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.”
An optical illusion can change the implicit biases of Caucasian people against people with darker skin, according to a study published in the August 2013 edition of Cognition.
The research, a collaboration between Royal Holloway University of London, the Central European University in Budapest and Radboud University Nijmegen in the Netherlands, analyzed the implicit racial biases of 34 Caucasian participants, then subjected them to something called the Rubber Hand Illusion, where they watched a rubber hand being touched by a paintbrush as they felt their own hand being stimulated out of sight. The illusion creates the sense that the fake hand is part of the subject’s body, even when it’s of a completely different skin color.
The more the participants felt like the darker skinned fake hand was their own, the less racist they came off in a second implicit bias test.
In another test, participants underwent the same process, but some saw a white hand, while others saw a dark hand. The implicit bias test showed that the opinions of those who saw the white hand didn’t change, while again those who felt ownership of the darker hand felt less racial bias.
“Across two experiments, the more intense the participants’ illusion of ownership over the dark-skinned rubber hand, the more positive their implicit racial attitudes became,” the authors write.
“It comes down to a perceived similarity between white and dark skin,” lead author Lara Maister of Royal Holloway University of London said in a press statement. “The illusion creates an overlap, which in turn helps to reduce negative attitudes because participants see less difference between themselves and those with dark skin.”
The study suggests that racial biases aren’t necessarily cemented by adulthood, but that they can be altered. “Changes in body-representation may therefore constitute a core, previously unexplored, dimension that in turn changes social cognition processes,” the authors write. They suggest that future research into different social groups and stereotypes could expand on their work, since this research only explored the attitudes of white individuals.
A really brilliant adaptation of a well-known cognitive science experiment that causes your brain to take “ownership” of a rubber hand.
Is the web the first truly flexible medium? I tried to come up with other fields that need to design things for a flexible canvas, in the hope of finding inspiration there. The only media types I could come up with was the art of balloon printing and the art of tattooing.
We absolutely must leave room for doubt or there is no progress and there is no learning. There is no learning without having to pose a question. And a question requires doubt. People search for certainty. But there is no certainty. People are terrified — how can you live and not know? It is not odd at all. You only think you know, as a matter of fact. And most of your actions are based on incomplete knowledge and you really don’t know what it is all about, or what the purpose of the world is, or know a great deal of other things. It is possible to live and not know.
One century after the invention of the telephone, we still know the difference between the face-to-face presence and the telephonical presence. But we don’t feel it as a problem or a conflict anymore. We know how to enmesh them peacefully. That’s the same with the difference between the digital and the physical: We are learning how to enmesh them peacefully and, very soon, we will no longer feel them as a conflict.
Working memory: consider the limits
Working memory is very limited but highly flexible. A good approaching using it is to identify a small number of key elements to “work” with. For example, we need to know the subject, object, and verb for a sentence (three things), or the cause and the effect for an explanation (two things). Success depends on defining small numbers of central elements in any experience, rather than extensive and complex explanations. Brevity and clarity are the virtues.
In school, this suggests that we should arrange students’ experiences in direct and simple ways. This may be the most difficult part for the educator, since that individual must put himself or herself in the place of the learner. With complex situations, the first step would be to identify a small number of very basic elements. That might even be enough for a whole class period (If we even had classes). Taking working memory as our gauge, we might have shorter classes, or they might be a variable length rather than a set time. Deciding when to end a class would not be a matter of watching the clock, but on watching the ideas. The point would be not to have a lot of ideas, but exactly the opposite. I might judge success not by how much information was “covered,” but by the significance and utility of the ideas, and by how much impact the ideas had on students.
We might have an “idea clock” rather than the time clock.
Zull, J.E. (2011). From brain to mind: using neuroscience to guide change in education.
So true. I’ve discovered I can listen to lectures at 2.5 times normal speed and follow it perfectly. In fact it forces attention and concentration and my mind wanders less often.
The only excursion of my life outside of New Orleans took me through the vortex to the whirlpool of despair: Baton Rouge… . New Orleans is, on the other hand, a comfortable metropolis which has a certain apathy and stagnation which I find inoffensive.”
—A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole
Our new video goes inside the beautiful, historic Old Ursuline Convent in the French Quarter where the Ursuline nuns lived in the 1700s. The building is the oldest in the Mississippi River Valley!
How did I grow up in New Orleans and not realize the Old Ursuline Convent is a museum open for visitors? This is on my must-do list for my next visit home.