FDR’s hands, and Fala’s ears

January 24, 2018

How do humans interact with sculpture?

This is a photo (I do not know the photographer) of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and his dog Fala, from the FDR Memorial on the Mall in Washington, D.C.

FDR Memorial in Washington, D.C., sculpture of President Roosevelt, in his Navy Cape, in his wheelchair, and his dog, Fala. (Do you know the photographer?)

FDR Memorial in Washington, D.C., sculpture of President Roosevelt, in his Navy Cape, in his wheelchair, and his dog, Fala. (Do you know the photographer?) (Photo borrowed from the Facebook page, The Commons)

Some sculptors understand people want to touch the statue, and design them for touching. Others do not — but the public tends to have its way. Bronze statues within touching distance of the public offer an opportunity to see where people actually touch the things, over time. At my visit to this memorial in 2012, only the tips of Fala’s ears showed the affectionate touches of the public.

An exception can be found near this extended garden of statues (the FDR Memorial includes statues of his wife, Eleanor, and bronze portrayals of American life in the Great Depression, whose ending Roosevelt presided over). At the Korean War Memorial, a stunning and sobering display of statues, a patrol of 19 U.S. Army men prowls across the landscape. So many people walked among the statues and touched their sometimes delicate features that the National Park Service, with approval of the sculptor I understand, chained it off. Look but do not touch.

What do these repeated touchings of statuary tell us about ourselves?

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Texas Education Agency looking for social studies books reviewers (and math and fine arts)

December 2, 2013

Last time the SBOE approved social studies books in 2010, the process was contentious.  This photo, from The Christian Science Monitor, shows protests on the books; photo by Larry Kolvoord/Austin American-Statesman

Last time the SBOE approved social studies books in 2010, the process was contentious. This photo, from The Christian Science Monitor, shows protests on the books; photo by Larry Kolvoord, Austin American-Statesman

Good news a few days ago was that the Texas State Board of Education approved science books that teach real science, for use in Texas schools.

But the Road Goes On Forever, and the Tea Party Never Ends:  Social studies books are up for review, now.

TEA is looking for nominations for reviewers for books in social studies, math and fine arts.  Here’s the notice I got in e-mail:

The Texas Education Agency is now accepting nominations to the state review panels that will evaluate instructional materials submitted for adoption under Proclamation 2015.

To nominate yourself or someone else to serve on a state review panel, please complete the form posted at http://www.tea.state.tx.us/WorkArea/linkit.aspx?LinkIdentifier=id&ItemID=25769808256&libID=25769808258 and submit it to the TEA on or before Friday, January 24, 2014.

Proclamation 2015 calls for instructional materials in the following areas:

♦   Social Studies, grades K-12

♦   Social Studies (Spanish), grades K-5

♦   Mathematics, grades 9-12

♦   Fine Arts, grades K-12

State review panels are scheduled to convene in Austin for one week during the summer of 2014 to review materials submitted under Proclamation 2015. The TEA will reserve hotel lodging and reimburse panel members for all travel expenses, as allowable by law.

  • Panel members should plan to remain on-site for five days to conduct the evaluation.
  • Panel members will be asked to complete an initial review of instructional materials prior to the in-person review.
  • Panel members will receive orientation and training both prior to the initial review and at the beginning of the in-person review.
  • Panel members might be asked to review additional content following the in-person review.
  • Because many of the samples will be delivered electronically, panel members should be comfortable reviewing materials on-screen rather than in print.
  • Panel members should also have a working knowledge of Microsoft Excel.

Upon initial contact by a representative of the TEA, state review panel nominees begin a “no-contact” period in which they may not have either direct or indirect contact with any publisher or other person having an interest in the content of instructional materials under evaluation by the panel. The “no contact” period begins with the initial communication from the Texas Education Agency and ends after the State Board of Education (SBOE) adopts the instructional materials. The SBOE is scheduled to adopt Proclamation 2015 materials at its November 2014 meeting.

