Paloma Noyola: The Face of Mexico’s Unleashed Potential
When a report emerged in September 2012 that a girl from one of Matamoros’ poorest neighborhoods had attained the highest math score in Mexico, some doubted its veracity. It must be fake, they said.
But it wasn’t fake. Her name is Paloma Noyola, and what most reports failed to mention is that almost all of her classmates also scored very high on the national math test. 10 scored in the 99.99% percentile.
Paloma and her classmates also scored in the top percentile in language. Something special was happening at José Urbina López primary school in Matamoros, and Wired went to take a look.
The high test scores turned out to be the work of a young teacher who also came from humble beginnings. Sergio Juárez Correa was tired of the monotony of teaching out of a book and wanted to try something new to help engage his students when he came across the work of Sugata Mitra, a UK university professor who had innovated a new pedagogy he called SOLE, or self organized learning environments. The new approach paid off.
Although SOLE usually relies on unfettered Internet access for research, Juárez and his students had very limited access. Somehow, he still found a way to apply Mitra’s teachings and unleash their potential.
From the beginning, Paloma’s exceptional abilities were evident:
One day Juárez Correa went to his whiteboard and wrote “1 = 1.00.” Normally, at this point, he would start explaining the concept of fractions and decimals. Instead he just wrote “½ = ?” and “¼ = ?”
“Think about that for a second,” he said, and walked out of the room.
While the kids murmured, Juárez went to the school cafeteria, where children could buy breakfast and lunch for small change. He borrowed about 10 pesos in coins, worth about 75 cents, and walked back to his classroom, where he distributed a peso’s worth of coins to each table. He noticed that Paloma had already written .50 and .25 on a piece of paper.
As Mr. Juárez implemented more of Mitra’s teachings in his classroom, Paloma continued to stand out as an exceptionally gifted student:
Juárez Correa was impressed. But he was even more intrigued by Paloma. During these experiments, he noticed that she almost always came up with the answer immediately. Sometimes she explained things to her tablemates, other times she kept the answer to herself. Nobody had told him that she had an unusual gift. Yet even when he gave the class difficult questions, she quickly jotted down the answers. To test her limits, he challenged the class with a problem he was sure would stump her. He told the story of Carl Friedrich Gauss, the famous German mathematician, who was born in 1777.
When Gauss was a schoolboy, one of his teachers asked the class to add up every number between 1 and 100. It was supposed to take an hour, but Gauss had the answer almost instantly.
“Does anyone know how he did this?” Juárez Correa asked.
A few students started trying to add up the numbers and soon realized it would take a long time. Paloma, working with her group, carefully wrote out a few sequences and looked at them for a moment. Then she raised her hand.
“The answer is 5,050,” she said. “There are 50 pairs of 101.”
Juárez Correa felt a chill. He’d never encountered a student with so much innate ability. He squatted next to her and asked why she hadn’t expressed much interest in math in the past, since she was clearly good at it.
“Because no one made it this interesting,” she said.
Although this Wired piece focuses mostly on Sugata Mitra, it does once again highlight the story of Paloma Noyola. Unfortunately, after a brief spurt of media attention, little on Paloma was ever mentioned and, as was pointed out by Wired, nothing was ever said of Mr. Juárez.
As with most stories in the Mexican press — and those popular with the middle-class — things suddenly become very important once it’s featured in a gringo publication. Which is a very sad commentary. We hope, however, that this story pushes those in the press, state and federal government to look not to the United States for validation but to Mexicans like Sergio Juárez doing good work in places like Matamoros.
The clear message in this story is that there are thousands of Paloma Noyolas going to school in Mexico who, just like her at one time, are not being challenged and therefore aren’t very interested in school. This story can, if we want it to, raise enough awareness to shift the discussion from poverty to opportunity.
Paloma truly personifies both Mexico’s challenges and unleashed potential.
Read the entire Wired story here: How a Radical New Teaching Method Could Unleash a Generation of Geniuses
Editor’s note: As an addendum, Wired provided information on helping support Sugata Mitra and his School in the Clouds project, and although they donated school supplies and equipment to José Urbina López School, we’re interested in seeing if we can help set up a similar fund for Sergio Juárez, the teacher featured in this story.
Also, $9,300 was raised to help fund Paloma’s education last year. We’re going to follow up with the economist who led the fundraising campaign to see how she’s doing. Stay tuned for the updates.
the urban dictionary definition of mens rights activists is so spot on it hurts-
‘a bunch of whiny pedantic morons that think there is some vast illuminati feminist conspiracy while seemingly ignoring the fact that their own gender runs and ruins the majority of the world’
I'm confused about what Beethoven was doing in the black composers post. He was German.
star stuph Answer:
By golly gee! I keep forgetting that Black people didn’t exist until the Fresh Prince of Bel Air came on television! Or that Black people existed in anywhere else than Africa even with slavery going on :) My apologies.
