Saturday, July 6, 2013

Philosophy for Kids

Children are natural philosophers. 

Childhood is the stage in life in which children are trying to explain the world by exploring and developing theories (for some, this way of thinking continues on into adulthood). 

As a parent (and logician), I introduced philosophical thinking early on in my children's upbringing. While I did not present it as educational material (i.e., Hobbes theorized this or that and contributed to the world this or that), philosophizing became our "way" of exploring our thoughts about the world and our place in it. 

My son (who turned 15-years old yesterday) and daughter (age 17) have been enjoying Pop Philosophy since elementary school (Star Wars & Philosophy, Harry Potter & Philosophy, The Matrix & Philosophy, Anime & Philosophy, Alice in Wonderland & Philosophy, Do You Think What You Think You Think, etc.). I read these books to them as if they were storybooks.

Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Descartes... are like childhood characters with whom they identify according to their viewpoints on magic, time travel, and the future of technology ~ highly relevant subjects for any person interested in the space, time, location, possibility, and trajectory of their lives as well as the future of humankind. 

For parents or teachers interested in teaching philosophy to kids ~ even for those not trained in the field of philosophy ~ Pop Philosophy or general audience philosophical books present adults interested in fostering the minds of children unique opportunities from which to build lesson plans that can be written so that general comprehension skills, new SAT words, and creative writing activities (and more) can be introduced without the sole focus being placed on learning new skills. Kids are so enamored with the "Big Questions" we ask in life, that it rarely feels like schoolwork. In this sense, learning is not just fun, it is incredibly interesting and relevant. 

Take for example, the Philosopher's Toolkit. The idea of passing along "tools" to kids is highly enticing, both for student and teacher. Telling kids that they will walk away smarter than 90% of the world's population is also BIG incentive for the "work" they will have to do in order to "philosophize."

Rather than tricking kids (something most tests are designed to do), I have developed an approach that makes learning so easy that kids instead utilize the material as their own. This encourages students to instead focus on the big questions during classroom debates and discussions. True thinking and participation earns kids "good grades" ... the comprehension just seems to go along with the experience. When kids are having fun and actively engaged, they form emotional attachments to the information. This results in "remembering" information much longer than traditional approaches yields... and without the stress. 

I still grade their work, make corrections and present them with standard letter grades. However, I offer this as a transition from traditional pedagogical practices (something engrained into most teachers, parents, and students). When it comes to letter grades on transcripts, I grade according to participation and the ability to present new, logical, creative or otherwise funny thoughts on the material we study. 

Personally, I believe in following our dreams first... pursuing Plan B second (i.e., go to school, get good grades in outdated subjects, go to university to specialize, learn how to organize, and follow through, so that one might "get a job" doing more of the same until one retires and if they are lucky, finally get a chance to paint, draw, write, sculpt, work on cars, or restore antiques in order to give their life deeper meaning). 

I mention this because quality thinking and the ability to examine one's life are the two most important skills (in my opinion) a parent or teacher can pass along to the next generation of global citizens. With clear thinking follows better thoughts and actions, which leads to improved lives for everyone on the planet. 

I realize this approach might sound counterintuitive to what we have been taught about traditional learning, in particular when our present educational model promotes the exact opposite way of teaching, but my rationale for this is that I want kids to want to learn. I want them to question and  have the tools necessary to argue, debate, imagine, wonder and ponder information logically and without bias (or at least know their biases). In a nutshell, I want them to enjoy learning. 

In a world such as ours that is so vastly changing, it is more relevant to teach a child to "think well" than it is to fill their minds with facts and figures they quickly forget. Talk about a waste of everyone's time... 

Teaching philosophy in our home has turned into an opportunity to introduce new and exciting concepts and characters in what ends up being amazing discussions with new (or rather old) insights on life, technology, time travel, and all the subjects relevant to the era in which we live. The ease in which my kids find information in the books we read allows them to integrate information stress-free and utilize it to participate in more exciting discussions and activities in a way that it becomes the information naturally becomes their own. 

Unfortunately, most of the philosophical books I'm referencing do not come with "lesson plans" to make it easier on parents or teachers who would otherwise have to write-up general comprehension questions in order to have a basic footprint to follow. Few people have or can make the time to do this. However, since I already do this, I thought I would share some of what I've created (for personal use) for those interested in teaching or exploring philosophical concepts with kids. 

