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Thursday, November 14, 2019

PhDs: the tortuous truth | Careers -

Chris Woolston, freelance writer in Billings, Montana reports, Nature’s survey of more than 6,000 graduate students reveals the turbulent nature of doctoral research. 

Photo: JumpStory
Getting a PhD is never easy, but it’s fair to say that Marina Kovačević had it especially hard. A third-year chemistry student at the University of Novi Sad in Serbia, she started her PhD programme with no funding, which forced her to get side jobs bartending and waitressing. When a funded position came up in another laboratory two years later, she made an abrupt switch from medicinal chemistry to computational chemistry. With the additional side jobs, long hours in the lab, and the total overhaul of her research and area of focus, Kovačević epitomizes the overworked, overextended PhD student with an uncertain future.

And yet she could hardly be happier. “I think I’m exactly where I need to be,” she says. “I love going to work each day. I have lots of things to do, but I’m not stressed. I can’t imagine anything else that would bring me this much joy.”

The results of Nature’s fifth survey of PhD students bear out Kovačević’s experience, telling a story of personal reward and resilience against a backdrop of stress, uncertainty and struggles with depression and anxiety. The survey drew self-selecting responses from more than 6,300 early-career researchers — the most in the survey’s ten-year history. The respondents hail from every part of the globe and represent the full spectrum of scientific fields...

Institutions also have much to learn. This survey and others like it should point the way for institutions trying to adapt to the needs of their students, Gotian says. Even though a majority of students are satisfied with their programmes, she says, their complaints and frustrations deserve close attention. “We don’t want to run programmes the way we did 20 years ago,” she says. “People have changed, technology has changed, the job market has changed. We need to constantly evolve.”
Read more... 

Additional resources
Nature 575, 403-406 (2019) 
doi: 10.1038/d41586-019-03459-7  


A personality quiz for fans of math and history: Are you a Newton or a Leibniz? | Science - Ars Technica

Math teacher Ben Orlin writes and draws the (aptly named) blog Math With Drawings and is the author of a new book, Change Is the Only Constant: The Wisdom of Calculus in a Madcap World. To mark its publication, he devised this entertaining accompanying quiz. You can read the Ars interview with Orlin here.

Photo: Isaac Newton
Photo: Gottfried Leibniz
Ars Technica's Jennifer Ouellette, senior reporter says, Isaac Newton and Gottfried Leibniz 
are like night and day, or derivatives and integrals.
Arch-rivals Isaac Newton and Gottfried Leibniz famously fought over the credit for inventing calculus.
Isaac Newton and Gottfried Leibniz have a lot in common. Birthdates in the 1640s. Fatherless childhoods. Colossal egos. Show-stopping wigs. Most of all, each had the honor of bringing calculus into the world. But when it comes to personalities, Newton and Leibniz are like night and day, or England and France, or derivatives and integrals. They’re rivals. Opposites, even. Do you belong on #TeamNewton or #TeamLeibniz? 
Take this quiz to find out!

Recommended Reading

Change Is the Only Constant:
The Wisdom of Calculus in a Madcap World
Source: Ars Technica 

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Math Research: How Does it Work? | Campus - The UTD Mercury

Take an inside look at how UTD's mathematical scientists operate, solve problems using high dimension math, explains, according to Breanna Shen, Mercury Staff.  

Photo: Shubechhya Mukherjee, Mercury Staff
When people think of research, they imagine a scientist in a white lab coat pipetting chemicals or culturing cells on a petri dish. But when asked to consider “math research,” what comes to mind? What does pure math research entail?

This fall, the School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics inducted seven new tenured and tenure-track faculty. Among them, Baris Coskunuzer and Stephen McKeown conduct research in math, while Qiwei Li conducts statistics research.

“Pure mathematicians are not really interested in the real-life applications,” Coskunuzer said. “They are trying to solve nice puzzles, which give you interesting relationships between objects.” 

Coskunuzer got his first taste of math as a high schooler in Turkey, where he enjoyed classes in abstract math. He majored in math in college, and as a Ph.D. student at Caltech, his advisor introduced him to geometric topology... 

In contrast with pure math research, Li said, statistics research centers on application, especially in medicine or biology.

“Statistics is the science about data, because the data can reveal lots of interesting things about the body and the world,” Li said...

