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Posts Tagged ‘Education’

Practice any art, music, singing, dancing, acting, drawing, painting, sculpting, poetry, fiction, essays, reportage, no matter how well or badly, not to get money and fame, but to experience becoming, to find out what’s inside you, to make your soul grow.
 
Seriously!  I mean starting right now, do art and do it for the rest of your lives.
 
    —     Kurt Vonnegut Jr.
 
From a letter to students at Xavier High School in New York City in response to an invitation to visit their school.
The quote is part of a larger response which was found on one of the blogs I follow:  https://news.lettersofnote.com/
The specific post can be found at:  https://news.lettersofnote.com/p/make-your-soul-grow
 
[Please visit the original site if you have a spare minute.    —    KMAB]
 
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On This Day In:
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2017 Trump Carnivores – The Revolution So Far
2016 Election Results
2015 Speak Louder
2014 Why I Frequently Give In
2013 Am Remembering
2012 Sustained Fear
2011 Commitment
   

 

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Feynman Learning Technique:
1)  Take a piece of paper and write the concept’s name at the top.
2)  Explain the concept using simple language (show examples to demonstrate you know how the concept works)
3)  Identify problem areas in your explanation or examples and then go back to the sources to review the material / concept
4)  Pinpoint any complicated terms and challenge yourself to simplify them.
Several days ago, I posted a quote and made a comment about excellence in teaching.  (Why We Have So Few Personal Favorites )  Basically, my proposition was that it is extremely difficult to evaluate the competence and productivity of a teacher because of the number of variables and an inability to control them to a point sufficient to determine what are the tools we could provide the “most effective” teachers to make them better (or any teachers for that matter).
I never gave much thought about teaching until I joined the Army and they insisted I learn, participate in and practice “Performance Oriented Training” (POTs training) when I attended the NCO Academy in Frankfurt, Germany.  Essentially, POTs stipulates that until the student can perform the task, the training has not been effective.  There were three elements:  1)  the instructor demonstrates the task to be performed / explaining the objective of the task, the reason for the task, and each step necessary to complete the task;  2)  the instructor then walks / talks the student through each step as they (the student) follows along with each step;  and, 3)  the instructor asks the student to perform the task independently.  If the student fails in performance (step 3), the instructor must return to element 2.  Re-cycle through elements 2 and 3 until 3 can be accomplished independently.  At that point, the student can perform the task and the training has been effective.  (Of course long term retention of the knowledge / skill is a different matter.)
This training methodology served me very well during my working life / career as I was frequently called upon to instruct on topics in the military, and then as a civilian:  from credit card fraud prevention, to correspondent banking, to numerous Information Technology topics (basic trouble-shooting, using spreadsheets, using word processing applications, server and network administration, setting up databases, conducting data analysis and creating web pages to display the analysis / data).
Rather late in my career, I “discovered” (i.e. read about) Dr Richard P. Feynman (PhD) and his personal learning methodology.  Post-employment (i.e. in retirement), I’ve now watched bits and pieces of Professor Feynman’s lectures (on YouTube) and I believe his methodology is a civilian / academic equivalent of personal POTs training.  That is:  how we should expect to teach ourselves and verify our own knowledge / competency in a subject.  I shudder to think of the number of lectures / classes / training sessions I’ve attended where the instructor either did not have this level of personal expertise or expect the student to demonstrate understanding at the end of the session.  Which, (again) is why we remember our few “great” teachers over our lifetimes.
Disclaimer:  The list of four steps above are available in several books and on the web and the exact wording is neither mine nor exclusive to any specific source so I have not bothered to cite any “original” source.  I apologize in advance if anyone reading this feels I have used their exact language describing Dr. Feynman’s technique.
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2011 Live Long And Thinner
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Teaching is the only major occupation of man for which we have not yet developed tools that make an average person capable of competence and performance.  In teaching we rely on the ‘naturals’, the ones who somehow know how to teach.
    —     Peter Drucker
[One of the few times I don’t agree with Drucker…   I believe we rely on ‘willing to’ rather than ‘naturals’ to become teachers and then hope most rise to a level of competence and performance.  First, I’m not convinced “average” people are capable of being competent teachers.  I don’t think the ability to teach academic subjects is a skill the average person has.  I do believe that everyone can teach “some” things – just not academic topics, and certainly not at all levels.  Second, I believe “tools” make most people better at “some” things, but do not necessarily make average people competent or able to perform in academic areas.  I’m not convinced tools necessarily make a below-average (whatever that is) person average (whatever that is);  just better than they might have been otherwise.  Third, I’m not convinced we have adequate testing methodologies to rate an academic teacher’s competence and / or performance.  Students are living beings and not subject to controlled experiments as inputs or as outputs.  The “best” we can do is use statistics to estimate student competence / performance under very limited circumstances and, therefore, the results of the comparisons may or may not be widely applicable across wider groups in society.  Even the world’s greatest high school math teacher may not be good (or average) in a grammar school or at a university, let alone at another high school or in other subjects.  Finally, we believe we can use standardized tests to measure the students performance and, therefore, “measure / determine” a teacher’s competence.  This is an assumption which may or may not be valid.  In any case, my understanding is that social / economic banding is the most common important factor for economic progress / success.  This banding has very little to do with an individual teacher’s ability or a student’s performance.  The same teacher can teach multiple siblings at the same school and still end up with a wide variance of sibling performance success.     —    KMAB]
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2017 By Their Acts Thy Shall Know Them
2016 Remembering
2015 One
2014 Sure Experiments And Demonstrated Arguments
2013 Irrational Complacency
2012 Why Criticize?
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2011 Saying Just Enough
2010 Giants Win Game 2 Shutout of Rangers – 9 to 0!!!

