Beiträge vom Mai, 2011

This I believe — my Constructivism explained

Donnerstag, 19. Mai 2011 21:32

It is a great pleasure to finally share publicly here parts of the book I loved most out of my final exams reading list (and, maybe surprisingly, I loved quite a few), and which I come back to over and over again, making it uncontestedly the most influential book for my thinking that I read during my whole studies. It is „Acts of Meaning“ by Jerome Bruner, published in 1990 as an elaboration of a series of lectures, and was assigned for the exam in Cultural Psychology (thank you, Gabriele!).

It has so many important things to say about science, culture, and psychology that I believe it should be on every psychologist’s and non-psychologist’s bookshelf, but one part I like to refer non-psychologists to most frequently is about „relativism“, or as I prefer to say: Constructivism.


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Tanzania 4 — My first ever exams from the other side

Donnerstag, 19. Mai 2011 18:10

I have taken exams of all sorts before, I have helped administer exams and have composed exercise questions for students in tutorials. But never before have I composed an exam that will result in actual grading of students. So here I am, after a mere three weeks of teaching Physics in grade 8 and 10, doing just that. Following the format of the national examinations that will be so important for the students‘ futures, because depending on the results they will be able to attend the advanced levels (A-levels), and go to college/university from there.

I am quite scared, to be honest, much more than when taking exams recently. Because in a way I’m giving myself an exam of my teaching success here, and also I hope to encourage and not discourage the students. A colleague who looked at them told me he liked them, and liked that they aren’t too easy… But then, this is what I taught, and very close to the priorities I had in the lessons.

Please cross fingers, and feel free to comment. In Form 3 (grade 10) I only taught reflection and refraction, but this is the final exam for the year, and they had electricity stuff earlier apparently. Well, here are the exams for Form 1 and Form 3.

Thema: English, Weltreise 2011 | Kommentare deaktiviert | Autor:

Tanzanian „Mock“ National Exam Maths Question

Dienstag, 17. Mai 2011 14:55

I had a delightful time helping the Form 4 (last year of secondary school, before the A-levels) students with questions from their „Mock“ National Exam in Mathematics, which will soon decide about whether they can go on to the A-levels. One of these questions surprised me with the amount of creative thinking it involved. That is, I am wondering if there is a standard way to solve this that I overlooked. So here it is, any inputs are welcome (train your brain!):

In a geometric progression, the sum of the second and third term is 6, and the sum of the third and fourth term is –12. Find the first term and common ratio of the progression.

I will post my solution after some comments come in, or I get bored waiting ;)

Thema: English, Weltreise 2011 | Kommentare (3) | Autor:

Tanzania 3 — Ankommen im Alltag

Montag, 16. Mai 2011 20:46

Ziemlich genau zwei Wochen nach meinem ersten aufwühlenden Schultag fühlt es sich schon ein bisschen an, als wäre ich immer hier gewesen. Dabei strömt immer noch eine konstante Flut von Eindrücken auf mich ein, selbst (vielleicht gerade) hier im unglaublich ruhigen Dorfleben.


Thema: Weltreise 2011 | Kommentare (2) | Autor:

small thoughts 2011-05-15 (my week in twitter)

Sonntag, 15. Mai 2011 7:59

  • David Pogue is pessimistic about Skype’s future How do iChat and FaceTime work again? And didn’t Google have something? #
  • Paper-size (and –thin) computers are becoming reality #
  • Thema Immigration und Islam: Mir waren wichtige Details des „Anwerbeabkommens“ von 1961 nicht klar krass! #
  • Heiße Diskussion um einen ZEIT Leserartikel zum Islam Die (meistempfohlenen) Kommentare stimmen mich großteils bedenklich #
  • #travelinsight 46: A teacher colleague had Malaria over the week-end. Malaria! Over the week-end! Still worries me a little… #
  • #travelinsight 45: Learning an all-new language makes you think about what you need language for. What would your first 200 words cover? #
  • #travelinsight 44: Why oh why do women here prefer odd-looking wigs over their beautiful natural hair? #
  • Danke, Europäischer Gerichtshof! Klagerecht für Umweltverbände in Deutschland „Bürgergesellschaft“ wir kommen :) #
  • #travelinsight 43: Two breakfasts, two lunches and dinner is a little much. Of course, Hobbits would disagree. And so, initially, did I … #
  • Hah! The longest German word in official usage 63 letters! (that’s as exactly as much as this tweet before the brackets!) #
  • Do political decisions originate with „the people“ or elites? I discover the field of comparative political economy #
  • s in Germany, is pronounced [z] if it forms the syllable onset (e.g. Sohn [zoːn]), otherwise [s] (e.g. Bus [bʊs]) Aha! #
  • Ich liebe meine Sprache: Guttenbergs Fälschungen „werkprägendes Arbeitsmuster“ Fazit der Kommission: bewusste Täuschung #
  • Next door to me in Uganda, a proposed law threatens gays with death penalty. Protest: it seems to have worked once before #
  • High-tech orthodoxy or: the woman who was never there it would be very funny if it wasn’t real #Krugman #
  • How to lie with numbers: The cost of closing the fiscal gap now or later #Krugman #Constructivism #
  • Surprising and very informed argument against the notion that feminism took away the housewife’s good status of the 50s #
  • Joseph Stiglitz about past and future of US distribution of wealth and its political implications Scary. #
  • An einer tiefen Beschreibung der Personaldebatten in der FDP kann man lernen, wie Parteien im Inneren funktionieren #

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Explaining the World with The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy: Astrology, Constructivism, Science and (In)Definite Articles

Donnerstag, 12. Mai 2011 20:29

I fear this is the longest title in the history of my blog, which in a way suits its topic well. I just finished the biggest book I have ever read, actually a collection of books under the title „The Ultimate Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy“, by Douglas Adams. It comprises the original Guide and the other four books in the trilogy.