Li uses Bayesian statistical tools to draw conclusions in two areas of application, digital pathological images and microbiomes, which are collections of microorganisms, using both data and prior knowledge. High resolution images of pathological tissues can be analyzed by a deep learning AI to identify different types of cells, Li said. The patterns of cells are statistically quantified and used to predict patient survival outcome.

Source: The UTD Mercury

Mathematician discovers method to simplify polymer growth modelling | Mathematics - Phys.Org

A mathematician from RUDN University has proven that there are no solutions to functional differential inequalities associated with the Kardar-Parisi-Zhang (KPZ)-type equations, nonlinear stochastic partial differential equations that arise when describing surface growth by Phys.Org.

Photo: RUDN University
The obtained conditions for the absence of solutions will help in studies of polymer growth, the theory of neural networks, and chemical reactions. The article was published in Complex Variables and Elliptic Equations

The main difficulty with nonlinear partial differential equations is that many of them are not solved exactly. For practical purposes, such equations are solved numerically, and the questions of the existence and uniqueness of their solutions become problems over which scientists have been struggling for decades, and sometimes centuries. One of these problems—Navier-Stokes existence and smoothness—was included in the famous list of Millennium Prize problems: The Clay Mathematical Institute in the U.S. offers a prize of $1 million for solving any of these problems.

Any partial differential is defined in a certain area, e.g., on a plane or in a sphere, or in space. Usually, it is possible to find a solution to such equations in a small neighborhood of a point, i.e., a local solution. But it may remain unclear.

RUDN University Mathematical Institute mathematician Andrei Muravnik used the method of inequalities. He generalized the existing theorems to the quasilinear case that arises in the study of the KPZ-type equations. The conditions obtained not only limit the set of possible solutions to the KPZ-type equations, but are also are necessary for the solvability of problems that arise in practice. In particular, these results help in solving the problems of surface growth when modeling the behavior of polymers, and can also be used in the theory of neural networks.

Additional resources
A. B. Muravnik. On absence of global solutions of quasilinear differential-convolutional inequalities, Complex Variables and Elliptic Equations (2019).  
DOI: 10.1080/17476933.2019.1639049

Source: Phys.Org 

Sunday, November 10, 2019

75 books from university presses that will help you understand the world | Culture -

These books will help you understand the world and make it a better place by Constance Grady, Staff Writer at Vox. 

Photo: The City Library of Stuttgart, Germany, on October 31, 2019. Agron Beqiri/Nur/Getty Images
Under the Donald Trump administration, misinformation is as constant and pervasive as oxygen. Which means that rigorously researched and fact-checked books are a deeply attractive resource — but they’re not always easy to find. 

Traditional publishing doesn’t have a built-in fact-checking system. It leaves the task (and expense) of fact-checking entirely to its authors. The result is that every few months, a major book is torpedoed by the news that it is riddled with errors.

The latest version of this story came earlier this week, when a new book from Hachette’s conservative imprint Center Street claimed that under President Barack Obama, the CIA complained of “nonstop PC [political correctness] meetings.” That claim then became a Fox News headline, and kicked off a round of right-wing outrage as stories in conservative outlets like the Washington Examiner followed. PC in this context, however, did not stand for “political correctness.” It stood for “principals committee” meetings, and when news of that error hit Twitter, it drove another round of outrage, this time from the left, with mocking headlines popping up on progressive outlets across the web...

University presses get peer reviewed. That’s a level of quality control most books don’t have.
“University press books are consistently the most reliable source of longform content based on deep research that has been vetted by experts,” says Kathryn Conrad, director of the University of Arizona Press and president of AUPresses.

Unlike traditional publishers, university presses peer review their books, meaning that they send each book to scholars who are experts in the subject matter to obtain their seal of approval before they send a book to the printers. (Disclosure: I used to work at a university press.) When the system works the way it’s supposed to, readers of a university press book can trust that a team of experts has ensured that what they’re reading is accurate and up to date...

The books on the list cross disciplines from linguistic anthropology to environmental studies to history to border studies to sociology, but all of them are designed to be readable even to a non-scholarly audience. That’s not always the case for university press books, many of which are written for scholars who already know all the jargon and backstory of a given field — but almost all university presses do aim to publish trade books for a lay audience alongside their academic books, and the trade books all get peer reviewed, too.


