Roxanne Khamsi (St Louis), news service, via BoingBoing, :

Gestures that complement rather than simply illustrate verbal instructions can boost children’s ability to complete problems in mathematics, researchers report.

“The teachers are giving the kids two different approaches to the problem - one by hand and one by mouth - and somehow they seem to complement one another,” says Susan Goldin-Meadow of the University of Chicago, US. She adds that early findings also show that students who copy the gestures of their teachers are more likely to learn.

Goldin-Meadow and her colleagues gave 160 children between the ages of eight and 10 a set of mathematical problems to solve. The students were randomly assigned to receive either verbal instructions alone or also with gestures. Those in the latter group either received gestures that copied or complemented the spoken guidance.

As part of the experiment students had to complete the equation “7+6+5=?+5”. Teachers told the youngsters that they had to make one side of the equation match the other side.

The gestures simply duplicating these directions involved the instructors pointing to the left-hand and then the right-hand sides of the equation. When using complementary gestures, however, the teachers pointed to each of the numbers on the left and then signalled the subtraction of the five on the right side by scooping their hand away from the number.

Sign of success

Children who saw the complementary gestures did best, solving three of the four addition problems correctly, on average. By comparison, those children who witnessed simple illustrative gestures typically solved fewer than two of the problems correctly. And students who received only verbal instructions solved only one of the four problems correctly, on average.

Graph: Normal Curve and IQ Scores


Shadow,, via writes:

One evening I approached an old friend- an aged man, who was struggling with a muddy tractor wheel on the edge of a field. I sat back a little way in the brush, and cracked a few twigs so he would know I was there.

“Hey, Shadow,” he called, frowning at the muddy mess in front of him. He reached into his pocket and pulled out an incredibly crumpled package of cigarettes, and turned, arching his back. I could tell he had been at this for a long time. He looked very tired. He took a few steps and sat down on a rotted tree stump at the edge of the woods.

“I want to tell you about something I saw once.” He lit a cigarette, and coughed a few times.

“I used to work at this school bus factory. We assembled the drive train and exhaust systems for fleets, and public transit and school systems - we shipped buses all over the world. I won’t say the name of the company, or what country it was in. That’s not important. I want to tell what happened there, all in a single day, a long time ago.”

“One morning, one of the assembly line workers came up to me. He was as white as a ghost. He was stuttering and his face was covered with tears. I was shocked, because I had known this man for a long time- he was usually very level headed. He led me over to the assembly line, and pointed to the partially assembled buses that stretched the length of the factory.”

“I dropped my daughter off at school today. I noticed, for the first time, that the exhaust from our buses is exiting at the exact height of a grade school child’s face. We are poisoning our own children, and others all over the world.”

“I didn’t know what to say to him. I looked down at the floor.”
‘I figured out how to fix it,’ he told me, ‘Im just going to start chopping up the pipe inventory and have them reroute it through the top, back here, like a tractor trailer…”

Robert Booth, The Guardian (UK), via, reports:

Academics will today argue that the growing use of computers in secondary school classrooms and for homework could be leading to worsening performance in literacy, science and maths.

An international study of about 100,000 15-year-olds in 32 different developed and developing countries suggests that the drive to equip an increasing number of schoolchildren in the UK with computers may be misplaced.

In a report to be given at the conference of the Royal Economic Society in Nottingham this week, Thomas Fuchs and Ludger Woessmann of Munich University say the research shows diminished performance in students with computers.

The Associated Press :

ORLANDO, Fla. - A high school chemistry teacher was arrested after students claimed he taught his class how to make a bomb, authorities said.

David Pieski, 42, used an overhead projector in class to give instructions in making explosives to students at Freedom High School, including advising them to use an electric detonator to stay clear from the blast, an Orange County sheriff’s arrest report said.

In Pieski’s classroom in Orlando, authorities found a book labeled “Demo,” which includes the chemical breakdown for a powerful explosive, the arrest report said.

EDITH BEVIN, (Australian) Northern Territory News, reports:

A five-year-old Territory girl shocked teachers when she showed her class how to make a bong out of a Coke bottle during a “show and tell'’ session.

“When Milarepa was first taught the Great Perfection, he thought he could attain Buddhahood without meditation. He remained relaxed without meditating, and thus attained no mental development. Therefore, when his lama tested him and found that he had made no progress, he said, “I have made a mistake. Though the Great Perfection is indeed inconceivable, you are too lax and not fitted for this difficulty on the gradual path. Therefore, you should go to the south, consult the translator Marpa, and take the difficult path of the gradualist. You have failed at the easy way to Buddhahood.’ Thus the lama had to send him away, whereupon Milarepa underwent untold difficulties but through the power of devoted effort was able to achieve Buddhahood”

– from ‘Tantric Practice in Nying-ma’ by Khetsun Sangpo, published by Snow Lion Publications.