Nominations are due on or before Friday, January 24, 2014.  The nomination form is posted on the TEA website at http://www.tea.state.tx.us/WorkArea/linkit.aspx?LinkIdentifier=id&ItemID=25769808256&libID=25769808258.

If you have any questions, please contact review.adoption@tea.state.tx.us.

***********************************************************

Thank you for your commitment to serving Texas students.

Social Studies Staff, Division of Curriculum, (512) 463-9581

Social Studies in Texas include history, geography, economics, government (civics), and (oddly) psychology and sociology, and “special topics.”

Please pass word along to the teachers you know in social studies, fine arts and math.

We recall that old Bette Davis line, playing Margot Channing in “All About Eve”:  “Fasten your seatbelts.  It’s going to be a bumpy night.”

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Again: Motivation 101 – How NOT to

October 18, 2013

This is an encore post, mostly.

“A Swift Kick in the Butt $1.00,” A daily strip of the cartoon series “Calvin and Hobbes,” by Bill Watterson. Watterson appears to have an instinctual understanding of what motivation is not. It’s a topic he returned to with some frequency.

Educators don’t know beans about motivation I think. I still see courses offered on “how to motivate” students to do X, or Y, or Z — or how to motivate faculty members to motivate students to do X.

This view of motivation is all wrong, the industrial psychologists and experience say. A student must motivate herself.

A teacher can remove barriers to motivation, or help a student find motivation. But motivation cannot be external to the person acting.

Frederick Herzberg wrote a classic article for The Harvard Business Review several years back: “One More Time: How Do You Motivate Employees?” Herzberg would get a group of managers together and ask them, “If I have six week-old puppy, and I want it to move, how do I get it to move?” Inevitably, one of the wizened managers of people would say, “Kick him in the ass!” Is that motivation? Herzberg would ask? Managers would nod “yes.”

Frederick Herzberg, 1923-2000

Frederick Herzberg, 1923-2000

Then, Herzberg would ask what about dealing with the pup six months later. To get the older pup to move, he’d offer a doggie yum, and the dog would come. “Is that motivation?” Herzberg would ask. Again, the managers would agree that it was motivation. (At AMR’s Committing to Leadership sessions, we tried this exercise several hundred times, with roughly the same results. PETA has changed sensitivities a bit, and managers are fearful of saying they want to kick puppies, but they’ll say it in different words.)

Herzberg called this “Kick In The Ass” theory, or KITA, to avoid profanity and shorten the phrase.

Herzberg would then chastise the managers. Neither case was motivation, he’d say. One was violence, a mugging; the other was a bribe. In neither case did the dog want to move, in neither case was the dog motivated. In both cases, it was the manager who was motivated to make the dog move.

Motivation is the desire to do something, the desire and drive to get something done.

Motivating employees is getting them to share the urgency a manager feels to do a task, to go out and do it on their own without being told how to do each and every step along the way.

Motivation is not simply coercing someone else to do what you want, on threat of pain, virtual or real.

Herzberg verified his theories with research involving several thousands of employees over a couple of decades. His pamphlet for HBR sold over a million copies.

Education is wholly ignorant of Herzberg’s work, so far as I can tell. How do I know?

See this, at TexasEd Spectator:

Death threat as a motivation technique

May 23rd, 2008
Education | MySanAntonio.com

The sad part about this is that I bet if a mere, ordinary teacher were to have made some similar statement, he or she would be treated more like the student rather than the principle.

Now imagine if some student at the school had said something along the same lines in a writing assignment. We would be hearing about zero tolerance all over the place. The student would be out of the regular classroom so fast it would make your head spin.

No charges will be brought against New Braunfels Middle School Principal John Burks for allegedly threatening to kill a group of science teachers if their students’ standardized test scores failed to improve, although all four teachers at the meeting told police investigators Burks made the statement.

Kick in the ass, knife in the back, knife in the heart — that ain’t motivation.