13 best Asian American children's and young adult books 2019 | Asian America - NBC News

The list includes a retelling of 'Little Women,' a story set amid Kuala Lumpur's 1969 riots, and an illustrated biography of Disney's first Asian American animator by Lakshmi Gandhi, Freelance reporter and Social Media Manager at NBC News

Asian American books for children and young adults to read in 2019
Recent years have seen an onslaught of books featuring both diverse characters and diverse experiences, including from and about an Asian American lens.
For parents eager to raise a young reader, filling your home with books your child can connect to is essential.

“You want books all throughout your house — not just that one shelf in the living room, but the dining room, the bathroom, [and so on],” Maria Russo, co-author of “How To Raise a Reader,” told NBC News in October. She discussed how to build and nurture your child's love of literature.

For Russo, the most important thing parents of readers can do is make sure reading is seen as accessible and fun. “Having a lot of books in your own house and creating an environment where books are nearby that they can stumble on sets a family culture [of reading],” she said...

As we approach the end of the year, we’re looking back at some of the best children’s and young adult books to be released in 2019 by and about Asian Americans. From the illustrated story of a Disney legend who was instrumental in creating “Bambi” to an award-nominated young adult novel about a Filipino American teen caught between two worlds, here are some books to consider placing on your bookshelves this winter.

Source: NBC News

The Greatest Unknown Intellectual of the 19th Century | Science & Technology - The MIT Press Reader

Photo: Emil du Bois-Reymond
Emil du Bois-Reymond proclaimed the mystery of consciousness, championed the theory of natural selection, and revolutionized the study of the nervous system. Today, he is all but forgotten, argues Gabriel Finkelstein, Associate Professor of History at the University of Colorado Denver. 

A detail of a page from du Bois-Reymond's notes to his popular lectures.
Photo: Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin, Preußischer Kulturbesitz (Berlin State Library, Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation)
Unlike Charles Darwin and Claude Bernard, who endure as heroes in England and France, Emil du Bois-Reymond is generally forgotten in Germany — no streets bear his name, no stamps portray his image, no celebrations are held in his honor, and no collections of his essays remain in print. Most Germans have never heard of him, and if they have, they generally assume that he was Swiss.
But it wasn’t always this way. Du Bois-Reymond was once lauded as “the foremost naturalist of Europe,” “the last of the encyclopedists,” and “one of the greatest scientists Germany ever produced.” Contemporaries celebrated him for his research in neuroscience and his addresses on science and culture; in fact, the poet Jules Laforgue reported seeing his picture hanging for sale in German shop windows alongside those of the Prussian royal family. 

Those familiar with du Bois-Reymond generally recall his advocacy of understanding biology in terms of chemistry and physics, but during his lifetime he earned recognition for a host of other achievements. He pioneered the use of instruments in neuroscience, discovered the electrical transmission of nerve signals, linked structure to function in neural tissue, and posited the improvement of neural connections with use. He served as a professor, as dean, and as rector at the University of Berlin, directed the first institute of physiology in Prussia, was secretary of the Prussian Academy of Sciences, established the first society of physics in Germany, helped found the Berlin Society of Anthropology, oversaw the Berlin Physiological Society, edited the leading German journal of physiology, supervised dozens of researchers, and trained an army of physicians...

Detecting brain-beats is not yet common practice in barbering, but it is in medicine. In this respect Kierkegaard was right: The march of technology has been steady to the point of routine. Every refinement of du Bois-Reymond’s electrophysiological apparatus, from the vacuum-tube amplifier to the microelectrode to the patch clamp, can be thought of as a footnote to his original technique. Such achievement in instrumentation is anything but small: Two years after Kierkegaard’s taunt, du Bois-Reymond contended that physiology would become a science when it could translate life processes into mathematical pictures. The imaging devices associated with medical progress — the EKG, the EEG, the EMG, and the CT, MRI, and PET scanners — seem to vindicate his prediction. But success is not a category of analysis any more than failure. To make sense of why du Bois-Reymond devoted the whole of his scientific career to one problem, it helps to understand his deepest motivations...

