Monkeys, Mirrors, Metacognition, And Me…

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“You should take a long look at yourself in the mirror,” anybody could have said. 

It could be a case of: not completely liking what you see, liking it a little to much, or not even recognising that the thing in front of you is actually you. 

There are times when I look deeply into the person who stares at me from the mirror and I try to see if we are truly as one. If I look long enough, I see the image bleed-out its precision until only a blur stands before me. Eyes change, mouth changes, hair changes until I am an amorphous mass with out any meaning. I have to blink in order to resume normality.

From Science:

Strange as it might seem, not all animals can immediately recognize themselves in a mirror. Great apes, dolphins, Asian elephants, and Eurasian magpies can do this—as can human kids around age 2. Now, some scientists are welcoming another creature to this exclusive club: carefully trained rhesus monkeys. The findings suggest that with time and teaching, other animals can learn how mirrors work, and thus learn to recognize themselves—a key test of cognition.

“It’s a really interesting paper because it shows not only what the monkeys can’t do, but what it takes for them to succeed,” says Diana Reiss, a cognitive psychologist at Hunter College in New York City, who has given the test to dolphins and Asian elephants in other experiments.

The mirror self-recognition test (MSR) is revered as a means of testing self-awareness. A scientist places a colored, odorless mark on an animal where it can’t see it, usually the head or shoulder. If the animal looks in the mirror and spontaneously rubs the mark, it passes the exam. Successful species are said to understand the concept of “self” versus “other.”

By Virginia Morell

 

I found it interesting that humans did not actually have this cognitive skill inherent in their circuitry whereas other animals do. It’s taken me a goodly time to realise that the person in the mirror is actually me and not some distant memory.

It appears that the little rhesus needs to be trained to accept that the thing it is looking at is itself and not another. And when it looks around the edge of its reflection, there is nothing there. Other creatures have an initial reaction that oscillates between fear, surprise, and aggression. Yet writers have often journeyed into that territory beyond the mirror, that otherness, and that is where I have been for this last year and a half.

It is that otherness that lies through the looking glass that has helped me to rediscover that self that almost became extinct (before I wondered in and through the false assumption that a mirror is just some frame of material that reflects light rather than absorbing it).

“If I had a world of my own, everything would be nonsense. Nothing would be what it is, because everything would be what it isn’t. And contrary wise, what is, it wouldn’t be. And what it wouldn’t be, it would. You see?”

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Must dash now.. I’m late for something that is very important.

 

 

 

 

Selling Like Hot-Cakes?

DIGITAL_BOOK_THUMBNAIL Read After Burnout.

It makes no sense. 

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Fursday Is Cancelled…It’s Too Warm

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With temperatures across the UK set to rise above relative freezing point (well, 25 degrees), the people of the Fur Nation are preparing themselves for an onslaught of irritatingly decent weather. 

The winter has lasted as long as anything anyone can remember; it not just came, but it settled in, put its frozen feet up, and left the door wide open.

Not many incidents with those north of the wall as it is suppose they must have perished in one of our blessed leaders’ austerity programmes. Now the winter has gone and there are some of us northmen and women and children and dogs and cats and…

Still standing. It is time to throw of those furs, embrace the new god of light and hey, diddly, dee.

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Summer is coming!

My Blog Sucks…

 

via The Story Of A Blog…Readafterburnout.com

Survival Strategies…

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Kids can be scary.

Pol Pot knew that and so do many terrorist organisations. They have not yet reached the age of consequences, where their deeds have repercussions; some probably never will. They are pack animals moving in agreed conventions of hierarchy. Permanent teachers are part of the pack even if they don’t know it. They are accepted group members who have a right to grunt and give instructions. Often, the permanent teacher inspires love and respect which allows the group to move onwards. However, as love and respect are fragile concepts, sometimes the trust can be broken. Once broken, they rarely mend themselves properly.

Long-term absence with anything other than cancer will do it. Into the void left behind by such an accepted member, a supply teacher is lured. Kids just love a supply teacher and the older ones can eat more than their own body weight of one in a day.

 

I am not afraid. I am not afraid.

I am not in my right mind.

  • Ask for quiet. Give instructions.
  • Write them on the board.
  • Ask for quiet.
  • Talk through the instructions.
  • Ask for silence.
  • Talk.
  • Stop.
  • Ask for silence.
  • Look brooding.
  • Be silent.
  • Ask for silence.
  • Raise your voice whilst lowering the pitch.
  • Demand silence.
  • Move towards the most ardently indifferent.
  • Ask them what they are doing.
  • Keep your head when they reply that they don’t know because you haven’t told them yet.
  • Look incredulous.
  • Ask for silence.
  • Ask if anyone was listening when you asked for silence the last dozen times.
  • Raise your voice in an attempt to get them to listen.
  • Try not to scream.
  • Try not to kick the door.
  • Try to keep yourself in the room.
  • Attempt to put it all into perspective.
  • Allow your jaw to drop widely open when some inane member of SLT comes into your room.
  • Let your jaw hang loosely as silence descends.
  • Listen to the trite appeasement offered by the SLT member as they tell you that this is usually a very good class.
  • Try not to show your disbelief as some of the gobbier students tell the SLT that they were not told what to do.
  • Enter into a conversation with the SLT about the importance of good behaviour for learning.
  • Fade away in volume as it becomes obvious that the SLT thing is not listening to you as they have already started to pull a funny appeasing kind of face to one of the dragons.
  • Listen to some more of their bullshit ‘come on kids’ speech.
  • Allow the SLT being from another universe to tell you that the class will now be good and attentive.
  • Watch the door as it closes on the darting SLT whatever and imagine how they have formed their opinion of your inability to basically teach such an easy group of wonderful young people.
  • Brace yourself for an immediate increase in volume and belligerence.
  • Face accusations that you haven’t told them what to do.
  • Try to seek out those friendly faces that you thought were there at the beginning of the lesson.
  • Despair on discovering that they too have fallen into conversations with those around them or have buried their faces into the sand of their exercise books.

