Friday Links, 11/9/12

Today’s edition of Friday Links has been brought to you by Thessaly, one of the two cutest cats ever. (Her sister, Toto, is also adorable, but harder to corral for pictures.)

-My life could use a bit more Melbourne Cup fashion. Actually, a lot more. That tutu and flower crown! Those fascinators! *swoon*
Dots now offers online shopping! Which is exciting because I like their clothes, but the last time I went to their store, I couldn’t try on any of it, as the cashiers were busy ringing up a long line of customers and there was no one to unlock the dressing rooms.
-Wardrobe Oxygen has an interview with Desiree, a fabulous older fashionista.  My favorite quote: “Fashion is what talented designers are paid to churn out up to four times a year, in many cases at great personal and emotional expense. Style is the opposite. It’s like slipping into a dream. There’s excitement, fear, hesitation and you learn to fall into yourself.”
-A kitty fascinated by sparkly shoes. Awwwwww.
Sophisticate noir November theme: hosiery (and some awesome shoes too).
Too poor for Old Navy.
7 reasons you should compliment total strangers. I really like doing this, as it brightens people’s day–just like it brightens mine when they compliment my fashion choices.
-A Tumblr of Muslims wearing things.
Fatshionistas in the New York Times!
-A new plus size clothing buying/selling marketplace, Abbey Post, will be launching in December.
Six great +40 fashion blogs.
-DIY: make rhinestone jewelry colorful with acrylic paint.

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Why a “digital Aristotle” is a terrible idea

Quick, unrelated update: I just sent a message to the eBay seller of the awesome tutu in my recent post, asking if they would consider making it in plus sizes.  If you want, send them a message as well! I don’t know whether anything will come of it, but it can’t hurt to try.

Also: the election’s over! Phew. And in addition to the candidates who won, I’m happy about a lot of the state initiatives that passed. Hells yeah gay marriage!

Now, onto the post.

While poking about on YouTube last night, I came across this video about a software that’s being developed with the intention of customizing educational experiences for each kid who uses it, and eventually replacing much of the need for human teachers:

And oy, did it cause me to have ALL THE THOUGHTS (and to be honest, more than a little bit of THE RAGE).

I think the Digital Aristotle software could be a useful idea as a supplement to classroom teaching, but using it as a replacement strikes me as a terrible idea, for many reasons:

1.) School isn’t just about kids interacting with teachers. It’s about kids interacting with other kids, learning how to be social beings, developing empathy. A kid sitting alone in front of a computer screen all day isn’t going to get that, no matter how brilliant the software is.

2.) Computers have a lot of amazing educational potential, but they also have downsides. A major, major one is that they make it easier to multitask, which has a demonstrated negative effect on pretty much any kind of performance.

I’ve seen it in my own life–I know I concentrated far better in high school, when I had only dial-up internet, than I have ever since.

Don’t just take it from me. Read Hamlet’s Blackberry, and The Winter of Our Disconnect. Maybe even The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains. The internet has great power to connect people…when used in moderation, with limits and structure. When used in conjunction with face-time, and nature-time, and solitary-reflection-time.  It isn’t a replacement for any of those things.

3.) Relatedly, many educational videos (which seem to be a major component of the Digital Aristotle project) are 4 or 5 minutes long. They may be full of fascinating things, but don’t lend themselves to the kind of concentration that leads to deep understanding. I’ve watched plenty of interesting videos about physics and math, but if you asked me what I’ve learned, I wouldn’t remember most of it. It’s not the same as learning systematically from a real person.  Continue reading