How, then, could someone so famous and so important end up so forgotten? Let me suggest three kinds of answer. The first has to do with the histories that disciplines write about their origins. These usually take the form of the classical Greek myth of the Titanomachy, with a Promethean figure (the disciplinary founder) aligning with the Olympian gods of truth against an older and more barbaric generation (here symbolized by Kronos, or tradition). Psychology provides a perfect case in point. In Russia the discipline’s heroes are the two Ivans, Pavlov and Sechenov, with little discussion of how much they owed to Carl Ludwig’s studies of digestion or Emil du Bois-Reymond’s studies of nerve function. In Austria the hero is Sigmund Freud, and only recently has Andreas Mayer laid out just how much he learned from Jean-Martin Charcot’s use of hypnosis. And in the United States the hero is William James, the center of a veritable industry of scholars, none of whom quite put their finger on why he moved to Berlin in 1867. James never mentioned his debt to du Bois-Reymond, perhaps because he quit his class, or perhaps because so many of his early lectures drew from du Bois-Reymond’s writings. In each case the titanic hero breaks the line of continuity, throws over the all-devouring father, and benefits humanity with his torch of reason.

Recommended Reading

Emil du Bois-Reymond:
Neuroscience, Self, and Society in Nineteenth-Century Germany (Transformations: Studies in the History of Science and Technology)

Saturday, November 09, 2019

No one gets left behind | Columns -

I know that there are many people who dream of finishing school, summarizes Kim Alexis V. Sta. Ana, graduate of the ALS Program of La Salle Greenhills, and is now a freshman mass communication student under the AMA University Online Education.

Fortunately, for some of us who lack the resources to acquire formal education, there is finally a solution that can benefit many of our out-of-school youth and adult learners who just want to get their hands on a diploma.

The Alternative Learning System (ALS) is a parallel learning system implemented by the Department of Education under the Bureau of Alternative Learning System that serves as a viable option to the existing formal instruction, so that learners can complete basic education in a mode that is beneficial to their distinct situation and needs. For those who do not have the chance to attend formal schooling, ALS is the substitute. Unlike in the formal education system where students are taught in a classroom within a strictly implemented time period, ALS learners are taught in places like barangay halls, private homes, community centers and even libraries, within a schedule that they themselves choose. Therefore, while formal learning is “pushed” on learners, learners are “pulled” toward informal education.

No matter what age, ethnicity, color or religion, ALS welcomes people with open arms, giving them a taste of what it is like to learn things at their own pace, or what’s convenient for them. ALS can apply to everybody: primary and secondary school dropouts, out-of-school youths, nonreaders, working individuals and even senior citizens who are interested in either brushing up or developing new skills... 

ALS has benefited me and my classmates in more ways one can imagine. I used to be so unwilling to get assistance, especially whenever I was having a hard time. But because of ALS, I have learned that there’s nothing wrong in wanting and asking for support. Achieving something on your own is triumphant, but achieving something with the people around you is transcendent. Success isn’t just something you can accomplish by yourself. It’s the guidance of other people that can take you on the right path, and that’s truly what ALS has been able to do for me. My ALS classroom has easily become my second home, and my classmates and instructors my family.

From Alice in Wonderland to the Hitchhiker's Guide: top 10 books about mathematics | Mathematics- The Guardian

From Lewis Carroll to Douglas Adams and even Dostoevsky, the imaginative possibilities of numbers have animated some dazzling fiction by Catherine Chung, author.

Photo: JumpStory

Sories and mathematics have always been woven together in my mind – two foundational ways of looking at the world, not incompatible but complementary. When I was growing up, my mother told me myths and fairytales at bedtime, while my father recounted stories of famous mathematicians and gave me his favourite maths riddles to try to solve. Which is maybe why in my new novel, The Tenth Muse, I try to bring the two together, while challenging the many mistaken assumptions people hold about maths. My protagonist is a brilliant and ambitious mathematician who happens to be a woman tackling one of her subject’s most pressing conundrums. 

I hope her journey provides a history of mathematics and the ways it has changed the world, the challenges women in particular have faced in trying to join its professional ranks, and a glimpse of how exhilarating it can be. My favourite kind of maths reveals the outer reaches of the imagination and how in finding a solution it is possible to illuminate an idea. Maths can shine a light on both the simplest and most complex things; the same is true of my favourite literature. I hope her journey provides a history of mathematics and the ways it has changed the world, the challenges women in particular have faced in trying to join its professional ranks, and a glimpse of how exhilarating it can be. My favourite kind of maths reveals the outer reaches of the imagination and how in finding a solution it is possible to illuminate an idea. Maths can shine a light on both the simplest and most complex things; the same is true of my favourite literature. 

