Saturday, July 21, 2018

Mirror Neurons and Education

Mission: Excellence in Education
by Pilar Olagaray

The first time I heard about mirror neurons I was impressed. It’s really incredible how our brain works. And it is fascinating to discover the impact these neurons have in education.

Mirror neurons were initially discovered by Giacomo Rizzolatti in the early 1990’s at the University of Parma, Italy. He was scanning a monkey’s brain, when a person came in to the laboratory and opened a peanut and ate it. At that moment the neurons of the monkey lit up as if he was eating the peanut.

With mirror neurons we are connected to other people. When I observe your anger, your joy, your frustration, etc, those same neurons that activate in your brain will activate in mine, as if I were having  the experience myself.

These are empathy neurons, and thanks to them we can enjoy a movie, a football game, a videogame and feel every emotion we see. They help us to socialize and to feel affection and companionship. Mirror neurons’ job is to live other people’s lives and help us to understand them. These neurons essentially mirror in the observer’s brain what would have occurred if they had personally done the action.


But, how can I use these amazing neurons for education?

Humans learn together and with each other, we learn by observing and repeating. When we watch someone do something we learn it better than if we read about the process. Watching someone playing the piano and repeating the action will help me to learn faster than if I just read how to do it. That’s why it is important to have a “demonstration corner” in each class so that students use their mirror neurons to learn.

But mirror neurons suggest not only demonstrations, they go deeper in education, they involve the emotions which are essential for learning. How many students have we heard they say they don’t like a subject because they actually don’t like their teacher? Teaching is influenced by mirror neurons.

As teachers we have to be aware that we are a role model. In every student I can see myself. If teachers are joyful and happy, the students will be the same. We have to be aware that our students’ mirror neurons are observing and reacting to every action, emotional expression and behavior. We have to realize that we definitively influence them physically and spiritually in the short and long run.

That is why we must have our students notice that we read and write, that we are curious and look for answers, that we read and share our reading and help others to get involved, that we are interested in difficult subjects and find them full of adventure, that we are courageous and strong, that we concentrate and participate, that we persevere until we reach the task done, that we cooperate with others and care for them, and so on. May we be aware or not, we always play a role model for them to follow.

Thus, it is relevant that we are constantly checking out our own attitude and Self. Our expressions, our moods, and the way we respond to our students, are very important to create a nice environment for learning. We can consciously use our gestures to show thoughts and feelings.

So next time we find out something is not working well in the classroom we can stop and have a look to our inner selves: how am I feeling, what am I letting them mirror? Furthermore, what am I mirroring and giving back?  And, from there, learn how to flow joyfully in the learning process.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

BRASIL Y MÉXICO, Mas allá de la receta

México and Brasil have a rich and delicious plate, but there are some plates that they prepare in a different way. See below some of them and try to do plates from both cultures. You will love it!!!


Origen incierto China, Babilonia y Egipto;
En Meso y Sur América hace 5000 años;
En México fue cultivada antes de la aparición de las culturas Olmeca, Maya y Azteca al mismo tiempo que en China;
En Brasil fue cultivada por la cultura Guaraní;

USO GASTRONÓMICO se elabora dulce típico de día de muertos (Calabaza en Tacha) y cristalizada.
USO MEDICINAL, el tallo, la hoja y la resina de la cáscara se utiliza para curar llagas.

USO GASTRONÓMICO la pulpa también es utilizada en sopas, purés, rellenos, complementos, guarnición y dulces.

USO ARTESANAL recipiente para beber mate y posteriormente como artesanía;

otras recetas /usos

Doce de abóbora

calabaza cristalizada

    sopa de calabaza 

Artesanato de abóbora- Artesania of calabazas.


Origen en América Central, en el valle de Coxcatlán, Puebla hace ocho mil años;
De ahí se extendió hacia el norte de Alaska y Argentina, posteriormente a Europa con el descubrimiento de América;
Base de la alimentación Maya y Azteca;

USO CULTURAL GASTRONÓMICO se elaboran múltiples insumos, alimentos y bebidas, como: pozole, esquites,  tortillas, harinas, maizena, enchiladas, chilaquiles, sopes, tacos, atoles, tejuino, tlacoyos, gorditas, pinoles, aceite, tamales, huaraches, tlayudas, sopa de tortilla, flautas, pozol, pastel azteca, pastel de elote, Huitlacoche, hoja de maiz para envolver el tamal, etc.


