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Giorgio Bertini

Giorgio Bertini's Public Library

19 Apr 14

This retrospective interview study focused on the impact that training and implementation of Philosophy, in Lipman’s tradition of Philosophy for Children, had on the pedagogy of 14 primary teachers at one school. Semistructured interviews were conducted to document the impact of teaching Philosophy on pedagogy, the resources required to facilitate and sustain such change, including the necessary dispositions required to teach Philosophy, and the critical junctures in pedagogical change associated with teaching Philosophy. Interview data were coded and analysed to generate a grounded theory regarding the efficacy of teaching Philosophy in terms of its impact on the pedagogy of the teachers interviewed. This pedagogical transformation is then theorised in terms of Vygotsky’s Zone of Proximal Development. Philosophical communities of inquiry have been shown to have wonderful benefits for students. This research provides data that asserts the very positive effects that teaching Philosophy has on pedagogy and teacher thinking, in a time and resource efficient manner.

19 Apr 14

“Human beings are storytelling primates. We are curious, and we love to learn. The challenge for each teacher is to find ways to engage the child and take advantage of the novelty-seeking property of the human brain to facilitate learning”. Today’s education system often put children through unnecessary stress. This stress translates to a negative attitude towards school and learning. It burns out our natural instinct to want to learn. Learning cannot take place unless the child has a motivation and is stimulated through engaging activities. Drama gives educators the opportunity to teach their students in a way, which would create a love for learning. It provides valuable problem solving, social, and creative skills. Drama embraces the child’s imagination and emotions, which in many classrooms are shunned. “Student inquiry” is the type of learning in which students are actively engaged in the subject and have some control of their learning. Organizing the curriculum around student inquiry has begun to be recognized as a powerful way to move students beneath the facts and beyond a skill-and kill approach to learning. Inquiry that centers on students’ questions and real world issues is intrinsically motivating, engages students in high level critical creative thinking, and connects the classroom to the world—past, present, and future. Teachers are freed from being the authority to being an authority who can guide, assist, and wonder with students—but most of all we are freed to ask questions with students and join together in joint explorations.

19 Apr 14

In order to be successful in problem- or project-based learning (PBL), students must take responsibility for the learning process by setting goals, monitoring, reflecting, and sustaining their motivation from the beginning of the project until the end. However, for many students, these processes do not occur naturally or easily. Therefore, the learning environment and teaching practices in PBL must be designed with an intention to support students’ self-regulated learning (SRL). This paper describes specific learning environment features and teaching practices that have been shown to foster student responsibility for learning in each phase of PBL, with the purpose of providing educators with guidance for developing SRL in PBL, and ultimately, student motivation and ability to learn. To accomplish this, a theoretical model of the relationship between PBL and SRL is presented, along with research-driven guidelines on how to promote student responsibility for learning in PBL.

19 Apr 14

Creativity is important for young children learning mathematics. Comparing the investment theory of creativity and national standards and principles for early mathematics shows that doing mathematics is more than applying rules and procedures; rather, learning mathematics takes a lot of creativity. However, much literature claimed that creativity for young children in the learning of mathematics was not adequately supported by teachers in the classroom due to teachers’ poor college preparation in mathematics content knowledge, teachers’ negativity towards creative students, teachers’ occupational pressure, low quality curriculum, and the like. The purpose of this grounded theory study was to generate a model that explains how teachers make sense of creativity in the learning of mathematics and how teachers promote or fail to promote it in the classroom. In-depth interviews with 30 Kindergarten to Grade-3 teachers, participating in a graduate mathematics specialist certificate program in a medium-sized Midwestern city were conducted. These teachers were also asked to draw a picture to represent their understanding of creativity for young students in the learning of mathematics. A theoretical model was developed describing: 1) the central phenomenon of how teachers interpret mathematical creativity; 2) the strategies teachers use to promote creativity in the learning of mathematics; and 3) the consequences of how different aspects of mathematical creativity are promoted by different strategies in different degrees. The findings challenge the popular notion that teachers do not view mathematics in early grades as requiring creativity and that they are not supporting enough creativity in the learning of mathematics in the classroom. Instead, this study finds that teachers from the graduate certificate program have a well-developed concept of mathematical creativity and that they are also resourceful about how to promote creativity in the learning of mathematics. This study provides researchers and teacher educators information on how to assist teachers to facilitate creativity and strong mathematics capability for children from an early age.

