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Open thread, 11-17 March 2014

This seems to be just another case of journalists exaggerating and misrepresenting a scientists point in order to create attention-grabbing headlines, at least according to Anders Sandbergs blog post about the issue.

Rationality Quotes March 2014

if there's a wall in your way, smash it down

BUT keep Chesterton's Fence in mind: if you don't know why there is a wall on your way, don't go blindly smashing it down. It might be there for a reason. First make absolutely sure you know why the wall exists in the first place; only then you may proceed with the smashing.

Shoulds can be changed to Cans

Exactly. I think almost every "should" statement includes an unspoken "...but I don't want to" in the end.

Open Thread: March 4 - 10

Did you mean this post about him and his wife pushing each other into doing things they know the other will like, despite the spouse's initial protests: I Love My Wife Because She Disrespects Me?

Open Thread: March 4 - 10

I attended a fire preparedness course, and the instructor told us that actual fire evacuation drills were not necessary. It was enough just to spend a couple of minutes vividly imagining what we would do in case of a fire. Our chances of surviving would greatly increase if we imagined the situation in advance. Unfortunately he gave no references to that claim.

Lifestyle interventions to increase longevity

Let’s use flossing as an example. Trying to remember to floss after I brushed didn’t work. At all.

I had the same experience for years. Every six months or so I would read an article like this one reminding how important it is to floss, visit a dentist or something similar. Then I promised to myself that from now on, I'd floss daily. And then I'd forget to actually do it.

After reading The Power of Habit (the book Kaj Sotala summarised in his article linked above) I realised that just trying to remember would never work. Instead, I needed to create a cue. I did this by placing the floss in front of my facial cleanser. Then, every evening when I reached for the cleanser (this already was a habit for me), my hand would hit the floss. That reminded me to floss and only after flossing I would clean my face. And it worked. I don't have to think about flossing anymore: after a month it had become a habit and now, after six months or so it's starting to feel weird that there was a time I didn't floss every day.

Rethinking Education

I actually agree with you on all points, but I think you are underestimating how overwhelming things can be for a teacher just beginning her career. Without any central curriculum a teacher has to inspect textbooks much more carefully in order to find a book that would suit her needs. It's a lot of extra work.

This is a smaller problem in math and science teaching and a larger one at humanities and social sciences. This problem could be alleviated by having teacher education include classes where you get familiarised with different textbooks and different approaches to teaching your subject.

Rethinking Education

To use the graph structure fully, you would have to allow each student to progress individually... but then you can't have in the same classroom, listening to the teacher

Well, yes and no. There are methods (usually called within-class groups) that allow students to progress at different paces while being in the same classroom. These methods usually depend a lot on small-group instruction and peer helping. So no, they won't be simply listening to the teacher, at least not all at the same time.

Rethinking Education

If you get rid of the whole idea of a curriculum teachers are suddenly free to innovate.

They are also free to teach e.g. young-Earth creationism. At least some degree of standardisation is beneficial, since it creates boundaries against worst excesses. Also, curriculum makes it easier for a beginning teacher to organise her classes, although this could also be arranged by having loose guidelines instead of strict curriculum.

Open Thread for January 8 - 16 2014

I had the same problem couple of months ago. It was about confirming an e-mail address: I received an email asking me to confirm the address I was using, with a link. After that, I could comment normally. Unfortunately I can't remember what I did in order to receive that email: something in preferences, probably.

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