So if you’re in search of a glorious read packed with mathematical thoughts, here is a list of some of the most inventive, mind-bending, wondrous books I know:

Source: The Guardian 

More UMaine System Students Are Taking Degree Courses Online. That Concerns Some Educators |

For some students in Maine, college this fall might look a lot different than it did 10 years ago, reports Robbie Feinberg, Education News Producer

Jason Ennis works on an online class from his office at MMG Insurance in Presque Isle.
Photo: Robbie Feinberg / Maine Public
The state's university system has boosted online courses by nearly 30 percent over the past five years. 

And it's now partnering with an outside firm to market and expand its offerings even further. But the push to reach more adult students comes with new challenges.
Some days, Jason Ennis gets to his office at MMG Insurance in Presque Isle really early, when no one's yet around. He'll pull out his laptop and launch an online learning platform that he's using to earn a business degree from the nearby University of Maine at Presque Isle.

"At lunch time, during my one hour lunch, I'll try to squeeze in half an hour of work a day, if I can," he says. "And whenn finals are due, if I'm not all caught up, like this week, I'll have to take a day or two off just to wrap it up...

Jim McClymer, a professor and president of the university system's faculty union, says he's encouraged that the new initiatives have started out relatively small, and that administrators have talked with professors and helped them with training. But he does have concerns that online learning might squeeze out more and more in-person options.

"There is value in face-to-face, and it can look economically appealing to, say, let them all go to online," McClymer says. "And that could be damaging to students who are here, who want that and should have that direct experience with the faculty."


Suggested Books Today | Books - Helge Scherlund's eLearning News

Check out these books below by Cambridge University Press and Oxford University Press.

Photo: JumpStory
Human-Robot Interaction - An Introduction  

Human-Robot Interaction
An Introduction
The role of robots in society keeps expanding and diversifying, bringing with it a host of issues surrounding the relationship between robots and humans. This introduction to human–robot interaction (HRI), written by leading researchers in this developing field, is the first to provide a broad overview of the multidisciplinary topics central to modern HRI research...

Self-contained chapters discuss a wide range of topics, including the different communication modalities such as speech and language, non-verbal communication and the processing of emotions, as well as ethical issues around the application of robots today and in the context of our future society.
  • Minimal prerequisites and modular presentation enable courses to be tailored to fit students with different backgrounds
  • Discussion questions and relevant literature at the end of each chapter contribute to deeper conversations in and outside the classroom
  • Over ninety color illustrations showcase the history and most recent developments in human–robot interaction
Publication planned for: April 2020
Read more... 

Primary Mathematics - Integrating Theory with Practice 

Primary Mathematics
Integrating Theory with Practice
Primary Mathematics: Integrating Theory with Practice provides a comprehensive introduction to teaching and learning mathematics in today's classrooms...

Each chapter highlights how the theory of teaching mathematics can be put into practice effectively and includes new guided reflective questions and student tasks. Written by an expert author team, Primary Mathematics remains an essential resource that will prepare and excite pre-service teachers for their future as mathematics educators.
  • Comprehensive coverage of topics, including the core learning areas of measurement, space and geometry, early number concepts, data and statistics, chance and probability, and patterns and algebra
  • Three new chapters on general capabilities and cross-curriculum priorities, STEM in the primary setting, and becoming a teacher of mathematics
  • New guided reflective tasks included in each chapter, in addition to key term definitions, snapshot case studies and reflection points, and activities to help students put their knowledge into practice
Publication planned for: November 2019
Read more... 

