24 October 2009
Description: Today I was helping a friend do a manual tally of her teaching evaluations. To do this I set up a Word document with a table. In the table there was a row for each question we were to tally, with blank boxes in the row for each score on the rating scale (Excellent, Very good, etc.--lots of excellents in fact!). The plan was to record, in each box, the number of evaluations with a given score, as she read the scores aloud. Specifically, the plan was to use the tallying strategy where you make a vertical stroke for each item, up to four strokes, and then make a horizontal stroke through the group, to count five. I thought this would make for easier totalling at the end.
But it turns out that when you're doing multiple counts in different boxes, and looking from box to box, it's hard to quickly see whether there are four strokes in the group, i.e., whether a horizontal stroke is called for. (It's very different if you're doing just one count, in which case the four vertical strokes, then one horizontal, system works well.)
18 October 2009
Consider a situation where you are asked to indicate whether the arrow in the centre of the following two arrays is pointing to the left or right: 1) »»»»» 2) ««»««. Results show that bilingual people are better at this task; they aren't as thrown off, we could say, by the arrows pointing in incongruent directions.
A recent article, "On the Bilingual Advantage in Conflict Processing: Now You See It, Now You Don't" (Cognition 113(2009) 135-149), probes this "bilingual advantage" in more detail, with experimental results that indicate that the relative advantage of bilinguals over monolinguals is apparent when tasks of the sort illustrated in 1) and 2) are presented in relatively rapid alternation ( vs. when blocks of the 1) task are followed by blocks of the 2) task). Also the advantage is more in response time than ability to perform the task. The discussion focuses on why this is the case: why does bilingualism confer this advantage? Is it based in some better ability to resolve conflicting information, or in better ability to attentively monitor situations, so as to apply the right kind of attention to it? The authors incline to the latter, although they can't settle the issue.
On their view, bilinguals who are able to switch between one language and another quickly, sometimes even within a conversation, need to develop an ability to monitor their linguistic/auditory context and attend to it in the right way, e.g., not listen to conversations in other languages that are going on in the background, listen to this conversation as in language X, not Y.
Discussion: This raises interesting questions about the relation between language, perception, and inhabiting the world in different ways. Putting aside questions of underlying mechanisms, this result and the phenomenon are interesting for several reasons.
17 October 2009
But, I wonder if that's what others do too. So my impression of the blogs as an archive of things said in the fixed past is wrong? These are not publications, like newspaper articles, but ongoing growing things?
Question: A question about memory, then. Will I remember in the future that this record I am leaving behind is one that I went back to and rewrote? There isn't any edit trail, as at WikiPedia. What will that do to my memory of who I am or more accurately, who I will turn out to have been?
Anyway, this appears to be a (let's say) Cantonese cover of "Killing Me Softly With His Song", the first two phrases. I think that this must have to do with the very convivial dinner I had with a bunch of friends in the Chinese Restaurant de Bonheur the other night. It's some sort of recent memory based ear worm. Significantly, at this dinner, one of my friends was speaking in Chinese with the waiters, and also saying how his Chinese wasn't very good, but I remember that at the time I was listening along with him in the way of wanting to be able to speak his language.
Question: What does this mean about the ear worm phenomenon and about our memory for song, voice, language?
15 October 2009
I go back to the counter and espresso machine, pull the scoop out of the hopper. I cannot find the spatula. Where is it? Eventually I see that it is right where it always is when I reach for it in the morning, on the flat top of the espresso machine. Why can't I see it, even though it is right there where it always is, where I usually look for it?
Observation: When I usually reach for the spatula, I am not reaching for it ‘where it is’, either in the sense of: where it is as located in such and such a measurable position, or: where it is in the sense of: in its own spot.
This blog is devoted to the idea that the phenomenon of development is fundamental to life and human life. It seeks to explore development and related phenomena using the philosophical method of phenomenology, especially as developed by Maurice Merleau-Ponty.
The aim is especially to show how embryogenesis, growth, maturation, aging, the development of movement, habits and learning—and the relation of all of these to the living, especially animal, world around us—are dimensions that crucially and ongoingly inform human life. We humans are remarkable animals: we are all born ‘pre-mature,’ continuing our gestation outside the womb. One is always still being born. The aim here is to show how one’s ongoing birth is never quite over—one is always learning to be, via one’s developmental relation with one’s social, cultural and natural environment.
But this is just the beginning. And the character of such a beginning, of a project on development, is that we still have to get there.