Category Archives: Education

Become an opinion or misinformation

How often do you find yourself saying things like:

“I’ve heard that…”

“They say that…”

I call these “uninformed opinions”. Whenever you adopt a point of view based on what you heard someone else say, you are committing you believe something that you have no idea is even true. Why do this do yourself? Want to look smart, do some research before you start making uninformed assertions toward things.

You’ve heard that, right? Heard it from who? From one person? Is one person enough evidence for you to believe that this “thing” is true? Who are “They”? Are these people in the same group, or category, or demographic, or income class, or occupation, or age range? Is it your in-laws? Is it your church community? If so, do you think there could be a bias among them, against the facts?

Maybe you’ve “heard” it from the news, and you (among most people) take news information as 100% fact. Okay then, which news source are we talking about? Fox News—a strong bias to the right? MSNBC—a strong bias to the left? CNN—Focused on dramatizing every story, rewriting it and omitting facts so that it feels like you’re reading a short story, where there’s always a plot, a good guy, bad guy, etc. Maybe it’s BBC—trustworthy, but still can’t be taken verbatim. There is no source without a bias folks.

Hell, scientific fact is even challengeable. Back in the day if you told your elders that the world wasn’t flat, you’d be locked up and tortured.

Let’s look at some examples:

“They say that pesticices can cause cancer.” Really? Well, who are “they”? The CDC? Your best friend? Your mother? Wikipedia? Have you done any research on your own from any reliable source or are you just adopting a point of view from what you heard once on Headline News? Do yourself a favor, and before you speak up about this next time, educate yourself first. Do some research. I’m not saying pesticides don’t cause cancer, I’m just saying this seems to be a hot topic, so before you jump on the band-wagon, do some research.

So then, what do I base this ideology off of? What comes to mind is all the instant gratification our youth seems to be addicted to—YouTube, Snapchat, Twitter—and also the mindless entertainment in our media, Miley Cyrus, for example. Those who represent our youth in media are, in my eyes, are showing less and less intelligence by the week. However, what if this is just a choice based off of preference and/or trend and has nothing to do with intelligence level? What if we are more intelligent than before and we realize we can now get the same thing only faster and more concentrated? Or maybe it’s not a sign of lack of smarts but a lack of applying those smarts?

Many times too, as humans, we bring our emotions into the picture, which really muddy the facts. There are many ideologies based off of prejudices and racism, all emotion based opinion against another group of people, always negative emotion. Try and stick with the facts despite your feelings.

So, next time, instead of speaking about a subject in which you have no knowledge, have done no research, have no real-world experience, don’t speak up. Or, just say “I’m not sure.” Ironically enough, you will come off as more intelligent and people will respect you for that. All instead of basing your opinions and arguments on what “the world” tells you.

Tarrou's Chalk Talk

As a social network aid to education

Tarrou's Chalk Talk

I saw this article in the Huffington Post about a teacher named Rob Tarrou who makes great YouTube videos that show him teaching math and how these videos have become popular.

From the moment I started reading this article I was amazed. I loved the title, “Chalk talk” and how he is literally using a chalk board and doing math examples.  It was easy to see that this teacher had a lot of passion for teaching math. What teacher would upload videos of themselves teaching math for students who miss school? I’ll tell you-passionate teachers! He isn’t doing this to make a profit. He seems to do this because he loves to teach.

Then I decided to watch a video and see what they were like. I like how he introduces himself in the video. He likes wearing a silly shirt or jumping into the video.  The article says how he has been getting views on his videos from all over the world and how they seem to help many people.

The article mentions how this is an example of a “flipped classroom” and discusses some negatives of the flipped classroom. If you do not know what a flipped classroom is, it is when a student watches videos like the ones this where a teacher is giving instruction at home and at school assignments, tests, and labs are completed. The negatives it mentions are that it is not the same as hands on instruction and it seems only possible in communities where every student has a computer.

I think that if a teacher is uploading themselves teaching a lesson, they have to think about its purpose. Is it for a few students who want to watch a video at home for extra help? Or is it for all students who are learning in a flipped classroom? I think that the purpose determines the content of the video and how the video is portrayed.

Mr. Tarrou is currently not using a flipped classroom, but I feel that he could the way his videos are presented. They seem to reach students who are currently learning a new topic or are confused on a topic and want extra help. I think this is a great example of a YouTube video that can be used any way. It can be used in a flipped classroom or just for extra help. Anyone around the world can see this video.

I love watching YouTube when I have a problem and seeing how others solved it. The power of YouTube is just absolutely huge.  So when I see articles on how people are becoming popular from Youtube like Mr. Tarrou, I am reminded of how much of an influence YouTube has on our society. To me it is just as influential as Google. I would love to sit in Mr. Tarrou’s class and see if he is like his YouTube videos!

Mob Mentality

About Mob Mentality

Mob Mentality

There have been times in our lives when we’ve heard the expression ‘if your friends jumped off a cliff, would you do the same?’ from our parents or our teachers. We answered with ‘no’ most of the times. The sad fact is that, every now and then, without realizing why, we would jump with our friends. People follow people. It’s been like this for ages. The reason we blindly follow people is because we lose our sense of individuality and become part of a group’s mechanism. Most of the times, there are negative outcomes when this happens. Football fights, military units, witch trials, all of these are examples of why acting without individual thinking is wrong. You can do something about mob mentality.

