One head better than two

A recent study conducted by Professor Asher Koriat, of Haifa University, Israel, has found that independent thinking is far more productive than group problem solving.

In posing a series of questions to 38 people both individually and in pairs, Professor Koriat found that when collaborating, subjects often responded with incorrect answers.

While general knowledge questions more frequently produced correct answers from pairs, it was problems of visual perspective, and questions where the least logical answers were correct, that stumped groups most consistently.

The study also investigated how confident subjects were with their individual answers. Results here suggested that those who were most confident were more often than not correct; the implication being that pairs could have worked better together if they were more honest about how confident they were.

Further, of the more challenging questions in group scenarios, Professor Koriat said: ‘In such cases it is the low-confidence individuals who are more likely to be correct, and reliance on the more confident members should lead the group astray.’

As an educator of more than 30 years, what the study highlights to me is the importance of independent thinking skills — something Edworks has understood since its inception, and essentially built its programs around.

In exam situations, kids don’t have the opportunity to team up with fellow students, or raise their hands for teacher assistance. Therefore, while we certainly offer support and guidance, our ultimate goal is to see students thinking and performing at a high standard independently.

The study also demonstrates the need for students to be assertive when performing group tasks. Again, Edworks recognises the importance of fostering confidence in students. Children should always feel they can be valuable contributors in group/team situations, be they in the classroom, sporting arena or at home.

While Edworks tutors focus on encouragement in the classroom, it is important for parents, too, to place a high priority on building self-esteem in their children at home. For some great tips on offering positive affirmations every day, see our article, ‘Think Positive’ It’s amazing how much difference a few encouraging words can make in a child’s development.

The Sound of Sorrow by Charlotte

A mass of shiny chestnut hair rose slowly to the windowsill. Pure cobalt eyes examined the inspirational scenery just out of her reach. Separated by a thin piece of flimsy glass, how she wished to jump out of this lowly orphanage and play in the fluffy snow. For now she had to wait. That time would come soon. As a little girl she had thought that she was special, although now she realised she was like, and treated like, all the other girls if not worse.

Soon the sky changed dramatically. It adopted brushes of violet and ochre as shining stars slowly appeared. This was the night she would escape from this jail. Surely if she were caught, she would be flung into the filthy cellar A dense of fear started to consume her, although she knew that it had to be this night – the 100th anniversary of this orphanage. Outside her door she could hear clinking glasses and people talking with their mouths full. The scent wafted into her nose as she drooled. It was very tempting, although only adults seemed to be awarded with these luxuries. The children only had soup every day. By now there was no noise. All of them were asleep, oblivious to the world, let alone thinking about their night patrols.

It was time. Her heart beat like a drum. Hands shaking, she cautiously opened the door. All the lights were on. Silently, she ran. She was feeling freedom for the first time, her feet barely touching the cold marble floor. She slowed to a jog, then stopped, opened the giant doors in front of her and slipped on the boots that they made her wear every day, whether it was freezing or blistering.

Her arms pumped as she ran towards the faint outline of a town in front of her – to the life she would have had, if only her mother lived. The sun was rising and she found herself resting in a deserted alleyway. Eyes drooping, she fell asleep, until a gleeful voice announced – “That’s it! That’s her!” The girls’ eyes flew open. Rough hands grabbed her arms and dragged her away.

No! She would not let her freedom be taken now! She had fought too hard for it all to be a waste! She kicked her legs madly until the man let go and let out a cry of pain. Not wasting a second, she ran faster than ever, knowing she was being followed. Everything to her, endangered. She looked back. There was nothing, except for a filthy road.

Breathing heavily, she dropped to the ground and crouched against a tree, too traumatised to sleep. Where was she? Surely this was not how the town looked. Although it was draped in beautiful snow, the cobblestone roads and metal lamps looked drab.

Everything seemed so dark, so grey. Her first tastes of freedom were sweet, but if the rest of the journey was to be like this, she would rather die in the orphanage.

Suddenly, a warm hand clamped her shoulder. Alarmed, she twirled around and found herself face-to-face with a man with a grey stubble and a somewhat kind aura.

