Learning on the Web: Links for the Week

It’s been an interesting week for reading about learning around the web. There have been vehement reactions to the release of Yale professor Amy Chua’s new book Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother (http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704111504576059713528698754.html), a memoir about her choices to parent her daughters according to strict rules and with a focus on high achievement. While the reactions around the web have been highly polarized, one interesting (and far less polemical) read is Scientific American’s interview with a developmental psychologist on the relative merits of the parenting insights Professor Chua described. It’s interesting to consider some of his remarks about motivation and structure and what they can mean to a young girl’s intellectual development.http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=tiger-mother-punitive-parenting&WT.mc_id=SA_DD_20110118

Here’s an interesting article about the power and importance of exploration in learning. It’s a great thing for teachers and students to consider when they approach a new topic: the teacher can introduce you to new subject matter, but your own exploration of an idea in theology, a math problem, a poem, or a chemistry lab might just lead you to more profound, more lasting insights.http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/notrocketscience/2011/01/18/when-teaching-restrains-discovery/

Finally, researchers at the University of Stavangar in Norway just published findings that suggest that taking notes by hand is a superior learning tool to taking notes using a computer. The process of physically forming the letters and organizing your thoughts physically on paper seems to activate and reinforce connections between the reading and writing processes in the brain, ultimately solidifying and improving overall language development and idea formation. While typing notes in class might be faster and seem more convenient, this research suggests something that many teachers already know intuitively: there’s something cognitively different about taking notes by hand, and there may be something critical to learning in that very process. http://www.uis.no/news/article29782-50.html

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