“Living has yet to be generally recognized as one of the arts,” proclaimed a 1924 guide to the art of living. That one of the greatest scientists of our time should be one of our greatest teacher in that art is nothing short of a blessing for which we can only be grateful — and that’s precisely what Oliver Sacks (July 9, 1933–August 30, 2015), a Copernicus of the mind and a Dante of medicine who turned the case study into a poetic form, became over the course of his long and fully lived life.
In his final months, Dr. Sacks reflected on his unusual existential adventure and his courageous dance with death in a series of lyrical New York Times essays, posthumously published in the slim yet enormously enchanting book Gratitude (public library), edited by his friend and assistant of thirty years, Kate Edgar, and his partner, the photographer Bill Hayes.
In the first essay, titled “Mercury,” he follows in the footsteps of Henry Miller, who considered the measure of a life well lived upon turning eighty three decades earlier. Dr. Sacks writes:
'Last night I dreamed about mercury — huge, shining globules of quicksilver rising and falling. Mercury is element number 80, and my dream is a reminder that on Tuesday, I will be 80 myself.
Elements and birthdays have been intertwined for me since boyhood, when I learned about atomic numbers. At 11, I could say “I am sodium” (Element 11), and now at 79, I am gold.
Eighty! I can hardly believe it. I often feel that life is about to begin, only to realize it is almost over.'
Having almost died at forty-one while being chased by a white bull in a Norwegian fjord, Dr. Sacks considers the peculiar grace of having lived to old age:
'At nearly 80, with a scattering of medical and surgical problems, none disabling, I feel glad to be alive — “I’m glad I’m not dead!” sometimes bursts out of me when the weather is perfect… I am grateful that I have experienced many things — some wonderful, some horrible — and that I have been able to write a dozen books, to receive innumerable letters from friends, colleagues and readers, and to enjoy what Nathaniel Hawthorne called “an intercourse with the world.''
I am sorry I have wasted (and still waste) so much time; I am sorry to be as agonizingly shy at 80 as I was at 20; I am sorry that I speak no languages but my mother tongue and that I have not traveled or experienced other cultures as widely as I should have done.'"
"IT’S time for my annual holiday gift guide, the chance to recommend presents more meaningful than a tie or sweater. • For $20, through Heifer International (heifer.org), you can buy a flock of ducks and help a family work its way to a better life. Or $74 through CARE (care.org) pays for a schoolgirl’s books and supplies so she can attend school for a year — and girls’ education may be the highest-return investment available in the world today. • Here are some other ideas: • ■ We’re seeing painful upheavals about race on university campuses these days, but the civil rights issue in America today is our pre-K through 12th grade education system, which routinely sends the neediest kids to the worst schools. To address these roots of inequality, a group called Communities in Schools (communitiesinschools.org) supports disadvantaged kids, mostly black and Latino, in elementary, middle and high schools around the country. • For $15 a month per child, it offers mentoring, pregnancy prevention, college counseling and more, and it’s effective: 91 percent of the students it helps end up graduating from high school."
“'YOUTH is subjected by our civilization to aggressive sex stimuli and suggestiveness oozing from every pore.' So declared the education professor Clark Hetherington in 1914, condemning the proliferation of racy movies and tell-all magazines. Lest adolescents succumb to the 'indulgence' on display, he wrote, schools needed to teach “self-control” and 'higher standards.' • Sound familiar? For the past century, we’ve been worrying that new forms of media are fostering sexual immorality in the young. And we’ve called upon our schools to stem the evil tide. Witness the recent “sexting” revelations at Cañon City High School in Colorado, where it is reported that 100 students traded naked pictures of themselves and one another. As the story went viral, critics have inevitably asked why the school hadn’t done more to educate students about sexting. • The schools are an easy target, but the wrong one. Public ambivalence about youth sexuality limits what the schools can do, nor do we have strong evidence that schools can affect teenagers’ behavior, in any event. And it’s hardly certain that youth sexting is the dangerous scourge that most adults imagine. • Let’s be clear: There are serious risks associated with teen sexting, including bullying and exposure to adult sexual predators. And we know that kids who sext are more likely to have sex than those who don’t. But beyond that, nobody has ever shown that the sexting induces kids to engage in riskier behavior. In a 2012 study of seven high schools in Texas, 28 percent of sophomores and juniors admitted that they had sent a naked picture of themselves over text or email. But these teenagers were no more likely than their nonsexting peers to engage in other risky sexual behaviors, like unprotected intercourse, alcohol or drug use before sex, or sex with multiple partners."
