How to Memorize Shakespeare

1 Dec

Two weeks to final exams, so postings might be light for a while. Meanwhile here is a piece from The New York Times on how to memorize Shakespeare:

It helps to read through a synopsis of the play first to know the basic plot. Get a partner to whisper the lines while you repeat. With professional actors and students alike, the Royal Shakespeare Company begins with something they call “imaging the text”: Act out the images. It will feel silly, but making a window with your limbs or galloping like a horse embeds the lines in your mind. Listen for the playwright’s beat. Shakespeare mostly composed in iambic pentameter, a rhythm in which unstressed syllables are followed by stressed ones; O’Hanlon describes it as “the rhythm of your heart.”

 

Against laptops in the classroom

29 Nov

I agree with this piece in The New York Times:

a growing body of evidence shows that over all, college students learn less when they use computers or tablets during lectures. They also tend to earn worse grades. The research is unequivocal: Laptops distract from learning, both for users and for those around them. It’s not much of a leap to expect that electronics also undermine learning in high school classrooms or that they hurt productivity in meetings in all kinds of workplaces.

 

Flat Earthers

27 Nov

My students doubted me when I told them that there are still people who believe the earth is flat. Then I showed them this video:

 

I particularly like the guy who argues that nobody likes living on a spherical earth, therefore it couldn’t be true.

Perceiving patterns in chaotic data predicts irrational beliefs

22 Nov

The world was supposed to end last weekend. This prediction appears to be false. But why do people believe in these kind of claims?

From The European Journal of Social Psychology:

A common assumption is that belief in conspiracy theories and supernatural phenomena are grounded in illusory pattern perception. In the present research we systematically tested this assumption. Study 1 revealed that such irrational beliefs are related to perceiving patterns in randomly generated coin toss outcomes. In Study 2, pattern search instructions exerted an indirect effect on irrational beliefs through pattern perception. Study 3 revealed that perceiving patterns in chaotic but not in structured paintings predicted irrational beliefs. In Study 4, we found that agreement with texts supporting paranormal phenomena or conspiracy theories predicted pattern perception. In Study 5, we manipulated belief in a specific conspiracy theory. This manipulation influenced the extent to which people perceive patterns in world events, which in turn predicted unrelated irrational beliefs. We conclude that illusory pattern perception is a central cognitive mechanism accounting for conspiracy theories and supernatural beliefs.

What was the Whole Earth Catalog?

20 Nov

I still have several editions on my book shelf!

(Hat tip to BoingBoing)

The case of Tatiana And Krista Hogan

17 Nov

Tatiana And Krista Hogan are co-joined twins who share brain tissue. According to Wikipedia they are joined at the thalamus, brain structure that projects sensory information onto the cerebral cortex. According to a post on the CBC website:

Neurological studies have stunned the doctors. Tatiana can see out of both of Krista’s eyes, while Krista can only see out of one of Tatiana’s. They also share the senses of touch and taste and the connection even extends to motor control. Tatiana controls 3 arms and a leg, while Krista controls 3 legs and an arm.
Amazingly, the girls say they also know one another’s thoughts without needing to speak. “We talk in our heads” is how they describe it.

The CBC has produced a documentary about the twins, unfortunately not yet available in the U.S.

A polyglot’s language learning advice

15 Nov

Alex Voloza speaks eight languages. In this post he gives some language learning tips:

“It is very important to spend time with the language every day. Three hours on a Sunday and then no work during the week will not do the trick. You need to spoon-feed your brain with the language on a daily basis by engaging in different activities, including listening, reading, writing and speaking. Listen to an audio course, repeat phrases you hear, use flash cards for vocabulary, and talk to yourself in the language. There are also many times when you can squeeze practice into your days – for example, when in traffic, when out jogging, or even when you’re doing the dishes.”

Here is part of an interview with Voloza.

%d bloggers like this: