Tuesday, 13 March 2018

how brexit is viewed from normandy

Would you like to do a little business over the Channel?

Normandy advert to seduce UK firms after Brexit banned

TfL deems ads on tubes and buses calling for businesses to relocate too sensitive
Normandy Times advert
 The Normandy Times advert. Photograph: Normandy Times

An advertising campaign from the Normandy government urging British businesses to flee across the Channel to escape Brexit has been banned by Transport for London because it may cause “public controversy or sensitivity”.
The adverts urging entrepreneurs worried about the UK’s departure from the EU to “vote with their feet” will run in national newspapers, including the Guardian, this week. But they will not be carried on public transport in the capital after TfLsaid the ads “did not fully comply” with its advertising guidelines.
The campaign for the Normandy Development Agency features a mock-up of a fictional newspaper, The Normandy Times, with the headline: “British business owners can now vote with their feet and leave post-Brexit fears behind.”
“If you didn’t vote for Brexit or it’s not right for your business, why not vote with your feet and open an office, or settle a production unit, in Normandy,” it says. The advert also carries a mock classified ad saying: “Hot entrepreneur wanted … Someone allergic to post-Brexit tariffs, legislation and restrictions preferred.”
Normandy Times advert
 One of the Normandy Times adverts. Photograph: Normandy Times
TfL said the ads were rejected under a clause that related to adverts that may contain “images or messages which relate to matters of public controversy or sensitivity”.
Although the ban will impede the agency’s ability to reach some London commuters, it is also sending a bus wrapped with the “hot entrepreneur” ad on a tour of Bristol, Birmingham, Manchester, Cambridge and London later this month.
The French push comes at a sensitive time, as British companies worry about how the decision to leave the EU will affect them. Paris is among the European capitals trying to lure businesses away in the “Brexit relocation” sector. In 2016, Defacto, which manages Paris’s La Défense business district, ran a similar campaign with the message: “Tired of the fog? Try the Frogs!”
Hervé Morin, who heads the Normandy regional council, said it was sorry TfL had blocked the ads. The region is offering tax breaks and help accessing grants of up to €100,000 (£89,000) to British companies that decamp to France. “We are very keen to get across our invitation to British entrepreneurs who wish to either set up or remain in the eurozone,” said Morin.
Normandy advert to seduce UK firms after Brexit banned | Media | The Guardian

Tuesday, 6 March 2018

how brexit is viewed on the continent

From the latest Brexit weekly briefing, as given by the Guardian:

Dutch commentator Joris Luyendijk urges British newspaper readers to spend more time looking at European cartoons for a sense of how Brexit is viewed on the continent.

Brexit weekly briefing: a welcome shift of tone by the prime minister | Politics | The Guardian

Monday, 5 March 2018

winter-y words

A little winter vocabulary - as it is still very much winter out there:

Nine winter-y words to warm the cockles

Hibernaculum, hunch-weather and hygge...

With the festivities of Christmas well behind us, it’s time to indulge in all that’s good about the winter months.

Say no to social events, hunker down in front of the fire (or the radiator), eat hearty stews, and gallop through as many box sets as humanly possible.

Lovely. Here are some underused, winter-y words to get you in the mood for hibernation…

1. Hygge

The Danish word "hygge" has recently exploded in popularity around the world. It loosely translates as "cosiness", but hygge means so much more than that: it’s the defining characteristic of Danish culture.
Shortlisted for Oxford Dictionary’s word of the year in 2016, it’s defined as "a quality of cosiness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being."
Hygge is: the glow of candlelight, a warm atmosphere, oversized scarves, woolly blankets and enjoying good food and heartfelt conversation with friends and family. In short, it’s the perfect approach to life in the deep mid-winter months.

2. Gelid

Is it so intensely cold outside that you can’t feel your fingers? Then the word you need is "gelid" When "chilly", "nippy" and "brisk" just don’t cut it, try "my gosh, it’s gelid". From the Latin "gelidus", it means icy, frosty, or "it’s so cold, I need a water bottle immediately!"

