Monthly Archives: July 2016

Stop Teaching, So Students Can Start Learning

Dr. Mariappan Jawaharlal Professor of Mechanical Engineering California State Polytechnic University, Pomona

I have an issue with the use of the word ‘teaching.’ We often use ‘teaching’ and ‘learning’ synonymously. In reality, learning is distinctly different from teaching: teaching is about teachers, and learning is about students. In traditional education, teaching is like a teacher giving a student a cup of water, and learning is like a student drinking the entire cup. If this were true, however, every student would be an “A” student, as this transfer of knowledge would be full and complete. Unfortunately, learning is not an information-transfer process akin to drinking water from a cup or copying files from a high-speed USB drive.

But why am I hung up on the word ‘teaching’? Why must we make this differentiation between ‘teaching’ and ‘learning’? We often use words to convey messages and express feelings but tend to forget that we also use words to develop understanding and to control our mind. Our belief system controls our actions. If you believe your responsibility is to teach, then you focus on your presentation of the material, your ….

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Jamila Raqib: The secret to effective nonviolent resistance

We’re not going to end violence by telling people that it’s morally wrong, says Jamila Raqib, executive director of the Albert Einstein Institution. Instead, we must find alternative ways to conduct conflict that are equally powerful and effective. Raqib promotes nonviolent resistance to people living under tyranny — and there’s a lot more to it than street protests. She shares encouraging examples of creative strategies that have led to change around the world and a message of hope for a future without armed conflict. “The greatest hope for humanity lies not in condemning violence but in making violence obsolete,” Raqib says.

Seema Bansal: How to fix a broken education system … without any more money

Seema Bansal forged a path to public education reform for 15,000 schools in Haryana, India, by setting an ambitious goal: by 2020, 80 percent of children should have grade-level knowledge. She’s looking to meet this goal by seeking reforms that will work in every school without additional resources. Bansal and her team have found success using creative, straightforward techniques such as communicating with teachers using SMS group chats, and they have already measurably improved learning and engagement in Haryana’s schools.

How computers are learning to be creative

We’re on the edge of a new frontier in art and creativity — and it’s not human. Blaise Agüera y Arcas, principal scientist at Google, works with deep neural networks for machine perception and distributed learning. In this captivating demo, he shows how neural nets trained to recognize images can be run in reverse, to generate them. The results: spectacular, hallucinatory collages (and poems!) that defy categorization. “Perception and creativity are very intimately connected,” Agüera y Arcas says. “Any creature, any being that is able to do perceptual acts is also able to create.”