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Posts Tagged ‘green

This is a follow up on going green “does not compute”.

To recap, Sunseap, a solar-to-electric provider joined forces with a local telco, StarHub, to provide two energy plans.

Sunseap-StarHub green energy plans.

Plan 1 was to go 100% solar but pay the same electricity tariff as the incumbent, Singapore Power (SP). This made no sense to me as the tariffs are tied to the price of natural gas. Solar energy is available as long as the sun shines.

Plan 2 was to get 20% off SP’s tariff but compromise on the energy source — only 5% was solar. This also made no sense other than saving money at the expense of still being 95% reliant on natural gas.

In my previous reflection, I wondered why there was no third option: 100% solar-sourced energy at a discount. I visited a store and spoke to two service folk. One said that he could not address my concern. Another said she and others brought this up, but higher-ups made those decisions.

The second representative also said that they wanted customers to sign up for Plan 2. Their rationale was that Plan 2 was an easy way to introduce customers to green energy. So the plan was to appeal to the pocket instead of thinking about the planet?

Such thinking is logically flawed. There is no need to tie the electricity tariff to the cost of natural gas since the source of energy is the sun. If the power company, Sunseap, wants to increase its base it could offer a significant discount on a 100% solar-sourced plan.

Part of their customer base might not be comfortable going solar. Sunseap could remind them that Apple Asia Pacific and the Housing Development Board (HDB) are in its fold.

Another part of the base wants to go solar. I include myself in that group. However, I do not want to cheat myself or the planet in doing so.

I eventually signed up for Plan 2 after providing my suggestions. Now here is another. Despite is being late in the afternoon, I noticed that I was only the third name in a clipboard list to do so. This was despite the provider offering gifts of a voucher or Google Home mini.

There is no need for gifts or novelty. The current plans do not compute because they do not make sense. Your customer base is not stupid or drawn only by pursestrings. I say they cut the gimmicks and just offer an attractive discount delinked from existing tariffs for 100% solar-sourced electricity.

Video source

“Does not compute, does not compute…” was my reaction when I found out about the “green” deals offered by StarHub and Sunseap.

What am I referring to?

The local electricity market has been opened to competitors and I live in a region that is part of the trial to switch from the incumbent to one of many options.

The one company that I could find that uses solar panels to generate electricity is Sunseap. This company seems to have a tie up with StarHub, the telco I happen to subscribe to.

Both claim to be green — Sunseap uses solar energy and StarHub has a green logo. Presumably both expect to make a lot of green from the partnership.

While my choice seems automatic, I am confused by the two options they present:

Two choices by StarHub/Sunseap.

Choice A is “for the green conscious” and if you read the details, I pay the same price as the incumbent even if I make the switch. The energy source is supposedly 100% solar. Apparently I reward myself with feel-goods and back-pats.

Choice B is “for maximum savings”. Why? I pay 80% of the incumbent’s tariff, but the compromise is that only 5% of the energy is from a clean source. So I pay less, but the planet takes up my slack.

What sort of choice is that?

Why is there not a third choice where I sign up for 100% solar and get a discount for not relying on electricity by natural gas or fossil fuels? Frankly, this should be the only choice.

What are these green companies not telling me?

Since some people would rather watch a video bite than read articles, I share SciShow’s Hank Green’s 2.5 minute critique of “learning styles”.

Video source

From a review of research, Green highlighted how:

  • the only study that seemed to support learning styles was severely flawed
  • students with perceptions that they had one style over others actually benefitted from visual information regardless of their preference

This is just the tip of the iceberg of evidence against learning styles. I have a curated list here. If that list is too long to process, then at least take note of two excerpts from recent reviews:

From the National Center for Biotechnology Information, US National Library of Medicine:

… we found virtually no evidence for the interaction pattern mentioned above, which was judged to be a precondition for validating the educational applications of learning styles. Although the literature on learning styles is enormous, very few studies have even used an experimental methodology capable of testing the validity of learning styles applied to education. Moreover, of those that did use an appropriate method, several found results that flatly contradict the popular meshing hypothesis. We conclude therefore, that at present, there is no adequate evidence base to justify incorporating learning-styles assessments into general educational practice.

