Reflections on Education

Sue Magruder takes a look back at the changes that have happened since she was teaching in Missouri in the the 1950s. Her first post was working with students from different local rural communities who came to school in one place:

I learned more than I taught.  I learned how to approach parents whose language I did not understand to seek permission for their daughter to take part in a National Folk Festival.  I learned how to deal with foster parents who cared little for the children in their charge.  I learned when it was appropriate to call the state patrol when violence erupted with an older, unstable student.  I learned how to Bunny Hop down the hall with other teachers to relieve tension.

Later on in the post she takes a look at educational philosophy and the emphasis on test scores, wondering about their value in education of a child.

In full

15 Books that Challenged me to Think and Rethink about Higher Education in 2012 #highered #edu

Bernard Bull on eTale blog provides the list of books which challenged him with conflicting viewpoints. The list includes

Arum, R., & Roksa, J. (2011). Academically adrift: Limited learning on college campuses. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

What are undergraduates learning in college? This book points to research indicating that the answer may well be “not much.”

Kirp, D. L. (2003). Shakespeare, Einstein, and the bottom line: The marketing of higher education. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press.

Almost a decade old, I contend that the ideas in this book are more relevant today than they were when the book was first published.

The 15 books

Funding awarded for Sierra Leone health partnership

From Kings College London news, their Global Health centre has been awarded a grant to improve health professions education in Sierra Leone.

The partnership will draw on the expertise of staff from across King’s Health Partners to work with staff at COMAHS to develop revised curricula for all programmes, provide training in modern teaching methods, equip classrooms and develop proposals for new training programmes. This will involve visits by medical, nursing and pharmacy educators to Sierra Leone to conduct needs assessments and hold curriculum workshops, as well as provide distance mentoring and support.

The project will also use an online learning platform called MedicineAfrica

In full

Doing Internet Research at the Elementary Level

Rajasekar of the scoolbell blog writes about a recent experience preparing to teach research skills to students in grades three to seven. He has broken the topic up into smaller areas which he has mapped on the blog, including topic keywords, testing search terms, synthesizing information and several other areas.

All classes begin with a discussion about what research is and why we do it and how we do it. Each grade will be using their research and applying it to a larger question or problem. For instance, rather than having my third regurgitate answers back to me about animals, they will use the information they find to answer the larger question. (i.e. “Your parents said you can have any pet you want. What will you need to keep the pet?”)

The notes will vary across grades and shows a wonderful research graphic from The Kentucky Virtual Library

In full

MTS starts lessons of internet-literacy for Belarusian school students

Mikhail Doroshevich reported on a Belarus education project in October which encourages children to learn about the internet. The childrencan learn from a national singer and tv star about behaviour on the internet and keeping themselves safe. The overall aim is to improve internet literacy:

“Research shows that children start using the Internet at the age of 9-10, with every second kid using Internet every day. Unfortunately, most children use Internet without any control from the adults. MTS has launched a large project and will carry out similar lessons aimed at grade schoolers in many Belarusian schools. This will improve Internet-literacy of the young generation” – MTS’ leading public communications specialist Tatiana Kyrbat said.

In full

Red herrings in education reform

Clarke L Reubel has been teaching English at a high school for 14 years and reflects on educational reform, drawing a distinction betweenissue which have focused on reforming specific aspects and a wider philosophical view of improving education. He notes that many changes of curriula and standards and scores have resulted in many different systems leading to additional training and resources being required He highlights issues with structural reforms being drawn into continuous cycles regardless of the type of school

Our system stifles independent thinking among leadership the same way teachers are tasked with subverting critical thought in our students. Those of us who resist become agitators, drawing the ire of a frustrated public who consider us problems rather than potential solutions, which leads to increasingly adamant demands to rein us in.

Charter and private schools are not immune to this cycle. They are products of it, and vouchers, like merit pay, will only serve to legitimize the fundamental flaws in the current system. Ironically, demanding structural changes without philosophical adjustment contributes to the structural problems.

In full

Characteristics of the Zamorano Dairy Plant – Education, Innovation and Outreach

cflorian describes the Zamorano university enterprise in Honduras, which has a fully functional plant where students can learn all the different processes including pasteurization, packaging, manufacturing cheese, yoghurt, ice-cream. The enterprise supports the local economy by processing thousands of litres of milk from local organisations and sells products in local markets. The profits are returned to support the student scholarship fund. The students can also take part in a range of research:

One example of these research projects was an evaluation of new dairy cultures for cheddar cheese with the aim of reducing maturation time and improving its taste. Other studies have involved the analysis of stabilizers to improve cream chesses and the development of natural preservatives to increase the duration of natural milk, among others. New product development by Zamorano students has resulted in products that will soon hit the market, such as yogurt-based dips, smoked cheeses, liquid yogurt and traditional and artisanal products like industrially-manufactured curds

In full

ten bucks for a school

Xaviera Medina de Albrand profiles the work of Marie Da Silva who lost many of her close family to HIV whilst living in Malawi. Marie’s mother provided space in her home to start a small school for students who could not afford private education.

Where once there was a garage or a dinning room, today there is a classroom. Children and new students sat on the floor, with no desks or any type of school furniture. Marie black painted some walls to turn them into blackboards and start classes. “At first the children paid some money for school, but then, in conversations with my mother we thought that if our own orphaned nephew and niece were not paying, so, other children who were orphans too, had not to pay. So the Jacaranda school became fully free “.

Marie also created a foundation to support students who could not afford to eat and highlighted their situation whilst working in New York as a nanny to a well known tv presenter.

The post continues the story of successes from students at both the foundation and the school and how it has provided support for their neighbouring communities

In full

The Fears of a (Mildy) Educated Layperson

On the Partikles blog, the author describes how in spite of not being able to afford to go to school, they read books, watch documentaries, learn through searching content on Wikipedia to improve their understanding of science and scientific principles. They highlight how in the US there has been a fear and distrust of science including stem cell debates, campaigning against MMR vaccines etc The author neatly notes how media have contributed to this sacrificing accuracy for entertainment

As a society we do not value education (but damn it, we value missiles!), and it shows. My fear is that we will grow generations of poorly informed people that do not check their sources, and merely believe what the talking heads say on Fox News, simply because we, as a culture, are too intellectually lazy to try and think forward.

In full