Monday, March 08, 2010

Events, Posts and Comments

Upcoming Events

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Bahai Principles Series

Religion: A Cause for Love or Hatred?

Great persecution always follows the announcement of any new world religion but later great good also comes. Hear the story of Zarrin, one of the Bahai martyrs in Iran, from her sister.

Speaker: Simin Khavari

Wednesday, Mar 10, 2010

8 PM

Garfield Disher Room,

Dunnville Public Library

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Philosopher's Cafe

Open Discussion

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Wainfleet Public Library,

Wainfleet Ontario


Overview of Recent Posts, mostly Video, to the Badi' Blog, plus some new commentary

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Motivation? Recent Thoughts and Posts


Every weekday morning is a fight to get my daughter off to school. This morning, hunched over, she cried out, like the star to the director of some film, "Motivation?" She refused to move until she heard a good reason to move. My wife's frantic spurt of machine-gun Czech seemed to be having no effect. I was taken aback for a minute, until it hit me. "Your motivation is the same thing that moves the entire universe. Love." It did not work right away, but she did trudge off reluctantly to school.

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Last night Silvie and I watched the TED talk of an impassioned celebrity cook, Jamie Oliver, who is deeply worried about the diet of the upcoming generation of kids. His TED Wish was that people adopt a program he has devised to teach to this and the past two generations how to cook quick, easy meals. Impressed, I checked out some of his recipes on YouTube, then stumbled across "Eat To Save Your Life." I have posted all eight parts on the Badi' Blog, at:

"Jamie Oliver, Eat To Save Your Life,"

Most of the information in it is received knowledge that I have read many times in articles and books, but Oliver presents it in such a graphic way that it left me shaking in my boots. It amounts to a sort of "Inconvenient Truth" for your diet. It includes the dissection of a man who literally ate himself to death. Not for the faint of heart. This was broadcast on British television, and as one commenter says, it would never, ever make it on the air in North America. Absolutely, this show should be seen by everybody with a human body to look after.

On the same theme, here is a pictorial web site that shows little balloons showing which dietary supplements are backed by real scientific evidence, which have less, and which are totally bogus.


Another health issue is the question, what pills to pop?

Supplements backed by science

Ever since I read of the studies proving that, for an unknown reason, multivitamins take two years off people's lives, it has amazed me that they still sell them, and so-called experts, imitating the past, continue to recommend them. This site should be much better known. If a pill is not up near the top of this list, do not put it in your mouth, you are just paying to shorten your life expectancy.


Eat Real

Suggested by Hamilton Baha'i, Pat Reid, this discusses the need to change our eating habits not only for health reasons but also to save the environment.

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Here is a strangely fascinating article about disfunctional teacher training. It is a long article that goes into great detail as to why the teaching of teachers has crashed and burned so regularly over the past century.


Building a Better Teacher, By Elizabeth Green, March 7, 2010

"There are more than three million teachers in the United States, and Doug Lemov is trying to prove that he can teach them to be better."


All through school I was made aware that the educational system was broken, but here is a report about a bunch of researchers who recognize that and are thoroughly investigating why it fails so badly. It seems that teachers, unlike doctors and just about any other profession you can name, are not trained by older professionals. They take all sorts of courses, finish teacher's college and then on their first day just stand up cold turkey in front of a class, without anything resembling an apprenticeship beforehand. As a result most teachers remain utterly ignorant of what works, even in the mechanics of running a class. Basics like getting and retaining the attention of kids are ignored. The teaching profession has no language to even describe the techniques of teaching. (It is not mentioned here, but one of the most successful innovations of teachers in Canada is simply rigging up teachers with a microphone and PA system; it seems that most of what is said in a classroom has no effect simply because in a noisy environment kids do not even hear the teacher's instructions.)

And when teachers do teach, they fail in the mechanics of what they teach. The article does not discuss what they teach -- I have my doubts about the whole idea of full time classes after age fifteen. I have my doubts about whether mathematics needs to dominate so completely --at the price of philosophy, religion, consultation and other fundamentals that now are afterthoughts. But if you assume that it is a good thing to coop kids up for several hours in a room pounding data into their heads, then these researchers seem to be on to something. Here is a link to some video from this article demonstrating teaching tricks and tips.


Head of the Class

March 2, 2010

In these video clips from actual classrooms around the country, Doug Lemov, founder of the charter-school network Uncommon Schools, analyzes techniques that effective teachers use to get students to pay attention and follow instructions.


