In their zeal to raise test scores, too many policymakers wrongly assume that students who are laughing, interacting in groups, or being creative with art, music, or dance are not doing real academic work. The result is that some teachers feel pressure to preside over more sedate classrooms with students on the same page in the same book, sitting in straight rows, facing straight ahead. – Judy Willis
There’s a wonderful article in the Summer 2007 edition of Educational Leadership:
The Neuroscience of Joyful Education
Brain research tells us that when the fun stops, learning often stops too
It’s by Judy Willis who is both a neuroscientist and a middle school teacher.
Harvard’s Tony Wagner, author of Creating Innovators: The Making of Young People Who Will Change the World, ponders how we can educate the next Steve Jobs.
Wagner’s insights echo John Seely Brown’s in the excellent A New Culture of Learning: Cultivating the Imagination for a World of Constant Change, as well as Sir Ken Robinson’s vision for changing educational paradigms to better foster creativity.
It is, I believe, no accident that as the international crisis becomes more and more acute, the poet to whom writers are becoming increasingly drawn should be one who felt that it was pride and presumption to interfere with the lives of others (for each is unique and the apparent misfortunes of each may be his very way of salvation); one who occupied himself consistently and exclusively with his own inner life…
When the ship catches fire, it seems only natural to rush importantly to the pumps, but perhaps one is only adding to the general confusion and panic: to sit still and pray seems selfish and unheroic, but it may be the wisest and most helpful course.” —
A pocket of prescient wisdom for today’s sociocultural maladies from W. H. Auden’s 1939 review of Rilke.
The surprising history of London’s lost coffeehouses.
See Steven Johnson’s Where Good Ideas Come From for a fascinating deeper look at the crucial role coffeehouses played in the history of innovation.
Why educators and schools should engage with social media:
- To stay relevant. Use the tools your students and parents are using and take advantage of their power for learning, sharing, creating and collaborating.
- To grow a culture of innovation and participation/engagement. Opportunities for all learning modalities and all learning strengths and personalities to engage and contribute.
- To increase the internal digital literacy of your school. Our students are in the digital world and will live and work in a digital world. Digital literacy belongs in school.
- To do what we have always done: Educate
- To tell your school’s story. To create positive brand awareness of your school. Tell the world what you are doing and why. Share resources and unique strengths,
The Hare and the Pineapple
by Daniel Pinkwater
In olden times, the animals of the forest could speak English just like you and me. One day, a pineapple challenged a hare to a race.
(I forgot to mention, fruits and vegetables were able to speak too.)
A hare is like a rabbit, only skinnier and faster. This particular hare was known to be the fastest animal in the forest.
“You, a pineapple have the nerve to challenge me, a hare, to a race,” the hare asked the pineapple. “This must be some sort of joke.”
“No,” said the pineapple. “I want to race you. Twenty-six miles, and may the best animal win.”
“You aren’t even an animal!” the hare said. “You’re a tropical fruit!”
“Well, you know what I mean,” the pineapple said.
The animals of the forest thought it was very strange that tropical fruit should want to race a very fast animal.
“The pineapple has some trick up its sleeve,” a moose said.
Pineapples don’t have sleeves, an owl said
“Well, you know what I mean,” the moose said. “If a pineapple challenges a hare to a race, it must be that the pineapple knows some secret trick that will allow it to win.”
“The pineapple probably expects us to root for the hare and then look like fools when it loses,” said a crow. “Then the pineapple will win the race because the hare is overconfident and takes a nap, or gets lost, or something.”
The animals agreed that this made sense. There was no reason a pineapple should challenge a hare unless it had a clever plan of some sort. So the animals, wanting to back a winner, all cheered for the pineapple.
When the race began, the hare sprinted forward and was out of sight in less than a minute. The pineapple just sat there, never moving an inch.
The animals crowded around watching to see how the pineapple was going to cleverly beat the hare. Two hours later when the hare cross the finish line, the pineapple was still sitting still and hadn’t moved an inch.
The animals ate the pineapple.
MORAL: Pineapples don’t have sleeves
Beginning with paragraph 4, in what order are the events in the story told?
A switching back and forth between places
B In the order in which the events happen
C Switching back and forth between the past and the present
D In the order in which the hare tells the events to another animal
The animals ate the pineapple most likely because they were
Which animal spoke the wisest words?
A The hare
B The moose
C The crow
D The owl
Before the race, how did the animals feel toward the pineapple?
What would have happened if the animals had decided to cheer for the hare?
A The pineapple would have won the race.
B They would have been mad at the hare for winning.
C The hare would have just sat there and not moved.
D They would have been happy to have cheered for a winner.
When the moose said that the pineapple has some trick up its sleeve, he means that the pineapple
A is wearing a disguise
B wants to show the animals a trick
C has a plan to fool the animals
D is going to put something out of its sleeve
OK so that test was for 8th graders in New York. How about these U.S. Army questions from the 1940’s.
In the Army mental tests R.M. Yerkes attributed the low scores
of recent immigrants to innate stupidity. However, there was a
strong cultural bias in the test. The following are examples of
the multiple choice items on the intelligence test (p 200, Gould,
The Mismeasure of Man, 1981).
(1) Crisco is a: patent medicine, disinfectant, toothpaste, food
(2) The number of a Kaffir’s legs is: 2, 4, 6, 8.
(3) Christy Mathewson is famous as a: writer, artist, baseball
(Gould only got one correct, and his intelligent brother did not
get any correct.)
1. Space (“You can’t become playful, and therefore creative, if you’re under your usual pressures.”)
2. Time (“It’s not enough to create space; you have to create your space for a specific period of time.”)
3. Time (“Giving your mind as long as possible to come up with something original,” and learning to tolerate the discomfort of pondering time and indecision.)
4. Confidence (“Nothing will stop you being creative so effectively as the fear of making a mistake.”)
5. Humor (“The main evolutionary significance of humor is that it gets us from the closed mode to the open mode quicker than anything else.”)” —Monty Python’s John Cleese on the 5 factors to make your life more creative (via explore-blog)
What draws us to play, or to love hearing, some instruments above all others? Why are 40m children in China learning the piano, a European instrument that has scant connection with Eastern culture? What accounts for the guitar’s dominance in Western popular music? Why do composers express their most melancholy thoughts on cellos? These questions go beyond music. They touch on the essence of identity, aspiration, expression, history and politics, as well as what Jung called our collective unconscious…
How you interpret any sound depends on its context and your knowledge.” —More Intelligent Life asks, “Which is the best music instrument?” Also see this vintage guide to how to listen to music and a neuroscientist’s debunking of the myth of a “music instinct.” (via explore-blog)