Archive for ‘Education’

March 23, 2014

Jacob Barnett

jacob barnett

Jacob Barnett (b. 1998) is a mathematician and astrophysicist who, while still a teenager, has became an orator of Physics at Indiana University. Barnett was diagnosed with moderate to severe autism when he was 2 years old and was educated and taught privately by his parents. His mother, Kristine, wrote a book about this educational journey called ”The Spark: A Mother’s Story of Nurturing, Genius, and Autism.’ He was just 12 years old when he was enrolled into college at the Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis, skipping 7 grades, having learned the majority of his school’s math syllabus within two weeks.

At the age of 15 he became a PSI-student at the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada and is expected to receive a PhD in late 2014. Barnett has been working on Einstein’s theory of relativity and thinks he will be able to amend it or even prove it wrong. He also expressed doubts about the Big Bang Theory and thinks he will be able to amend it too. Professor Scott Tremaine of the Institute of Advanced Study wrote ‘The theory that he’s working on involves several of the toughest problems in astrophysics and theoretical physics. Anyone who solves these will be in line for a Nobel Prize.’

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March 1, 2014

Comics Studies

nancy

Comics studies is an academic field that focuses on comics and graphic novels. Formerly dismissed as less relevant pop culture texts, scholars in fields such as Semiotics and Composition Studies are now re-considering comics and graphic novels as complex texts deserving of serious scholarly study.

‘How to Read Nancy’ is a 1988 essay by underground cartoonists Mark Newgarden and Paul Karasik. The piece examines the comic strip ‘Nancy,’ focusing on creator Ernie Bushmiller’s use of the comics language in to deliver a gag. Finding correspondences to the minimalist architecture of Mies Van Der Rohe, the essay calls ‘Nancy’ ‘a complex amalgam of formal rules laid out by [its] designer.’

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February 18, 2014

Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother

hybrid tiger by João Fazenda

Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother‘ is a 2011 book by Yale law professor Amy Chua. The complete subtitle of the book is: ‘This is a story about a mother, two daughters, and two dogs. This was supposed to be a story of how Chinese parents are better at raising kids than Western ones. But instead, it’s about a bitter clash of cultures, a fleeting taste of glory, and how I was humbled by a thirteen-year-old.’

Chua reported that in one study of 48 Chinese immigrant mothers, the vast majority ‘said that they believe their children can be ‘the best’ students, that ‘academic achievement reflects successful parenting,’ and that if children did not excel at school then there was ‘a problem’ and parents ‘were not doing their job.” Chua contrasts them with the view she labels ‘Western’ – that a child’s self-esteem is paramount.

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November 12, 2013

Horrible Histories

terrible tudors

Horrible Histories‘ is a series of UK educational books first released in in 1993 with ‘The Terrible Tudors’ and ‘The Awful Egyptians.’ They are designed to engage children in history by presenting the unusual, gory, or unpleasant aspects in a tongue-in-cheek manner in contrast to the formality of lessons taught in school. The books are published by Scholastic and written primarily by Terry Deary (with illustrations by Martin Brown and others).

After a run of 60 books, Deary announced that the series would officially come to an end in 2013 for lack of stories, and said they would focus on the larger media franchise such as magazines, TV, and stage shows. Terry Deary studied at drama college and worked as an actor-teacher at the TIE company in Wales. He then became a theatre director and began to write plays for children. Many of his TIE plays were eventually rewritten and adapted for the ‘Horrible Histories’ books.

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October 7, 2013

Rick Roderick

jean baudrillard

Rick Roderick (1949–2002) was an American professor of philosophy, best known for his lectures for The Teaching Company. Roderick was born in Abilene, Texas, son of (by his own description a ‘con-man’ and a ‘beautician.’

He taught at several universities, where he was much revered by many students for a Socratic style combined with a brash and often humorous approach. His breakthrough into wider circles came with his engagement with The Teaching Company where he recorded several memorable lecture series. Rick Roderick died in 2002 from a congestive heart condition.

July 13, 2013

Parallelomania

obama hitler

In historical analysis, biblical criticism and comparative mythology parallelomania [par-uh-lel-uh-mey-nee-uh] refers to a phenomenon where authors perceive apparent similarities and construct parallels and analogies without historical basis.

