Teaching For Independence

“Ms. Taylor wanted to impart knowledge, the sort of stuff that shows up on tests. But within weeks, students forget 90 percent of the knowledge they learn in class anyway. The only point of being a teacher is to do more then impart facts; it’s to shape the way students perceive the world, to help a student absorb the rules of a discipline. The teachers who do that get remembered.

“She didn’t so much teach them as apprentice them. Much unconscious learning is done through imitation. She exhibited a way of thinking through a problem and then hoped her students participated along with her.

“She forced them to make mistakes. The pain of getting things wrong and the effort required to overcome error creates an emotional experience that helps burn things into the mind.

“She tried to get students to interrogate their own unconscious opinions. Making up your mind, she believed, is not like building a wall. It’s more a process of discovering the idea that already exists unconsciously. She wanted kids to try on different intellectual costumes to see what fit.

“She also forced them to work. For all her sentimentality, she did not believe in the notion that students should just follow their natural curiosity. She gave them homework assignments they did not want to do. She gave them frequent tests, intuitively sensing that the act of retrieving knowledge for a test strengthens the relevant networks in the brain. She was willing to be hated.

“Ms. Taylor’s goal was to turn her students into autodidacts. She hoped to give her students a taste of the emotional and sensual pleasure discovery brings – the jolt of pleasure you get when you work hard, suffer a bit, and then something clicks. She hoped her students would become addicted to this process. They would become, thanks to her, self-teachers for the rest of their days. That was the grandiosity with which Ms. Taylor conceived of her craft.”

Brooks, D. (2011). The social animal: The hidden sources of love, character, and achievement (pp. 82-83). New York, NY: Random House, Inc.

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Five Moral Concerns

“Haidt, Graham, and Brian Nosek have defined five moral concerns. There is the fairness/reciprocity concern, involving issues of equal and unequal treatment. There is the harm/care concern, which includes things like empathy and concern for the suffering of others. There is an authority/respect concern. Human societies have their own hierarchies, and react with moral outrage when that which they view with reverence (including themselves) is not treated with proper respect. There is a purity/disgust concern. The disgust module may have first developed to repel us from noxious or unsafe food, but it evolved to have a moral component… Finally, and most problematically, there is the in-group/loyalty concern.” -David Brooks

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What Humans Need Most

“Above all the other necessities of human nature, above the satisfaction of any other need, above hunger, love, pleasure, fame, – even life itself – what a man needs most is the conviction that he is contained within the discipline of an ordered existence.” -Walter Lippmann

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King’s Love

Martin Luther King, Jr. advanced racial equality, elimination of poverty, and reversal of a militaristic state through nonviolent civil disobedience. This moral means towards moral ends requires us to realize our intimate interrelatedness, and to love each human being regardless of our physical appearance, the institutions of which we are a part, what someone believes, how we behave, or any other attribute which propagates an “us” versus “them.” How can you love the person when you hate the deed? In honor of this persistent and urgent philosophy, here are King’s own words on the issue from a 1963 speech at the Western Michigan University. Consider the political and sociological intentions, as well as the possible personal and clinical applications, of this call to action.
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What Are You Doing For Others?

“An individual has not begun to live until he can rise above the narrow horizons of his particular individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity. Every person must decide, at some point, whether they will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness. This is the judgment. Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’
– Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., August 11, 1957

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Trust

“Most relationships are bound by trust. Trust is the habitual reciprocity that becomes coated by emotion. ” -David Brooks

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Transfer

“Bear in mind that we all are teachers, we all are students, and that to ‘Transfer’ is the process of moving an object, symbol, or idea from one closed system to another, when the two systems contain similar aspects or some similar relationship, yet retaining a similar meaning” (Madsen & Moore, 1978, p. 5).

Madsen, C. K. & Moore, R. S. (1978). Experimental Research in Music: Workbook in Design and Statistical Tests. Raleigh, NC: Contemporary Publishing Company of Raleigh, Inc.

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Sagan, Thaut

“Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known.” – Quote attributed to Carl Sagan

“Music unfolds only in time” (Thaut, 2008, p. 3). “Rhythmic structure allows for better perceptual gestalts to emerge, minimizing conflict and difficulty in perception, such as being confronted with stimuli that are hard to distinguish… Rhythm as temporal ordering process—especially in its narrower sense as cyclical, periodic phenomenon—creates anticipation and predictability. Prediction and anticipation are key terms in certain theories of emotion and meaning… Rhythms can form shape and memory” (pp. 5-6). “Exposure, learning, and training shape and develop the complexity of the neuronal architecture, the wiring scheme of the brain, into a more and more diverse and efficient executive system. Music can play an interesting dual role in this process; on the one hand, it is a part of the basic biological blueprint of the brain and, on the other hand, it is a strong environmental sensory stimulus able to influence changes in the brain. If we return briefly to the importance of temporal regulation for all our higher cognitive and motor functions, we may have very good reason to believe that rhythm in music, the element of temporal order, has a unique and profound influence on our perceptual processes related to cognition, affect, and motor function. Rhythm may enhance our brain operations through providing structure and anticipation in time. Rhythm may be one of the central processors to optimize our gestalt formation in the basic processes of learning and perception” (pp. 16-17).

Thaut, M.H. (2008). Rhythm, music, and the brain: Scientific foundations and clinical applications. New York, NY: Routledge.

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