In my second post, I explained why I started my blog. I have decided to do an updated post because there are other things I’ve thought about that I would like visitors to this blog and to my Twitter homepage to know. However, I am going to keep the old post up, which you can view here, though most stuff there will be repeated in this post.
After her jog in the park, Diana Knight changed her outfit from sneakers and a jogging suit into a blouse, skirt, and loafers. Suddenly, as she grabbed her jacket, she received a message that her boyfriend was being held hostage. On the street, a man made a vulgar comment and grabbed her posterior; she kicked him in the stomach.
Once she arrived at the destination, she knocked out a few guards with tranquilizers. She freed her boyfriend, then BANG! Shots were fired. Diana knocked over the assailant and jumped on his chest. Her boyfriend then kissed her cheek and she hugged him.
This is a post for Friday Fictioneers by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields; photo by Sarah Potter.
Businesswoman Regina Jacobsen gave a presentation at Nick Wright’s college. Nick cut hearts out of the bread as he made a PB & J sandwich. Suddenly, he dropped his sandwich and Regina stepped on it while stopping to greet Nick. He said, “Hey, Regina! Your boots look nice on you!”
Regina looked down and raised her foot upon seeing the sandwich, stuck to her boot. Nick removed the sandwich and Regina said, “I am so sorry…especially with the heart!”
He pointed to the heart and smiled. They leaned forward to kiss amid cheers and toasts.
Steve Freeman’s plane touched down in Bangkok, Thailand. He grabbed his carry-on bag, then grabbed his luggage from inside the airport, and met his contact, Sarawut. They greeted. Sarawut suggested, “Let’s stop by a temple and release a bird tomorrow, ok?” Steve agreed.
The next day they released a bird at a temple. Steve watched the bird fly away and a cat vainly try to catch it. The scene caused Steve to reflect on his own life: he related to the caged bird. He remembered his upbringing back in USA: he remembered the restrictive cult he was raised in, how he lacked opportunities, and felt like he was going nowhere. He remembered encounters that gave him the courage, like the bird, to leave the cage. Thus, he smiled at the bird. “Fly on, my friend”, he said.
Steve related to a monk’s describing the Noble Truths of Buddhism. “Association with what is disliked is painful, disassociation with what is liked is painful, not getting what one wishes is painful.” The monk went on to identify cravings as the cause of suffering. Steve found himself identifying with these statementts.
Afterwards, Sarawut and Steve went shopping in the floating market.
This is a post for Sunday Photo Fiction; also the source of the photo.
Mike finally reached the top of the mountain, where he cried out, “Is there anyone up there? I am at a loss! My life is wasted! What should I do!?”
He thought of the lost years supporting a leader claiming to for God, the trauma of that controlling environment. Mike wept. Suddenly, in a vision, he saw flowers growing at his feet. A dove flew by, singing. He saw people abandoning weapons. He saw himself in a room among a group of people. Mike asked, “Was that You, God?” A gentle breeze blew.
Mike confidently left the mountain.
After a year after writing the introduction to this book, I am ready to proceed (especially after having just taken English 101 and 102). So, here it is:
“Whether it is learning to play baseball, drive, or teach, the advice is the same: practice the basics until they become second nature. I think this is the wrong way to start” (Langer, p. 10).
This is the thesis of this chapter. Langer then cites examples that question the effectiveness of the basics, even questioning the very concept of the basics. She acknowledges why teachers teach the basics, but suggests mindful learning based on awareness of context and appreciation of uncertainty as better teaching methods. She cites two examples to contrast mindless and mindful approaches to learning. She then cites personal examples and research to support her claim that mindful approaches are better. After mentioning the role gender plays, she introduces the concept “sideways learning” in contrast to both top-down (lecture) and bottom-up (experimenting) approaches to learning (pp. 22-23). She describes sidewaya learning as “learning a subject or skill with an openness to novelty and actively noticing differences, contexts, and perspectives” (p. 23). She uses piano playing as an illustration of the concept, mentions an experiment showing how a text can teach mindfully, and concludes with a hypothetical example of performimg CPR (involving the differences between infants, 50 lb children, and adults) to illustrate the importance of mindful techniques. She concludes the chapter with the question, “Which way would you want to learn the [CPR] lesson? How should we teach it?” (p. 31).