Anyway, here’s proof that Beethoven was Black:
"… Said directly, Beethoven was a black man. Specifically, his mother was a Moor, that group of Muslim Northern Africans who conquered parts of Europe—making Spain their capital—for some 800 years.
In order to make such a substantial statement, presentation of verifiable evidence is compulsory. Let’s start with what some of Beethoven’s contemporaries and biographers say about his brown complexion:
(Louis Letronne, Beethoven, 1814, pencil drawing.)
"Frederick Hertz, German anthropologist, used these terms to describe him: ‘Negroid traits, dark skin, flat, thick nose.’
Emil Ludwig, in his book ‘Beethoven,’ says: ‘His face reveals no trace of the German. He was so dark that people dubbed him Spagnol [dark-skinned].’
Fanny Giannatasio del Rio, in her book ‘An Unrequited Love: An Episode in the Life of Beethoven,’ wrote ‘His somewhat flat broad nose and rather wide mouth, his small piercing eyes and swarthy [dark] complexion, pockmarked into the bargain, gave him a strong resemblance to a mulatto.’Beethoven’s death mask: profile and full face
C. Czerny stated, ‘His beard—he had not shaved for several days—made the lower part of his already brown face still darker.’
Following are one word descriptions of Beethoven from various writers: Grillparzer, ‘dark’; Bettina von Armin, ‘brown’; Schindler, ‘red and brown’; Rellstab, ‘brownish’; Gelinek, ‘short, dark.’
In Alexander Thayer’s Life of Beethoven, vol.1, p. 134, the author states, “there is none of that obscurity which exalts one to write history as he would have it and not as it really was. The facts are too patent.” On this same page, he states that the German composer Franz Josef Haydn was referred to as a “Moor” by Prince Esterhazy, and Beethoven had “even more of the Moor in his looks.’ On p. 72, a Beethoven contemporary, Gottfried Fischer, describes him as round-nosed and of dark complexion. Also, he was called ‘der Spagnol’ (the Spaniard).
Other “patent” sources, of which there are many, include, but are not limited to, Beethoven by Maynard Solomon, p.78. He is described as having “thick, bristly coal-black hair” (in today’s parlance, we proudly call it ‘kinky’) and a ‘ruddy-complexioned face.’ In Beethoven: His Life and Times by Artes Orga, p.72, Beethoven’s pupil, Carl Czerny of the ‘School of Velocity’ fame, recalls that Beethoven’s ‘coal-black hair, cut a la Titus, stood up around his head [sounds almost like an Afro]. His black beard…darkened the lower part of his dark-complexioned face.’
Engraving by Blasius Hofel, Beethoven, 1814, color facsimile of engraving after a pencil drawing by Louis Letronne. This engraving was regarded in Beethoven’s circle as particularly lifelike. Beethoven himself thought highly of it, and gave several copies to his friends.
Beethoven, the Black Spaniard(read more here)
They whitewashed BEETHOVEN? O_O
Thank you, history/fact-checking Tumblr.
I now feel the need to go burn every white-skinned image of Beethoven I can find.
beethoven was totally black! how do people not know this?
jk because erasure
I have been playing Beethoven’s music for 10+ years now and had absolutely no idea he was black.
My life has been a lie.
OH MY GOD HOLY SHIT.
I HAVE A BACHELOR DEGREE IN MUSIC, MY MAJOR WAS “MUSIC HISTORY, THEORY, AND LITERATURE”
I TOOK MULTIPLE CLASSES SPECIFICALLY IN BEETHOVEN’S STRING QUARTETS AND MY SCHOOL HAD AN INTERNATIONAL BEETHOVEN SYMPOSIUM WHERE THERE WERE PAPERS ON THINGS LIKE THE KIND OF FUCKING PAAAAAAPER HE DID HIS MANUSCRIPTS ON, IN DIFFERENT CITIES, TO SEE WHERE AND WHEN HE WROTE SPECIFIC SNIPPETS OF MUSIC.
NEVER IN MY EDUCATION OR READINGS DID I EITHER
A) NOTICE THIS
B) WAS SPECIFICALLY TOLD THIS.
I think there’s a combination of systemic racism in this, and my own internalized racism. I have, in fact, read Maynard Solomon’s biography and didn’t pick up on this. I have read the Czerny sources as well. My Beethoven teacher (Bill Kinderman) is one of the top Beethoven scholars in the world, and I don’t remember hearing any of this from him.
I even did a semester of graduate work in musicology, specifically focusing on the Beethoven string quartets (I really fucking love those things) and we never spoke about this.
I cannot say I am in any way surprised at this. I am embarrassed, angry, and upset that this was erased from my DECADES of music education.
Which doesn’t surprise me at all, because classical music is very specifically in our culture for white people, especially men, especially upper class white men.
