Childhood stimulation key to brain development, study finds

Twenty-year research project shows that most critical aspect of cortex development in late teens was stimulation aged four

Brain scan
Brain scans of participants aged in their late teens showed a correlation between cognitive stimulation at the age of four and a thinner, more developed, cortex Photograph: David Job/Getty Images

An early childhood surrounded by books and educational toys will leave positive fingerprints on a person’s brain well into their late teens, a two-decade-long research study has shown.

Scientists found that the more mental stimulation a child gets around the age of four, the more developed the parts of their brains dedicated tolanguage and cognition will be in the decades ahead.

It is known that childhood experience influences brain development but the only evidence scientists have had for this has usually come from extreme cases such as children who had been abused or suffered trauma. Martha Farah, director of the centre for neuroscience and society at the University of Pennsylvania, who led the latest study, wanted to find out how a normal range of experiences in childhood might influence the development of the brain.

Farah took data from surveys of home life and brain scans of 64 participants carried out over the course of 20 years. Her results,presented on Sunday at the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience in New Orleans, showed that cognitive stimulation from parents at the age of four was the key factor in predicting the development of several parts of the cortex – the layer of grey matter on the outside of the brain – 15 years later.

The participants had been tracked since they were four years old. Researchers had visited their homes and recorded a series of details about their lives to measure cognitive stimulation, details such as the number of children’s books they had, whether they had toys that taught them about colours, numbers or letters, or whether they played with real or toy musical instruments.

The researchers also scored the participants on “parental nurturance” – how much warmth, support or care the child got from the parent. The researchers carried out the same surveys when the children were eight years old. When the participants were between 17 and 19, they had their brains scanned.

Farah’s results showed that the development of the cortex in late teens was closely correlated with a child’s cognitive stimulation at the age of four. All other factors including parental nurturance at all ages and cognitive stimulation at age eight – had no effect. Farah said her results were evidence for the existence of a sensitive period, early in a person’s life, that determined the optimal development of the cortex. “It really does support the idea that those early years are especially influential.”

As the brain matures during childhood and adolescence, brain cells in the cortex are pruned back and, as unnecessary cells are eliminated, the cortex gets thinner. Farah found that the more cognitive stimulation a participant had had at the age of four, the thinner, and therefore more developed, their cortex. “It almost looks like whatever the normal developmental process is, has either accelerated or gone further in the kids with the better cognitive stimulation,” she said.

The most strongly affected region was the lateral left temporal cortex, which is on the surface of the brain, behind the ear. This region is involved in semantic memory, processing word meanings and general knowledge about the world.

Around the time the participants had their brains scanned in their late teens, they were also given language tests and, Farah said, the thinner their cortex, the better their language comprehension.

Andrea Danese, a clinical lecturer in child and adolescent psychiatry at the Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College London, said the study suggested that the experience of a nurturing home environment could have an effect on brain development regardless of familial, perhaps genetic, predispositions to better brains. Danese added that this kind of research highlighted the “tremendous role” that parents and carers had to play in enabling children to develop their cognitive, social, and emotional skills by providing safe, predictable, stimulating, and responsive personal interactions with children.

“Parents may not be around when their teenage children are faced with important choices about choosing peers, experimenting with drugs, engaging in sexual relationships, or staying in education,” said Danese. “Yet, parents can lay the foundations for their teenage children to take good decisions, for example by promoting their ability to retain and elaborate information, or to balance the desire for immediate reward with the one for greater, long-term goals since a young age.”

Bruce Hood, an experimental psychologist who specialises in developmental cognitive neuroscience at the University of Bristol, said his advice to parents was just to “be kind to your children. Unless you raise them in a cardboard box without any stimulation or interaction, then they will probably be just fine.”


Missouri judge blocks Facebook limits for teachers

¿Se acuerdan de la nota que comentamos aquí sobre los límites que se pretendían establecer legalmente en EUA entre la comunicación online maestro/alumno?…Pues una corte judicial de este país parece haberlos detenido porque podrían afectar derechos constitucionales de los ciudadanos. Échenle un ojo a este artículo.


A new Missouri law prohibiting teachers from having private online conversations with students suffered a double setback Friday. First, a judge blocked it from taking effect because of free speech concerns. Then the governor called for its repeal.

