Poverty, Brain, Far and Near Transfer, Web Design, & Web 2.0

Blog Action Day 2008 – Poverty

“The USA likes to be #1 in everything, and when it comes to the percent of children in poverty among the richest nations in the world, we continue to hold our remarkable status.” – David Berliner

America has one of the highest childhood poverty rates among industrial nations. Berliner, the Regent's Professor of Education at Arizona State University, dug into the data of high-stakes testing (No Child Left Behind) and poverty. He discovered that if you take the scores of the poverty stricken areas out of our national school averages, we rate among the best in the world (to include math and science). Leave them in and we plainly suck — we are near the bottom of the heap as compared to other industrialized nations. See: Our Impoverished View of Educational Reform – David C. Berliner

Elizabeth Gould discovered that when the brain is put under stressful conditions, it starves itself by failing to create new cells. There are severe social implications with this. Environments that are boring, have stressful noises, poverty, etc., have playing fields that are no longer level when compared to enriched environments. The brains that live in impoverished environments never have a chance as poverty and stress are no longer just concepts but are actual parts of a person's anatomy. See: The Reinvention of the Self – Jonah Lehrer in the Feb/Mar 2006 issue of Seed

“When a brain is worried, it's just thinking about survival. It isn't interested in investing in new cells for the future.” – Christian Mirescu

Our answer to poverty is high stake testing in education. We believe that if we educate children living in poverty, they will become productive members of society. Yet, this is backwards — we are trying to test a disfigured brain, hoping that it will somehow work. What we should be doing is eliminating poverty in order to relive stress, so that the brains will once again become interested in producing cells for the future. Yet all too often . . .

Woman hold her head and cry
Cause her son had been shot down in the street and died

Wanna tote guns and shoot dice.
all mah life i've been considered as the worst. lyin' to mah mother even stealin' out her purse crime after crime
from drugs to extortion
i know my mother wish she got a abortion

Woman hold her head and cry
Cause her son had been shot down in the street and died
Hold Ya Head by the Notorious B.I.G. (featuring Bob Marley)

In the end, poverty becomes both nature and nurture, which helps to ensure that it stays a visious circle.

Internet use 'good for the brain' – BBC

The researchers said that, compared to simple reading, the internet's wealth of choices required people to make decisions about what to click on in order to get the relevant information.

However, they suggested that newcomers to the web had not quite grasped the strategies needed to successfully carry out a web search.

Professor Smith said: "A simple, everyday task like searching the web appears to enhance brain circuitry in older adults, demonstrating that our brains are sensitive and can continue to learn as we grow older."

Getting to far transfer – Dave's Whiteboard

If you want people to handle customer complaints or improve work flow or advise high school students, then the training requires increasing approximations of realistic situations. The design element involves identifying high-value or high-importance cases – even though the universe of cases is vast – so as to strengthen a person's ability to transfer what he's learned to a new situation.

Why light text on dark background is a bad idea – Enter the Tatrix

If you want to be really good, use an offset grey on a light background like #222 on #fff as it's a bit nicer on the eyes.

Is Web 2.0 Living on Thin Air? – Tom Davenport

British think-tanker Charles Leadbeater published the book Living on Thin Air. It was both an appealing notion and a scary one: that we no longer have to produce anything but ideas. And that was even before Web 2.0 — a platform for everyone to share their ideas, opinions, favorite tunes, and relationship statuses with each other.

Instead of finding more ways for us to all yap at each other, in this more sober economy we may want to emphasize other priorities. What new products and services will make for better, healthier lives and relationships? How can companies improve their performance? How can teenagers improve their math and science skills, instead of their texting skills?


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