25 August 2014

Items to Share: 24 August 2014

Education Focus
  • On observation rubrics [Pragmatic Education] 'The problem is, we are asking the wrong question. Debates over ‘what makes a good teacher?’ and ‘what makes an outstanding teacher?’ or even ‘what makes good teaching?’ are circular. There are as many possible answers as there are teachers in the world. Instead, we should be asking: how can observations most help improve our teaching? Not by grading or quantifying or judging. Observations most improve teaching when they are disconnected from performance management, appraisal and pay, and only formative. Observations most help when they are low-stakes, frequent and give one clear, prioritised, next-step piece of feedback.'
  • Curriculum Matters | Webs of Substance 'I am deeply skeptical about attempts to teach children to learn how to learn by emphasising their ‘learning muscles’ or exhorting them to have a ‘growth mindset’ or whatever. What is clear is that an excellent preparation for learning new things in the future is to acquire plenty of knowledge in the present. We then have mental landscapes into which to slot and assimilate the new knowledge when it comes along.'
  • The Future of College? - The Atlantic 'The system had bugs—it crashed once, and some of the video lagged—but overall it worked well, and felt decidedly unlike a normal classroom. For one thing, it was exhausting: a continuous period of forced engagement, with no relief in the form of time when my attention could flag or I could doodle in a notebook undetected. Instead, my focus was directed relentlessly by the platform, and because it looked like my professor and fellow edu-nauts were staring at me, I was reluctant to ever let my gaze stray from the screen. [...]. I was forced, in effect, to learn. If this was the education of the future, it seemed vaguely fascistic. Good, but fascistic.' The Minerva initiative
  • What Do You Do on the First Day of Class? | Vitae 'The first day of class always ended right after we did our introductions. Students were much more talkative on the way out than they were on the way in, so I guess that was a good sign. As an added bonus, I used the note cards to call roll for a few weeks until I memorized their names. It’s much easier to remember the name of a student when you know she likes Wes Anderson movies.'
  • Why Students Should Own Their Educational Data – Wired Campus - Blogs - The Chronicle of Higher Education 'It’s not that people don’t have particular habits and styles of learning. Intuitively of course that sounds right. I prefer visual information over other kinds. [Learning style theory] comes from analyzing a population and trying to parse out different ways of learning over a population. But when you apply it to one individual it doesn’t hold. You can’t start with averages, it doesn’t work. We couldn’t do better approaches to individuals back in the day because we just didn’t have enough data.
  • BBC Radio 4 - The Educators - Episode guide This is shaping up to be an interesting series: Sarah Montague interviews eight figures prominent in education thinking at the moment; first up is Sir Ken (still a bit vague), followed by John Hattie—who is not that far from Ken in the final analysis. Well worth listening to.
  • Draft bill of research rights for educators - Daniel Willingham 'When I talk to educators about research, their most common complaint (by a long shot) is that they are asked to implement new interventions (a curriculum, a pedagogical technique, a software product, whatever), and are offered no reason to do so other than a breezy “all the research supports it.” The phrase is used as a blunt instrument to silence questions. As a scientist I find this infuriating because it abuses what ought to be a serious claim—research backs this—and in so doing devalues research.'
  • We try to fix too many social problems through exams [theconversation.com] (Dennis Hayes) '[R]ecent governments have seen education as the place to engage in social engineering to solve a range of social and political problems. These include everything from radicalisation, obesity, homophobia, smoking, binge drinking, drug taking, criminality, anti-social behaviour and saving the planet. [...] That strategy, which results from the inability of politicians to resolve those problems in the grown-up world, has led to education being seen as more important than it is.'
  • How a bigger purpose can motivate students to learn: [Carnegie News]: 'A few years ago, psychologist David Yeager and his colleagues noticed something interesting while interviewing high school students in the San Francisco Bay Area about their hopes, dreams and life goals. It was no surprise that students often said that making money, attaining fame or pursuing a career that they enjoyed were important to them. But many of them also spoke of additionally wanting to make a positive impact on their community or society — such as by becoming a doctor to take care of people, or a pastor who “makes a difference.” What’s more, the teens with these “pro-social” types of goals tended to rate their schoolwork as more personally meaningful.'
Other Business (mainly about writing and grammar again)
  • What’s Up With That: Why It’s So Hard to Catch Your Own Typos | Science | WIRED 'You have finally finished writing your article. You’ve sweat over your choice of words and agonized about the best way to arrange them to effectively get your point across. You comb for errors, and by the time you publish you are absolutely certain that not a single typo survived. But, the first thing your readers notice isn’t your carefully crafted message, it’s the misspelled word in the fourth sentence.'
  • Steven Pinker: 10 'grammar rules' it's OK to break (sometimes) | Books | The Guardian 'How can you distinguish the legitimate concerns of a careful writer from the folklore and superstitions? These are the questions to ask. Does the rule merely extend the logic of an intuitive grammatical phenomenon to more complicated cases, such as avoiding the agreement error in "The impact of the cuts have not been felt"? Do careful writers who inadvertently flout the rule agree, when the breach is pointed out, that something has gone wrong? Has the rule been respected by the best writers in the past? Is it respected by careful writers in the present?'
  • 250 years of English grammar usage advice: HUGE database includes history of "hopefully" and others '[N]ewer usage guides tend to discuss a greater number of usage problems than older ones do. This suggests that more usage problems are "discovered" than disappear, either by being "forgotten" about or resolved. Furthermore, the database mainly contains usage problems relating to grammatical issues rather than word-choice or spelling. It seems then, that grammatical issues don’t easily "go out of fashion," something that happens more easily with problems of word choice, spelling or pronunciation.'
  • APA Style Blog: How to Use the New DOI Format in APA Style 'Have you noticed that references in most recently published journal articles end with a string of numbers and letters? That odd-looking item is the article’s digital object identifier (DOI), and it may just be the most important part of the reference. The DOI is like a digital fingerprint: Each article receives a unique one at birth, and it can be used to identify the article throughout its lifespan, no matter where it goes.'

1 comment:

  1. A second mention of Pinker's article in two weeks James. You're getting sloppy!


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