Parrots, People and Pedagogies: A Look at Teaching and Education

Jul 16 2010 Published by under Education, Journal Club, Teaching

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ALEX the African Grey Parrot and Dr Irene Pepperberg.
Image: The ALEX Foundation.

Like anyone who has taught science courses, and probably like anyone who has ever taught anything to a classroom in the history of mankind, I've wondered how to motivate my students to really care about the material they are learning, beyond simply "studying for the test." For example, I have used a group method of study where groups of 4 students are each assigned a specific task: to become an expert in a particular area and to share their knowledge with the other groups. This method is only partially successful since it is dependent upon good classroom rapport and careful management by the professor, otherwise, each group of "experts" can selectively withhold or misrepresent information that is important for developing a better understanding of the topic at hand.

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Alex the African Grey Parrot: Was Alex a Genius?

Nov 02 2008 Published by under Brain & Behavior, Streaming videos

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Tonight, I will attend Irene Pepperberg's reading where she will read from her new book about her friend and colleague, Alex the African grey parrot. Below is an interesting video showing some of what Alex was capable of doing, and it also provides a small glimpse into the relationship between Alex and Irene [2:06]

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Irene Pepperberg to Appear in NYC

Sep 09 2008 Published by under Uncategorized

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Cognitive scientist, Irene Pepperberg and her parrots, Griffin, Arthur (Wart) and Alex.
Image: Mike Lovett, Brandeis University.

I just wanted to let you know that Irene Pepperberg has several speaking engagements to promote her new book, Alex & Me: How a Scientist and a Parrot Discovered a Hidden World of Animal Intelligence -- and Formed a Deep Bond in the Process (scheduled release date: 28 October 2008). As you might remember, six months ago, I was given the opportunity to review an advance reading copy of several chapters of this book, which I favorably recommended at the time (I am looking forward to reading and reviewing the completed book as soon as it arrives). Anyway, she is traveling to several cities to promote the book and to raise money to continue her research. Thanks to one of my readers, I will be attending one of Pepperberg's two NYC appearances! This appearance is an interview by Robert Krulwich, who is the host of Nova Science Now, and regularly appears on NPR and is an ABC News correspondent [Irene's speaking schedule]. To say the least, I will definitely be writing about her appearance on my blog for all of you to read about.

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Video Memorial of Alex The Parrot

Oct 29 2007 Published by under Brain & Behavior, Streaming videos

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Alex was a famous African grey parrot who could count to six, identify colors and even express frustration with repetitive scientific trials. He died about five weeks ago, after 30 years of helping researchers better understand the avian brain. This streaming video below the fold has a wonderful tribute to Alex and his many talents. [2:39]

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Memorial Reprint of Article About Alex on Seed Magazine

Sep 13 2007 Published by under Brain & Behavior

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Alex, the African grey parrot, Psittacus erithacus,
who worked with Irene Pepperberg for more than 30 years.
Image: Illustration by Andrew Kuo, Photograph by John Woo.

An article about Alex, the African grey parrot who worked with Irene Pepperberg, has been reprinted on the Seed magazine site. This piece was originally published in 2004 and reappears now as a memorial to Alex. It includes lovely images, such as the one above.

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Streaming Alex The Parrot

Sep 10 2007 Published by under Brain & Behavior, Streaming videos

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"Alex is actually THINKING!"
Well, of course animals think. They're constantly making decisions based on information available to them. What was special about Alex, the African grey parrot who worked with Irene Pepperberg, was his ability to communicate his thoughts, giving us insight into how his mind works. Rest in peace, little guy. [0:34]

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