I am not going to go over the content in detail (even summarizing it will make this post very long), so I am going to address a few concepts, and discuss their application. I will discuss obedience to authority, the value of doubt, sideways learning, and how they relate to feminism, religion, and language learning.
When Langer questions the existence of the concept of the basics, writing, “Perhaps one could say that for everyone there are certain basics, but there is no such thing as the basics” (p. 15, emphasis Langer’s). Langer suggests that it may appear easier to teach one set of basics because “the teacher needs to know less, a single routine little room for disagreement and hence may foster obedience to authority” (p. 15). In my Fundamentalist upbringing, obedience to authority was highly valued, and rebellion was viewed heinously, being seen as witchcraft (based on 1 Sam. 15:23). In my view, obedience to authority is a questionable value: after all, obedient participants in the Milgram experiments were willing to apply an electric shock at a dangerously high voltage level when told to do so. In addition, obedience to authority may make it easier for abusers to get access to victims, and to gaslight, shame, silence, and control them. Also, it may make it harder for people to speak out against said abuse. Furthermore, Nazi war criminals defended themselves with, “I was just following orders”, a defense rejected by the courts. To expand on that, social progress has often come about through disobedience to authority, and we are the beneficiaries of that today.
Now, to the value of doubt and sideways learning. Concerning the former, Langer writes, “The rationale for this change in approaches [to mindful learning] is based on the belief that experts at anything become expert in part by varying those same basics. The rest of us, taught not to question, take them for granted…. The key to this new way of teaching is based on an appreciation of both the conditional, or context-dependent, nature of the world and the value of uncertainty. Teaching skills and facts in a conditional way sets the stage for doubt and an awareness of how different situations may call for subtle differences in what we bring to them” (pp. 15-16). I gave the definition of sideways learning above. The bottom line is to think in different ways and to say, “There’s a box? What box?” Langer mentions experiments involving a pilot study (pp. 18-19), a game called smack-it ball (similar to squasj but with a small racket that fits like a baseball mit is worn on both hands, p. 21), and a piano study (pp. 26-27). In each study, the group given mindful instructions to vary their technique, use previously learned material and/or experiences, and to think in creative ways outperformed the control group, enjoyed the activity more, and had a better grasp on the material.
The smack-it ball experiment was done to study gender differences. Langer writes, “In general, young girls are taught to be ‘good little girls’ which translates into ‘do what you’re told’. To be a ‘real boy’, on the other hand, implicitly means to be independent of authority and ‘don’t listen to all you are told’…. Our hypothesis was that motivation to be a good girl would lead to taking in information in a mindless way. Similarly, being a bit rebellious was expected to result in conditional or mindful learning” (p. 21). They told some players, “One way to hold the ball is…”, and other players, “This is how you hold the ball.” After practice, the researchers replaced the ball with a heavier one that required different body movements. The boys performed the same regardless of instructions or the ball. The girls who received instructions in an absolute way performed worse with the heavier ball, but those who had received conditional instructions performed as well as the boys regardless of the ball used (p. 22). Langer also suggests that is why girls have a harder time in math in high school. They excel in grade school, but the do-as-you’re-told doesn’t help at higher math levels, since numbers need to be seen in new ways.
I was skeptical of the claim that boys are urged to be rebellious, as that’s not my experience, but that is another topic. Anyway, this betrays an aspect of sexism and one more reason why we still need feminism. Being a guy, I will not harp on this (I would rather hand the mic to women), but I will say the following: guys, we need to stand up for women’s right to dissent and to speak up, and not call her names. We need to consider her viewpoints and examine her conclusions and their implications. Also, we need to train people of all gender identities to question dogma, to look at alternate ways of doing things, and to consider multiple perspectives.
Now, to talk about religion: first, in Fundamentalism, obedience to authority is highly valued, and rebellion is seen as witchcraft (based on 1 Sam. 15:23). For me, that meant that rebellion was punishable by a whipping (not with the hand), threats of hellfire and brimstone, and allusions to Korah (Num. 16). People at church thought that if you didn’t choose one of the options those in authority presented, you were in rebellion.
