Sunday, December 14, 2008

The Importance of Pronunciation

High school students are all encouraged to take a foreign language to qualify for college eligibility.

A careful emphasis on pronunciation is advised when one is traveling overseas using their newly acquired skills.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Tracking Santa

I just discovered a very nice Norad application that tracks the progress of Santa.

You can get it here.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Things Schools Forget to Teach

I came across an interesting blog a few weeks ago that talks about the things that should be, but aren't, taught in schools. I urge you to read the linked blog for details but here's a list compiled from the Positivity Blog.
The 80/20 rule – also known as The Pareto Principle – basically says that 80 percent of the value you will receive will come from 20 percent of your activities.
Parkinson’s Law - You can do things quicker than you think. This law says that a task will expand in time and seeming complexity depending on the time you set aside for it.
Boring or routine tasks can create a lot of procrastination and low-level anxiety. One good way to get these things done quickly is to batch them.

First, give value. Then, get value. Not the other way around.
Be proactive. Not reactive.

Mistakes and failures are good.

Why do people give up after just few mistakes or failures? Well, I think one big reason is because they beat themselves up way too much. But it’s a kinda pointless habit. It only creates additional and unnecessary pain inside you and wastes your precious time.

Meeting new people is fun. But it can also induce nervousness. We all want to make a good first impression and not get stuck in an awkward conversation.

The best way to do this that I have found so far is to assume rapport. This means that you simply pretend that you are meeting one of your best friends.

Use your reticular activation system to your advantage.

But the thing that I’ve discovered the last few years is that if you change your attitude, you actually change your reality. When you for instance use a positive attitude instead of a negative one you start to see things and viewpoints that were invisible to you before. You may think to yourself “why haven’t I thought about things this way before?”.

Gratitude is a simple way to make yourself feel happy.

Don’t compare yourself to others.

80-90% of what you fear will happen never really come into reality.

Don’t take things too seriously.
If your memory is anything like mine then it’s like a leaking bucket. Many of your good or great ideas may be lost forever if you don’t make a habit of writing things down.

In pretty much any experience there are always things that you can learn from it and things within the experience that can help you to grow. Negative experiences, mistakes and failure can sometimes be even better than a success because it teaches you something totally new, something that another success could never teach you.

Whenever you have a “negative experience” ask yourself: where is the opportunity in this? What is good about this situation? One negative experience can – with time – help you create many very positive experiences.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

The False Learning

I have repeatedly blogged about the wholesale failure of No Child Left Behind (NCLB) to address the needs of children and society. NCLB is little more than a thinly disguised national policy to destroy public school education that has succeeded.

The ubiquitously accepted and promoted meme that high-stress, high-stakes testing of memorized (and largely worthless) factoids is a pseudo-religion among the educated and uneducated alike. Chances are this policy will not change under Obama ensuring the intellectual collapse of our nation along side its economic bankruptcy.

A better policy would be to promote learning for learnings sake. This is not as altruistic a venture as might be assumed.

In a Telegraph article called, Learning by heart is 'pointless for Google generation' by Murray Wardrop, he summarizes the revaluation of meorization.
...for today's youngsters, tedious rote learning is pointless because such basic facts are only a mouse click away via Google, Wikipedia and online libraries, according to writer and businessman Don Tapscott.

Tapscott, author of the best-selling book Wikinomics and a champion of the "net generation", suggests a better approach would be to teach children to think creatively so they could learn to interpret and apply the knowledge available online.

The Canadian business executive said: "Teachers are no longer the fountain of knowledge; the internet is.

"Kids should learn about history to understand the world and why things are the way they are. But they don't need to know all the dates.

"It is enough that they know about the Battle of Hastings, without having to memorise that it was in 1066. They can look that up and position it in history with a click on Google."

Tapscott dismissed the idea that his approach is anti-learning, instead arguing that the ability to learn new things is more important than ever "in a world where you have to process new information at lightning speed".

And he believes that the old-fashioned model of education still prevalent in today's schools, involving remembering facts 'off pat', was designed for the industrial age.

He said: "This might have been good for the mass production economy, but it doesn't deliver for the challenges of the digital economy, or for the 'net gen' mind.

"Children are going to have to reinvent their knowledge base multiple times. So for them memorising facts and figures is a waste of time."

Tapscott added the brains of today's youngsters work differently to their parents', and that multi tasking with digital devices, such as using the internet while listening to their MP3 players, can help them to develop critical thinking skills.

Ofsted has reported that pupils' knowledge and understanding of key historical facts is not good enough to enable them to "form overviews and demonstrate strong conceptual understanding".

Shadow Schools Secretary, Michael Gove, has recently attacked "the move away from fact-based learning", arguing that "knowledge, intellectual capital, is what makes educational progress possible".