“Come with me”, he said in a gruff voice. Where could she go? Nowhere, so she followed. After a short walk, they arrived at the door of a humble cottage. Although it was of small stature, when she entered it she felt unnaturally joyous. Eyes shining, she examined the room until she saw something that intrigued her.

“Excuse me, but what is this?”
“What’s your name?”
“Lucy, Lucy Falls”
“And that’s a violin.”

Hands shaking with excitement, she picked up the violin in awe. Slowly closing her eyes, she started to play.

It came naturally, music resonated through her body as if communicating. Like this she felt calm, protected, safe. Everything should and would be OK. When she opened her eyes, she saw a bleak world and something … sinister flashed through the window. An eye perhaps.

Suddenly, the man shouted “Hide Lucy!” She nodded and crouched in a suitcase. Without warning there was a sharp rap. She could hear the creak of the door opening and the thump of boots.

“Tell me where she is”
“Not here.”
“Lies!”

There was a strangled cry, a gasp of breath and a thud on the floor. It had all happened so quickly.

Lucy wanted to run out of the suitcase and stay by his side but she knew that if she did, his death would have been a waste. Silently crying, she waited until the cold man left.

Lucy crawled out of the suitcase shaking. She looked at the old man sorrowfully. Why did she feel so guilty? Slowly she got up, picked up the violin and ambled mournfully with no particular place to go. Why was her life such a series of unfortunate events?

Disastrous Ducky Danger

Disastrous Ducky Danger
By Sin Yee

It was hot and sticky. Ducky was exploring the emerald, shady jungle, with his smokey coloured hat and bulky black, binoculars. The place was peaceful, containing millions of animals in many shapes and sizes. The gigantic trees towering over made you feel like you were looking up at Eureka Skydeck. “Wow!’ remarked Ducky cutting through the over-grown plants.

‘Crack!’ Suddenly, Ducky was grabbed by his orange webbed-feet! “Quack! Let me go!” screamed Ducky at the top of his lungs! ‘Fwip!’ A giant net surrounded him, he was TRAPPED! The more he struggled, the tighter the net got, he felt like a tiny helpless fly in a spider’s web. All of a sudden, everything was silent, like the ‘Witching Hour’… until Ducky heard a loud rustle in the bushes. “What was that?” gasped Ducky. He was so frightened that he felt like he was going to faint right there in the tight net.

“Hello … delicious, feathery duck!” drooled the animal hidden in the thick bushes. “Guess who?”

“Mummy duck?

“WRONG!” roared the animal. “I’m the ferocious tiger, king of the jungle!” boasted the tiger proudly. “And I haven’t eaten in three, long days. You’ll be a beautiful treat”, smiled the Tiger slyly.

‘Pluck!’ “Yeow!!!” screamed the helpless yellow duck. His scream echoed through the whole jungle.

“Oh, you’re a noisy duck, aren’t you? Let’s do that again!” laughed the evil animal. ‘Pluck two.”

“Stop right there you ugly beast! No one hurts our feathery friends” quacked one duck.

“Yeah.” quacked another. You’ll pay for this!”

“QUACK!” screamed the leader.

“Huh?” cried the confused tiger.

Suddenly, a wave of about a thousand identical blue ducks charged towards the confused tiger, screaming mean insults at him.

“I’m not fat or ugly, I’m beautiful!” retorted the hungry tiger. After thirty seconds, he couldn’t take it anymore as he was a sensitive animal. His head felt dizzy and he thought it might explode like a volcano! “NO! Go away you ugly ducks!” the tiger roared and sprinted away as fast as he could.

After all the commotion was over, the tiny blue ducks cautiously waddled over to the net and used their sharp, yellow beaks to cut open the net.

“Thank you so much my ducky friends, you saved me!” yelled Ducky giving himself a stretch. “No worries! But… you’re HUGE!” smiled the ducks.

Yes, I am huge. Because you rescued me, let’s be the BEST-EST BUDDIES EVER!” exclaimed the excited, yellow duck!

Everyone was so excited and noisy that you couldn’t hear yourself think, even if you were 5 miles away!