USO ARTESANAL con la hoja seca se producen canastas, sombreros, bolsas, objetos decorativo con los olotes a mano, flores, coronas, muñecos 
pintados a mano, tapetes, etc.


Evidencia más antigua data hace siete mil años en Coxcatlán, Puebla, México y en el norte Guatemala hace cinco mil años;
La palabra aguacate proviene del vocablo náhuatl “ahuacátl”, que significa testículos (por su forma);


Aguacate -Abacate

USO GASTRONÓMICO se elaboran ensaladas, se sirve como guarnición, cremas, su hoja se utiliza para mixiotes, barbacoa y enfrijoladas.

Aguacate -
USO CULTURAL GASTRONÓMICO se elaboran múltiples insumos, alimentos y bebidas, como: pozole,esquites,  tortillas, harinas, maizena, enchiladas, chilaquiles, sopes, tacos, atoles, tejuino, tlacoyos, gorditas, pinoles, aceite, tamales, huaraches, tlayudas, sopa de tortilla, flautas, pozol,pastel azteca, pastel de elote, Huitlacoche, hoja de maiz para envolver el tamal, etc.

USO ARTESANAL con la hoja seca se producen canastas, sombreros, bolsas, objetos decorativo con los olotes a mano, flores, coronas, muñecos pintados a mano, tapetes, etc.

Platillos Aguacate-Abacate
Salsa Mexicana: Guacamole

Dulce Brasileño: Vitamina de Abacate

  • USO GASTRONÓMICO se elaboran ensaladas, se sirve como guarnición, cremas, su hoja se utiliza para mixiotes, barbacoa y enfrijoladas.
USO GASTRONÓMICO Se elaboran ensaladas como la de Aguacate con mango, se utiliza

Referencia Bibliográfica

by Marli Camargo

Monday, May 7, 2018

PLASTIC: It is Time to Stop Buying It

Mission: World Understanding
by Marli Camargo

     According to the dictionary, Plastic is a synthetic material made from a wide range of organic polymers such as polyethylene, PVC, nylon, etc., that can be molded into shape while soft and then set as a rigid or slightly elastic form. 

     This statement is minuscule compared to the problems plastic has been causing around the world.
Can plastic be beneficial to anyone? Let's see what has been written about it.

     According to The World Counts ( five trillion plastic bags will be used this year (160.000/sec) and 100 million tons of plastic. Most of it ends up in the oceans, where it is broken down into small pieces and eaten by sea animals, causing their death.
Academy-award winner Jeremy Irons shows in his video “Mockumentary” how a plastic bag gets to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a place in the middle of the ocean with millions of floating plastic bags trapped by the ocean current. 

     The Garbage Patch has the amazing size of 2x Texas!
He says that not only plastic bags are the problem, but all kinds of plastic are swimming in our oceans. Here give examples of the other plastics that are not the bags - such as the microscopic pieces of polymer that are creating a toxic “soup”.
Why? Because although recycling has become quite popular, it isn't enough.

     The population recycles only 10% of all the consumed plastic, another part is handled by responsible authorities but still a great part of plastic ends up in the oceans. As already said, fish whales, turtles, birds now include plastic as part of their food chain. Since these sea animals are part of the human food chain, we have been eating plastic as well. 

     Given this fact, I have to agree with vegetarians: some meat is really disgusting. Katie Forster, in her article published in 21/05/2016 “Microplastics in the sea a growing threat to human health, United Nations warns” mentioned that microplastics in the sea pose a growing threat to human health. Plastic pollution is an enormous world problem. A lot has been done but we still have tons of work to do to change this scenario. Using plastic has become a habit but habits can be changed. So, when it comes to plastic, let's use the 6 R's that most, if not all, nature activists use: Reduce, choose products made of materials other than plastic Reuse, think of things you can reuse such as shopping bags, bottles, glasses, and straws; Recycle, shoes and clothes have lots of plastic fibers, donate them; Rethink, try to do things without using disposable plastic; Repair, if something made of plastic breaks, try to fix it or give it another use before trashing it; Refuse, say no to plastic, use metal forks or ceramic dishes instead of styrofoam.

