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Archive for the category “Education”

a garden of literary delights

five books (2)That’s what I discovered at the website Five Books: The Best Books on Everything. I can’t believe it took me this long to find it! But at least now I know I will never run out of ideas about what to read.

As the site says:
We ask experts to recommend the five best books in their subject and explain their selection in an interview. This site has an archive of more than one thousand interviews, or five thousand book recommendations. We publish at least two new interviews per week.

The 1,000+ interviews are organized into 18 categories, including philosophy, history, fiction, politics, science, psychology, environment, and music and drama. Under the subheading of literary nonfiction and biography, I found this interview with writer and journalist Peter Hessler, who recommended the best of narrative nonfiction. His selections were:

  • Coming into the Country by John McPhee
  • Among Schoolchildren by Tracy Kidder
  • Slouching Towards Bethlehem by Joan Didion
  • A Capote Reader by Truman Capote
  • Son of the Morning Star by Evan Connell

The only book in that list that I’ve read is Slouching Towards Bethlehem (along with Play It as It Lays and The Year of Magical Thinking, also by Didion). Last month I watched The Center Will Not Hold, the 2017 documentary that told some stories about her I could sync to a few of my own memories of those times. None of our stories are true stories, but some are better than others. And Joan Didion is a very good storyteller.

I plan to read Among Schoolchildren because I enjoyed House so much that I still have a copy of it after several major book purges. I’d like to read some of Kidder’s other books, too, especially Strength in What Remains.

If you’re interested in pretty much anything, you’ll probably enjoy this site—and you’re likely to find some new interests there, too. Besides, curiosity and learning new things—including new concepts—expands your mental model, keeps your brain young, and improves your emotional granularity!

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arts & the mind

It’s more than sad and disappointing that so many elementary and secondary schools are decreasing art programs or cutting them out altogether. It’s a cost-saving measure that hurts not only the students, but also society in general. Arts–and creativity–are not add-ons or extras. They aren’t really dispensable.

Humans have been making art, in the form of painting, drawing, and carving, as well as music, since at least 20,000 BC–possibly even since 40,000 BC. Maybe it was engaging in those creative pursuits that contributed to our increased brain size and our unique capacity for learning and transforming the world we found ourselves in. How ironic is it then to get to this point only to collectively turn our backs on art?

your brain on jazz

Charles Limb is a surgeon and jazz musician. In this TED talk, he says:

Artistic creativity is a neurologic product that can be examined using rigorous scientific methods.

So he used fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging) on some jazz and rap musicians. Watch and listen to see what he found out.

And the man raps! (He claims it will never happen again.)

the neurological connections

Limb is featured in the recent two-part PBS series Arts & the Mind, hosted by Lisa Kudrow. It’s entertaining, moving, and informative. I highly recommend it. (The link takes you to a page where you can watch both episodes in their entirety.)

EPISODE ONE – Creativity

Arts & the Mind explores the vital role the arts play in human development throughout our lifetimes. Episode One, “Creativity,” features stories and the latest scientific research from experts around the country illuminating how the arts are critical in developing healthy young minds and maintaining them as we age. Showcases innovative arts education programs OrchKids in Baltimore and Get Lit in Los Angeles.

EPISODE TWO – The Art of Connection

This episode illuminates how art is the brain’s lifeline to empathy, emotion, mental agility and healing. Features stories and experts’ insights on: the positive effects of the arts for: children in hospitals; veterans suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder; building community in Appalachia; and warding off dementia.

final words

Science has to catch up to art.

–Charles Limb

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