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This is the song of the day for me. I’ve been learning it on guitar and singing it around the house, but Waits captures my future goals and aspirations in a nutshell.

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Mirrored from Lemmingworks.

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Keeping the Gender of a 2-Year-Old Secret

During last week’s discussion of whether couples choose to learn the sex of their baby before he or she is born, a number of you said you wanted to keep the secret as long as possible, because the moment people hear “boy” or “girl” they begin to make assumptions about a child.

One couple in Sweden decided to take that logic a few steps further, and are refusing to tell anyone whether their toddler is a boy or a girl.

The child — called Pop in Swedish papers to protect his or her identity — is now two-and-a-half-years-old, and only a handful of close relatives (those who have changed the child’s diaper) know the sex. Pop’s parents, who are both 24, say they made this decision in the hope of freeing their child from the artificial construct of gender.

Mirrored from Lemmingworks.

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Originally published at Lemmingworks. You can comment here or there.

There’s a new report from People for Education: Urban-Suburban

Nearly two-thirds of Ontario’s students live in urban or suburban centres. These growing areas are vibrant places where many young people thrive and some fail.

In February 2008, a group of people (academics, community and parent leaders, a city councillor, early childhood experts, school board trustees and staff, members of ethno-racial community organizations and representatives of social planning councils and the United Way) gathered to share their ideas about urban and suburban schools.

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I’ve become very curious about what happens to labled children as they become adults. I’m also a fan of the Dead Kennedy’s. This isn’t particularly good in terms of video or song quality, but it is Hyperactive.

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We’re studying children as photographers in (c)cld419, and one of my students pointed me to this show that takes up many of the issues we’re interested in; seeing the world from the child’s perspective.

My Life As a Child Premieres February 26 at 7/6c

My Life As a Child documents the lives of 20 American children, between the ages of 7 and 11. Each episode inter-cuts the stories of three to four children from different backgrounds, providing a complete snapshot of American life through their eyes. 

These incredibly talented children were given digital cameras and the opportunity to film their own lives over the course of several months. They filmed themselves at home, in school and on vacation so that viewers could see every aspect of their lives. Most importantly, the children commented and narrated on their experiences through weekly video diaries, in which they talked to the camera about their thoughts and feelings.

My Life As a Child tackles difficult issues such as absent parents, divorce, racism and religious beliefs. In the show, the children offer their thoughts on the complexities of life, pondering such questions as the meaning of success and the role of gender. They also remind viewers of what it means to be a child, by sharing their favorite games, displaying their imaginations and discussing their dreams for the future.

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Just got this forwarded fromSarah: Mind Hacks: The power of praise
The power of praise:

There’s a fascinating article in the New York Magazine
about the dramatic effects of different types of praise on a child’s success when tackling new challenges.

A team of researchers led by Prof Carole Dweck asked children to complete a series of short tests, and randomly divided into groups. Each child was given a single line of praise.

One group was praised for their intelligence (”You must be smart at this”), while the others were praised for their effort (”You must have worked really hard”). This simple difference had a startling effect.

Children who were praised for their effort were more likely to choose a harder test when given a choice, were less likely to become disheartened when given a test they were guaranteed to fail, and when finally given the original tests again, their marks improved.

In contrast, the children praised for their intelligence tended to choose an easier test if asked, were distressed by failure, and actually had worse marks after re-taking the original tests.

Dweck had suspected that praise could backfire, but even she was surprised by the magnitude of the effect. “Emphasizing effort gives a child a variable that they can control,” she explains. “They come to see themselves as in control of their success. Emphasizing natural intelligence takes it out of the child’s control, and it provides no good recipe for responding to a failure.”

In follow-up interviews, Dweck discovered that those who think that innate intelligence is the key to success begin to discount the importance of effort. I am smart, the kids’ reasoning goes; I don’t need to put out effort. Expending effort becomes stigmatized—it’s public proof that you can’t cut it on your natural gifts.

Repeating her experiments, Dweck found this effect of praise on performance held true for students of every socioeconomic class. It hit both boys and girls—the very brightest girls especially (they collapsed the most following failure).

Praising children is incredibly important. Countless psychological studies have shown that excessive critical comments have a damaging effect on mental health.

This research just suggests that in terms of encouraging children to tackle challenges effectively, praising their effort seems more effective than praising their intelligence.

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Professor Woj (the great mentor of my undergraduate years) pointed me to the BBC News article Why are Dutch children so happy? in response to the UNICEF report. Interesting read, and it just makes sense… parents, you reading this!!!

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Mind Hacks: Autism, In My Language. In (c)cld419 we’re exploring technology and learning, and this year I keep tripping over interesting videos relating to special needs individuals. Here’s another one or two. Using video to share stories may seem trite, but when it is a window to a world we know little about, it is transformative.

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eSchool News online - Gaming advances as a learning tool

Using computer games to teach is hardly new: The military has been doing it
with pilots and soldiers for decades, and corporations have been gaming for
years as well. But momentum also is growing for using computer games to help teach students basic curricular concepts in school–even such
entertainment-focused games as “Restaurant Empire” and “Zoo Tycoon.”