In their review of research on learning styles for the Association for Psychological Science, Pashler, McDaniel, Rohrer, and Bjork (2008) came to a stark conclusion: “If classification of students’ learning styles has practical utility, it remains to be demonstrated.” (p. 117)

In Deans for Impact, Dylan Wiliam noted:

Pashler et al pointed out that experiments designed to investigate the meshing hypothesis would have to satisfy three conditions:

1. Based on some assessment of their presumed learning style, learners would be allocated to two or more groups (e.g., visual, auditory and kinesthetic learners)

2. Learners within each of the learning-style groups would be randomly allocated to at least two different methods of instruction (e.g., visual and auditory based approaches)

3. All students in the study would be given the same final test of achievement.

In such experiments, the meshing hypothesis would be supported if the results showed that the learning method that optimizes test performance of one learning-style group is different than the learning method that optimizes the test performance of a second learning-style group.

In their review, Pashler et al found only one study that gave even partial support to the meshing hypothesis, and two that clearly contradicted it.

Look at it another way: We might have learning preferences, but we do not have styles that are either self-fulling prophecies or harmful labels that pigeonhole. If we do not have visual impairments, we are all visual learners.

Teaching is neat. Learning is messy.

Learning is messy and teaching tries to bring order to what seems to be chaos. The problem with learning styles is that it provides the wrong kind of order. Learning styles has been perpetuated without being validated. A stop sign on learning styles is long overdue.

It was Kermit the Frog who declared that it was not easy being green. He was talking about standing out.

It is not easy to go green (be environmentally friendly) and see returns for your efforts too. The video below suggests a simpler habit we can all adopt.

Video source

But even the effort of buying responsibly can feel hollow because you are not sure what actual impact you are having.

How about doing the following then?

It is not easy to be green. It is not easy to parent either. But the latter is well within our grasp.

As parents and/or educators, we can all do something to nurture kids with progressive values that we can see in action a day, a year, and a generation from now.

Let our legacy be better kids.

Video source

This video by Hank Green highlights a finding in research that a more effective way to learn is to teach.

Researchers tested the effect of students being told to teach content vs being told that they would sit for a test. However, all the students (including the ones told to teach) were tested. What were the results?

Participants expecting to teach produced more complete and better orga- nized free recall of the passage (Experiment 1) and, in general, correctly answered more questions about the passage than did participants expecting a test (Experiment 1), particularly questions covering main points (Experiment 2), consistent with their having engaged in more effective learning strategies.

However, the study seemed to stop short of recommending that students actually teach to learn better.

I know this teach-to-learn strategy works because this is how I conduct my courses and workshops. But do not take my word for it.

The serendipitous publishing of a MindShift article on students teaching other students sheds some light on the why this works.


  • can find ways to make the content more relevant and exciting
  • are more creative with relating concepts or ideas
  • are closer to the “a-ha” moments and reach their peers in a more visceral way

I have also reflected on at least two other occasions on why teaching to learn is effective.

In writing about my second dimension of flipped learning, I mentioned how teaching requires learners to practice content delivery and to be active sense-makers.

Learning Pyramid by dkuropatwa, on Flickr
Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License   by  dkuropatwa 

Note: Take the percentages with more than a pinch of salt. The numbers cannot be substantiated.

When I shared the learning pyramid and justified my three dimensions of flipped learning, I mentioned how teaching was a process of cyclic processing, reprocessing, and reflection that honed a teacher’s internalization and treatment of content.

Green Green Green Grass by Bill Liao, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License  by  Bill Liao 

When I go on overseas study trips like the one I am on now, our hosts will invariably talk about the excellent education system we have in Singapore.

It is certainly something to be proud of, but I do not toot our horn. Nor do I opine that while we may have a good schooling system, I would not call it an educational system. We have not reached that state yet.

Depending on who I am talking to, I might point out that the grass is always greener on the other side. I did that today with one forward-thinking teacher.

I told him that it was a matter of perspective. He had filtered views from the media. Those in the field may not feel that way when you have to mow it, remove the weeds, or otherwise maintain it.

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