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From the cantina on the 11th floor of the S1 building at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), Trondheim. The photo appeared on the front page of the Adresseavisen newspaper, Trondheim, on 15 August 1986. An engineer at the Norwegian university, Roar Skjervø, appears to be levitating on a table among coffee cups. Nobody caught him in any form of cheating. So: Well done. (Click on the picture to see a larger one).

NTNU is the ◦Norwegian University of Science and Technology. Its main campus is in Trondheim. NVG in the Gold Scale's site address is 'The Network Group' association of employees, students, and former employees and students at NTNU. So the Gold Scales is hosted by NVG, which is hosted by NTNU.

"Get thee an education." Many students live in periodical fear of exams, and about one fourth of the new students do not thrive, and exit each year. As for employees, "one rotten apple or a few of them can spoil a whole basket". In one case a whole institute was closed down. The local newspaper Adresseavisen, and Universitetsavisa told the story to the public. Ironically, some of the employees that could not cooperate any longer, were in the roles of experts in solving those sorts of problems. Such facts and figures are from more than ten years ago. Much could be different today - Student life in Trondheim - the main campus - is not all bad. It it were, there would be no students left.

◦Transcendental Meditation (TM) is recommended here for all who can afford it, for it helps students to get better grades and much else. [◦TM findings (David Lynch Foundation)]

Good Stories Help

The value of ancient tales and tale-telling has been explored on this site, with glimpses into developmental thinking, including that of Hindu savants, Jean Piaget, Rudolf Steiner and many others. (Cf. Arnett 2016; Clammer 2012)

Telling Stories to Help Students too. Many cultural texts are included on the website. Some of them are tales. Tales take part in forming cultures, and helps transmit them too, says Jerome Bruner (1996). Albert Einstein is into another side of good, entertaining tales: They may help the student much - in mathematics too. That is his stand. (Zipes 1992:1)

The relevance of good tales needs to be evaluated, and their entertainment value, and the effects of interests they seem able to ignite, some of them. Validity and relevance is also about effects of imaginative tales on listeners and readers - also effects over time. The value of fair tales that contain figurative parts and subtle meanings, as many fables do, may be estimated accordingly - as training in making the thinking less bound, by figurative parts too. Nourishing and developing the imaginative parts of our minds is ingrained in Waldorf Schooling, but Zoroaster could have told about it earlier: [More]

In this light, Albert Einstein's view on the value of tales makes sense too.

A story
Einstein A concerned mother once visited Albert Einstein to get his counsel on how to help her son become really good in maths. Exactly what was she to read for him to help him evolve into a prominent scientist?

"Folk tales," said Einstein.

"Okay," said the mother, "and after that?"

"More folk tales," said Einstein.

"And after that?" the mother asked again.

"Still more folk tales," answered Einstein. [Zipes 1992:1]

Yet, "there are folktales and folktales," so the subject needs to be explored.

Were There Athenians in Time? About classics and their tales. By way of example, in Timaeus, Plato writes about what he calls "the greatest tale" of "the greatest action which the Athenians ever did, and which ought to have been the most famous, but, through the lapse of time and the destruction of the actors, it has not come down to us." [Emphasis added]

Plato's tale contains descriptions of Athenians from thousands of years before Athens was built. At best there were only cavedwellers in the Athens area at the time Plato writes about.

Thus, one may learn from old classics that to sort fact from fiction may be awfully hard. There can be many caveats. Besides, few things can replace candid and well organised and accomplished research. Weighing various points and sorting them into facts and non-facts, is largely fit for a study. Along with it all: entertainment - and ample space for a sound development of homo ludens, the playful side to humans that may amount to aid research, if not study.

