29 June 2015

Items to Share: 28 June 2015

Education Focus
  • Can inclusive education do more harm than good? [theconversation.com] 'Recently, a teacher expressed his misgivings about the “inclusion at all costs” ideology of modern education. Despite being well supported by his school and hugely in favour of inclusive practice, he outlined his difficulties in managing a young fellow with Down Syndrome whose behaviour in the classroom was extremely difficult, and increasingly dangerous. This resulted in children and staff leaving the school, citing concerns about their safety and psychological health. [ ] The article attracted derision from many, but also a sigh of relief from other teachers and a surprising number of parents of children with a disability.
  • Why universities should get rid of PowerPoint and why they won't [theconversation.com] 'An article [...] recently argued universities should ban PowerPoint because it makes students stupid and professors boring. I agree entirely. However, most universities will ignore this good advice because rather than measuring success by how much their students learn, universities measure success with student satisfaction surveys, among other things. [...] Overreliance on slides has contributed to the absurd belief that expecting and requiring students to read books, attend classes, take notes and do homework is unreasonable. [ ] Courses designed around slides therefore propagate the myth that students can become skilled and knowledgeable without working through dozens of books, hundreds of articles and thousands of problems.' 
Other Business

23 June 2015

Items to Share: 9 — 21 June 2015


Education Focus
  • Why the ‘false growth mindset’ explains so much | David Didau: The Learning Spy '...Dweck then dropped a bombshell. She’s identified a phenomenon she calls the ‘false growth mindset’. Because we’ve unanimously agreed that having a fixed mindset is egregious and a growth mindset makes you a better all-round human being, no one wants to fess up to being ‘fixed’. When asked, we tend to say, “Yes of course I have a growth mindset,” because the alternative is to say, “No, I’m afraid I’m a terrible person.” It seems reasonable to suggest teachers are at least as prone to this as anyone; we tend to know more about the perceived benefits of growth mindset than most other people and so there’s a huge social pressure to fall into line. But just saying you have a growth mindset does not (quelle surprise!) mean you actually have one. What you actually have is a false growth mindset. This goes some way to explaining why schools are so bad at allowing teachers to behave in a way consistent with the growth mindset....' 
  • And see also: 20 psychological principles for teachers #12 Goal setting | David Didau: The Learning Spy ' [...] Trouble is, the evidence appears to be vastly overstated. King and Burton argue that goals only works in the narrowest of circumstances: “The optimally striving individual ought to endeavor to achieve and approach goals that only slightly implicate the self; that are only moderately important, fairly easy, and moderately abstract; that do not conflict with each other, and that concern the accomplishment of something other than financial gain” otherwise, research indicates that “goal investment, goal structure, and goal content may all lead to negative outcomes.”...'
  • By freeing prisoners from cycle of crime, education cuts re-offending 'Teaching inside a prison takes patience. Not because the students are difficult or dull, they are not. On the contrary, you are unlikely to meet a more highly motivated and interesting group of adult learners. It does take time, however, to have your fingerprint scanned, to pass barefoot and beltless through the metal detectors, to have your personal identification, criminal history and biometric data checked. [ ] A prison teacher also needs to be flexible. When visiting incarcerated students, be ready to roll with the unexpected. If you arrive on a family visits day, or during an emergency lockdown, or when students can’t make it to the education block, your own sense of time warps and stretches.'
  • Giving Bad Whiteboard | Sam Shepherd '[H]ere, in proper controversial style, is a list of the things that I try to remember when I am freestyling on a whiteboard. You can call them “dos and don’ts” if you like, or God forbid, good practice. But I’ll stick with “stuff I try to remember”.
Other Business
  • How to design a metaphor – Michael Erard – Aeon 'Can metaphors be designed? I’m here to tell you that they can, and are. For five years I worked full-time as a metaphor designer at the FrameWorks Institute, a think tank in Washington, DC, whose clients are typically large US foundations (never political campaigns or governments). I continue to shape and test metaphors for private-sector clients and others. In both cases, these metaphors are meant to help people to understand the unfamiliar. They aren’t supposed to make someone remark: ‘That’s beautiful.’ They’re meant to make someone realise that they’ve only been looking at one side of a thing.'
  • Crowdsourcing the Serengeti: how citizen scientists classified millions of photos from home  'Snapshot Serengeti’s success demonstrates the enormous potential for citizen science to help researchers tackle bigger questions than ever before. Camera traps provide a way to collect the ecological data necessary to answer bigger questions about the world around us, but citizen science is what provides a way to turn this data into new scientific knowledge, enabling research at a scope and scale otherwise impossible.'