The law limiting teacher-student conversations through social networking sites such as Facebook had been scheduled to take effect Sunday. But Cole County Circuit Judge Jon Beetem issued a preliminary injunction blocking it until at least February, saying the restrictions “would have a chilling effect” on free speech rights.

A couple of hours later, Gov. Jay Nixon said he would ask lawmakers to repeal the restrictions during a previously scheduled special session that starts Sept. 6. Nixon’s request goes even further than the judge’s order, which was confined to private conversations on non-work-related websites. The governor also wants lawmakers to reverse new restrictions on work-related websites and abolish a requirement for schools to develop written policies by January on teacher-student communications.

Nixon, who signed the legislation last month, said Friday that the provisions about online communication are “causing substantial confusion and concern among teachers, students and families” and thus should be stricken.

“In a digital world, we must recognize that social media can be an important tool for teaching and learning,” said Nixon, a Democrat.

Republican state Sen. Jane Cunningham, who sponsored the measure, said she already has been working with education groups on a potential compromise that would repeal the existing law and replace it with a less-specific requirement for local school districts to develop policies about teacher-student communications. Cunningham said it’s important to make the change as soon as possible.

“There’s no reason for us to punt on this thing and let it continue to simmer and draw attention from all over the world,” said Cunningham, who represents a suburban St. Louis district.

The Missouri law would have barred teachers from using websites that give “exclusive access” to current students or former students who are 18 or younger. That would have meant that communication through Facebook or other social networking sites had to be done in public, rather than through private messages.

The limits on Internet communications were included in a broader education bill passed earlier this year with the overwhelming support of the Legislature and various schools groups, including the Missouri State Teachers Association, which later filed suit over the social networking provisions.

One of its main provisions, which was not challenged, requires schools to share information with other districts about teachers who have sexually abused students and allows lawsuits in cases where districts fail to disclose such information and teachers later abuse someone else. Nixon said he still supports those provisions and is not asking for them to be repealed.

A public backlash began to build against the social networking provisions over the summer, as some teachers preparing for the new school year began complaining that the law could hamper both their classroom activities and school-related conversations that occur afterhours.

“This particular issue took a national tone, and we started to hear from teachers not just in Missouri but from throughout the United States,” said Todd Fuller, a spokesman for the Missouri State Teachers Association.

One third-grade teacher, for example, feared the law could prevent her class from communicating with one in Australia through a closed website. Others raised concerns about virtual classrooms in which students communicate with direct messages, Fuller said.

In its lawsuit, the teachers association said websites such as Facebook and Twitter have become a common part of modern interaction between teachers and students and argued that restricting them would violate the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

The judge said the teachers’ lawsuit had a good likelihood of success. His order noted that social networking sites are used extensively by teachers and that the law would have restricted online communications even between family members in which teachers are parents.

“The breadth of the prohibition is staggering,” Beetem wrote in his order, which blocks the law until Feb. 20 so that a hearing on a permanent injunction can be held.

The judge’s order specifically assures teachers that they cannot be disciplined for engaging in private online communications with students while the injunction is in effect – even if it is later overturned.

The attorney general’s office, which defended the law in court, declined to comment Friday.

Fuller said that if lawmakers repeal the law, then the group’s lawsuit would become moot. “But until that happens we wouldn’t drop the suit,” he added.


The Global Search for Education: More from Norway

En el The Huffington Post, se resalta cómo una escuela pública modelo, en los suburbios de Noruega, enfrenta los retos educativos del siglo XXI. Pero sin duda lo más interesante es observar el perfil de sus alumnos…”adolecentes que viven cerca de la escuela…con alto nivel socio-económico y con pocos habitantes de otras nacionalidades. Muchos de los padres cuentan con educación avanzada y muy buenos trabajos”. ¿Qué habrá que aplaudir más, el sistema educativo noruego o su equidad social? ¿Qué es primero, el huevo o la gallina?

Por C. M. Rubin.-
“A teacher is both a work­er and some­what of an artist, and we need to bal­ance these two perspectives.” – Prin­ci­pal Bjorn Bol­stad

In July of 2011, Dr. Kirsten Sivesind, dis­tin­guished pro­fes­sor in the Uni­ver­si­ty of Oslo Fac­ul­ty of Edu­ca­tion, shared her edu­ca­tion per­spec­tives with us in The Glob­al Search for Edu­ca­tion: A View from Nor­way. Today, with the help of Kirsten Sivesind, and Prin­ci­pal Bjorn Bol­stad, the fac­ul­ty and stu­dents of the Ringstabekk Skole in Barum, a sub­urb of Oslo (, we are able to share with you some addi­tion­al edu­ca­tion insights into how a model Nor­we­gian pub­lic school is address­ing skills need­ed in the 21st cen­tu­ry.


