WWW.LOGICMILLS.COM/NEWS MAR ‘10
WATCH OUT FOR:
Cynicism and Morality
The Pandemic Review
EXPERIMENT Experiential Learning in Singapore
Technological advances will A novel process to engage students and deliver complex concepts
continue to be made in the
future. As a result, many im- phy to undergraduate students the thinking skills that we
ne Saturday morning, 11
portant decisions must be at the Bowling Green State teach. When students apply
am, 6 February, 2010, a grand
made about what curriculum University (BGSU) and devel- concepts in an activity, they
ballroom of the Concorde Ho-
students will be faced with and oping experiential lessons for find out things for themselves
tel along Orchard Road, wit-
the media that they will be university level philosophy as a result of their own experi-
nessed about 50 Singaporean
trained in. Where do you stand courses. ence. An idea that is used suc-
primary, secondary and junior
on this topic? Do you think Throughout the course of cessfully once can be used
college teachers and heads-of-
that more classrooms should the three hour seminar, Noah successfully again. Learning
department congregating to
feature computers with inter- guided the teachers through by experience yields a richer
participate in a seminar, which
net access? Would this have a experiencing a number of ac- and deeper understanding of
negative effect on the stu-
aimed to display experiential
learning techniques that can be tivities and games, encouraging ideas and enables us to more
dents’ ability to focus in class? and facilitating the teachers to readily see how what we learn
Should we include ―web liter-
used in a classroom environ-
ment. discuss and share ideas of how can be used throughout our
acy‖ in the national school
There were around four to these activities can be used in lives.
curriculum? Please provide
five teachers at each table. The their own lessons.
your feedback at
teachers were taking turns to Afterwards, The Luminary M: Okay, that’s interesting.
place down their colourful correspondent Marc Lombardo So you were addressing
Luminary correspondent Eric
Tetris-like pieces onto a grey took the opportunity to ask teachers of all different sub-
Fethe will talk more about this
square grid, attempting to con- Noah Levin a few questions. ject matters. Is experiential
in the April Issue.
trol more area on the board or learning really applicable to
blocking other players in the Marc: Hi Noah, it seemed all academic subjects?
process. that the participants were
Yes, the teachers were having quite a bit of fun play- N: Absolutely. In fact, experi-
playing a game of Blokus. ing games. What was the ential learning is already com-
Experiential learning is the seminar actually about? monly a part of the Science
process of gaining knowledge curriculum. We do science
through actively engaging the Noah: Well, in this talk, I ex- experiments because what is
subject of study. LogicMills, plained the tenets of experien- learned through the experience
in this case, teaches Analytical tial learning, what makes it of actually engaging in an ex-
Thinking SkillsTM through different from other kinds of periment directly cannot be
experiential learning meth- teaching, and how it works. learned any other way.
ods. The central idea behind experi- However, there is no rea-
Noah Levin, a teacher of ential learning is that we learn son that experiential learning
the LogicMills faculty was the most effectively when we are cannot be used when teaching
speaker for the seminar. engaged in the process of doing other subjects as well. No mat-
Before joining LogicMills, something. At LogicMills, we ter what the subject is—
Noah Levin’s past experience often use games as a way of
Noah Levin at the seminar has been in teaching philoso- getting our students to practice Continued on page 2
MICA (P) 085/02/2010
WWW.LOGICMILLS.COM/NEWS MAR ‘10
Teaching through experiential learning techniques
From page 1
whether it is the rules of grammar in teach probability. In Art, drawing can tial learning in their own teaching.
English class, or numerical operations be practiced in a fun and less self-
in Maths, or even drawing in Art conscious way by playing a sketch Well on the point of whether or not
class—successfully learning the rele- game. Singaporean teachers were receptive
vant material depends upon our ability to the approach of experiential learn-
to think. M: Have you found that teachers in ing, this is what Mr. Lee Poh Leong,
We don’t commonly realize this, Singapore are receptive to the ap- an English teacher from the Singapore
but thinking is an activity. In fact, it’s a proach of experiential learning? Sports School, had to say on his ex-
lot like riding a bicycle or playing an perience of the seminar.
instrument—the more we practice, the N: Very much so. Teachers care about ―The seminar was an appetizer to
better we get. results and experiential learning means what games can do to unravel the po-
When we integrate activities into results. During the seminar, we did not tential in our kids. I have always be-
school curriculum, we provide an op- simply tell teachers about the benefits lieved in the power of discovery
portunity for students to actively think of experiential learning. The seminar through play. To play is to learn.
about what they are learning and also included numerous games that we These two intimate factors are one and
thereby to learn more. What activities at LogicMills use in the course of the same,‖ said Mr. Lee.
