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Posts Tagged ‘perspective


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It is Friday and time for something light enough to enjoy but heavy enough to provoke some thought.

This video points out the difference between affective empathy and cognitive empathy. I wonder how many folks consider cognitive empathy to be a 21st century skill.

I am overseas again but will blog by scheduling posts or after being inspired by what I experience.

Yesterday I reflected on the first world problem (FWP) of deciding where to get a higher education.

Since it is Friday, here is a tongue-in-cheek look at other FWPs.


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Yeah, borderline ridiculous or well into that territory!

Contrast that with FWPs read by folks in disadvantaged countries.


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Today’s lesson is perspective. Get some.

The Straits Times had a report on Coursera, a joint venture by five universities in the USA that will offer courses for free. The original reports was from Reuters.

Here is the ST attempting to provide a balanced perspective by highlighting a disadvantage of the programme:

Here is the Reuters original:

For whatever reason, ST decided to end the article on a negative note. I guess it is entitled to.

But if you remember basic cognitive psychology, you might recall that people tend to remember beginnings and endings, not bits in the middle. So the subtle message ST sends is: There are free online courses, but they are not as good as what you might get face-to-face.

I would flip Winckler’s argument. How about considering the forms of collaboration and collaborative learning that take place online that cannot or do not happen face-to-face? How about the sheer relevance of these sorts of collaboration today and tomorrow?

But I do not have to convince Winckler since Reuters reported that he considers the free courses rigorous enough for his students. I might have to convince those who read the ST article and did not bother to get a second opinion.

010 | Suffer by The Doctr, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.0 Generic License  by  The Doctr 

I like that I get daily digests of news related to education. Better still, these are curated summaries from all the major news sources in Singapore. So even if there is something in a report in a language I do not understand, I get a nice summary.

Here is one such summary. I have highlighted a phrase in bold font.

Education depends on “heartware” (Chen Yu Xin, Yang Dan Xu, Huang Wei Man and Yang Yang, zbSunday, 1/1, p16)

Report featuring hopes for the New Year noted comments from VP/Pathlight School. Pathlight currently had over 700 autistic students, and that in the new academic year, the school would have two campuses to cope with the increasing number of students. VP/Pathlight School said that they would continue to work hand in hand to create a warm family for the students, and give them support and help in building self-confidence and developing their ability to work. She hoped that in the New Year, Pathlight could become a community where everyone showed concern for one another, allowing those suffering from autism to receive appropriate care in areas of education, career training, employment, and medical care among others. This would enable autistic students to live with respect and have quality of life, and would be accepted by society. She felt that education was not lacking in “hardware”, but opined that with more “heartware”, there would be more love in the community and society would be more accepting of people with special needs.

After I read this report, I wondered if whether someone was “suffering” from something is a matter of perspective.

Are autistic students different from the majority of other students? Yes, based on what we consider normal. Do they think they are suffering? Not all would think so. Those who have autism might not.

Here is a thought experiment. We label some children as suffering from ADHD. But later in life they might be better able to deal with an even faster changing world and its distractions. If we look back, the normal people might be the ones suffering from slowness.

So who is suffering now?


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I am a sucker for great time lapse photography/videography. I love this video for its epic sequences and also for the fact that I can relate to the type of places where they were shot.

I lived in Arizona when I was pursuing a Masters and hiked on the weekends to places like these.

I took this photo with a cheap point-and-shoot camera in 2001 on a hike to view Weaver’s Needle.

You would not normally get this view at the end of the trail. I decided to take a little bit of trouble and make a detour. I was rewarded with this view.

Sometimes a little off-the-beaten-track effort can go a long way.

Recently Singapore’s mrbrown highlighted these two videos of a German TV programme that highlighted the “crazy” things we do here.

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The person who uploaded the videos called them “misrepresentations”. The German TV company might call the uploading of their show to YouTube a “copyright violation”.

I am not worried about us being called crazy. As the first commenter at mrbrown’s site pointed out, something got lost in translation. And if you look through the German presenter’s eyes, some of the things he highlighted looked crazy!

If you can’t do that, you need a serious dose of humour. This doctor recommends 250ml of ha-ha juice at least five times a day.

I posted this Math question at my son’s blog about three weeks ago. It turned into an English lesson (I had a discussion with my 6-year-old about the word ambiguous) and a lesson on an aspect of critical thinking.

This was one of his easier Math questions that his teacher assigned him, but it was ambiguous thanks to the use of English in the question.

Math teachers will insist that the 8th boy is on the 7th boy’s right. From the reader’s perspective, it is.

But consider this from the 7th boy’s perpective, i.e., the right side of that boy. If he extended his right arm to put it around someone, he would get pally with the 6th boy. The 7th boy’s right is to your left. The “apostrophe s” makes the perspective the boy’s, not yours!

To make the question less ambiguous (and to reinforce Math logic), it could have simply rephrased, The ____ boy is on the right of the 7th boy.

When my son did this worksheet at home, he got stuck with it and consulted me on it. I illustrated the Math logic and we role played the language logic. He came to the same conclusion as I did but he was marked wrong.

I guessed that he would be told that he had the wrong answer, but I think he learnt more than just Math. Now he knows not to follow rules blindly.

In fact, he spots and corrects the occasional errors in grammar, punctuation or logic in his worksheets. But we tell him not to be too blatant about it. After all, not all teachers want to learn from their students. It’s a sad lesson in life…


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