A wreath is an assortment of flowers, fruits, twigs, or various materials, constructed to form a ring. In English-speaking countries, wreaths are used as household ornaments, most as an Advent and Christmas decoration, they are used in ceremonial events in many cultures around the globe. They can be worn as a garland around the neck. Wreaths have much symbolism associated with them, they are made from evergreens and symbolize strength, as evergreens last throughout the harshest winters. Bay laurel may be used; the word wreath comes from Old English writha, band. Wreaths were a design used in ancient times in southern Europe; the most well-known are pieces of Etruscan civilization jewelry, made of gold or other precious metals. Symbols from Greek myths appear in the designs, embossed in precious metal at the ends of the wreath. Ancient Roman writers referred to Etruscan corona sutilis, which were wreaths with their leaves sewn onto a background; these wreaths resemble a diadem, with thin metal leaves being attached to an ornamental band.

Wreaths appear stamped into Etruscan medallions. The plants shown making the wreaths in Etruscan jewelry include ivy, olive leaves, laurel and vines. Wreaths were worn as crowns by Etruscan rulers; the Etruscan symbolism continued to be used in Ancient Rome. Roman magistrates wore golden wreaths as crowns, as a symbolic testament to their lineage back to Rome's early Etruscan rulers. Roman magistrates used several other prominent Etruscan symbols in addition to a golden wreath crown: fasces, a curule chair, a purple toga, an ivory rod. In the Greco-Roman world, wreaths were used as an adornment that could represent a person’s occupation, their achievements and status; the wreath, used was the laurel wreath. The use of this wreath comes from the Greek myth involving Apollo, Zeus’ son and the god of life and light, who fell in love with the nymph Daphne; when he pursued her she asked the river god Peneus to help her. Peneus turned her into a laurel tree. From that day, Apollo wore a wreath of laurel on his head.

Laurel wreaths became associated with what Apollo embodied. Laurel wreaths were used to crown victorious athletes at the original Olympic Games and are still worn in Italy by university students who just graduated. Other types of plants used to make wreath crowns had symbolic meaning. For example, oak leaves symbolized wisdom, were associated with Zeus, who according to Greek mythology made his decisions while resting in an oak grove; the Twelve Tables, dating to 450 BC, refer to funeral wreaths as a long-standing tradition. Olive wreath was the prize for the winner at the ancient Olympic Games. Harvest wreaths, a common household decoration today, are a custom with ancient roots in Europe; the creation of harvest wreaths in Europe can be traced back to ancient times, is associated with animistic spiritual beliefs. In Ancient Greece, the harvest wreath was a sacred amulet, using wheat or other harvested plants, woven together with red and white wool thread; the harvest wreath would be hung by the door year-round.

Harvest wreaths were an important symbol to the community in Ancient Greece, not to the farmer and his family. The festivals devoted to Dionysus, the Oschophoria and Anthesteria, included a ritual procession called the eiresîonê. A harvest wreath was carried to Pyanopsia and Thargelia by young boys, who would sing during the journey; the laurel or olive wreath would be hung at the door, offerings were made to Helios and the Hours. It was hoped. In Poland, the harvest wreath is a central symbol of the Harvest Dozynki. Wreaths are made of different shapes and sizes, using harvested grain plants and nuts; the wreath is brought to a church for a blessing by a priest. The tradition includes a procession to the family home from the church, with a girl or young woman leading the procession and carrying the wreath; the procession is followed with a feast. Ukraine and other Eastern Europe cultures have similar rituals that began as part of pre-Christian culture. In Christianity, wreaths are used to observe the Advent season, in preparation for Christmastide and Epiphanytide, as well as to celebrate the latter two liturgical seasons.

These wreaths, as with other Advent and Christmas decorations, are set up on the first Sunday of Advent, a custom, sometimes done liturgically, through a hanging of the greens ceremony. The Advent wreath was first used by Lutherans in Germany in the 16th century, in 1839, Lutheran priest Johann Hinrich Wichern used a wreath made from a cart wheel to educate children about the meaning and purpose of Christmas, as well as to help them count its approach, thus giving rise to the modern version of the Advent wreath. For every Sunday of Advent, starting with the fourth Sunday before Christmas, he would put a white candle in the wreath and for every day in between he would use a red candle; the use of the Advent wreath has since spread from the Lutheran Church to many Christian denominations, some of these traditions, such as the Catholic Church and Moravian Church, have introduced unique variations to it. All of the Advent wreaths, have four candles, many of them have a white candle in the centre, the Christ candle, lit on Christmas Day.