3. Cosy

Of course we all know what "cosy" means, but where did the word come from? It’s likely that it started out as the Old Scots word "colsie", which could be Scandinavian in origin. The Norwegian word for cosy is "koselig" and "kose seg" means to "enjoy oneself", "bask" or "be cosy". The Scottish poet Robert Burns used the word in 1786: "Then canie, in some cozie place, they close the day."

4. Snug

What better way to spend a chilly winter's day than snuggled up, to someone snuggly, in the snug bar of your favourite pub? “Snug”, like “cosy”, might be yet another word we've borrowed from our Scandinavian friends. The nautical term, to make a ship snug (compact or trim) by securing it's sail, to protect it from stormy weather, could come the Swedish word “snygg”, meaning neat or trim, or from the Old Danish word “snøg”. (Not to be confused with “snog”, meaning full-on smooch.)

5. Apricity

Now here”s something we all appreciate on a frosty morning: “apricity” is a now obsolete word that means “the warmth of the sun in winter.” For example: “The apricity of today's sun feels like a warm blanket.” It was in 1623 that lexicographer Henry Cockeram recorded (or invented) the word apricity in his book “The English Dictionarie: Or, An Interpreter Of Hard English Words”. Sadly, it never stuck around. Perhaps it's about time we brought it back…

6. Hunch-weather

A wonderfully evocative and underused phrase is “hunch-weather”. An old 18th-century word, it can be used to describe weather – like rain, drizzle, strong winds or hail – that makes a person hunch their shoulders when they walk outside. Something the average Brit is all too familiar with!

7. Frore

Another archaic but wonderfully descriptive word for “frosty” or “frozen” is “frore.” The poet Rupert Brooke used it to great effect: “My heart all Winter lay so numb, the earth so dead and frore, that I never thought the Spring would come, or my heart wake any more.” We”ve all been there, Rupert.

8. Hunker down

Winter is all about hunkering down in front of a heat source, ideally with a duvet, and not moving until strictly necessary. Could this be yet another word we”ve sourced from Scandinavia? The Old Norse “huka” means to crouch or squat. However, “hunker down” was a Southern United States dialectal phrase – a dialect that was popularised by Texan President Johnson in the mid 1960s.

9. Hibernaculum

Bears and other hibernating beasts have it sorted, don't they? Why hang about in the cold when you could retreat to your “hibernaculum”, or winter quarters, to sleep – and emerge again when it's Spring. The term comes from the Latin ”hibernare” meaning “to winter”. Why not create your own hibernaculum by stuffing the cupboard under the stairs with pillows and cushions and climbing in?

Radio 4's Word of Mouth series explores the world of words and the ways in which we use them

BBC Radio 4 - Radio 4 in Four - Nine winter-y words to warm the cockles

Monday, 5 February 2018

paulo freire and the tabula rasa

This blog has looked at the work of Paulo Freire before:
Jay Doubleyou: paulo freire

It has also looked at some of his ideas:

Starting with Pedagogy of the Oppressed, published in 1972, through the late 1990s, Brazilian educator Paulo Freire explored various effects of presumptive teaching on students, schools, and society as a whole. 

Jay Doubleyou: the hidden curriculum

Other educationalists have questioned the whole 'behaviourist' approach:

In the first half of this century, a reductionist view of human behavior - behaviorialism - dominated the field. Behaviorialism, a Pavlovian view of human learning developed by Watson, Hull and Thorndike reached its heyday in the 1950's, in B.F. Skinner's work on operant psychology and reinforcement. It was reductionist because it used a "black box" approach based in empiricism, much like the approach a chemist might use. Since one cannot observe what is happening in the brain, we should limit our measurements and theories to merely what is going in - the stimulus - and what is coming out - the response.

However, cognitive and humanistic research pointed more and more towards the importance of experience. For example, we can see the rudiments of the experiential theory in Saljo's 1979 hierarchy of student views of learning. Nonetheless, the theory of experiential learning did not gain prominence until the work of Mezirow, Freire, Kolb and Gregorc in the 1980's. 