I guess it is time for me to start keeping track of this dialogue on my blog, especially since we’re going to be using second life this term.

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Ex-Lemmingworks. ##.

I’ve marked 40 odd exams (not that they’re odd exams, but that I’ve not got an exact count) out of ~140, and at the same time following the discussion on RFAnet, an email list for Ryerson Faculty. The discussion has been very serious, and is centred on how difficult it is to mark a large number of exams in a short period of time. I have 4 days to do it. There is a feeling that there is too much rush, and that more time should be available. Mostly well intentioned and well thought out, and it is a great way for me as a newer faculty member to know about and share in the struggles that the university community face.

I think we’re all getting a bit exhausted at this point… so some wag (”A person whose words or actions provoke or are intended to provoke amusement or laughter.”) posted the following link as a suggestion. It is nothing new, but rarely so well illustrated. Enjoy. I’m back to the grind.

Concurring Opinions: A Guide to Grading Exams

It’s that time of year again. Students have taken their finals, and now it is time to grade them. It is something professors have been looking forward to all semester. Exactness in grading is a well-honed skill, taking considerable expertise and years of practice to master. The purpose of this post is to serve as a guide to young professors about how to perfect their grading skills and as a way for students to learn the mysterious science of how their grades are determined.

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Ex-Lemmingworks. ##.

Jeremy has a post about The Dream Palace of Educational Theorists. Without going into details about the value of their notion, I do like the idea of delinking the accreditation learning from schooling. I think that the social aspect of schooling is very important, but I also think it can be learned elsewhere. Why should the institutions of schooling control who gets accreditation. But that’s my Ivan Illich bias.

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Ex-Lemmingworks. ##.

I love tom waits. I love ’scary’ children’s stories. And here’s one altogether.

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Ex-Lemmingworks. ##.

I just posted the final exam for CLD121 Fall2006: The Competent Learner and Reflective Practitioner.

Imagine that you are given the task of creating a school for children. Describe that school in a personal reflective essay format so that it reflects your personal system of values. Explain some or all of the following:

  • how the school would function;
  • what it would look like;
  • what activities would go on;
  • what its goals, mission and social function would be;
  • the role adults would play;
  • how would students be evaluated;
  • how it would integrate with the community, society, and/or world.

I like to give the question a week in advance so that there is no panic. Students get to plan out their answer and bring in a sheet with their notes on it. It makes the exam performative rather than a ‘guess what’s in the prof’s head’ sort of thing. I’m really excited to see what sort of answers I get. Definitely more fun than multiple choice or short answer: explain the significance of critical thinking in your personal and professional life. Ugh.

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Ex-Lemmingworks. ##.

As part of my course on critical thinking, I ‘ban’ cola from class. It is a bit of a joke, because I also tell students that I have no right to do it, but I want them to think professionally and critically about everything, including food choices, especially in front of children. I had found some information, but today CBC and a pile of other news sources had another article on it. See CBC’s: Drinking cola may increase risk to women’s bones. Get the full study: Colas, but not other carbonated beverages, are associated with low bone mineral density in older women: The Framingham Osteoporosis Study — Tucker et al. 84 (4): 936 — American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

This year they caught on quickly, and we added Aspartame which is something in my gum, when some wit decided to wisely call my habits into question. I thought this was great, because I’d never even thought of the problem. I have switched to Spry Gum which tastes better, and actually costs about the same, though according to google (Trident gum - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia) Trident gum also contains Xylitol (Xylitol - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia) as does Spry Gum. Xylitol is produced naturally in the human body, and according to these links is actually GOOD for your teeth (see Trident FAQs). So now we have a new sweetner.

Now, if we can get fizzy drinks sweetened with Xylitol and without phosphoric acid (which according to this link is primarily used in soaps, detergents and fertilizers) which is the chemical reported to cause problems in colas, we’ll be in a better place. I wonder what people think about drinking something that is marketted as a rust remover… the Wikipedia page on phosphoric acid is particularly interesting, talking about why it is used, in place of other options.

Who says what you learn at school isn’t useful!!!

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Ex-Lemmingworks. ##.

I keep finding and losing and finding my old Electronic Essay Writing Tutorial: “This tutorial is intended to help students understand the important components of constructing an essay. This essay, “What I Have Lived For” is an encapsulation of some important elements of an essay. If you are able to follow and/or reproduce the elements of this essay, you will be over a major hurdle most students have in writing papers.”
And now I have found it again…

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Ex-Lemmingworks. ##.

Slashdot | Professor Sells Lectures Online

“Students at NCSU have the option of purchasing the lectures of a professor online. The Professor did this as a way to help those that missed class, didn’t take good notes, or from another country and have trouble understanding an English speaking Professor. The reactions on campus were mixed among the students as some saw it as a great way to keep up with things should real life interfere and others see it as something to pay for on top of the tuition cost at the university.

Each one cost $2.50 for the entire lecture. Some students feel it should be free or cost less. The professor brings up a point that doing this takes extra effort and it’s only fair that they should have to pay for that extra time and effort needed to put the lectures online for sale such as editing, recording equipment, etc. No one is forced to purchase the lectures, they are only an additional option that students will have.