As you will see, the questions are simple and straightforward ~ almost "too" easy. But remember what's important here... encouraging young minds to "think" rather than "memorize"... and to use books and computers as "tools" to gather relevant information in order to make logically sound (or at least well-thought-out) decisions and choices. 

Thinking and choosing well are two essential life skills that can vastly improve the quality of our lives and our children's futures. Sound thinking is, along with love and emotionally mature guidance and support, one of the best gifts we can give children. 

Thursday, July 4, 2013

The Socratic Method

Socrates (470-399BCE) was a Greek philosopher who, despite being considered one of the greatest and most important philosophers who ever lived, left no writings at all. Most of what we know about his life and work comes from the writing of his disciples, Xenophon and Plato. He lived during a period of transition in the Greek empire, and after the Peloponnesian War, he was tried, convicted, and executed for corrupting the young. 

Socrates cigars, cigar label, c. 1910

Socrates engaged in questioning of his students in an unending search for truth. He sought to get to the foundations of his students' and colleagues' views by asking continual questions until a contradiction was exposed, thus proving the fallacy of the initial assumption. This became known as the Socratic Method, and may be Socrates' most enduring contribution to philosophy. 

The Socratic Method ~ 5 Steps

  1. Seek out and question popular belief 
  2. Look for the exception
  3. If an exception is found, the imprecision or falsity of statement is found
  4. Evolve the statement to the point it is again consistent
  5. Return to Step #2 as many times as necessary to reach a truth statement

The Socratic method is acknowledged as the foundation of Western pedagogical tradition. Utilizing the Socratic method, students actively engage in the critical thinking process. This is not to say that the teacher is the purveyor of knowledge, filling the empty minds of passive students with facts and truths acquired through years of study. The professor is not "the sage on stage" who delivers lecture after lecture while students scramble to memorize passages by rote. The professor, as you might expect, is also not "the guide on the side" cheering students along as they randomly choose subject after subject with no guidance to help them build a cohesive foundation of knowledge. 

Prudence and Temperance with six ancient worthies, 1497
(Socrates is second from the left)
Perugino (Pietro Vannuci, 1450-1523)
Fresco in the Collegio del Cambio, Perugia

In the Socratic method, the classroom experience is a shared dialogue between teacher and student in which both are responsible for pushing the dialogue forward through questioning. It is the teacher's role to ask probing questions in an effort to expose the values and beliefs which frame and support the thoughts and statements of the participants involved in the inquiry. The students also ask questions of the teachers and each other. 

Socrates teaching Perikles, 1780
Nicolas Guibal (1725-1784)

The Socratic-minded teacher does not just passively "teach" or even actively teach, the Socratic-minded teacher participates in the learning. Relearning the information with the students, questioning and asking, bringing forth experience and knowledge to the discussions while working through the problems in an open-ended search for new knowledge and ways of experiencing the material. Each student offers fresh insight not before encountered. In this respect, the teacher coaches the students toward active learning much like how a sports team captain leads their team onto victory. The victory in learning comes with one's ability to discover or be surprised by information. 

While traditionally those who practice the Socratic method do not use lesson plans or PowerPoint slides, opting instead to follow the dialogue where it goes, a balance between traditional instruction and Socratic-like exploration can equally allow the teacher to explore a specified path while still obtaining new knowledge in the process. 

Socrates disputing, detail of The School of Athens,
Fresco in the Stanza della Segnatura, Vatican Palace, c. 1508-9

The Socratic Professor's Toolkit

1. The Socratic Questioning Method

Once the Socratic professor has questioned the values, principles, and beliefs of his/her students, identifying the moral institutions that shape the way they think about the world, these beliefs can be continually put to the test as new information enters that can alter or cause one to question previously held beliefs, which when held for a given period of time turn into systems of thought or habitual algorithms by which information is processed. 

Each piece of new information allows students and professors the opportunity to question the logic of abstractions which are held up for comparison. It is not about challenging the student's beliefs as much as it is challenging the information the student and teacher have adopted as knowledge. When knowledge is perceived as fluid, changing form as it travels through different experiences (thought systems, geographical constraints, gender necessities, etc.), the opportunity to examine the information presents itself to the true Socratician. The purpose of the Socratic inquiry is not merely to question and challenge, an activity that is often times disasterously met with opposition and aggression, but rather to question and challenge concepts so that they may remain fluid, i.e., true concepts of which we are free to adopt or not. 

