12th March 2021

Cheery Friday Greetings to our Learning How to Learners!

Book of the Week

Kindred: Neanderthal Life, Love, Death and Art, by Rebecca Wragg Sykes. We have to admit, like many a fellow Homo sapiens, we’re enamored of Neanderthals. So we were very excited to get our hands on this book. And indeed, Kindred did a great job of pointing out not only the surprising intelligence of Neanderthals and their cunning abilities with stone tools, but also of describing the enormous time spans involved in the Neanderthal sojourn in Europe and parts of Asia.  We did notice that reviewers often observed that the book was “fact packed,” which can often be a bit of code to avoid unkindness.  Sadly, after a while, the facts grew monotonous, while interpretation was often lacking. The lead up to why the Neanderthals vanished was something of a bustalthough humans are a reasonable bet to being the culprits, at least in part, we instead hear of inbreeding and disease. 

Kindred is an interesting read if you’re into the current nitty-gritty of Neanderthal anthropological findings. But if you’re looking for a more conclusive read, you may wish to wait a few more years until more definitive findings might come available.

CaffeineWhy We Love It…

Here’s an interesting article by Chris Melore in StudyFinds related to caffeine’s effect on sleep and cognition. Key grafs: “The surprising results reveal caffeine use does not result in poorer sleep. However, researchers find there are significant changes in the volume of gray matter just in the 10 days with or without caffeine in a person’s system.

“After 10 days of no caffeine, participants had a much higher volume of gray matter in the brain than they did while consuming caffeine. The differences are especially noticeable in the brain’s right medial temporal lobe. This area includes the hippocampus, which is essential for memory consolidation… While caffeine may shrink the amount of gray matter in the brain, the study finds these changes don’t last for long if a person stops consuming the stimulant. Researchers say gray matter regenerated in the subjects during their 10 days on the placebo pills.”

Cajal Embroidery Project 2020

LHTLer Susan Van Wyck has made us aware of a fascinating project to honor the beloved father of modern neuroscience Santiago Ramón y Cajal, who, along with his breakthrough discoveries, is also famous for his “beautiful, detailed, and accurate, illustrations of the histology of the central nervous system.”  (Cajal and his father had fought since his earliest days about Cajal’s desire to be an artist versus his father’s desire for him to become a doctor. In the end, Cajal found a way to fulfill both careers!)  The large, multi-panel embroidery has been featured on the cover of many scientific journals, and for good reason!

The Value of Reading More Broadly—and of a Great Environmental Education Program!

 Apropos last week’s comment from us about the importance of also reading conservative sites, Professor Howard Drossman, the TREE Semester Director and Professor of Environmental Education at Colorado College, writes: “Loved your point about reading conservative sites. Though I lean liberal, I took the time to search more about the Washington Beacon last week and found an article by Mother Jones (no less) touting the Beacon‘s journalism. Good for you to call out those who only read one side!”

Incidentally, as Colorado College’s informative article observes, Teaching and Research in Environmental Education (TREE) Semester has received a statewide award for Innovation in Environmental Education for its outstanding work in preparing future leaders in environmental education who learn how to inspire K-12 students to become ecological stewards. The program is one of only nine accredited environmental education programs in North America, and one of only two such undergraduate programs in the country. If you’re interested in environmental education, this program is well worth checking out!

When Education Becomes a Cult

This important article, The Miseducation of America’s Elites,” by the former New York Times reporter Bari Weiss (she resigned due to the rampant anti-Semitism in the New York Times workplace), describes the cult-like indoctrination, rather than education, going on in elite schools.  It’s an eye-popping read. 

Listening is Essential. Here’s How to Get Better at It.

This article by Megan Collins in EdSurge reminds us that listening is a skill we can cultivate.  Megan notes “Providing a variety of paths to listening may not be enough; a proactive approach is essential. Developing ‘listening hours’ either in person or via Zoom is a great tool to start this work. In these sessions, parents, teachers or even students can meet with school leaders to discuss certain topics. Remember: The purpose of these sessions is to listen not to respond, defend or resolve. These listening sessions also allow opportunities to develop insight into experiences and perspectives that are not your own; a key component in developing empathy.”

Practical Tips for Online Teaching

CJ Hong, the Lead Mentor for the Chinese version of Learning How to Learn, found this little article with practical tips about online teaching to be helpful—you may find it helpful, as well.

A Correction with Regard the Discussion of Botswana 

With regard our book recommendation of The Colour Bar from several weeks ago, LHTLer Peter Miskelly writes to say “Hi Barb, LHTL‘er from way back, still read the email. Setswana is a prefix language. Tswana is the stem noun. Botswana the country, motswana is one person, batswana is two or more. So they are not botswanans but batswana. (Worked there for two years). BTW my son is now doing LHTL.”

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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