Let’s analyze the London riots, for example. At the beginning of August 2011 some London districts suffered rioting, looting and arson when thousands took the streets, during a protest that turned violent. A piece of an article found in The Guardian stated:

“Many who participated in the riots were confronted with scenes that challenged their conscience. A 17-year-old from Islington who, on the second night of the riots, looted a branch of Currys in Enfield, described how her feelings changed as the night progressed. When people she knew smashed their way into a hairdresser’s, stealing shampoo and ripping out the basins, she thought: ‘It’s so dumb. I don’t agree with it.’”

Does disagreeing actually matter? Yes, it does. If you see mobs as an irrational phenomenon, the first response is to repress (why reason with those who have no reason?) and second is to look for problems within the communities from which rioters are drawn. There are ways in which you can say “No, I won’t jump”.  Understanding how belonging to a group can influence our thoughts helps us make sense of the behavior that otherwise will appear irrational and has fundamental implications in how we respond to crowd actions.

We should start asking ourselves why is it so easy for humans to act violently when belonging to a group. The idea of mob mentality was first coined by social psychologist Gustave Le Bon [1], when referring to the belief that a group can act as a single individual. This leads most of the time to destructive behavior. The London riots were only the start in a chain of riots that happened in the next three nights all across England. Significant disturbances, involving rioting and looting, were reported in Birmingham, Salford, Liverpool, and Manchester. The capability to control behavior disappears, therefore exposing individuals to contagion. All acts of love, hatred, anger are immediately approved, spread and repeated.

Have you ever been in a group and acted in a way contrary to your ordinary behavior? A man, as part of a group, is a very different individual. When studying the effects of behavior of individuals in a revolution, Le Bon [2] thought that the collective mentalities are very different than personal mentalities. In a mob mentality the individual’s identity disappears, causing anonymity. Simply by being part of a crowd, folks lose all sense of self and all sense of responsibility, and manage to gain power due to the group’s size.

Behavior in a crowd is mostly influenced by anonymity. Nobody knows who you are when you stand next to a large number of people. Diener [3] conducted a study on how anonymity influences ones behavior in a group by observing children that went trick-or-treating on Halloween. The results of the study indicated that children who wore costumes that concealed their identity, or children who went trick-or-treating in a group stole extra candy than when they were alone with the candy bowl. So, anonymity enhances the loss of self-awareness within a group that eases the path to anti-social behavior and encourages individuals to identify with the group. If people don’t know you, there will be fewer consequences for your actions.

Anonymity and loss of individuality eases up the process of behaving anti-social. Festinger, Pepitone and Newcomb’s [4] used the term “deindividuation” to describe the effect of groups on the behavior of an individual. They stated that when belonging to a crowd, a person will be ‘able to indulge in forms of behavior in which, when alone, they would not indulge’. Think about how easy it must have been for the participants at the London riots to loot stores in groups rather than when they are be alone. Including one person in a crowd or a group results in the feeling of anonymity and loss of personal identity, which motivates people to act aggressively or deviate from their usual social behavior.

Humans tend to exhibit certain behavior when they become members of a group. For example, Jeremy Dean stated in his blog ten rules that govern group behavior. Some of them mentioned that a group can shape our conformity, and influence our decision making, or even threaten us with ostracism if we do not agree with the overall decisions made by the group.

Understanding mob mentality can be the first step in stopping the negative outcomes.  The solution lies in preventing deindividuation, rather than punishing the results. For instance, what did the authorities do after the London riots? They started repressing rioters. This was wrong. A different approach should have been taken such as helping individuals become more self-aware. There are experiments with mirrors [5] which have proven that people become more self-aware of their actions. By forcing an individual to see himself, you force him to think about his actions, and that increases self-awareness and decreases deindividuation. This was applicable for preventing riots at football matches, where mirrors and cameras have been placed on the walls stadiums. Additionally, it is important to stop unruly behavior from its early stages. One way to do this is by reinforcing their individual identity. Simply by calling people by their name, pulling them out of a mob and encouraging personal differences in a group can reduce the harmful effects of deindividuation.

If you manage to create non-threatening, non-stressful, and unambiguous situations people may think more clearly about their actions instead of being drawn in by negative group norms.

References

[1]   Le Bon, G., (1896) General Characteristics of crowds – Psychological Law of Their Mental Unity. The Crowd: A study of the Popular Mind. Book I, Chapter I.

[2]    Le Bon, G., (1913) The Psychology of Revolutionary Crowds, The Psychology of Revolution, 4, 57-63

[3]    Diener, E., Fraser, S., Beaman, A., & Kelem, R. (1976). Effects of deindividuation variables on stealing among Halloween trick-ortreaters. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 33, 178- 183.

[4]    Festinger, L., Pepitone, A., & Newcomb, T. (1952). Some consequences of deindividuation in a group. Journal of Social Psychology, 47, 382-389.

[5]    Asendorpf, J.B., Warkentin, V., & Baudonniere, P.M. (1996) Self-Awareness and Other-Awareness II: Mirror Self-Recognition, Social Contingency Awareness, and Synchronic Imitation, Developmental Psychology, Vol.32, No, 2,313-321

If you think green: think in the children

Hans Rosling provides another interesting TED talk. As he mentions economics plays a huge role in whether we will slow population growth. The economic condition plays a huge role in child survival which he calls “the new green.” Meaning the fate of the environment is tied to increasing child survival (and decreasing poverty). There are many important factors that will impact the fate of the environment but a big factor is world population.