Prin­ci­pal Bol­stad, what are the back­grounds of the pupils in your pub­lic school? What is the diver­si­ty (racial and socio-economic) with­in the stu­dent body?

Our school draws pupils from our local com­mu­ni­ty. They are teenagers liv­ing near the school. Our com­mu­ni­ty is not very diver­si­fied as it is in a sub­urb that has a high socio-economic level with few inhab­i­tants of other nation­al­i­ties. A lot of the par­ents have advanced edu­ca­tion and a lot of them have lead­ing jobs.

How long is the school day and what meal ser­vice do you pro­vide?

All pupils have 22.5 lessons per week, each last­ing for 60 min­utes. The school day sched­ule varies. The 8th grade starts at 8:30, 9th grade at 8:50, and 10th grade at 9:10. On two days of every week, the pupils end school between 1:00pm and 1:40pm, while on one or two other days, they don’t fin­ish until 3:30pm.

The school does not pro­vide free meals. Most schools in Nor­way don’t. We have a small can­ti­na where stu­dents can buy baguettes, yoghurt, etc. Our stu­dents have one major break each day; two breaks if they work late. As with all lower sec­ondary schools in Nor­way, we pro­vide free fruit for the pupils every day.

What per­cent­age of the chil­dren read and do math at their grade level or high­er?

The Nor­we­gian school sys­tem does not have defined grade level indi­ca­tors. Our results on the nation­al test of read­ing are at the high­est level. Only about 4% of our stu­dents are under the “crit­i­cal limit” in read­ing based on dif­fer­ent read­ing tests. As for math, we have no nation­al­ly set lev­els, but when our stu­dents leave our school to attend upper sec­ondary school, only about 4% of them have dif­fi­cul­ty in fin­ish­ing upper sec­ondary. In the Nor­we­gian school sys­tem, a stu­dent is moved up to the next level whether she has the skills that are need­ed or not.

How much home­work do the chil­dren get each night?

This varies. A lot of our home­work con­sists of fin­ish­ing of projects and coop­er­at­ing with other stu­dents. At our school, we work cross-curricular, and typ­i­cal home­work can be, in addi­tion to solv­ing math and Eng­lish tasks, to read an arti­cle and write down ques­tions that will be dis­cussed in class next day, or to plan a per­for­mance togeth­er with the rest of your work­ing group.

Do these chil­dren take any stan­dard­ized tests dur­ing the school year?

Yes, they take the nation­al tests in read­ing, math and Eng­lish at 8th and 9th level. We also make the stu­dent take a test when they enter our school, to find out what they are good at and where they strug­gle. We don’t see that our school or our stu­dents ben­e­fit much from stan­dard­ized tests devel­oped on a nation­al level to the extent that these tests are used to com­pare schools and com­mu­ni­ties. We try to find stan­dard­ized tests that can give each stu­dent a for­ma­tive assess­ment. Note: On the lat­est PISA test, Nor­way ranked #12 in read­ing, 5 places ahead of the U. S.; #21 in math, 10 places ahead of the U.S.; and #25 in sci­ence, 2 places behind the U. S.

How does the teacher assess the stu­dents’ work each term?

For­mal assess­ment is of course the most impor­tant. The stu­dents get assess­ments on the tasks they do dur­ing the term: oral per­for­mances, dis­cus­sions, writ­ten work, etc. The assess­ment is based on cri­te­ria that are pre­sent­ed to the stu­dents before they start the work. Some­times the stu­dents par­tic­i­pate in devel­op­ing the cri­te­ria for a spe­cif­ic task. The assess­ment is usu­al­ly writ­ten down. The Nor­we­gian school law says that every stu­dent is to get a mark in each sub­ject after every term. For some stu­dents, these marks have a moti­vat­ing effect, but for a lot of our stu­dents, the mark takes their focus away from the con­tent of the sub­ject and from the learn­ing itself. Instead they get very con­cerned about the actu­al mark they get. In addi­tion to this assess­ment, we ask the stu­dents to eval­u­ate them­selves at the end of each term. They do this before they get their marks, and the teach­ers com­ment on their self- eval­u­a­tions. This is one of the ways we try to train our stu­dents to mon­i­tor their own learn­ing process and thus “learn to learn.”

