Category Archives: Education

Tell 3 Campaign

This is a really good idea:

Why is this important? It’s important because California voted to get rid of marriage rights for our community. It’s important because 29 other states have done the same. It’s important because LGBT people get fired from their jobs just for being who they are, kids get beat up in school for seeming “queer” while school administrators do nothing about it, and same-sex couples can’t foster or adopt while children in need go without homes. Isn’t it getting old?

The good news is that equality is coming into style. We don’t have as many supporters as we need (yet), but the community of straight allies is growing. LGBT visibility has brought a lot of progress, but the research we’ve seen says that being out and visible is not enough (read it here if you don’t believe us). What changes people’s hearts and minds and gets them to support equality is having had personal, close relationships with gay people. Relationships where – through conversations – straight people learn what it’s like to be LGBT.

Yes, the fifteen-year-olds of this country are overwhelmingly supportive of our rights. But if we don’t want to wait around for today’s teenagers to become middle-aged before we get equality, we’re going to have to get more people to support us. And the best way to do that is by Telling 3.

What Makes People Vote Republican?

or, What Democrats Don’t Understand About Morality

This is really fascinating stuff, folks.

Read this.

Then watch this:

And to quote from Jonathan Haidt’s article:

Here’s my alternative definition: morality is any system of interlocking values, practices, institutions, and psychological mechanisms that work together to suppress or regulate selfishness and make social life possible. It turns out that human societies have found several radically different approaches to suppressing selfishness, two of which are most relevant for understanding what Democrats don’t understand about morality.

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why kids play with the box instead

This is probably old news to all of you, but it’s good to get confirmation from developmental psychologists that electronic “educational toys” aren’t so educational after all:

Old-fashioned retro toys, such as red rubber balls, simple building blocks, clay and crayons, that don’t cost so much and are usually hidden in the back shelves are usually much healthier for children than the electronic educational toys, says Temple University developmental psychologist Kathy Hirsh-Pasek.

Getting along: a survival strategy

Well here’s something interesting, and in Newsweek, no less. Getting along, social bonding and using their wits are what helped our ancient ancestors to survive:

The realization that early humans were the hunted and not hunters has upended traditional ideas about what it takes for a species to thrive. For decades the reigning view had been that hunting prowess and the ability to vanquish competitors was the key to our ancestors’ evolutionary success (an idea fostered, critics now say, by the male domination of anthropology during most of the 20th century). But prey species do not owe their survival to anything of the sort, argues Sussman. Instead, they rely on their wits and, especially, social skills to survive. Being hunted brought evolutionary pressure on our ancestors to cooperate and live in cohesive groups. That, more than aggression and warfare, is our evolutionary legacy.

Both genetics and paleoneurology back that up. A hormone called oxytocin, best-known for inducing labor and lactation in women, also operates in the brain (of both sexes). There, it promotes trust during interactions with other people, and thus the cooperative behavior that lets groups of people live together for the common good.

So it was not big sticks, aggression or killing large prey that created the evolutionary success of our ancestors (in fact, there is a lot of evidence, according to the article, that our ancestors were prey, not predators), but trusting people and working together for the “common good.” Well, how about that?

This quote comes from the current cover story of Newsweek, “The Evolution Revolution.” It’s actually a good read and worth a look — lots of interesting tidbits about our deepening understanding of human evolution — we’ve got lots of extinct cousins, folks. But remember, it’s still Newsweek: the article has an almost apologetic use of God and Bible references — as if we can’t talk about evolution without refering to religion. It’s annoying.

I’m going to MIT

…well, to their OpenCourseWare site, at least.  According to a recent article in Information World Review:

The entire catalogue of information from 1,800 courses at the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) will be available free online by the end of the year. Once uploaded, it will represent one of the internet’s most important resources.

Seriously, though, this is quite a boon.  The site contains syllabi, lecture notes, assignments, reading lists, and sometimes even videos of lectures.  It doesn’t mean that students in Kansas can get an MIT education from a computer, but it does mean that teachers in Kenya can teach using an MIT-level curriculum and materials.

MIT started the site in 2001 as a pilot program, but at the time all the talk was about how to charge students for distance learning and restrict materials to those who paid.  Now the materials are being licensed under Creative Commons, and MIT is presenting them as a gift to be shared instead of a revenue source.

Now to find a few month-long chunks of free time in which to actually use these gifts…