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Yosuke YANASE
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You may say this is another story that WIRED loves to post.  But a story like this keeps coming.

Excerpts:

Access to a world of infinite information has changed how we communicate, process information, and think. Decentralized systems have proven to be more productive and agile than rigid, top-down ones. Innovation, creativity, and independent thinking are increasingly crucial to the global economy.

And yet the dominant model of public education is still fundamentally rooted in the industrial revolution that spawned it, when workplaces valued punctuality, regularity, attention, and silence above all else.  (In 1899, William T. Harris, the US commissioner of education, celebrated the fact that US schools had developed the “appearance of a machine,” one that teaches the student “to behave in an orderly manner, to stay in his own place, and not get in the way of others.”) We don’t openly profess those values nowadays, but our educational system?which routinely tests kids on their ability to recall information and demonstrate mastery of a narrow set of skills?doubles down on the view that students are material to be processed, programmed, and quality-tested. School administrators prepare curriculum standards and “pacing guides” that tell teachers what to teach each day. Legions of managers supervise everything that happens in the classroom; in 2010 only 50 percent of public school staff members in the US were teachers.

“The fundamental basis of the system is fatally flawed,” says Linda Darling-Hammond, a professor of education at Stanford and founding director of the National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future. “In 1970 the top three skills required by the Fortune 500 were the three Rs: reading, writing, and arithmetic. In 1999 the top three skills in demand were teamwork, problem-solving, and interpersonal skills. We need schools that are developing these skills.”

That’s why a new breed of educators, inspired by everything from the Internet to evolutionary psychology, neuroscience, and AI, are inventing radical new ways for children to learn, grow, and thrive. To them, knowledge isn’t a commodity that’s delivered from teacher to student but something that emerges from the students’ own curiosity-fueled exploration. Teachers provide prompts, not answers, and then they step aside so students can teach themselves and one another. They are creating ways for children to discover their passion -- and uncovering a generation of geniuses in the process.

“But you do have one thing that makes you the equal of any kid in the world,” Juarez Correa said. “Potential.”

He looked around the room. “And from now on,” he told them, “we’re going to use that potential to make you the best students in the world.”

“If you put a computer in front of children and remove all other adult restrictions, they will self-organize around it,” Mitra says, “like bees around a flower.”

“THE BOTTOM LINE IS, IF YOU’RE NOT THE ONE CONTROLLING YOUR LEARNING, YOU’RE NOT GOING TO LEARN AS WELL.”

Evolutionary psychologists have also begun exploring this way of thinking. Peter Gray, a research professor at Boston College who studies children’s natural ways of learning, argues that human cognitive machinery is fundamentally incompatible with conventional schooling. Gray points out that young children, motivated by curiosity and playfulness, teach themselves a tremendous amount about the world. And yet when they reach school age, we supplant that innate drive to learn with an imposed curriculum. “We’re teaching the child that his questions don’t matter, that what matters are the questions of the curriculum. That’s just not the way natural selection designed us to learn. It designed us to solve problems and figure things out that are part of our real lives.”

Juarez Correa had mixed feelings about the test. His students had succeeded because he had employed a new teaching method, one better suited to the way children learn. It was a model that emphasized group work, competition, creativity, and a student-led environment. So it was ironic that the kids had distinguished themselves because of a conventional multiple-choice test. “These exams are like limits for the teachers,” he says. “They test what you know, not what you can do, and I am more interested in what my students can do.”

http://www.wired.com/business/2013/10/free-thinkers/?cid=13144904

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The real problem, he said, lies with parents, especially highly successful ones who have a high degree of control over their own lives and who try to take similar control over their children’s lives. This leads them to make choices about after-school activities out of anxiety instead of interest in their child’s well-being.

“Enrichment activities are perfect,” he said. “They add a lot to kids’ lives. The problem is, we’ve lost the ability to balance them with down time, boring time.”

“Enrichment activities are perfect. The problem is, we’ve lost the ability to balance them with down time, boring time.”

The antidote to that problem, he said, is to make sure children have enough time with no activities, parents have enough time with no work and the two sides come together to create activities of their own.

“Spend time with no goal in mind,” he said. “That will communicate to your child that you love them. And if a child feels loved, life can present them with hardships, but these setbacks will never defeat them.”