Along with rational building of knowledge, well designed, ample stories help ideations, help forming images, help later thinking, if they are adapted to the actual level of development of the individual, in part as Jean Piaget (1896–1980) holds. He describs four development stages. Three of them:

  1. During the Preoperational Stage (2-7 years) we may "buddingly" think about things symbolically. Frisking about seems to be a fronted feature of this stage: Good fables and folk tales may be adapted to it.
  2. The Concrete Operational Stage (7-11 years) of the child's cognitive development marks the growth of "operational" thought. At this stage we can work things out in our heads, by imagination. Many handed-over tales nourish that ability.
  3. The Formal Operational Stage (11 years and over) start to blossom when we are about eleven and lasts into adulthood. Abstract concepts, articulation skills and logic. (WP, s.v. "Jean Piaget")

Dr Rudolf Steiner and the world-wide Waldorf Education movement in his wake have their pedagogy based on development stages, but Steiner did it before Piaget, and had added sound ego development, and how the ego was to be nourished too. So Waldorf Education is rooted in wider views. The aim is well balanced nourishment of all human faculties through tales and accommodation to stages of growing individuals, as well as mathematics or calculation abilities. It is not "different strokes for different folks" so much as "the right and the left side of of one and the same brain".

This was to show that good, carefully adapted stories may help sound development, and typically go along with use and development of artistic and playful aspects of the human being. One result of a careful, balanced education is building a knowledge base for the future and present. Good stories can help that. And that is far from all they can do: the psychologist Jerome Bruner speaks for story-telling as a great means of learning and building cultural ways. He writes in The Culture of Education:

There appear to be two broad ways in which human beings organize and manage their knowledge of the world, indeed structure even their immediate experience: one seems more specialized for treating of physical "things," the other for treating of people and their plights. These are conventionally known as logical scientfic thinking and narrative thinking . . . They have varied modes of expression in different cultures, which also cultivate them differently. (1996:39-40)

To find out of things firsthand, check where the money goes, who profit from placing Sachen und Dinge between and among humans, and humans adapting to it too.

Fine ideas - who are they fine for, eventually?


Elevated site topics, Literature  

Arnett, Jeffrey Jensen. Human Development: A Cultural Approach. 2nd ed. Pearson, 2016. ⍽▢⍽ The book tells of different theories of human development, and divides our lifespan into a chain of developmental stages. It starts with conception and ends with the afterlife - It aims to help students see how culture affects human development.

Bentham, Susan. Psychology and Education. Howe, East Sussex: Routledge, 2002. ⍽▢⍽ Piaget's contributions to understanding of cognitive development are summed up in chap. 1.

Bruner, Jerome: The Culture of Education. Cambridge. Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1996. ⍽▢⍽ Good education can usher children into their culture - and common education very often fails to do so. Dr Bruner reminds us that education reduced to mere information processing fails. That is, sorting knowledge into categories is far from good enough. The learners also need help to get deepening understanding, and not simply to manage information.

Clammer, John. Culture, Development and Social Theory: Towards an Integrated Social Development. London: Zed Books, 2012. ⍽▢⍽ Analyses culture in relation to development. Well researched. With a view to the future.

Steiner, Rudolf. Soul Economy: Body, Soul, and Spirit in Waldorf Education: Lectures presented in Dornach, Switzerland December 23, 1921 – January 5, 1922. Rev. ed. Great Barrington, MA: Anthroposophic Press, 2003. ⍽▢⍽ Those who work in today's schools and are behind them, fill children's minds with information, and often fail to help their eagerness for learning adequately. The Steiner Schools aim at developing the children's and youngsters' natural human faculties and capacities by the art of savoury teaching and adapting to learning for a healthy, fulfilling life - it is a process. — Steiner describes education as a continually development of the human being of body, soul, and spirit. The developing being needs to be well enough nurtured through the natural stages of life by getting to just what is needed at the right time. Such an approach applied to schooling is what Steiner calls soul economy. Steiner proposes much-needed good ideas of education throughout.

Surti, B. Thus Spake Zarathushtra. 2nd ed. Madras: Ramakrishna, 1981.

Zipes, Jack. Breaking the Magic Spell. Reprint. New York: Routledge, 1992.

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