the starfish story

the starfish story, aka Sara and the Starfish, was an adaptation of Loren Eiseley’s work. an adaptation via is as follows:

“Once upon a time, there was a wise man who used to go to the ocean to do his writing. He had a habit of walking on the beach before he began his work.

One day, as he was walking along the shore, he looked down the beach and saw a human figure moving like a dancer. He smiled to himself at the thought of someone who would dance to the day, and so, he walked faster to catch up.

As he got closer, he noticed that the figure was that of a young man, and that what he was doing was not dancing at all. The young man was reaching down to the shore, picking up small objects, and throwing them into the ocean.

He came closer still and called out “Good morning! May I ask what it is that you are doing?”

The young man paused, looked up, and replied “Throwing starfish into the ocean.”

“I must ask, then, why are you throwing starfish into the ocean?” asked the somewhat startled wise man.

To this, the young man replied, “The sun is up and the tide is going out. If I don’t throw them in, they’ll die.”

Upon hearing this, the wise man commented, “But, young man, do you not realize that there are miles and miles of beach and there are starfish all along every mile? You can’t possibly make a difference!”

At this, the young man bent down, picked up yet another starfish, and threw it into the ocean. As it met the water, he said,

“It made a difference for that one.”

160511-starfish_David Quitoriano
(photo credit: David Quitoriano)

culture is …

“a culture … is a set of mental constructs that may serve to guide or justify conduct between people, and to tell them how to use things … it may also tell them how to get from what is to what should be; that is, in one of its aspects culture is a plan for coping with the world.” (Bailey 1992, as cited in Becher, 1994).

Bailey, F.G. (1992). Anthropology. In B.R. Clark & G. Neave (Eds.), The Encylopedia of Higher Education. Oxford:Pergamon Press.
Becher, T. (1994). The significance of disciplinary differences. Studies in Higher Education, 19(2), 151-161.

(acknowledgement: Brian Nelson)

cooperative resources preparation – afterthought



1. Resources are important component for lessons – must have, and therefore must be prepared.
2. Cooperative resource preparation is good because it allows concerted effort for teachers to focus while divide-and-conquering (1).


3. What is the purpose of the resources prepared/gathered? Are these for teachers’ lesson delivery (“”为出发点;灌输为主——非常有效率地教), or are these for students’ meaning-making (“”为出发点)?

这两个不同的出发点对所准备的resources作为“outcomes”会有哪些影响呢? 资源(例如文章、范文、videos)或许有共通的,但是如何使用会因目的不同而不同。换句话说,两者的教案就肯定不一样了。

另外,”resource preparation”一词很大成分意味着资源是出自教师。“资源”可否来自学生?为什么可以?为什么不可以?因为这样很没效率?因为学生找不到“对”的资源(cf. 教师准备的对错拿捏妥当)?

所以回过头来,我觉得还是离不开“学习”这根本问题s——What is learning? How does learning take place? 不同的技能、课题可能学习的方法不同。所以没有划一的答案。

就是“” (cf. 教)。

triangular windows
(photo credit: Michael Coghlan)

the four functions of language

was reading Karl Popper’s Arthur Holly Compton Memorial Lecture at Washington University in St. Louis “Of Clouds and Clocks” delivered in April 1965. and towards the second half of the lecture under section XIV, he described the 4 functions of language, 2 lower (the common things in animal languages and human languages) and 2 higher (which defines human beings), namely,

“the expressive, the signalling, the descriptive, and the argumentative functions”

the lower two functions are always present in a higher function according to Popper.

clouds and clocks photoPhoto by Fotografik33 –

knowing the wrong answers

we were talking about assessment literacy last week. and i chanced upon this article via fb feed “Why Teachers Need To Know The Wrong Answers“. to be able to assess students’ learning and facilitate improvement, teachers need to know all the answers (and their corresponding Whys).

Screenshot 2016-04-18 08.30.26

some lines that caught my eyes include:
“‘Students are full of all kinds of knowledge, and they have explanations for everything.’ From birth, human beings are working hard to figure out the world around us.”

– and how often teachers are responsible for ‘killing’ this curiosity?

“‘cognitive science tells us that if you don’t understand the flaws in students’ reasoning, you’re not going to be able to dislodge their misconceptions and replace them with the correct concepts.'”

– very absolute terms here, very ‘science’ — right vs. wrong. what do we have that are clear cut right and wrong in CL? and how often are we able to tell why one is right and the other is wrong? how many CL teachers have acquired the necessary linguistics knowledge, or the awareness/ability to learn about them on-the-fly/on-the-job/on-demand?

“‘Teachers who find their kids’ ideas fascinating are just better teachers than teachers who find the subject matter fascinating,'”

– i am not sure how many teachers around me are actually FASCINATED by their students’ ideas. i suspect more ‘irritated’ & ‘frustrated’ than anything else.

“‘The next step is to give students exposure to the information and experience that will enable them to reason their way to the right answer.'”

– and how often teachers just tell students the “right” answers outright in the face? in the name of efficiency of learning?