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Carl Sagan on the Power of Books and Reading as the Path to Democracy

“Someone reading a book is a sign of order in the world,” wrote the poet Mary Ruefle. Four centuries earlier, while ushering in a new world order, Galileo contemplated how books give us superhuman powers — a sentiment his twentieth-century counterpart, Carl Sagan (November 9, 1934–December 20, 1996), echoed in his shimmering assertion that “a book is proof that humans are capable of working magic.”

"Books, purchasable at low cost, permit us to interrogate the past with high accuracy; to tap the wisdom of our species; to understand the point of view of others, and not just those in power; to contemplate — with the best teachers — the insights, painfully extracted from Nature, of the greatest minds that ever were, drawn from the entire planet and from all of our history. They allow people long dead to talk inside our heads. Books can accompany us everywhere. Books are patient where we are slow to understand, allow us to go over the hard parts as many times as we wish, and are never critical of our lapses."

"The gears of poverty, ignorance, hopelessness, and low self-esteem mesh to create a kind of perpetual failure machine that grinds down dreams from generation to generation. We all bear the cost of keeping it running. Illiteracy is its linchpin…. Frederick Douglass taught that literacy is the path from slavery to freedom. There are many kinds of slavery and many kinds of freedom. But reading is still the path."

See https://www.brainpickings.org/2017/11/08/carl-sagan-books-reading/
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Don Watkins' talk on Getting started with Raspberry Pi given to the Western New York Library Resource Council

This was a talk that Don recently gave to the Western New York Library Resource Council, which they recorded and made available. It's a great intro video for others who would like someone to come and introduce their staff or patrons/learners to Raspberry Pi, but have no-one available to give the talk.

Watch it at https://youtu.be/0y0WZuL8Ge0
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Philosophy lessons lead to better behaviour and marks in Sydney school

Every Wednesday afternoon in term 3, all students at Malabar Public School put away their textbooks and gather in their classrooms to talk about everything from beauty and fear to terrorism and other global issues. The hour-long lesson is part of a growing movement to bring philosophy into public schools.

"It equips them with reasoning skills and whether they agree or disagree with each other, they've always got to back that up."

"Behaviour started improving in the classroom and the playground, we weren't having children resorting to antisocial behaviours to solve problems but using words to sort their differences out instead," Mr Atwell said.

See http://www.smh.com.au/national/education/philosophy-lessons-lead-to-better-behaviour-and-marks-in-sydney-school-20171005-gyusfj.html
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The Libraries of Famous Men: Louis L’Amour - "education is available to anyone within reach of a library"

As a reader, L’Amour’s only match may have been Theodore Roosevelt himself. The Western writer had a library of over 10,000 books, and averaged reading 100-120 books per year — “reading approximately thirty books a year on the West in its many aspects” both for pleasure and in order to stay on top of his writing game.

Reading is your education:

Even though Louis didn’t graduate high school, and his only college degrees came much later in life in the honorary form, he received quite an education, entirely of his own doing. He realized that to be successful, he would need to be educated, and that college was not in his cards. So he pursued an autodidactic curriculum of his own volition:

“The idea of education has been so tied to schools, universities, and professors that many assume there is no other way, but education is available to anyone within reach of a library.”

Reading should expand your worldview and open you up to new ideas. It can and should provide frameworks and the basic foundation of a life well lived. That is why Louis credits books with saving his life — without them he would have been a permanent vagabond, perhaps dying too young in a work accident or a street fight (as many acquaintances of his did).

You have time to read. Make time to read:

“Often I hear people say they do not have time to read. That’s absolute nonsense. In the one year during which I kept that kind of record, I read twenty-five books while waiting for people. In offices, applying for jobs, waiting to see a dentist, waiting in a restaurant for friends, many such places. I read on buses, trains, and planes. If one really wants to learn, one has to decide what is important. Spending an evening on the town? Attending a ball game? Or learning something that can be with you your life long?”

Read more about his tips on reading and also see a partial list of some his reads at http://www.artofmanliness.com/2017/10/02/libraries-famous-men-louis-lamour/
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15 Must Watch TED Talks on Creativity

While innovation is fundamental to a successful and progressive business, finding time, creativity, and inspiration can be challenging. You may already be familiar with TED (short for Technology, Entertainment and Design), but in case you are not, it is a media company that hosts talks by thought leader with the purpose of igniting change and innovation. Speakers range from artists, to engineers, to super models and their topic areas are equally as diverse. The list of TED talks below, compiled by Invaluable, was curated for creatives seeking inspiration. Read through the list and spark some innovation.