The Death of Socrates, 1787
Jacques-Louis David (1748-1825)
The Metropolitan Museum of Art

2. The Morality of the Socratic Method

Socratic inquiry follows an ad hominem style. Rather than constructing arguments or asking questions designed to convince individuals toward a specific conclusion, Socratic inquiry personalizes propositions and abstractions, probing instead the underlying values and beliefs of each inquirer. It is in this way that biases can be cleansed off the surface of the information or data, leaving behind root knowledge that can more easily be examined in and of itself as well as its relationship to other knowledge. 

The substance of the Socratic inquiry is indeed the belief and value system of the participants, but it does not stop there nor is it for the sole purpose of altering those belief systems. It is rather the opportunity to precisely identify all the thought systems that the observer brings to the table when examining new information. Once all participants are examining root information or raw data (with their belief systems sitting side-by-side where they can be observed for their influence on the material being explored), true exploration, wonder, and imagining may begin. Yes, these explorations, wonderings, and imaginings are reliant upon values, principles, morals, and beliefs, but rather than being hidden, they are acknowledged. This approach is simliar to shinning different colors of light on a material in order to observe the differences in how that material responds to differing wavelengths of influence. 

Socrates standing before seated group of men; figure of Justice stands behind him, 1750
Engraving by L.P. Boltard
Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C.
Collection: Miscellaneous Items in High Demand

3. The Socratic Environment

Lying repose on the couch or under a tranquil Cherry tree does not consistently produce the best Socratic dialogues; of course, nor does the discomfort of a traditional classroom environment. If we are to examine information from every possible light, a myriad of environments are necessary in order to do so... at the grocery store, at the kitchen table, on a hammock, walking down the street, sitting in a library, huddled around a computer, in a museum, hiking a mountain, on the telephone, texting, while watching television or a movie, at a coffee house, while stuck on an airplane ride, in the quietude of a sitting room, while watching the sunrise or sunset, and so on ad infinitum. 

It is illogical to expect to find variances under the same lighting. When examining information or thought systems, sensory experiences present unique viewpoints that might not otherwise be considered. Just as "not thinking" about a subject can yield unexpected answers (when you separate yourself from an inquiry), so too can thinking about a subject in the shower or swimming pool or while waiting in a doctor's waiting room or while walking the dog. 

The point is to integrate the Socratic method in a way that it becomes a traveling toolkit. Take a vacation, visit the places of your dreams, and give yourself new information by which to examine information, old and new. 

Socrates conversing with a Muse
Musée du Louvre, Paris

4. The Socratic Uncertainty Principle 

The moment you deem something uncertain, it presents the mind with a system to either accept this uncertainty or continually question uncertainty. This is not to say that some information cannot be taken at face value as true. For example: "My neighbor is not married. Thus, my neighbor is a bachelor." There is no reason to question these facts unless probing into why your neighbor is unmarried, whether or not marriage as an institution is a beneficial one, and whether or not governments have the right to regulate personal relationships. There are endless questions to ask regarding the content of a truth statement, but that does not mean one must waste one's time doing so unless the answers to these questions somehow affect the inquirer's thoughts or lifestyle choices. 

Bertrand Russell once wrote, "As usual in philosophy, the first difficulty is to see that the problem is difficult. If you say to a person untrained in philosophy, 'How do you know I have two eyes?' he or she will reply, 'What a silly question! I can see you have [two eyes].' It is not to be supposed that, when our inquiry is finished, we shall have arrived at anything radically different from this un-philosophical position. What will have happened will be that we shall have come to see a complicated structure where we thought everything was simple, that we shall have become aware of the penumbra of uncertainty surrounding the situations which inspire no doubt, that we shall find doubt more frequently justified than we supposed, and that even the most plausible premises will have shown themselves capable of yielding implausible conclusions. The net result is to substitute articulate hesitation for inarticulate certainty." 

Socrates receiving the hemlock
Engraving by D.N. Chodowiecki (1726-1801)

While Russell's viewpoint is a valid one, it is still the viewpoint of a philosopher. Not all information must be examined under the philosophical mindset for it to be a philosophical inquiry. Inquiry is a natural occurrence, trained inquiry is a philosophical approach to the act of inquiring. There is much to be learned from non-philosophical inquiry. Take the wondering mind of a child, for example. This child does not have a predefined method for interpreting and classifying what they perceive. Like our not-too-distant ancestors, their unique ability to connect different or seemingly different stimuli or sensory data allows them to come up with stories like: 

"Mommy, did you see that giant piece of grass? A family of dust bunnies live there." 