Brad Wright and Eileen O’Connor (CNN) report, “On May 17, 2001, 12 boys from Evans Middle School were taken on a tour of the D.C. jail. Some had been involved in an in-school suspension program and others volunteered. The boys allege they were told to strip so they could experience a strip search. When some refused, they allege D.C. jailers told them they could not leave until they complied, and then they stripped.

“One of the boys was held down by eight inmates while his shoes were stripped off,” Wayne Cohen, an attorney for the victims’ families, told a press conference announcing the lawsuit. “He was then told to take his boxers off. He had his hands covering his genitals. He was yelled at to remove his hands, to grab his ankles, to squat and to cough.”

On May 18, 2001, the lawyers allege a group of girls from the same school was also forced to strip. They allege they were taken through the men’s jail, while some inmates masturbated.

“One of the guards told one of the girls something to the effect of, ‘He’s doing that because he hasn’t seen a girl in quite a while and he’s very excited,’” Cohen said.”

Jennifer Emily and Herb Booth (The Dallas [Texas] Morning News) report, “A student at Ennis High School shot and killed himself today after holding an advanced sophomore English class hostage for a short time, police and school district officials said.”

Karen Ayres (New Jersey Times) reports, “Principal Steven Mayer met with Jayanta Majumder around noon on [May 4th] to inform him that his son [Shinjan Majumder] was being suspended for 10 days for hacking into the school district’s computer system, Jayanta said. [..] After the meeting, Jayanta took his son home before returning to his job as an engineer in the nearby Carnegie Center. Jayanta spoke with his son on the telephone about a half-hour later, but several other calls went unanswered. Jayanta quickly drove home to find his son had hung himself.”

Reuters reports, “a 14-year-old student opened fire on faculty and students Friday morning at the alternative school he attended [in Monroe, Louisiana], authorities said. The large-calibre handgun misfired after four shots and no one was injured, authorities said. The boy was disarmed and arrested after two police officers rushed him, said Kelly McGee, spokeswoman for the Monroe School District.”

The Associated Press reports, “The longer young children spend in day care away from their mothers the more likely they are to be overly aggressive by the time they reached kindergarten, according to the largest study of child care and development ever conducted.”

Slashdot is reporting, “Last week Sean, a 16-year-old computer geek and gamer who has never been in serious trouble, was thrown out of a Texas school and ordered into “alternative education” for responding to a year’s worth of bullying and harassment, some verbal, some physical. His crime was to fantasize out loud about revenge. He got as much due process as Chinese dissidents get. His father, a Slashdot reader and graphic designer, has pulled his son out of the system and into home schooling. He asks for help and advice. This is a story about life in America’s schools these days for people who are “different,” who live at the mercy of jerks and cover-your-butt administrators.”

ABC news reports, “A bunch of Oregon high school seniors posed for pictures at a local playground, wearing their Seaside High School cheerleader uniforms. Then, some of the girls began revealing what they were wearing and what they were not wearing underneath.”

, “A Riverside County [California] high school teacher allegedly threatened her students with violence Tuesday when they wouldn’t quiet down. “She said, ‘If you all don’t shut up, I’m going to get a gun, and I’m going to shoot all of you,’” a female senior, who preferred to remain anonymous, told CBS 2 News Wednesday. “She was frustrated because we wouldn’t stop talking and do our work.”

Christine Reid writes, “A 16-year-old [Broomfield, Colorado,] high school student may be charged with a felony after school officials found an unloaded BB gun in his car. [..] The BB gun was discovered shortly after 9 a.m. when the boy parked his car in a lot not designated for student parking, police reported. An adult monitor at the school told the student to report to the office and then searched his car without his permission, according to reports. She reported finding what she thought was a real handgun to police. It turned out to be an unloaded BB gun.”

Salon reports, “A fifth-grade girl at Cincinnati’s Mount Airy School says at least 15 boys have been trading soda and cash for sex with at least five girls, according to WLWT Eyewitness News. Police and school officials are looking into the allegation, which claims the students — some as young as 10 — were sneaking into closets to do it.”

Debra Johnson reports, “A fourth-grader at Bunnell Elementary School (Florida) received a 10-day suspension for drawing a picture of himself shooting another pupil with a laser gun.”

The Jersey Journal reports, “that on March 2, the students in teacher Debbie Noone’s class gathered in a circle while the young girl performed oral sex on the boy and allowed at least two other boys to kiss and fondle her breasts, among other acts.”

George Hunter (The Detroit News) reports, “Tempest Smith, age 12, sat alone in her bedroom one chilly morning late last month and gazed into the mirror. Shortly before her classes were to start at Lincoln Park (MI) Middle School, she kissed her reflection goodbye. The lipstick smudges still adorn Tempest’s mirror, sad reminders of the day the tall, troubled girl slipped a leopard-print scarf around her neck and hanged herself from her bunk bed.”

Eight third-grade students in Westwego, Louisiana, were strip-searched after another student reported $20 missing. The children were taken one by one into a closet where boys were told to drop their pants and the girls were told to strip down to nothing.