"Today, The New York Times takes a step into virtual reality. NYT VR is a mobile app that can be used — along with your headphones and optionally a cardboard viewing device — to simulate richly immersive scenes from across the globe. • To start, The Times Magazine presents three portraits of children driven from their homes by war and persecution — an 11-year-old boy from eastern Ukraine named Oleg, a 12-year-old Syrian girl named Hana and a 9-year-old South Sudanese boy named Chuol. • Some 30 million children are displaced. Chuol, 9, escaped into a vast swamp in South Sudan when fighters swept into his village. • 'This new filmmaking technology enables an uncanny feeling of connection with people whose lives are far from our own,' writes Jake Silverstein, editor of the magazine. • How do I watch? • If you have an iPhone, you can find the NYT VR app in the App Store. • If you have an Android phone, download it from Google Play. • You can use the app on its own. But the experience is even better with a special virtual reality viewer. Thanks to a partnership with Google, we will be sending free Google Cardboard VR viewers to all domestic New York Times home delivery subscribers who receive the Sunday edition. You should receive your Google Cardboard with your Sunday newspaper by November 8, 2015."
Fiction: • "We watched him come in, how his steps faltered at the threshold of the classroom, how he just stood there, his first mistake, giving us enough time to size him up, not enough time for him to figure out who we were, what strategy might win us over. • He coughed, as if that could mask his heavy breathing, almost a sigh, and then, with false resolution, he walked in and sat down behind the desk. • He sat down where García used to sit, just like that, as if he had the right to do so. • He smiled at us, another mistake, and then: “Maybe we should introduce ourselves,” he said. Ourselves? Was he referring to himself, pretentiously using the plural for his own person? Or did he include us? Was it an invitation to the twelve of us, seated symmetrically in front of him? • We said nothing. • Not that we’d reached a tacit agreement or anything of the sort. In fact we hadn’t exchanged a word since we’d heard about García. But García had told us how to behave in this sort of situation; García had said the longer you keep a secret, the deeper, the richer the secret grows, and those words had to be throbbing through our heads. He’d spoken about the silence of indigenous peoples, playing dumb, how they came to understand that no invader could ever really get the upper hand, no matter how fierce his face or strong his weapon or cunning his tricks if he didn’t know their language. Remember that, García said, smuggle yourselves inside the minds of people who are being subjected to an authority that they have not freely chosen, and remember what they’ve learned: you cannot really capture anybody until you have heard his voice. If you don’t want to be bottled up by your enemy, you know what to do. • So we just waited. “
"Do your students have a hard time defining — and thus, perhaps, avoiding — plagiarism? • They’re not alone. In a cut-and-paste world, examples of both intentional and unintentional plagiarism are everywhere. • Here, for instance, are just a handful of cases that have made headlines in the last few years: • Journalists, scientists, novelists and politicians have been accused of appropriating the work of others. • Musicians have gone to court over the “blurred lines” between homage and copyright infringement. • An artist was accused of plagiarizing his logo for the 2020 Olympics from Internet images. • A science writer plagiarized himself. • An Instagram celebrity was called out for stealing jokes. • A 17-year-old novelist, a finalist for a major book prize, said her lifted work was “mixing,” not plagiarism. Essays presented as “personal statements” for college applications have been taken directly from published work online."
"Boys are falling behind. They graduate from high school and attend college at lower rates than girls and are more likely to get in trouble, which can hurt them when they enter the job market. This gender gap exists across the United States, but it is far bigger for poor people and for black people. As society becomes more unequal, it seems, it hurts boys more.
New research from social scientists offers one explanation: Boys are more sensitive than girls to disadvantage. Any disadvantage, like growing up in poverty, in a bad neighborhood or without a father, takes more of a toll on boys than on their sisters. That realization could be a starting point for educators, parents and policy makers who are trying to figure out how to help boys — particularly those from black, Latino and immigrant families.
