Category: Education


How does Freudian Theory help to explain social formation?

Freudian Theory has been criticized by feminists for espousing a patriarchal social formation. The most vocal critique among Second Wave feminists is Betty Friedan, whose cornerstone work Feminine Mystique (published in 1963) took issue with Freudian psychoanalysts. She perceived Freudian Theory to comply with a subordinate role for women in and outside the household. The 1950s was a time when working-class and middle-class women were “suffering from suburban domesticity”. (Rorty, 2008, p.56) Second Wave feminists fought against this view of social formation. They found a natural ally in the cause of black Americans for their civil rights. Hence the 1960s witnessed a strong social movement along the twin axis of race and gender. In the beginning feminists were sceptical – if not antagonistic – to psychoanalysis. They marked it as spawning patriarchy and with it the earlier quiescence of women. But by 1973,

“women psychoanalysts, psychologists, and . . . Read More

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Transmission of aggression through imitation of aggressive models

Bandura, A., Ross, D., & Ross, S.A. (1961). Transmission of aggression through imitation of aggressive models. Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 63, 575-582.

Aggression is all around modern society. We witness it in television, video games, news, cinema, etc. The research article by Bandura, Ross & Ross makes it near conclusive that children learn and replicate the behaviours of their models (meaning adults). The two main classes of adult behaviour exposed to children in the experiments are ‘aggressive’ and ‘non-aggressive’. And depending on the type of exposure the children imbibe and replicate the same type of behaviour when placed in a similar setting. So, witnessing parents perform violent actions (even if against toys) leads to children internalizing that behaviour as acceptable. Likewise witnessing parents conduct themselves in a non-violent manner leads to reinforcement of this type of behaviour. There is also a correlate on gender . . . Read More

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The dramatic differences found by Piaget in the development of preschoolers and elementary-age children

A child undergoes rapid physiological and cognitive developments in the first few years.  Preschoolers or toddlers slowly shed their ‘ego-centric’ view.  This means that a newborn baby does not have the capacity to think of and for others.  This ability to understand that there are others in the world is slowly gained during the years 0-3.  After a year and half the toddler begins to verbally express its likes and dislikes.  This is an important cognitive milestone, for the language ability has significant ramifications for psychosocial and later academic performance.  The preschool stage is when most of the gross and fine motor ability is acquired and exercised.  So the graduation from moving limbs to crawling to walking signify the baby’s growing capacity for self-expression in physical space.  During the elementary school age, the child understands that the world is comprised of people like itself with similar motivations and needs.  During this stage crucial . . . Read More

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How the Brain Learns?

It is now a standard theory that students’ prior understanding of a subject matter plays the pivotal role in furthering their understanding.  The easiest demonstration of this theory at work is the design of school curricula from primary education through high school and college.  Basic concepts are introduced at earlier levels, which are further built upon in higher levels of education.  Likewise, the effectiveness of students’ learning also depends on the personal interests and motivations they bring to the table.  The learning experience is most meaningful for the student when it comes out of personal interests and motivations.  Otherwise, it tends to be academic or abstract, negatively affecting learning outcomes. (Hardiman, 2001, p.53)

Researchers have identified biological and cognitive predispositions of students as key factors in learning.  For example, the capacity and functioning of working memory and the sensory registers are key determinants in . . . Read More

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Richard Dawkins’ Blind Watchmaker

  1. What is the thesis (the central idea or main point)?

Richard Dawkins’ main argument is that the forces of evolution give an illusion of deliberate design, whereas in truth, they were shaped by gradual and random mutations sifted by the filters of natural selection.

  1. What are the main arguments made in supporting the thesis?

Drawing on the analogy of the watchmaker by William Paley, Dawkins produces his polemic by systematically dismantling the theory by design as applicable to life forms on earth. Dawkins shows that random mutations at the level of the DNA, when filtered and selected under the process of natural selection, gives rise to sophisticated and specialized species.  His main argument is that there is no need whatsoever for invoking divine intervention in explaining variety and magnificence of life on earth.