However, I do think religion should be approached with a sideways learning approach. (Since I am a Christian, I am telling this from a Christian perspective, and am open to perspectives from other religions.) Evangelicals tend to see themselves as following the Bible, but often approach the Bible mindlessly. I discovered this when I read texts from outside my sect (JW literature, Jewish writings, Catholic materials, etc.) and saw Bible passages presented in ways that I had never seen before, and never would have seen otherwise. This shows that there are multiple perspectives to the Bible. A midrash says that there are seventy facets to the Torah. So, when reading the Bible, we should read it from multiple perspectives and consider out of the box interpretations. We should also consider critiques from critics of the Bible, in order to enhance our understanding. I think that a mindful approach will make religion more just.
Now, for foreign languages. Learning a language involves vocabulary and grammar. I think it is an idea to learn words related to topics of interest,, and to learn grammar so that these topics can be discussed with someone in the language. Vocabulary related to topics that one is not interested in will also have to be learned. A mindful approach may be to learn the vocabulary to express how one is not interested in this topic. Thus, learners should vary the material that they are learning.
To conclude, Langer shows the insufficiency of the “learn the basics” approach and introduces us to sideways learning. I showed how these are relevant to feminism, religion, and language learning.
This post is based on a speech I gave in my public speaking class. I tried to make a YouTube video, but the sound was too quiet. However, I would like to share the contents, so here it is. Note: the speech was part of a college class, and given to American college students. Thus, it is Americentric, and I apologize to my readers outside USA. (Seriously, I am trying to not be Americentric.) So, for those of you outside USA, I am interested in your thoughts as well. Please leave a comment below on how this applies or differs from the situation in the country where you live.
This post is about the benefits of studying abroad, defined by the International Institute of Education (IIE) as “US citizens and permanent residents who earn academic credit at their home institution for study in another country” (Kronholz, J. F.; Osborn, D. S.; p. 70). I will go over the social, personal, and professional benefits of studying abroad, and address the concerns of safety and affordability.
I will start with the social benefits. First of all, it can serve as good PR for USA, in an era in American foreign policy is highly unpopular and anti-American propaganda rampant. Another benefit is a broadened perspective, which makes one a more informed citizen. Sanford J. Ungar mentioned that when he was president of Goucher College in Baltimore (back in 2001), he observed that study abroad alumni were able to see their country more clearly. (This reminds me of the old saying, “He does not know England who has only England seen.”) In addition, Ungar observed increased tolerance and, at times, increased cooperation among the differing social, ethnic, and religious groups of which study abroad participants are members. (Ungar, S. J.)
There are personal benefits to studying abroad as well. At Goucher, Ungar observed that participants had a better sense of self and a stronger personality. In a study conducted on study abroad participants conducted at a Southeastern public research university, Kronholz and Osborn noticed that the participants reported a clarification of their values, interests, skills, and, in some cases, their career goals (p. 77). Kronholz and Osborn cite other studies that note increased self-confidence, global competency, independence, open-mindedness, and general personal development and well-being among those who studied abroad (p. 71).
Furthermore, there are professional benefits of studying abroad. But before I address these, I will address John Ross’s article “Overseas Study Brings Little Career Benefit” from The Australian. Ross mentions a study conducted by Gregory Wolniak of NYU’s Centre for Research on Higher Education Outcomes. Dr. Wolniak found no discernible career benefits to studying abroad that could not be chalked up to discipline, majors, or institutions. (To conduct the study, Wolniak had analyzed a 2002 Education Longitudinal Study that involved 15,000 Americans from their mid-teens to their late 20’s. The study focused on 4,000 participants who had finished three follow-up surveys, gotten their degrees, and were employed full time.)
Now, for the other side: there are a number of career benefits mentioned in the article “Study Abroad Increases Professional Job Prospects” by Isabel Eva Bohrer. First of all, those who studied abroad, on average, started at $6000 mpre that those who didn’t, and 2/3 of the former found their first job within six months of graduation. In addition, 90% of those who studied abroad were admitted to their first or second grad school choice.
Bohrer’s post observes that many of the social and personal benefits I previously mentioned are valuable to employers. One such benefit is global competency. With the globalization of our world, employers are beginning to value things like foreign language proficiency, cultural understanding, international knowledge, and cross-cultural communication. In fact, according to Ungar, 65% of Fortune 1000 executives list global awareness as “essential” or “very important”.