'It’s something about family disadvantage itself,' said David Figlio, a Northwestern University economist and co-author of a new paper, presented publicly for the first time on Thursday. 'Black people in America are more disadvantaged than white people in America, and if we were to reduce the disadvantage, we may see a reduction in the relative gender gap as well.'”
"Astronomers have spotted a strange mess of objects whirling around a distant star. Scientists who search for extraterrestrial civilizations are scrambling to get a closer look." • "When I spoke to Boyajian on the phone, she explained that her recent paper only reviews “natural” scenarios. “But,” she said, there were “other scenarios” she was considering. • Jason Wright, an astronomer from Penn State University, is set to publish an alternative interpretation of the light pattern. SETI researchers have long suggested that we might be able to detect distant extraterrestrial civilizations, by looking for enormous technological artifacts orbiting other stars. Wright and his co-authors say the unusual star’s light pattern is consistent with a “swarm of megastructures,” perhaps stellar-light collectors, technology designed to catch energy from the star. • 'When [Boyajian] showed me the data, I was fascinated by how crazy it looked,' Wright told me. 'Aliens should always be the very last hypothesis you consider, but this looked like something you would expect an alien civilization to build.' • Boyajian is now working with Wright and Andrew Siemion, the Director of the SETI Research Center at the University of California, Berkeley. The three of them are writing up a proposal. They want to point a massive radio dish at the unusual star, to see if it emits radio waves at frequencies associated with technological activity. • If they see a sizable amount of radio waves, they’ll follow up with the Very Large Array (VLA) in New Mexico, which may be able to say whether the radio waves were emitted by a technological source, like those that waft out into the universe from Earth’s network of radio stations. • Assuming all goes well, the first observation would take place in January, with the follow-up coming next fall. If things go really well, the follow-up could happen sooner. 'If we saw something exciting, we could ask the director for special allotted time on the VLA,' Wright told me. 'And in that case, we’d be asking to go on right away.' In the meantime, Boyajian, Siemion, Wright, the citizen scientists, and the rest of us, will have to content ourselves with longing looks at the sky, aimed between the swan and the lyre, where maybe, just maybe, someone is looking back, and seeing the sun dim ever so slightly, every 365 days."
Please share this post, information and flyer with other educators you know! We’re looking forward to our TENTH year of fantastic and free learning in the K12 Online Conference! We hope you’ll not only plan to join us for the conference, but also invite other educators you know to join as well.
This year’s conference will begin the week of October 12, 2015, with a keynote by Don Wettrick and #Innovation class students. During week 1 of the conference, Stephanie Chang will present a keynote in the “Maker Ed” strand, and Alan Levine will keynote the “Stories of Connection” strand. During week 2, Scott McLeod will share a keynote in the “Overcoming Obstacles” strand. Karen Bosch will keynote our “Beyond the Core: Arts and More” strand. Descriptions for each of these strands are available here.
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This podcast is a recording of Dr. Wesley Fryer’s presentation “Sharing Student Work Online” on October 7, 2015, at the Oklahoma Technology Association (OTA) / Encyclo-Media Conference in Oklahoma City. The session description was: When students at school use media to “show what they know and can do,” they need safe, adult-moderated, online spaces to share their digital work with others and receive thoughtful feedback. Learn how to to use free websites like KidBlog and Blogger, along with apps like Easy Blogger Jr., to share student work online and moderate feedback. Discuss how to help students “compose quality comments” for others. Explore workflows to safely use a classroom YouTube channel to publish and share student work, also with moderated feedback. See examples of school and classroom permission forms for publishing student work. Get practical ideas for “normalizing” the regular, open publication of student work at your school for moderated feedback from peers, parents, and others around the world. Check the podcast shownotes for links to session slides (shared as a Google Presentation) as well as other referenced resources.
Three years ago, after the massacre of 20 children at a school in Newtown, Conn., Room for Debate asked whether the power of the gun lobby would prevent any gun control legislation, like stronger background checks for gun purchases or restriction on the capacity of gun clips. With the murder of nine people by a gunman at an Oregon college on Thursday, we are asking the question again.