Why Making Matters, by Annmarie Thomas, from TED 2010, Educational Venue

One of the most fascinating TED talks I have found recently did not make it on the main stage and was not filmed. To get it, you have to read a transcript, which is at:

According to her, a poll found that "72% of U.S. teenagers ... had never taken an industrial arts or shop class." Americans must have a much more practical approach than here in Canada because I have never heard of any pupil getting a chance to lay hands on a tool until high school. That is zero percent, and it is absolutely pathetic. In my opinion, kids should be fully competent at at least one hands-on trade by the time they leave grade school. I am a great fan of computers, but there is no way a kid should even look at one before the age of ten. It is scandalous how theoretically obsessed our education has become. As Thomas points out,

"We would not expect a musician to be successful if they were only taught theory and then not handed an instrument until college.  The same holds true for making. You would be surprised at how many engineering students (in) colleges see who have never really built anything."

The result, she says, is that people today give up at the first hint of failure. Making something with your own hands trains you in a sort of mental toughness, a perseverence, that is rarely seen now, even in mental tasks like stringing thoughts together into a coherent argument. She points to the school that turned out the greatest intellectual and social critic in the world, Noam Chomsky.

"Educator John Dewey founded the Chicago Laboratory School which had a strong emphasis on learning by doing. Children studied the manual arts at every level of their education. Dewey championed the need for children to be allowed to build real things, with real tools. Thus, when the kids decided they wanted to build a playhouse, they got some advice from teachers and did it themselves. A two story playhouse, custom furniture, complete with the appropriate building permits, designed and built by children under the age of 14."

"Jump forward 100 years and we have a generation of kids, many of whom may never be taught how to make things with their own hands.  Im not suggesting that we give a two year old a chainsaw (mine still has a plastic tool set), but that we acknowledge that, like playing an instrument, making is a skill which takes years to develop and is best started early."

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Recent Posting: A Theory of My Father, on March 04, 2010

The Psychology of Incompetence - Ron Burk

On the post I comment:

"My father watched a lot of politics when I was young and he said he could always predict the winner just by looking at the candidate. If he was tall, handsome, even featured, he was a shoe-in. Finally somebody else has picked up on that theory."

This five minute talk is not serious, or even coherent, but it is very good food for thought nonetheless. It starts with an old joke: "A blond and a redhead walk into bank for a job interview. Who gets the job?" Answer, the one with the bigger boobs. Same is true for men. The tall ones are promoted, even when they mess up. This is part of one of the most basic prejudices: as children we literally look up to adults, who are superior and much taller. So we elect leaders who are tall, we promote them, admire them, even when short people are smarter and better at the job. Since women average a couple of inches shorter than men, this prejudice certainly affects them as well, even when sexual discrimination is off the table.

I am sure that this kind of prejudice, built into the present system, will become more of a political issue in coming years. I think Tahireh Naylor's idea for an election, which she talked her law school's student counsel into implementing, will become universal someday (Tahireh is now a BIC rep at the U.N.). She told them that old campaining does not work. We do not need to put people's faces up on posters (she did not emphasize it, but  suchpublicity by nature opens an election up to prejudices of age, height and looks), why not publicize the virtues we need in a student counsel president? That way during the campaign people can meditate on what person shows an inner quality, not whoever somebody thinks is electable or who has the most appealing face. Her idea was implemented, virtue posters were plastered throughout the school, and by all accounts, it worked very well in picking out students with these qualities.

As this speaker, Ron Burk, points out, this kind of prejudice affects hiring as well. When a company picks a highly qualified rising star for a posting, they may be cutting their own throat. A superficially successful person has no experience with failure and adversity, and is in a mental rut based on easy victories that may not be deserved. Quick and easy fixes that happened to work in the past are all they know. Overcoming truly tough problems requires qualities that a successful person has not developed. Instead, figure out ways to choose people based on grit, not a flashy resume. Which is one reason more why the Manifestations of God are best qualified as leaders of religion, for suffering counts far more than schooling.


More Video on the Badi' Blog:

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One God

March 04, 2010

YouTube video of the song "One God" by Barbra Streisand. Contributed by Ed, this is one of the few love songs to the source of all love.

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How to Work a Crowd, Ignite Talk, Ep23 - Alexis Bauer March 04, 2010

"It occurs to me that this is a skill that Baha'i teachers would do well to learn and apply."

"In this week's Ignite Show episode, Alexis Bauer shows us how easy and effective it is control your own social fate and turn a room full of strangers into friends."



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