09 March 2015

Items to Share: 8 March 2015

Education Focus
  • Is there a ‘cargo cult’ approach to school improvement? | Evidence into practice 'Perhaps one of the most damaging consequences of a high-stakes/low-validity accountability system is that we continually fail to learn very much about what makes a school effective. Instead, it encourages a ‘cargo cult’ approach to school improvement: Gimmicks and pet projects from ‘outstanding’ schools or teachers – which may have nothing to do with improved outcomes for students – are copied across schools as ‘best practice’. Teachers and school leaders engage in time-consuming activities – which may have nothing to do with improved outcomes for students – in the hope that Ofsted lands them a good judgement.'
  • On the subject of Anonymity. | cherrylkd Thoughts about "Harry Webb", anonymous author of the Webs of Substance blog, having deleted his blog and its archives, and what that might mean. It's certainly a pity, because I have regularly linked to the blog from these Items to Share posts.
  • Spaced learning – too good to be true? | eddiekayshun '[E]ver since the dawn of human culture people must have attempted to find ways to retain information, and to be frustrated by the fallibility of our memories. Ebbinghaus’ major contribution was not to notice that we forget, or how quickly, nor to simply point out that by revising information we can retain it in our memory; his chief discovery was that there is an ideal timetable for the revision of information, and that if we space out these revision sessions, we have more chance of keeping things in our memory.'
  • Starting an MA in TESOL and Applied Linguistics | aplinglink  'My experience working with students on MA Applied Linguistics courses tells me that the biggest problems students face are: too much information; choosing appropriate topics; getting the hang of academic writing. Let’s briefly look at these 3 points.' Good advice which goes way beyond linguistics and TESOL.
  • Explicit vs Implicit in Education | Carl Gombrich '[I]t seems to me that our age of ‘accountability’, ‘metrics’ and the like can demand of us an approach which kills when it should nurture and inspire. Too much ‘signposting’ and explicit requirements do not educate our students in such a way as to allow them to grow, create and learn what is of value.
  • The Benefits of No-Tech Note Taking - Advice - The Chronicle of Higher Education 'The researchers found that students who used laptops were inclined to try to take notes verbatim—even when they were told not to. The longhand note takers took selective, organized notes because they couldn’t write fast enough to get everything down. As a result, they processed lectures more deeply, which allowed them to retain more information and even understand it better.
  • Computational Competence Doesn't Guarantee Conceptual Understanding in Math[s] - Daniel Willingham 'Commenters on the teaching of mathematics sometimes express impatience with the idea that attention ought to be paid to conceptual understanding in math education. I get it: it sounds fuzzy and potentially wrong-headed, as though we’re ready to overlook inaccurate calculation so long as the student seems to understand the concepts—and student understanding sounds likely to be ascertained via our mere guess. [ ] Impatience with the idea that conceptual aspects of math ought to be explicitly taught is often coupled with an assurance that, if you teach students to calculate accurately, the conceptual understanding will come. A new experiment provides evidence that this belief is not justified. People can be adept with calculation, yet have poor conceptual understanding.
  • Excellence is not the only point of education [theconversation.com] 'David Cameron has reminded us once again that our children and young people should aspire towards excellence. According to the prime minister, schools should be doing more to ensure that children have the opportunity to model themselves on top entrepreneurs and learn how to make a profit. This sort of discourse simply reinforces what we’ve known for some time: corporate mentality has hijacked education. The raison d'ĂȘtre of students, teachers, schools, universities, and academics is to sell education and knowledge, while managing their image in the competitive educational marketplace.'
  • Why you should never assume anything about people with autism [theconversation.com] 'Without doubt being autistic in a world populated in the main by people who are not can cause huge issues for the individual and their family. But this is not the same as suggesting that the problems are caused by being autistic. The very fact that there are plenty of autistic individuals who are hugely successful demonstrates that being autistic does not preclude anything at all.'
Other Business
  • Rock Star Psychologist Steven Pinker Explains Why #TheDress Looked White, Not Blue [forbes.com] 'The puzzle has nothing to do with what philosophers call the inverted-spectrum paradox (Is my red the same as your red?), which pertains to cases in which people agree—at least overtly—about the color they are seeing. Nor does it have anything to do with rods and cones. The viewing conditions for the image are all well into the brightness range of the cones. The rods aren’t seeing the image at all. And the two different percepts don’t seem to depend on the color settings of their monitor. According to the internet reports, two people can look at the same screen and still see the colors differently. What it has to do with is lightness constancy and color constancy.
  • Health Check: why do some people feel the cold more than others? [theconversation.com] 'Most of us who are healthy but claim to feel excessively cold, however, have only ourselves to blame. [W]e have habituated ourselves to feeling comfortably warm. In the developed world we rarely expose ourselves to cold, letting expensive clothing protect us from outdoor cold and letting power companies warm our living and working spaces. Allowing power companies to do the work that our metabolism used to do when we experienced cold may actually contribute to obesity. We’d probably all be much better off if we spent more time being cold.

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