“I always quote the Billy Joel song,” he said:No need for clever conversation, I’ll take you just the way you are.

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/13/fashion/over-scheduled-children-how-big-a-problem.html

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What Hannah Arendt said in 1970 still holds true.  
***
The greater the bureaucratization of public life, the greater will be the attraction of violence. In a fully developed bureaucracy there is nobody left with whom one could argue, to whom one could present grievances, on whom the pressures of power could be exerted. Bureaucracy is the form of government in which everybody is deprived of political freedom, of the power to act; for the rule by Nobody is not no-rule, and where all are equally powerless we have a tyranny without a tyrant.

These definitions coincide with the terms which, since Greek antiquity, have been used to define the forms of government as the rule of man over man?of one or the few in monarchy and oligarchy, of the best or the many in aristocracy and democracy, to which today we ought to add the latest and perhaps most formidable form of such dominion, bureaucracy, or the rule by an intricate system of bureaux in which no men, neither one nor the best, neither the few nor the many, can be held responsible, and which could be properly called the rule by Nobody. Indeed, if we identify tyranny as the government that is not held to give account of itself, rule by Nobody is clearly the most tyrannical of all, since there is no one left who could even be asked to answer for what is being done. It is this state of affairs which is among the most potent causes for the current world-wide rebellious unrest.
http://www.brainpickings.org/index.php/2013/10/14/hannah-arendt-on-bureaucracy-and-violence/

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The phenomenon extends beyond the math-music association. Strikingly, many high achievers told me music opened up the pathways to creative thinking. And their experiences suggest that music training sharpens other qualities: Collaboration. The ability to listen. A way of thinking that weaves together disparate ideas. The power to focus on the present and the future simultaneously.
...
Paul Allen offers an answer. He says music “reinforces your confidence in the ability to create.” Mr. Allen began playing the violin at age 7 and switched to the guitar as a teenager. Even in the early days of Microsoft, he would pick up his guitar at the end of marathon days of programming. The music was the emotional analog to his day job, with each channeling a different type of creative impulse. In both, he says, “something is pushing you to look beyond what currently exists and express yourself in a new way.”

That’s an observation worth remembering at a time when music as a serious pursuit ? and music education ? is in decline in this country.

Consider the qualities these high achievers say music has sharpened: collaboration, creativity, discipline and the capacity to reconcile conflicting ideas. All are qualities notably absent from public life. Music may not make you a genius, or rich, or even a better person. But it helps train you to think differently, to process different points of view ? and most important, to take pleasure in listening.

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/13/opinion/sunday/is-music-the-key-to-success.html

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The anti-globalisers lack an ideological focus. “In the 1930s there were very powerful alternative ideologies—communism and fascism,” says Harold James, an economic historian at Princeton University. Now “we have anti-globalisation, with no set of beliefs that would really sustain anti-globalisation.” Others may envy the way China’s communist party has transformed the economy, but few wish to embrace its political ideology.
...
So the chances are that globalisation will not go into reverse. The power of technology to erase distance is too strong, and the economic benefits of international trade and foreign investment are too widely accepted. But nor will globalisation regain the broad and often unquestioned support it had before 2008. The risk is not that the gates to globalisation will be slammed shut altogether, but that governments will make them too effective: that export promotion will shade into protectionism and wasteful industrial policy, that the crackdown on banks and capital flows will deprive deserving countries and businesses of capital, and that the proliferation of rules and regulations will breed costly bureaucracy and rent-seeking. Political leaders, most of all in America and China, must not lose sight of the huge benefits that a freer flow of people, trade and capital has brought over the decades, even if such flows occasionally go awry. Gates must remain the exception, and openness the rule.

http://www.economist.com/news/special-report/21587376-liberal-sort-may-rebound-economies-revive-what-kind-capitalism

Yet this stereotype of the genius at work in complete isolation is misleading, even for Wittgenstein, Boethius, Machiavelli, Descartes, and Rousseau. Philosophy is an inherently social activity that thrives on the collision of viewpoints and rarely emerges from unchallenged interior monologue. A closer examination of Wittgenstein’s year in a Norwegian wood reveals his correspondence with the Cambridge philosophers Bertrand Russell and G E Moore. He even persuaded Moore to travel to Norway - an arduous train and boat trip in those days - and stay for a fortnight. The point of Moore’s visit was to discuss Wittgenstein’s new ideas about logic. In fact, ‘discussion’ turned out to mean that Wittgenstein (who was still technically an undergraduate) spoke, and Moore (who was far more eminent at the time) listened and took notes.