19 Apr 14

Researchers at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York have reversed depression-like behaviors in mice in an unexpected way. Rather than silencing the hyperactive neurons that triggered the rodents’ symptoms, the team boosted their activity even further. This triggered a compensatory, self-tuning response that brought the neurons’ firing—and the rodents’ behaviors—back to normal. “There’s a saying in Chinese: If you push something to an extreme, the only way it can go is in the opposite direction,” said Ming-Hu Han, who led the study, published today April 17 in Science. Although his team needs to confirm their results in humans, Han added, “it could give us new avenues for treating depression that are conceptually very different to the classical therapeutic strategy.” Rather than identifying the cause of an illness and reversing it, it may be possible to push those causes even harder and get the body to right itself.

19 Apr 14

As Americans grapple with a wide range of societal problems like obesity and other health issues, traffic gridlock and reduced family time, and socially isolated city-centers, we might stop to ask how we got this way and how we can change. Having lived in Europe for three months last summer, I can speak for other Americans who have traveled to other locales and marveled at the high quality of living in those places – especially compared to the automobile-dependant, lifeless cities of the U.S. How we got to be a largely car-dependant, unhealthy society has to do with the early surrender of our cities to cars without the balancing mechanism of maintaining our streetcar and bicycle modes, which had been prominent in nearly all American towns of more than 10,000 people up until the 1930’s. Today, several European cities, most notably Amsterdam and Copenhagen, have become models in the utilization of the simple bicycle as a major tool in the restoring of transportation balance and sustainability to their urban fabrics.

19 Apr 14

A couple of days ago, the European Commission chose the ten finalists of the second Social Innovation Competition, a contest launched last year in memory of Portuguese computer scientist and politician Diogo Vasconcelos. The contest was set up to encourage and reward social innovations that have a real impact on helping unemployed people get jobs or create new opportunities for work across the Union. The ten project were selected among over 1,200 proposals. Though not strictly “technological”, most of these projects have some tech in them, mainly in the use of the Internet as a social interaction platform, and, in some cases, in the development of innovative recycling processes to produce new stuff from waste. See below a quick summary of the proposals.

19 Apr 14

La disciplina che si occupa di studiare soluzioni innovative imitando i comportamenti e le tattiche della natura è detta Biomimetica (Biomimetics o Biomimicry in inglese) e a tal riguardo Cristiana Favretto mi dice: “Noi seguiamo i principi della Biomimetica per creare prodotti, processi e strategie d’azione innovative. Come i prodotti e i processi del mondo naturale, i prodotti e i processi che sviluppiamo sono sostenibili, efficaci, energeticamente efficienti e in grado di ottimizzare l’uso delle risorse. I sistemi naturali usano solo energie rinnovabili ed ottimizzano l’uso delle risorse perchè il concetto di scarto non esiste, ma lo scarto di una specie è il nutrimento di un’altra specie”. Poi aggiunge: “I principi della biomimetica si possono applicare a moltissimi campi, dalla scala piccola, ad esempio la produzione di nuovi materiali che copiano i materiali naturali, alla scala dell’architettura e dell’urbanistica che copia i metodi di organizzazione dei sistemi naturali complessi (ad esempio un bosco) per adattarli ai metodi di organizzazione ad esempio delle città. Inoltre l’efficienza delle piante ad esempio nel depurare l’acqua o l’aria può anche essere applicata al design”.

19 Apr 14

Cities have always been shaped by transport, and the planning and design of cities have always impacted on transport choices. Rising car ownership after the Second World War freed developers from the need to build homes within walking distance of public transport, shops and services, and at the same time, lobbying by car manufacturers, government investment in road building, and changes in planning policy and development economics helped make the car the primary mode of transport. “We are nourishing at immense cost a monster of great destructiveness. And yet we love him dearly…” still rings true. Many people continue to aspire to car ownership, or view owning a car as essential to maintaining a high quality of life. And who are we to deny them when electric cars will soon wean us off carbon dioxide emitting toxic fossil fuels?

18 Apr 14

The US government does not represent the interests of the majority of the country’s citizens, but is instead ruled by those of the rich and powerful, a new study from Princeton and Northwestern Universities has concluded. The report, entitled Testing Theories of American Politics: Elites, Interest Groups, and Average Citizens, used extensive policy data collected from between the years of 1981 and 2002 to empirically determine the state of the US political system. Researchers concluded that US government policies rarely align with the preferences of the majority of Americans, but do favour special interests and lobbying organisations: “When a majority of citizens disagrees with economic elites and/or with organised interests, they generally lose. Moreover, because of the strong status quo bias built into the US political system, even when fairly large majorities of Americans favour policy change, they generally do not get it.” This paper reports on using a unique data set that includes measures of the key variables for 1,779 policy issues. Multivariate analysis indicates that economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on U.S. government policy, while average citizens and mass-based interest groups have little or no independent influence. The results provide substantial support for theories of Economic Elite Domination and for theories of Biased Pluralism, but not for theories of Majoritarian Electoral Democracy or Majoritarian Pluralism.