    Seven Books Bill Gates Thinks You Should Read This Summer [farnamstreetblog.com] 'Bill Gates is out with his annual summer reading list and, while longer than last year’s, it’s a great place to kick off your summer reading. [ ] “Each of these books,” Gates writes, “made me think or laugh or, in some cases, do both. I hope you find something to your liking here.”'  

09 June 2015

Items to Share: 7 June 2015

Yes, I know it's late! So?

Education Focus
  • Gallery Critique | Class Teaching '[Peer assessment is] not always that useful. In fact, it can often be damaging and compound misconceptions. Gallery critique, where students spend an extended period of time reading and assessing the work of their peers, as well as giving high quality feedback, seems to be a far more purposeful alternative.'
  • Desperately Seeking Sir: Empathy, Behaviour, Excuses and Reasons 'I have taught two children that were killed by other children. One was stabbed and one was shot. I have taught children who have killed other children. I have taught a number of children that have been stabbed. I have taught a number of children who have stabbed other children. I have taught one child who said he 'couldn't remember' how many people he'd stabbed. I have taught children who have been convicted of rape. I have taught children who have been abused. I have taught a child who believed a small person lived inside their head and gave them instructions. I have taught a number of children who have battled suicidal thoughts. I have taught one child who attempted suicide but did not quite succeed. I have taught children who have had to be educated in high security units. I have taught children who have had to be forcibly committed to mental health institutions. I have, by necessity, wiped the arse of a child with severe special needs when taking him on a day trip to a theme park as he had made a bit of a mess of it...'
  • Fail again. Nicky Morgan on Academies | SurrealAnarchy 'So on, somehow on marches ‘Academisation’, all business values and managerialism, being brought into an education sector that is itself falling for business values and managerialism without the need to be turned into academies but we’re sick of the either so we’ll try the other… Whether it works or not… But what works is our mantra, that Blairite creed: “What counts is what works…” has now turned into “What counts is what we say works…” which it always was but…'…

  • I'm a liberal professor, and my liberal students terrify me - Vox [US] 'Things have changed since I started teaching. The vibe is different. I wish there were a less blunt way to put this, but my students sometimes scare me — particularly the liberal ones. [ ] Not, like, in a person-by-person sense, but students in general. The student-teacher dynamic has been reenvisioned along a line that's simultaneously consumerist and hyper-protective, giving each and every student the ability to claim Grievous Harm in nearly any circumstance, after any affront, and a teacher's formal ability to respond to these claims is limited at best.'
  • Closing the feedback loop | The Higher Education Academy  'Getting students to engage with feedback can be a challenging task and in this post Leah Marks [...] shares her experience of a method for encouraging students to use the feedback. To encourage students to engage, they were asked to write feedback reflections and assignment grades were witheld until this was done. Increased engagement with feedback resulted in improved writing and students found the reflective approach helpful.'
  • All academic metrics are flawed, but some are useful [theconversation.com] 'Why are bean counters so fixated on counting? Why are universities overrun by metrics? Are we heading for a world where we know the cost of everything and the value of nothing? [ ] Is an obsession with metrics really corrupting science?

