Getting in on the Ground Floor of Emotion Construction
Teacher Tom
by Teacher Tom
19h ago
Pipilotte Rist If a fortune-teller had told my 40-year-old self that I would one day be regularly traveling the world, standing at podiums, speaking into microphones, and addressing audiences of hundreds, even thousands, I would have dismissed them as a charlatan. Like most people, the idea of public speaking was a pretty hard no go. Even speaking in front of preschoolers and their parents in our cooperative preschool made me nervous, so much so that it I avoided eye-contact with the adults in the room as spoke in front of the whole class. The result was that my first year per ..read more
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The Godlike Works of a Creator
Teacher Tom
by Teacher Tom
2d ago
We were messing around with pipe cleaners and tissue paper circles. It's a craft-ish project that most of the kids know, because I showed them. You can make nifty little flowers by sliding the thin disks of paper onto their bendy stems one at a time, giving each one a gentle "crush" as you go. I don't have any pictures of them, but it's a common enough preschool activity that I'm sure most of my readers know what I'm talking about. (But if you want a look, here's a version from my friend Deborah using squares instead of circles.) Some of the kids do their own thin ..read more
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A Theory About Walls
Teacher Tom
by Teacher Tom
3d ago
For most of human history we spent most of our days outdoors, on and near savannas, under canopies, only retreating to our nooks and dens when darkness, weather, or predators drove us there. These are the conditions for which our minds evolved. Even later in the human story, once we begin constructing shelters, they were mostly one room affairs in which everyone spent their indoor time, cooking, eating, and sleeping together. I'm thinking of ancient Viking longhouses, for instance, in which entire villages resided under a single roof. Even medieval castles were buil ..read more
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How We Can Begin to Overcome Our Fears and Let Our Children Fail
Teacher Tom
by Teacher Tom
1w ago
In a recently publish paper a team of scientists and philosophers propose what they are calling the "Law of Increasing Functional Information." In a nutshell, they theorize that it's not just biological systems, but all complex systems -- from planets to atoms -- that operate according to the principles of evolution. This law is being suggested as a "missing" law of physics that, theoretically, could stand alongside the better known laws of motion, gravity, electromagnetism, and thermodynamics. I'm sure that most physicists, biologists, and philosophers are skeptical, but, o ..read more
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As Children Grow in Courage, So Too Grow Their Parents
Teacher Tom
by Teacher Tom
1w ago
From the day our children are born, they are destined to become independent from us. Not only do we know this is inevitable, but according to a recent University of Michigan survey 74 percent of parents with children between 5-8 report they "make a point" to have their children do things for themselves, while nearly 85 percent of parents with 9-11 year olds agree that their children benefit from unsupervised free time. And they're not wrong. Research consistently shows that experience with real independence fosters self-confidence, resilience, problem-so ..read more
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When the Real World Cannot Match the Pretty Pictures
Teacher Tom
by Teacher Tom
1w ago
My goal has always been to make this blog seem as homemade as possible. I use a basic off-the-shelf template and the cheapest, most utilitarian platform available. I rarely engage in marketing, promotions or give-aways. I don't accept advertising. And generally speaking I steer clear of bells and whistles. I don't know if anyone else appreciates it, and well-intended people quite regularly give me advice on how I could make the blog snappier or boost my readership, and I'm happy for the free advice, but the amateur hour vibe is more or less intentional. When I'm invited to speak at ..read more
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The Creative Process and the Learning Process are One and The Same
Teacher Tom
by Teacher Tom
1w ago
The three-year-old was messing around with some long bits of string on the floor. He was at it for several minutes, lost in his process. From where I sat in my post of observation. He was obviously planning, or attempting, or questioning, or contemplating something. It didn't look to me like he was creating order from chaos, but then he stood up, caught my eye, and said, "It's a dinosaur. I made a T-Rex." He looked from me to the string and back again. "This is the head," he explained. He showed me the tail, the legs, and the short arms. Then he forgot me again for a moment as he dro ..read more
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Conquering Death
Teacher Tom
by Teacher Tom
1w ago
"Only birth," writes the eminent mythologist Joseph Campbell, "can conquer death -- the birth, not of the old thing again, but of something new." Occasionally, some credentialed person or another will predict that in the future, perhaps the near future, science will have conquered death, at least insofar as old age and disease are concerned. I imagine we'll still be susceptible to falling off cliffs and whatnot, but we are already seeing how modern medicine can keep our old bodies running for years, if not decades, beyond their "natural" expiration date. Of course, for ..read more
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Homework
Teacher Tom
by Teacher Tom
1w ago
The California state legislature is currently working on a bill that would require schools to enact homework policies that take into account their students' mental and physical health. Introduced by Assemblyperson Pilar Shiavo, a member of the state's new "select committee on happiness," the bill appears to have very little opposition and will likely in some form become law. "This feeling of loneliness and disconnection -- I know when my kid is not feeling connected," says Schiavo, "It's when she's alone in her room (doing homework), not playing with her cousin, not having dinner wit ..read more
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Our Words as Loose Parts
Teacher Tom
by Teacher Tom
1w ago
"No climbing to the top!" When our daughter was in kindergarten, her school installed an amazing rope-and-steel climbing structure. The kindergartners were forbidden from climbing to the very top, which meant that adults were always hovering around the thing, "reminding" the children when they got too high.  One day, I asked her if she was loving the new climber. She replied, "It's kind of in the way. No one plays on it." When I asked her why, she just shrugged, "It's just not fun." Awhile back, I posted some thoughts on The Theory of Loose Parts. Appropria ..read more
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