“I Live in the Future” Where Video Gameplay Is Real-Life Learning

24 10 2011

Excerpted from “I Live in the Future and Here’s How it Works: Why Your World, Work, and Brain are Being Creatively Disrupted”:

These residents and practicing surgeons simply played 3 or more hours of action video games a week. Some of the more advanced video game-playing students managed to make 47% fewer errors than others and were able to work as much as 39% faster. . .

For example, these studies consistently show that playing video games improves hand-eye coordination and increases one’s capacity for visual attention and spatial distribution, among other skills. These increased brain functions are tied not only to game play but to several other real- world scenarios, including surgery.

You may feel like your brain cannot cope with so much information or jump seamlessly from one medium to another, just as you may have felt in high school that you couldn’t learn a foreign language or conquer higher math.

But as the brain faces new language (or acronyms and abbreviations), new visual and auditory stimulation, or new and different ways of processing information, it can change and grow in the most remarkable fashion. In fact, it may well be a natural part of human behavior to seek out and develop unnatural new experiences and technologies and then incorporate them into our daily lives and storytelling.

High-tech gameplay as well as entertainment through the television screen have been part of our happy unschooling from the start, just like libraries and bookloving (ALL the books, not One Book to Rule Them All.) We snook about it often and you can easily search with the little box on the right-hand menu, but here are a few apt posts and conversations for example:

So Young and So Gadgeted, What’s the Right Approach?”

Video Games Bonanza Site — Save This Link!:

Is PBS a credible enough source for whoever in your child’s life clucks disapprovingly at screen time? Click here now — don’t wait, your child’s education and entire future could be at stake! 🙂

My favorite moment in the article is when the author is showing his seven-year-old nephew the SimCity neighborhood that he built. When the author notes that he’s having problem getting a certain area with factories to come back to life, the boy turns to him and says, “I think you need to lower your industrial tax rates.”

Video Games: New Ways of Being in the World

More Kid Stuff or Video Gaming for Real?:

[So] Blake seems happy with his home school arrangement, as you would expect from a teenager who is allowed to stay up into the wee hours to play video games. Sometimes, when Mike heads to the gym before 5 a.m., his son is still playing video games.

. . .when Blake’s older brother wanted Read the rest of this entry »





Truth of Economy Even Your Kids Can Grasp, in Two Minutes

16 06 2011




JJ Spending This Week With Economist Jeffrey Sachs

22 02 2011

Free! — no admission, registration, tuition. Materials not included and I may need to buy a book or two, maybe not. We’ll see.

It only took a cup of coffee, some battery power and less than ten minutes to get started with a world class professor (see his vita at end of post):

“Both [parties] are completely unrealistic . . . what’s happening in this country? . . .Both parties are financed by wealthy people . . . everyone caters to the top. . .
American influence is waning, American infrastructure is crumbling . . .except if you’re rich and you have a lot of money to invest, you’re investing in China. . . our politics is SO ODD right now, because it’s driven just by the very top. . .pure propaganda [of] Big Oil . . . food prices are at all-time highs, there’s instability all over the world. . .energy crises, food crises, do we talk about any of that in our country? Absolutely not.”

‎Next I found a short profession of his thoughts on education. Real education, not schooling: education to help our kids learn about the real world IN the real world, to “Think Big”, to experience and understand what’s being systematically twisted and lied about for the basest motives, in our textbooks and classrooms and broadcasts, even in the hallowed halls of the capitol buildings and courthouses we built to express and effect our American Dreams. So what does the Doctor order? Unschool them in the real world and encourage every opportunity for them to get out in it and unschool themselves:

“The irony is not that we are at an abyss that is unavoidable . . .it’s almost the opposite. We’ve unlocked the ability to promote economic development in all parts of the world. We have at our hand, the ability to end extreme poverty. We have before us either already existing or within reach, technologies . . .the question is whether we can BRING KNOWLEDGE TO BEAR on these solutions and then Read the rest of this entry »





Continuing Class Conversation: American Dream or Nightmare?

4 01 2011

In a 2005 report to investors, for instance, three analysts at Citigroup advised that “the World is dividing into two blocs—the Plutonomy and the rest” . . .

In a plutonomy there is no such animal as “the U.S. consumer” or “the UK consumer”, or indeed the “Russian consumer”. There are rich consumers, few in number, but disproportionate in the gigantic slice of income and consumption they take. There are the rest, the “non-rich”, the multitudinous many, but only accounting for surprisingly small bites of the national pie.

