Friday, December 02, 2016
Hands down! British school warns pupils who try too hard
This is nonsense. Teachers have always been able to choose which student they wanted to answer questions. I recollect teachers saying to me: "Yes, John. We all know you know the answer but I want to hear from someone else"
Generations of children have indicated their eagerness to answer a question by thrusting their hand in the air.
One school has decided to ban the practice, however, as part of a movement which argues that raising a hand does not fit with modern values or educational methods.
Barry Found, principal of Samworth Church Academy in Mansfield, Nottinghamshire, angered teachers and parents by saying that the “age-old practice” of children putting up their hand did not help their education.
“We find that the same hands are going up and, as such, the teaching does not challenge and support the learning of all,” he told parents in a letter. “We will use a variety of other techniques to ensure that every student is challenged and developed
US students lag peers in East Asia, Russia in math, science
In a globally competitive world, American students have strides to make when it comes to math and science, where they lag behind a solid block of East Asian countries as well as Russia and Kazakhstan.
Eighth graders in the United States improved their scores in math over the last four years on the global exam. Scores for science, however, were flat. In fourth grade, scores were unchanged in the math and science tests, according to results released Tuesday.
"The results do suggest a leveling out in the most recent cycle," said Ina Mullis, an executive director of the TIMSS & PIRLS International Study Center at Boston College, where researchers helped coordinate staff to administer the assessments. "One always prefers to see improvement, but holding ones' own is preferable to declining."
Singapore topped the rankings, taking first place in both grades for math and science on the tests, known as the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study, or TIMSS.
The United States placed 10th in fourth-grade science and in eighth-grade math. In eighth-grade science, the U.S. was in 11th place. It ranked 14th for fourth-grade math, just behind Portugal and Kazakhstan.
Globally, results from the 2015 exams showed achievement trends were up — with more countries registering increases than decreases in math and science for both grades. Gender gaps were another highlight. They have narrowed over the last 20 years, especially in science at the eighth-grade level.
"A lot of countries have been working hard to close that achievement gap, and have promoted girls' interest and participation in science," said Michael Martin, who runs the International Study Center with Mullis.
While the short-term trend for American students overall wasn't glowing, scores over the last 20 years have improved considerably. Math and science scores for eighth graders had sharp gains, as did scores for fourth-grade math. Science scores for fourth graders showed more modest gains over the last two decades.
Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, lauded progress by the nation's students. The study "affirms that when there is an alignment between teachers and students, instruction and standards, and resources — giving teachers the flexibility to teach what students need to know and do — we see success," said Weingarten.
The TIMSS exams are administered every four years in dozens of countries worldwide. More than 600,000 students around the world took part in the 2015 exams.
Is going to university a waste of everyone’s time and money?
AUSTRALIANS are more qualified than ever. A record number of Australians now have a bachelor’s degree, masters or PhD. But a dangerous idea is out: Degrees might be a big fat waste of time and money.
Thirty years ago you didn’t need a degree to be a journalist, for example. Now? Most job ads demand a degree and plenty of the people applying have taken a masters degree, so they look even more qualified than the competition.
The same “degree inflation” applies in a huge range of fields.
IS A DEGREE JUST A PIECE OF PAPER?
The idea is this: you don’t actually learn much at university. Under this idea, university is a way of showing off that you’re good. It’s like the peacock’s tail — not useful in itself, just a big signal that you’re hot stuff.
Is university just signalling? If it is, it would explain why it doesn’t seem to matter that you forget a lot of what you learned — and perhaps why employers of graduates are always complaining their recruits don’t have any valuable skills
If the signalling theory is right, we would, as a society, be better off making people spend less time in uni. But the reality is the opposite — we are sending more and more people to uni.
More people are graduating with degrees, but do they really need them?
More people are graduating with degrees, but do they really need them?Source:Supplied
As people work harder and harder for qualifications, a backlash is brewing.
Some very powerful businesses have stopped requiring a degree. Professional services firm EY is one. In the UK it no longer looks at academic qualifications in its entry criteria.
Google is also expanding its ranks of the degree-less, according to its head of hiring. Those firms think they can get good value from people without degrees.
US entrepreneur Peter Thiel is famous for questioning the benefit of higher education. He pays scholarships of $100,000 — called Thiel Fellowhips — to brilliant young people in return for dropping out of uni and becoming entrepreneurs instead.
YOUR USELESS DEGREE ISN’T REALLY USELESS
Now, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go to university. Even if it is a waste of time in some ways, most jobs still require a degree. Going to uni is still very much worthwhile for most people.
The data is very clear — people with a Bachelor’s degree will earn $2.9 million over their lifetime compared to $2.07 million for people who finished year 12 without going to uni.
This can’t be used as proof that uni makes you more productive though.
If university is just signalling these people would have been just as useful in the workplace if they hadn’t gone to uni. (And maybe even more useful, because they’d have extra experience instead of a qualification.)
It also implies that plenty of people who didn’t go to uni would do even better at those jobs than the people with degrees. After all, going to university is still mostly for wealthier people, despite the way the HECS scheme has made access way more widely available. (People who are born to rich and well-educated parents are the ones who tend to end up at uni.)
IS THE DANGEROUS IDEA RIGHT?
But the problem remains this. We don’t know for sure if this big idea is right. Do people really learn at uni or not? I asked the man who invented the HECS/HELP system, Professor Bruce Chapman, what the evidence had to say.
“We just don’t know,” Chapman said. He has trawled through hundreds of studies to try to figure out if university is mostly learning or mostly just signalling. “We don’t have a good measure for it.”
Some degrees are more practical than others, Chapman said, for example, dentistry: “Would you want an accountant pulling out your teeth?”
Philosophy degrees, he said, are different. They may be more of a way of showing that you are able to think clearly and obey the rules and requirements of a university environment for three years.
Ultimately, Chapman reckons uni is most likely to be a mix of learning and signalling. “If I had to guess, I’d say 50:50.”
Other experts, like Professor John Quiggin of the University of Queensland, disagree, saying the proof is out there and university mostly builds skills.
Debate will continue on whether or not sending more and more Australians to university is a good investment. But one thing most experts agree on is that a very different kind of education is a guaranteed winner. The advantages of early childhood education are enormous, and can last for a lifetime.
One American study found the return on early childhood interventions is $10 for every $1 invested. And the benefits go to everyone, not just the people who are lucky enough to go to uni.
So, maybe, as a society we should worry more about whether Australians go to kindergarten, rather than whether they go to uni.
Posted by jonjayray at 1:42 AM