Lifelong Learning – Reading

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September 26, 2011 by k. liz

Tonight I am going to share with you just some highlights of some articles I read recently regarding education. All of these highlights come from these two articles in “The Economist”:

1. Electronic Education: Flipping the Classroom
This article talks about some new and highly innovative teaching strategies incorporating technology. The school highlighted in this article has the students listening to lectures at home, and then coming to school and participating in activities that test and reveal their knowledge of the topics covered. The teacher’s computer allows her to monitor exactly where every student is, what they are succeeding in and what is giving them trouble. The teacher can then meet the children where they are and help them with what they need support in.

[Regarding technological tools used in Khan Academy, the focus of this article] It can liberate a good teacher to become even better. Of course, it can also make it easy for a bad teacher to cop out.

Dennis van Roekel, the president of the National Education Association (NEA), the largest labour union in America with 3.2m members, goes ballistic at this suggestion. “Don’t demean the profession” [excuse my interruption, but his very organization demeans our profession] by implying that you can rate teachers with numbers, he says. Besides, this sort of thing would introduce destructive competition into a culture that should be collaborative, he adds (without explaining why data-driven evaluations have not destroyed collaboration in other industries).

[Khan Academy] “by offering a different model, is forcing the issue that people have speculated about”, says Mr Hanushek at Stanford. “These technological ideas offer the possibility of breaking a logjam.”

2. Reforming Education: The Great Schools Revolution
This article revealed some recent studies and how schools are progressing or digressing in the international educational realm. The article addressed four key issues to school reform: “decentralisation (handing power back to schools); a focus on underachieving pupils; a choice of different sorts of schools; and high standards for teachers.”

 [In addressing whether or not schools and families with more money mean a better education for students] Andreas Schleicher, head of analysis at PISA, thinks that only about 10% of the variation in pupil performance has anything to do with money.

Instead of directing reforms from the centre, the government encouraged schools to set their own targets and sent experienced teams to help them get there. Schools with large numbers of immigrant children could apply for special help, and could choose whether to extend the school day to do this, or work longer with the slower pupils.

Authorisation and renewal processes for innovative schools need to be robust, so that bad experiments are not prolonged and failures are not ignored

In schools reform, structural progress—new sorts of schools, reorganised old ones, new exams—can happen very fast. Better teachers take much longer to form. They should be made the priority.

I know this is just a hodge-podge of thoughts, but there are some interesting ponderings to be had in these quotes. These are some things I hope to explore some more in the future!

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