March Edition - Experiential Learning in Singapore

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March Edition - Experiential Learning in Singapore Powered By Docstoc
					WWW.LOGICMILLS.COM/NEWS                                                                                                           MAR ‘10

                                                       A                       PUBLICATION

 Avatar Philosophized
 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. The
                                    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,
                                                 be immoral.
                                                                                                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

        Logic Puzzle
                                                                                  only game piece other than
                                                                                  the cards.
                                                                                                                           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 .                  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
                                                                                     Interactivity     *****
                                                                                                                     Email 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 • • Tel: 6883-2171 • Fax: 6883-2501 •

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