Tag Archives | Education

Middle schoolers: Uncle Sam wants you

August Say, 12, holds out his arm to determine where he should stand in class in the new Dragon Leadership Corps at his middle school in Bowling Green, Ohio.

August Say, 12, holds out his arm to determine where he should stand in class in the new Dragon Leadership Corps at his middle school in Bowling Green, Ohio.

Seth Kershner via In These Times:

Last year, Henry F. Moss Middle School in Bowling Green, Ohio, offered students a brand new course. And, as a headline in the local newspaper proclaimed, this was “not your traditional class.” For starters, the teacher—an army sergeant—had told the Bowling Green Daily News that one of his goals was to expose these seventh- and eighth-graders to “military values” that they could use as “building blocks” in life. To that end, students in the class earn military style ranks, engage in army-style “PT” (physical training) and each Wednesday, wear camouflage pants and boots.

This is the Moss Middle School Leadership Corps, part of the growing trend of military-style education for pre-adolescents.

Middle school military programs are younger cousins of the Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (JROTC), a Pentagon program taught by retired military officers and present in more than 3,500 high schools nationwide.

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Kids need to like what they’re reading to progress

Kids need to be interested in the book they’re reading, so it’s better if they choose it themselves. Flickr/Mike Mantin, CC BY-SA

Kids need to be interested in the book they’re reading, so it’s better if they choose it themselves. Flickr/Mike Mantin, CC BY-SA

Ryan Spencer, University of Canberra

When we think of reading for our children, we are often misled into thinking that we need to focus on one type of book, such as picture books or novels in order to practise specific, reading-related skills. However, this narrowly-focused approach to reading instruction can often have undesirable benefits, such as turning kids off reading altogether.

As parents, we often feel that when we select children’s books for them we are supporting them to achieve at their level – though this frequently has the opposite effect.

When we restrict choice, particularly to contrived, boring texts, children frequently see this as an indicator of their reading capability and therefore meet that low expectation. Once we take the restrictions away from what children read, their self-efficacy towards reading increases, therefore leading to an increase in their reading ability.… Read the rest

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Finland is throwing away everything that made its schools the best in the world

alamosbasement (CC BY 2.0)

alamosbasement (CC BY 2.0)

Dennis Hayes, University of Derby

It easy to lampoon education reforms in Finland that aim to scrap the teaching of traditional subjects in favour of broader topics. The new initiative could see history, geography and languages replaced for periods by interdisciplinary “phenomenon-based” projects on topics such as the European Union. Instead of sitting in rows learning facts about the world, pupils can rush around corridors or the web and collect information in a spirit of “joyful learning”.

Ridicule was my immediate response but what is happening has serious and sad consequences. It will ultimately waste not only children’s time, but their education.

The reasons given in Finland for the reforms are a familiar: this set of initiatives is necessary to meet the challenges of working life in “modern society”. What it means is that education is no longer valued for its own sake but is seen as having instrumental value for the economy.… Read the rest

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New Analysis Shatters Narrative of Charter School Success

A 2010 protest in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo: Fibonacci Blue/flickr/cc)

A 2010 protest in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo: Fibonacci Blue/flickr/cc)

Deirdre Fulton writes at Common Dreams:

Public schools are outperforming charter schools in Minnesota, in some cases “dramatically,” according to a new analysis by the state’s Star-Tribune newspaper.

In addition, many charter schools fail to adequately support minority students, close examination of the data revealed.

Journalist Kim McGuire looked at 128 of the state’s 157 charter schools and found “that the gulf between the academic success of its white and minority students widened at nearly two-thirds of those schools last year. Slightly more than half of charter schools students were proficient in reading, dramatically worse than traditional public schools, where 72 percent were proficient.”

Between 2011 and 2014, McGuire reported, 20 charter schools failed to meet the state’s expectations for academic growth each year, “signaling that some of Minnesota’s most vulnerable students had stagnated academically.”

Charlene Briner, the Minnesota Department of Education’s chief of staff, told the newspaper that she was troubled by the information, “which runs counter to ‘the public narrative’ that charter schools are generally superior to public schools.”

“Minnesota is the birthplace of the charter school movement and a handful of schools have received national acclaim for their accomplishments, particularly when it comes to making strong academic gains with low-income students of color,” the Star-Tribune claims.

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Nine Myths About Schizophrenia

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Despite investment in research and treatment, the outcomes of patients diagnosed with the most severe psychiatric disorders have not improved since the Victorian period. Where are the flaws in our understanding? Mental health treatment needs a radical overhaul to bring it into the 21st century – but what needs to change?

… get up to speed with what’s fact and what’s fiction about schizophrenia with Professor and Clinical Psychologist Richard Bentall as he debunk the common myths in this free online course: Nine Myths About Schizophrenia.

The details of the course can be found here – or see the whole list of IAI Academy courses here.

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Trigger Warning: How the Language Police are Perverting Liberalism

Jonathan Chait takes on the PC police and their trigger warnings in a lengthy article for New York Magazine:

trigger warning

…After political correctness burst onto the academic scene in the late ’80s and early ’90s, it went into a long remission. Now it has returned. Some of its expressions have a familiar tint, like the protesting of even mildly controversial speakers on college campuses. You may remember when 6,000 people at the University of California–Berkeley signed a petition last year to stop a commencement address by Bill Maher, who has criticized Islam (along with nearly all the other major world religions). Or when protesters at Smith College demanded the cancellation of a commencement address by Christine Lagarde, managing director of the International Monetary Fund, blaming the organization for “imperialist and patriarchal systems that oppress and abuse women worldwide.” Also last year, Rutgers protesters scared away Condoleezza Rice; others at Brandeis blocked Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a women’s-rights champion who is also a staunch critic of Islam; and those at Haverford successfully protested ­former Berkeley chancellor Robert Birgeneau, who was disqualified by an episode in which the school’s police used force against Occupy protesters.

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Let’s Abolish West Point: Military Academies Serve No One, Squander Millions of Tax Dollars

Via Salon:

Many pundits have suggested that the Republicans’ midterm gains were fueled by discontent not merely with the president or with the (improving) state of the economy, but with government in general and the need to fund its programs with taxes.  Indeed, the Republican Party of recent decades, inspired by Ronald Reagan’s exhortation to “starve the [government] beast,” has been anti-tax and anti-government. Government programs, as many of their thinkers note, primarily exist to perpetuate their own existence. At the very least, they have to justify that existence.

In the spirit of hands across the aisle, I’d like to suggest that the first thing the new Republican majority devote itself to is not, say, the repeal of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), but to converting the four hugely expensive and underproductive U.S. service academies (Navy, Army, Air Force and Coast Guard) — taxpayer-funded undergraduate institutions whose products all become officers in the military — to more modest and functional schools for short-term military training programs, as the British have repurposed Sandhurst.

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Understand the Mysteries of Spacetime

New Adventures in Spacetime - Eleanor Knox

For the online-education-interested, the Institute of Art and Ideas has started updating their free online courses with short teaser videos that give a feel for what a course will be like.

One of these is “New Adventures in Spacetime“, a fascinating course by philosopher of physics Eleanor Knox from King’s College in London. Why not spend a few holiday hours wrapping our heads around what physicists talk about when they talk about spacetime?

The details of the course can be found here – or see the whole list of IAI Academy courses here.

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