Team at the University of Oxford say left-handed people may have better verbal skills as a result.

A writing left hander

The BBC reports that genetic markers for left handedness have been discovered. This should come as no surprise: that handedness, left or right is hardwired in the brain. It simply reflects the biological concomitants of behaviour.

What is more puzzling though is the claim, by the left handed researcher, that (as a result) left-handed people may have better verbal skills. The puzzle is: the language hemisphere is deemed to be in the left (in right handers and other studies have shown this to be the case in many left handers too) but the left hand is controlled by the right hemisphere. So what is the mechanism that makes the indirect link between left hand and left hemisphere better than the link between the right hand and left hemisphere.

Another query is how right and left handedness were identified. Perhaps this is revealed in the original paper.

Posted in Hands, Left, Verbal skills | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Last warning now! Right!!!

This is a perfect example of how the hegemony of the right operates. The “Last warning now! Right!!!! was uttered by an overweight, short’s wearing father while holding with his left hand his son’s – aged 3-4 – right hand while walking out of Warrington’s Golden Square Old Market Place towards Horsemarket street around 13:30. Walking quietly in front was whom I took to be the boy’s mother holding an older looking brother’s hand. My attention had been grabbed not by a mis-behaving toddler but by a father’s shout angry shout.

“Right” in this context is a template or bug planted in a developing child’s brain / mind. It’s noted that, at the very least:

  • All the words were linked with anger and negativity
  • Clearly “Right!” wasn’t an invitation to engage in a discussion over whether the child accepted the last warning
  • Nor was “Right” a reassuring, ‘everything is OK’
  • I can guarantee that it wasn’t the first, nor would it be the last time, the father vented his anger at the child this way
  • If it was indeed the last time the warning was going to be uttered, what would follow: even harsher words or physical violence?
  • What are the child’s feelings going to be when he starts on formal literacy and is expected to learn to “Write”?
  • If “Right” is nothing but a ritualistic tag, why bother uttering it?
  • How is the child’s sense of self-worth and self-efficacy being enhanced through this zero-sum interaction?

The underlying issue is not the behaviour of the child but the father’s world-view! At the very least it is a classic, albeit, negative example of Basil Bernstein’s restricted – as opposed to elaborated- code.

The bigger picture is of course the political arena, vis-a-vis, Donald Trump’s modus operandi!


Posted in Cognition, Hands, Hegemony, Pedagogy, Right, control | Tagged | 4 Comments

Entitlement or right?

Without reading the book review itself: ” Reading by Right, edited by Joy Court, 2017, £59.95. Facet Publishing: London. ISBN: 9781783302093, 256 pp.” the title Reading by Right invites the question which ‘right’? From the right (towards the left) in which case the text would be Arabic. And when writing is complemented by writing, does it mean writing with the right hand? In which case what it you are left handed?

I’d be more impressed with the title “Reading as Entitlement!” Perhaps I could get round to reading the book, although at the price of £59.95, it might be sometime!

Posted in Hegemony, Reading, Right | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

From curiosity to compliance

It occurred to me the other day that before toddlers start school they are endlessly playful, curious, their hands into all sorts of things and a ceaseless list of ‘why’ questions.

Good parenting involves interacting with such children in a progressive problem shifting manner. The result is children filled with a sense of positive self-efficacy.

What happens to all this when they start school? Some realize quickly that they must learn to listen and comply with others’ questions and conform to others’ rituals. Some only realize with great difficulty.

The net result, children’s natural curiosity is in danger of being subverted and their active experimentation reduced to ‘listening (to the teacher) and learning’ or ‘reading (from the text) and learning’. Francis Bacon (22 January 1561 – 9 April 1626) rebelled against this, yet we’re in the 21st Century and our pedagogy still hasn’t uniformly caught up.

The situation won’t change until we adopt a research rather than repeat model of teacher education. See Hechinger Report

Posted in Education, Innovation, Pedagogy, Research, Teaching | Leave a comment

Three potential targets: why the Ariana Grande Concert?

Last week Manchester hosted three major public events:

  • 22nd May, the Ariana Grande concert at the Manchester Arena;
  • 27th May, the Arcadis Great CityGames which took place on the Great CityGames track on Deansgate in the heart of the city, and at the purpose built athletics arena in Albert Square;
  • 28th May, the Simplyhealth Great Manchester (half marathon and 10k) Run.
  • Many people attended each of these venues and therefore any one of them could have been the target for the suicide bomber Salman Ramadan Adebi. So why did he choose the Ariana Grande concert as the right target? Four reasons stand out.

