Wednesday, April 20, 2011


By: Paul Harris 
Published: The Observer, Sunday 17 April, 2011 (
Level of Difficulty: **
Access the following video detailing the experiments outlined in the text you are about to read; listen and take notes. Copy paste to access.

1.       What means did the woman use to put the glass on the dot?
2.       What enabled the woman to use the above technique to place the glass on the dot?
3.       Who, is it hoped, will BrainGate provide the most help for?
4.       What modifications are currently being made to the BrainGate technology?
5.       What is the fundamental problem which prevents paralyzed patients from moving?
6.       What exactly does BrainGate pick up and transfer to a computer?
7.       What is the reasoning behind BrainGate’s computer programs?
8.       What is the next use Donoghue wishes to put BrainGate to?
9.       What would the above make possible?
10.   What activities did Nagle ultimately end up being able to do?
11.   What use could the military and intelligence services put BrainGate to? Write two.
12.   What suggestion does Donoghue make to counter the fears stated above?
13.   What advantage does the new version of BrainGate have over the initial model?
14.   In the last paragraph, the writer says “One person who did think about it was Bauby.” What does “it” refer to in this phrase?
Level of difficulty:**
The wonderful, heartwarming and deeply moving article comes out of The Observer which is, as you know, linked to The Guardian. It details the latest in symbiosis – the merging of the human brain with computers – and as a search reading exercise, would go very nicely with “Can You Live Forever? No, But You Can Have Fun Trying” – which is also posted on this blog – as it provides a practical example of the processes outlined in the latter.  Before introducing the article, it is suggested that you provide an article about Jean Dominique Bauby who managed to dictate a memoir, “The Diving Bell and The Butterfly”, detailing his tragic imprisonment in his own body by blinking one eye. Sadly, he passed away before the technology in this article became available.
1.       Her Thoughts
2.       A device implanted in her brain / BrainGate
3.       Sufferers of Locked-in syndrome.
4.       Pushing the technology to see how far it goes; trying to miniaturize it
5.       The fact that the pathways connecting the brain to the rest of the body such as the spinal cord have been broken.
6.       Electronic signals fired by…
7.       It is a form of mind reading based on the idea that…
8.       Hooking BrianGate up to a system of electronic stimulators plugged into the muscles of arms and legs.
9.       Patients would move their own bodies.
10.   Operate a TV, play simple computer games, send and receive emails.
11.   Probe the innermost thoughts of captured prisoners or dissidents; it could pave the way for robot worriers controlled by distant humans using their minds only.
12.   As long as there is a rational dialogue and scientists think about where…
13.   It is wireless
14.   Walking around with an artificial nervous system made of wires and chips
Ask the students to write an opinion essay or paragraph expressing their views or reservations concerning this new technology.

By Karen Wright
Published on Psychology Today: ; Published: March11, 2011
Level of Difficulty: ***
Read the first four paragraphs of the text and answer three questions:
1.       The examples stated in the first paragraph are described as: …………………………………………………
2.       How damaging can criticism be? Prove your answer with information from the text.
3.       What is the function of paragraph four? Is this where you have been taught to have it? Which is more effective?
Read on to the end of paragraph nine and answer four more questions:
4.       What does the phrase “coaches spew diatribes-cum-feedback” mean?
5.       What rather surprising example of human inaptitude is mentioned in this section?
6.       What seems to be the reason for the above mentioned human failing?
7.       Why do we seem to react so strongly to negative criticism?
Read on until the end of paragraph fifteen and answer four more questions:
8.       Cacioppo states that “Most people respond more to the bad than to the good”. How does the writer qualify this statement?
9.       How should the writer have responded to her boss’ assessment of her performance? Answer in your own words.
10.   Why did the kindergarten teacher assume that her supervisor’s query was criticism?
11.   Which sentence in this section best summarizes the ideas expressed in paragraphs thirteen and fourteen?

Read on until the end of paragraph nineteen and answer the following question:

12.   Ashkanasy’s conversation with the assistant he planned to dismiss and the questions Gray suggests are examples of what criticism should be like because ……………………………………….

Read on until the end of paragraph twenty-five and answer two more questions:

13.   Why is the discipline problem in a family with one stepparent only dealt with when the natural parent lends support?
14.   Why does both criticism and praise coming from a peer in the workplace upset one?

Read on until the end of paragraph thirty-four and answer four more questions:
15.   Match the following based on information in this section:
The source of criticism: Angry confrontation, a disappointed tone, critical expression of disappointment.
The recipient: Elicits a healthy debate, makes them more other directed or group oriented,  people go on the defensive.
16.   What biological difference is there between adults and young children in terms of reaction to criticism?
17.   Why does negative feedback provoke quite so much negative feeling in everyone according to the writer?

Read on to the end of the text and complete the questions:

18.    Why are issues concerning individual preferences and needs specially hard to resolve?
19.   Why can a quarrel about the planning of a family vacation metamorphose into a serious argument as to whether the spouse values family time?
20.   What are the two fundamentals ways to make up in the case of a bust up like the one described in this section?

