From what I hear, really good actors can actually teach really well,” says Anant Agarwal, CEO of EdX and former MIT computer-science professor. “So just imagine, maybe we get Matt Damon to teach Thévenin’s theorem [a concept involving circuits and electronics]. I think students would enjoy that more than taking it from Agarwal.”
Agarwal feels that the professor’s role can be “pulled apart” into different roles, with different people doing the tasks that suit their skills. So Matt Damon, for example, could read the lines, while an experienced professor would write the script, and a T.A. grade the assessments.
"I’d aspired to give people a profound education—to teach them something substantial," Professor Sebastian Thrun tells me when I visit his company, Udacity, in its Mountain View, California, headquarters this past October. "But the data was at odds with this idea."
As Thrun was being praised by Friedman, and pretty much everyone else, for having attracted a stunning number of students—1.6 million to date—he was obsessing over a data point that was rarely mentioned in the breathless accounts about the power of new forms of free online education: the shockingly low number of students who actually finish the classes, which is fewer than 10%. Not all of those people received a passing grade, either, meaning that for every 100 pupils who enrolled in a free course, something like five actually learned the topic. If this was an education revolution, it was a disturbingly uneven one.
"We were on the front pages of newspapers and magazines, and at the same time, I was realizing, we don’t educate people as others wished, or as I wished. We have a lousy product," Thrun tells me. "It was a painful moment." Turns out he doesn’t even like the term MOOC.
"Everyone is born with a natural physical ability to resist nonviolently." –Erica Chenoweth at TEDx Boulder.
I still think it’s important for people to have a sharp, ongoing critique of marriage in patriarchal society — because once you marry within a society that remains patriarchal, no matter how alternative you want to be within your unit, there is still a culture outside you that will impose many, many values on you whether you want them to or not.
There is a tremendous difference between ‘thinking’ in verbal terms and ‘contemplating,’ inwardly silent, on nonverbal levels and then searching for the proper structure of language to fit the supposedly discovered structure of the silent processes that modern science tries to find. If we ‘think’ verbally, we act as biased observers and project onto the silent levels the structure of the language we use and so remain in our rut of old orientations, making keen, unbiased observations and creative work well-nigh impossible. In contrast, when we ‘think’ without words, or in pictures (which involve structure and therefore relations), we may discover new aspects and relations on silent levels and so may produce important theoretical results in the general search for a similarity of structure between the two levels, silent and verbal. Practically all important advances are made that way.
When the only way to run a university was to gather all the books and smart people on a fenced-in plot of land, whoever controlled access to the gates was in charge. But we don’t live in that world anymore.
To be the parent of a young black man in this country is to be torn between wanting your son to see the world with no boundaries and warning him of the boundaries that are out there. Moving him into a safe neighborhood and then fearing for his safety. It’s nerve-racking, to tell you the truth. Anxiety grips my body each time he leaves home. Seeing the defense attorneys crack grim jokes and gloat after the not-guilty verdict does not help matters.
To draw so much satisfaction from the senseless death of a young black male going unpunished; to cavalierly absolve Zimmerman of any responsibility, as if Trayvon’s death did not come at their client’s hands.
But this is what it’s like to be the parent of a young, black male in this country.
This is what it’s like.
Appeals for calm in the wake of such a verdict raise the question of what calm there can possibly be in a place where such a verdict is possible. Parents of black boys are not likely to feel calm. Partners of black men are not likely to feel calm. Children with black fathers are not likely to feel calm. Those who now fear violent social disorder must ask themselves whose interests are served by a violent social order in which young black men can be thus slain and discarded.
It is a complicated thing to be young, black, and male in America. Not only are you well aware that many people are afraid of you—you can see them clutching their purses or stiffening in their subway seats when you sit across from them—you must also remain conscious of the fact that people expect you to be apologetic for their fear. It’s your job to be remorseful about the fact that your very nature makes them uncomfortable, like a pilot having to apologize to a fearful flyer for being in the sky.
The growing number of gated communities in our nation is but one example of the obsession with safety. With guards at the gate, individuals still have bars and elaborate internal security systems. Americans spend more than thirty billion dollars a year on security. When I have stayed with friends in these communities and inquired as to whether all the security is in response to an actual danger I am told “not really,” that it is the fear of threat rather than a real threat that is the catalyst for an obsession with safety that borders on madness.
Culturally we bear witness to this madness every day. We can all tell endless stories of how it makes itself known in everyday life. For example, an adult white male answers the door when a young Asian male rings the bell. We live in a culture where without responding to any gesture of aggression or hostility on the part of the stranger, who is simply lost and trying to find the correct address, the white male shoots him, believing he is protecting his life and his property. This is an everyday example of madness. The person who is really the threat here is the home owner who has been so well socialized by the thinking of white supremacy, of capitalism, of patriarchy that he can no longer respond rationally.
White supremacy has taught him that all people of color are threats irrespective of their behavior. Capitalism has taught him that, at all costs, his property can and must be protected. Patriarchy has taught him that his masculinity has to be proved by the willingness to conquer fear through aggression; that it would be unmanly to ask questions before taking action. Mass media then brings us the news of this in a newspeak manner that sounds almost jocular and celebratory, as though no tragedy has happened, as though the sacrifice of a young life was necessary to uphold property values and white patriarchal honor. Viewers are encouraged feel sympathy for the white male home owner who made a mistake. The fact that this mistake led to the violent death of an innocent young man does not register; the narrative is worded in a manner that encourages viewers to identify with the one who made the mistake by doing what we are led to feel we might all do to “protect our property at all costs from any sense of perceived threat. ” This is what the worship of death looks like.
Lucky Charms has pride.
I always wondered about that little leprechaun!
"Between stimulus and response there is space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and freedom." –Viktor E. Frankl
So what’s all the fuss about mindfulness? It is simply the skill of paying very close attention to what happens in your everyday experience. It builds the skills of focus and concentration by carefully monitoring whatever happens in your mind or any of your senses. And with practice it opens up a gap after any stimulus, where we can choose how we respond, rather than simply reacting.
Science is finding that it has enormous benefit for those who practice it regularly, and can even have marked effects for people with as little as seven minutes of training. It has been a proven tool used in healthcare for decades to manage stress, pain, and emotions, and is becoming increasingly common in the workplace and education. It can be practiced alone or in a group; either sitting, standing, walking, or lying down; for as little as a few moments, or as long a period as you wish; either in a focused practice session or during any other ordinary activity. Mindfulness is not mystical or magical, but simply using the ordinary abilities of your mind to develop greater concentration and self-awareness.
To learn more, just visit your favorite search engine and enter the term “mindfulness.”