This is a plausible explanation for the presence of microscopic entities found on a blade of grass. While most parents laugh this off as adorable or nonsensical, a Socratic-minded philosopher might question whether or not the child has extrasensory abilities that they themselves do not possess. This Socratic-minded individual would take a second look at the blade of grass. 

Imagine this... Some years later a scientist comes along and discovers that microbes are present on plants. Thirty years later a merchant begins selling probiotics for plants. 

Now, is the merchant this same child who saw the family of dust bunnies? Was the child encouraged to explore their thoughts and as a result grew up to become the inventor of the probiotics and humates (rich organic matter) that specifically addresses soil treatment issues to address the digestive health of plants, which are dependent on a strong and diverse microbial population for their nutritional needs? 

Or was this child told that their dust bunnies didn't exist... that they weren't real? Did this child go to college to instead become a dentist who while one evening watching late night television sees an infomercial for plant probiotics, vaguely remembers the dust bunnies he or she saw and wonders what would have happened had he or she been encouraged to play with the dust bunnies, adopt them, and feed them. 

(A classic example from The Little Prince)

What would Socrates have asked this child? 

Socrates Statue at Athens Academy

5. Learning is Fun

Above all, the Socratic professor enjoys learning. The Socratic professor is not the opponent in an argument, but rather a fellow student that has relinquished ego for a plastic pail with which to play in a new sandbox. The Socratic professor knows that he or she does not know anything. This allows for continual inquiry and discovery, which for some is a satisfactory way to live and be in the world. There is no need to publish theories and no need to define the undefinable. It is there for our contemplation, exploration, and practical use. Anything worth knowing is worth exploring and sharing with others for their exploration, wonderment, and inquiry. Where's the fun in defining something? The moment we do it no longer is. It is then something else. 

It follows that this type of approach to interpreting and classifying the world can be seen as defiant, nonconforming, and downright annoying for those who enjoy packing information into tiny bits of interrelated atomic matter categorized by form, fit, and function. People often times panic or feel intimidated when faced with uncertainty. The Socratic professor is just the opposite, panicking in the face of certainty. All values worthy of adoption are worthy of scrutiny. 

Socrates Tears Alcibiades from the Embrace of Sensual Pleasure, 1791
Jean-=Baptiste Regnault (1754-1829)
Musée du Louvre (Department of Paintings, Sully, 2nd floor, room 56)

Don't be afraid of not knowing
it is here where learning and discovery begins
and where the enjoyment of wonderment resides


Sunday, April 7, 2013

Antique Prints

By Shennendoah E. Hollsten
Intern, Live Heritage Foundation
Paris, France 

A wave of enthusiastic admiration for prints hit Paris between 1890 and 1905. A little over 100 years later, I was hit by the same craze when I stumbled upon some beautiful 19th century antique French prints at Le Marche aux puces de Paris / Saint OuenThe St. Ouen flea market is a veritable crossroads of art combining antique dealers, artists, designers, and craftsmen. This flea market is recognized as one of the largest markets for antiques in the world. While hunting for undervalued antiques, I came across some 19th century French prints produced by Georges Jacques Gatine.

Georges Jacque Gatine (1773 - 1841) was a French printmaker, engraver and etcher, specializing in costume plates, mostly after Lanté. He was one of the most important contributors to the "Journals des Dames et Modes," published by La Mésangère. Fortunately, my mother, who is a generous supporter of my antique collections, was able to negotiate a more than fair price for a modest collection of prints. From this moment forward, I became an aficionado of fine prints. Here is one from my collection:

Michelle de Vitry, Veuve de Juvenel des Usins, L'Original est à Versailles

Pictured above is Michelle de Vitry, the wife of Juvenal Orsini, from the famous Italian family of the Orsini, known for their tapestries.

19th century French prints artistically depict compelling narratives of what life might have been like in France during the glittering extravagance of Louis XIV as well as other centuries when French kings fell under the spell of the Italian Renaissance.

While my collection is modest compared to that of the Van Gogh Foundation, acquiring a collection of fine prints represents an opportunity for me to research each piece in more detail in order to accurately value my collection's worth.

I am extremely grateful to my mother for jumpstarting my collection. I am also grateful to Alex Rüger, the Director of the Van Gogh Museum and to the Vincent Van Gogh Foundation for presenteding their collection of fine prints last summer. I very much enjoyed it. 