  1. What are the important implications of the author’s position?

The most . . . Read More

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The conflict between religious fundamentalism and methods of science

Ever since the ushering of the Enlightenment in the early 18th century, religious dogma has increasingly been questioned. In the contemporary era scientists offer clear and logical explanations for the evolution of life, the formation of the solar system, etc. In the face of such indisputable scientific evidence, it is no longer possible to accommodate religious dogma.  Religious fundamentalism or the literal interpretation of scriptures offered a degree of solace to primitive people when their lives and livelihoods were under constant threat from natural disasters, epidemic diseases and barbaric warfare.  But as civilization has progressed, modern societies are reasonably well-equipped in regulating nature and offering protection from its extremes.  Therefore, there is no longer any necessity to hold on to blind faith as a source of consolation in a brutish world.  If I was invited to a public debate on the conflict between religious fundamentalism and the methods of . . . Read More

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What is the problem with education in the United States today?

It is fair to claim that the state of education in the United States today is symbolic of the state of the nation.  The biggest concern is the falling of scholastic standards.  It is believed that programs such as No Child Left Behind may have actually undermined the quality and parity in education. There is consensus among educationists that math and literacy proficiency among American students is lower compared to their European counterparts from the same age group. Such learning deficiencies have profound implications for the country’s future.  In the context of economic globalization, many American jobs are already being offered to skilled workers from India and China.  If the standard of education continues to dilute then American graduates and post-graduates will find it more difficult to compete with workers from the rest of the world.

The other big concern is the rising tuition fees at a time of prolonged economic recession.  This means that for many . . . Read More

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The People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn: Review of Chapters 1 through 5

Howard Zinn is arguably the most important American historian. He brought a radical transformation to the construction of history that was previously unheard of.  By siding with the oppressed, the underprivileged, the victims, the poor and the weak, he made their voices heard through his writing.  The People’s History of the United States is a landmark scholarly achievement in this regard.  It ushered in the trend of subaltern study and analysis to history departments in American Colleges (although many major educational institutions have not yet embraced this book).  More importantly, the book has brought balance to historical recounting of events, where erstwhile only the elite point of view was accepted and made available to the public.  In this context it is interesting to scrutinize the rationale and the thought process of the author in his choice of chapter titles and their contents.  The rest of this essay is an attempt to do the same with respect to the first five . . . Read More

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Social Intelligence Research: Q & A

  1. For the last several weeks, we have been studying the impact of professional presence. What are you learning about your own professional presence? What aspects of your own professional presence do you consider strengths? What aspects of your professional presence are developing through your course of study? What are your desired outcomes for further development of your professional presence?

Through what I have learned in the course, I am fairly convinced that professional presence is very important.  The way a worker carries himself in the work environment can reflect on his utility, efficiency and professionalism.  In my case, I would consider my dressing sense as one of the attributing factors to my professional presence. I would always wear formal clothes to work with sober yet pleasant color combinations. The reason I am motivated to dress professionally is to send across an implicit message to my colleagues and clients that I am serious . . . Read More

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Limits of Human Knowledge and Experience

The philosophical sub stream of epistemology concerns itself with questions surrounding the modes, methods and capacities of human knowledge acquisition.  It is a very complicated subject with a lot of debate and disagreement among scholars. There are those like John Horgan, who envision the decline of scientific scrutiny into these questions.  They contend that the tools offered by science are inadequate to grasp a highly complex and variant natural biological process.  For example, in his book The End of Science, John Horgan gloomily predicts “an impending dissolution of science, that the great era of scientific discovery is over or very nearly so… the great discoveries and revelations that have made up the history of science as now yielding to incremental, diminishing returns.” (Horgan, as quoted in Bauer, 1997) While this kind of doomsday pessimism might come across as overblown to some, they are not without any merit.  Some of the observations made by scientists . . . Read More

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