As God is my witness, you can’t make this stuff up.

I’m not sure who deserves more disgust, the principal who made the threat and probably didn’t know anything else to do, or the teachers who didn’t see it as a joke, or treat it that way to save the principal’s dignity — or a system where such things are regarded as normal.

Bill Watterson returned to the

Bill Watterson returned to the “Swift Kick in the Butt, $1.00” strip, but this time with the more lively Hobbes Calvin interacted with most often. What would motivate a cartoonist to do that? Watterson is said to have observed, “People will pay for what they want, but not what they need.” Can school administrators even figure out what teachers and students need?  Which version do you prefer? Which one motivates you?

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Practice, even with failure, more important than talent – update

October 25, 2012

WordCrafter.net links to this story from an excellent page on picking a topic for an essay — English teachers, social studies teachers, you should probably make this page a part of your syllabus for essays, really.  A few teachers use the page, and when they assign essays this post starts rising in the hit count.

But that was five years ago.  There’s more information, and even an update at Stanford Magazine.  So, we’ll update here, too:

Carol Dweck, author of Mindset

Carol Dweck, Stanford University

Every teacher needs to get familiar with the work of Carol Dweck. She’s a Stanford psychologist who is advising the Blackburn Rovers from England’s Premier League, on how to win, and how to develop winning ways.

Your students need you to have this stuff.

A 60-year-old academic psychologist might seem an unlikely sports motivation guru. But Dweck’s expertise—and her recent book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success—bear directly on the sort of problem facing the Rovers. Through more than three decades of systematic research, she has been figuring out answers to why some people achieve their potential while equally talented others don’t—why some become Muhammad Ali and others Mike Tyson. The key, she found, isn’t ability; it’s whether you look at ability as something inherent that needs to be demonstrated or as something that can be developed.

What’s more, Dweck has shown that people can learn to adopt the latter belief and make dramatic strides in performance. These days, she’s sought out wherever motivation and achievement matter, from education and parenting to business management and personal development. [emphasis added]

I can’t do justice here, in short form, to Dweck’s work described by Marina Krakovsky.  See this story in Stanford Magazine [2007].

Update from Stanford Magazine:

Psychology professor Carol Dweck has spent her career figuring out why some people give up in the face of failure while others are motivated to learn from their mistakes and improve. It’s all about fixed mindsets versus growth mindsets (“The Effort Effect,” March/April 2007)

Now Dweck has formed Mindset Works, which “helps human beings reach their full potential.” Its signature product is Brainology, software developed by Dweck and educational researcher Lisa S. Blackwell and now available at www.brainology.us following successful pilots in the United States and abroad. The program aims to motivate middle school and high school students to do better in all their subjects by teaching them how the brain works and how to boost their intelligence.

Also, no discussion of this topic can be complete without at least a mention of Malcolm Gladwell‘s work.  In a recent book, Outliers, Gladwell notes what has come to be called the “10,000 hour rule.”  Gladwell observed that most experts were made by practice at a skill, rather than talent — and that mastery was achieved after about 10,000 hours of practice.  Wikipedia describes the idea Gladwell outlines:

A common theme that appears throughout Outliers is the “10,000-Hour Rule”, based on a study by Anders Ericsson. Gladwell claims that greatness requires enormous time, using the source of The Beatles’ musical talents and Gates’ computer savvy as examples.[3] The Beatles performed live in Hamburg, Germany over 1,200 times from 1960 to 1964, amassing more than 10,000 hours of playing time, therefore meeting the 10,000-Hour Rule. Gladwell asserts that all of the time The Beatles spent performing shaped their talent, and quotes Beatles’ biographer Philip Norman as saying, “So by the time they returned to England from Hamburg, Germany, ‘they sounded like no one else. It was the making of them.'”[3] Gates met the 10,000-Hour Rule when he gained access to a high school computer in 1968 at the age of 13, and spent 10,000 hours programming on it.[3]

Does Gladwell mention Dweck’s work?  Is Dweck’s work confirmed by Ericsson’s?  There’s a lot of room for discussion there, especially in an essay.

