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Behind Spirit's August 2013 Issue: New School

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August_cover This month’s cover story in Spirit has to do with technology in education.  Teachers across the land are experimenting with “upside down” classrooms, in which the kids watch the lecture stuff—videos—online, and then do the exercises during class hours.  Teachers can spot the struggling students and intervene quickly. For those like me who took their last math class decades ago, are lessons within the lessons.  The experiments with teaching and tech offer some insights into how we non-students learn.  Writer Jennifer Miller talked to scientists and learned the lessons.   You’ll want to read our new online flipbook. Lesson #1: The brain likes new stuff. Meaning, stimulation. Lesson #2: Use it or lose it. The brain needs exercise. Lesson #3: The brain gets high on participation. Active engagement releases dopamine, a chemical that makes us feel good. Lesson #4: The brain needs feedback. That means immediate feedback. Those videogame designers aren’t stupid. For the cover we wanted a Norman Rockwell look.  We tried the kid in various positions, including politely seated at his desk with an iPad.  Ultimately, the feet-up pose won.  For obvious reasons. Now for the Numbers.  It cost Ray Bradbury $9.80 to write his classic sci-fi novel, Fahrenheit 451.  That was for typewriter rental.  The most expensive nail polish costs $250,000.  It contains powdered black diamonds, which every spoiled-rotten nail needs.  And our forebears were brewing beer 12,000 years ago—probably even before bread.  Caveman party time.  Excellent!