Advent and Christmas wreaths are constructed of evergreens to represent everlast


Aquaphobia is an irrational fear of water. Aquaphobia is considered a Specific Phobia of natural environment type in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. A specific phobia is an intense fear of something that poses no actual danger. A study of epidemiological data from 22 low, lower-middle, upper-middle and high-income countries revealed "fear of still water or weather events" had a prevalence of 2.3%, across all countries, in the US the prevalence was 4.3%. In an article on anxiety disorders and Stefansson suggest that aquaphobia may affect as many as 1.8% of the general Icelandic population, or one in fifty people. Specific phobias are a type of anxiety disorder in which a person may feel anxious or has a panic attack when exposed to the object of fear. Specific phobias are a common mental disorder. Psychologists indicate that aquaphobia manifests itself in people through a combination of experiential and genetic factors. In the case of a 37 year old media professor, he noted that his fear presented itself as a, "severe pain, accompanied by a tightness of his forehead," and a choking sensation, discrete panic attacks and a reduction in his intake of fluids.

The correct Greek-derived term for "water-fear" is hydrophobia, from ὕδωρ, "water" and φόβος, "fear". However, this word has long been used in English to refer to a symptom of later-stage rabies, which manifests itself in humans as difficulty in swallowing, fear when presented with liquids to drink, an inability to quench one's thirst. List of phobias Thalassophobia, fear of the sea

G Is for Genes

G is for Genes: The Impact of Genetics on Education and Achievement is a 2013 book by Robert Plomin, Professor of Behavioral Genetics at the Kings College London and Kathryn Ashbury, lecturer in the Centre for Psychology and Education at the University of York. The book summarizes findings of behavioural genetics that are relevant to education and offers policy recommendations, it is written for a wide audience including parents and policy makers. Part one consists of 11 chapters that present the field of behavioural genetics and what implications some findings have on education, it addresses issues such as sex differences and socio-economic status. Part one is summarized in 7 "big ideas" which are the following: Average school performance doesn’t change the fact that half of the students will fall above and the other half below the average. Seeing those scoring below average as ‘failing’ wastes resources on approaches that have little or no effect. Instead of making pupils identical, the diversity should be embraced after providing a certain level of common education.

Students that are high performing or low performing are no more to be more genetically exceptional than an average student and same genes influence performance all across the distribution of performance. In other words, a math professor and a student struggling with mathematics are using the same genes when they perform mathematical tasks. There are many genes with small effect which are working together in an interplay with many environmental experiences and the same genes can have allelic differences; this is why turning off genes is unlikely to have large effects. School performance is influenced by the same genes across life span and dramatic fluctuations in performance are to be caused by environment, not biology. Though it’s that emerging biotechnology will make it possible to have predictive genetic information relevant to learning, the predictions can never reach full accuracy because of environmental factors. Genes that influence one cognitive ability are to influence others as well.

Education, on the other hand, is more specific and increasing performance in one area doesn’t transmit to other areas to the same extent. Genetics influence individuals. Identical twins raised in same households and who are taught by the same teachers still differ from each other; the differences not explained by shared genes or family household, the "non-shared environment", accounts for most of the environmental influence. Perfect equality of opportunity would still result in differences between individuals, but these differences would be more due to genetics. There is a need to introduce more choice; the part two consists of their genetic basis. The mandatory learning should be minimized to the skills that are required to succeed in society, such as reading and numeracy. Pupils should be able to choose from a large variety of subject options according to their own interests as they get older. Extra help should be given to those who need it as as possible with as little labels and bureaucracy as possible.

Pupils should have an Individual Education Plan that would be reviewed and revised each year and would serve as the basis for their school-leaving certificate. IQ and self-confidence have a positive impact on education and both can be improved with coaching; such coaching is described as "Thinking Skills Sessions" and should be provided for an hour every week for every student. Disadvantaged children from age 2 should be offered free high-quality preschool education. All children aged 3 – 4 should be offered high quality preschool education tailored according to their needs and extra support should be provided to all low-SES families from birth; the playing field for extracurricular activities should be made more equal by providing poor families with vouchers that can be exchanged to extracurricular activities based in schools or elsewhere. Pupils should first have a standardized PE program where they would be exposed to different activities; the next stage would be choice-driven and pupils would be given the opportunity to choose from the activities introduced to them in the earlier stage.

Make apprenticeships more attractive and affordable to employers and increase the number and variety of options available for work and college based vocational training. Include a course on genetics of learning in teacher training and make useful information about personalization of education available to all schools. Make the schools bigger to increase capability to provide larger variety of options. Make the links between different levels of schooling stronger; the book sparked public debate and was for example featured in BBC radio programme The Moral Maze. Steven Pinker wrote in his review of the book "This may be the most important book about educational theory and practice in the new millennium, giving educators, policy-makers, parents much to think about."