• How to learn.
    How to learn.
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    People who learn the quickest show the least neural activity, a new study finds.

    The research flies in the face of the common myth that the key to learning is trying harder and thinking it through.

    Instead, quick learners in particular showed reduced brain activity in the frontal cortex, an area linked to conscious planning.

    In other words: good learners don’t overthink what they are trying to learn.

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  • Are we training our grads NOT to think?
    Are we training our grads NOT to think?
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    …the crisis in American education may be more than a matter of sliding rankings on world educational performance scales.

    Our kids learn within a system of education devised for a world that increasingly does not exist.

    To become a chef, a lawyer, a philosopher or an engineer, has always been a matter of learning what these professionals do, how and why they do it, and some set of general facts that more or less describe our societies and our selves.

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  • Can you trust your, “Gut?”
    Can you trust your, “Gut?”
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    Recent research has proven that going after hunches is actually an important aspect of decision-making. Neuroscientist Antonio Damasio found that emotion is just as important as a reason when it comes to decision-making. Damasio examined how people with damage to their prefrontal cortex-specifically the orbitofrontal cortex, a small region just behind the eyes that are linked to emotions and our understanding of reward and punishment-are affected in their ability to make decisions.

    He found that people with damaged orbitofrontal cortexes struggled significantly when making the simplest decisions. That’s because they weren’t able to use their gut feeling for guidance.

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  • Does your brain really need a gym?
    Does your brain really need a gym?
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    “We object to the claim that brain games offer consumers a scientifically grounded avenue to reduce or reverse cognitive decline when there is no compelling scientific evidence to date that they do. . . . The promise of a magic bullet detracts from the best evidence to date, which is that cognitive health in old age reflects the long-term effects of healthy, engaged lifestyles.”

    “When researchers follow people across their lives, they find that those who live cognitively active, socially connected lives and maintain healthy lifestyles are less likely to suffer debilitating illness and early cognitive decline,” as the statement describes it.

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  • Empathy — minus reason?
    Empathy — minus reason?
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    The Week

    “Empathy is about standing in someone else’s shoes, feeling with his or her heart, seeing with his or her eyes,” writes author and prominent business-world thinker Daniel Pink. “Not only is empathy hard to outsource and automate, but it makes the world a better place.”

    A lovely thought. But new research suggests it isn’t always true.

    A paper just published in the journal Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin provides evidence that feelings of empathy toward a distressed person can inspire aggressive behaviour.

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  • Are we developing the right kind of smart?
    Are we developing the right kind of smart?
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    There seems to be wide support for the idea that we are living in an “age of complexity”, which implies that the world has never been more intricate. This idea is based on the rapid pace of technological changes, and the vast amount of information that we are generating (the two are related). Yet consider that philosophers like Leibniz (17th century) and Diderot (18th century) were already complaining about information overload. The “horrible mass of books” they referred to may have represented only a tiny portion of what we know today, but much of what we know today will be equally insignificant to future generations.

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  • The most wonderful time of the year?
    The most wonderful time of the year?
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    You may be feeling zen now but for many teachers, the start of term is like an onslaught. To help you get ready for a new school year, psychologist Gail Kinman offers advice on how to prepare and how to maintain a healthy work-life balance.

    It’s the most wonderful time of the year —

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  • Food for thought…
    Food for thought…
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    The image mostly speaks for itself — disturbingly so. Think it over — what colour is most of our world? What colour are the vast majority of our public institutions, social networks, political leaders and churches?

    (For full-sized image, just right click and open in a new tab — or click the link to the main image host.)

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