Wednesday, September 24, 2014

What's better - books or reading online?

There's no doubt about it: exposure to fiction is essential for developing children's imagination. In a way, it matters less whether the format is listening to a book, reading together with a parent or reading by themselves, just as long as they get lost in the imaginary world of book characters.

We usually include e-books and online reading in the same set: as long as it's a book, it doesn't matter whether it's on paper or on the Kindle. However, as early as 2006, an eye-tracking study by scientists at the US-based research group, Nielsen Norman, indicated that people read web pages and books on iPads in an “F” pattern. This means that they scan the top line all the way, then halfway across the next few lines, and then only down the left side of the page, all the way down to the bottom of the article.

This kind of reading is helpful when we're trying to form a quick overview of the text (non-fiction reading), but it doesn't work to yield a deeper understanding of what we’re reading. Wall Street Journal had this to say: "as much as rich multimedia-laden content captures our attention, with a mixture of words, sounds, and moving gifs, videos and image galleries, studies have shown that together they can lead to lower comprehension than just reading plain text."

Something to ponder, for sure, especially if your Learning Style is visual.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Robin Williams in Dead Poets Society

This blog post is a tribute not only to Robin Williams, but also to all the great teachers out there. In the movie "Dead Poets Society", Williams played the role of John Keating, an unconventional English Literature teacher. John Keating's teaching style - it involved tearing "boring bits" out of textbooks - would have horrified sequential thinkers and delighted simultaneous ones. (To read more about Learning Styles, please click here.)

Some famous John Keating quotes include:

  • When you read, don't just consider what the author thinks, consider what you think.
  • No matter what anybody tells you, words and ideas can change the world.
  • We don't read and write poetry because it's cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race And the human race is filled with passion. And medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for. To quote from Whitman, "O me! O life!... of the questions of these recurring; of the endless trains of the faithless... of cities filled with the foolish; what good amid these, O me, O life?" Answer: that you are here; that life exists, and identity; that the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse; that the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse. What will your verse be?
John Keating was their inspiration. He made their lives extraordinary. He was a real teacher.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Finland and South Korea - The Best Education

Recently, Finland and South Korea were proclaimed the two countries with the best education systems. Shocking? Indeed. You would be pressed to find two countries so different in their philosophy towards learning, and yet, both systems yield results.

The differences are staggering. South Korea has large classes and relies heavily on hard work and repetition. Finland has tiny classes with very few school hours, withe the emphasis placed on students thriving outside the school.

There is only one similarity we could find: in both countries, teaching is a highly respected profession. Could the answer to the world's schooling problems be as simple as that?

Thursday, September 04, 2014

Best Learning Quotes

“Every student can learn, just not on the same day, or the same way.” – George Evans

“Do not train children to learning by force and harshness, but direct them to it by what amuses their minds, so that you may be better able to discover with accuracy the peculiar bent of the genius of each.” – Plato

“The best thing for being sad," replied Merlin, beginning to puff and blow, "is to learn something. That's the only thing that never fails. You may grow old and trembling in your anatomies, you may lie awake at night listening to the disorder of your veins, you may miss your only love, you may see the world about you devastated by evil lunatics, or know your honour trampled in the sewers of baser minds. There is only one thing for it then — to learn. Learn why the world wags and what wags it. That is the only thing which the mind can never exhaust, never alienate, never be tortured by, never fear or distrust, and never dream of regretting. Learning is the only thing for you. Look what a lot of things there are to learn.”
― T.H. White, The Once and Future King

“Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.” ― Benjamin Franklin

“A person can learn a lot from a dog, even a loopy one like ours. Marley taught me about living each day with unbridled exuberance and joy, about seizing the moment and following your heart. He taught me to appreciate the simple things-a walk in the woods, a fresh snowfall, a nap in a shaft of winter sunlight. And as he grew old and achy, he taught me about optimism in the face of adversity. Mostly, he taught me about friendship and selflessness and, above all else, unwavering loyalty.”
― John Grogan, Marley and Me: Life and Love With the World's Worst Dog 

“I am not a teacher, but an awakener.” ― Robert Frost

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” – Nelson Mandela

“Coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving.” ― Terry Pratchett, A Hat Full of Sky