Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Sunday, 21 December 2014

Six ways to motivate students to learn - an article by Annie Murphy

Scientific research has provided us with a number of ways to get the learning juices flowing, none of which involve paying money for good grades. And most smart teachers know this, even without scientific proof.
1.   Fine-tune the challenge. We’re most motivated to learn when the task before us is matched to our level of skill: not so easy as to be boring, and not so hard as to be frustrating. Deliberately fashion the learning exercise so that students are working at the very edge of your abilities, and keep upping the difficulty as they improve.
2.  Start with the question, not the answer. Memorizing information is boring. Discovering the solution to a puzzle is invigorating. Present material to be learned not as a fait accompli, but as a live question begging to be explored.
3.   Encourage students to beat their personal best. Some learning tasks, like memorizing the multiplication table or a list of names or facts, are simply not interesting in themselves. Generate motivation by encouraging students to compete against themselves: run through the material once to establish a baseline, then keep track of how much they improve (in speed, in accuracy) each time.
4.   Connect abstract learning to concrete situations. Adopt the case-study method that has proven so effective for business, medical and law school students: apply abstract theories and concepts to a real-world scenario, using these formulations to analyze and make sense of situations involving real people and real stakes.
5.   Make it social. Put together a learning group, or have students find learning partners with whom they can share their moments of discovery and points of confusion. Divide the learning task into parts, and take turns being teacher and pupil. The simple act of explaining what they’re learning out loud will help them understand and remember it better.
6.   Go deep. Almost any subject is interesting once you get inside it. Assign the task of becoming the world’s expert on one small aspect of the material they have to learn—then extend their new expertise outward by exploring how the piece they know so well connects to all the other pieces they need to know about.

Walt Whitman ~ O Captain My Captain - poem

O CAPTAIN! my Captain! our fearful trip is done;
The ship has weather'd every rack, the prize we sought is won;
The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting,
While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring:
But O heart! heart! heart!
O the bleeding drops of red,
Where on the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.

O Captain! my Captain! rise up and hear the bells;
Rise up--for you the flag is flung--for you the bugle trills; 10
For you bouquets and ribbon'd wreaths--for you the shores a-crowding;
For you they call, the swaying mass, their eager faces turning;
Here Captain! dear father!
This arm beneath your head;
It is some dream that on the deck,
You've fallen cold and dead.

My Captain does not answer, his lips are pale and still;
My father does not feel my arm, he has no pulse nor will;
The ship is anchor'd safe and sound, its voyage closed and done;
From fearful trip, the victor ship, comes in with object won; 20
Exult, O shores, and ring, O bells!
But I, with mournful tread,
Walk the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead. 

I'd like to wish you all a Merry Christmas and a great New Year!

Before the ice - Emily Dickinson

Before the ice is in the pools, 
Before the skaters go, 
Or any cheek at nightfall 
Is tarnished by the snow, 
Before the fields have finished, 
Before the Christmas tree, 
Wonder upon wonder 
Will arrive to me

Friday, 12 December 2014

Claudia Rankine: Poets Writing Prose

Claudia Rankine -- excerpt from "Citizen"

Ken Robinson: How to escape education's death valley

This Will Revolutionize Education

Claudia Rankine

Born in Kingston, Jamaica, poet Claudia Rankine earned a BA at Williams College and an MFA at Columbia University.

 Rankine has published several collections of poetry, including Citizen: An American Lyric (2014), a finalist for the National Book Award; Don’t Let Me Be Lonely: An American Lyric (2004); and Nothing in Nature is Private (1994), which won the Cleveland State Poetry Prize. Her work often crosses genres as it tracks wild and precise movements of mind. Noting that “hers is an art neither of epiphany nor story,” critic Calvin Bedient observed that “Rankine’s style is the sanity, but just barely, of the insanity, the grace, but just barely, of the grotesqueness.” Discussing the borrowed and fragmentary sources for her work in an interview with Paul Legault for the Academy of American Poets, Rankine stated, “I don't feel any commitment to any external idea of the truth. I feel like the making of the thing is the truth, will make its own truth.”