Yet Moore’s presence was somehow necessary for the birth of these ideas: Wittgenstein needed an audience, and an intelligent listener who could criticise and help him focus his thought, even if those criticisms weren’t uttered. And he wasn’t the only one who needed an audience. Boethius in his cell imagined his visitor: Philosophy personified as a tall woman wearing a dress with the letters Pi to Theta on it. She berates him for deserting her and the stoicism she preached. Boethius’s own book was a response to her challenge.

"The smile in someone’s voice, a moment of impatience, a pause (of doubt perhaps?), or insight - these factors humanise philosophy"

Machiavelli, meanwhile, was indeed exiled, cut off from the intrigues of court life, a city dweller forced into a bucolic existence against his will. But in a letter to his friend Francesco Vettori of 10 December 1513, he described how he spent his evenings: he would retire to his study and conjure up the great ancient thinkers and hold imaginary conversations with them about how best to govern. These imaginary conversations were the raw material for The Prince. Descartes might have locked himself away to write, and avoided distractions by doing most of his work lying in bed, but when he came to publish his Meditations it was with a number of critical comments from other philosophers, including Thomas Hobbes, together with his responses to their criticisms. Likewise, Rousseau loved solitude, but he included dialogues within his writing, and even wrote the bizarre book Rousseau Judge of Jean-Jacques (1776) in which he presented two versions of himself debating with each other.

http://www.aeonmagazine.com/world-views/without-conversation-philosophy-is-no-better-than-dogma/

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But Francis’ tone so far is interesting not just as a departure for the church but as a counterpoint to the prevailing sensibility in our country, where humility is endangered if not quite extinct. It’s out of sync with all the relentless self-promotion, which has been deemed the very oxygen of success. It sits oddly with the cult of self-esteem.

Humility has little place in the realm of social media, which is governed by a look-at-me ethos, by listen-to-me come-ons, by me, me, me. And humility is quaintly irrelevant to the defining entertainment genre of our time, reality television, which insists that every life is mesmerizing, if only in the manner of a train wreck, and that anyone is a latent star: the housewife, the hoarder, the teen mom, the tuna fisher. Just preen enough to catch an audience’s eye. Just beckon the cameras close.

Politics is most depressing of all. It rewards braggarts and bullies, who muscle their way onto center stage with the crazy certainty that they and only they are right, while we in the electorate and the news media lack the fortitude to shut them up or shoo them away. They disgust but divert us, or at a minimum wear us down. Maybe we get the showboats we deserve.

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/22/opinion/sunday/bruni-the-popes-radical-whisper.html

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So, the Occupy Wall Street movement, which many dismissed as the wails of the young and disaffected without clear objectives, clear leaders or a clear political agenda, may, in the end, have a rather clear legacy: ingraining in the national conscience the idea that our extreme levels of inequality are politically untenable and morally unacceptable, and that eventually the 99 percent will demand better.

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/14/opinion/blow-occupy-wall-street-legacy.html

For those of you who are concerned about racist hate speech in Japan, I just want to let you know that there are counter-movements for protecting human rights and promoting diversity in society. I, for one, am against any racism against any race in any nation.

http://antiracism.jp/march_for_freedom

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The computer is dangerous because it shapes your capacity to understand what’s possible. The computer is like an apparently submissive servant that turns out to be a subversive that ultimately gains control of your mind. The computer is such a powerful instrument that it defines, after a while, what is possible for you. And what is possible is within the computer’s capacity. And while it seems in the beginning like this incredibly gifted and talented servant actually has a very limited intelligence -- the brain is so much vaster than the computer. But, the computer is very insistent about what it’s good at, and before you know it -- it’s like being with somebody who has bad habits, you sort of fall into the bad habits -- and it begins to dominate the way you think about what is possible. … [Counter this] by doing things that are uncomfortable for it to do.
http://explore.noodle.org/post/61673260802/the-computer-is-dangerous-because-it-shapes-your?utm_content=buffer0c2ae&utm_source=buffer&utm_medium=twitter&utm_campaign=Buffer
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