kitchen table math, the sequel: 9/8/13 - 9/15/13

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Grammar MOOC starting Wednesday

Grammar bytes, aka Chomp Chomp, is one of my favorite grammar sites. The grammar explained is traditional, but the presentations and examples are clear and effective. Plus the site is friendly without being jaunty. I hate jaunty.

My only complaint about Grammar bytes is the loud, sudden, and delayed chomping sound that startles me out of my wits every time I hear it. Those of you with outsized startle responses, consider yourselves warned.

Robin Simmons, the creator of the site, is offering a MOOC starting Wednesday September 18.

I'm signing up.

just let me staple the vicar...

I am going to try to get back on track here any minute now....but, in the meantime, and via Language Log, here is Peter Kay.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Glossary of Computer and Internet Terms for Older Adults

I've just this moment stumbled across a Glossary of Computer and Internet Terms for Older Adults, and I'm chuckling.

Judging by the Computer and Internet Terms they don't know, Older Adults have got it made in the shade. They are the last non-plugged-in humans on the planet, or at least the Western hemisphere.

In the world of the Older Adult, there is no Computer and internet addiction.

No obsessive gaming.

No Internet Blocking Productivity Software.

No glimmer of the possibility that surfing the internet is actually addictive!


For the Older Adult, "surf the internet" is merely a term that needs defining:
Surf the Net:
To explore various websites on the Internet.

Reading right along....(which is what happens to Older Adults who don't need a Glossary to tell them what Surfing the net means), I find myself partial to the definition of "Clicking":
Pressing and releasing a button on a mouse to select or activate the area on the screen where the cursor is pointing. Usually, you click on the left side of the mouse (called a left click). For more advanced functions, you click on the right side of the mouse (called a right click).

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The secret

Premack gave a group of rats free access to drinking water and a running wheel (Premack, 1959). He recorded their behavior across several minutes. Initially (at baseline), each rat spent some time drinking and some time running, but on average rats spent more time running than drinking: about 250 seconds running and only about 50 seconds drinking. Then, Premack restricted the rats’ access to the wheel: they were allowed to run only after they had drunk a certain amount of water. The rats soon learned the contingency and started drinking water in order to gain access to the running wheel. Unsurprisingly, the total amount of running decreased, because the rats now had to work to obtain access to the wheel. But the total amount of drinking increased to more than 100 seconds, as the rats now performed this behavior more often in order to gain access to the wheel. In effect, the activity of running was acting as a reinforce, and it was increasing the probability of an otherwise infrequent behavior, drinking:

S (running restricted) → R (drinking) → C (access to wheel)

Premack went on to show a similar pattern in human children (Premack, 1959). He put the children in a room that contained a pinball machine and a bowl of candy, and he recorded how much time each child spent playing pinball and eating candy. Some of the children spent more time playing pinball. Premack then restricted access to the pinball machine, allowing these children to play only after they had eaten some candy. Candy eating increased, showing that access to the preferred activity (pinball) could reinforce the less-preferred activity (candy eating). Conversely, children who preferred eating candy in the first place could be trained to play more pinball, by making access to the candy contingent on playing pinball.

Thus, in both rats and children, the opportunity to perform a highly frequent behavior can reinforce a less-frequent behavior. This idea came to be known as the Premack principle. Examples of the Premack principle abound in human life. For example, left to their own devices, most children will spend more time watching television than doing their homework. Thus, watching television is a preferred activity, and it can be used to reinforce the less-preferred activity of homework. The parent restricts television time, making it contingent on homework. As a consequence, the child spends more time doing homework than he would have done if television had not been restricted. A later extension of the Premack principle, the response deprivation hypothesis, suggests that the critical variable is not which response is normally more frequent but merely which response has been restricted: by restricting the ability to execute almost any response, you can make the opportunity to perform that response reinforcing (Allison, 1993; Timberlake & Allison, 1974). For example, perhaps you have a chore, like cleaning your room or doing laundry, that you normally detest. But if access to this activity is restricted, it can become reinforcing. If you have been studying for several hours straight, the idea of “taking a break” to clean your room or do the laundry could begin to look downright attractive. If so, you’ve experienced the Premack principle at work.