In the early 1980's, Mezirow, Freire and others stressed that the heart of all learning lies in the way we process experience, in particular, our critical reflection of experience. They spoke of learning as a cycle that begins with experience, continues with reflection and later leads to action, which itself becomes a concrete experience for reflection

Jay Doubleyou: kolb's learning cycle

See also:
Jay Doubleyou: teaching machines: behaviour management apps in the classroom
Jay Doubleyou: behaviourism >>> krashen... pinker... skinner... chomsky
Jay Doubleyou: social engineering
Jay Doubleyou: theories of language learning and teaching: behaviourism vs nativism

Freire was very critical of how education is 'oppressive':
Pedagogy of the Oppressed - Wikipedia

He produced a 'critical pedagogy':
Paulo Freire’s Critical Pedagogy: A Description and American Application | Commonwealth

It's all about experience:
Peace and Conflict Monitor, The ‘Banking’ System of Teaching: Frowns and No Flowers

And not simply 'filling an empty box':

In terms of pedagogy, Freire is best known for his attack on what he called the "banking" concept of education, in which the student was viewed as an empty account to be filled by the teacher. He notes that "it transforms students into receiving objects. It attempts to control thinking and action, leads men and women to adjust to the world, and inhibits their creative power."[12] The basic critique was not new — Rousseau's conception of the child as an active learner was already a step away from tabula rasa (which is basically the same as the "banking concept").[citation needed] In addition, thinkers like John Dewey were strongly critical of the transmission of mere facts as the goal of education. Dewey often described education as a mechanism for social change, explaining that "education is a regulation of the process of coming to share in the social consciousness; and that the adjustment of individual activity on the basis of this social consciousness is the only sure method of social reconstruction".[13] Freire's work, however, updated the concept and placed it in context with current theories and practices of education, laying the foundation for what is now called critical pedagogy.

Paulo Freire - New World Encyclopedia
Paulo Freire - Simple English Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

He was not a fan of the idea of the person as a 'tabula rasa' - or empty vessel:
112. Some Thoughts on John Locke’s Theory of Mind and Education | Philosophical Eggs

Here are some excellent related articles from an interesting website (more of later)
The digital revolution and edtech learning revolution in education - Edtech pedagogy, digital education, a critique

- which challenges the above:
Sugata Mitra TED talk on edtech and empire - a critique
Critical Thinking - a Critique
The child as empty vessel - emptiness and liberation pedagogy

Friday, 12 January 2018

is there a link between adhd and creative thinking?

We tend to stigmatise 'abnormal behaviour':
Jay Doubleyou: how normal behavoiur becomes a mental disorder

Especially those 'on the spectrum':

Is There a Link between ADHD and Creative Thinking?

ADHD symptoms correspond with improved performance on tasks that involve divergent, or “out-of-the-box” thinking.
Peter Gray
by  Peter Gray
I happened across a research article the other day that reported a surprising, counterintuitive finding that got me thinking about a number of things — ADHD, its possible relationship to creativity, and the evolution of intelligence. Let me explain.
ADHD and Group Work
In an experiment, inclusion of a person with ADHD greatly improved the problem-solving ability of groups, even though it led to more off-task behavior.
The groups containing an ADHD student were far more likely to solve the problems than were the control groups! 

