Posts Tagged ‘learning expert’

“Why China is passing us.” – Winnipeg Free Press (1st of 2 parts)

Hunan is highlighted on this map

Lanshan Middle School No. 2 is in an agricultural area in the southern part of Hunan province, China; Hunan province is highlighted in red on the map of China above; image from: …………………………………………………………………………………………

I am grateful for today’s guest article from the Winnipeg Free Press in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada:

Winnipeg Free Press – PRINT EDITION

Why China’s passing us [1st of 2 parts]

At Lanshan Middle School No. 2, no free rides

By: Carol Sanders, February 13, 2010

Reporter Carol Sanders went to rural China for a holiday and stayed at a high school campus. She learned a thing or two about an education system with great expectations and global ambitions.

LANSHAN, China — While Manitoba wrings its hands over releasing high school test scores, what to do with kids who fail a grade, are obese or bullies, the competition from another, poorer province is getting smarter, leaner and meaner.
That province is in China.

In one of the poorest regions of the economic powerhouse of 1.3 billion people, kids are up at 6:30 every morning, working out, doing their own laundry by hand and going to classes 12 hours a day. And they’re learning English.

On a cold, dark December morning, a whistle blows over a loudspeaker at 6:30 a.m. followed by a wake-up call and some march music.

It’s time for the hundreds of high school kids who live at Lanshan Middle School No. 2 to wake up.

The school is in an agricultural centre in southern Hunan province.

The students get up and gather for exercises accompanied by canned Chinese pop music, then head to the cafeteria. They get their bowl and chopsticks from their cubby and line up for a hot stir-fry breakfast and steamed vegetables. If they want dumplings or doughy sweets, they’ll have to pay extra. After breakfast, they wash their bowls and sticks, put them away and head to classes.

The top students are located on the top floors of the school. The Grade 10 high-achievers have to climb up five flights of stairs — the reward for their hard work is more hard work.

At mid-morning, all the teachers (some wearing high heels) and the students (some wearing slippers) take a break from classes and go for a two-kilometre run around the perimeter of the sprawling high school campus.

It’s quite a sight. There’s no pissing and moaning or goofing off. The 2,200 kids and teachers joke and chat while they jog. Some high-five a Canadian English teacher as they run past her.

The midday break is not siesta time.

The students head to the study hall to do homework. Before supper, they gather to play basketball, table tennis, soccer, badminton, lift weights or run around the track.

There’s no teacher organizing them — the kids just break off into their groups. And nobody’s left out.

The students group themselves according to their skill level, so kids who suck at sports like badminton but like it anyway can still play with someone in their league and have a chance at winning.

The kids who are really good at basketball play with others who are really good. The jocks are constantly being challenged by other jocks, so they can get better.

There are no cliques huddled in corners or slackers sitting on the fence.

It’s fun, competitive and inclusive because you get to play even if you’re not very good.

[This is the 1st of 2 parts; to be continued in the next post, the 2nd of 2 parts, Wednesday, July 28, 2010]

– Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition of February 13, 2010, page H1

Doc Meek posted a comment at the Winnipeg Free Press about this article:

February 19, 2010 at 7:19 PM

I am writing a book that will encourage Chinese teachers and students to involve themselves more in active learning, so that the school work they do will be more meaningful to each of them personally. I would like them to learn to love active learning, not just rote learning, so that they can enjoy life-long learning, not just factual memorizing. However, it is clear that they will teaching me about active learning too, from their example of self-discipline and hard work. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. – Doc Meek, Calgary, Alberta, CANADA, and South Jordan, Utah, USA  …………………………………………………………………………………………

Doc Meek, Tuesday, July 27,2010, at South Jordan, Utah, USA ——————-

J. Collins Meek, Ph.D. (Doc Meek)
“What if you are smarter than you think?”
Learning Specialist

For brain health, ensure heart health (short video):
More on heart health
Ph (801) 971-1812 (Jeannette); Fax [801] 282-6026

CANADA: P.O. Box 3105, Sherwood Park, AB T8H 2T1
TONGA: Mele Taumoepeau, P.O. Box 60, Nuku’alofa
USA: 3688 W 9800 S, #138, South Jordan, UT 84095

Autism: “A hair-dryer kid in a toaster-brained world” (Part I of III)

Bud’s Grade 5 class, in disguise; photo from: …………………………………………………………………………………………….