  • Making a difference in education: What the evidence says | British Politics and Policy at LSE 'Research suggests that who teaches you matters much more than what school you go to. Yet a major proportion of educational spending has gone on fostering Academies and Free Schools. The Academies formed up to 2008-9 have been evaluated, and found to have positive results; but improved outcomes were mostly confined to better-achieving students, with little or no benefit to the lowest achieving. At the time of writing, there was no comparable research on Academies founded after that, though an Ofsted survey of 2012-13 found half those inspected ‘requiring improvement’ or ‘inadequate’. There has been little research on Free Schools or primary Academies, though DfE data do not show them to be providing more progress than local authority primaries.'
Other Business
  • Offline: What is medicine's 5 sigma? [Editorial in the Lancet] 'The case against science is straightforward: much of the scientific literature, perhaps half, may simply be untrue. Afflicted by studies with small sample sizes, tiny effects, invalid exploratory analyses, and flagrant conflicts of interest, together with an obsession for pursuing fashionable trends of dubious importance, science has taken a turn towards darkness. As one participant put it, “poor methods get results”. '

  • The Spy Who Billed Me | Atlas Obscura 'It might be incongruous to think of spies having to account for expenses, like any old suit on a business trip, but in reality, people working for intelligence services do have to keep track of the money they're spending, file expense reports, and even hound their company (the Company, in this case) to reimburse them. "They're the same as the reports any businessman would submit after meeting a client," says Chris Lynch, former FBI and CIA counterintelligence officer and author of The C.I Desk. "Meals, miles, parking, small gifts, other expenses, receipts if they had them, some kind of 'certification' if they didn’t."

01 June 2015

Items to Share; 31 May 2015

Education Focus
  • The Education Myth by Ricardo Hausmann - Project Syndicate 'In an era characterized by political polarization and policy paralysis, we should celebrate broad agreement on economic strategy wherever we find it. One such area of agreement is the idea that the key to inclusive growth is, as then-British Prime Minister Tony Blair put in his 2001 reelection campaign, “education, education, education.” If we broaden access to schools and improve their quality, economic growth will be both substantial and equitable. As the Italians would say: magari fosse vero. If only it were true.'
  • The Trick of Teaching - HuntingEnglish   We know a great deal about the human memory, but there is still so much more to know. Much of what we learn is counterintuitive and unveils the idosyncratic of our mind and memory. One such quirk is that when students expect to teach new material that they remember it so much better.
  • The case against inquiry-based learning | Education in Chemistry Blog 'Writing recently in The Irish Times, William Reville, emeritus professor of biochemistry at University College Cork, stated that newer teaching methods employed in the UK and Ireland are ‘sharply inferior to the older teaching methods they supplanted’. His article highlighted a 30% difference between educational scores in China, where whole-class teaching is employed, and those locally, where child-centred methods are used.'
  • Laurie Taylor on academics v administrators | Times Higher Education 'Managers and administrators who once had a mute background presence are now a noisy part of the daily life of every scholar. Their ranks continue to swell even though the UK is already one of the very few countries in the world where non-academic staff already outnumber academics [...] No wonder that my weekly [...] column is no longer stuffed with professors and readers but with directors of corporate affairs and human relations and the heads of research excellence framework strategy, overseas recruitment, research impact, fundraising, external relations and brand management. No wonder that what used to be a mildly patronising relationship between dons and their administrative servants has now become more and more like a battle for control.'
Other Business
  • ‘Cheeky Nando’s’ – Lingua Franca -  The Chronicle of Higher Education 'Humility is always a good thing. I got a dose of it recently, courtesy of a BuzzFeed article posted to Facebook by a friend of mine, an Anglo-American journalist. The article was called “Americans On Tumblr Are Trying To Find Out What A ‘Cheeky Nando’s’ Is And Are Struggling” and concerned a meme that had become popular in England.'
  • Players with more Time | More Intelligent Life 'Slowing time is linked to a state of flow, or being in the zone. Playing cricket for Kent one July morning in 2003, I made 149 runs in about three hours. I scored faster than ever before, but felt in no hurry to get anywhere, even to a hundred. I felt the rhythm of the ball in sync with the downswing of the bat. My mind revved at the same pace as the game. There was no sense of rush (the ball arriving too soon) or impatience (wanting it sooner). There was a suspension of ambition that was rare for me. The innings didn’t feel like a stepping-stone, even though it turned out to be, but an end in itself. I felt very clearly, that high summer’s day, that my job was not to get in the way—to be the conduit rather than the agent. [ ] The match was not rushing forwards, opportunities were not slipping by, and I understood, just that one time, a line from Marvell’s “To His Coy Mistress”: “Though we cannot make our sun/Stand still, yet we will make him run.” '