Quote Dr. Schrag “Your tuition buys you access to the lectures in the classroom. If you want to hear one again, you can buy it. I guess you could see the service as a safety net designed to help the students get the content when life gets in the way of their getting to class.”

Any thoughts on this one?

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Ex-Lemmingworks. ##.

Do I Need to Know This?

You can survive without the things you learn in college. People survive scrounging out of dumpsters and sleeping in doorways. If you want to talk about quality of life, we need to be a bit more demanding.

Professor Dutch has this quote an others on an interesting page that Buridan shared with me; probably in the hopes that i’d blog it.

Top Ten No Sympathy Lines is a typical sort of rant that I’ve heard over the years by ‘old school’ profs who like to maintain the fiction that university is a rare and special place where students are afforded 4 years of an opportunity to grow and learn in a challenging ivory towered environment. He’s not like that, I’m just saying that this is where I’ve heard it in the past.

I’m someone who struggled to do well in university; working though most of high school and all of university (except the summer of 1985 when I went to school full time). I have sympathy for students who have to work, as well as sympathy for people with children to take care of, bills to pay, special needs that require extra support. I’m using the larger meaning of sympathy that is beyond mere pity.

I think that university has become more than an elite learning environment, just as it is a de facto requirement for anyone who wants to get ahead in life.

That said, Dutch’s page is full of intresting truisms and unproblematized statements, reflections and whatnot that are for me useful reminders of the challenges students and faculty face when sharing the experience of doing university.

All I Want is the Diploma

The work force is full of people who do the minimum necessary to get by… For people who want to get by on the minimum, there’s a reward already established. It’s called the minimum wage.

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Ex-Lemmingworks. ##.

Every year I try and tell students, and anyone else who will listen, that everything they do on the internet will be around in 10,000 years. I would like people to think of what they do on the internet as a public utterance, and for them to be sure that what they do say, upload, post, is something they know then can feel comfortable with in the future. This Slash/Dot link and the article re-enforce this notion. Even large institutions have to take responsibility for activities on the internet.

Before I became aware of the wayback machine, way back when, one thing that bothered me about the internet was the lack of historicity; something that was posted could be not only removed, but revised, and there was little you could do about it. With the wayback machine keeping snapshots of the net, this becomes more difficult. I wish that google incorporated the wayback machine into its machinery so that you could search over time as well. Well, I’m sure it is there, but I just haven’t given it much thought beyond worrying about students making foolish gaffs.

Lucky for me, all my online gaffs occurred before 1992, which is the oldest record there is for me on the internet. Wheeeeee!

[via Slashdot]

“Healthcare Advocates and the Internet Archive have finally resolved their differences, reaching an undisclosed out-of-court settlement. The suit stemmed from HA’s anger over the Wayback Machine showing pages archived from their site even after they added a robots.txt file to their webserver. While the settlement is good for the Internet Archive, it’s also disappointing because it would have tested HA’s claims in court. As the article notes, you can’t really un-ring the bell of publishing something online, which is exactly what HA wanted to do. Obeying robots.txt files is voluntary, after all, and if the company didn’t want the information online, they shouldn’t have put it there in the first place.”

Internet Archive settles suit over Wayback Machine

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Ex-Lemmingworks. ##.

Two things funny about this article. The first is that I don’t get half of it because it is so completely ‘mercian. Oh, and I just don’t care about half of them. Here are the interesting ones, as far as I’m concerned. Remember I have 120 frost I’m meeting next week. Inside Higher Ed :: What Your Freshmen Don’t Know

1. The Soviet Union has never existed and therefore is about as scary as the student union.

2. They have known only two presidents.

3. For most of their lives, major U.S. airlines have been bankrupt.

6. There has always been only one Germany.

9. A stained blue dress is as famous to their generation as a third-rate burglary was to their parents’.

11. A coffee has always taken longer to make than a milkshake.

12. Smoking has never been permitted on U.S. airlines.

16. DNA fingerprinting has always been admissible evidence in court.

19. “Google” has always been a verb.

22. Mr. Rogers, not Walter Cronkite, has always been the most trusted man in America.

25. Phantom of the Opera has always been on Broadway.

30. Non-denominational mega-churches have always been the fastest growing. religious organizations in the U.S.

36. They have rarely mailed anything using a stamp.

39. “So” as in “Sooooo New York,” has always been a drawn-out adjective modifying a proper noun, which in turn modifies something else.

41. They have always been able to watch wars and revolutions live on television.

46. Public school officials have always had the right to censor school newspapers.

49. They have always been searching for “Waldo”.

51. Michael Moore has always been showing up uninvited.

54. There have always been live organ donors.

58. Bad behavior has always been getting captured on amateur videos.

67. Disposable contact lenses have always been available.

68. “Outing” has always been a threat.

70. They have always “dissed” what they don’t like.

71. The U.S. has always been studying global warming to confirm its existence.

74. Ringo Starr has always been clean and sober.

75. Professional athletes have always competed in the Olympics.

October 2013

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