I am grateful for this guest article I borrowed today, Wed, July 21, 2010. This is Part I of a 3-Part series about Bud, a 10-year-old with learning differences.

Bud, who has been labeled autistic, has been placed in a regular Grade 5 classroom. His Mom’s brilliant interactive discussion with the kids in his class (with Bud absent of course) is detailed here.

This is the best description of autism I have read anywhere

Thanks Mom! We are grateful for your creativity, your courage, and your willingness to share!

What is autism? (Part I of III)

Bud’s Mom is interacting with Bud’s classmates at school (with Bud absent):

“Now, we all know that your brain is a machine that’s made of tissue and neurons and nerve cells. But let’s pretend it was a more simple machine. Let’s pretend your brain wasn’t made of tissue and neurons and nerve cells, but instead, it was made of metal and plastic and electrical wires. And let’s pretend that when you put that metal and plastic and electrical wire together, it turned into a toaster.”

Here, the class laughed – the good kind of laughter. I carried on. They were with me.

“And let’s pretend that MOST of us had toaster brains. Some of us might make white toast and some wheat toast or rye toast, and some of us might make light toast and some of us dark toast. Some of us might only toast bagels, and sometimes we might even burn the toast, but for the most part, all of our brains would be able to do the same thing: make toast.

“Now, think about the pretend world that we have just created. In our world, MOST people have toaster brains. So, when we make the rules for our world and decide how we want to spend our time, what do you think we’ll decide is the MOST important thing a person can do?”

Nora raised her hand. “Always try hard and do our very best?”

“Yes!” I said. “And WHEN we do our very best, we will be doing a great job making…”

“Toast!” they responded in unison.

“Yes! Because we have brains that are really GOOD at making toast – so we will want to have a world where it’s REALLY important and REALLY valuable to make toast. Right?”

Heads nodded around the room.

“Now let’s pretend that Bud’s brain is ALSO made of metal and plastic and electrical wires, just like our brains, except that when HIS metal and plastic and electrical wires get put together, they turn into a totally different kind of machine. Instead of being a TOASTER, Bud’s metal and plastic and electrical wires turn into a HAIR DRYER.”

I swear, I heard gasps.

“Now, there’s nothing WRONG with a hair dryer, right? Hair dryers are great! There are some things that hair dryers are really good for. There are some things that a hair dryer can do even BETTER than a toaster. But it is REALLY, REALLY hard to make toast with a hair dryer.”

They laughed again, and nodded, and totally, completely got it.  …………………………………………………………………………………………

So did I!

I will publish the continuation of this welcome guest article in the next post (July 22, 2010);  this article is an excerpt from Bud’s Mom’s blogsite:

I posted a comment on this Mom’s blogsite:

Doc Meek said…
Does anybody know the tune for “A hairdryer kid in a toaster-brained world?” I predict that, like “Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer,” this Mom’s “Hair-dryer kid in a toaster-brained world,” will go down in history. I’ve been helping kids mitigate learning and attentional problems for over thirty years now, and it is an axiom with me that “Mother knows best.” This Mom makes that point sharper than a surgical needle, right? – Doc Meek, Learning Consultant, May 7, 2010, Sherwood Park, Alberta, CANADA
May 07, 2010 11:38 AM ………………………………………………………………………………………………..