Read ongoing conversation here and then see the new Atlantic piece by tv capitalist cheerleader Chrystia Freeland. Even she now admits the super-rich have “reached escape velocity” so that no quaint myth about American exceptionalism will save us from being left behind, floundering for our lives in the wake of their ever-accelerating planet-ocracy.

The Atlantic Home
January/February 2011

The Rise of the New Global Elite

F. Scott Fitzgerald was right when he declared the rich different from you and me. But today’s super-rich are also different from yesterday’s: more hardworking and meritocratic, but less connected to the nations that granted them opportunity—and the countrymen they are leaving ever further behind.

All while the useful-idiot bootstrap-believers heap blame on gays, immigrants, atheists and schoolteachers, Lucifer and ACORN and the United Nations (not to be redundant, lol) oh, and on all social justice and power-to-the-people public programs — you know, all except power OVER people programs like prisons, police, and the military, government meant to strike sufficient fear in people to control them at any cost, all about weapons and brute force and psychological domination, enforcing, restraining, prosecuting, deporting, punishing, torturing, killing . . .

What counts is what you DO, who and what you live and work FOR rather than against, who and what you take responsibility FOR and what results you get. Is the world more heaven and less hell because you’re in it, or vice versa? People notice the difference sooner or later, you know. . .





Ideas of 2010: Happy Thinking!

17 12 2010

Better than shopping or Christmas punch for holiday stimulation. . .

Think of fashion constrained by public dress codes for example, as Snook often does over t-shirts, kilts and serious hats.

This collection offers all sorts of ideas to unwrap, everything from the Armored T-Shirt and the Bra Gas Mask to End-of-Men Fashion and the Raw Meat Dress. (Oh, not to give, um, short shrift? — to the Small-Enough Youth Condom and Performance-Enhancing Basketball Shoes!)

For the 10th consecutive December, the magazine has chosen to look back on the past year through a distinctive prism: ideas.

Our digest of short entries refracts the light beam of human inspiration, breaking it up into its constituent colors — innovations and insights from a spectrum of fields, including economics, biology, engineering, medicine, literature, sports, music and, of course, raw-meat clothing.

Happy thinking!

Maybe the expressive antics themselves are enough to ponder without delving into what ideas they represent, a thought suggested by the magazine quoting Andy Warhol.

Or maybe these ideas are best contemplated not individually but as one panoramic whole, power of story like A Christmas Carol forcing us to face how we got here, where we are and where we’re heading, unless we somehow wake up sufficiently to change our future and fast?

And just where is that, would the piece have us think? Read the rest of this entry »





Education Nation Thinking: School is a Social Network

27 09 2010

UPDATE: “Governing requires a humanism that we find largely absent in the business world of today. It calls for skills that the business world often overlooks or shuns. Governing requires the ability not to follow spreadsheets and marketing advice but to weigh all of the relevant information and decide what is best for all . . .”
******************
School is a social network but that’s not on the menu for this week’s Education Nation. I didn’t hear the phrase “liberal education” this morning either — but could that ideal be what we lost first, that led to America losing everything else?

What if, after a couple of generations of not really educating in the public schools, too busy exploiting them as captive consumers for our competing political causes and business opportunities instead, there’s no longer a critical mass of leaders and citizenry well-enough educated themselves to think productively about how to educate the next generation any better?

We’ve all heard the phrase “liberal education” and those of us of a certain (ahem) age, probably got a passably broad one somewhere along the way to this dystopic ruin of the House Our Liberally Educated Founders Built for us.

Folks with a liberal education, for example, are supposed to understand that “liberal” in this sense isn’t necessarily the opposite of conservative but it is the opposite of narrow, literal, training-and-conditioning-focused schooling, education drilled in to spec at the local mass-production public factory. Certainly liberal education is the opposite of for-profit Big Business and the cutthroat corporate mindset. Liberal education fosters intelligent, higher-order problem-solving and complex moral thought, humanist politics. And it’s not merely technical, not even at the MIT and NASA level. Math and science alone can’t put the liberal in a liberal education.

