of anti-establishment.

But, I think not. It is because I really like to question authority – because authority – the common wisdom – sometimes just does not make sense to me.

So I ‘question authority’.

In fact, I used to have a sticker for my motorcycle helmet.


Honestly Officer – It’s an Academic Comment!

Question Authority

Unfortunately the police didn’t find it as intellectually stimulating as I do.   LOL

I have questioned some common practices in classrooms where kids have been identified with various LDs. Now these things may not work for you – but I have had tremendous success with these on various occasions. They fly in the face of common recommendations. That’s the way I roll. 🙂

In schools, common practices often include a very reductionist approach. I understand why – to reduce the complexity of competing stimuli, to simplify the material, take it to its barest elements and to logically sequence it.

I think there is a place for that.

However, I do not believe it should be the main course of a student’s school life.

Natural Complexity Brings a Context

Learn within the Natural Complexity

I think that the complexity of life is essential for a passionate engagement with the world. I believe that the complexity is required for making sense of the whole and its parts.

“…young children are able to steal that which they need to know…”

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The Construction Zone

I have had a classroom in the YMCA Academy that is called The Construction Zone.

By all rights, ‘learning disabled’ kids should not have done well in that space. Too busy. Too distracting. Too ‘unmanaged’.

The Construction Zone

I have been accused of being too laissez-faire …. but I expect kids not just to learn the content at hand, but indeed I expect them to manage the learning of that content as well.

How ‘meta’ of me.  😉

People should make their learning as explicit and as visible as possible – that includes the teacher.

So I would have multiple projectors running with kids working ontheir tasks and everyone else able to see the content AND the processes as they worked.

I would always have my twitter stream running and projected so that kids would understand and see how I engage and how I learn with my PLN.

The students, like very young children, seemed to be able to ‘steal that which they needed to know’.

Build Thoughtful Environments

Create Thoughtful Environments

We need to build thoughtful environments, both F2F and with Blogs, Wikis, FaceBook, Twitter, Nings, etc. – ones that support multimedial minds in natural collaborative endeavours.

Such ‘thoughtful’ environments can be supported with many Web 2.0 tools these days.

But, alas, today I wanted to share the ‘why

There is no time for the ‘what’ and ‘how’!

The ‘what’ and ‘how’ will be part of the TEDxYMCAAcademy 2.0!

Or read some other posts in this blog if you can’t wait!  🙂

The Ying and Yang of Art & Science

Summary

At this point, I invite you all to think about the issues I have raised here.

When you are studying learning disabilities consider the science of us – but also remember that what we experience is also art. We are both art and science.

Recognize that our view of the world is both limited by our senses and that we impose meaning based on what we already understand. That may not be an accurate picture.

Remember that humankind’s knowledge base is constantly under revision.

What we see as ‘truth’ today, may not be the ‘truth’ of tomorrow. 

Educate for these times – not past times

Look at natural models of learning that engender passion – for that enhances learning.

So, therefore, I ask you to question authority.

Question Authoritatively!

But, be wise. Be smart. Be open. Be learned. Be a learner!

And, question authoritatively.

Thank you.

peter

This brings to a close this series. Thank you so much.

18
Oct

Emotional Rescue (5 of 6)

Humankind is Both Art and Science – The Art and Science of Learning Disabilities

Fifth in the series of Humankind is Both Art & Science based on the TEDx talk given on Oct. 1, 2011 at TEDxYMCAAcademy.

  1. Humankind is Both Art and Science; 2. Limited, and Fooled, by Our Senses; 3. The Trickery of Temporary Truths; 4. Post Gutenberg Parenthesis; 5. Emotional Rescue; 6. Question Authority

Emotions Impact Cognition

Emotional Rescue

So what else can we do – besides recognizing this different giftedness?

We need kids to love learning – to love themselves. It is the natural way.

Let’s follow their path – not impose ours.

Emotions impact cognition.

Again, intuitively many of us have understood this over time.

And guess what? The neuroscience literature is now bursting with evidence in support.

“Emotions impact cognition.”

If You Fall In Love with It You Become an Expert

“Emotions are essential to the decision-making process since they are the engine of the limbic system – our emotional brain which is connected to learning and motivation”,  says Antonio Damasio in a wonderful book called Pedagogy in (E)motion, by Zambrana-Ortiz.

Cognitive science has typically studied how people perceive, learn, remember, and think.

The role of emotions has been largely absent in the literature – until recently.