Blessings, Doc Meek, Wed, July 21, 2010, at South Jordan, Utah, USA ——————————-

J. Collins Meek, Ph.D. (Doc Meek)
“What if you are smarter than you think?”
Learning Specialist

For brain health, ensure heart health (short video):
More on heart health
Ph (801) 971-1812 (Jeannette); Fax [801] 282-6026

1. CANADA: P.O. Box 3105, Sherwood Park, AB T8H 2T1
2. TONGA: Mele Taumoepeau, P.O. Box 60, Nuku’alofa
3. USA: 3688 W 9800 S, #138, South Jordan, UT 84095

A learning brain learns best with color, movement, and gentle learning music

Picture from: ………………………………………………………………………………

I just published my first article for today (Saturday, June 12, 2010, in the morning), entitled: “Brains love movement & ‘take-a-break’ music (and maybe even a power nap?). If you wish to review that article, simple click on the title immediately below:

Brains love movement and “take-a-break” music (plus . . . maybe even a power nap?)

Someone reminded me that that is true for working brains. They do need a break from working and learning.

What about a learning brain in the very act of learning?

Herewith, my second article for today (Saturday, June 12, 2010, in the afternoon), entitled: “A learning brain learns best with color, movement, and gentle music.”

A brain that is actually in the process of learning–a learning brain–also likes movement, even while engaged in the very act of learning. Complex as the brain is, it still loves the simple things (color, movement, and gentle music), to help it learn more easily and remember better, stronger, longer.

What do you mean by color?

If you study and learn using pastel-colored paper with regular pens and pencils, or using multi-colored pens or pencils on regular white paper, you engage a part of the mind that loves color and enhances learning. Working on a blackboard at school (if it is colored green, as most are nowadays), with or without colored chalk, also stimulates the brain for most efficient learning.

Teacher Helping Student at Blackboard -  <i>bonniej</i>

Teacher Helping Student at Blackboard – bonniej; image from the following website: ……………………………………………………………………………………………………….
What do you mean by movement?

If you can find ways to move your body while learning or studying, you will jump ahead of the class. 😮 An example at home might be jumping on a rebounder (mini-trampoline) while memorizing something you may have found not easy to memorize before. An example from the classroom might be squeezing a small soft sponge ball in your left hand while writing with your right hand (or vice versa if you are left-handed), which engages a part of your brain that loves physical movement and will help you learn better if you move part of your body in some way. Even chewing gum is helpful, although most teachers prefer this to be done at home. 😮

What do you mean by gentle music?

Not rock. That will just make your body want to move, while nullifying your thinking brain. 😮

The learning brain loves music that is swinging low and easy, about one beat per second or 60 beats to the minute, sometimes called “baroque” music. This engages a part of the brain that amplifies learning. Hey, you zing to the head of the class.

“Uprightness” is also needed for most efficient learning

This is a good topic for a future article. [See P.S. below for future article.]

Blessings and Friendship,

Doc Meek, Saturday, June 12, 2010 (2nd post, in the afternoon)

At Sherwood Park, Alberta, CANADA; not at South Jordan, Utah, USA

P.S. Click on the title below for this future article, published Thursday, June 24, 2010:

The learning brain needs “uprightness” for greatest efficiency

“If you laugh, you change . . . “

All learning involves change of some sort, and all change involves learning of some sort. As a learning specialist, I have always been intrigued by this mutuality. However I have not seen the following quotation until now.

“If you laugh – you change; and when you change – the world changes.” – Shilpa Shah

Lilly Fluger: <> ………………………………………………………………………………………..

This quotation reminded me of the famous book entitled Anatomy of an Illness by Norman Cousins. Published years ago now, Norman was the first person of which I am aware that first brought to my attention the healing powers of laughter.

In Anatomy of an Illness, Norman tells us of his chronic disease from which he could not seem to get any relief from pain. Wikipedia reports that he developed a recovery program incorporating megadoses of Vitamin C along with a positive attitude, love, faith, hope, and laughter induced by Marx Brothers films.

Norman reported: “I made the joyous discovery that ten minutes of genuine belly laughter . . . would give me at least two hours of pain-free sleep.”

What has laughter got to do with learning?

Laughter not only releases people from physical pain, it also releases people from emotional pain. Many students in classrooms and children in homes may be in emotional pain of which we may not even be aware. A steady hand on the rudder and a sense of humor as we sail on in life in the classroom and in the home (or in the workplace for that matter) can go far to ease the hidden emotional sore spots and pains.

