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Paul Grobstein's blog

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Replacing blame with generosity in classrooms, inquiry, and culture

Interesting conversation this morning growing out of, among other things, "The Design of Learning Environments," Chapter 6 of How People Learn, together with some college student comparisons of experiences in their own courses with observations of elementary school classes at a local K-6 Quaker school.  The upshot was, for me at least, a clearer understanding of what one needs to do to create not only more effective learning environments in classrooms but more humane exchange environments generally.

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Dance is hard to see ... the purest form of knowledge?

A month ago I spent  several hours watching an opening session in the development of the dance piece "Dance is Hard to See," and talking with choreographer Kathryn Tebordo and the dancers about what I had seen and what dance was, or might be, all about.  "Dance is the purest form of knowledge" emerged from that conversation, which was a rich experience for me, one I have been mulling ever since.  I'm very much looking forward to this coming Sunday's performance of "Dance is Hard to See," to seeing how it has evolved and talking more with Kathryn, the performers, and other audience members about, among other things, what it says about what dance is (see

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Cell death, human death, and evolution

"The quest for eternal life, or at least prolonged youthfulness, has now migrated from the outer fringes of alternative medicine to the halls of Harvard Medical School" ... Quest for a long life gains scientific respect

I wonder if the involved researchers at the Harvard Medical School and elsewhere are paying any attention to the broader implications of related research

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Learning to live in/as an evolving system

Paul Krugman's The Politics of Spite is focused on a small issue (current Republican party practices) but speaks importantly to a much more general one, the use in politics of "scorched-earth tactics."  So too with a recent news article: Another Landlord Worry: Is the Elevator Kosher?  Describing a current controversy about shabbas practices, it quotes a New Yorker as saying “Just because there is one opinion doesn’t mean that it is everyone’s opinion. One of the wonderful things about Judaism is that there are competing opinions about everything.” 

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Multiple worlds, multiple interpretations: quantum physics and the brain

Very interesting seminar last night by Guy Blaylock on the multiple worlds interpretation of quantum physics.  Nice example of the principle that a given set of empirical observations is always subject to multiple interpretations, ie that there is always a perspectival or "subjective" element in scientific stories.  And an interesting dissection of reasons for preferring one or another several stories, a dissection that might in turn lead to some new stories.

As Guy neatly pointed out, the "traditional" interpretation of quantum physics has several "weirdnesses," with one more coming up in discussion:

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The brain and education: three loops and conflict resolution

Outline for Education 310, Defining Educational Practice, Bryn Mawr College, 9 September 2009

Links for notes

Additional relevant materials

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Loopiness: conflict, humanness, and the universe

I've been thinking a lot this summer not only about my own story of myself but also about some general ways of thinking about ... selves, interpersonal relations, inquiry, humanity, and our relation to the universe.  Central to all is has been the notion of "looping," a recurrent and infinitely extended process in which existing structures and forms interact with each other and with an underlying persistent randomness to generate new structures and forms.    

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An expanded neurobiology of depression?

Jeff Oristaglio is a neuroscientist at Drexel University with whom I share an interest in better understanding the brain and its relation to human experience generally.  The continuing conversation here is excerpted from an ongoing email exchange between Jeff and me, and made available to encourage further thinking about possible future directions for productive research on the neurobiology of depression.  Others interested are invited to add their thoughts in the on-line forum below. 

PG - 11 June 2009

Meeting announcement: "To think more about what depression is."

Jeff - 11 June 2009

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Evolution and story telling, in and beyond science

Updating (in progress) an older resource list (additional suggestions welcome in forum below):

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The Brothers Bloom: cons, and how to avoid them

Yep,  The Brothers Bloom is a con-man movie of sorts, and yep, it's (Roger Ebert) "lively at times ...lovely to look at, and the actors are persuasive ...

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