    • an enclosed space, therefore maximum impact
    • the Qur’anic belief that females are not as ‘worthy’ as males. The Arena is where the greatest number of young female victims were gathered.
    • pathological hatred of ‘Western’ music imbibed from his mother
    • present to his father, known as Ramadan Adebi, before the onset of Ramadan on Friday 27th May! Salman apparently told his parents he needed his passport back because he was going to Saudi Arabia which met with their approval

    What needs explaining is why only some Muslims believe that all non-Muslims or members of other sects have no right to live in peaceful harmony with themselves and are therefore legitimate targets for annihilation? Why do they scapegoat others for their own inadequacies? The answer clearly can’t lie in Islamic texts themselves, else all Muslims would act the same way.

    One explanation is that they are unable or unwilling to channel an ill-at-easeness within themselves. And what do we all do when we feel we cannot control our own lives? Simple: blame others! And what might one source of their ill-at-easeness be? Knowing that they are doing right with their ‘good, writing and rites’ hand’ (eg. holding the Bible or the Qur’an in the right hand to declare the truth of one’s utterances), when in fact their wright or adept hand is their left hand. As a ‘devout’ follower of one brand of Islam Salman Adebi would have followed a particular set of (anti-humanitarian) rites, as a ‘righty’ when in truth he was a lefty. For evidence, apart from the way he follows the pattern of other suicide bombers, watch the CCTV footage from The Daily Star

    Posted in Hands, Left, News, Radicalisation, Right, Suicide bomber, scapegoat | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

    Take back control and controlling hands: mirrors to the psyche of Trump, Hitler & Daesh?

    What do Donald Trump’s hands tell us about his thinking? Are the President Elect of the USA hand gestures designed to distract us from what he says, are they unrelated to what he says or are they an integral part of his thinking: twitching and switching, flipping and flopping this way and that, all over the place?

    Turning to an earlier period, we know how Adolf Hitler used his hands when speechifying and parading. He used his raging and often flailing raised fisted right hand to express his ‘anti-leftist and anti-semitic passion’ and his open handed outstretched arm, to signal allegiance to his cause. Although aware of Hitler’s pathological anti-left sentiments, which he associated with Judaism, few have commented on what his left hand was doing at the same time while he right was in the pubic eye. In numerous situations his left hand is holding onto or clutching -as though for dear life- lectern while standing on the rostrum, his gloves, coat, belt, hat, windscreen of open-topped car, and to brush his hair. However, in his final days, with little or nothing both literally and metaphorically left to hang onto outside his Berlin bunker he’s filmed with his empty left hand trembling behind his back, while stroking with his right the cheeks of Hitler Youth cadets parading before him. All a coincidence or something else? Perhaps having been suppressed for so long in promoting the right, but out of sight ‘it / he’ was no longer able to control itself / himself when there was nothing left to hang on to.

    Clearly hand use and hand gestures are an integral aspect of thinking. They provide at least as good a mirror into the psyche as the eyes are said to provide a mirror to the soul.

    Where does this take us? Well, we know that the right cerebral hemisphere operates in synchrony with the left hand and the left cerebral hemisphere in synchrony with the right hand. And if we’re lucky we’ll notice the right working in harmony with the left to common purpose and in reciprocal harmony. It follows that observing which hand is doing what when talking or doing manual tasks tells us how the brain is organized and tries to manage the body while acting and interacting. We also know that saying something is one thing and doing another is something else. Extreme examples would be saying “I love you” in a raging tone and with raised fist. Less extreme examples would be having a clear mind’s eye-image of what one wants to say but having difficulty re-presenting it on the written page.

    In literate societies, sense of self is determined largely in terms of literacy. The case of writing, but not with the adept hand is associated with a general sense of ill-at-easeness. And since the correct source is seldom identified it is outsourced to others who are held responsible and must be replaced or punished. Hence flipping one way to ‘take back control’ as with Brexiters and Trumpists or flopping the other to impose the Caliphate on others, as with Daesh .

    Posted in Brexiter, Hands | Leave a comment

    He wanted to be right …

    In the FT Weekend Books (8 October 2016) John Plender essayed Sebastian Mallaby’s biography of The Man Who Knew: The Life and Times of Alan Greenspan. It is headed “A rock-star Fed chairman whose reputation was tarnished by problems stored during his tenure. Alan Greenspan emerges in all his contradictions..”