Amsterdam, Summer 2012


Van Gogh Museum. Printmaking in Paris: The rage for prints at the fin de siècle (2012)

Van Gogh Museum Exposition: Beauty in abundance. Highlights from the print collection of the Van Gogh Museum 2 February - 23 September 2012 at the Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Why Museums Don't Suck

My son, nephew, niece, and daughter,
Louvre, Paris, France (2012)

Some teenagers think that museums "suck," and, in part, they'd be right. Museums can suck when you don't have a storyteller guiding you through the magical land of cultural heritage to help bring a museum to life.

The walls that house the spoils of war and treasures of the world, when seen with an Alice In Wonderland-like perspective, can indeed feel a bit strange. 

Transplant an urban, American teenager from their natural habitat and drop them unprepared into the jungle of history, and it might look and feel a little like this: 

In Night At The Museum, Hollywood, on what I consider a rare occasion, actually imparted - in their classic, stylized way - a valuable idea, unleashing onto the general public knowledge early western scholars and church leaders fought so hard to keep hidden from the masses, namely: the idea that there's more knowledge out there than we realize. 

Everyone likes a good story and museums are filled with them. Still, like anything worth excelling at in life,  we can't just "show up" unannounced and passively expect the environment to edify and enlighten us; to tell us its deepest, darkest secrets without our first doing a little digging, decoding, and deciphering of our own. 

My Daughter, Puebla, Mexico (2011)

Just as an athlete makes sacrifices, getting up every morning at the crack of dawn to head out to practice when they could have easily stayed in bed for another hour or two...

...we have to go to great lengths to bring the museum to life. Like anything worth doing or learning, it is us who have to make the effort if we want to see results. We've got to hitch a ride on a jeep and explore the jungles of Mexico (or the outskirts of wherever we live) to appreciate the treasures that were found in the region, hauled across large distances without the means of modern transportation, finally finding their way into museums where they are now visible to the demanding public all over the world. 

Becan Mayan Ruins, Mexico (1994)

The next best thing to taking a voyage for ourselves is being swept away by someone's story about a grand journey they took. 

My daughter, son, and me
Puebla, Mexico (2011)

Museums hold the treasures ancient peoples either created or looted from all over the world: from Solomon's temple to the cave that hid the treasures of Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves, many of these objects are still finding their way out of obscurity, away from the hands of private collectors, and into the museum environment, the public custodians of humanity's history. 

If you are a book lover, a person with an affinity for the written word, you might consider a trip to Puebla, México, to Palafox's Library, the first public library established in the Americas (1646), as a trip worth making. Just like museums, libraries, national monuments, churches, cathedrals, abbeys, and ruin sites preserve something of importance.

We all, at some point in our life, question our origins and our future trajectory, we make sense of both uncertainties by connecting ourselves to what is certain, to the tangible aspects of reality, to our collective humanity. In the absence of a physical or existential servitude, we connect and serve one another. 

My daughter, Palafox Library,
Puebla, Mexico, 2011

In doing so, we uncover a world that unleashes our imaginations back to the sheer flamboyancy society previously lavished upon treasures of the mind, objects of worth, and those so-called creations someone labeled "treasures". 

The sensitive piety, the ostentatious monuments decorated by Michelangelo and Raphael, and the reverence that was displayed in the past were the reasons why these palaces, châteaus, and cathedrals were erected in the first place - to house the treasures and spoils of war for enjoyment and reflection. 

Museums continue to offer both of these qualities in abundance. A quiet place for contemplation as well as a meticulously perserved environment whereby treasures are safeguarded for the continued enjoyment of future generations. 

Once upon a society, all property - tangible and intellectual - had a deeper value because of the worth we ascribed to it, to its significance, to the progress it inspired, or to the reverence it revealed within us. 

Sold in 2004 at Southeby's auction for $104.1 million, 
Boy with a Pipe (The Young Apprentice)
Pablo Picasso, 1905.

In 1994, Microsoft founder Bill Gates purchased Da Vinci's historic manuscript for $30,802,500. 

In 2007, Artemis and the Stag became the highest priced sculpture ever sold at auction when an anonymous buyer purchased the relic for $28.6 million. The sculpture is over 2,000 years old and hails back to the Roman empire. 

The Back Story: 

In the 1920's, a team of construction workers stumbled upon this sculpture while digging in Rome. I bet they wish they'd had been the ones to sell it at auction! You might enjoying knowing that the auction house thought the piece would only go for about $7 million. Boy were they wrong! 

It has been my experience that anyone who has experienced a degree of profundity in their lives, automatically embarks on a road of appreciating it - in its many forms - in others. 

