Friday, August 31, 2012

Single Sex Education - a violation of rights?

Having taught in co-educational as well as single-sex schools I can see a lot of advantages in each.  Single sex education is not the answer for all students, but it can help to focus teaching, as well as focussing students.  Regardless, it seems incredible that a court is making a ruling, in this case preventing a middle school from offering single-sex lessons.  Surely commonsense should be recognised as part of the US Constitution.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Online learning - a law

Changes in the US mean that some states now oblige students to complete some of their learning online.  Have a look.

E-books and classrooms

Changes in the print industry are opening up avenues for more digital publishing.  Of greater relevance for classrooms, however, might be the work of Mercy Pilkington, given a brief outline at the bottom of the article.  I am not convinced, though I can see the potential in some circumstances.

Apprenticeships are worth considering

An interesting outline of the Swiss education system, where apprenticeships are the norm for most young people.  My experience would certainly suggest that the same would be useful for the UK.  Higher Education is just one route, and it suits a particular type of person.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

A Rose by any other name - Every Child Matters

I have met few teachers or educators who did not believe that children matter, or indeed that Every Child Matters.  The terminology does, however; and as a Senior Manager who wrote many bids and reports and presentations, I was constantly beating myself up to choose the correct words.  Words are not just a concentration of letters or sounds; they help to hone an idea, and potentially develop a shared vision.  It is a pity then that new government means new words, even it the objective remains the same; children matter.

Teacher training is not just a UK issue

As an entrant to teaching I believed that teaching was the most important profession.  Whilst law and medicine might be said to correct our mistakes, teaching was helping to lay the foundation for healthy and well-balanced lives.  I can't say that twenty years of practice helped me to realise that potential; I was happy to leave.  It is interesting nonetheless to read that the same issues of qualification, training, support and consistency are evident in the US.  I write as an ex-English teacher, UK based.

Monday, August 20, 2012

The Importance of Speaking and Listening

I am a big fan of speaking and listening; I found that boys were particularly poor at this.  I also found that giving them an opportunity for formal speaking, without notes, was a very good way to encourage engagement and a positive classroom environment.  For Laura Kenwright's experience have a look at the following.

All change for British education. I just hope it's a good service.

I remember as an undergraduate listening to a discussion on GCSEs, Radio 4.  I was in Ireland, '88/'89; and it seemed to my inexperienced mind that British education was radical and forward-thinking.  Having spent twenty years in the system, however, ten as a Senior Manager, my thinking now is that the government should let it be.  There are too many changes, repetitions and confusions.  Teachers then, I gave up in 2011, have my sympathies as they prepare for another autumn of initiatives.  It should surely be possible to have a system that is simple, enduring and recognisable.  Ross Morrison McGill suggests that that is not the case as yet.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Standardisation and Electronic Libraries

As an ex-teacher, long used to the changes and variations in the UK education system, it is interesting to see the same issues repeated elsewhere.  This time it is the U.S..  This article also offers some tips for the development of electronic libraries.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

A Philosophical Approach to Teaching

As a fan of Socrates I warmly welcome John Taylor's mention of the man.  It is also encouraging to note that he is not asking for a new subject to be added to an already crowded and repetitive curriculum offer.  My only supplement to his recommendation would be, in keeping with the philosophy of the Extended Project Qualification, that we should give students more time to learn.  That is what distinguishes them from pupils; pupils are taught.  For his full article, click here.

Private Sector University Education - Uk

It would seem sensible for universities to embrace business; it is the way of the world, whether we like it or not.  Similarly, it would seem sensible for business to embrace universities; universities pursue and promote the best in education and learning.  The challenge is ensuring that there is not a further dilution in the perceived value of UK university qualifications; there is a great deal of uncertainty about such achievements already.  The task then is to standardise between business and university qualifications, and between university qualifications themselves.  Perhaps, this is what the U.S. is managing to do, developing an initiative that includes their high-profile, high-status universities.  If they really manage to broaden access to high-quality, high-challenge and highly-valued education, then their work is to be applauded.  The same with Pearson.

For the full BBC article click here.

Monday, August 13, 2012

IPads in Schools - a teacher celebrates the possibilities.

I love the enthusiasm of this teacher.  Having begun a doctorate in New Technologies I gave up, three years later, concluding that technologies are an educational tool, not an answer.  This luddite tendency continues; though as an ex-teacher, it still gives me a thrill to read such an excited account.  My own feeling is that technology is too changeable still to have a lasting effect; the IPad will soon be outdated.  I am happy to be proven wrong, however.  If you wish to decide for yourself click here to read more.

Why I became a teacher.

A reflection based on thirty years of teaching.  Filled with passion, love of her subject and some useful tips.  For more information click here.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

School Sports' Funding - an Olympic legacy

Britain is awash with medals, and congratulations to all.  I will not pretend to know the story of each athlete, but I follow tennis with care; and I often take inspiration from Andy Murray.  It would be so easy to give up, the competition and challenge is too great; yet Murray does not, and I find in this hope for my own life.  As long as I try, really try, there is possibility.

This possibility, and the excitement of Great Britain medals, is behind the call for more school sports' funding.  We can do better and better, beat the competition; yet even if we won every gold available, the medallists would still reflect a tiny, microscopic percentage of the population.

I would suggest then; absolutely fund the elite, but do not stop there.  If we wish to make the most of sport we must look to the broader population, and the need to encourage them to exercise.  Such encouragements seemed sadly lacking in the Olympics that I experienced, perhaps best exemplified in the sponsorship by Macdonalds and other such companies.  There is nothing wrong with Macdonalds per se, yet the attention they receive is flawed if the rest of the population are simply obliged to sit and watch on.

The greatest hope I see for the capital comes from the Borris Bikes; I would add to these an endless Borris (or otherwise) walkways, pedestrians safe, prioritised and valued.  The healthy and active population this would encourage would be a true legacy.