     We will always have plastic in our lives and it should be ok, after all, it is a great invention. We just need to put in its place. 

     Mexico, for example, has been doing a great job with recycled plastic.
Carabaña, 19/03/18, wrote that Mexico is making a difference by recycling pet and making into homes for earthquakes victims. "Coca-Cola, Sprite, Pepsi and Lipton Ice Tea are just some of the brands on display on the labels of plastic bottles that will make up the new home for many victims of the earthquake.

     The earthquake of September 19 left many without a roof and many volunteers from the organization Viviendas Emergentes, or Emerging Homes, (VIEM) are helping to build many new homes – one bottle at a time.

     As a victim of the earthquake is building her home and says “We have not given so much already for this not to work,” says Vanessa. "I am going to devote my entire life to this. I am sure it is going to work." 
     According to official data, 862 homes were damaged in Tetela del Volcan and another 1,200 in the surrounding towns. Carabaña mentions that locals complain that the reconstruction effort led more by social organizations than federal authorities, has been slow so much more funding is needed.

     He mentioned as well that the organization began to receive help from people in Mexico City as well as businesses who offered trucks to move the PET. In the capital alone, they were able to collect one million bottles. Around 15,000 bottles and 60,000 to 80,000 pesos (€3,000 to €4,000) are needed to build a 40-square-meter house.

     As educators, professionals, mothers, and women we should avoid buying plastics and to stop polluting our environment and destroying our lives. 


  2. (
  4. FOSTER, Katie ; 2016 - “The Independent online.”

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Mission: Excellence in Education
By Ana Paula Fiechter

   As teachers, we should know the importance of knowing our students well enough to understand their behaviors and learning process in class. Teachers are in constant training, updating courses, learning different ways of teaching and how to recognize the real difficulties of a student. However, most schools keep proudly the title of having a traditional educational system. Most of the time, this title forbids the appliance of some helpful techniques learned but as considered as modern methods, they cannot be used in a traditional school. How many children could be studying in a pleasant way, without fighting against their own obstacles if only a teacher would campaign for the right of using unconventional resources?

   In Europe, for example, a child with hyperactivity can have a teddy bear on his lap during class because it has been shown that it helps to calm the child. To sit on a Pilates ball can help a child to focus during learning and even listening to music while working elevates the level of concentration of a person. These are only some examples of simple solutions that can be easily used to help children to soften whatever condition they might have. It is quite sad to see that despite all knowledge acquired by some teachers, and school directors, the job done in the every day routine is still the one that feels more comfortable for the teacher. It is necessary to change this, to get out of the comfort zone, to try out new things. And all this starts by the teacher. It is the teacher who has the most contact to the students and should know their needs and so, it is the teacher who can in first place bring to the higher authorities the positive results conquered by a new experience.
   The principles of integration in an ordinary system of education have brought the thought about the need of a psycho-pedagogical intervention in class. Teachers need to revise the new proposals and make a different process of integration, the adaptation of specialized human resources and materials that may contribute to a new model of special education allowing teaching with quality.
Rafael Bautista Jimenez in his article “Special Education and Education Reform” (2002-Bautista Rafael; Necesidades Educativas Especiales) mentions that the concept of learning with difficulties has changed. In the past, the child was the only guilty, “it was inside him”. Nowadays, it is considered that the school, which doesn't do the needed adaptations, has a big responsibility in the final learning process results.
   Special needs is an issue that can bring up so many topics. Here the aim is just to remember the role and importance of the teacher in this process of transformation inside and outside the classroom, how children are different and how the process of learning can vary greatly from child to child.
   Children need to be respected and receive from school the necessary support to overcome the difficulties and reach the desired level of learning to live well and understand some important basics concepts for their lives and surroundings. 