Devoutly Catholic William F. Buckley for example, had an extraordinarily liberal education as the debate-dominating wind in his arch-conservative sails. OTOH the Governor of Texas and his education makes one weep for education: Texas Governor Treats Colleges Like Businesses [as]
Regents promote his agenda, to faculty members’ chagrin

But Americans now get little education of any kind, much less a true liberal education. It’s all schooling and all to factory specs: tough, increasingly nationalized standards, radically mind-numbing regulations, authoritarian rewards and punishments for knowledge workers (both teachers and students) meted out by principal overseers in all school systems? More of that is hardly a new education idea nor a liberal one.

Anthony Seldon, Wellington College:

“good education should be the opportunity for each child to discover who they are, how they should relate to others, and what they love about life.”

Engaged liberal education vs. “Mass-Production Factories
of the Mind”
:

I’ve been anxiously following the news about the new National Governors Association initiative, Complete to Compete,  and the recent announcements about states competing for Race to the Top funding, and I continue to worry about reductionist models of education driving our reform agendas.  I think that many of our policy makers and government officials at both the state and federal levels actually do believe in the full promise of liberal education, but somehow forget what that really means in educational practice when they get down to developing actual policy proposals.

Here are my notes typed in as I watched all Monday morning. They’re in Maimi-Dade with Arne Duncan and student questions this afternoon. I’ll keep listening and thinking and be pulling from these notes for blogging later:

NBC Universal
EDUCATION NATION

Morning Joe and Today Show

Public survey on who’s to blame for what’s failing in schools, top two get more than half the public blaming them:
elected officials
parents

Then the very bottom group, teachers, gets only one-third of the public blaming them:
teacher unions
principals/admin
teachers

LA Unified Sch District has about one-third of all kids suffering from PTSD, biggest identified problem is violence

NJ Republican Gov Christie says it’s all about breaking the unions, forcing them to admit they’ve created the problem by making everything about their money and not caring about kids. Reward and punishment is his Read the rest of this entry »





2010 TED Talk Video: The Child-Driven Education

10 09 2010

Just posted tonight: The Child-Driven Education featuring Sugata Mitra





Why Educate Our Kids? Dystopic Reality Burning Down Our House

17 06 2010

Do you love America?

Here’s a Thinking Parents’ introduction to America’s real power of story now that as a country, we collectively miseducate our kids about value (as in the value of college, competition, hard work, health, free markets, firearms, friends and family.)

Speaking of the value of family, it offers a whole new perspective on “family values” — how valuable in literal economic terms is your family to your children, and just how valuable is our American family to all the children? Do those answers reflect what Americans consider “family values” and what Howard Gardner describes as a curriculum of “truth, beauty and goodness” and if not, our own education couldn’t have been very valuable no matter how much we paid for it or can collect from it:

None of this is any news to anybody who works for a living. But almost nobody thinks about — or really wants to know — where this is taking us as a nation. . . . if those hideous expenses are what it takes just to give your kid a shot at a professional career so they can afford an increasingly expensive “normal ” life, whose kids are going to get those professional careers?

Rich kids, that’s who. And without picking on kids who were born into rich families through no fault of their own, going forward, all this boils down to an America with fewer and fewer career jobs parceled out to more and more people with better and better backgrounds, while more and more people have to make do with less and less.

It leads, in fact, to an America with a handful of people living what we now consider a “normal” life in gated communities with armed guards, and millions of people cast out of the corporate world and left to shift for themselves; a sort of sci-fi dystopia right out of RoboCop.

Politically, this is firewood stacked under the whole idea of America — a place where you’re judged by what you can do, and not who your grandparents were. And the worst part? This has nothing to do with left/right politics . . . we need to find ourselves a solution that allows most Americans to live like, well, Americans.

This will have to be a conversation that avoids comfortable bromides about the can-do American spirit, the greatness of the American People, or sneering at people “who won’t take jobs they think are beneath them”. We have to acknowledge the problem, find common ground, focus on practical solutions — and make them happen.

If we don’t, it will all go up in flames, eventually. That’s what happens when you’ve got a few people with everything, and millions with nothing to lose.

So the question is: Do you love America?





TED Tackling Complexity and Cynicism

10 02 2010

And that’s what we might call Drop TED Gorgeous:

Every TED conference opens with “The Elephant March” from Verdi’s Aida and it never fails to have the same effect on me: an overwhelming
feeling of new possibilities.

