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Classnotes - handout

  1. 1. Classnotes for Jaime from Shawn Severson May 6, 2014 Topic: Speed of Life Grammar: Review of phrasal verbs & collocations Wordle on “The Speed of Life” What is the text about? Text from: The Slow Movement is neither one political party nor one centrally controlled organisation but a philosophy that is shared by a number of movements, each choosing to focus on different aspects of daily living. At their core each movement shares the ideal of slowing down the present pace of life so that we can all begin to enjoy life more and connect to those elements we are at risk of losing touch with, such as quality of life, family, food, people and culture. There is an underlying belief within the Slow Movement of the need for us to re-prioritise and put less value on social status and career success. To instead attune yourself to the natural rhythms of life. Carl Honoré - In praise of slowness ( — 10:36 - 12:50 )
  2. 2. Reading from interactive transcript. As we read, underline the phrasal verbs and collocations in the text. 10:36 It's not just, though, these days, adults who overwork, though, is it? It's children, too. I'm 37, and my childhood ended in the mid-'80s, and I look at kids now, and I'm just amazed by the way they race around with more homework, more tutoring, more extracurriculars than we would ever have conceived of a generation ago. And some of the most heartrending emails that I get on my website are actually from adolescents hovering on the edge of burnout, pleading with me to write to their parents, to help them slow down, to help them get off this full-throttle treadmill. But thankfully, there is a backlash there in parenting as well, and you're finding that, you know, towns in the United States are now banding together and banning extracurriculars on a particular day of the month, so that people can, you know, decompress and have some family time, and slow down. 11:24 Homework is another thing. There are homework bans springing up all over the developed world in schools which had been piling on the homework for years, and now they're discovering that less can be more. So there was a case up in Scotland recently where a fee-paying, high-achieving private schoolbanned homework for everyone under the age of 13, and the high-achieving parents freaked out and said, "What are you -- you know, our kids will fall" -- the headmaster said, "No, no, your children need to slow down at the end of the day." And just this last month, the exam results came in, and in math, science, marks went up 20 percent on average last year. And I think what's very revealing is that the elite universities, who are often cited as the reason that people drive their kids and hothouse them so much,are starting to notice the caliber of students coming to them is falling. These kids have wonderful marks;they have CVs jammed with extracurriculars, to the point that would make your eyes water. But they lack spark; they lack the ability to think creatively and think outside -- they don't know how to dream. And so what these Ivy League schools, and Oxford and Cambridge and so on, are starting to send a message to parents and students that they need to put on the brakes a little bit. And in Harvard, for instance, they send out a letter to undergraduates -- freshmen -- telling them that they'll get more out of life, and more out of Harvard, if they put on the brakes, if they do less, but give time to things, the time that things need,to enjoy them, to savor them. And even if they sometimes do nothing at all. And that letter is called -- very revealing, I think -- "Slow Down!" -- with an exclamation mark on the end. Using the table below, match the verbs to their prepositions to complete the phrasal verbs & collocations from the text you read. verb preposition band around cite as come at freak down get in go off jam on look on pile out
  3. 3. put out race outside send together slow up spring up think with ex. come in Phrasal Verbs Break up - to end a relationship Bring up - to raise a child Find out - to discover some information Put off - to postpone Give up - to stop/quit Turn up - to increase the volume or speed Look forward - to feel excited about something that is going to happen Take up - to begin/start something new Come across - to meet or find someone/something by chance Go over - to review/check/examine Lesson by Caroline Devane (from: 1. I'm going to ________ my children in the country side. 2. Don't ____________ your homework until tomorrow, do it now! 3. I'm really _____________ to going home this weekend. I haven't seen my family in ages. 4. I think I'm going to _____________ a new hobby this year. 5. My friend ___________ with her boyfriend last week, so I'm going to take her some ice-cream. 6. Did you ____________ what time our train leaves? 7. I've been working in a shop for years and I've never ___________ a customer that rude before! 8. Please will you _____________ my essay for me? 9. I ____________ smoking in 2008. I'm much healthier now. 10. Please will you ______________ the volume? I can't hear a thing! Back to the topic of “The Slow Movement” Why do we go so fast? Text But why is it so hard to slow down? I think there are various reasons. One is that speed is fun, you know, speed is sexy. It's all that adrenaline rush. It's hard to give it up. I think there's a kind of metaphysical dimension -- that speed becomes a way of walling ourselves off from the bigger, deeper questions. We fill our head with distraction, with busyness, so that we don't have to ask, am I well? Am I happy? Are my children growing up right? Are politicians making good decisions on my behalf? Another reason -- although I think, perhaps, the most powerful reason -- why we find it hard to slow down is the cultural taboo that we've erected against slowing down. "Slow" is a dirty word in our culture. It's a byword for "lazy," "slacker," for
