Education - International
Issues and news in International education.


Subscribe to "Education - International" in Radio UserLand.

Click to see the XML version of this web page.

Click here to send an email to the editor of this weblog.



  Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Scots schools urged to do better. A landmark report says Scotland's education system has to improve after findings suggest pupils should be performing better. [BBC News | UK News | Education | World Edition]
9:09:57 AM    

  Tuesday, 6 January 2009

Academies 'not school cure-all'. Politicians should not see academies as the panacea for school under-achievement, says a report. [BBC News | UK News | Education | World Edition]
5:01:11 PM    

Networked Learning: Why Not?.

So there seems to be a little string of really good blog posts that are laying out some definite re-vision of what schools can look like. This one, by Bill Farren, fits nicely with those Mark Pesce posts that I’ve been drifting in and out of here and here. But with Bill’s post the graphics are almost too good for description. How’s this for a visual on networked learning?

And I just love this description:

Opening up the institution may seem like a counter-intuitive way of protecting it, but in an era where tremendous value is being created by informal and self-organized groups, sharing becomes the simplest and most powerful way of connecting with external learning opportunities. Why limit students to one teacher when a large number of them exist outside the institution? Why limit students to a truncated classroom conversation when a much larger one is taking place all over the world? Why not give students real-world opportunities to learn how to manage and benefit from networked sources?¬[sgl dagger] Institutions that are opening up are betting that the benefits obtained by sharing their resources will outweigh the expenses incurred in their creation. These institutions understand that larger and richer sources of knowledge and wisdom are to be found outside their walls. They understand that allowing students to access these sources, sharing their own, and helping students learn how to manage and understand all of it, will add value to what it is that they do as institutions.

Again, this is higher ed context more than K-12, but I think there is much to think about here… Has me wondering what, realistically, we can expect from schools not just in terms of opening up their eyes to confront what is in front of them but then re-envisioning themselves accordingly. Funny, but as I read more and more of this, I grow increasingly excited and increasingly skeptical all at once.

12:08:35 AM    

  Monday, 5 January 2009

As Parents, How Should We Assess Schools?.

The other night at a friend’s holiday party, I started picking the brains of people who had kids going to school at the local high school, the one that my own kids are scheduled to attend in a few short years. I got a variety of responses, most of them pretty positive. It’’s a smallish country high school, about 950 students 9-12, mostly white middle class, and probably typical in most aspects. I don’t think anyone would rate it as outstanding, but it’ not near the bottom by traditional measures either.

It’s those traditional measures that struck me in the responses I got. One parent, who is a classroom teacher at another school, said “well my daughter scored really well on the PSAT’s, so they [the school] must be doing something right.” Another parent said “well, they’ve got like 10 AP courses which is pretty good.” And a few others commented on the fact that their kids were doing well socially and had a lot of friends. I was struck by how kind of programmed the responses felt. Almost like, it’s a school, what more can you say?

Ironically, I ran into an old friend right before the party who had recently retired from teaching at that school, and he articulated his assessment like this: “If you want your kids get the best experience, you have to advocate for them.” In other words, I’m going to have to find ways to help them get the “best” teachers and to be active in steering them through the program. “Look,” he said. “It’s like 25% of the teachers are great and your kids will learn a lot. Another 40% are fine, and they’ll make it interesting. The rest? They’re just doing their time. Not much different from anywhere else.”

Did I mention there is a board seat opening up this spring? Hmmm….

Finally, one of our good friends went and visited a Waldorf school nearby and spent the day watching students and teachers interact. It was interesting to listen to her talk about the experience. “It was amazing,” she said. “The kids were engaged, making things, talking to teachers. It was totally different.” They had a compost bin, too.

Now I know it’s not totally fair to make comparisons here, but I wish I would have heard more of those types of responses about the high school. I wish I would have heard stories of kids changing the world, of pushing through personal barriers, of creative expressions, of challenges met, of real work for real purposes. I wish it had been more than PSATs and AP tests.

So I’m wondering two things. How are you advocating for your kids? And more importantly, how are you assessing your kids’ schools? If you’re reading this, I’m thinking PSAT scores and number of AP courses probably aren’t too important. (Or are they?) In the 21st Century, what should we be demanding of our schools?

(Photo: “Rows Upon Rows” by natashalcd.)

11:47:58 PM    

  Tuesday, 23 December 2008

Would you Adam and Eve it? Quarter of science teachers would teach creationism.

More than a quarter of science teachers in state schools believe that creationism should be taught alongside evolution in science lessons, according to a national poll of primary and secondary teachers.

The Ipsos/Mori poll of 923 primary and secondary teachers found that 29% of science specialists agreed with the statement: "Alongside the theory of evolution and the Big Bang theory, creationism should be TAUGHT in science lessons"

Some 65% of science specialists disagreed with the statement. When asked if creationism should be "discussed" alongside evolution and the Big Bang 73% of science specialists agreed.