How to do your Social Research Project or Dissertation 

How to do your
Social Research Project or Dissertation
For final-year social science undergraduates, 'How to do your Social Research Project or Dissertation' is the most student-led guide to confidently navigate the research process. It shares real student and supervisor experiences to help motivate you; provides advice for efficient time management; and tracks your progress through focused checklists.
  • A straight-talking approach, and an easy-to-navigate structure, makes this book ideal for busy final-year social science undergraduates looking for focused and efficient guidance on completing their dissertation or research project
  • The only book to include tips from real supervisors in the 'Working with your supervisor' feature, to help you get the most of your supervisor meetings, as well as advice from other students going through the process with the 'I wish I'd known...' feature, to help you avoid making the same mistakes!
  • Focuses on practical advice to prepare you for the realities of doing a research project: the book tells you what you need to know, what you need to think about, and what you need to do
October 2019

Trigonometry: A Very Short Introduction 

A Very Short Introduction
Born of the desire to understand the workings of motions of the heavenly bodies, trigonometry gave the ancient Greeks the ability to predict their futures. Most of what we see of the subject in school comes from these heavenly origins; 15th century astronomer Regiomontanus called it "the foot of the ladder to the stars."

In this Very Short Introduction Glen Van Brummelen shows how trigonometry connects mathematics to science, and has today become an indispensable tool in predicting cyclic patterns like animal populations and ocean tides. 

January 2020 
Read more... 

Sit in the studyroom enjoy a hot cup of ☕️coffee and a good 📚book

Source: Cambridge University Press and Oxford University Press 

The School of Rock! Watch the UEA lecturer who sings his lessons | Education - Eastern Daily Press

Bethany Whymark, Author at Eastern Daily Press says, His musical covers could include School's Out, I'd Like To Teach The World To Sing and I Don't Like Mondays. 
UEA lecturer Steve Smith writes songs about nursing for his lectures.
Photo: Ella Wilkinson
That's because this University of East Anglia (UEA) academic is hitting the right notes with students by using his musical talent to spice up lectures.

Rather than the traditional Powerpoint presentation, senior nursing lecturer Stephen Smith uses songs to help his students remember the course content.

Mr Smith, who has a background in nursing neuroscience and specialist care for patients with neurological diseases, regularly holds sing-along lectures with his guitar featuring songs he writes himself..

"I started this myself because I struggled to remember a lot of the things I was being taught and I found if I read the text books and converted it into something that rhymed and had a chorus, it stuck. Some of the students tell me that's still the case.

"Some students who have graduated and qualified get back to me and say 'years later I can still remember that chorus every time I think of this particular subject' so I am encouraged by that."
Read more... 

Source: Eastern Daily Press

Friday, November 08, 2019

The “Unschooling” Movement Lets Kids Direct Their Learning—And Shocker, It Works | Culture - Parade

The other day I mentioned to my 6-year-old son that there was a rare tornado in New Jersey near where we live, which led to him asking tons of questions about tornados, which led to me answering those questions, which led to us watching videos of tornados and him asking a bunch more questions, continues Parade.

Photo: iStock
We talked about why they usually don’t form in New Jersey, and why they’re more common in the middle part of the country, which led to us looking at a map of the United States and talking about geography. 

If you’re a parent, chances are you’ve been down one of these information rabbit holes with your children, too. And if so, here’s a surprise: You’ve unschooled your kid. 

What is unschooling? 
As with homeschooling, unschooled children don’t attend public school. Instead, education happens through kids’ natural curiosity and love of learning, with parent support but without a curriculum, lesson plans or tests. “Instead of sitting at a table with a textbook, we allow them to delve into their own interests in any way they can,” says photographer Philan Tokarz, who along with her photographer husband, Aaron, and three of their children ages 7, 9 and 11, have traveled the US in a “skoolie,” or rehabbed school bus, since June 2018. “Unschooling allows us to lead a life of travel and adventure as we see the country. They have seen many fascinating landscapes during this time and learned much about their surroundings and our earth.”...

But how do you know they’re really learning? 
Unschooling parents say they don’t need a test to tell them whether their kids are learning: They can see it with their own eyes. But it’s true that reimagining education in this way goes against commonly held beliefs about school. “Unschooling is a stripping down of everything the public education system has told us that learning ‘needs’ to be, and just allows us as parents to fully trust in our children’s capabilities as unique learners,” McDermott says.

It would be helpful if there was more robust scientific research on unschooling, but the national data just isn’t there—not to mention the near impossibility of testing children whose parents reject testing. But, Boston College professor and unschooling advocate Peter Gray conducted two surveys, one of 232 parents and one of 75 unschooled now-adults, and found that the vast majority of those reported positive outcomes, including 83 percent going on to college. In some ways, unschooling may actually prepare kids for college because of its focus on self-motivation and personal responsibility. 
Read more... 