18 Apr 14

Although life expectancy has been rising for Americans as a whole, the people who live in this country aren’t necessary sharing those gains equally. Wealthy people are enjoying longer lifespans than lower income Americans, according to a new analysis from Brookings Institute researchers, and the gap is threatening to get wider. By the age of 55 years old, the average American man in the richest 10 percent of the county can expect to live another 35 years. But the average man in the poorest 10 percent only has about 24 years left. And the discrepancy is even starker among women, since low-income women’s life expectancy has actually been declining

18 Apr 14

For the first time in history, the secrets of the living brain are being revealed by a battery of high tech brain scans devised by physicists. Now what was once solely the province of science fiction has become a startling reality. Recording memories, telepathy, videotaping our dreams, mind control, avatars, and telekinesis are not only possible; they already exist. The Future of the Mind gives us an authoritative and compelling look at the astonishing research being done in top laboratories around the world—all based on the latest advancements in neuroscience and physics. One day we might have a “smart pill” that can enhance our cognition; be able to upload our brain to a computer, neuron for neuron; send thoughts and emotions around the world on a “brain-net“; control computers and robots with our mind; push the very limits of immortality; and perhaps even send our consciousness across the universe. Dr. Kaku takes us on a grand tour of what the future might hold, giving us not only a solid sense of how the brain functions but also how these technologies will change our daily lives. He even presents a radically new way to think about “consciousness” and applies it to provide fresh insight into mental illness, artificial intelligence and alien consciousness. With Dr. Kaku’s deep understanding of modern science and keen eye for future developments, The Future of the Mind is a scientific tour de force–an extraordinary, mind-boggling exploration of the frontiers of neuroscience.

18 Apr 14

Something I have always dreamed about has become a reality. It is called an agrihood, a residential neighborhood with a farm at the center—not a golf course, club house or pool, but something really sensible: fresh, organic food! My dream of long ago was to buy up a large track of land in New England where I live, invite family and friends to invest, and build homes around a central place to grow our own food and be self-sustainable. In one model neighborhood called Agritopia, a small community based near Phoenix that currently counts 152 families, grows fruit trees, grapes and raises animals. For $100 per month, members go to the town farm to pick up groceries. The central “square” also functions as a community hub with a coffeehouse and a farm-to-table restaurant. Agritopia is also in the process of creating “Generations at Agritopia” for independent and assisted living.

18 Apr 14

Economic inequality is rapidly increasing in the majority of countries. The wealth of the world is divided in two: almost half going to the richest one percent; the other half to the remaining 99 percent. The World Economic Forum has identified this as a major risk to human progress. Extreme economic inequality and political capture are too often interdependent. Left unchecked, political institutions become undermined and governments overwhelmingly serve the interests of economic elites to the detriment of ordinary people. Extreme inequality is not inevitable, and it can and must be reversed quickly. representation. When wealth captures government policymaking, the rules bend to favor the rich, often to the detriment of everyone else. The consequences include the erosion of democratic governance, the pulling apart of social cohesion, and the vanishing of equal opportunities for all. Unless bold political solutions are instituted to curb the influence of wealth on politics, governments will work for the interests of the rich, while economic and political inequalities continue to rise.

18 Apr 14

La desigualdad económica crece rápidamente en la mayoría de los países. La riqueza mundial está dividida en dos: casi la mitad está en manos del 1% más rico de la población, y la otra mitad se reparte entre el 99% restante. El Foro Económico Mundial considera que esta desigualdad supone un grave riesgo para el progreso de la humanidad. La desigualdad económica extrema y el secuestro de los procesos democráticos por parte de las élites son demasiado a menudo interdependientes. La falta de control en las instituciones políticas produce su debilitamiento, y los gobiernos sirven abrumadoramente a las élites económicas en detrimento de la ciudadanía de a pie. La desigualdad extrema no es inevitable, y puede y debe revertirse lo antes posible. Cuando la riqueza se apropia de la elaboración de las políticas gubernamentales secuestrándolas, las leyes tienden a favorecer a los ricos, incluso a costa de todos los demás. El resultado es la erosión de la gobernanza democrática, la destrucción de la cohesión social y la desaparición de la igualdad de oportunidades. A menos que se adopten soluciones políticas valientes que pongan freno a la influencia de la riqueza en la política, los gobiernos trabajarán en favor de los intereses de los ricos, y las desigualdades políticas y económicas seguirán aumentando.