"Have the claims made for early education been overblown? Not necessarily. Consider what’s happening in Boston. A randomized study showed that prekindergartners there gained between four and seven months’ progress in reading and math, and those gains persisted: 27 percent more of Boston’s preschool children scored 'proficient' or better on the state’s rigorous third-grade exams. • What’s the difference between Boston and Tennessee? In a word, quality. 'Tennessee doesn’t have a coherent vision,' Dale Farran, a Vanderbilt professor and the Tennessee study’s co-author, told me. 'Left to their own devices, each teacher is inventing pre-K on her own.' • Boston’s teachers are taught to understand the complexities of child development, and receive abundant coaching from knowledgeable veterans. The curriculum is calculated to get children’s minds in gear. 'Too often, children sit in a circle and the adult does all the talking,' says Jason Sachs, who runs Boston’s public preschools. 'Here, children take much more of an active role. They learn about the concept of length by comparing the shadows they cast when lying on the ground. They learn about measurement by producing a guide to making light blue. They collaborate in figuring out how to make their city a better place — an assignment merging reading, math, art and science — and get to present their work at City Hall.'"
"First, it must be stated that a true 'right of the environment' does exist, for two reasons. First, because we human beings are part of the environment. We live in communion with it, since the environment itself entails ethical limits which human activity must acknowledge and respect. Man, for all his remarkable gifts, which “are signs of a uniqueness which transcends the spheres of physics and biology” (Laudato Si’, 81), is at the same time a part of these spheres. He possesses a body shaped by physical, chemical and biological elements, and can only survive and develop if the ecological environment is favourable. Any harm done to the environment, therefore, is harm done to humanity. Second, because every creature, particularly a living creature, has an intrinsic value, in its existence, its life, its beauty and its interdependence with other creatures. We Christians, together with the other monotheistic religions, believe that the universe is the fruit of a loving decision by the Creator, who permits man respectfully to use creation for the good of his fellow men and for the glory of the Creator; he is not authorized to abuse it, much less to destroy it. In all religions, the environment is a fundamental good (cf. ibid.).
The misuse and destruction of the environment are also accompanied by a relentless process of exclusion. In effect, a selfish and boundless thirst for power and material prosperity leads both to the misuse of available natural resources and to the exclusion of the weak and disadvantaged, either because they are differently abled (handicapped), or because they lack adequate information and technical expertise, or are incapable of decisive political action. Economic and social exclusion is a complete denial of human fraternity and a grave offense against human rights and the environment. The poorest are those who suffer most from such offenses, for three serious reasons: they are cast off by society, forced to live off what is discarded and suffer unjustly from the abuse of the environment. They are part of today’s widespread and quietly growing 'culture of waste'.
The dramatic reality this whole situation of exclusion and inequality, with its evident effects, has led me, in union with the entire Christian people and many others, to take stock of my grave responsibility in this regard and to speak out, together with all those who are seeking urgently-needed and effective solutions. The adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development at the World Summit, which opens today, is an important sign of hope. I am similarly confident that the Paris Conference on Climatic Change will secure fundamental and effective agreements.
Solemn commitments, however, are not enough, although they are certainly a necessary step toward solutions. The classic definition of justice which I mentioned earlier contains as one of its essential elements a constant and perpetual will: Iustitia est constans et perpetua voluntas ius sum cuique tribuendi. Our world demands of all government leaders a will which is effective, practical and constant, concrete steps and immediate measures for preserving and improving the natural environment and thus putting an end as quickly as possible to the phenomenon of social and economic exclusion, with its baneful consequences: human trafficking, the marketing of human organs and tissues, the sexual exploitation of boys and girls, slave labour, including prostitution, the drug and weapons trade, terrorism and international organized crime. Such is the magnitude of these situations and their toll in innocent lives, that we must avoid every temptation to fall into a declarationist nominalism which would assuage our consciences. We need to ensure that our institutions are truly effective in the struggle against all these scourges."
