"Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he."
-- Proverbs 29:18, King James Bible (KJV)

Monday, September 14, 2020

Improving Education in the Modern World: Teaching The Dry Facts Prior to the Teaching of Conceptual Ideas and Cognitive Concepts

"Bad Teaching is Tearing America Apart" is an article by Naomi Schaefer Riley at the Wall Street Journal, September 12, 2020, reviewing "How to Educate a Citizen", by E.D. Hirsch, Jr., a timely book just published by HarperCollins, in which Hirsch examines important aspects of the teaching focus of the American educational system and its connection to problems of culture and race.

Naomi Schaefer Riley writes inter alia:
"The current fashion is for teachers to be a “guide on the side, instead of a sage on the stage,” [Hirsch] says, quoting the latest pedagogical slogan, which means that teachers aren’t supposed to lecture students but to “facilitate” learning by nudging students to follow their own curiosity. Everything Mr. Hirsch knows about how children learn tells him that’s the wrong approach. “If you want equity in education, as well as excellence, you have to have whole-class instruction,” in which a teacher directly communicates information using a prescribed sequential curriculum." [emphasis added by us]
The valuable -- if also surely controversial -- educational issues of our time presented by Hirsch in his book would appear to be essential reading for everyone, not just educators, and at all levels of teaching and learning.

Studies show that many teachers prefer to teach "concepts" rather than "facts", which is understandable, since concepts can be far more fun to teach, being a creative focus of attention, but it is of course the often dry "facts" that people must learn and utilize first, since they provide the necessary practical knowledge usage base for teaching and learning, and -- in later application -- since they establish areas of accepted expertise in all fields of life. 

"Conceptual ideas" viz. "cognitive concepts", on the other hand, are important dynamic tools down the road that are necessary to obtain more or improved knowledge beyond that which has already been taught and learned or is allegedly "known" to be true of thought to be true.

But the foundation of facts must have initial precedence, and must be taught in the schools, rather than the conclusions based on such facts -- and this also applies to the religions, and similar "conclusory" disciplines -- whose concepts may be true or not. This order of priority should apply especially -- but not only -- to primary school teaching and learning levels, and should also take priority precedence at undergraduate college and university graduate research levels.

FIRST the facts, and only then can we rightly ponder what those facts mean, always checking those same alleged facts for veracity and up-to-datedness. The state of the art of knowledge is always in flux, and what is seen as true today, may not be seen as true tomorrow. Get your facts straight and only then let your conceptual thoughts and conclusions follow. Tempus fugit. Consider that what "is known" is always much less than what can still be known or will be discovered as new facts in the future, with new concepts to follow -- that in any case is the history of human knowledge.

Hat tip to CaryGEE.

Tuesday, September 08, 2020

Connect the Dots: The Midheaven Plaquette of Les Varines, Jersey, Channel Islands, UK: Perimeter Stars, the North Celestial Pole and Carved Figures in Stone

Connect the Dots: The Midheaven Plaquette of Les Varines, Jersey, Channel Islands, UK: Perimeter Stars, the North Celestial Pole and Carved Figures in Stone

This is a follow-up on our previous posting A Lesson in Critical Analysis for Archaeology and Astronomy: The Midheaven Plaquette (Plaquette #2) of Les Varines, Jersey (near St. Helier) ca. 7600 B.C.

We show in the graphic image below*** how the perimeter [Wikipedia: Greek περίμετρος perimetros from περί peri "around" and μέτρον metron "measure"] of the Midheaven Plaquette follows a shape that is outlined by brighter stars of the midheaven starry night sky.

We claim that one can try to place this stone plaquette shape anywhere else in the night's starry sky and it will not fit as well in terms of the stars located at the plaquette shape's perimeter. One could of course draft a mathematical algorithm comparing star magnitudes in the heavens as a means to fit a plaquette like this in the stars of the sky, but this shape would surely fit best at midheaven anyway. 

Similarly, the North Celestial Pole on the plaquette is in a unique place not duplicated elsewhere in the starry sky. Indeed, together with the positions of the Celestial Meridian and Ecliptic Meridian in that era, which arguably have their plaquette comparables, the plaquette origin can be dated to ca. 7600 B.C.

There is really very little that can be disputed here on those parameters.

Where the fun starts -- for those interested -- is in identifying any possible figures carved onto the plaquette via the lines carved in the stone and, so we allege, following the corresponding connected lines viz. dots of stars in the heavens.

Such figures would be expected for a prehistoric portrayal of the stars at heaven's center -- e.g. perhaps comparable to the predynastic Egyptian figures at midheaven of one or even two guardian falcons or a similar high-flying bird, such as an eagle, perhaps including also a guardian dog and a precessionally-winding serpent, all of which we could easily draw above on the plaquette by connecting the dots accordingly (see our sample figure drawing below).

But what figures are really there? No one knows for sure. Perhaps detailed microscopic analysis by experts of the carved incisions could give us more probative information. Otherwise, it is all guesswork.

Moreover, there are numerous other figures that could be identified on the Midheaven Plaquette above -- e.g. we see perhaps what could be two large horse heads (or similar) one above another in the middle of the plaquette, looking right -- which would be "old" carvings perhaps even preceding the Holocene, a "prehistoric" hand-me-down plaquette possibility that is not totally excluded by us -- as also numerous human faces on the plaquette and also on the perimeter of the plaquette -- especially when the plaquette is magnified viz. zoomed digitally so that the star connections "by dots" can be subjectively drawn in detail.

Indeed, the plaquette seen as a whole could also be said to mark a human head looking right, with the hair represented by numerous comparably drawn lines, and a hair bun or animal hat on top of the head marking the North Celestial Pole, which also may have a face figure marking the pole star looking up.

Proving any such figures is next to impossible in our modern day, because there are so many uncertain subjective possibilities, and because there is a clear indication that a multiplicity of figures can be drawn, often appearing to exist as overlays on top of murky, previously drawn viz. carved figures, so that the figures drawn on the plaquette may have been the subjects of time-differing work carved by succeeding generations separated by eras.

Connect the Dots:
What Figures Were Carved on the Midheaven Plaquette? ***

See by comparison the figures found on the Pharaonic Egyptian palettes marking Midheaven via:

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*** The decipherment images above consist of a map of stars -- created by Andis Kaulins, August 28, 2020, using Starry Night Pro astronomy software -- which map is superimposed on a lightened graphic of Plaquette 2 to better show the imposed stars, a graphic based on photos found at PLOS ONE in Artists on the edge of the world: An integrated approach to the study of Magdalenian engraved stone plaquettes from Jersey (Channel Islands) and BBC News of 19 August 2020 at https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-53835146. See the *** footnote at the end of this posting for full credit to the photographic original image, governed by a Creative Commons Attribution License.

*** Credits taken directly from the cited PLoS article are as follows:

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