25 May 2015

Items to Share: 24 May 2015

Education Focus
  • How should I revisit past content? | Bodil's blog The three part lesson; the 5 minute lesson plan; the 7 Es lesson structure; the countless other lesson planning proformas I’ve encountered. What do they all have in common? Despite being wildly popular, they place no emphasis on recalling and revisiting prior learning. Memory deserves far more love and attention than this. [ ] Recaps should be a nonnegotiable part of practically every lesson.
  • What's the best, most effective way to take notes? [theconversation.com] 'If it feels like you forget new information almost as quickly as you hear it, even if you write it down, that’s because we tend to lose almost 40% of new information within the first 24 hours of first reading or hearing it. If we take notes effectively, however, we can retain and retrieve almost 100% of the information we receive.'
  • The Literacy Blog: i.t.a: a great idea but a dismal failure 'Talk to anyone today who was taught to read through i.t.a. (Initial Teaching Alphabet) and they will almost invariably tell you how they’ve never been able to spell correctly since. [ ] As i.t.a. was more or less abandoned in the sixties/early seventies (though it did cling on for much longer in some places), many of today’s generation of teachers will never even have heard of it except from their parents or grandparents! So why write a blog posting about it?'
  • Feedback from teachers doesn't always help pupils improve [theconversation.com] 'What looks feasible in controlled experiments or in theory may not work so well in practice. Once the researchers with their extra funding have gone away, and the intervention moves away from the enthusiastic schools volunteering to take part in the study, perhaps the “effect” of feedback on attainment drops. When rolled out across the board to all pupils and all schools, any advantage may be reduced or even lost because of the challenges, such as time pressure, that teachers face in implementing feedback strategies in the classroom. Some teachers may also exhibit sullen resentment at being told how to do something that seems so basic.'
Other Business
  • Competence, Performance, and Climate – Lingua Franca - Blogs - The Chronicle of Higher Education [Geoff Pullum] 'Noam Chomsky’s distinction between competence and performance has been controversial in linguistics and psycholinguistics for 50 years. The proponents of generative grammar presuppose it and rely on it, and have tried explaining the distinction many times, often unsuccessfully. I recently came across a neat way to encapsulate it that comes not from a linguist but from a mathematical meteorologist.'
  • How One Psychologist Is Tackling Human Biases in Science [nautil.us] 'Sometimes it seems surprising that science functions at all. In 2005, medical science was shaken by a paper with the provocative title “Why most published research findings are false.” Written by John Ioannidis, a professor of medicine at Stanford University, it didn’t actually show that any particular result was wrong. Instead, it showed that the statistics of reported positive findings was not consistent with how often one should expect to find them. As Ioannidis concluded more recently, “many published research findings are false or exaggerated, and an estimated 85 percent of research resources are wasted.”'
  • Most people want to know risk of overdiagnosis, but aren't told [theconversation.com] 'An Australian survey released today has found a large majority of people report they’ve never been told by doctors about the danger of being overdiagnosed – and an equally large majority say they want to be informed. [ ] This is the first time anywhere in the world the general community has been asked about their knowledge and views on the “modern epidemic” of overdiagnosis, which happens when someone is diagnosed with a disease that won’t actually harm them. Being overdiagnosed means you’re likely to be over-treated, and potentially suffer the harms of that treatment without getting any of its benefits.'