The article was by Sydney Zentall and colleagues (2011), at Purdue University. They were interested in the social behaviors of children with symptoms of ADHD and how those behaviors might affect the actions of those with whom they were interacting. To conduct the experiment, they formed groups consisting of three middle-school students per group. The experimental groups contained one student with ADHD symptoms and two without such symptoms, and the control groups contained only students without the symptoms.
In order to give the groups something to interact about, they presented each with two problems to solve — the same two problems for each group. The problems were such that solving them required both insight and logic. The researchers’ primary interest was in the cooperative and apparently uncooperative ways the individuals in each group interacted with one another as they attempted to solve the problems.
Here’s what they found concerning social interactions. As predicted, the ADHD students often made irrelevant and uncooperative comments, which diverted the group’s attention away from the problem to be solved. This kind of behavior was contagious; the non-ADHD students in the experimental groups also showed less cooperative and more off-task behavior than did the non-ADHD students in the control groups. So far this all points against the value of including someone with ADHD in your group.
But now, here’s the surprising finding. The groups containing an ADHD student were far more likely to solve the problems than were the control groups! In fact, 14 of the 16 groups (88%) containing an ADHD student solved both problems, and none (0%) of the 6 control groups did. This result was significant at the p < .0001 level, meaning that there is less than one chance in 10,000 that such a large difference, with this many groups, would occur by chance.
Degrees of cooperation and disruption
What is going on here? How is it that the groups that were least cooperative and apparently most off-task were able to solve the problems so much more reliably than the highly cooperative groups without an ADHD-disrupter?
The authors of the article give us no clue, at least not in this article. Their main purpose was to score the degree of cooperation and disruption going on, and those results fit their prediction — the ADHD-contaminated groups behaved in ways that appeared less cooperative and less task-oriented than the non-contaminated groups.
The researchers weren’t particularly interested, in this study, in whether or not the groups actually solved the problems. They reported the problem-solving results as unpredicted and surprising, but did not discuss them at all. Their methodology included no observations concerning the actual contributions that each group participant played toward solving the problem. Were the ADHD kids solving the problems themselves? Or were they contributing some unique insight that then helped the others solve the problems? Or were the ADHD kids, perhaps by way of their “disruptive behavior,” loosening the thinking of the whole group, which improved everyone’s problem-solving ability?
I should note that the “ADHD students” in this experiment were not students who had officially been diagnosed with ADHD. Rather, they were students who were scored by their teachers as having the characteristics of ADHD, using the official diagnostic checklist, but had never been labeled so by a physician. An advantage of this over using officially diagnosed ADHD students is that none of them were taking the stimulant drugs typically used as treatment. So these were non-drugged students with ADHD-like characteristics.
The results led me to wonder if there is other research indicating that peoples with ADHD symptoms are better than others at solving certain kinds of problems. So I did a little digging into the research literature, and here is what I found.
ADHD symptoms improve "out-of-the-box" thinking and interfere with "in-the-box" thinking
It turns out that quite a few research studies have been conducted to compare ADHD participants with non-ADHD participants in problem-solving ability. Indeed, Zentall has been involved in some of that work. In one study, he and colleagues found that teenagers who had been identified as “gifted” and who also showed symptoms of ADHD scored higher on the Torrence Tests of Creative Thinking (a standard test of creativity) than did similarly gifted, non-ADHD teenagers (Fugate, Zentall, & Gentry, 2013).
Another study found that 40% of 10–12 year-olds who had been previously identified as highly creative displayed ADHD symptoms at levels sufficiently high as to warrant a diagnosis of the “disorder” (Healy & Rucklidge, 2006). Another study found that ADHD children told more richly imaginative stories than did non-ADHD children (Zentall, 1988). Another found that ADHD teenagers were better at coming up with novel ideas for new toys and were less constrained by examples of old toys than were non-ADHD teenagers (Abraham et al., 2006). Another found that ADHD college students outperformed non-ADHD students in the Unusual Uses Task (where you think of unusual uses for objects (White & Shah, 2006).
ADHD students generally perform poorly in school, because school involves almost entirely in-the-box thinking.

