Home » Library » Enjoy » Karen's Letters

Karen's Letters

On My Mind: Zoos Then and Now

What’s a good thing to do with a bunch of kids on a summer day? Go to the zoo! I’ve never gotten over my childhood love of zoos. I took my kids, and now I take theirs (you can share a memorable visit to the zoo with my grandchildren in Reaching the Animal Mind, Chapter 5, Creativity).

On My Mind: A Summer Dream

If God made man in his own image, I figure God made woman in his own image, too, and lots of other things, too. I mean, God might not always care to look like a male primate. Sometimes She might look beautiful in other ways, and make other things in her own image. Jellyfish, for instance. What could be more beautiful—and fun to be, too? Jellyfish have nerve centers all around the circle, like lots of little brains that do things together.

On My Mind: Reaching the Animal Mind Celebrates its First Birthday!

Reaching the Animal Mind (RTAM) came out exactly a year ago, in June of 2009. And wow, what a year it’s been!

On My Mind: It's Not What You Do. It's How You Do It.

It’s a sunny spring afternoon in New England at the annual meeting of a group of animal behaviorists. I’m sitting on a folding chair alongside a small corral, watching some demonstrations with horses. My friend Tim Sullivan, curator of behavioral husbandry at the Brookfield Zoo in Chicago, is sitting on my left.

We’re watching a demonstration of clicker training. A calm old police horse is led into the corral and turned loose. The trainer stands on our side of the fence. She has a clicker, a bucket of feed, and a huge target stick that looks like a toilet plunger, with a big padded lump on one end.

On My Mind: Paying Kids to Learn

Last week TIME magazine ran a cover story about paying kids cash money to get better grades.

The objections to cash ‘rewards’ for schooling have been around for a long time and can lead to tremendous political uproar. There are moral objections—children should do what’s expected of them without reward. There are philosophical, theoretical, religious, and of course financial objections.

Well, this fellow at Harvard, economist Roland Fryer Jr., decided the first thing to do was to find out if paying kids to do better in school actually worked or not. Forget all the existing studies and opinions. Forget those specific schools where reinforcers, large and small, are built into the system. According to TIME, Dr. Fryer “did something education researchers almost never do: he ran a randomized experiment.” (Just think about THAT for a minute. They opine stuff and put it into the schools and they don’t TEST it?)