Tag Archives: Education

Warning: Literature Will Stir Your Mind

In “some American universities, novels such as The Great Gatsby and Mrs Dalloway are being tagged with “trigger warnings” alerting students to potentially disturbing material.”

“Why would anyone take an English literature course if they were so fragile they could not cope with the emotions great literature deals with? That is not the main issue, however. The problem with such tagging is that it grossly insults the book itself and literature in general. All other arguments against such overprotective coddling are as nothing to the sheer ignorance such a process displays for the art of writing.”

“Almost all first-class fiction revolves around painful issues of some sort. Trying to protect readers from the corrosive aspects of life is akin to sending a child out into the world without their vaccinations.”

…”writers are mirrors of their times, and a saintly novelist does not and never will exist. We read not to encounter perfect, politically correct or sanitised characters, but to enter the author’s imagined worlds, warts and all. Strip out all conflict or fear, prejudice or unpleasantness, violence, death or heartbreak, and you’d have nothing but Janet and John storybooks.”

From: heraldscotland.com/mobile/books-poetry/comment-debate/good-literature-can-disturb-get-over-it.24094002

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Oxygen for the Mind

“Today our children don’t read works of imagination and the results are what we see today. Children or students who don’t ask questions in class but just take in everything the teachers feed them. Because we don’t learn to think, that is why we have students and workers who just copy and paste everything.

“Reading should not end after class or when the teacher leaves the classroom. Both parents and teachers should encourage children to read. Buying them books to read is one thing and making sure they read them is another.

“It’s high time we parents realised the big mistake we are making by taking our children to school but not encouraging them to read.

“…children and young people need good books, funny books, emotional books, fantasy books, books that enable them to think and see in new ways.

“If you live without oxygen, you suffocate. And books are the oxygen of the mind, even in these days of the internet.”

From: ippmedia.com

Fiction vs Non-Fiction

“The major problem with the new Common Core State Standards is that they further diminish something that is greatly undermined from the moment we enter school: our creativity.

School essentially limits innovation. The best way to succeed in school is to repeat exactly what the teacher says. But the most effective way to express one’s creativity in school has always been through the reading of fiction.

Through fiction, we are able to let our imaginations run wild, assign meaning to complex passages and have a chance to attack certain situations and moral dilemmas without living them. Reading fiction is an active, involved process.”

From: http://m.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2012/12/05/ac2f6df2-3e2e-11e2-8a5c-473797be602c_story.html

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Who needs literature?

“Starting this year, at least half of all reading in our schools is supposed to be non-fiction. And that includes kindergarten.

What makes matters even worse for later grades is that students already read non-fiction almost exclusively in all their other courses, so if you take science, social studies, and math into account, only one-eighth of student reading will be literary. And that fraction is likely to shrink in the future.

So the question looms: Is literature necessary? …

While ripping “The Cat in the Hat” from the hands of kindergarteners and replacing it with “How Factories Work” may, in the long run, produce better factory workers, it is unlikely to produce better citizens. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be operated on by a doctor who couldn’t master “Dr. Zhivago,” nor do I want to be defended by a lawyer who thinks Sydney Carton is a box of Australian cigarettes.

In truth, we should be encouraging students to read more literature, not less. Literature allows us to see how all humans are connected through common experiences and emotions. It allows us to examine our past and plan for our future. It can help make us more empathetic to our fellows. Perhaps most importantly literature exposes us to new ideas and forces us to think in new ways.

If our goal is to improve education, what could be more practical than that?”

From: http://www.nytimes.com/schoolbook/2012/08/15/never-mind-algebra-is-literature-necessary/

Teenagers who read books will succeed in life

“Should I be alarmed that my teenage son doesn’t pick up a book on his own these days?

The short answer is, yes.

Based on research over the last 20 years teenagers that don’t read books are less likely to attend college, reduced language skills, experience depression more frequently then non-readers and have lower paying jobs. That is a lot to be alarmed about. Research also notes that reading fiction has significant benefits to the brain including increasing attention span, developing empathy, improving overall social cognition and enhancing reasoning ability. Reading books benefit our teenagers in so many ways. …

The importance of modeling reading to young children and teenagers cannot be understated. Our brain contains mirror neurons and what is referred to as the mirror neuron system. Essentially, neuroscience research is showing that mirror neurons fire in our brain when we observe someone doing an action or when we do the action ourselves. Even just imaging the action can cause the mirror neurons to fire. As children watch us perform actions their mirror neurons replicate what we are doing. If we attach that action to a pleasurable activity such as reading to your child than the dopamine reward system is activated. Dopamine is released in the brain reinforcing the pleasure of that action for our children. Thus, when a parent picks up a book and snuggles up to their child before bedtime this association is reinforced between the mirror neurons and the dopamine reward system.