Write a problem/ solution essay on how to provide criticism in the most effective way. Consult the 8 rules of effective feedback and group them as follows under the topic sentences and thesis statement provided.

Thesis Statement: There are some rules that need to be followed if constructive criticism is to be well received and acted on

First developmental paragraph
Topic sentence: The status of the critic, the timing of the criticism and the nature of the opening remarks are of utmost importance. Use points 1, 2 and 3 in the appropriate order.

Second developmental paragraph
Topic sentence: The state of mind of the critic is also significant. Use points 4 and 5.

Third developmental paragraph
Topic sentence: The nature of the criticism and the way it will be received should be given some thought too. Use points 6, 7 and 8.

This wonderfully informative text would be a good starting point for problem/ solution essays. Remember to have plenty of discussion while working through the text to facilitate the writing task.
1.       Harrowing experiences with negative feedback.
2.       Very; it may threaten our identity or very survival.
3.       Thesis. For effect. Better this way.
4.       Yell or bark directions
5.       So much of our learning, loving and living depends on negative feedback that you’d think people would be good at it by now.
6.       We’re not trained in either getting or giving criticism
7.       Courtesy of our sympathetic nervous system; it is almost as if our brains are fine tuned to apprehend negative criticism.
8.       Electrical activity in the brain spikes more strongly in response to negative stimuli than to equally potent positive ones.
9.       She should have enjoyed the criticism and taken on board the criticism.
10.   Our brains seem to be wired to turn neutral phenomena…
11.   What hurts most in negative feedback then isn’t the overt content of the message so much as the threat of exclusion.
12.   They emphasized inclusion not dismissal.
13.   Because the stepparent is not seen as eligible; because the child doesn’t feel he is entitled or qualified.
14.   Both are things someone in authority would do.
15.   Disappointed tone elicits a healthy debate; angry confrontation makes people go on the defensive; critical expression of disappointment makes them more other directed or group oriented.
16.   Children’s brain centers responsive to negative feedback haven’t yet come on line.
17.   Because it exposes you to yourself.
18.   Because the exterior realm of authority and competition gives way to the subjective interior of emotion.
19.   Because with intimate relationships, task oriented and ask oriented criticism blends.
20.   To hear each other and hug in the end. This answer is repeated throughout the section so any one will do.

Historical perspective, new strategy, people making a difference, powerful idea, technology trends
By Thomas Frey, January 27, 2011; Level of Difficulty **
Read as far as “Understanding the Word Stream” and answer the question:
1.       What conclusion can we draw from the experiments that Arthur C. Clark conducted in India?
2.       It is implied in this section that the teacher should be replaced by a machine if……………………..
Read “Understanding the Word Stream” and answer the question:
3.       What is the basic paradox expressed in this section concerning the information people are exposed to?
Read “The Cost of Words” and answer the question:
4.       What conclusion can be drawn from the information provided in this section?

Read “Are Colleges Pricing Themselves out of Existence” and answer the question:
5.       In what two ways are nonschool organizations considered superior to college classes?

Read “When Inertia Ends” and answer the question:
6.       In what respect are colleges and the newspaper world compared in this section?

Read “Curiosity Driven Education” and answer the question:
7.       The writer predicts that a lot of learning will take place on the internet. What are the two reasons why he makes this claim?

Read “More on the Hole in the Wall Experiment” and answer the question:
8.       What are the two reasons why students succeed in learning in Mitra’s experiment?

Read “Final Thoughts” and answer the last question:
9.       The text ends with the following sentence: “We do it by creating systems that empower our curiosity”. What does “it” refer to in this sentence?

It is now time for you to express your “final thoughts”. Write a reaction essay evaluating the views expressed in this text. Your teacher will discuss the text with you first and help you with planning.

The text is a little gem expressing some rather radical views on education with some undeniably strong arguments. The text is not hard lexically but the questions are real careful reading questions and the writing task is challenging. The reason is that summarizing a text like this for the second paragraph of the essay will be no mean feat.
1.       Students driven by curiosity will learn more, learn faster than when they were confronted with subjects of low interest.
2.       The machine arouses more interest in the students because interest is the most important motivating force in education.
3.       Although formalized education constitutes only 1% of information we are exposed to, it is considered far more valuable.
4.       The value of a university is now totally out of sync with…
5.       They present information in comprehensible formats for far less money; They are doing a far better job of matching the curiosity of the learner with the subjects and experts they are interested in.
6.       In terms of how good they are at meeting the demands of the emerging hyper-individualized, curiosity driven consumer.
7.       It is curiosity driven; It is designed round the two way flow of information.
8.       Students have near photographic recall; They are learning together at a time when their curiosity has been peaked.
9.       Removing the constraints and incentivizing people to build on a hunch with the remote…

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