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In high school I always remember feeling fuzzy-headed after my school lunches.  Well, now it turns out that school lunches do more than just create transient mental haziness.  A study in the December 2010 issue of the American Heart Journal looked at 2000 sixth-graders and concluded that there was a clear relationship between obesity and school lunch programs.  Of...
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Reuters reports that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is pouring money into the development of biometric devices that will be worn as bracelets by students to monitor their “attentiveness” and “engagement.”  The biometric bracelets will send a small current across the skin and measure subtle changes in electrical charges as the nervous system responds...
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This excerpt from my book The Power of Neurodiversity: Unleashing the Advantages of Your Differently Wired Brain, appeared in Ode Magazine. People with conditions like ADHD, dyslexia and mood disorders are routinely labeled “disabled”. But differences among brains are as enriching—and essential—as differences among plants and animals. Welcome to the new field of neurodiversity. Thomas...
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Two recent articles highlight the positive dimensions of mental health conditions such as autism, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder. In the journal Nature, an article by Canadian neuroscientist Laurent Mottron, emphasizes the advantages of autism (Mottron, 2011). Mottron suggests that, in addition to the well-known savant abilities of a small sub-section of autistic individuals, there are...
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Imagine that all of the people in the world have been magically transformed into flowers. Some of us are petunias.  Others are begonias.  Still others are tulips.  Now, let’s say for the sake of argument that the psychiatrists in this culture are the roses. I want you to imagine the rose psychiatrist beginning his work...
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I’ve noticed a new buzz word hovering around educational circles these days.  It’s called 21st century learning.  My first reaction to this is:  aren’t we living in the 21st century?  And doesn’t that mean that any kind of learning we engage in is 21st century learning?  Well, I suppose that’s unfair.  What the people behind this...
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Teachers have been taking it on the chin a lot lately with calls for the abolishment of tenure, and its replacement with what have been called “value-added models” of teaching evaluation.  Basically, what this means is that teachers are going to be increasingly assessed in terms of their ability to raise the standardized test scores of their students. ...
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There’s a whole new climate of opinion that’s been sweeping over the educational scene in America these days.  It’s all about accepting as perfectly normal the creation of a monstrous monolithic “learning” enterprise from preschool to post-college that consists of uniform standards, standardized testing, the collection of “data”, and the evaluation of teachers based on test scores (a practice incongruously called “value-added”).  I find this...
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Thirty-five years ago, when I was at the beginning of my teaching career, Piaget was all the rage.  We read his books, and puzzled over how observation of children interacting with real life situations could enable us to understand the development of their minds.  We also were able to catch the tail end of interest...
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