are appropriate for integrating experien- teaching. While playing these games, ―The crux then is to find or devise
tial learning in different subjects? the teachers saw for themselves just the right games for the curriculum. I
For English, fill-in-the-blank stories how much they were learning. After would, however, look forward to more
can be used to practice working with the seminar, many teachers ap- experimental data to back up my be-
different parts of speech. For Maths, a proached me about suggestions for liefs.‖
game with dice rolling can be used to how they could incorporate experien-
Philosophy on Tap
Cynicism and Morality
This topic’s speaker, Dr. Samantha Vice Posed by an audience member, one
is Senior Lecturer in the Department of example, which challenges Dr. Vice’s
Philosophy at Rhodes University in argument, was the case of the particu-
South Africa. Her philosophical inter- lar form of disengagement practiced
ests lie primarily in ethics—a fact which within Buddhism. As part of their phi-
might largely be explained as a compen- losophy on life, Buddhists are said to
sation for her surname. be disengaged from the world. How-
In this session of Philosophy on ever, does that make them necessarily
Tap, Dr. Vice’s main claim is that to be cynical?
a cynic is to be immoral. Defining a While Dr. Vice has still not ex-
cynic can be a feat in itself, since there plored the problem of Buddhism and
are after all, a number of ways of defin- Uncle Scrooge—The Cynic from A Christmas Carol the argument as a whole remains un-
ing a cynic. finished, the ideas presented by Dr.
disengaged at all. Dr Vice, therefore,
In her definition, cynicism can be Vice were rich with potential.
drew a connection between skepticism
defined as a character trait, which could While she acknowledges that it is
and cynicism claiming that a skeptic is
be composed of two elements—one possible to have varying degrees of
one who is likely to be suspicious
being an attitude of disengagement and cynicism, the crux of Dr. Vice’s argu-
about the motives of humans.
the other being an attitude of skepti- ment is that cynicism is simply not a
The problem with being cynical is
cism. desirable trait to have in general. It
this—a cynic is not able to pursue the
Given these elements, cynics tend to may be that in a particular case, cyni-
virtues of faith, hope and charity.
believe that all humans are motivated by cism may not be problematic but over
However, the notion of morality as a
their self interest and that humans are the long haul, it is likely to prevent us
viable system requires one to pursue
bad in general. However, the idea of from leading a morally and ethically
these virtues, which prevents the cynic
being disengaged is rather controversial, rich life. By not falling into cynicism,
from undertaking a moral project at
since if one is opinionated about hu- we are more likely to live in a way
all. For this reason, a cynic is said to
mans, then he may not necessarily be- which embraces the virtues of hope,
faith and charity.
WWW.LOGICMILLS.COM/NEWS MAR ‘10
The Philosophy Of Avatar
“Everything is backward now, like out there is the true world and in here is the dream”—Jack Sully
T here is no question that Avatar is
a true landmark for digitally-created
If each of us could adopt an atti-
tude of not imposing our superiority
on others on this planet, better interac-
Na’vi, Eywa is the embodiment of the
collective memories of their ancestors
and all other living beings on Pandora.
imagery. In fact, the computer anima- tions between different races and na- In essence, the Na’vi’s ancestors
tion is so minutely detailed, so precise, tionalities might well result. continue to live on through Eywa, as
so carefully and thoughtfully crafted will all of the planet’s living creatures
that it has the curious effect of making even after they physically expire.
you not even notice it! Thus, for the Na’vi, death is viewed as
Experientially, you simply accept more of a transition from one form of
the reality of the digital characters in being to another rather than as a final
the same way that you accept that of and definitive end.
human actors. The Na’vi believe that death and
Even by themselves, these ad- decay are inevitable in life and that
vances in digital imagery probably whatever animosity exists in the world
would have been enough to make Ava- is but a temporary and fleeting excep-
tar the highest grossing movie of all tion to the profound connectedness
time. However, aside from its digital inherent in all living things.
effects, Avatar is also a movie of re-
markable emotional power that is full The beliefs of the Na’vi
of profound and thoughtful ideas.
In this manner the Na’vi are a deeply
Changing Perspective spiritual people. They have a strict
moral and ethical code and have the
Despite what you might at first think, utmost respect for all other living be-
the true aliens in the story are actually ings on Pandora.
the humans. This revelation slowly While in many respects the Na’vi’s
occurs to you as the story unfolds. beliefs parallel the doctrines of various
Driven by greed, humans attempt to world religions, it is important to point
force the Na’vi from their homeland. out that their guiding morality does
The profound empathy shown for not emerge from a belief in an afterlife
the alien race in Avatar is striking, per se. Eywa is something that each of
especially in comparison with some of the Na’vi experience directly in the
Hollywood’s other depictions of The consciousness of Pandora course of their lives so the question of
aliens, such as Ridley Scott’s Alien whether or not they believe in it never
Trilogy. In the Alien movies, the aliens Pandora is special in many respects, really arises. In other words, the
are the antithesis of everything good, the breathtaking beauty of the physical Na’vi’s belief system is directly based
beautiful, and human; Ridley Scott’s landscape being only one of its distin- upon their everyday experience and
aliens are disgusting, blood-thirsty guishing characteristics. not just an article of faith.