That such a large minority of science teachers advocate teaching creationism has dismayed prominent scientists who believe supernatural explanations for the origin of the universe have no place in school science lessons. Professor Richard Dawkins, Britain's best-known evolutionary biologist and a leading secularist, called the findings "a national disgrace".

The teachers who advocate teaching creationism are also directly contradicting the government's guidelines on the subject, which state: "Creationism and intelligent design are not part of the science national curriculum programmes of study and should not be taught as science." The sample includes teachers from all types of maintained schools including comprehensives, grammars, faith schools and academies. It does not include fee-paying schools.

The survey also indicates strong support for the views of the Royal Society's former director of education, Professor Michael Reiss. He resigned in September over his views on how to include creationism in science lessons. But a majority of science specialists polled endorsed his argument that creationism should be "discussed" in science lessons.

In response to the poll, Reiss said: "School science lessons provide wonderful opportunities for students of all ages to be introduced to scientific thinking about the origins of the universe and evolution of life. At the same time, some students have creationist beliefs. The task of those who teach science is then to teach the science but to treat such students with respect."

Reiss argues that creationism should not be treated as a misconception but as a world view. "Just because something lacks scientific support doesn't seem to me a sufficient reason to omit it from a science lesson," he wrote on shortly before his resignation. "When teaching evolution, there is much to be said for allowing students to raise any doubts they have ... and doing one's best to have a genuine discussion."

At the height of the row, two Nobel prize winners and Fellows of the Royal Society - Sir Harry Kroto and Sir Richard Roberts - publicly called for Reiss to be sacked.

The Ipsos/Mori poll also canvassed support for the more hardline position of only mentioning creationism in the context of dismissing it. It found that only 26% of all teachers and 46% of science specialists agree with Professor Chris Higgins, vice-chancellor of the University of Durham, who is quoted as saying "the only reason to mention creationism in schools is to enable teachers to demonstrate why the idea is scientific nonsense".

The poll was conducted between 5 November and 10 December and the results are statistically weighted by sex, age and teaching phase to the known profile of primary and secondary school teachers in England and Wales. Many of the primary teachers polled for the survey may have a science specialism, but teach a range of subjects day to day.

Higgins said creationism as an alternative to Darwin's theory had been "thoroughly discredited". He added: "If a pupil raises it as a hypothesis then a brief discussion as to why creationism is wrong might be appropriate ... But it would undermine any educational system to purposefully teach discredited ideas which are now only perpetuated through ignorance or flawed thinking - one might as well teach astrology, flat Earthism, alchemy or a geocentric universe."

Phil Willis MP, chair of the parliamentary innovation, universities, science and skills select committee, said: "There are ample opportunities elsewhere in the curriculum to discuss belief rather than scientific theory. Science teachers should simply explain why evidence is crucial to good scientific practice." © Guardian News & Media Limited 2008 | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

[Latest news, sport, business, comment and reviews from the Guardian |]
1:37:16 PM    

  Sunday, 11 May 2008

“Clueless in America”.

Still digging through my stack of reading that I neglected, and this Bob Herbert column from the Times last week bubbled up.

An American kid drops out of high school every 26 seconds. That[base ']Äôs more than a million every year, a sign of big trouble for these largely clueless youngsters in an era in which a college education is crucial to maintaining a middle-class quality of life [base ']Äî and for the country as a whole in a world that is becoming more hotly competitive every day.

Ignorance in the United States is not just bliss, it[base ']Äôs widespread. A recent survey of teenagers by the education advocacy group Common Core found that a quarter could not identify Adolf Hitler, a third did not know that the Bill of Rights guaranteed freedom of speech and religion, and fewer than half knew that the Civil War took place between 1850 and 1900.

I think that the lack of discussion about education in this election cycle is what is depressing me most about the state of change right now. We’ll be watching reruns of Paula Abdul’s “meltdown” on Idol last night for at least another week, or wasting even more time on Rev. Wright, but the idea of having a serious sit down about education that involves the interested parties (read: EVERYONE) just can’t happen.

I will say however, that if we are going to measure the success of education in America by how many people can accurately date the Civil War or identify Adolf Hitler, we may not be ready for the real conversation that has to take place.


9:00:48 PM    

  Tuesday, 8 April 2008

'Clearer' student access demanded. England's universities must have "transparent" admissions policies to show they are not biased, the government says. [BBC News | UK News | Education | World Edition]
4:57:45 PM    

  Friday, 21 March 2008

UK student numbers 'set to fall'. Numbers of UK students are expected to fall over the next decade - but more students are coming from overseas. [BBC News | UK News | Education | World Edition]
10:01:37 PM    

Click here to visit the Radio UserLand website. © Copyright 2009 Bill.
Last update: 21/1/09; 2:06:05 PM.

January 2009
Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
        1 2 3
4 5 6 7 8 9 10
11 12 13 14 15 16 17
18 19 20 21 22 23 24
25 26 27 28 29 30 31
Dec   Feb