Oof, this one is going to take a while to fully fucking digest, I am in angry tears.
"We are not here concerned with hopes or fears, only with truth as far as our reason permits us to discover it."
- Charles Darwin
Take a look around, and what do you see? Much more than you think you do, thanks to your finely tuned mind’s eye, which processes images without your even knowing.
A University of Arizona study has found that objects in our visual field of which we are not consciously aware still may influence our decisions. The findings refute traditional ideas about visual perception and cognition, and they could shed light on why we sometimes make decisions — stepping into a street, choosing not to merge into a traffic lane — without really knowing why.
Laura Cacciamani, who recently earned her doctorate in psychology with a minor in neuroscience, has found supporting evidence. Cacciamani’s is the lead author on a co-authored study, published online in the journal Attention, Perception and Psychophysics, shows that the brain’s subconscious processing has an impact on behavior and decision-making.
This seems to make evolutionary sense, Cacciamani said. Early humans would have required keen awareness of their surroundings on a subliminal level in order to survive.
"Your brain is always monitoring for meaning in the world, to be aware of your general surroundings and potential predators," Cacciamani said. "You can be focused on a task, but your brain is assessing the meaning of everything around you – even objects that you’re not consciously perceiving."
The study builds on the findings of earlier research by Jay Sanguinetti, who also was a doctoral candidate in the UA Department of Psychology. Both studies go against conventional wisdom among vision scientists.
"According to the traditional view, the brain accesses the meaning – or the memory – of an object after you perceive it," Cacciamani said. "Against this view, we have now shown that the meaning of an object can be accessed before conscious perception.
"We’re showing that there’s more interplay between memory and perception than previously has been assumed," she said.
Cacciamani asked participants in her study to classify nouns that appeared on a computer screen as naming a natural object or artificial object by pressing one of two buttons labeled “natural” or “artificial.” For example, the word “leaf” indicates an object found in nature, while “anchor” indicates a man-made or artificial object.
But before each word appeared on the screen, the computer flashed a black silhouette that – unknown to participants – had portions of natural or artificial objects suggested along the white outside regions (called the “ground” regions) of the image. Participants were not told to look for anything in the silhouettes, and they were flashed so quickly – 50 milliseconds – that it would have been difficult to notice the objects in the ground regions even if someone knew what to look for. Participants never were aware that the silhouette’s grounds suggested recognizable objects.
Cacciamani measured how well study participants performed at categorizing the words as natural or artificial by recording speed and accuracy.
"We found that participants performed better on the natural/artificial word task when that word followed a silhouette whose ground contained an object of the same rather than a different category," Cacciamani said.
This indicates that the brain accessed the meaning of the objects in the silhouette’s grounds even though study participants didn’t know the objects were there, she said.
"Every day our visual systems are bombarded with more information than we can consciously be aware of," Cacciamani said. "We’re showing that your brain might still be accessing information without your conscious awareness, and that could influence your behavior."
Are you planning on watching some movies tonight on Netflix? Or posting a photo to Tumblr? Or backing a crowdfunded project? You’re going to see a lot of spinning wheels. As fall elections heat up and the FCC prepares to close the public comment period on its Open Internet proposal, a cluster of major sites and a number of more minor ones are urging visitors to contact Congress and the FCC and express support for reclassifying broadband internet under the “common carrier” rules that govern phone service and other utilities. This isn’t the only net neutrality-related proposal on the table, but it’s one that could successfully block internet service providers from providing “fast lanes” to sites that pay more, something FCC chair Tom Wheeler has considered allowing within “commercially reasonable” bounds.
Supporters of that proposal argue that ISPs won’t be able to degrade overall quality but can experiment with new tiers of service and business models. To people taking part in the day of action, though, speeding some services up could automatically relegate other parts of the internet to a “slow lane” where ISPs have less incentive to improve quality. And if the new net neutrality rules can’t survive a legal challenge (as the last set couldn’t), they could theoretically even degrade quality of service. Hence today’s protest — if the web gets more data-intensive but internet quality is no longer evenly distributed, the idea goes, you could be seeing a lot more buffering.
The widgets used by some of the sites come from net neutrality coalition Battle for the Net. Some ask you to sign a petition or send an email, while others will let you enter your phone number and directly connect you with a representative from your district, if you’re in the US. The FCC is responsible for finalizing a net neutrality framework, but Congress can show support and potentially float legislation in support of the agency. House minority leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), for instance, has officially come out in favor of reclassifying broadband under common carrier rules.
No matter what you do, these banners will be popping up until midnight tonight, when the day of action ends.
Charts from OKCupid, showing how straight women and men rate each other based on ages. For women, the men they find most attractive are roughly their own age. For men, the women they find most attractive are roughly the same age - 20 to 23 - regardless of the age of the man. (538)
Good fucking Christ.