Is the cur­ricu­lum cen­tral­ized or teacher dri­ven?

In Nor­way, there is a nation­al cur­ricu­lum. This out­lines the com­pe­tences that pupils should devel­op. Our teach­ers inter­pret this nation­al cur­ricu­lum. They work in cross-curricular teach­ing teams and togeth­er they devel­op cross-curricular themes. A lot of the sub­jects are taught with­in these cross-curricular themes. In this way, the cur­ricu­lum is to a great extent teacher dri­ven. We think this is nec­es­sary. Oth­er­wise we fear that the teach­ers will see them­selves as just “factory-workers”, exe­cut­ing some­one else’s ideas. A teacher is both a work­er and some­what of an artist, and we need to bal­ance these two per­spec­tives.

How much music and art (all the art forms) are there in the cur­ricu­lum?

At our school we put great empha­sis on music and art. In our ped­a­gog­i­cal doc­u­ments, we men­tion this explic­it­ly. Through­out the year, every stu­dent par­tic­i­pates in one or more stage pro­duc­tions and presents his or her work of art in a vernissage (an exhi­bi­tion). We divide our school year into 6 peri­ods. Each peri­od has an over­all theme, and in each peri­od the stu­dents work with one of our three sub­jects: music, arts and domes­tic work. The teach­ers try to fin­ish each peri­od with a per­for­mance, a com­mon meal, a vernissage, and they often invite the par­ents to these events. Our biggest stage pro­duc­tion takes place once a year and involves all stu­dents at the school (more than 400). Our main objec­tive is to let the pupils work with stu­dents and teach­ers from other class­es and thus devel­op a good social envi­ron­ment at the school.

What qual­i­fi­ca­tions do the teach­ers have and what is their salary range?

Either they have attend­ed teacher col­lege or they have stud­ied at the uni­ver­si­ty. Teacher col­lege is a 4 year study pro­gram spec­i­fied for teach­ing, while teach­ers that have stud­ied at the uni­ver­si­ty must fin­ish a ped­a­gog­i­cal study of 1 year to be accept­ed as a teacher.

A teacher with 4 years study at uni­ver­si­ty or col­lege starts off with a salary of $57,000 a year. A teacher with stud­ies at Mas­ter level, 16 years of work, plus our local bonus­es for sub­jects like math, sci­ence and Nor­we­gian, earns $88,000.

What parental involve­ment is there in the school?

Every Nor­we­gian school must have a coop­er­a­tion com­mit­tee where stu­dents, par­ents, teach­ers and head­mas­ter meet to dis­cuss eco­nom­ic and other mat­ters. The par­ents are also involved in the parental coop­er­a­tion forum. One par­ent is elect­ed from each group of stu­dents (15 stu­dents per group). This forum meets once a month and dis­cuss­es dif­fer­ent edu­ca­tion­al mat­ters. Usu­al­ly they invite the head­mas­ter to join these meet­ings. In addi­tion to these for­mal bod­ies, most par­ents are deeply engaged in their own chil­dren’s teach­ing and devel­op­ment. Twice a year they have a for­mal talk with their child’s con­tact teacher, togeth­er with the stu­dent, and twice a year we gath­er all par­ents for a parental meet­ing where the school gives infor­ma­tion about prac­ti­cal and ped­a­gog­i­cal mat­ters. As men­tioned ear­li­er, par­ents are invit­ed to shows, vernissages, etc., and some­times teach­ers also invite par­ents to talk to class­es about their jobs and edu­ca­tion.


The Global Search for Education: The Education Debate 2012 — Howard Gardner

Has there ever been a more important time to debate the big picture questions of education? As nations around the world reform education to prepare their students for the 21st century workplace, are our students ready to compete? In five interviews with education luminaries, I’ve asked them to imagine they were Secretary of Education and to discuss how they would address the issues facing America.