Source: Parade

Nicola Benedetti: 'Music is the art of all the things we can't see or touch. We need it in our lives | Classical music - The Guardian

This is an edited extract from a speech Nicola Benedetti gave to the Royal Philharmonic Society on 5 November
Watch her full speech here.

The violinist and passionate campaigner for music education spoke about the enriching power of classical music in a speech for the Royal Philharmonic Society. We publish an edited extract.

The making of music is healing, invigorating, exhausting, all-consuming ... Nicola Benedetti.
Photo: Andy Gotts
Our sense of the world and our place in it expands by the hour. This 21st-century jungle is incomprehensible in its complexity and fullness; the Earth is saturated with people and information. Just think about how much stuff is out there, from scientific and medical discoveries, books written, works of art created, the 500 recordings of Elgar’s Cello Concerto – the inordinate documentations of our collective pasts, and the continuous stream of current inventions is overwhelming.

We also have so many things in every shape, size, colour and form conceivable, and for every purpose imaginable. And many of these things are designed not to last. Mobile phones are downgraded through a process called “upgrading” – the companies that do it have admitted it!

But what about a thing that does last and is intended to? Do we understand the weight or value of a timeless thing? “Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge, where is the knowledge we have lost in information?” wrote TS Eliot in 1934. If he felt that then, I wonder what he would be saying about us now.

I believe that people still want to feel, and to be moved. They want to communicate with loved ones better and we all want to feel we are not alone in the world... 

For Socrates, the role of a teacher was akin to that of a midwife, implying that you have something within you that only requires bringing forth. French philosopher Emmanuel Levinas said that teaching is the presence of infinity breaking the closed circle of totality. In other words, through education, are we trying to open windows into worlds you would never dream of yourself? Interacting with, and ultimately embracing, the “other” or that which is radically different to you...

Learning an instrument demands learning how to practise. Practice itself can teach us uncommon discipline, persistence and patience. We know that caring for our instrument teaches us responsibility. That technical work and accuracy, playing in tune, coming in on time, paying attention to accents, dots, crescendos and sound production – all while trying to express something collectively – teaches us loud and clear about balancing opposites and staying afloat. 
Read more... 

Source: The Guardian

Galileo’s Big Mistake | Policy & Ethics - Scientific American

Photo: Philip Goff
How the great experimentalist created the problem of consciousness, argues Philip Goff, philosopher and consciousness researcher at Durham University in the UK.

Galileo shows the Doge his telescope, 1609.
Photo: Getty Images
If a tree falls in a forest and there’s no one there to see it, does it make a sound? An age-old philosophical conundrum you might think; in fact, this question was given a definitive answer in the 17th century by the father of modern science, Galileo Galilei. And the way in which Galileo answered this question shaped the philosophical foundations of the scientific worldview that remains with us to this day. Moreover, as I will explain, this scientific worldview has a big problem at its heart: it makes a science of consciousness impossible.

A key moment in the scientific revolution was Galileo’s declaration that mathematics was to be the language of the new science; the new science was to have a purely quantitative vocabulary. This is a much-discussed moment. What is less discussed is the philosophical work Galileo had to do to get to this position. Before Galileo, people thought the physical world was filled with qualities: there were colors on the surfaces of objects, tastes in food, smells floating through the air. The trouble is that you can’t capture these kinds of qualities in the purely quantitative vocabulary of mathematics. You can’t capture the spicy taste of paprika, for example, in an equation.

This presented a challenge for Galileo’s aspiration to exhaustively describe the physical world in mathematics. Galileo’s solution was to propose a radically new philosophical theory of reality...

Nothing short of a revolution is called for, and it’s already on its way. As I describe in my new book Galileo’s Error: Foundations for a New Science of Consciousness, scientists and philosophers have begun to come together to lay the groundwork for a new approach to consciousness. And this matters. The change in worldview that is called for cannot help but have profound implications for society more generally. Consciousness is at the root of human identity; indeed, it is arguably the basis of everything of value in human existence. This new scientific revolution will transform not only our understanding of the physical universe, but also of what it means to be a human being.
Read more...   

Recommended Reading

Galileo's Error:
Foundations for a
New Science of Consciousness
Source: Scientific American