Archives for Knowledge

General

How To Help Kids Make Knowledge Stick

Kids tend to under-prepare for tests and be overly optimistic about the quality of their writing, and parents may suspect laziness or lack of motivation. However, much of the problem can be the student's fuzzy sense of what "knowing the material" means or what "a good essay" is. The ability to "know what you know" is called metacognition, and it's one of the big developmental tasks for maturing students. The younger the student, the less perspective they have on their own knowledge.   Here are some ways adults can help young learners develop their logic and make sense of the world around them:
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General

Unfortunately, Ignorance Feels Blissful: The Dunning-Kruger Effect

In my last post, I wrote about a student who couldn't tell whether or not he "knew" the material for a history exam. At least my student was knowledgeable enough to have doubts about his knowledge. Ironically, the truly clueless often don't wonder; they tend to be quite secure that they've got it knocked! Psychologists call this the Dunning-Kruger Effect, in which ignorant people often have great confidence in their "knowledge," whereas better-informed people tend to doubt themselves. 
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General

Pythagorean Pitfalls: Help for Math Students

As I go on my tutoring rounds, I wind up reteaching and clarifying the same material over and over. Certain topics and concepts are just plain hard for students to wrap their heads around. Many kids in grades 6-10 are currently covering Pythagorean Theorem or other geometry topics, and many are struggling (as usual!) with the word problems. If you are a parent, thinking Yipes ! I don't remember Pythagorean Theorem, the good news is that most students find the actual formula pretty do-able. But, they need help in reading the problem and drawing the diagram. Here's a sample problem from one textbook:
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General

The Wisdom to Know the Difference (Day Twelve: Twelve Days of Wisdom)

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, The courage to change the things I can, And the wisdom to know the difference. -The Serenity Prayer I like Victorian-era cemeteries, and whenever I visit one the Serenity Prayer enters my mind. In those days there was no cure for tuberculosis, which was romantically called "consumption" and which along with other infectious diseases filled the churchyards and necessitated the creation of vast new burying grounds. Victorian cemeteries were intended as parks where families could picnic and visit their departed loved ones on Sunday afternoons.
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Emotions and Feelings

Day Four: Memory is not accurate. Nope, not even yours. (Twelve Days of Wisdom)

Our memories can seem so vivid and realistic, it’s hard to believe they’re not literally true! But memory doesn’t work like a video camera. For one thing, due to our limited powers of attention (see Day One) we never get the whole story to begin with. Then, every time we recall an event our minds edit and interpret and embellish, like a fish story. And we do an especially inaccurate job on emotionally loaded events; we freight those memories with so much emotional baggage that they become personal fairy tales more than actual recollections.
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General

Day Three: Willpower is limited. (Twelve Days of Wisdom)

Think in the morning. Act in the noon. Eat in the evening. Sleep in the night. -William Blake When I get home from work, which can be as late as 10PM, I am soooo done! I don’t want to do anything besides kick off my shoes, fling my coat over a chair and grab something good to read (my way of relaxing) until bedtime. I’ve spent most of my life beating myself up over my evening slacker ways, until learning that, in fact, I’m not unusually lazy. Willpower naturally fades as the day wears on.
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Emotions and Feelings

Day Two: Emotions affect reasoning. (Twelve Days of Wisdom)

People use words as weapons, to defend themselves. It is common for people to attack with anger when they are afraid and to become insulting when they are hurt or jealous.  -Dr. Shirley Glass When we are anxious or angry we can’t think straight. This means we ought to avoid taking action or having heavy conversations while immersed in these mood states. The emotions of fear and anger trigger our internal fight-or-flight mechanism, which sends epinephrine (adrenalin) gushing through our bloodstream. Our heart races, our blood pressure shoots up, our platelets ready themselves to clot in case we are injured...and our higher-level thinking skills shut down. After all, it doesn’t take a lot of brainpower to run from a saber-toothed tiger.
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