 Rankine has coedited American Women Poets in the 21st Century: Where Lyric Meets Language (2002), American Poets in the 21st Century: The New Poetics (2007), and The Racial Imaginary: Writers on Race in the Life of the Mind (2014). Her poems have been included in the anthologies Great American Prose Poems: From Poe to the Present (2003), Best American Poetry (2001), and The Garden Thrives: Twentieth Century African-American Poetry (1996). Her play Detour/South Bronx premiered in 2009 at New York’s Foundry Theater.

from Citizen: “Some years there exists a wanting to escape...”

Some years there exists a wanting to escape—
you, floating above your certain ache—  
still the ache coexists.

Call that the immanent you—
You are you even before you
grow into understanding you
are not anyone, worthless,
not worth you.

Even as your own weight insists
you are here, fighting off
the weight of nonexistence.
And still this life parts your lids, you see
you seeing your extending hand
as a falling wave—

I they he she we you turn
only to discover
the encounter
to be alien to this place.

The patience is in the living. Time opens out to you.
The opening, between you and you, occupied,
zoned for an encounter,
given the histories of you and you—
And always, who is this you?
The start of you, each day,
a presence already—
Hey you—
Slipping down burying the you buried within. You are
everywhere and you are nowhere in the day.
The outside comes in—
Then you, hey you—
Overheard in the moonlight.
Overcome in the moonlight.
Soon you are sitting around, publicly listening, when you
hear this—what happens to you doesn't belong to you,
only half concerns you He is speaking of the legionnaires
in Claire Denis's film Beau Travail and you are pulled back
into the body of you receiving the nothing gaze—

The world out there insisting on this only half concerns
you. What happens to you doesn't belong to you, only half
concerns you. It's not yours. Not yours only.
And still a world begins its furious erasure—
Who do you think you are, saying I to me?
You nothing.
You nobody.
A body in the world drowns in it—
Hey you—
All our fevered history won't instill insight,
won't turn a body conscious,
won't make that look
in the eyes say yes, though there is nothing
to solve
even as each moment is an answer.
Don't say I if it means so little,
holds the little forming no one.
You are not sick, you are injured—
you ache for the rest of life.
How to care for the injured body,
the kind of body that can't hold
the content it is living?
And where is the safest place when that place
must be someplace other than in the body?
Even now your voice entangles this mouth
whose words are here as pulse, strumming
shut out, shut in, shut up—
You cannot say—
A body translates its you—
you there, hey you
even as it loses the location of its mouth.
When you lay your body in the body
entered as if skin and bone were public places,
when you lay your body in the body
entered as if you're the ground you walk on,
you know no memory should live
in these memories
becoming the body of you.
You slow all existence down with your call
detectable only as sky. The night's yawn
absorbs you as you lie down at the wrong angle
to the sun ready already to let go of your hand.
Wait with me
though the waiting, wait up,
might take until nothing whatsoever was done.
To be left, not alone, the only wish—
to call you out, to call out you.
Who shouted, you? You
shouted you, you the murmur in the air, you sometimes
sounding like you, you sometimes saying you,
go nowhere,
be no one but you first—
Nobody notices, only you've known,
you're not sick, not crazy,
not angry, not sad—

It's just this, you're injured.
Everything shaded everything darkened everything
is the stripped is the struck—
is the trace
is the aftertaste.
I they he she we you were too concluded yesterday to
know whatever was done could also be done, was also
done, was never done—
The worst injury is feeling you don't belong so much
to you—
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Claudia Rankine, “Some years there exists a wanting to escape... (pp. 139-146)” from Citizen. Copyright © 2014 by Claudia Rankine.  Reprinted by permission of Graywolf Press.