  4. 4. being somebody who gives up. You know, "he's a bit slow." It's actually synonymous with being stupid. Is modern culture ruining childhood? Text What places do you remember fondly from childhood? Text Homework: Reading from The New York Times Fast Time and the Aging Mind Gwendal Le Bec By RICHARD A. FRIEDMAN Published: July 20, 2013 AH, the languorous days of endless summer! Who among us doesn’t remember those days and wonder wistfully where they’ve gone? Why does time seem to speed up as we age? Even the summer solstice — the longest, sunniest day of the year — seems to have passed in a flash. No less than the great William James opined on the matter, thinking that the apparent speed of time’s passage was a result of adults’ experiencing fewer memorable events: “Each passing year converts some of this experience into automatic routine which we hardly note at all, the days and the weeks smooth themselves out in recollection to contentless units, and the years grow hollow and collapse.” Don’t despair. I am happy to tell you that the apparent velocity of time is a big fat cognitive illusion and happy to say there may be a way to slow the velocity of our later lives. Although the sense that we perceive time as accelerating as we age is very common, it is hard to prove experimentally. In one of the largest studies to date, Dr. Marc Wittmann of the Institute for Frontier Areas of Psychology and Mental Health, in Germany, interviewed 499 German and Austrian subjects ranging in age from 14 to 94 years; he asked each subject how quickly time seemed to pass during the previous week, month, year and
  5. 5. decade. Surprisingly, there were few differences related to age. With one exception: when researchers asked the subjects about the 10-year interval, older subjects were far more likely than the younger subjects to report that the last decade had passed quickly. Other, non-age-related factors influence our perception of time. Recent research shows that emotions affect our perception of time. For example, Dr. Sylvie Droit-Volet, a psychology professor at Blaise Pascal University, in France, manipulated subjects’ emotional state by showing them movies that excited fear or sadness and then asked them to estimate the duration of the visual stimulus. She found that time appears to pass more slowly when we are afraid. Attention and memory play a part in our perception of time. To accurately gauge the passage of time required to accomplish a given task, you have to be able to focus and remember a sequence of information. That’s partly why someone with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder has trouble judging time intervals and grows impatient with what seems like the slow passage of time. The neurotransmitter dopamine is critically important to our ability to process time. Stimulants like Ritalin and Adderall, which increase dopamine function in the brain, have the effect of speeding up time perception; antipsychotic drugs, which block dopamine receptors, have the opposite effect. On the whole, most of us perceive short intervals of time similarly, regardless of age. Why, then, do older people look back at long stretches of their lives and feel it’s a race to the finish? Here’s a possible answer: think about what it’s like when you learn something for the first time — for example how, when you are young, you learn to ride a bike or navigate your way home from school. It takes time to learn new tasks and to encode them in your memory. And when you are learning about the world for the first time, you are forming a fairly steady stream of new memories of events, places and people. When, as an adult, you look back at your childhood experiences, they appear to unfold in slow motion probably because the sheer number of them gives you the impression that they must have taken forever to acquire. So when you recall the summer vacation when you first learned to swim or row a boat, it feels endless. But this is merely an illusion, the way adults understand the past when they look through the telescope of lost time. This, though, is not an illusion: almost all of us faced far steeper learning curves when we were young. Most adults do not explore and learn about the world the way they did when they were young; adult life lacks the constant discovery and endless novelty of childhood. Studies have shown that the greater the cognitive demands of a task, the longer its duration is perceived to be. Dr. David Eagleman at Baylor College of Medicine found that repeated stimuli appear briefer in duration than novel stimuli of equal duration. Is it possible that learning new things might slow down our internal sense of time? The question and the possibility it presents put me in mind of my father, who died a few years ago at age 86. An engineer by training, he read constantly after he retired. His range was enormous; he read about everything from astronomy to natural history, travel and gardening. I remember once discovering dozens of magazines and journals in the house and was convinced that my parents had become the victims of a mail-order scam. Thinking I’d help with the clutter, I began to bundle up the magazines for recycling when my father angrily confronted me, demanding to know what the hell I was doing. “I read all of these,” he said. And then it dawned on me. I cannot recall his ever having remarked on how fast or slow his life seemed to be going. He was constantly learning, always alive to new ideas and experience. Maybe that’s why he never seemed to notice that time was passing. So what, you might say, if we have an illusion about time speeding up? But it matters, I think, because the distortion signals that we might squeeze more out of life. It’s simple: if you want time to slow down, become a student again. Learn something that requires sustained effort; do something novel. Put down the thriller when you’re sitting on the beach and break out a book on evolutionary
  6. 6. theory or Spanish for beginners or a how-to book on something you’ve always wanted to do. Take a new route to work; vacation at an unknown spot. And take your sweet time about it. Richard A. Friedman is a professor of clinical psychiatry and the director of the psycho-pharmacology clinic at the Weill Cornell Medical College.