Today, my imaginary Secretary of Education is Dr. Howard Gardner. Dr. Gardner is the John H. and Elisabeth A. Hobbs Professor of Cognition and Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Among numerous honors, he received a MacArthur Prize Fellowship in 1981. Dr. Gardner has received honorary degrees from 26 colleges and universities. In 2005 and 2008, he was selected by Foreign Policy and Prospect magazines as one of the 100 most influential public intellectuals in the world. His most recent book is Truth, Beauty and Goodness Reframed: Educating for the Virtues in the Age of Truthiness and Twitter.

“Asking me to be Secretary of Education is a stretch, if not a counterfactual state of affairs, since my ideas and values are quite distant from those of my predecessors. Nonetheless, if, knowing of my views, a hypothetical President were to appoint me, here’s how I would answer his or her questions.”

What should the role of the federal government be in K-12 education? How much more funding should be given to education reform and in what major areas should it be spent?

The Federal Government plays a crucial role in ensuring civil rights and equitable distribution of funds to districts-in-need and to talented students. In the last few decades, it has become involved in issues of curriculum and assessment. While the motivation may have been praiseworthy, the results have been mixed. In many ways, the education that has been promoted is regressive; it presumes a population that was needed in the 19th or 20th century, rather than the graduates that we should want and need for the 21st century (versatile, critical and creative problem solvers, and responsible, decent, well-informed citizens). The curriculum has been increasingly narrowed to STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) subjects and the assessments to multiple choice, fact-centric instruments.

Every educator and every parent in America should read Pasi Sahlberg’s book, Finnish Lessons. Finland has catapulted from a country with a mediocre educational system to perhaps the most admired system in the world. It has done so by ignoring the GERM (Global Educational Reform Movement) approach to educational reform (Sahlberg’s sardonic term) favored by the U.S. and England.

Finnish education features: 1) a highly professionalized teacher cohort; 2) a very ‘flat’ system. Schools around the country look similar to one another and each classroom contains the range of students. Teachers are expected to deal with the range – little talk about ‘special needs’ or ‘special education.’ There is plenty of art, music, and crafts in the system, and the amount is being increased this year! Also, through ninth grade, there are few formal tests.

What would be your position on improving the teaching profession, including recruitment, teacher training, compensation, and assignment to low income schools?

The key to a high performing educational system — whether it is in Finland, Singapore, or Canada — is a highly professionalized teacher corps. Professionals know their subjects and how to teach them effectively. They are given status, autonomy, and a reasonable standard of living, on the assumption that they can make judicious decisions about complex, not easily solved dilemmas. (For more on the good professional, see The bulk of federal discretionary funds should be used to shift our country from a K-12 teaching cohort that is not distinguished academically and has not had the opportunity to act in a professional manner to a cohort that is as well-informed as our best engineers and physicians and as thoughtful and fair minded as our best judges.

The most skilled teachers should work in the most challenging districts and should be compensated accordingly. We should be recruiting from the same ranks as Teach for America, but not for a two year immersion — rather for decades-long dedication to a noble profession. Teacher training should take place over several years, largely on site, and not in brief ‘boot camps’. There should be a career path from intern to teacher to master teacher and teacher-of-teachers. The issue is NOT price — we spent trillions on wars, and give huge tax breaks to multi-millionaires, with hardly any second guessing.

What would be your position on school choice, including charter schools and their expansion, private schools, vouchers and investment in inadequately staffed and facilitated low income schools?

Given the disagreements and different value systems across the American educational system, the experimentation involved in charter schools has probably been worthwhile. It has hardly been revolutionary in any sense, and certainly not in results. I have stated for twenty years that we cannot expect charter schools to be notably better than regular public schools because ultimately they draw on the same population of teachers and students and, except in a few cases, have available equivalent funding.

In a country that was truly serious about educational reform, one would aim for excellently trained teachers in the full range of public schools, and there would be no need for charters or vouchers. The needed experimentation can be done within the public system as happens, for example, in Singapore.

Howard Gardner

What would be your strategy to address the domestic and international achievement gaps, including your position on early childhood education, standardized testing, on-line modular education, and teacher/principal accountability?

Though it is politically incorrect to say so, I think the U.S. has spent much too much time and energy documenting the achievement gap. Any social scientist, indeed any reasonable observer, could have told us twenty years ago that there would be large achievement gaps across racial and socio-economic groups. And any person with common sense could indicate the kinds of steps that were likely to lead to the reducing of the achievement gap.