Learning and Memory: From Brain to Behavior New York: Worth Publishers, 2007
Mark Gluck
Eduardo Mercado
Catherine Myers

Read the whole thing....

I am violating my brand-new All-Premack-all-the-time Principle to put up this post first thing in the morning instead of second thing:

One Classroom, Two Genders

There are two surprises: one in the middle, one at the end.

The middle one was especially fun for me because I'd read the whole first column thinking, "Really?"

The twist in the middle explained my astonishment.

Read the whole thing because.....the last line is fabulous. Especially for readers of ktm, I think.

postscript: I remember writing lots of posts on the subject of "the girl show."

I wonder if any of you remember the time our middle school principal -- Chris was in the 6th grade -- told us: "Everyone knows boys do worse in middle school."

Direct quote.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Emotional Intelligence brings empathy!

This shocking discovery was worthy of a headline in last week's New Haven Register.

Within the article, one finds pronouncements that are similarly astounding:
Emotional intelligence plays a part in a variety of human interactions.
“Emotions are fundamental to who we are as humans. If we don’t have emotions, we can’t do our work, we can’t make decisions, we can’t have relationships.”
The person quoted here is Susan Rivers, deputy director of the Center for Emotional Intelligence at Yale University. As the article's lede explains: "Emotional intelligence is in the ascendancy at Yale University."

Yale, the same Ivy League institution that designed a new test that measures creative and practical skills and proposed it as a placement for the SATs, has recently jumped on the decades-old emotional intelligence bandwagon. This fall, it will officially open its emotional intelligence center. As the article reports:
The center, already operational, recently held its biggest training session to date, with educators from more than 50 schools across the country. They join 75,000 school leaders from more than 500 schools worldwide who also have had the training.
What exactly does the training consist of? It's hard to tell. In the words of director Marc Brackett:
“It isn’t a kit you can buy. It’s an approach. We are teaching the teachers and the kids. Some people call these 21st-century skills."
As the Register explains:
The training is known specifically as the RULER approach. It stands for: recognizing emotions, understanding the causes and consequences of emotions, labeling the full range of feelings, expressing them appropriately and regulating them.
Despite the gigantic number of school leaders who have already "had the training," much of it has yet to be developed. Purportedly in the works are instructional videos, games, and online simulations that will, in the Register's words, "illustrate emotional intelligence."

First train people, then develop the training curriculum... what's the logical final step? Perhaps, after hundreds of thousands more people have been trained and hundreds more schools have signed on and millions of dollars have changed hands, the center will conduct an efficacy study.

The ultimate goal? In the words of director Marc Brackett: "making Connecticut an emotionally intelligent state — one district at a time." How could anyone argue with that?

As for Yale itself, presumably it will take the lead in making emotional intelligence the single most important criteria for college admissions. In fact, it's already moving in this direction--especially when it comes to homeschooled applicants. "Yale wants to make sure homeschooled kids are not socially awkward," Joanne Jacobs reports. She cites Yale's admissions website:
We look for evidence of social maturity from all our applicants and especially from home-schooled students. Your personal statement, interests and activities, and letters of recommendation should speak to your ability to integrate well with other students and tell us about your non-academic interests.
As a side note, when it comes to impositions on home schooled children, we find another Yale-connected educational power broker. This would be Yale alumnus David Coleman, former lead architect of the Common Core and current president of the College Board. Coleman has been working had to align the SATs with the Common Core--in ways that, as Paula Bolyard writes in a recent post on Pajamas Media, may pressure home schools to conform to what's going on everywhere else.

Now all we need is for the Common Core to broaden its standards enough to make emotional intelligence its Meta-Standard. After all, emotions are so fundamental to who we are that, if we don’t have them, we can’t make decisions and do our work. Let alone attain any of the Common Core Standards.

(Cross-posted at Out in Left Field).