    Plender reports;

    In Mallaby’s account, the shy and introverted young economist craved control over a confined domain. He wanted to be right, and to know that he was right; and he thrived on problems that he could solve alone, without seeking others’ opinions. His unyielding individualism made for an uncomfortable first marriage that lasted less than a year, after which he became for decades an eligible bachelor who dated news anchors, senators and beauty queens.

    Can it be that here we’re witnessing the hegemony of the ‘right’ operating at its quintessentially best: a personal existential crisis later followed towards the end of his 18 year tenure by the 2007/8 financial crises!

    Apparently he secured a place at the Juilliard Music Conservatory where he played the tenor saxophone and clarinet. He soon dropped out however and joined a second tier jazz band as a sideman. Those familiar with these two musical instruments will know that the left hand is held closer to the face and the left hand thumb is placed over the octave or register key. In some sense then, the left hand does greater transformative work when playing! Maybe this is why Greenspan was so insistent on being right early in his career in economics and finance.

    Posted in Biography, Hand, Hegemony, Left, Right | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

    Looking nervous, and gesturing with her left hand, she continued…(Baroness Chakrabarti)

    I watched Robert Peston interview Baroness Chakrabarti on Peston on Sunday (ITV) and noted that she ‘spoke’ mostly with her left hand. This would make her a leftie, in the true sense of the word were she to also write with her left hand.

    But I’ve not watched her writing so it’s not possible to say whether she is a true leftie or a converted / latent left hander; or just talking ‘emotionally’.

    What is intriguing is that when Peston put it to her that she would be accused of hypocrisy for sending her own son to a private school she said she believed that many people were “deeply scarred by the 11-plus exam and that kind of segregation”.

    It was equally intriguing the way she played around with ‘left’ and ‘right’. Taking the phrases out of context we have:

    • All I will say is that I live a charmed and a privileged life, much more than I did as a child. But people on the left have often had charmed lives.
    • This thing about selection: if you have got money, you will always be all right. If you don’t have money in this country you are increasingly not all right and that’s why I have joined the Labour Party.

    And the final intriguing fact is that Lucy Fisher, the Times Senior Political Correspondent commented with forensic detail on Peston’s interview with her, (October 10) noting her left hand gesturing!!! It is unusual for a journalist to comment on hand ‘use’ when reporting on an interview. I don’t know whether Lucy Fisher realized the full significance of her observation!

    Posted in Education, Hand, Left, forensic | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

    The EU Referendum: the devil is in the detail, god is in the bigger picture: Pepper, Moscovici, and the EU Referendum

    It still is commonplace to try to resolve arguments by claiming that the detail lies with the devil. In the EU Referendum debate, the detail is the unarguable sought for fact. But to date, I’ve neither read nor heard any ‘fact’ that has not been argued over by Brexiters or Remainers.

    And this, for the simple reason that the difficulty in persuading us against our better, initial judgment is that we all don’t hold the same world view. Pepper argued that whether what others present as facts are accepted as evidence for a particular course of action or belief will depend on the world view of the recipient. It is useful to recast Pepper’s initially six world-views in terms of parts (details) and wholes (bigger picture) and align them with Leave / Remain positions in the EU Referendum debate:
    • the part is the same as the whole: the similarities between us all are greater than the differences, therefore why isolate ourselves?
    • the part is greater than the whole: alone, the UK (including Scotland?) can take on and ‘beat’ the world!
    • the whole is the whole: we, the United Kingdom are (currently) the whole: no need to be a mere part of a larger whole!
    • the whole is the sum of the parts: Leavers – we’re not part of the whole: Remainers – we are!
    • the whole is greater than the sum of the parts: there are unforeseeable benefits of being part of a greater whole.
    • the whole is greater than the whole: even when we think we’ve grasped the whole of the problem / picture, there’s always a bigger problem / picture: a United Europe against DAISH, instead of against each other?

    The problem for persuaders then is how to target holders of these different world views. We could start by seeing where we do find agreement. What about asking Leavers and Remainers whether they believe we live on a single whole planet: where looking from the moon, continental land masses may be visible but all national boundaries are invisible. Then using this wedge, seek to establish at what point boundaries become ‘visible’ and therefore ‘actionable’.