In the U.S., we have a figure/ground problem. The dominant figure has become test scores and international comparisons — everything is focused on this ‘league table’ mentality. As a person who believes in the United States as it once was, the ‘figure’ should be the kind of society that we want to have and the kind of human beings that we want to nurture. All education, including testing and ranking, should be organized around the attainment of that vision. I believe that if we succeeded in having schools that were as good as our country can be, the test scores and rankings would take care of themselves. Remember, too, that the U.S. remained predominant, despite earlier threats from the Soviet Union and Japan; this was not about our test scores, it was about the health of our society.

What would be your position on curriculum reform, including the role of the arts, the treatment of ethics, and the adoption of blended online learning?

Our educational system ought to reflect the highest values of our society. I believe that education in the arts should be as central in the lives of young people as education in science or mathematics. Moreover, and this may ensure my marginality in current discourse, I believe that education in the arts needs no justification in terms of ‘transfer’ to other subjects or to its generation of wealth; it is a ‘good’ in itself. Indeed, societies are ultimately remembered for their art and culture, and that is as it should be.

Since I’ve devoted almost twenty years to the promotion of ethical thinking in young people, I don’t have to reiterate the importance of ethics in the educational system. There is nothing wrong with courses in ethics. But ultimately, the most powerful ‘treatment’ is the way that adults behave, at home, at school, and in the workplace; and the kinds of signals given by our society to those who behave ethically and those — often working on Wall Street — who do not. If ethics is ‘in the air’ and ‘on the street’, young people will notice; and if ethical behavior is honored in the breach, rather than in the observance, that will, alas, be noted as well.

When I describe my studies of ‘good work,’ to strangers, their eyes often glaze over. Hearing about ‘bad work’ is so much more tantalizing. But I gain attention when I point out that all over the world, people admire our legal system, our judicial system, our journalism, our institutions of higher education. And yet, I can testify first hand, that we are doing our best, as a society, to undermine those institutions. What a tragedy! That is because, over the last four decades, ethics has taken a back seat to the accumulation of wealth, by any means possible. The best political system is NOT untrammeled capitalism; it is the subtle blending of democracy, capitalism, and socialism — as observed in Scandinavia and in Northern Italy.

What would be your position on how to make college affordable for more qualified low income students?

Again, I risk being politically incorrect. I am great believer in the liberal arts, as conveyed in our best residential colleges, and I believe that Yale (and Swarthmore and Williams) are worth what they charge — and of course, they actually cost more than they charge. It would be tragic if these schools were to abandon their educational mission, again at the very time that the rest of the world (e.g. ,Singapore, the Emirates) are trying to emulate them.

But, alas, an education like this is only available to families that are affluent, or to the lucky few who benefit from need-blind admissions; the inequity of human, social and financial capital is fanning the distance between the haves (the upper 1 percent) and everyone else.

I have several suggestions:

    1. We need to determine what can be accomplished well ‘online’ and transmit as much of education as we can in ways that are inexpensive and widely accessible.
    1. We need to redirect as much of governmental and charitable discretionary funds to provide opportunities for the talented who lack the money for a higher education.
    1. We should provide forgivable loans to those who go into public service careers.
    1. We need to experiment with blended learning, such that students can have residential experiences while living at home, so that they don’t need to move across country into expensive housing.
    1. We need to improve our primary and secondary education so that we don’t need the remedial courses required for millions of students in our community colleges and other non-selective institutions.
  1. At some point in their lives, all individuals who would like a broader liberal arts education ought to have the opportunity, but there is absolutely no need to provide this to all 18 years olds. Many of them are much better off in the workplace — both for them and for our workplaces.

Howard Gardner and C. M. Rubin

Photos courtesy of Harvard Graduate School of Education.