In critical situations in the classroom or in the home, many a day has been saved by the teacher or the parent seeing the humor in the heat of turmoil, threat or anger. Many an explosive situation has been defused by the adult in the case resorting to humor instead of retaliation or force. This is not easy. With kindness aforethought, it is do-able.

Sometimes, even the student or the child can be the leader, can lead the adult  in seeing the humor that can lighten the load of both.

Of course humor and laughter responses in tough scenarios need to be thought about, practiced, and developed in advance. If we are open to humor and have done some thinking about it, and practicing with it in calm seas, it may arise and bail us out when we least expect it–and most need it–in rough seas.

If good humor and laughter are used as everyday things, practiced as part of the ordinary teaching-learning patterns in classrooms and in homes, they can make a huge difference in learning, both for students and teachers alike.

“At the height of laughter, the universe is flung into a kaleidoscope of new possibilities.”  – Jean Houston

Humor knows no equal when it is used to respond to insults.

Abraham Lincoln [a man with an ugly visage, we are told] was called a “two-faced liar” in a very public forum. He paused a moment, took a deep breath, and responded:

“I submit to you . . .  if I were two-faced, would I be wearing this one?” The house roared with laughter and the danger was gone.


Doc Meek, May 24, 2010, at Sherwood Park, Alberta, CANADA

P.S.  And finally, for teachers and parents who bear a heavy load, Abraham Lincoln lifts our burdens with these poignant words:

“With the fearful strain that is on me night and day, if I did not laugh I should die.”

Listening to the experts . . . Mom

Medical problems? Relationship issues? Learning problems?

Often we seek expert advice to help us solve or mitigate these situations that are not easy for us.

This makes sense. Experts and specialists often have abundant knowledge and practical experience that makes their input very valuable.

There is a caution here though.

If we just “collapse” our own thinking and feelings and rely totally upon expert opinion, we may turn out to be unwise. We need to keep ourselves connected to the process of decision-making. We need to engage our own brains.

Connect. Consult trusted friends. Use common sense. If we are believers, ponder and pray.

Experts provide essential services in our society, and carry with them vast helpfulness.

Paradoxically, experts also carry a limited point of view, limited and narrowed by the very expertise they have labored so hard to obtain.

Whenever I was working with children with learning problems, and parents became superbly frustrated by the contrasting and sometimes conflicting advice from various learning experts and learning specialists, I made sure to remind the parents, especially the Moms:

“Yes, it can be maddening when you can’t pin down what is to be done exactly, with and for, your child.

“Remember that irrespective of what the experts say, including me, you [Mom] are the final arbiter of what will happen for your child. Who knows the child better, the newly-arrived expert on the scene, or you, who have known the child from birth?

“And before birth.

“Frustrating as it is to face, you [Mom] are the final authority, the best expert on what to do, or how to act, in relation to your child and your child’s learning problems.

“For example, even if I recommend something good, that seems to work well for other children, if it doesn’t sit right with you [Mom], it probably won’t work.

“If you [Mom] are not comfortable with the expert’s recommendation, there are two reasons why it probably won’t work well:

“(1) You are probably right, in the case of your child, irrespective of how well the advice may have worked for other children; each child is unique and a recommendation that has worked well for other children is not necessarily the answer for your child, if that’s the way you feel about it.

“(2) Even if the expert’s recommendation would, theoretically, seem workable for your child, it still probably won’t work, if you don’t feel right about it. Your thoughts and feelings will be broadcast to the child even if you don’t say a single word. Children know how their mothers feel.

“Children have really good ‘radar.’

“So, Mom, like it or not, your actual and intuitive knowledge of your child often reigns superior to what others may think.”

Moms have really good ‘radar’ too!

Happy Mothering!

Doc Meek, April 27, 2010

Sherwood Park, Alberta, CANADA; South Jordan, Utah, USA

Contact Doc Meek

    January 2021
    S M T W T F S
    Parent and Teacher Choice