Wednesday, August 01, 2018

UK: Pupils unable to read is 'a scandal', says minister

This is pissing into the wind.  What is proposed will not even scratch the surface.  The one thing that we know helps social mobility is Grammar Schools.  They should be made available nationwide

Education Secretary Damian Hinds says it is a "scandal" that some children still start school unable to speak in full sentences or read simple words. Children who start school behind their peers rarely catch up - "the gap just widens", he will say in a speech.

He has pledged to halve the number of pupils starting school behind in early talking and reading skills by 2028.

A group of companies and charities have been brought together to work out how best to support families in England.

Educational researchers have long said that social mobility - or the lack of it - starts at home with what's known as the home learning environment.

The idea is that a home with a lot of books and other early learning materials, plus engaged parents giving their children quality time, talking with them and teaching them how to make letter sounds, for example, provides a good start.

But not all parents feel able to offer this kind of home environment or realise the importance of it.

'Not lecturing parents'

Researchers from the Education Policy Institute last week said the development gap between England's poorest pupils, and the others, was already at 4.3 months in the early years.

And that it grew to 9.4 months by the end of primary school.

Mr Hinds will say, in the speech in London, that this early gap has a "huge impact on social mobility".

"The truth is the vast majority of these children's time is at home.

"Yes the home learning environment can be, understandably, the last taboo in education policy - but we can't afford to ignore it when it comes social mobility.

"I don't have interest in lecturing parents here... I know it's parents who bring up their children, who love them. who invest in them in so many ways, who want the best for their children.

"But that doesn't mean extra support and advice can't be helpful."

The Department for Education says 28% of children in England do not have the required language skills by the end of Reception.

Children who communicate well early tend to do better in their lives.  But this rises to much higher percentages in deprived areas.

Mr Hinds will also say he is particularly keen to use technology to build awareness of what parents can do to boost early language development.

The speech comes a few months after communication charities, and the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists, published their own report on the lack of progress on improving speech and language services over the past decade.

It was based on responses to a major independent cross-government review of such services chaired by John Bercow, which was published 10 years ago.

Bercow 10 Years On said that communication was crucial to children's life chances but awareness of its importance among the public and decision-makers was not sufficient.

Services were inaccessible and inequitable, it said, and too often support for children's speech, language and communication needs was based on the available resources, rather than what was needed, leading to great variations across the country.

It also said some measures shown to have worked well had been cut to save money.

The government is yet to respond to that report.

Bob Reitemeier, chief executive of I Can, the children's communication charity, welcomed the plans but said the coalition of companies and charities must include experts with experience of supporting children with speech, language and communication needs.

"Research shows that in some areas of deprivation 50% of children are starting school well behind their peers in language development.

"Without support, the gap between these children and other children will continue to widen, year on year, putting their life chances at risk."


STUDY: ‘Trigger Warnings’ Are Harmful To College Students

College professors and administrators use “trigger warnings” to warn students about material that may upset them, such as depictions of rape and violence. The American public has had some version of these warnings for decades, most recognizably as movie or video game ratings.

But in recent years, students have been receiving trigger warnings on a new range of material, including classical literature such as Ovid’s “Metamorphoses” because of a passage about the Greek goddess Persephone’s rape.

A new study from Harvard University psychologists, published in the Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry, found that such an overuse of trigger warnings can actually be harmful to those who are exposed to them.

Psychologists Benjamin Bellet, Payton Jones, and Richard McNally took 270 American research subjects and divided them into two groups. One group was given a “trigger warning” before reading each of 10 passages from classic literature, where five of those pieces contained explicit material such as descriptions of murder.

The “trigger warning” group proved far more likely to suggest passages containing distressful language would cause themselves and others emotional distress had they experienced trauma.

Social psychologist Craig Harper wrote at Medium that the results of this study could have far-reaching cultural effects.

“This finding could have significant implications in the context of ongoing cultural debates about the power of language in reinforcing perceived oppression,” Harper wrote. “That is, if we are telling students that words are akin to violence and can cause harm, and then giving them trigger warnings to compound that message, we risk increasing immediate anxiety responses rather than decreasing them.”

Harper notes that the study is limited in its scale, and its use of non-students and exclusion of participants who had experienced trauma.

But he notes that the research lines up with the writing of Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt, who in 2015 wrote an article in The Atlantic claiming that trigger warnings would result in mental health damage. Part of the problem Lukianoff and Haidt found was that “trigger warnings” allowed students to avoid material that may upset them, which would further their fears and prevent them from healing.

“According to the most-basic tenets of psychology, the very idea of helping people with anxiety disorders avoid the things they fear is misguided,” Lukianoff and Haidt wrote, before explaining that someone with a fear of elevators would not be told to avoid them, but rather to gradually engage with them until they were comfortable to use one. “Trigger warnings,” on the other hand, reinforce the fear and compound anxiety.

Another problem with such warnings is that they achieve the exact opposite effect from their intentions. From Harper:

To some people, trigger warnings are an essential part of the classroom. They’re seen as a way to make ‘marginalized’ students (as is the current vernacular for describing ethic, sexual, and gender minorities, those with disabilities, and those with histories of abuse) feel like they are more included in the classroom.

This is essentially “othering” people who might take offense and assuming all people of a marginalized group need to be protected from words. It’s infantilism.

This is just one, limited, study, but it’s something colleges need to consider.


Revealed: The university degrees most likely to land you a high salary - and the ones that will leave you struggling

Most Australian students are heading into their second semester for the year and likely thinking about job prospects once graduation season begins.

And while many pursue degrees because they have a passion for that chosen field, when it comes to how much they'll be paid on a graduate salary, that varies depending on what they studied and what gender they are.

The median salary of all undergraduates employed full-time in 2017 according to the Department of Education and Training was $60,000 which is an increase of $2,100 from 2016 - and men were paid higher wages across the board.

For those who chose to study dentistry (which on average costs $53,770 for five years) they will be paid the highest gross salary of $80,000 in their first year out of university.

Medicine ($64,524 for six years) and engineering ($36,740 for four years) follow close behind with $65,000 and $62,000 respectively.

If you've undertaken the recommended four year course to become a lawyer or paralegal, which costs students $43,016 in total, you'll be looking at a $60,000 wage in your first year.

And rounding out the list in fifth place are teachers who, after four years and $25,776 of HECS debts, will secure $60,000 at their very first school.

On the other side of the spectrum are five fields of study that will hardly cover the costs of doing the degree during your first year out of university.

Interestingly pharmacy is at number one, which takes four years and costs $36,740, because you're only looking to get $41,600 as a graduate.

Creative arts (three years) and communications (three years) follow because they both cost $19,332 to do but give you $45,000 and $46,000 respectively after you receive your diploma.

Tourism (three years) comes in at number four on the list with the degree costing $32,262 and earning the student $48,000.

And six long hard years of studying veterinary science (which costs $64,524) will wind up having you lose money by earning $49,600 in your first year.

In between these sectors there are prospects for those endeavouring to study mathematics ($57,500 first year salary), computing and information systems ($59,900), architecture ($56,400), nursing ($60,000), psychology ($57,600) and social work ($62,600).

Career Development Association of Australia's (CDAA) president Wanda Hayes said there were clear benefits enjoyed by university graduates that those who aren't tertiary-educated get.

'But we know that once you're in [some organisations], there is a ceiling that you can pass through if you have a degree, which you can't pass through if you don't have a degree,' she told the ABC.

Ms Hayes said those with degrees generally had lower rates of unemployment and lower rates of underemployment across their working lives - meaning more money.


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