Some peopleare concerned about safety. Well, the Forum on Education Abroad conducted a study on this. To do the study, they examined the 2014 insurance claims from two international providers, which included 147,000 insured students, 10% of whom filed claims. They then compared it to the mortality rate at 157 US campuses. The results were 29.4 per 100,000 deaths stateside and 13.5 deaths abroad. However, due to the lack of availability of the nonfatal injury rate stateside, this was mot included in the study. Nevertheless, this is evidence that studying anroad is safe. (Fischer, K., p. 1)
Finally, I will address financial concerns. Students eligible for the Pell Grant may also be eligible for the Gilman International Scholarship, and those studying languages deemed “critical” by the US State Department (such as Chinese, Arabic, and Russian) may be eligible for an additional stipend. Furthermore, study abroad students may be eligible for grants from other countries, and can even save money by applying directly to a program, rather than going through their home institutions (Ungar). In short, study abroad may be the same price as, or even cheaper, than study at an American campus.
To sum up, studying abroad has many personal and social benefits that are attractive to potential employers. In addition, it is safe and affordable. Well, I need to start on my own study abroad program, so have a good day/evening/etc., everyone!
Bohrer, Isabel Eva; “Study Abroad Increases Professional Job Prospects”; transitionsabroad.com (link to article above); updated by Transitions Abroad November 2016
Fischer, Karin; “Why Studying Abroad Is Safer Than You May Think”, Chronicle of Higher Education, Vol. 62, Issue 28; 25 Mar. 2016
Kronholz, Julia F., Osborn, Debra S.; “The Impact of Study Abroad Experiences on Vocational Identity Among College Students”, Frontiers: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Study Abroad, vol. XXXVII; April 2016
Ross, John; “Overseas Study Brings Little Career Benefit”, The Australian; 22 Apr. 2015
Ungar, Sanford J.; “The Study Abroad Solution: How to Open the American Mind”, Foreign Affairs, vol. 95, Issue 2; March-April 2016
This post is a school assignment that I would like to share.
At the end of the New York Times’s post “Do We Need Art in Our Lives” there are a number of questions about their post “Art Makes You Smart”. I was reflecting on these questions and would like to share my thoughts. The questions cover the impact Art has in on us, our personal experiences viewing art, and whether or not Art should be part of every child’s education.
Does art make us smarter or expose us to new ways of seeing the world? The original post presents a case for the affirmative. I actually have recently started a psychology course, so I have a new understanding of the terms and their relevance. However, I have a few questions, such as, “Was this a double-blind study?” (double-blind means tbat neither the participants nor the reseachers with whom they interact knew exactly what they were studying), and while this one study is fascinating, I would lile to know whether or not the results would be repeated elsewhere, especially across cultures. One hypothesis I can pose in support of the theory of which the original art argued in favor is that art exposes us to new ways of seeing the world because artistic expression is a human factor but varies across cultures. Thus, by esposure to these works of art, you get a viee into the culture or cultures that influenced the artist.
Concerning whether or not we need art in our lives; well, I say not exactly. We will nlt keel over dead without exposure to art; however, we also have needs that are beyond survival needs, that make surviving worthwhile. Art can play a role in that, but it is not mandatory. That brings up whether or not art matters. In light of my statement on needs that make survival worthwhile, the answer is “Absolutely”. So, while art is a small component to higher level needs, it nevertheless has a role.
Personally, I have never been to art museums and I rarely look at artwork. A couple of my language learning books have works of art from the cultures in which the languages are spoken, and there are exercises asking the learner to describe his or her thoughts on the work of art in the language being learned. For me, I think the artists were talented, and enjoyed some of the work, but I don’t think it had a major influence on me. For years I didn’t consider myself artistic. However, I am impressed with East Asian calligraphy, and their painting, and I read that artists in East Asian countries get started with calligraphy. Then I heard that aboriginal Australians believe that everyone is artistic, and upon reflection, came to agree. This is due to the fact that, as mentioned above, artistic expression varies across cultures, and that means that even if a person is not good at artistic expression in his or her own culture, perhaps a form of artistic expression elsewhere will be their niche.
This last part is one reason I say that art should be part of every child’s education. It helps all children to find their unique way of expressing themselves, and, to be more well-rounded. Even if the kids don’t grow up to be artists, they will still be able to appreciate this aspect of the human condition, and thus tend to be more tolerant of artistic types, who tend to get looked down on in American society.