monsters completely devoid of any Many of the planet’s living organ- An interesting question raised by
other objective besides their next kill, isms, both plant and animal, can bond the spiritual beliefs of the Na’vi is to
their main objective being sustainabil- with one another by forming direct what degree their belief system is an
ity of their own species. connections between their respective extension of their unique biological
By contrast, the Na’vi are more nervous systems. Collectively, these makeup, particularly the ability to in-
human (and certainly more humane) organisms form a global network in terface directly with the nervous sys-
than Avatar’s actual humans; in fact, which any and all creatures can upload tems of creatures unlike them. Could
they are creatures of great intelligence, their memories and experiences and creatures without a similar biological
compassion and physical beauty. thus, the planet itself has its own liv- infrastructure, like humans, be truly
This simple yet bold insistence ing memory. capable of maintaining such beliefs?
upon the superiority of the aliens The Na’vi refer to this all- This question is particularly apt
poses a profound challenge to the encompassing consciousness as Eywa. given the increasing connectedness of
natural human inclination to see one’s Although the humans refer to Eywa in human life made possible by informa-
own kind as the centre of the universe. the movie as a pagan goddess, to the tion technology.
Events in March
March 12: Stan Van Hooft on
Board Game Review: Pandemic
Politics and Hope, Philosophy FACTBOX
on Tap Series, Bugis Village
March 15-19: Holiday Work-
shops, Bugis Village Created by: Matt Leacock
March 19-21: Kidz Academy,
Suntec City Published by: Z-man Games
March 25: Isabel Lofgren on Number of Players: 2-4 players
Desert Islands, Bugis Village
For more information, please Age: 10+
Duration of Play: 45 minutes
only game piece other than
Parent Tip # 2
Three wizards wanted to find out andemic is always a
Player personalities are a
who was the wisest among them. hit at parties because people Organise a colouring activity.
big factor in this game. It You could draw your own pic-
So they turned to their Grand get to work together for a
may become less enjoyable if tures or source for some pretty
Wizard, asking to resolve their change, instead of compet-
one player dominates the colouring books. The catch is
dispute. ―Easy,‖ the old man said. ing against each other.
conversation and strategizing. that your child only has very
"I will blindfold you and paint Players compete against the
Part of fun of this game is little bits of crayon to work with.
either a red or blue dot on each board to prevent diseases Through this activity, your child
working together and talking
man’s forehead. When I take your from getting out of control. will have to learn to manage
out what should be done. But
blindfolds off, if you see at least This game truly requires their resources (those tiny bits of
if someone starts to tell others
one red dot, raise your hand. The collaboration – all players crayon) so that they don’t run out
what should be done, it is
one, who guesses the color of the
win or all players lose. before the picture is completed.
likely take the fun out of it. Oops! Run out of green crayon?
Careful coordination is
dot on his forehead first, wins." On the flip side, if a player Mix some blue and yellow to-
needed to stop the outbreak
The Grand Wizard blind- becomes totally disengaged gether.
of the diseases! This fun,
folded the three contestants and and only does as he is told,
starts, right from the start,
painted red dots on every one. the fun factor also decreases. Taken from Thinking is Fun! -
as players plan the eradica-
When he took their blindfolds off, The variable difficulty 97 Activities to Unlock Your
tion of the most trouble- Child’s Mental ToolBox
all of the three wizards raised levels make the game mor
some viruses. (Publisher: LogicMills). In book-
their hands as the rules required, accessible to players of dif-
The quality of the game stores from April 2010.
and sat in silence pondering. Fi- ferent ages and skill levels.
pieces is superb—the
nally, one of them said: "I have a Pandemic has a steep learn-
wooden cubes and pawns
red dot on my forehead." ing curve and players must
are well made and have a
How did he guess? ensure that they read the rules
nice feel to them. The board Shady Puzzle® # 2
carefully and follow them
clearly tells players where
February Answer: Alan is the man- consistently. The order of
each piece should go, and
ager, Barry is the teller and Simon is actions that must happen on 2 2,1 2 2,2 1
the cashier. Send this month’s answer
while there are many cubes,
each turn is important and
to firstname.lastname@example.org . these are essentially the 1,1
takes some getting used to,
Credits but the game become ex- 1,2
tremely enjoyable when you
get the hang of it. 1,1
Chief Editor: Shakil Ahmed
Editors: Lynette Teo, Marc Lombardo and Abhishek Radhakrishnan Playability *****
Writers: Eric Fethe and Tanzin Iqbal Anik Theme *****
Shady Puzzle: Sandra Ho
Email email@example.com if
Fun factor ***** you want to contribute articles
Layout: Shakil Ahmed and Tanzin Iqbal Anik
Overall or puzzles or if you have any
Special thanks to everyone else at LogicMills
***** questions or general feedback.
33 Liang Seah Street #03-01 Singapore 189054 • www.logicmills.com • Tel: 6883-2171 • Fax: 6883-2501 • firstname.lastname@example.org