How Boys Learn

boysofsummer.jpgHaving attended a single sex school for over six years while growing up, I am intrigued by the debate over separating boys and girls for classes. Desperate for solutions to the mushrooming educational crisis, some systems are turning to same sex or single sex academies for boys. But not everyone agrees with this approach and legal as well as community challenges have been raised. Some cry discrimination. What is clear is that today’s students are not learning–especially boys. It is now known that boys learn better while standing up–when they sit down their brains turn off!! It is also evident that boys pose more of a problem in the area of discipline which I think is the number one problem facing schools today. Fix that and everything else will be a piece of cake.

 

Schools in Crisis

school.jpgThe schools in some major cities in the US are graduating as few as 30% of students who enroll. This is clearly a disaster–not in the making-but one that’s already here. I hear that planners can project the size of the future prison population by how the poorly the students are  performing. There is endless discussion and tons of programs to aid schools yet the problems persist. A few schools do a great job but the effort required is herculean –wearing and burning teachers out quickly. Jamaican Beverly Hall has done a remarkable job as head of the Atlanta public schools which have shown progress for the past eight years she has been there. So there is hope that things can be turned around. Atlanta was once a low performing school system until Beverly showed up. But why is it so hard?

 

The Heart of the Matter

heart.jpgThere was a story on the radio this morning about a man from the town of Vidalia, in South Georgia who shot himself in the throat with a shotgun. He died.  He was a heart transplant patient who 12 years earlier had received the heart of a man from another state. He later met the donor’s widow and ended up marrying her. It turns out the man whose heart he received had also committed suicide by shooting himself in the throat.  Hmmm… the heart was once thought to be the seat of the mind.  Maybe there is something to that thinking after all?

 

The Power of Flowers

red-roses.jpgI first realized the power of flowers decades ago when I had a temporary job working in a chaotic department where everyone was overworked and stressed.  There was one lady who seemed especially difficult to work with and some not-so-nice things were usually said about her. She usually held up the work flow by living up to her reputation.  One day,  I noticed this guy from another department who, after imploring her several times without success threw up his hands and left.  The next day he came back.  But this time he brought her a bouquet of red roses.  Well, it worked.  Her normally dour disposition melted away and she became all smiles.   When he left, he had the document he had been trying to get for days without success.

 

the Art of living a long life

100_birthday.jpgMore people are reaching that 100th birthday than ever before. My grandmother passed on not too long ago and was just over a year short of the century mark and was in very good health until near the end. A remarkable achievement considering her humble beginnings. We still have not figured out her secret, however. She never drank eight glasses of water per day or worked out; she followed no special diet; or did any of the numerous things we are told to do today.

She lived in the same place in St. Ann her whole life. She knew a lot of people, had a good sense of humor, went to church often and was very outspoken.

Maybe without realizing it she was on the caloric restriction (CR) diet.  She ate sparingly and took her time eating.  A habit she probably developed from the lean years in her early life. Now scientists are telling us that experiments in the lab show that animals that are fed half the normal calories or their species live considerably longer than those fed the regular amount of calories and  humans could live extended periods if put on such a diet.  Some people have joined the experiment by embracing this CR diet.  How long will they live? The verdict is still out.  But even if they were to live a very long life, would it be really be any fun when depriving yourself of so much?

 

Turning men into Dogs…

On the news recently there was a video of a US soldier in Iraq throwing a young puppy over a cliff and then laughing about it. The army promised swift punishment. Meanwhile dog.jpgback in the US a once popular football player is currently in prison being punished for his role in a dog fighting operation. His fall from grace once his involvement in the mistreatment of dogs was publicized was immediate. People have a deep love for dogs, that’s evident but it’s interesting that when they dislike another person they won’t hesitate to call him–usually it’s a woman calling a man–a dog. I guess some dogs are better than others. From the movie The Thin Red Line we have the well known line about war turning men into dogs. I guess that how we get the dogs of war.

 

Is the Cult of Efficiency destroying the quality of life?

blackberry.jpgOne night last weekend the ringing blackberry woke me from a deep sleep. It was the second weekend in a row that my sleep was disturbed by a call from the computer room. The problem was fixed in short order but not my sleep. Aah the modern world. With today’s gadgets if you get a fax, email or phone call you are notified immediately. Quite impressive but you have to wonder, what price are we paying for all this efficiency? Is the cult of efficiency destroying the quality of life? You decide. If you can…

In a former life I worked for a big company that bought a small family owned business in a small town. The big company was amazed at the inefficiency of the small business and set about making it more efficient. They discovered they only needed half the workers and so they laid off about 50% of the staff. The previous owner was making money as the business was profitable so he tried to help his neighbors by providing jobs. He wasn’t trying to eke the most profit out of it. But he wasn’t efficient. A couple of years later, the big company sold the small company to another big company…

 

Nervous about taking Cholesterol drugs?

Vytorin and Zetia Recent stories about cholesterol drugs are causing some to be uneasy about taking cholesterol medication. Last month it was disclosed that the much advertised Vytorin, a combination of Zetia and Zocor, while effective in lowering cholesterol did not slow the growth of dangerous plaque in arteries.

It was just last year that another drug torcetrapib, was halted in clinical trial. It did what it was supposed to as far as cholesterol-it raised HDL- but more people in the drug group died than in the placebo.

And now we hear that Lipitor ads featuring, Dr. Jarvik the artificial heart inventor are being taken off the air after it was revealed that he was using a body double for rowing and was therefore deceptive since he is not actually a rower.

Critics of the cholesterol theory are having a field day. But more about that later…

 

Facebook – A cautious user

facebook-logo.jpg Not too long ago, I received an email “invitation” from a friend to join Facebook, the current “hot” social networking site. So I clicked the link and before I realized it I was entering all kinds of information about myself that would be shared with others on the World Wide Web. Magically, a whole bunch of people then joined my network. Friends I didn’t even know I had appeared.

Facebook is a hit among the younger crowd. I believe it started at Harvard and was initially limited to college students but gradually opened up to include high schools and eventually anyone over the age of 13.

I notice that members upload a lot of photos and usually they are photos of them at parties. They can also share videos. If you really want to see what your kids are doing in their spare time, this is the place. Whenever a person in your network updates their information with a new photo or posting, you’ll automatically receive an email with a link so you can check it out.

The automatic nature of the service is one of the big pluses but also a drawback. Facebook faced some heat recently when it was discovered that it is very difficult to delete your profile from their database. This has upset some people. On the other hand, if you later want to rejoin, your info is already there, so it all depends on how you look at it.

Overall, I like Facebook and enjoy seeing what people are up to. I just have not totally embraced the idea of sharing so much personal information with the world at large. But the younger set are totally into it.