Creativity itself comes in many forms. The popular media company TED strives to inspire and spread ideas that ignite change and innovation. Their motivational talks have been viewed millions of times across the globe. Lecturers range from artists to icons, from models to engineers, and the topics they explore are equally as diverse.

Whether looking for the inspiration to bring an idea alive or simply looking to pass the time, listen to these 15 talks sure to spark your creativity. Each talk featured below was chosen from the plethora in existence for their passion and correlation to the art community. They are each concisely summarized to help narrow your area of interest.

To make viewing the videos easier, scroll below the infographic (in the linked article) to find a list of hyperlinks.

See http://innovationexcellence.com/blog/2017/09/09/15-must-watch-ted-talks-on-creativity/
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Open Access in higher education in South Africa

Misconceptions about what Open Access (OA) really means may have contributed to the slow uptake and support thereof, worldwide. Through the years academics have published articles with leading commercial enterprises and invariably signed away their copyright to publishers. Many African researchers can still not afford the fees to have their research published and have to pay to get access to citations. All of this results in a slow, closed, and costly process.

In 2014, Czerniewicz and Goodier, in the South African Journal of Science, wrote that true OA is not only based on legally open licences whereby an author actually retains copyright and specifies the permitted uses, but it is also more aligned with academic freedom than traditional copyright agreements. OA applies to all forms of online published research output, including peer-reviewed and non-peer-reviewed academic journal articles, theses and book chapters. The important factor is that researchers can now harvest information efficiently and poorer countries are enabled with restriction-free access to a rich collection of citations.

According to the Global Open Access Portal, the OA movement in Africa has recently gained momentum. In 2015, the South African National Research Foundation (NRF) issued a statement that encouraged higher education institutions to formulate policies on providing OA to research publications funded by the NRF. In the same year, OA policies from Kenya, Zimbabwe, Algeria, South Africa, Ghana and Nigeria were registered in the Registry of Open Access Repository Policies and Mandates (ROARMAP), and more than 125 OA digital repositories were registered in the Directory of Open Access Repositories (OpenDOAR at http://opendoar.org/). OpenDOAR is an authoritative directory of academic open access repositories. Each OpenDOAR repository has been visited by project staff to check the information that is recorded here. This in-depth approach does not rely on automated analysis and gives a quality-controlled list of repositories.

See https://www.opencollab.co.za/open-access-in-higher-education-in-south-africa/
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Smartick - Online personalised math program adapted for South Africa

Featured earlier today on +CapeTalk radio.

An after-school online maths program, supported by the European Union, has been adapted to fit in with the South African curriculum, and is now available locally.

Co-founder at Smartick, Javier Arroyo, says the app uses artificial intelligence to create content that fully adapts to the needs of the child.

It changes from exercise to exercise depending on the way a child answers questions.

In order to suit the South Africa's curriculum they have placed the emphasis on mental calculations, critical thinking skills and problem-solving to "make them understand why they do what they do".

More info on their website, and links to download for iOS and Android, at https://www.smartickmethod.com/?f=1 or listen to the radio interview at https://omny.fm/shows/the-kieno-kammies-show/european-online-math-program-adapted-for-south-afr#sharing
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The Traditional Lecture Is Dead

Before the Internet there were encyclopedias (if you could afford them), before that there were books, and at that time and earlier, someone studied and learnt for many years to become learned. Today the Internet puts the world's knowledge within instant access to most people.

Makes one realize how far we have come in just the last ten years or so, and how empowered the masses have become... The act of learning has had to also evolve and I'm sure we'll see far more interactive remote learning happening... and available to those who a few years back could never had exposure to this knowledge.

See https://www.wired.com/2017/05/the-mechanical-universe/
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"Don't Be a Know-It-All, Be a Learn-It-All"

If there’s one thing anyone can benefit from in life, it’s always thinking of yourself as a student. It’s okay if you don’t know something as long as you’re willing to learn it.

Acting like you know everything not only is obnoxious to others, but it also tricks yourself into thinking you don’t need to keep learning, and that can be detrimental to both your career and your personal growth. Always be hungry for knowledge, and always be willing to admit when you don’t know something. Know-it-alls can only get so far.

See http://lifehacker.com/dont-be-a-know-it-all-be-a-learn-it-all-1794974291
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Mom lets daughter's school know her 10-year-old is 'done' with homework

I can sympathize.... kids today seem to have way more homework and assignments than I had. I hear that it "should be 2 hours of homework per night". What time is left for supper and family time? When I get home from work, I don't want to spend another two hours working.

See http://mashable.com/2017/04/27/mother-sends-letter-to-school-10-year-old-daughter-done-with-homework/
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