In Love with the World

19th August 2022

Cheery Friday Greetings to our Learning How to Learners!

Hello from Abu Dhabi! Barb will be spending the week here keynoting and sharing during the professional development week at visionary—and swiftly climbing in the international rankings!—Khalifa University.

Book of the Month

In Love with the World: A Monk’s Journey Through the Bardos of Living and Dying, by Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche and Helen Tworkov. We’re a bit meditation-heavy lately. But this is because in her upcoming trip to Nepal in October-November, Barb will be spending time at the Kathmandu Tergar Osel Ling Monastery. (Barb, Terry, and Beth’s book Uncommon Sense Teaching is used there as a textbook, thanks to its neuroscientific insight that also supports the monastery’s Buddhist perspectives.) In Love with the World is a fascinating book about the world of meditation because it centers around world-renowned Buddhist monk Mingyur Rinpoche’s near-death experience and the insights he gained from it.

Basically, Mingyur Rinpoche decided to do a “wandering retreat”—which meant going out into the real world instead of withdrawing into solitary meditation. In some sense, he sought to escape the patterns that had been locked in by his habitual, basal ganglia-based procedural system.  As he notes: “To break the mold of my conditioning, I had needed to do something a little extreme. In order to break through our conditioning and confront old habits, we might deliberately reverse a common pattern, at least for a limited time: If we habitually pick up a cup with our right hand, we commit to using our left hand; or we vow not to check our media devices more than once an hour; or for one week we promise never to exceed the speed limit when driving. I do not drive, but I have been told that this can be quite difficult. Anything that interferes with mindless repetition can function as a wake-up call, and an antidote to automatic, mindless behavior and habitual fixations. To encourage curiosity and flexibility, it’s important to discover our limits, and then stretch a bit further. In terms of lifestyle, a wandering retreat for me was a very big stretch, no doubt about it. But… That’s how I’d ended up on this train, all alone, in the middle of the night.”

Inside the Massive Effort to Change the Way Kids Are Taught to Read

This insightful article by Belinda Luscombe in Time describes why so many children—and adults—are unable to read.  

“As a teacher in Oakland, Calif., Kareem Weaver helped struggling fourth- and fifth-grade kids learn to read by using a very structured, phonics-based reading curriculum called Open Court. It worked for the students, but not so much for the teachers. ‘For seven years in a row, Oakland was the fastest-gaining urban district in California for reading,’ recalls Weaver. ‘And we hated it.’

The teachers felt like curriculum robots—and pushed back. ‘This seems dehumanizing, this is colonizing, this is the man telling us what to do,’ says Weaver, describing their response to the approach. ‘So we fought tooth and nail as a teacher group to throw that out.’ It was replaced in 2015 by a curriculum that emphasized rich literary experiences. ‘Those who wanted to fight for social justice, they figured that this new progressive way of teaching reading was the way,’ he says.

“Now Weaver is heading up a campaign to get his old school district to reinstate many of the methods that teachers resisted so strongly: specifically, systematic and consistent instruction in phonemic awareness and phonics.”

TikToker or Filmmaker? Baron Ryan walks us through his TikTok process

This fascinating video walks us through TikTok star Baron Ryan’s creative process in making his videos.  There is much food for thought here for online teachers regarding the ease with which Baron creates his videos.

Inspiring Words from Yu Cao! 

Learning How to Learner Yu Cao writes: “I am a passionate learner. I have benefited tremendously from your course in Learning How to Learn. During my school year, when I worked to get my Ph.D., I applied various learning methods in your book. I now also teach my students the strategies I learned from you when I teach calculus. It is delightful to keep learning new things using the techniques!”

And here, incidentally, is a wonderful review of Learning How to Learn on Class Central, our go-to repository of reviews of the best MOOCs out there!

The “Diffuse Mode” and The New York Times’ Spelling Bee

Our dear friend Jenny Wolochow Sr. Product Manager at Coursera, notes how this article describes how to be a better solver of the Bee.”My last bit of advice is to come back to it. Give your brain a break, and you’ll see something you didn’t see before.” Yup—make use of that diffuse mode!

That’s all for this week. Have a happy week in Learning How to Learn!

Barb, Terry, and the entire Learning How to Learn team

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