Best regards, Ana

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Building Rapport Is the First Step

Mission: Altruism

by Rebeca Olagaray

Lately, difficult times have hit us, in the U.S.A. with hurricanes falling over Houston and Puerto Rico. In Mexico, several places across the country have suffered terrible earthquakes:
Mexico City, Oaxaca, Chiapas, and Morelos.
So this situation has put us all to work.
     In Morelos, you could see disaster zones practically everywhere. So our ETA Chapter made a first approach by doing some field research. We visited Miacatlán, Coatetelco, Tehuixtla, Tlaquiltenango, Jojutla, and focussed on schools and their needs. We talked basically with directors, finding out their needs: many fallen stone walls, many different sized cracks on classrooms, breakfast for their students, help for their teachers that had lost their home, and so on. But with this first approach, we also found out that schools in those communities were official schools on the official SEP protocol, and getting involved in aid activities with them could mean getting involved and lost in bureaucracy.

     By that time our National ADK President in Mexico, Debby Dunhame had already got in touch with Rotary Club of Jardines de Cuernavaca. We began helping them with their deliveries of aid, and collaborating with them in three activities with children related to traditional festivities: on December 22, a Mexican posada with games and piñatas and bags of candy and fruit for 120 children on Tetecalilla; on January 6, the traditional Rosca de Reyes (Three Wise Men Cake) with 230 boxes with presents for the children of Amacuitlapilco; and on February 2, with 80 bags of stuffed animals and toys for children in El Pañuelo indian community. All of them belonged to very poor pheasant families that haven’t been alphabetized. Now that they have seen us, in case we are able to do any further labor with them, they will recognize us helping things flow more easily.

     This approach to people sets the the kind of rapport in which we befriend them with fun and happy activities. We could say this is a temporary rapport. If you disappear from their lives as soon as the activity ends, nothing happens. There is no further expectation.

     Another kind of rapport is established when you carry somehow the star of a promise on your forehead. When people sense this, the relationship may be established in two ways:

     One is that of the saviour and the victim, the one that extends the hand. Sometimes, in this case, the person who offers help may fall in the temptation of feeding his or her ego, and the person in the disaster case (like an earthquake) may get used to wait for aid and help -extending this situation indefinitely.

     On the other hand, the promise is based in a more horizontal relationship of colleagues: “I can do it” / “I will accompany you”. Participation levels are high on both sides. They are task oriented. 

     In the process of the rapport building of this horizontal relationship, there are, nevertheless, three important things that are to be taken into account and done: 

  • It has been proven that the expectations you have from another person is what that person gives. If your expectations are high the person will be highly responsive. And this is mutual. The expectations a person has of him or herself is also a variable that may show up, but even in a case of low self-esteem high expectations bring forth high achievement. 
  • It is important, therefore, to give a quick follow-up to the fulfilment of the expectations, in whichever part of the process it may be. If not, the enthusiasm may become deceit and restoring confidence may become point less than impossible -and collateral, horizontal participation that involves both sides is a must in order to achieve a self-sustaining effective project. Remember that the persona in a situation he or she wants to overcome has also high expectations of that promise: “They’ll help me to find the ways and means to grow independent.” As a matter of fact, this is the kind of aid a person that is not broken by a disaster situation wants. This link between the social volunteer and those in disaster zone is the one that arises synergy. 
  • In any case, it is essential to begin by defining space to keep a good communication between the parts. To properly define the spaces involved, we formulate the question: “In whose space is...(the need, the achievement, he opinion, the feeling...?” In order to keep real the expectations we may have of one another, it is very important to define space together so everybody will be aware and know which are those expectations they are to fulfill. 

El mar es las olas
Por Antonio Luquín
“Sólo el polvo es indestructible.”
José Emilio Pacheco

   ¿De dónde sale tanto polvo? Y no acababa de contar la innumerable multiplicación del polvo que, conforme se aproximaba a mí llegaba transformado en rostros, cuerpos diminutos, brazos, piernitas y –sobre todo– ojos, entre agradecidos y suplicantes …manitas que esperan lo que sea.

   Lo que sea, puede suceder en México. Uno puede conversar animadamente en una fonda sin saber, quizá, que la persona a nuestro lado sea un sicario, un simpático matón a sueldo, y que éste sea el padre furtivo de quién sabe cuántos en quién sabe cuántas comunidades. 

   Y también puede uno encontrar pequeños de apenas 6 o 7 años que ayudan a sus padres en las labores del campo. La educación de la tierra los vuelve hombres a los 13 años y luego piedras, que a su vez se desmoronan y se vuelven polvo.