The concept was introduced to scholarly circles in 1961 by Rabbi Samuel Sandmel of the Hebrew Union College in a paper of the same title, where he stated that he had first encountered the term in a French book of 1830, but did not recall the author or the title. Sandmel stated that the simple observations of similarity between historical events are often less than valid, but at times lead to a phenomenon where authors first notice a supposed similarity, overdose on analogy, and then, ‘proceeds to describe source and derivation as if implying a literary connection flowing in an inevitable or predetermined direction.’

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June 19, 2013

Committee for Skeptical Inquiry

The Committee for Skeptical Inquiry (CSI), formerly known as the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal (CSICOP), is a program within the U.S. non-profit organization Center for Inquiry (CFI), whose stated purpose is to ‘encourage the critical investigation of paranormal and fringe-science claims from a responsible, scientific point of view and disseminate factual information about the results of such inquiries to the scientific community and the public.’

CSI was founded in 1976 by skeptic and secular humanist Paul Kurtz to counter what he regarded as an uncritical acceptance of, and support for, paranormal claims by both the media and society in general. Its philosophical position is one of scientific skepticism. CSI’s fellows have included many notable scientists, Nobel laureates, philosophers, educators, authors, and celebrities. It is headquartered in Amherst, New York.

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June 18, 2013

Bill Nye

science guy

bill nye by jenni dickens

Bill Nye (b. 1955) is an American science educator, comedian, television host, actor, writer, and scientist who began his career as a mechanical engineer at Boeing. He is best known as the host of the Disney/PBS children’s science show ‘Bill Nye the Science Guy’ and for his many subsequent appearances in popular media as a science educator.

Nye was born in Washington, D.C., to Jacqueline Nye, a codebreaker during World War II, and Edwin Darby Nye, also a World War II veteran, whose experience in a Japanese prisoner of war camp led him to become a sundial enthusiast. Bill is a former fourth-generation Washington resident through his father’s side of the family. He studied mechanical engineering at Cornell University (where one of his professors was Carl Sagan).

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June 14, 2013

How to Solve It

how to solve it

How to Solve It (1945) is a small volume by mathematician George Pólya describing methods of problem solving.

He suggests four steps when solving a mathematical problem: 1) First, understand the problem; 2) After understanding, then make a plan; 3) Carry out the plan; and; 4) Look back on your work — how could it be better? If this technique fails, Pólya advises: ‘If you can’t solve a problem, then there is an easier problem you can solve: find it.’ Or: ‘If you cannot solve the proposed problem, try to solve first some related problem. Could you imagine a more accessible related problem?’

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June 14, 2013

Heuristic

heuristic [hyoo-ris-tik] (Greek: ‘find’ or ‘discover’) is a practical way to solve a problem. It is better than chance, but does not always work. A person develops a heuristic by using intelligence, experience, and common sense. Trial and error is the simplest heuristic, but one of the weakest. ‘Rule of thumb’ and ‘educated guesses’ are other names for simple heuristics. Since a heuristic is not certain to get a result, there are always exceptions.

Sometimes heuristics are rather vague: ‘look before you leap’ is a guide to behavior, but ‘think about the consequences’ is a bit clearer. Sometimes a heuristic is a whole set of stages. When doctors examines a patient, they go through a series of tests and observations. They may not find out what is wrong, but they give themselves the best chance of succeeding. This is called a diagnosis. In computer science, a ‘heuristic’ is a kind of algorithm (a step-by-step list of directions that need to be followed to solve a problem).

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June 13, 2013

Closure

gestalt closure

Closure or need for closure are psychological terms that describe the desire or need individuals have for information that will allow them to conclude an issue that had previously been clouded in ambiguity and uncertainty. Upon reaching this conclusion, they are now able to attain a state of ‘epistemic closure’.

The term ‘cognitive closure’ has been defined as ‘a desire for definite knowledge on some issue and the eschewal of confusion and ambiguity.’ Need for closure is a phrase used by psychologists to describe an individual’s desire for a firm solution as opposed to enduring ambiguity.

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June 7, 2013

Coloring Book

eraserhead coloring book

A coloring book is a type of book containing line art to which a child may add color using crayons (however, adult coloring products exist as well, including pornograhic, horror, and medical books).

Some coloring books have perforated edges so their pages can be removed from the books and used as individual sheets. Others may include a storyline and so are intended to be left intact. Coloring books may also incorporate other activities such as connect the dots, mazes, and other puzzles. Some coloring books also incorporate the use of stickers.

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