For writing, for writing essays, practice provides dramatic improvement for students — that much is certain.

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Port Isaac, Cornwall: Depends on your point of view

August 5, 2012

What you see in this photo may depend on where you sit, or stand.

Aerial photo of Port Isaac, from Facebook, August 2012

Aerial photo of Port Isaac, Cornwall, from Facebook, August 2012; attributed to Wimp.com

It’s a photo of a town in Cornwall, England:  Port Isaac.  Lovely photo, showing the verdant hills around the town where grains grow in some abundance (the town’s name means “corn port,” suggesting a thriving grain trade a millennium ago), sheep or other animals graze, and showing the port from which fishermen sail to bring in bounty from the oceans.  The picturesque little town is popular among writers and other artists.  It’s historic and quaint streets make a popular backdrop for television and film production — the popular BBC series “Doc Martin” films there.

Since some internet “cool stuff” site (Wimp.com?  I can’t find it there) picked up the photo, it’s become popular around the internet and on Facebook.  Generally the identifiers for the town get stripped away as the ‘net is wont to do.  So conjecture pops up in comments:

English: Roscarrock Hill, Port Isaac The first...

Roscarrock Hill, Port Isaac The first house on the right is Fern Cottage, made famous as the house of Doc Martin, in the TV series of the same name. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

  • Secret town, cut off from the rest of civilization?
  • Wasn’t that area once forested, and doesn’t the photo show the perils of deforestation for agricultural, or any other purposes? “Many moons ago before humanity it was beautifully covered with pristine forests full of life. It’s now a self-centred disaster brought by humanity…this pic is ugly !”
  • Isn’t it idyllic, and who wouldn’t want to live there?  “This looks like Cornwalls beautiful rocky edge of the world,I just love the area and holiday there most years,maybe one day i will have saved enough to retire there ,it is truly a stunningly wonderful place to be come rain or shine.”
  • If only there were no people there!  “our planet earth is still beautiful you just have to look at it from a distance.”
  • See how the town is sprawling into the pastures?  See the dangers of (small-town) urban sprawl?
  • London is prettier.
  • You should see Ireland/Wales/Norway!

Ugly or beautiful — opinions differ depending on what the poster thinks it is, and what the poster thinks s/he knows about the place.

Perhaps its really a shot of Rohrshach, Norway . . .

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Cornwall

Rohrshach?  Do you see the face?  (It’s actually Cornwall (Photo credit: joeflintham))


The old waiter and tablecloth trick, with a twist

January 20, 2012

As almost always, spending a few minutes at Richard Wiseman’s blog produces interesting stuff.

Here’s a twist on the old trick performed by “fab juggler Mat Ricardo” (Wiseman’s description).  Ricardo’s trick, to me, makes the commercial message much more palatable — do you agree?


Dunning-Kruger effect — in a cartoon?

February 18, 2011

A cartoon from Jon Wilkins at the Santa Fe Institute, no less.

Dunning Kruger Effect, cartoon by Jon F. Wilkins

Dunning-Kruger Effect by jonfwilkins

(Yeah, I know — it’s not big.  Click the image, go see a bigger version at Wilkins’s site.)

Wilkins added:

Kruger, J., & Dunning, D. (1999). Unskilled and unaware of it: How difficulties in recognizing one’s own incompetence lead to inflated self-assessments. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 77 (6), 1121-1134 DOI: 10.1037/0022-3514.77.6.1121

Earlier and other flotsam in Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub:

  1. “Quote of the moment:  Bertrand Russell on the Dunning-Kruger Effect, 64 years prescient”
  2. Dunning Kruger Effect explained, with links

Tip of the old scrub brush to Jason G. Goldman at The Thoughtful Animal.


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