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Posts Tagged ‘ted-ed

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The TED-Ed video above provides some WHO and WHAT of Socratic questioning, but not exactly HOW. The latter is immaterial given how we are learning animals.

But like most other animals, we can be conditioned to stop asking questions. When we lack this practice, we lose this aspect of critical thinking.

Some might say that an expert or a facilitator asking a seemingly endless series of difficult questions is unproductive. They then imagine students subject to such questions exasperatedly demanding straight answers instead. This group needs to understand this tenet of Socratic questioning [timestamp]:

…questioning draws out an individual’s unexamined assumptions and then challenges those biases. It doesn’t always provide definitive answers, but the method helps clarify the questions and eliminate contradictory and circular logic. And by following a line of inquiry where it logically leads, both the question asker and answerer can end up in unexpected places.

Others might say that such a technique is far too theoretical and time-consuming. This group might investigate how Socratic questioning has been used in the fields of medicine and law. You need good theory to have good practice, and it is well worth the investment in time to hone critical practitioners.

The video points out caveats for Socratic questioning to work:

  1. The topic relies on critical reasoning
  2. The teacher is well-versed in the topic
  3. The teacher is not there to show off or bully with their superiority

That is what the video says about Socratic questioning. Here is my take: A teacher providing immediate and direct answers might help students with what they don’t know for the moment. But Socratic questioning, when skillfully and meaningfully employed, helps them realise what they don’t know they don’t know. That outcome is far more valuable and long-term.


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What started as a retelling of the fable of a frog slowly being boiled to death ended with a reminder on how short-sighted we are.

The original story: A frog in increasingly hot water would not jump out until it was too late. This was supposed to be a reminder not to ignore the warning signs.

The scientific application of the story was that frogs would not sit in hot water for long. They would jump out of it if they could. Humans, on the other hand, are less inclined.

The rest of the science pointed to how we are gradually “boiling” our planet while ignoring the data and warnings about our irreversibly harmful behaviour.

The video is not only a good example of how to create a hook with a less expected sinker, it is also an example of how to use seemingly peripheral or tangential phenomena to dive deeper into a topic.


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What more needs to be said about “personality tests” like the MBTI that has not been critically pointed out before?

That they are neither valid nor reliable? Been there, done that. That they are the modern equivalent of snake oil? That too.

How about the fact that they are no better than Buzzfeed tests to see what kind of fictional character you are? If that is how such tests are used, then there is little harm.

The problem is how they are used to channel students and workers into paths based on test results when the test itself is not valid or reliable.

The MBTI and their ilk are not personality tests. They are poison-ality tests that brainwash users — administrators and decision makers who keep using them, and workers and students who know no better.

This TED Ed video outlines how and why we might be so stubborn or even stupid about our political leanings.


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It offers some advice when dealing with such a phenomenon:

  1. We need to recognise that we are more biased than we think
  2. We should make fact-checking part of a valued group process
  3. When trying to convince others, frame an argument in their language and values

There are parallels to dealing with novice learners who are exposed to new information or experiences:

  1. They have prior knowledge and experiences which may help or hinder learning
  2. We should make discovery-based investigation part of cooperative learning
  3. We might start with the language and examples that learners are familiar with to help them level up


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The video above has a clickbait title — this one weird trick will help you spot clickbait.

The examples highlight not one but three strategies when evaluating clickbait titles of news or video reports:

  1. Drawing a line between cause and effect
  2. Understanding the impact of sample size on reported results
  3. Distinguishing between statistical or scientific significance and practical bearing

Crash Course provided a ten-part series called Navigating Digital Information. But what good is claiming to be information literate if you cannot prove it?


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This TED-Ed video is a quick test on applying some of that knowledge by evaluating misleading headlines.

The video title states that this test is Level 1. So will there be more difficult tests?

I do not know how often I have uttered this phrase — I enjoyed that video about mathematics — but my guess is not often.

But here is one video and it claimed to tell you where math symbols come from.


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I learnt a few things, e.g., the origin of the “+” and “=“ signs. There was no explanation for the “-“ and “÷” symbols. As a result, I also learnt that you cannot take a video’s title at face value.

Thankfully I had to figure out how to input the “÷” symbol in my reflection and a simple Google Search provided some insights.

It is fact that self-directed Googling is how many learn at work or at home today. It is also fact that this is still not how many learn in schools today.

So when I read articles like this…

… and pull quotes like this…

… I say that things do not add up.

The digital exams are not likely to mirror how we actually learn. Despite the claim that “students can more readily cut and paste, edit their essays, move paragraphs around. They can be asked to respond to an e-mail, write a blog or social media post”, I doubt that they will be encouraged to do this authentically in an exam.

In other words, they will not actually be connected to the Internet as we know it today or in the near future. They will not be allowed to “cheat” by Googling or cooperating or teaching. The medium for exams might change, but the method will barely budge.

The adage “practice makes perfect” is an imperfect one. There is no point practising mindlessly nor is there any actual muscle memory. Such unscientific assumptions have, unfortunately, become the basis for homework to keep kids busy or for blind drill.

We now have neurological and cognitive research that helps us understand what practice does and which kinds of practice actually help.


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This TED-Ed video briefly explains how our psychomotor functions refine with practice. I fill in a few blanks based on basic biology and educational psychology.

Neurologically speaking, effective practice is due to the increased myelination of our motor neurones. This strengthens neural transmission, i.e., the signals from the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord) to the peripheral nervous system (nerves connected to muscles).

Cognitive science has also unlocked secrets on what makes for effective practice. Such practice is consistent and focused to target at weakness or what is “at the edge” of current abilities.

While drills might focus on what you are already competent at, cognitive science suggests that we concentrate on what is just outside our zone of proximal development.

The video focused largely on psychomotor skills and did not dwell on social aspects of cognition or construction. These are just as important, and arguably more so, in the contexts of learning languages, negotiating cultures, or establishing schema and mindsets.

We have much to learn about how and why we learn. The worst thing we can do is ignore good research and listen only to unquestioned tradition.


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