• Aug 23, 2014 » The learning myth
    Salman Khan of Khan Academy published an Op-Ed a couple of days ago titled “Why I’ll Never Tell My Son He’s Smart”. Khan cites research that has shown better learning outcomes in children praised for work process rather than innate qualities, and describes how Khan Academy sees the same principles at play.
    “…students are spending more time learning on Khan Academy after being exposed to messages which praise their tenacity and grit and that underscore that the brain is like a muscle.”
    I was pretty intrigued by this idea a couple of years ago when I stumbled on the studies, it all seemed so counter-intuitive at first, but after some research the arguments and the evidence were pretty compelling. I wrote an essay focusing on the follies of praise, summarizing evidence of how praising effort instead of innate abilities can “empower children, [promote] the desire for challenges, for self-improvement, and other factors that can propagate self-esteem and achievement to the highest degree.” Years later, it’s pretty exciting to see Khan advocate a “national conversation” and perhaps global conversation about this. #
  • Aug 16, 2014 » Looking at a Lute Player
    1626_Orazio_Gentileschi_-_Lute_Player painting illusion I saw The Lute Player by Orazio Gentileschi at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC a couple of weeks back. I assumed I knew how to appreciate a work of art, at the very least just by looking and taking it in. But if it wasn’t for a great museum staff standing nearby that day, I wouldn’t have taken a second look at this particular painting before moving on. He said it was important to move beyond receptive appreciation and look at art more actively. I’m glad I did. Check out this great illusion: move your head from one side of the screen to the other all while looking at the scroll of the violin resting on the table. The instrument points at you whatever your position! As you might imagine, I spent the next little while doing all sorts of funny walks elsewhere in the museum. Nothing cool to report– no magical illusions, but it was kind of new and magical for me to approach some works in a way I wouldn’t have otherwise. # # #