Another study found that ADHD college students preferred problems that involve generating new ideas, while non-ADHD students preferred problems that involve elaborating upon or extending old ideas (White & Shag, 2011). Another study found that children who had been diagnosed with ADHD performed better on a test of creative elaboration when they were off of Ritalin (the drug used to treat the “disorder”) than when they were on Ritalin (Swartwood et al., 2003).
Taking all of the research together, the studies indicate that ADHD symptoms correspond with improved performance on tasks that involve divergent, or “out-of-the-box” thinking, but interfere with tasks that involve convergent, or “in-the-box” thinking. ADHD students generally perform poorly in school, because school involves almost entirely in-the-box thinking. In fact, thinking out of the box can get you in trouble in school.
So, here’s my hypothesis about what was going on in those groups of middle-school children that contained someone with ADHD symptoms: The ADHD kid was generating new ideas about how to solve the problem, and the non-ADHD kids were following through on those ideas in a more focused way to see which ones would actually work. So, even though a lot of tomfoolery was going on in those groups, efficient problem-solving still occurred. In contrast, the groups with no ADHD kid may have been stuck in the mud because nobody was coming up with new ways of trying to solve the problem. They kept persisting — in a highly cooperative, focused, and teacher-pleasing way — on a route that seemed most obvious but wasn’t working. I wonder if this hypothesis could be tested in a new analysis of the videotapes from that study.
Studies indicate that ADHD symptoms correspond with improved performance on tasks that involve divergent, or “out-of-the-box” thinking.

The concept of group intelligence, and a theory about the evolution of intelligence

Now I move on to a much larger point, about the nature of intelligence and its evolution. We think of intelligence as belonging to an individual person. We measure it in individuals and give it a number. Intelligence tests were first developed as a means of predicting school performance, and in schools, as we generally know them, problem-solving is almost always done by individuals, not by groups.
I suggest here that, from an evolutionary perspective, it makes more sense to think of intelligence as a product of the group rather than a product of the individual. During all but a tiny recent portion of our evolutionary history, we were all hunter-gatherers; and research on hunter-gatherers indicates that essentially all of their problem-solving was done by groups (see, for example, Gray, 2009). Men tracked and hunted in groups, and to do so they had to solve many very difficult intellectual problems. Indeed, a whole book has been written on the theme that the mental skills involved in tracking mark the origin of science (Liebenberg, 1990). As pointed out by Wannenburgh (1979), the men involved in tracking would discuss and test various hypotheses about the meaning of the scant signs in the sand, or the way a particular branch was bent, in order to determine such issues as the species, size, speed of movement of the animal and the time of day that it had passed that spot. Similarly, women generally worked in groups to decide where and what to gather on a given day, based on cues as to what might be available in the area where they were foraging. In the evening, around the campfire, all of them would be involved in making decisions that affected the whole band, such as whether or not it was time to move on to a new campsite and where that campsite might be.
It’s easy to understand why problem-solving in these situations would be facilitated by including people with diverse cognitive styles. In particular, in relation to the ADHD research, it would seem valuable to have one or more persons in your group whose attention is easily distracted and who, therefore, shifts quickly from one observation or idea to another. In the hunting group, that’s the person who would notice a bit of fur stuck to a thorn, which the others had missed because they were so busy focusing on and debating about the mark in the sand. That’s also the person who might hear a tiger in the distance, and warn the others, who had missed that because it was irrelevant to the immediate problem they were trying to solve. Sometimes the ADHD guy can save the lives of the more studious, stuck-in-the-mud non-ADHD individuals.
I am suggesting that, historically, intelligence was the product of a network of minds working together, sometimes at odds with one another. And, in many, if not most cases outside of school, that is still true today.
I have a long-time friend who is famous for his ability to put together great scientific teams. He currently heads a science department at one of the world's most prestigious universities. I once asked him for his opinion about what makes a good scientist. I don’t remember his exact words, but the gist was something like this: 
Science is really a group enterprise. One person might get the Nobel Prize for something, but that person always benefitted from the work and ideas of others. You need some people who are basically good stamp collectors. They just like to collect and organize things. You need others who like to monkey around with equipment. They are the ones who work out practical ways to do the research you want to do. You need others who are kind of impractical and wild in their thinking. They come up with all sorts of ideas, many of them crazy, but some of them not so crazy, some even brilliant. Then you need people who are good at sorting through ideas to see which ones fit the facts and to follow them up logically with well-designed studies. 
I suspect that the research teams my friend has built are not devoid of people with symptoms of ADHD.

Is There a Link between ADHD and Creative Thinking? - Foundation for Economic Education - Working for a free and prosperous world