Kyoto, Japan (2007)

As we find this quality in ourselves, our exploration of the world takes us further. 

The works of art we have the privilege of viewing in museums inspires our minds beyond the mere spoils of war, beyond the wildly adventurous treasure hunts about which we love to read, they inspire our imagination in a way that yields to newer human creations. 

Jules Vernes Nautilus Inspired Metro Station
Paris, France

The love child of history and technology was science fiction. Jules Vernes' Nautilus (the impetus for writing we have George Sand to thank) was inspired out of Vernes' imagination - a combination of his appreciation for history combined with his love of futuristic technology (as seen in the gadgets he included in his tales; gadgets he saw at the various World Fairs he attended). 

Vernes didn't have the many adventures about which he wrote, but that didn't diminish the profound appreciation we had as a society for his writings ... for we, too, took those adventures with him. He took readers along on the rides of their lives, from the comfort of their own home. 

Seeing old things in new ways is at the heart of science fiction. For a generation captivated by the possibilities inherent in the technological advancements of our age, the museum is a rare gem, a cultural landfill offering a plethora of material from which to create humanity's next greatest science fiction story. Science fiction we love to turn into reality. 


In the days of Jules Verne, ordinary citizens understood more about the worth of an item, the craftsmanship that went behind the making of an object they held in their hands, and the difficulty one must undertake to come into possession of one of these items in the absence mass production. 

In response to the concept of 'museums sucking,' I'd have to say that, in all reality, it is mass produced items that 'suck' the life out of this generation's knowledge of the true craftsmanship that goes into making what we consider ordinary objects. A craftsmanship dying out faster than I can write this article. 

My son and daughter

On a side note, I have made a point to visit many of these 'last mastercraftsmen and women' of Europe, trade families who have survived generations and sometimes centuries of political unrest. Taking my children along for the visit, they often times leave with mixed emotions. Appreciation for the value of the work, the opportunity to learn more about our global history as it relates to culture, society, the arts and material progress, as well as the sobering recognition that they might never see it again. That few people will have the opportunity to traverse in their shoes and gain the personal appreciation they have for our past, for the collective history of humanity from whence even the most technologically driven among us derive. 

My son
Versailles (2012)

Perhaps it all comes down to a matter of taste. If you enjoy the plasticiness of pop culture, don't leave home, don't go to museums, just sit back and experience the world digitally - online. There will be less people for me to wait in line with in these locations if you do. 

However, if you, like me, enjoy a good story about a treasure hunt, intrigue or mystery; if you value the history of humanity, our collective history...

...then pay homage to your local museum by going for a visit. Not for the sole purpose of making fun of those who are there in search of their own adventures, but to explore - for yourself - the furthest regions of our world from the comfort of your own community. 

Hiking with the kids
Tepoztlán, México (2010)

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Map Your Mind Lesson Plan

Adapted from the post: The Top 10 Mental Shortcuts

In a world of extreme technological advancement and change, it's often times difficult to know just what information we should hold onto in our minds and which information we should let go of. The most solid educational platform we can provide students is one that helps them understand how they make decisions, why they make certain decisions, and how to make the necessary adjustments that will help them lead happier, more successful lives.

More than anything, people want to know more about themselves and their place in the world. As such, understanding our responses and the reactions that are involved in formulating those responses is of infinite interest to us all, students in particular.

If you read the original post, The Top 10 Mental Shortcuts, you know that a bias is an inclination, temperament or outlook we hold. When new information is introduced, we rely on these biases, sometimes in order to save our mental energy for more tasking situations, and sometimes because we just can't help ourselves - or so we think.

Students are very familiar with the concept of bias, prejudice, and bigotry. They have been dealing with issues of this nature since elementary school when one child dislikes another child for what seems like "no real reason at all."

Most kids today understand that their computers have a processor inside, what they don't realize is that they, too, have a processor - their brain. Everyone's brains process information differently. Varied responses arise due to the variations in life experience. Even identical twins react differently to different stimuli.

Mapping how the mind processes information by looking to common biases is one way students can learn more about themselves and have fun in the process. It is also a very dignified way for students to learn how to adjust their thinking in a way that modifies their behavior toward more collaborative or positive outcomes. Since conflicts arise early in life, this lesson plan could be modified to the needs of younger students.

Intellectual goals can be more easily achieved when an individual is emotionally intelligent. Understanding ourselves is a pillar in the foundation of becoming a confident, competent citizen of the world.

For more information or sample lesson plans, contact me via email.