Research is showing that there is a significant correlation between reading aloud to children and educational advantages. In 1985, a landmark report in the U.S. called “Becoming a Nation of Readers” stated that reading aloud to children is “the single most important activity for building knowledge required for eventual success in reading”. Reading aloud also promotes vocabulary development, listening skills, attention span and other emergent literacy skills. However, if a parent cannot read efficiently how many will even attempt a bedtime story? More importantly, if reading is not modeled to children as a pleasurable activity how many of these children will discover this fact themselves as teenagers?”

More: http://www.vancouverobserver.com/blogs/new-education/2012/01/30/parenting-advice-how-make-teenagers-read-book

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The Dark Arts


“Most business schools offer a variety of specialities, from marketing and accounting to corporate finance. But there is a school in Europe with an MBA program in what faculty members call “defence against the dark arts.”

Students are taught everything from the power of influence and lobbying tactics to reputation management and crisis communications. But the focus is on how to produce, protect and gain information, using what Bianchi calls “a mix-up of civilian and military exercises in the field of information and of opposition management.” Every student, he adds, must complete 12 to 18 exercises based on using military tactics to fight “the info war.”

When most people talk about industrial espionage in the West, the finger wagging is typically aimed at China and Russia. In emerging markets, more than a few people insist that Uncle Sam somehow manages aggressively to deploy the CIA to steal trade secrets for select U.S. corporations without raising a legal peep from other American companies. But what those concerned talk about when not tossing accusations at China or the United States is France—an aggressive collector of industrial intelligence since the mid-1700s, when the British naively invited French operatives to inspect their mines, smelters and foundries. The British Board of Longitude even foolishly let French operatives examine John Harrison’s revolutionary marine clocks.”

More: http://www.canadianbusiness.com/article/51240–spies-like-them

Back to school for the CIA


“The Central Intelligence Agency and the 15 other agencies that make up the so-called ‘US Intelligence Community’ are by definition secret. They will not tell you how many employees they have, what their budget is and how it is allocated, who their employees are or where they come from. They will not publish all of their research or share their discoveries with everyone. The shredder, the burn bag, the ‘bug,’ the ‘Top Secret’ classification, the covert operation and the sealed lips are among their standard operating procedures.

The sanctuary that is the university has always been vulnerable. Today, as in the past, the Central Intelligence Agency seeks to penetrate the academy to access the best brains in the country, skew research, recruit students, burnish its image, and spy on faculty. As former CIA Personnel Director F. W. M. Janney wrote: “It is absolutely essential that the Agency have available to it the greatest single source of expertise: the American academic community.”

CIA projects on campus involve recruitment (they need to generate 10,000 applicants each year), and ‘curriculum modification,’ to teach courses their way, and have drawn faculty and students into dangerous mind control experiments, election fraud, and the training of police torturers and military death squads. Such projects always involve secrecy and the subversion of an independent faculty. They have been so successful that in 1988, CIA spokesperson Sharon Foster announced: “The CIA has enough professors under Agency contract to staff a large university.”

From: http://www.themonitor.com/articles/public-54486-eyes-wants.html

Have books at home, will succeed in life

“For years, educators have thought the strongest predictor of attaining high levels of education was having parents who were highly educated. But, strikingly, this massive study showed that the difference between being raised in a bookless home compared to being raised in a home with a 500-book library has as great an effect on the level of education a child will attain as having parents who are barely literate (3 years of education) compared to having parents who have a university education (15 or 16 years of education). Both factors, having a 500-book library or having university-educated parents, propel a child 3.2 years further in education, on average. […]

The researchers were struck by the strong effect having books in the home had on children’s educational attainment even above and beyond such factors as education level of the parents, the country’s GDP, the father’s occupation or the political system of the country.

Having books in the home is twice as important as the father’s education level, and more important than whether a child was reared in China or the United States. Surprisingly, the difference in educational attainment for children born in the United States and children born in China was just 2 years, less than two-thirds the effect that having 500 or more books in the home had on children (3.2 years).” source

Read Literature to Understand the World

William Penn University advises students to “become more interested in the world instead of becoming more interesting to the world”, about “literature, oppression and the need for college students to seriously consider their roles in the global marketplace. … To have a global market successful at meeting people’s needs, it is necessary to understand the market from the viewpoint of the poor, the ‘best advisers in the global marketplace.’ … the literature of various cultures can yield a better way to understand ‘this world of technology, in which we constantly communicate but hardly connect.'” SOURCE