In The Global Search for Education, join me and globally renowned thought leaders including Sir Michael Barber (UK), Dr. Michael Block (US), Dr. Leon Botstein (US), Professor Clay Christensen (US), Dr. Linda Darling-Hammond (US), Dr. Madhav Chavan (India), Professor Michael Fullan (Canada), Professor Howard Gardner (US), Professor Andy Hargreaves (US), Professor Yvonne Hellman (The Netherlands), Professor Kristin Helstad (Norway), Jean Hendrickson (US), Professor Rose Hipkins (New Zealand), Professor Cornelia Hoogland (Canada), Mme. Chantal Kaufmann (Belgium), Dr. Eija Kauppinen (Finland), State Secretary Tapio Kosunen (Finland), Professor Dominique Lafontaine (Belgium), Professor Hugh Lauder (UK), Professor Ben Levin (Canada), Lord Ken Macdonald (UK), Professor Barry McGaw (Australia), Shiv Nadar (India), Professor R. Natarajan (India), Dr. Pak Tee Ng (Singapore), Dr. Denise Pope (US), Sridhar Rajagopalan (India), Dr. Diane Ravitch (US), Sir Ken Robinson (UK), Professor Pasi Sahlberg (Finland), Andreas Schleicher (PISA, OECD), Dr. Anthony Seldon (UK), Dr. David Shaffer (US), Dr. Kirsten Sivesind (Norway), Chancellor Stephen Spahn (US), Yves Theze (Lycee Francais US), Professor Charles Ungerleider (Canada), Professor Tony Wagner (US), Sir David Watson (UK), Professor Dylan Wiliam (UK), Dr. Mark Wormald (UK), Professor Theo Wubbels (The Netherlands), Professor Michael Young (UK), and Professor Minxuan Zhang (China) as they explore the big picture education questions that all nations face today. 
The Global Search for Education Community Page

C. M. Rubin is the author of two widely read online series for which she received a 2011 Upton Sinclair award, “The Global Search for Education” and “How Will We Read?” She is also the author of three bestselling books, including The Real Alice in Wonderland.

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Antonio Tabucchi, escritor elegíaco italiano, fallece a los 68

Por .-

Antonio Tabucchi, un distinguido novelista italiano, cuya obra, con su simpatía casi palpable para los oprimidos, se convirtió en un estándar en alto por los opositores delgobierno de derecha del ex primer ministro Silvio Berlusconi, murió el 25 de marzo en Lisboa. Tenía 68 años.

La causa fue el cáncer, su traductor francés, Bernard Comment, dijo a la AgenceFrance-Presse. El Sr. Tabucchi (que se pronuncia ta-BOO-kee), que también era un estudioso de la literatura portuguesa, dividió su tiempo entre Lisboa y la Toscana.

Traducido a varios idiomas, incluyendo Inglés, el trabajo del Sr. Tabucchi engendróelogios de la crítica de ancho, un seguimiento internacional y varias adaptaciones de la pantalla. Sus obras más conocidas son la novela “Sostiene Pereira: Un Testimonio”, la novela “Nocturno indio” y muchos cuentos.

“Él es el prosista más importante de Italia desde la muerte de Italo Calvino en 1985”, dijo Charles Klopp, un profesor de italiano en la Ohio State University que ha escrito sobre el señor Tabucchi, en una entrevista telefónica. “Él está interesado – y esto lo hace único en el panorama de la literatura italiana, y la literatura europea y tal vez – en la traición, el arrepentimiento y el perdón. Es decir, lo que antes se llamaba ‘pecado’. “

Reflexivo, mordaz y divertida elegíaca, la prosa del Sr. de Tabucchi evoca un estado entre la vigilia y el sueño. Sus características incluyen la cronología discontinua, en la que los fragmentos de brillo narrativo como fragmentos de la memoria, las identidades mutables de personas y lugares, y la presencia de fantasmas eminentemente razonable. (En el universo Tabucchi los muertos resucitan, hablar y salir a cenar.) Su enfoque narrativo puede recordar Calvino y Jorge Luis Borges, a quienes se le compara a menudo.

A lo largo de su obra el Sr. Tabucchi estaba interesado en la colisión de vidas anónimas, individuales a menudo oprimidos con la gran escala de las maquinaciones del destino. Esta tendencia hizo su trabajo al menos alegóricamente político, y – con su preocupación constante por los derechos civiles, la lucha contra el fascismo-y la libertad de información – a menudo abiertamente así.

En su primera novela, “Piazza d’Italia” (1975), que narra la suerte de una familia hacia abajo-en-el-talones de los anarquistas toscanos. La narración se extiende por varias generaciones de mediados del siglo 19 hasta mediados de los años 20, momento en el cual sus protagonistas se han encontrado en el bando perdedor en la lucha contra el fascismo.

En “Sostiene Pereira”, publicado en Inglés en 1995 y considerada la novela más famosa del Sr. Tabucchi, el personaje del título, el envejecimiento, el editor sin pretensiones diario portugués, se mueve a asumir la dictadura del primer ministro, António de Oliveira Salazar.

