Common Grounds: ‘A Test You Need to Fail’

Ruth Ann Dandrea writes an open letter to her 8th Grade student students, which includes

“Because what I hadn’t known—this is my first time grading this exam—was that it doesn’t matter how well you write, or what you think. Here we spent the year reading books and emulating great writers, constructing leads that would make everyone want to read our work, developing a voice that would engage our readers, using our imaginations to make our work unique and important, and, most of all, being honest. And none of that matters. All that matters, it turns out, is that you cite two facts from the reading material in every answer. That gives you full credit.”

The letter in full

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Replanting the roots of education

Francisco Dao notes that whilst there is agreement that education is broken, there is not agreement about the role of technologies and how to fix it. He also reiterates the importance of understanding why it is important to learn and think critically. He does not believe that technology alone is enough

There is a scene in the movie “Good Will Hunting” where Matt Damon’s character mocks a Harvard student for spending $150,000 on an education he could have received for $1.50 in library late charges. The Internet makes this concept of a quality, free (or nearly free) education more true than Will could have ever imagined. However, for it to work as a practical matter, we must let go of our policies of rote developmental learning and stop believing the fantasy that technology alone will provide the solution.

In full

The challenges of digital scholarship

Adeline Koh on Prof Hacker blog says that the call to use new media as part of academic scholarship is growing increasingly louder. She refers to four relevant issues including the importance of educating your audience by understanding who your audience is and how their interests can be addressed. She looks at peer review and where books fit into the process.

Should junior scholars blog their book projects? Will this inhibit them from getting book contracts later? Will their blogs count as scholarship? Workshop participants argued that blogging a book project would associate ideas with the junior scholar’s name. One participant even compared transitioning from a blog to a book to a dissertation to book. In short: we are on the brink of a tipping point in history, where blogging is going to become the norm for the initial exchange of ideas

In full

Vocational vs Elite Educations

Emeka Okafor reviews the lack of vocational education available and looks to other countries’ examples for how to improve economies.

Why don’t the products of our high schools, colleges and universities have a greater ability to create, manufacture or process things? Our educational systems seem to spit out those who can only barely administer and officiate. A general lack of critical thinking abounds with few exceptions. How can we systemizecuriosity-driven, startup, maker mentality? The roots of these failures to a degree stem from deficient foundations left by former colonial overlords. It would do us a measure of good to learn from Germany, Europe’s most successful economy and appropriate where we can

He posts some interesting videos that look at traditional and vocational education in African countries.

In full