"Thanksgiving is one of our favorite holidays in large part because of the big meal. Few celebrations center so completely on a feast. Given our collective concern over health and nutrition, it is inevitable that many people worry about how much they should eat in one sitting. • Of course, it’s not healthy to eat yourself sick — consuming too much, too fast, can lead to indigestion and other problems. People at high risk for heart disease, blood clots or diabetes shouldn’t throw out their doctor’s recommendations. But for most people, this isn’t the day to worry about food. As I have frequently written, one of the keys to healthful eating, and a good life, is everything in moderation — including moderation. • Tara Parker-Pope did the math a few years ago at the Well blog and found you’re probably eating around 1,000 calories at Thanksgiving. That’s not bad at all, as feasts go. Even with a big piece of pumpkin pie with whipped cream (400 calories) and two glasses of wine (250 calories), you’ll be hard pressed to get to 2,000 calories. A moderately active adult man should consume, on average, 2,400 to 2,800 calories a day and a woman about 2,000 calories, so as long as you take it easy the rest of the day, there’s nothing offensively gluttonous about eating a big Thanksgiving meal. • Enjoy the big dinner and enjoy a second helping of advice on eating and drinking that we have collected here.
At TEDYouth 2015 — and at more than 100 TEDxYouth events tuning in live online around the globe — young people will gather to explore the event's theme, "Made in the Future". This theme will provide youth with new perspectives on their own future job possibilities beyond traditional careers, some of which may not yet exist. TEDYouth 2015 is an opportunity for youth to think about the world in 2035, and to engage with experts who consider the corners of our intangible imagination to be the foundation for our potential future reality. Speakers will touch on an array of questions about our future, including:
- How will artificial intelligence both limit and expand our options? What will matter in the future?
- As resources diminish, what new materials will we harness or create? Which types of careers will emerge or cease to exist?
- Together, we will seek to answer these questions from a number of different perspectives — scientific, cultural, technological, educational, artistic, entrepreneurial, environmental and more.
VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis on Wednesday (Nov. 11) urged Catholics to continue the tradition of a family meal, leaving smartphones aside and switching off the TV to enjoy the “fundamental experience” of sharing food.
“The sharing of a meal — and therefore, other than of food, also of affections, of stories, of events — is a fundamental experience,” Francis said during his weekly audience in St. Peter’s Square.
Sitting around the table helps measure the health of relationships, the pontiff said: “If in a family there’s something that doesn’t work, or a hidden wound, at the table it’s understood immediately.”
Francis also offered guidelines for mealtimes, which he said should be free from phones or other distractions. It can hardly be called a family meal when relatives “barely ever eat together, or (a family) which doesn’t talk at the table but watches television, or a smartphone,” the pope said.
"I have two photos on my desk. The first shows a child, a girl of about 10. She is standing behind an enormous pile of her family’s belongings, which have been tightly packed for a long journey. Her face is blank with uncertainty, but she strikes a bossy pose — one hand on her hip, the other planted firmly against the bundles. Her companions are an older woman, probably her mother, and a little boy — her younger brother? Both look directly at the photographer, Henri Cartier-Bresson, who took this picture in Dessau, as scores of Germans displaced during World War II began returning home. It is 1945. Where has this girl been, and what has she seen? • The second picture, taken in 1974, also shows a girl of about 10. This child is a Kurdish refugee. Her family is sitting with their worldly possessions in a barren field, somewhere near the border with Iran. A meal is underway. The parents sit cross-legged on the ground, intent on their food, while the girl stands, another little girl by her side, and stares into the distance with a wrinkled-brow expression of adult worry. Where is she going? • Young as these girls are, they have already been asked to bear a profound loss. You can see it in their faces. They appear to be only half children, the other half having been matured ahead of schedule by trauma and displacement. They know what they should not. And yet, there is still that other half. They are still kids. Unlike the adults in the frame, who must be constantly aware of their dangerous ordeal, the girls, from time to time, might forget. If the moment was right, they might play a game."
"Every weekday on this blog we take an important or interesting news or feature story from the week and turn it into what we call News Q’s — a quick series of questions and activities designed to help students both understand the story and connect it to their own lives. • Each edition has suggestions for engaging the class before they read the story; questions about the article for during and after they have read it; and activity suggestions for going further. • Because our picks range from politics to pop culture, science, social media, sports, history, the arts and literature, teachers tell us they use News Q’s as a source of compelling nonfiction for lesson plans, homework assignments and extra-credit projects. • Here are a few of the strategies we’ve used recently to help students grapple with the Times stories we pick, followed by examples for each. What would you add?"
