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Life & Philosophy Tech

The loose gate of attention

Attention works like a loose gate. We can’t always control what information sneaks in, nor can we parse the data so it makes sense coming out.

We grind away at the information life throws at us, some of it tangible and worthwhile but most it nonsense.

Like a Google search, the stuff worth keeping is like finding a needle in a haystack. When we discover something of value, it sticks. We share the knowledge with others, recasting it as our own.

Yet, our minds remain terrible aggregators. Who’s in charge, the thinker or the thought?

It’s impossible to unhear and unsee things — conversations, teacher’s lessons, tweets — without getting sucked into the commercialization of attention. The public sphere promotes mindless chatter, so rationalization sinks to the bottom.

The race to become synchronized with the mainstream prevents the interrogation of ideas. The noisy flood of information buffers thought until finally, the chaos settles to the bottom. And pieces of clarity return, unstuck from the confident idiots.

Categories
Culture Productivity & Work

The design of the classroom from 1750 to today

The design of the classroom is a technology, and you can interpret that in a lot of different ways. Architects can make that look more, and less, typical. But the point is the instruction, the interaction in the classroom, not that it looks more like a circle or more like a square or whatever else.

The Design of Childhood: How the Material World Shapes Independent Kids by Alexandra Lange 

(via NPR)

Categories
News Tech

U.K. schools dismiss the traditional clock face

The U.K. is eliminating analog clocks from student classrooms because kids can’t read them.

Says one professor from the Times Educational Supplement newspaper:

“It is amazing the number of students I am coming across in year 10, 11 and in sixth form who do not know how to tell the time. We live in a world where everything is digital. We are moving towards a digital age and they do not necessarily have analogue watches anymore and they have mobile phones with the time on.”

https://twitter.com/5N_Afzal/status/973692059440832512?tfw_site=tes&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw&ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.tes.com%2Fnews%2Fwhy-cant-gcse-candidates-tell-time-using-analogue-clock

Of course, kids in the UK can’t be the only ones who need digital clocks to tell time.

Generation thumbs in the USA can’t seem to either, as Jimmy Kimmel highlights in the video below.

Just as Google replaced the 3 x 5 index card, the iPhone silenced the tick-tock. At least adults and children can agree on one thing about time: it never stops.

Categories
Apps Culture Tech

Why some children struggle to hold pencils

According to doctors, you can blame tech for children’s inability to hold pencils. Apparently all that screen time is doing nothing to strengthen their thumb, index, and middle fingers which work together to form one’s basic writing technique.

How to hold a pencil correctly for writing, #tech, mobile, students today
Illustration via The Guardian

Generation thumbs

Having grown up with perpetual swiping and speaking in images and emoji, the next generation is obviously going to encounter difficulty with old ways of doing analog things. Do they even teach cursive writing in school anymore?

We speak in images. But at least early cavemen knew how to draw with their version of a stylus.

Read Children struggle to hold pencils due to too much tech, doctors say

Categories
Life & Philosophy Psychology

Life is not a contest

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They say that the best way to learn anything is to teach it to someone else. But the teacher, often a parent, pushes an agenda that demands high achieving results. As a result, children sprint into adulthood without having explored all their curiosity.

Parents could benefit more from their children’s sense of wonder. Children remind adults about the importance of questioning and playing again.

Somehow along the way of building a praiseworthy resume and jumping through hoops, we lose sight of what it means to be human.

Life is supposed to be challenging, without the pressure of running around a racetrack like everybody else. The point, rather, is to try stuff just because.

As adults, we stop dreaming and become working automatons instead. Life may be a contest, a Darwinian struggle, but there’s no doubt that there’s more to it than collecting accolades inside a cubicle.

Read High-Pressure Parenting

Categories
Culture Productivity & Work Tech

‘Sitting is the new smoking’ 

via giphy

On the contrary, sitting is not the modern plague. It’s just the scary metaphor health practitioners use to remind us to get up and move every once in a while. They recommend standing up 5-10 minutes for every 45 minutes we’re sedentary.

The tagline caught on because doctors grew concerned that people weren’t active enough, even kids. Instead of shooting hoops, children were playing NBA 2k inside while their parents slaved away answering work emails on their digital devices. Everyone was gaining weight and increasing their chances of diabetes and heart disease.

While it’s true “the design of the human being is to be a mobile entity,” marketers sell fear.  Did you know that taking ‘10,000 steps’ was just a sales gimmick created in Japan?

A watchmaker named Yamasa Tokei originally trotted out the 10,000 steps thing in 1965. He made and sold a pedometer he called Manpo-Kei, which when repeated out loud mimics the rhythm of a walk. In Japanese this translates into “10,000 step meter.” Ads for Tokei’s device said, “Let’s walk 10,000 steps a day!”

Like everything else in life, sitting is about balance. We sit to focus and meditate. We stand to manage emails and other routine tasks. Buy a standing desk if it helps or stack some books on top of each other and make your own. Walking meetings are also known to help jog the brain. Make what you want on the campaign for movement, but be careful to align sitting with smoking when the former is a more of a preference and the latter is a proven killer. Coffee, anyone?