The neurosciences have now explicitly accepted the importance of emotions in the production of knowledge.

“Emotions influence the development and efficacy of executive functioning.”

Emotions influence the development and efficacy of executive functioning.

Bring Love - Gain Expertise!

I have always posted a sign on my classroom doors – “If you fall in love with it, you’ll become an expert.”

Remember seeing that those of you who have visited the academy? That is why.

So engage the emotions of your students by engaging them in authentic tasks – real tasks that are meaningful to them.

Give them power over their learning by encouraging and supporting their development of deep, driving questions that arouse their passion.

Allow them to work with others so that they can find their place – and work in their areas of strengths – with their assets – not let them suffer in their deficit areas.

I have spoken and written tons about that and so I’d ask you to check throughout this blog for more details on passion-driven, inquiry-based, collaborative project-based learning.

Read Part 6 in the series  – Question Authority!

17
Oct

Post Gutenberg Parenthesis – (4 of 6)

Humankind is Both Art and Science – The Art and Science of Learning Disabilities

Fourth in the series of Humankind is Both Art & Science based on the TEDx talk given on Oct. 1, 2011 at TEDxYMCAAcademy.

  1. Humankind is Both Art and Science; 2. Limited, and Fooled, by Our Senses; 3. The Trickery of Temporary Truths; 4. Post Gutenberg Parenthesis; 5. Emotional Rescue; 6. Question Authority

Post Gutenberg Parenthesis

Post Gutenberg Parenthesis

As we saw, we impose our meaning  on our world – and on others!

So we take our best guess – educated guesses – at all we that we try to understand, explain and ‘fix’.

Maryanne Wolfe, and others, claim that the brain isn’t necessarily pre-wired to read – check Proust and the Squid for that convincing discussion.

We know these kids suffer in our world..

But, as you also know, there are other gifts and strengths that often accompany ‘LD’s.

It is said that dyslexics could be our most talented data visualizers.

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In the Mind's Eye

In the Mind’s Eye

Thomas West says (paraphrased),

“For some four hundred or five hundred years we have had our schools teaching basically the skills of the medieval clerk—reading, writing, counting, and memorizing texts.

Now we are on the verge of a new era,

and will emphasize a very different set of skills—those of a Renaissance man such as Leonardo da Vinci.

Traits that are considered desirable today will be obsolete and unwanted tomorrow.

Instead of the qualities of a well-trained clerk, we might want a habit of innovation in many diverse fields, the perspective of the global generalist rather than the narrowly focused specialist, and an emphasis on visual content and analysis over parallel verbal modes.”

Gutenberg - the Analog Divide

Post Gutenberg Parenthesis

We are into the 21st century now – past the Gutenberg Parenthesis

– that era that lived and breathed text and text alone.

That era that celebrated letteracy and…

served to exclude those who were challenged by it. Not so socially inclusive.

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Our next Crop of LD Kids?

Visual Imagery & Visualizations

We are now entering a world that is immersed in the production and interpretation of visual imagery and visualizations.

Those who are not literate in those areas may well be our next Learning Disabled kids.

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Read Part 5 in the series  – Emotional Rescue

16
Oct

The Trickery of Temporary Truths (3 of 6)

Humankind is Both Art and Science- The Art and Science of Learning Disabilities

Third in the series of Humankind is Both Art & Science based on the TEDx talk given on Oct. 1, 2011 at TEDxYMCAAcademy – The Art & Science of Learning Disabilities:

  1. Humankind is Both Art and Science; 2. Limited, and Fooled, by Our Senses; 3. The Trickery of Temporary Truths; 4. Post Gutenberg Parenthesis; 5. Emotional Rescue; 6. Question Authority

The Trickery of Temporary Truths

There is another minor problem with ‘truths’. A lot of facts that have been discovered – aren’t facts at all! Simply not true!

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The Earth is Flat

They appeared really true at the time – but other truths replaced them at some point – once the ‘science’ changed – or once our perceptions changed – or our tools to perceive changed!

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At one point, the Earth was deemed to be flat. And…

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Not Around the Earth?

At one point, everything revolved around the Earth.

That was the geocentric model of Ptolemy . And Galileo was in big trouble in the early 1600s – for contradicting the Aristotelian view – which was also that of the church.

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Heard of Phrenology?

Phrenology

Basically, the shape and size of parts of the head were correlated with personality characteristics. Thats what Franz Joseph Gall claimed in the early 1800s.

