The Great Connections Seminar

The Great Connections Seminar
Discussing ethics

Saturday, December 31, 2011


Flourishing has the latest theory based on research of Martin Seligman, one of the godfathers of the Positive Psychology movement. His other books, such as Authentic Happiness and Learned Optimism are excellent, scientific, and extremely useful in improving individual lives.

I haven't read this, his first book in ten years, but it looks very good, promising "an electrifying new theory of what makes a good life." I'll be curious to see how much is truly new because what the summary proposes sounds very much like the excellent life as described by Aristotle in The Nicomachean Ethics. 

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

"The Best Money I Ever Spent."

Read why a student from Naperville North High School decided to spend his hard-earned money on our Great Connections seminar rather than go to Europe - and decided it was the best money he ever spent.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Two year olds can remember

For years, developmental psychologists have claimed that children cannot remember much of anything before the age of three. New research shows that it varies by person, some remembering far earlier.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

MITx and to Online or Not to Online

MIT is launching a new educational initiative, MITx, which will offer courses with MIT credentialing. It's an extension of their Opencourseware offerings.

The game-changing aspect is: no admission process and no prerequisites required. You want to take it, you can. If you show mastery, you get the credential, for a small charge. 

How they implement this will be crucial. In this
New York Times article reviewing eight books on higher education, Anthony Graft makes the astute comment:

Online courses, the other popular suggestion, can work well—so long as one also provides competent human supervision online, twenty-four hours a day, which makes such courses just as expensive as the traditional sort."

Online courses without "competent human supervision" can work well if:
1. You want to acquire knowledge or mastery of a specific set of facts, ideas, and/or skills.
2. You already know how to reason fairly well about the domain of knowledge you're studying.
3. You're good at working on your own.
4. You're good at coming up with questions on your own AND good at finding the answers.

Just some of the reasons why I think young people need in-person instruction.

Hattip Pat Peterson

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Student Debt

Very useful website on student debt, including a state-by-state map which opens to a list of average debt, tuition and other facts for EACH college in that state!

Hattip Vanessa Tomlinson Smyth of the Goodlark Educational Foundation.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

"Don't Lecture Me"

Good article about professors at the University of Maryland and Harvard using "peer instruction" in large classes to facilitate learning in physics and other subjects. This means the professor doesn't lecture, but proposes questions to answer about the text all students should have read, and then the students talk to each other about the question to come up with the answer.

It has a nice video example and links to the research supporting the methods.

"Mazur now teaches all of his classes using a “peer-instruction” approach. Rather than teaching by telling, he teaches by questioning. Mazur says it’s a particularly effective way to teach large classes."

"I don't go into the class lecturing on what I think they need, no they tell me what it is they want me to cover." "I find out from the students what they need "You can forget facts but you cannot forget understanding." He sounds like a fantastic teacher!

This is similar to the methods we use at the Reason, Individualism, Freedom Institute, called "Socratic Seminars." Here's a description of what a Socratic Seminar is, and why it works so well. And here's a short video in which you can see a bit about how it works.

Hattip Dave Saum.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

How to Get More Out of Google

Here's a great website, Infographic from "Hack College," that teaches students - and anyone else - how to do better, more efficient and successful searches on Google. It details how to use the Boolean search terms - "operators" - more successfully to find exactly what you need.

Hattip Rachel Davison.