In his opening remarks, TED curator Chris Anderson met the zeitgeist head on, talking about his rage at the fact that every idea about how to deal with our big problems is crushed on a wall of cynicism and complexity . . .





Unschooling Passion Play From Apple Computer “Buccaneer-Scholar”

26 01 2010

Unschooling on FaceBook thanks Mitrik Spanner for posting:
“Great audio interview of James Marcus Bach, the author of Secrets of a Buccaneer-Scholar: How Self-Education and the Pursuit of Passion Can Lead to a Lifetime of Success on Wisconsin Public Radio November 13, 2009. He’s a software testing manager at Apple Computer and [pro]ponent of unschooling.”

[Also son of author-poet Richard Bach]

Stream the audio here.





Who Cares About Haiti?

16 01 2010

I am pleased to have been the recipient of the Ordre d’Honneur et de Merite, Haiti, 1934 —
JJ’s great-uncle, Henry D Barker, born more than 100 years ago in America, recounting his impoverished boyhood and subsequent career

In the here and now, JJ has a mom-friend who cares enough about Haiti that she carried the Christian gospel to children there last year, and is suffering with the Haitian people in the earthquake’s aftermath.

She is the mom of Favorite Daughter’s traveling companion to Europe last summer. The November before that, this devout conservative evangelical (but also well-educated medical professional and feminist, for a southerner at least) did a little traveling of her own and took the church mission trip to Haiti.

Here is her FaceBook status update today:

Presidents Team up for Haiti.
Wow, that is the spirit that makes America the great country that it is. It makes me proud to be a naturalized American and to be part of Americans helping Haiti.

So it seems to me we surely share American values and see truth, beauty and goodness much the same way, despite not sharing the same family, politics, religion or profession.

As for me and Haiti, I’d personally still look to education rather than religion to save it. My family history is all about the transformative power of hard work and sacrifice channeled through education, not prayer. My great-uncle D went on his Haitian education mission trip of sorts after growing up dirt-poor subsistence farming in the Blue Ridge Mountains, partly homeschooling in fact, then studying agriculture and textiles at Clemson back when it was an agricultural college and Air Force academy.

From other universities he later earned his master’s of science in agronomy and his Ph.D. — first in our family! — and I was raised on stories from my mother’s mother (Uncle D’s enormously proud little sister) about him and Aunt Pauline living in Haiti for years in what sounded like a tropical paradise, helping to change the world with his education.

In 1928 he wrote a book about it: Éléments du Botanique Général par Henry D. Barker, Ph.D., Chef du Department de Bontanique Service Technique.

In French.

Published in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Stamped right on the front cover.

I am holding that book in my hand right now because by default I am now the family’s historical repository as was my father before me — both of us also academic doctors, admired throughout the extended family as continuing generational examples of the importance of education, not just to enrich the individual or contribute to the family’s collective well-being but also for all of humanity, because learning and then using it for good is what we are meant to do. . .

Inside his book, it’s inscribed in his feathery old-fashioned fountain pen script:
“To my mother from The Author.”

And I also have here beside me Uncle D’s self-published memoir of his boyhood, inscribed in that same hand, to me! —
“to Jennifer whose grandparents Alice and Ira were born and raised in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Henry D Barker”

Here is what he wrote about Haiti in the epilogue: Read the rest of this entry »





Power of Story in Public Communication Meets High Tech Cool!

26 06 2009

Okay, that this high-tech magic is now real in my world, literally gives me chills in every sense of the word.

Marshall McLuhan must be muttering “I told you so” in his grave!

domesticvio holoposter

Anti-abuse Poster Only Batters When Nobody’s Looking

This is even better power of story than MisEducation (JJ’s alter ego) imagined back in 2002 when she first breathlessly penned these words:

Remember those living, moving portraits like the Gryffindor Fat Lady who demands that students give the day’s password? MisEducation nearly swooned when she read that the Muggles have acquired the power to create these living pictures.   The Times explains in Movie Posters That Talk Back:

“. . . What if, rather than being frozen on a poster for the latest James Bond movie, Pierce Brosnan and Halle Berry could leap in a full-motion, fist-flying fury to a stereo soundtrack? And what if these posters could interact with film patrons, recognizing their tastes and quickly matching their interests with trailers and show times for movies that they most likely want to see?

For the last five years Stephan Fitch and his company, Thinking Pictures, have been quietly working to recast movie posters with Read the rest of this entry »