But, this was a great advance from the 4 humors – black bileyellow bilephlegm, and blood.

Or…

Faster than Light?

…how about the discovery last week regarding the questioning of Einstein’s theory of relativity.

Anyone know about that?

Yes…particles have been observed to be traveling faster than the speed of light.

These were temporary truths.

The Brain that Changes Itself

The Brain That Changes Itself

We have many claims and facts about learning disabilities too.

Maybe some of those are temporary truths. I may be totally wrong!! I’m good with that. Just like to question it. Especially with new findings about neuroplasticity and the like.

As an example, once you ‘have’ a learning disability, you have it for life. All you can do is work with it – accommodate it.

Well, to me – being somewhat of an old Piagetian dude – the very definition of accommodation infers a change in the structures of the brain!

We need to be cautious of the trickery of temporary truths.

We need to be cautious of the trickery of temporary truths.

But there is ONE truth that I sorta like!

Neuroscientist Peter Snyder says, “…what neuroscientists don’t know about the mechanisms of cognition—about what is physically different between a dumb brain and a smart one and how to make the first more like the second—could fill volumes. Actually, it does.”

He suggests that  “We’re sort of in the Wild West.””

The scientists, in their brilliance, have developed theories and beliefs based on their interpretations and previous experiences. Their knowledge arose, as mine does, out of how they experienced the world.

Their scientific discoveries were a result of both art and science.

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Read the next in the series – Post Gutenberg Parenthesis.

16
Oct

Limited, and Fooled, By Our Senses (2 of 6)

Humankind is Both Art and Science

The Art and Science of Learning Disabilities

Second in the series of Humankind is Both Art & Science based on the TEDx talk given on Oct. 1, 2011 at TEDxYMCAAcademy.

  1. Humankind is Both Art and Science; 2. Limited, and Fooled, by Our Senses; 3. The Trickery of Temporary Truths; 4. Post Gutenberg Parenthesis; 5. Emotional Rescue; 6. Question Authority

Limited, and Fooled, By Our Senses

Limited, and Fooled, By Our Senses

So let’s take a look at some of the science of us.

Our ‘reality’ is limited by our senses.

That is why we develop tools.

To better understand what is real.

To better understand our world around us.

What we ‘sense’ is not the full picture. Not even close.

So we develop tools.

Tools…

  • stretch our edges,
  • magnify our sensitivities,
  • detect and measure things of which we aren’t even aware.

Tools Augment Our Senses

Reality is Not Only What We Can Perceive

Our ears and eyes have physical limits in terms of what we can hear and see, right?

What we detect is limited.

But is our reality. It is what we think of as our reality.

Same with smell, touch and taste.

So we create machines.

Machines to augment our limited apparatus!

Now we have fMRI – functional magnetic resonance imaging.

It registers blood flow to functioning areas of the brain.

Active neurons consume more blood than idle neurons.

This is where a great deal of our ‘current reality’ is being defined.

Cool stuff.

But, we are still limited. 

Just please remember…

when you are trying to figure out  something – like Learning Disabilities – you are really looking at it in a very limited way –

With a limited set of senses.

With a limited set of lenses.

It is only a limited view of the reality.

The Table Illusion

And… We are Fooled by Our Senses!

We are not just ‘limited’ by our senses.

We are also ‘fooled’ by our senses- because our minds impose meaning on what our physical selves perceive.

These table tops are EXACTLY the same size and shape!

Our brain circuitry is triggered to see the tables in three dimensions.

It’s as Lehrer says regarding ‘taste’ -“it’s our neurological reality. when we sense something, that sensation is immediately analyzed in terms of previous experience”.

Gestaltists said that “form is dictated from the top down.” The reductionist Wundtians argued that what we perceived was a result of ‘elemental sensations‘.

But what we experience is the art in us – the art of us.

The mind is not a camera — so what we perceive is a result of art not science.

The mind is not a camera — so what we perceive is a result of art not science.

We are both art and science.

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 Read the next in the series – The Trickery of Temporary Truths

15
Oct
The Series of Posts

Humankind is Both Art & Science (1 of 6)

Humankind is Both Art and Science

The Art and Science of Learning Disabilities

“It is not enough to judge humankind on scientific principles which historically have often been temporary truths.  Schooling must respect the art of human-ness and so we should design natural learning environments to maximize our children’s innate assets.” Read more »