   La visita a la comunidad de San Gabriel Amacuitlapilco en el Estado de Morelos ha sido un privilegio para todos nosotros. Nos ha enseñado –recordado en realidad– que somos un país generoso y agradecido, un país donde dan más los que menos tienen y cuya alegría no radica en el recibir, sino en el dar (cualquiera de ellos nos habría llevado a su humilde casa a compartir frijoles y tortillas y hasta nos habría ofrecido hospedaje, de haberlo pedido).

   Al pueblo fantasma aquél al que llegamos le bastó una sola llamada para congregarse y convertirse en una marea de risas y expectación, porque el mar es las olas, mismo que llegó y nos revolcó para después retirarse a vivir los siglos, a donde van acompañados de un milagroso juguete que los habrá de seguir quién sabe cuántos años y hasta quizás hereden.

Monday, November 13, 2017


Misión: Excelencia en la educación
Por Raquel Munitz

Declaración del Consejo Mexicano de Optometría Funcional:
    “Se estima que actualmente 1 de cada 4 niños en edad escolar sufre problemas de la visión no diagnosticados, mismos que afectan su funcionamiento en la escuela y fuera de ella, dado que muchas habilidades visuales son necesarias para aprender correctamente en el salón de clases; las deficiencias de una o más habilidades visuales pueden contribuir al funcionamiento académico pobre.
    60% de lo que el niño aprende en la escuela se procesa a través del sistema visual. Incluso un problema de proceso visual de menor importancia interferirá con un niño  o adulto al tratar de desarrollar su potencial.“

    Por tanto, es importante conocer que buena  Vista y  buena Visión no son sinónimos; se puede tener buena vista y no buena visión.
    Definición de buena Vista:  Ver con claridad a una distancia de 6 metros la línea 10 en  una cartilla diseñada y estandarizada para medir agudeza visual. La Vista Perfecta corresponde a 20/20 .
    Definición de buena Visión: Ver claro (enfoque) y sencillo (fusionar cada una de las imágenes recibidas por ambos ojos y crear la 3D), a todas las distancias, en todos los puntos de la mirada y por el tiempo suficiente, para recabar la información recibida por el sistema visual.
    Al niño que tiene dificultades en clase es importante valorarlo para explorar si tiene buena vista y si tiene buena visión.
    La  evaluación de la vista la puede hacer una enfermera, educadora, maestra, o cualquier persona que esté entrenada para observar la respuesta del individuo a la Cartilla de Agudeza.
    Una vez que se ha determinado que el alumno valorado tiene buena vista y que, a pesar de esto, no puede desempeñarse con eficiencia en el salón de clase, se debe sospechar que existen Problemas Visuales Funcionales que deberán ser apropiadamente evaluados por un profesionista especializado en la atención Funcional del Sistema Visual: Éste profesionista es un Optometrista de Desarrollo o Conductual, quien evaluará las siguientes funciones del sistema visual :
Agudeza visual,
Eficiencia del sistema oculo-motor,
Eficiencia del sistema de Enfoque,
Eficiencia del sistema Binocular,
Habilidades Viso-Perceptuales.
Macintosh HD:Users:raquel:Desktop:procesamiento perceptivo.jpgpediatric-vision-care.jpg                                                                                                   

    Una vez que se ha practicado la Evaluación Visual Funcional, el Optometrista de Desarrollo decide si es necesario el uso de lentes  que permitan buena vista de lejos y de cerca y, en algunos casos, el inicio de un programa de Terapia Visual.
 El abordaje de Tratamiento denominado Optometría Funcional está documentado desde el año 1937 por el Dr . Skeffington, a quien se considera el padre de la Optometría Funcional y, a partir de él, por un gran número de Optometristas en todo el mundo que se han especializado en la práctica de esta disciplina.

    Para mayor información consultar las páginas de:
  1. COVD   College of Vision Development,
  2. COMOF  Consejo Mexicano de Optometría Funcional,
  3. Y numerosas publicaciones como Total Vision Dr. Richard S. Kavner & Lorraine Dusky.
  4. 20/20 is not enough Dr. Sheinman,
  5. Y la muy famosa y reciente  publicación en el New York Times: Stereo Sue.
Quedo a sus ordenes Raquel Munitz Psic. NDT COVTT NVPT.