Wednesday, 24 April 2019

A B.C. architect and developer are teaming up to propose a 35-to-40-storey tower in Vancouver's Kitsilano neighbourhood. Aaron McArthur has the ... Read more..
Crews from Kitsilano were called to investigate, and located the vessel "Swish." As they attempted to tow it to shore, it started to take on water. Read more..
The interim rezoning policy, which will apply to Kitsilano and West Point Grey, is intended to curb speculation ahead of a possible extension of the ... Read more..

Critical thinking is a 21st-century essential — here’s how to help kids learn it

If we want children to thrive in our complicated world, we need to teach them how to think, says educator Brian Oshiro. And we can do it with 4 simple questions.

This post is part of TED’s “How to Be a Better Human” series, each of which contains a piece of helpful advice from someone in the TED community; browse through all the posts here.

We all want the young people in our lives to thrive, but there’s no clear consensus about what will best set them on the path to future success. Should every child be taught to code? Attain fluency in Mandarin, Spanish, Hindi and English?

Those are great, but they’re not enough, says educator and teacher trainer Brian Oshiro. If we want our children to have flexible minds that can readily absorb new information and respond to complex problems, he says, we need to develop their critical thinking skills.

In adult life, “we all have to deal with questions that are a lot more complicated than those found on a multiple-choice test,” he says. “We need to give students an opportunity to grapple with questions that don’t necessarily have one correct answer. This is more realistic of the types of situations that they’re likely to face when they get outside the classroom.”

How can we encourage kids to think critically from an early age? Through an activity that every child is already an expert at — asking questions.

1. Go beyond “what?” — and ask “how?” and “why?”

Let’s say your child is learning about climate change in school. Their teacher may ask them a question like “What are main causes of climate change?” Oshiro says there are two problems with this question — it can be answered with a quick web search, and being able to answer it gives people a false of security; it makes them feel like they know a topic, but their knowledge is superficial.

At home, prompt your kid to answer questions such as “How exactly does X cause climate change?” and “Why should we worry about it?” To answer, they’ll need to go beyond the bare facts and really think about a subject.

Other great questions: “How will climate change affect where we live?” or “Why should our town in particular worry about climate change?” Localizing questions gives kids, says Oshiro, “an opportunity to connect whatever knowledge they have to something personal in their lives.”

2. Follow it up with “How do you know this?”

Oshiro says, “They have to provide some sort of evidence and be able to defend their answer against some logical attack.” Answering this question requires kids to reflect on their previous statements and assess where they’re getting their information from.

3. Prompt them to think about how their perspective may differ from other people’s.

Ask a question like “How will climate change affect people living in X country or X city?” or “Why should people living in X country or X city worry about it?” Kids will be pushed to think about the priorities and concerns of others, says Oshiro, and to try to understand their perspectives — essential elements of creative problem-solving.

4. Finally, ask them how to solve this problem.

But be sure to focus the question. For example, rather than ask “How can we solve climate change?” — which is too big for anyone to wrap their mind around — ask “How could we address and solve cause X of climate change?” Answering this question will require kids to synthesize their knowledge. Nudge them to come up with a variety of approaches: What scientific solution could address cause X? What’s a financial solution? Political solution?

You can start this project anytime on any topic; you don’t have to be an expert what your kids are studying. This is about teaching them to think for themselves. Your role is to direct their questions and listen critically. Meanwhile, your kids “have to think about how they’re going to put this into digestible pieces for you to understand it. It’s a great way to consolidate learning.”

Critical thinking isn’t just for the young, of course. Oshiro says, “If you’re a lifelong learner, ask yourself these types of questions in order to test your assumptions about what you think you already know.” As he says, “We can all improve and support critical thinking by asking a few extra questions each day.”

Watch his TEDxXiguan talk now:

Read more from TED: Ideas Worth Sharing

Too soon to call B.C.’s rental-only zoning option a failed policy, experts say

NEW WESTMINSTER (NEWS 1130) – It’s been one year since the province gave municipalities the option to set up rental-only zoning — but only one city has signed up.

With a vacancy rate in the region only slightly above zero, everyone agrees: we need more rental supply.

But with just New Westminster opting to use the proposed zoning — and getting sued — economist Tsur Somerville with UBC’s Sauder School of Business says it’s not an option he would have recommended for a couple of reasons.

“There are some complicated legal issues associated with it, and I think there’s also some concerns long-term when you lock a location in to not just particular land-use type, but then a particular tenure within that land-use type,” he explains.

Sommerville adds: “When you’re in a situation when there’s a shortage of rental space, but we have an excess of rental space — which happens, I mean, you do have things that are cyclical, particularly with demographic trends.”

When he first heard about rental-only zoning as an option, he says he thought it was a “pretty heavy hammer.”

“But it’s kind of a weird box where people are in favour and want more rental housing. But as you’re seeing in places like [Kitsilano], if you provide additional density to encourage rental housing, then the neighbourhood screams about that.”

Sommerville describes the housing problem as a general “have your cake and eat it too” kind of situation.

Meantime, while it’s been a year since the policy was floated as an option, Sommerville says it’s still too early to call rental-only zoning a failed policy.

He notes more time is needed, and believes it’s not about adjusting the current policy and getting more uptake on it, but rather figuring out how to get more rental property built.

“I think the policy is offered as a tool with the objective of having more purpose-built rental housing,” he explains. “I think the more appropriate question is what’s the most appropriate use there.”

Tom Davidoff, also with the Sauder School of Business at UBC, doesn’t see the policy as a failure either, instead calling it an “interesting choice.”

“Essentially, people want to build condos so much that it makes it hard for anybody to do rental because the value under condos is so great,” he explains. “I think there’s a strong argument to be made that condos aren’t so bad — they’re housing too, a lot of them are rented out.”

He lists a number of initiatives like the speculation tax, empty homes tax, and even limitations placed on Airbnb rentals as examples of why the risk of properties sitting empty isn’t as high as it may have been.

Davidoff says there’s a “reasonable perspective” that rentals serve people who “wouldn’t be served otherwise through condo to the extent you believe that rental-only zoning makes sense.”

So why has only one municipality implemented the policy? He has a number of suspicions, but says it might be wise to wait until time has passed.

“Where condos weaken, and see if there isn’t some take up of this by municipalities,” Davidoff adds.

The post Too soon to call B.C.’s rental-only zoning option a failed policy, experts say appeared first on City NEWS 1130.

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Reducing the carbon footprint of academic travel

Inside Higher Ed published an op-ed co-written by Deanna Kreisel, a UBC professor of English, about how academics can reduce their carbon footprint.

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Species protection important for Earth

Karen Hodges, a biology professor at UBCO, wrote an op-ed for the Kelowna Daily Courier about the importance of species protection.

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