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N'kisi is a male African Grey parrot, 14 years old, that lives in New York City, and the bird has an active vocabulary of more than a thousand words. N'kisi is not mimicking human speech, he is actually conversing with persons.

As far as I know is N'kisi one of maybe half a dozen parrots that were systematically trained to speak, listen, and communicate by their professional trainers or owners, and these parrots are all African Greys.

From the moment N'kisi was young, he was hand-raised by Aimee Morgana who is a parrot expert and an artist. She started working with N’kisi and gave him language training already when the parrot was not even one year old.

There is a movie (“When Animals Talk”) where you can admire N’kisi’s extensive vocabulary and be surprised by the bird’s relatively good communications skills. ...continue reading "The moment N’kisi met with Jane Goodall"

Lately, more and more schools have begun considering a ‘pay-for-performance’ method, where kids are rewarded for high test scores. Basically, if a student scores well on a test, then both that student and the teacher will receive some sort of cash reward.

Students in AP classes will receive more of an award because they are taking a harder class. Apparently, this has already created a 60% increase in the enrollment in some AP classes.

The idea is that by providing a direct incentive like money, kids will be more motivated to take tests more seriously and to push themselves to take a harder class.

As with the school uniforms debate, this is a controversial issue as well. Many believe that the money could be better used elsewhere: to reduce classroom sizes, to provide better learning materials, and so forth.

...continue reading "Rewarding for high test scores"