    Shifting focus somewhat, many years ago Moscovici argued that propaganda is defined by sticking to a fixed content, eg immigration and varying the form of the argument- sometimes rhetorical, sometimes emotional, sometimes rational. Fixing the form of argument and varying the content defines modes of operation eg, science, art. In so far as those trying to persuade us to Remain or Leave focus on single but different issues (immigration vs the economy or sovereignty vs joint decision making) they’re operating as propagandists. And if you wish to discover how propaganda works we have only to remind ourselves of Hitler and Stalin’s use of it in the 20th Century.

    If you want a version of the bigger picture you could read Donald Rayfield’s Stalin’s Henchmen, the FT obituary of Margot Honecker and the review of Second-Hand Time by Svetlana Alexievich. The lesson? History does repeat itself because there will always be some who resolve their own ill-at-easeness by scapegoating others for their condition, then setting out to convert or eliminate these ‘external causes. Because we focused on our differences more than similarities, Europe was not united at the end of the 19th and beginning of the early 20th Century. Playing one nation off against another enabled Stalin to impose his reign of terror in the Soviet Union, with catastrophic consequences for millions of peoples. There was a perverse symbiosis between him and Hitler, allowing the latter to act equally diabolically.

    Svetlana Alexievic, recorded those who bore witness to a particular passage in their and their country’s lives. Her major theme is the lost moral order of Soviet communism. She reports that running through many of the narratives, alongside regret that great power status was lost, is self-contempt: and the conviction that Russians need a vozhd, a leader to discipline them into greatness. Hence the current popularity of Putin amongst Stalinists.

    Margot Honecker who recently died was the wife of Erich Honecker, the communist supremo of the German Democratic Republic. 8 years before Erich had gained party and national power Margot had been education minister, a post which she retained throughout their rule. This gave her the chance to propagandize successive generations of young East Germans that communism was everything and that everything else was nothing. Incidentally she was responsible for the construction of the infamous concrete wall between the Western and Soviet zones of postwar Berlin. Unsurprisingly she was wildly opposed to Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev’s reforms, preferring total control. It seems beyond comprehension that anyone even vaguely familiar with how Stalin obtained and maintained power, as she must have been, to have wished to emulate any totalitarian regime.

    There is a scapegoating thread running through the actions of those who see themselves as being fundamentally different from others and therefore worthy of isolation or elimination. In the context of nationhood – to quote from Michael Burleigh’s The Third Reich: A New History. -“All people had to do was to make the quantum leap of faith; unified national self-belief was the solution to every mundane problem” (p. 12) and earlier “The united nation, purged of all racial or political contaminants, and bereft of any external moral reference points, became a congregation of the faithful, with ‘new’ leaders, who spoke with an emotional power best described by one willing Italian participant as an ‘extraordinary rape of the soul’. (p. 10)

    Just to demonstrate there’s little new under the sun, “civil life is understood as something dependent on the extension of selves, into communities, and which is discovered in the collaborative, multivalent, and never ending work of perpetual enlargement.” This is the concluding sentence in Andrew Wadowksi’s Bryskett, Spenser and The Discourse of Civill Life, an article in Renaissance Studies on the New English Polity in Ireland. The Discourse shows the complex and contrasting ways in which two figures at the vanguard of Elizabethan moral philosophy (Lodowick Bryskett and Edmund Spenser) and on the fraught and violent front lines of Elizabethan imperial power, sought to mediate humanist ideals about the nature and practice of civil life with the daily exigencies of establishing and maintaining the early modem colonial state.

    So what is more important, the detail or the bigger picture? And what is the picture, the bigger picture or the biggest picture? Who will we scapegoat for failure to tackle and resolve issues concerning: immigration, the economy, climate change, DAISH, water scarcity and a potential internicine European conflict on the scale of World Wars I and II? Or are they all interrelated?.

    Posted in Brexiter, Common Ground, EU Referendeum, Pepper, Remainer, scapegoat | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

    In education, testing does not raise stated standards

    Those who believe educational performance can be raised to standards by frequent, more rigorous and robust testing are using a non-pedagogic definition of education. Were they to do so they would know (a) that standards are stated eg. run a marathon in under 3 hours, recite the alphabet forwards and then backwards in under 2 minutes and (b) that teaching and testing are but two faces of the same page; for what sense does it make to teach tomorrow without founding it on today’s performance?

    The media are as complicit as politicians in confounding standards and performance, as are many so-called educationists!

    Posted in Assessment, Education, Labelling, Pedagogy, Teaching | Tagged , , | Leave a comment
    Valid: XHTML | CSS 2.1 Warrington Web Design by eantics
    © Copyright 2010, - Login