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I have been learning to play guitar since January of this year.  Although I’ve always liked music and songs, I’ve never given much thought to what music is.  I mean, I’ve always considered it as “sound” (in a physics sense), but learning to “play” music (make sounds) as turned into a deep and enriching exercise in itself.  Last night, I read someone’s definition of “music” as a combination of three things: rhythm, melody and harmony.  I thought this was interesting, so, today I went on Google and Wikipedia to see what they had to say about it…
There seems to be a (little / minor) disagreement about what “makes” music.  Most of what I read agrees with the three parts above, but I also found other sources which added a fourth:  dynamics.
This is my simplistic understanding of each:
1)  Rhythm:  the beat and speed of the sound(s);
2)  Melody:  the grouping of the sounds (typically making it – the “music” – distinctively memorable) into start, order and ending;
3)  Harmony:  the mixing of sounds for effect (happy / sad, blending / discordant); and,
4)  Dynamics:  how loud or quietly / soft or hard something sounds.
I’m sure any readers who are “real” musicians will find my explanation / understanding of these elements of music simplistic, and I’m okay with that.  LoL!  I think it’s amusing (amazing) I’ve enjoyed music my whole life, but never thought about ANY of this.  And, to be honest, I have large blind spots about most things under “arts and culture”.  I know I don’t know about them, but I have no idea how much I don’t know about them.  It’s fun starting to learn!
C’est la vie…
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2012 Perceptions Of Worth
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We destroy our children’s songs of existence by giving them inhibitions, teaching them to be cynical, manipulative, and all the rest of it…  You become hardened, but you can find that playfulness again.  We’ve got to find a way to get music and kids together, as well as to teach teachers how to discover their own love of learning.  Then the infectious process begins.
    —     Leonard Bernstein
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On This Day In:
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I consider a human soul without education like marble in the quarry, which shows none of its inherent beauties till the skill of the polisher fetches out the colours, makes the surface shine, and discovers every ornamental cloud, spot and vein that runs through the body of it.
    —     Joseph Addison
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I would encourage us all, African Americans, Asians, Latinos, Whites, Native Americans to study history.  I long for the time when all the human history is taught as one history.  I am stronger because you are stronger.  I am weaker if you are weak.  So we are more alike than we are unlike.
    —    Maya Angelou
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Inherently, each one of us has the substance within to achieve whatever our goals and dreams define.  What is missing from each of us is the training, education, knowledge and insight to utilize what we already have.
    —    Mark Twain
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To be prepared against surprise is to be trained.  To be prepared for surprise is to be educated.
   —    James P. Carse
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I conceive a knowledge of books is the basis upon which other knowledge is to be built.
    ―    George Washington
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All of life is a constant education.
    —    Eleanor Roosevelt
Life is the art of drawing without an eraser.
    —    John W. Gardner
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A great teacher never strives to explain his vision.  He simply invites you to stand beside him and see for yourself.
    —     The Rev. R. Inman
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Much education today is monumentally ineffective.  All too often we are giving young people cut flowers when we should be teaching them to grow their own plants.
    —    John W. Gardner
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I am convinced that every effort must be made in childhood to teach the young to use their own minds.  For one thing is sure:  If they don’t make up their minds, someone will do it for them.
    —    Eleanor Roosevelt
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Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts.  Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.
    —    Mark Twain
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On This Day In:
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2017 Winning So Much I’m Already Tired Of It (Not)
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2012 Spherical Knowledge Of Hamsters
2011 Taking Stock Over Time

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