17 Apr 14

We argue that language evolution started like the evolution of reading and writing, through cultural evolutionary processes. Genuinely new behavioural patterns emerged from collective exploratory processes that individuals could learn because of their brain plasticity. Those cultural–linguistic innovative practices that were consistently socially and culturally selected drove a process of genetic accommodation of both general and language-specific aspects of cognition. We focus on the affective facet of this culture-driven cognitive evolution, and argue that the evolution of human emotions coevolved with that of language. We suggest that complex tool manufacture and alloparenting played an important role in the evolution of emotions, by leading to increased executive control and intersubjective sensitivity. This process, which can be interpreted as a special case of self-domestication, culminated in the construction of human-specific social emotions, which facilitated information sharing. Once in place, language enhanced the inhibitory control of emotions, enabled the development of novel emotions and emotional capacities, and led to a human mentality that departs in fundamental ways from that of other apes. We end by suggesting experimental approaches that can help in evaluating some of these proposals and hence lead to a better understanding of the evolutionary biology of language and emotions.

17 Apr 14

Decades-long field research has flowered into integrative studies that, together with experimental evidence for the requisite social learning capacities, have indicated a reliance on multiple traditions (‘cultures’) in a small number of species. It is increasingly evident that there is great variation in manifestations of social learning, tradition and culture among species, offering much scope for evolutionary analysis. Social learning has been identified in a range of vertebrate and invertebrate species, yet sustained traditions appear rarer, and the multiple traditions we call cultures are rarer still. Here, we examine relationships between this variation and both social intelligence—sophisticated information processing adapted to the social domain—and encephalization. First, we consider whether culture offers one particular confirmation of the social (‘Machiavellian’) intelligence hypothesis that certain kinds of social life (here, culture) select for intelligence: ‘you need to be smart to sustainculture’. Phylogenetic comparisons, particularly focusing on our own study animals, the great apes, support this, but we also highlight some paradoxes in a broader taxonomic survey. Second, we use intraspecific variation to address the converse hypothesis that ‘culture makes you smart’, concluding that recent evidence for both chimpanzees and orangutans support this proposition.

17 Apr 14

This article examines the value of observation data collected by volunteers as they go about their daily activities. Many citizens are already creating digital data archives of their own lives through online activity including via social media communication. Citizens now have the potential to be the default fieldworkers of their own lives. This can be extended to examine the value of citizens systematically collecting data on the world around them for social science research. This pilot observation study required volunteers to follow a protocol and record the number of people seen begging. The study produced important findings on begging which informed a larger research project. However, challenging methodological and ethical issues are raised concerning the observation of public life. Even so, it is clear there is potential for what can be termed ‘citizen social science’, including continuous data collection where volunteers collaborate in social science research and observe and record data as they go about their daily lives. This approach to the way evidence can be collected and integrated into research has implications for the interfaces between being a citizen, knowledge processes and the state and presents an opportunity for a renewed idea of emancipatory social science.

17 Apr 14

The concept of a historical-social and political emancipatory subject, central in Marxism, has been rebuked by postmodern theories. In this article the authors examine the encounter between Marxist and postmodernist theories and ponder whether and how to conceive of an emancipatory political subject. The article identifies the questions posed by worldwide protests in the context of the global economic crisis and outlines a typology of the different responses of Marxist thinkers to the postmodernist challenge. The authors distinguish between ‘total rejection’ (anti-postmodern Marxism) and ‘total acceptance’ (post-Marxism), and between ‘rejection in part’ (Marxist postmodernism) and ‘acceptance in part’ (synthetic Marxist postmodernism). Based on this typology, the authors discuss the different approaches to the question of the emancipatory subject. Anti-postmodern Marxists have made relatively small adaptations to the contention that class constitutes the central explanatory concept. Marxist postmodernists retain the major Marxist categories, but they conceptualize also new struggles and new political subjectivities. Synthetic Marxist postmodernists view political subjectivity as a combination of classical Marxist categories and identity and cultural categories. Post-Marxists deconstruct the concept of class and propose new collective subjectivities. Finally, the article discusses the limitations of each of the approaches in addressing the identity of the emancipatory subject.

17 Apr 14

This article analyses the redefinition of global discourse in semi-peripheral settings; it proposes a model for the semi-peripheral recontextualization of critical discourses originating from the western core of the global intellectual system. The process of redefinition of global discourses in semi-peripheral settings appears to involve their parallel appropriation by actors whose positions can be reconstructed through Bourdieu’s field concept, in particular through the usage of his theory of cultural capital in the field of contemporary Polish sociology. The model presented in the article emphasizes a strong homology between the political field and the broader field of social sciences in peripheral countries. It appears that they are usually structured according to specific peripheral pro- vs anti-centre cleavages. Peripheral fields of power, which are organized around this binary logic, tend to produce specific, often contradictory, parallel redefinitions of western critical theory. Meanings become politically defined and distant from their original context. One of the paradoxical effects of these mechanisms is that the concepts which originally emerge as critical theory, in a semi-peripheral context, are often used in legitimization of and asapology for a neoliberal social order.

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