Para sorpresa de Mr. Tabucchi – aunque de ninguna manera su descontento, como se indica en las entrevistas – que la novela fue defendida por los enemigos de Berlusconi, el magnate de las comunicaciones que sirvió tres términos como el primer ministro de Italia.

Una adaptación de la película, titulada “De acuerdo con Pereira” en Inglés, fue lanzado en 1995. Dirigida por Roberto Faenza, está protagonizada por Marcello Mastroianni como Pereira.

Desde la tradición literaria portuguesa, con el que quedó encantado cuando era joven, el Sr. Tabucchi parece haber asimilado el concepto de “saudade”. La palabra abraza la nostalgia, melancolía y un anhelo de lo que se pierde, fugaz e inalcanzable, tal vez. La idea de saudade mucho tiempo se pensó que impregnan el carácter nacional de Portugal.

Aunque el Sr. Tabucchi resistido clasificación de género en orden, se le ha llamado posmoderno, y encaja fácilmente con la saudade que la tradición. Gran parte de su obra de ficción está organizado, a la manera de una historia de detectives, en torno a una búsqueda. La búsqueda a menudo resulta ser tanto sobre la identidad del solicitante, ya que es casi lo buscó.

En “Nocturno hindú”, la novela que hizo que la reputación internacional de El señor de Tabucchi – apareció en Inglés en 1989 – los viajes de protagonista a India en busca de un amigo que ha desaparecido. A medida que recorre, su propia identidad comienza a fusionarse con la de su amigo. (Una adaptación de la película francesa, “Nocturne Indien”, dirigida por Alain Corneau, fue lanzado en 1989.)

Y si, en este libro como en sus otros, no hay una solución clara al final de la búsqueda, y luego de que, de acuerdo con el Sr. Tabucchi, era precisamente el punto.Él escribió, decía a menudo, de modo que los lectores pueden participar activamente con su texto – cuestionarlo, luchando con ella, la masticación en un rango de posibles resultados – en lugar de andar con paso pesado a través de él de forma pasiva.

“Su argumento es que no hay mulligan en la vida”, dijo el profesor Klopp. “Y que el pensador creativo puede reconsiderar un episodio doloroso y cambiar en su mente, o su mente, pero no se puede cambiar en la realidad.”

Para algunos críticos el trabajo del Sr. Tabucchi era oscura, no lo suficientemente narrativa y demasiado lleno de presagios que se avecinan. Para otros, era poco menos que un genio.

Antonio Tabucchi nació en Pisa el 24 de septiembre de 1943, en medio de la ocupación nazi y el bombardeo aliado de la ciudad, su padre, dijo, era un comerciante de caballos.

En su juventud recorrió Europa en los pasos de sus ídolos literarios, llegando a ser obsesionado con el trabajo de la mística poeta portugués Fernando Pessoa (1888-1935). El Sr. Tabucchi aprendió portugués Pessoa para leer en la literatura original en portugués y enseñó con el tiempo, primero en la Universidad de Génova y más tarde en la Universidad de Siena.

Sobrevivientes del Sr. Tabucchi incluyen su esposa, María José de Lancastre, y sus dos hijos. Sus otros libros publicados en Inglés incluyen las novelas “Se está haciendo tarde todo el tiempo”, “la falta de cabeza de Damasceno Monteiro” y “Réquiem: una alucinación,” y el de cuentos colecciones “Carta de Casablanca” y “que los pequeños de sin importancia. “

El receptor de varios premios literarios europeos, el Sr. Tabucchi es uno de los fundadores del Parlamento Internacional de Escritores. Iniciado en 1993, tras el asesinato del escritor Tahar Djaout Argelia por fundamentalistas islámicos, el grupo se esfuerza por salvaguardar los escritores y sus obras.

En una entrevista en 1999, el Sr. Tabucchi se le pide que describa el papel del intelectual. Era, él respondió, para fomentar la duda.

“Las dudas son como manchas en la camisa”, dijo. “Me gustan las camisas con manchas, porque cuando me dan una camisa demasiado limpia, que es completamente blanco, de inmediato comienza a tener dudas. Es el trabajo de los intelectuales y escritores para poner en duda la perfección. Perfección creen doctrinas, los dictadores y las ideas totalitarias “.

Fuente: The New York Times
Artículo original:

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