 

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Sit.

Breathe.

Count the seconds as they pass.

 

How I Use This Blog…

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It’s nice to come home to the blog at the end of a working day. It’s good to sit down and see what has been going on. It’s wonderful to enter a world of imagination and self-reflection. 

Oh, my lord, I sound like a tree-hugger. 

Just got back in from work where I have wrestled the very soul of young humanity for the twin prizes of teaching and learning. The kids have been disruptive, argumentative, and obstructive. The word disobedient no longer holds meaning. I expect a rough time and that helps me to plan for it.

In Japan, they expect earthquakes. In some island states, they expect land-swallowing tides. In the United States they expect Trump to be dismissed from office for being a genetically-developed bullfrog with the mind of a greedy five-year old at a birthday party. The reason why his skin looks so orange is that he ate all the cake and jelly and trifle and drank all the fizzy drinks.

My blog is a stop-valve. It gives me chance to say something without having to announce myself to my fellow man. On readafterburnout.com I am semi-invisible. Having said that, I try to keep my deepest thoughts out of reach as my wife thinks that somebody will get hold of them and use them against me.

“What? Like destroy my teaching career?”

My blog keeps me company in the good and the dark days. I shouldn’t say this, but there are many things that I write that I find to be good work or that actually make me laugh. There are times when I think back to something that I have posted and try to find the part of it that I believed was a specific nugget of humour or wisdom; and then I repost it.

I repost frequently as I have a website that resembles a local authority tip. I just throw everything in there and hope for the best. I am a hoarder. My refuse I can not refuse.

 

Look at my stuff:

 

Is Knowledge Power?

 

images-483Way back in the day when the gatekeepers kept the gates closed to so many of us, allowing only a privileged few through the hallowed portals, knowledge was certainly power.

Exams started with the Eleven-Plus and funnelled the sections of the school population into three distinct areas: Grammar; Technical; and Secondary Modern educational models. From there on in, there was a relatively trouble-free route into ‘O’ Levels; Vocational Qualifications; or CSEs. On top of that, you could progress to gain absolutely  nothing as those were the days when one’s personal aptitude and indifference would be respected. Back in the day, you were allowed to fail if you merited it.

Some of the main skills required for passing examinations were aptitude, natural talent, hard work, and memorisation. The latter was a godsend for those who wished to wend their way into the wonderland of a university education.  And let’s not forget the teachers. A bright and knowledgeable teacher, who could engage with young people, was the most excellent of escape-routes, unless said teacher was predisposed to that most dreaded of ideologues, ‘the love of learning for its own sake’.

We were up at Durham this week with our middle daughter who has received a rather good offer to study Archaeology. I had never been to Durham before, so it was all new to me. I knew that Durham was one of the best universities in the country and I was happy that our middle daughter had the chance to study there. It was a well-needed tonic and an ‘away-day’ from her issues with self-esteem.

Now that it has become a real possibility, she is going to have to work and work in order to polish her skills at passing examinations…extremely well. You see, there is a point when knowledge alone counts for nothing. At crucial times, it’s about demonstrating what you know and applying it to certain questions. After you have done well in A Levels, you can forget what you have learnt so that you can learn some more. There’s only so much one can be expected to regurgitate at any one time.

And yet what impressed us about Durham University was its standing as a pre-eminent gate-keeper. Saint Bede’s remains are there in the Cathedral. Eminent scholars fill the lists of alumni. The doors opened to those who were willing to go that extra mile and would then lead onto doors that led to endless possibilities. They were gates that my wife and I had never passed through, but our children are now doing so. Yet there was something else that Durham had that was unquantifiable; it was the ‘love of learning’. And what best exemplified that was the study of Archaeology; the study of the past for the sake of discovery, for the sake of learning something new.

So the question that this all gives rise to is whether or not education and knowledge should be in need of an end-product. My response is, yes. We learn to make sense of the world around us. We learn to move forward. We do learn from our mistakes as much as we learn from our successes. It has to be applied.

Nevertheless when explorers risked their lives to chart a new ocean or continent or planet, are they doing so to provide valuable information that can be used by later generations or are they lost in the moment of discovery, of being the first one there, of leaving a footprint or fingerprint on something that was previously pristine and unimagined?

From The Telegraph  Friday 16th February 2018. By Allan Massie

Professor Andrew Hamilton, the vice-chancellor of Oxford University, has spoken up in defence of “apparently useless” study. He points to research done by the university’s Department of Earth Sciences estimating the body masses of 426 species of dinosaurs. They concluded that those with the lowest body mass had the best chance of survival. Accordingly, those did survive and became birds. “Now,” he said, “unless you are a budgerigar wishing to trace your family tree, that information is of precisely zero value. But it’s brilliant research, and somehow I feel better just for knowing it.” 

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As Aristotle knew, a hunger for knowledge is a hunger for life.

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And sometimes life can be enjoyable…