zaterdag 11 september 2010

The science of learning

The NY Times has an article about the science of learning.

According to the article there is no evidence for different learning styles like visual or auditory or left-brain or right-brain.
What does work is:
- alternating study environments (now in this room and then in that or even outdoors
- mixing content (a bit of this and a bit of that; this works better than first doing everything of subject A and then everything of subject B)
- spacing study sessions (today a bit, tomorrow a bit, next week a bit...)
- (self-)testing

zondag 25 juli 2010

The science of happiness

Hereby a link to the BBC series the science of happiness. The series is from 2006 but I like to add it to the link collection.

dinsdag 13 juli 2010

The creativity crisis

Newsweek has an article about creativity. In my university education it was never mentioned but there exists a creativity test, just like there are intelligence tests. It is called the Torrance test. Interestingly the test predicts someone's success in life much better than intelligence tests. And the good news is: creativity can be learned.

According to the test creativity in the US has been in decline since 1990. Spending too much time in front of television, computers and game consoles may be one cause. But the increasing attention in education on test scores and standards may also play a role.

Creativity is a matter of alternating focusing and defocusing the brain the brain. In the defocused mode it scans many different options and when it finds one that might work it focuses to investigate it closer. The best way to learn itat school is with projects where the kids have to come up with solutions.

I found the part about childhood the most interesting:

Having studied the childhoods of highly creative people for decades, Claremont Graduate University’s Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi and University of Northern Iowa’s Gary G. Gute found highly creative adults tended to grow up in families embodying opposites. Parents encouraged uniqueness, yet provided stability. They were highly responsive to kids’ needs, yet challenged kids to develop skills. This resulted in a sort of adaptability: in times of anxiousness, clear rules could reduce chaos—yet when kids were bored, they could seek change, too. In the space between anxiety and boredom was where creativity flourished.

It’s also true that highly creative adults frequently grew up with hardship. Hardship by itself doesn’t lead to creativity, but it does force kids to become more flexible—and flexibility helps with creativity.

In early childhood, distinct types of free play are associated with high creativity. Preschoolers who spend more time in role-play (acting out characters) have higher measures of creativity: voicing someone else’s point of view helps develop their ability to analyze situations from different perspectives. When playing alone, highly creative first graders may act out strong negative emotions: they’ll be angry, hostile, anguished. The hypothesis is that play is a safe harbor to work through forbidden thoughts and emotions.

In middle childhood, kids sometimes create paracosms—fantasies of entire alternative worlds. Kids revisit their paracosms repeatedly, sometimes for months, and even create languages spoken there. This type of play peaks at age 9 or 10, and it’s a very strong sign of future creativity. A Michigan State University study of MacArthur “genius award” winners found a remarkably high rate of paracosm creation in their childhoods.

From fourth grade on, creativity no longer occurs in a vacuum; researching and studying become an integral part of coming up with useful solutions. But this transition isn’t easy. As school stuffs more complex information into their heads, kids get overloaded, and creativity suffers. When creative children have a supportive teacher—someone tolerant of unconventional answers, occasional disruptions, or detours of curiosity—they tend to excel. When they don’t, they tend to underperform and drop out of high school or don’t finish college at high rates.

They’re quitting because they’re discouraged and bored, not because they’re dark, depressed, anxious, or neurotic. It’s a myth that creative people have these traits. (Those traits actually shut down creativity; they make people less open to experience and less interested in novelty.) Rather, creative people, for the most part, exhibit active moods and positive affect. They’re not particularly happy—contentment is a kind of complacency creative people rarely have. But they’re engaged, motivated, and open to the world.

dinsdag 8 juni 2010

How the information era (mis)forms our brains

The New York Times has an article "Hooked on Gadgets, and Paying a Mental Price" with an accompaniing blog post about the consequences of the information era for our brains. In the past we have seen many articles about the benefits: the young generation is better at multi-tasking, playing computer games makes you better in certain spatial tasks, etc. This article shows the downside: people get used to this information overload and then the slowly moving normal world looks boring. Spending time with others becomes interupted by checking email and Twitter and becomes less intense.

This debate is not new. Previously it had been argued by Nicholas Carr that Google makes us stupid. He argued that people because of internet are less likely to read complicated books. But every new thing has a price: reading means that part of our visual brains is reserved for letters. This makes us less capable of "reading" our natural surroundings.


Welcome to my new blog about mind and spirit. I am a fourth grade psychology student who had an interest in these subjects long before. Blogging about it offers me a chance both to share my passion and to gather the interesting information I encounter in a more meaningful way than with bookmarks or heaps of newspaper cuts.