I bought it in Palo Alto before my real traveling started, and it has lasted me well into the second quarter of this year, of course as frequent visitors of my blog know with another big and some small readings in between.

Once again, my generally high esteem of artists‘ late work was reinforced — while the original book is funny, the later books are far better. I laughed my hardest reading the second last one, „So Long and Thanks for All the Fish“, and the last one, „Mostly Harmless“, apart from still being very funny, I found most insightful. That despite how I just read on Wikipedia the author himself describing this book as „bleak“, and saying he had a very bad year when he wrote it. I suppose that tells us something about the relationship between art and happiness…

Anyway, here are just some examples of important topics of life made understandable with the help of absurdity, Science-Fiction at its best.


Thema: English, Weltreise 2011 | Kommentare deaktiviert | Autor:

David Hume, the Arab Spring and Capitalism

Mittwoch, 11. Mai 2011 22:28

Happy Belated 300th Birthday, David Hume! And thanks to Crooked Timber for a pointer to both this anniversary date and his neglected influence on social sciences. I’ll re-quote two parts of a re-quote from there (happy internet copy-paste days). They do a very good job at explaining what happens in the Arab world and our own homes.

The first one deals with power of the masses, and why they so often don’t use it:


Thema: English | Kommentare deaktiviert | Autor:

Golden Oldies and the present Dark Age of Social Sciences

Dienstag, 10. Mai 2011 18:03

Thanks to Matze, I finally ended up reading an article which I’m sure I had opened before but couldn’t remember anything from, I suppose it was a victim to one of my old laptop’s many out-of-battery shutdowns. It’s „Golden Oldies (Wonkish)“ by Paul Krugman, who I usually enjoy reading but find slightly too absorbed in contemporary economic policies. Not so this time, where he deals a blow to contemporary Economic Science that in most part applies to other social sciences as well, especially Psychology.


Thema: English | Kommentare deaktiviert | Autor:

Inequality in the US, and who makes its politics

Montag, 9. Mai 2011 20:04

Economist Joseph E. Stiglitz has an accessible article in Vanity Fair talking about rising inequality (of income, wealth, all sorts of things associated with these like education and health, and lastly, opportunity) in the US. He then comes to a brutal description of the association of wealth and power, one of the cornerstones of my „NeuerPlan“ (NewPlan) criticism of capitalist society. Which happens both on a personal level and on that abstract level of „corporations“, that is, businesses:


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small thoughts 2011-05-08 (my week in twitter)

Sonntag, 8. Mai 2011 7:59

  • Daten-zentrierter Journalismus sehr spannend und wichtig, aber: Daten mach halt noch keine Geschichte. #Narration #
  • Gipfeltreffen mit Zivilgesellschaft schön und gut Hatten wir nicht schon mal nen Atomkonsens? #
  • If supermarkets were like public schools an analogy who’s obvious message I don’t share, but still find interesting #
  • Comparing teaching and military can be surprisingly insightful. And McKinsey can do good work #NYTimes #Op-Ed #
  • Oh dear, major computer overdose today. But I’m happy my travel blog is up to date, and my brain has gotten it’s fix of science and politics #
  • Why we don’t hear much from physicists against nuclear energy & why we should turn to physicians for the critical science #
  • It seems the Osama thing makes more talk about torture necessary Glad we can dismiss it practically a well as morally #
  • beautiful little metaphor on publication bias in science #
  • Osama capture myths debunked, including the question of torture-elicited information #
  • How anti-Obama „birtherism“ is rooted in old segregation sentiments and former slave states Very thorough, and sad! #
  • Market Design — what economists can do when they stop arguing everything will be alright if you leave things alone Good! #
  • #travelinsight 42: It does seem like many of the brightest minds in Africa choose to work with and for development projects. Good or bad? #
  • More amazing science from our guts — there are 3 distinct types of bacteria ecosystems one can have, like blood types #
  • Patient or consumer — health care reform example of how market theory (and language) shapes the world #
  • #travelinsight 41: Better to have an explanation of Vernier Calipers in your notebook or use your ruler and express the result in cm and m? #
  • What stinks about the reports of Quaddafi’s son and grandchildren being killed by NATO, and his ceasefire offer #
  • #travelinsight 40: Seeing a petrified chicken in crowded bus reinforces my veganism. After emphasizing with the livelihood aspect in theory. #
  • #travelinsight 39: Moving market failure: get ripped off even knowing the right price. Supply and demand can be very local. Ad hoc oligopoly #
  • #travelinsight 38: You can fit 10 people and a big backpack in a car. And the police gives you a friendly wave. #
  • Interessante, stellenweise lange Rezension eines neuen Buches über Religiosität in den USA. Fremdes, spannendes Amerika! #

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