Random Thoughts

ust catching up with some links

The Painted Veil: Movie

A superb movie!! – couldn’t figure out where the title came from, but (from you know where!!) The Painted Veil is a 1925 novel by W. Somerset Maugham. The title is taken from Percy Bysshe Shelley‘s sonnet which begins “Lift Not The Painted Veil Which Those Who Live/Call Life.”

Is Google making us stupid?

Indeed. Is this true of you? From www.theatlantic.com/doc/200807/google

Bruce Friedman, who blogs regularly about the use of computers in medicine, also has described how the Internet has altered his mental habits. “I now have almost totally lost the ability to read and absorb a longish article on the web or in print,” he wrote earlier this year. A pathologist who has long been on the faculty of the University of Michigan Medical School, Friedman elaborated on his comment in a telephone conversation with me. His thinking, he said, has taken on a “staccato” quality, reflecting the way he quickly scans short passages of text from many sources online. “I can’t read War and Peace anymore,” he admitted. “I’ve lost the ability to do that. Even a blog post of more than three or four paragraphs is too much to absorb. I skim it.”

I’ve been reading one difficult piece regularly recently. I started with the New Yorker. Can’t manage a book yet.

Punished by rewards: Book

by Alfie Kohn, Punished by Rewards – The Trouble with Gold Stars, Incentive Plans, A’s, Praise, and Other Bribes (reference via Tony Barrett)

Nice article from Educational leadership. (in PDF format) and interview with Alfie. www.alfiekohn.org/teaching/pdf/Punished%20by%20Rewards.pdf

” In this groundbreaking book, Alfie Kohn shows that while manipulating people with incentives seems to work in the short run, it is a strategy that ultimately fails and even does lasting harm. Our workplaces and classrooms will continue to decline, he argues, until we begin to question our reliance on a theory of motivation derived from laboratory animals.

Drawing from hundreds of studies, Kohn demonstrates that people actually do inferior work when they are enticed with money, grades, or other incentives. Programs that use rewards to change people’s behavior are similarly ineffective over the long run. Promising goodies to children for good behavior can never produce anything more than temporary obedience. In fact, the more we use artificial inducements to motivate people, the more they lose interest in what we’re bribing them to do. Rewards turn play into work, and work into drudgery.” www.alfiekohn.org/books/pbr.htm

Teaching Awards?? How does this apply to these strange entities? As I have quoted before:

At present the universities are as uncongenial to teaching as the Mojave Desert to a clutch of Druid priests. If you want to restore a Druid priesthood, you cannot do it by offering prizes for Druid-of-the Year. If you want Druids, you must grow forests

(Arrowsmith, 1967, pp. 58-59) Arrowsmith, W. (1967). «The future of teaching.» In C. B. T. Lee (Ed.), Improving college teaching (pp. 57-71). Washington, DC: American Council on Education.

Cool optical illusions

Got diverted. This is freaky: the winner of this year’s optical illusions competition.

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