"The Intellectual Virtues and Education Project is a three-year project sponsored by a generous grant from the John Templeton Foundation. For a brief introduction to the project, see Dr. Jason Baehr’s message [above]:"
"Books and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt published 'Tomboy,' a graphic memoir for young adults by Liz Prince, 33, about her experience growing up preferring rough-and-tumble games and the jeans and sweatshirts that enable them. • 'If you’re in high school and still dressing like that, people think you’re definitely a lesbian,' Ms. Prince said. 'But I wanted to wear boys’ clothes and make out with them, too.' • The book was a critical success. But the word used for its title — and the phase of female life it denotes, even the idea that it is a phase at all — is increasingly falling out of fashion in an era when Caitlyn Jenner is more likely to be a topic of conversation on the playground than Caddie Woodlawn (the frontier tomboy of Carol Ryrie Brink’s imagination). • Indeed, the children’s fiction of yesteryear positively teemed with tomboys: Jo March of “Little Women,” Mattie Ross of “True Grit,” Alexandra Bergson from “O Pioneers!” Harriet from “Harriet the Spy,” Scout Finch from “To Kill a Mockingbird,” Peppermint Patty and Pippi Longstocking. Reading such stories, and perhaps enacting the adventures they described (or just imagining doing so) was once a treasured rite of female passage."
"THIS is an awkward question, but here goes: Why are Asian-Americans so successful in America? It’s no secret that Asian-Americans are disproportionately stars in American schools, and even in American society as a whole. Census data show that Americans of Asian heritage earn more than other groups, including whites. Asian-Americans also have higher educational attainment than any other group. • I wrote a series of columns last year, “When Whites Just Don’t Get It,” about racial inequity, and one of the most common responses from angry whites was along these lines: This stuff about white privilege is nonsense, and if blacks lag, the reason lies in the black community itself. Just look at Asian-Americans. Those Koreans and Chinese make it in America because they work hard. All people can succeed here if they just stop whining and start working. • Let’s confront the argument head-on. Does the success of Asian-Americans suggest that the age of discrimination is behind us?"
The following are core values, ethics, and the mission / focus of the K-12 Online Conference.
1. Conference: Provide an annual opportunity for educators around the world to share ideas and best practices relating to the use of web 2.0 tools for learning through an online conference.
2. Archiving: Archive presentation content and blog conversations indefinitely for global access. 3. Noncommercial: Focus on learning tools, concepts and ideas which are not specific to vendors or directly marketing specific vendor-provided products and services. 4. Accessibility: Provide as broad access to the conference content as possible with respect to file sizes, formats, etc. 5. Participation: Invite anyone to participate in the conference as an individual, rather than an official representative of an organization 6. Open Source and Free Tools: Support open source tools and communities, as well as free tools available for educators worldwide.
If you are affiliated with a commercial vendor, please note that our conference is NOT a venue for advertising and direct marketing. Anyone is welcome to participate in the conference as an individual, but if you spam others or engage in direct commercial marketing you will be banned from our learning community.
Published on Oct 3, 2015 The acclaimed author delved deeply into Magic Realism for his latest book. Here, he describes why this genre continues to thrive. Rushdie's latest novel is "Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights" (http://goo.gl/MCew50).
When the Supreme Court issued its historic rulings this year on same-sex marriage and other issues, the New York Times reporter in the courtroom was a Yale-educated lawyer.
Our reporter who broke a major story about abandoned chemical weapons in Iraq was a former captain in the Marines. The team that covered the Charlie Hebdo attack in Paris included eight French-speaking correspondents. A Times journalist who analyzed a definitive study on income inequality once worked at the Federal Reserve.
This week, The Times is celebrating a breakthrough: We recently passed one million digital-only subscribers, giving us far more than any other news organization in the world. We have another 1.1 million print-and-digital subscribers, so that in total, we have more subscribers than at any time in our 164-year history.
Many news organizations, facing competition from digital outlets, have sharply reduced the size of their newsrooms and their investment in news gathering.
"On Friday, the pope stood before the United Nations and declared that the organization has failed. He urged UN members to care for the environment and the humans living in it, and to take on challenges ranging from human and drug trafficking to extreme poverty and government corruption. 'We cannot permit ourselves to postpone certain agendas for the future,' he said."
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