19 January 2015

Items to Share: 18 January 2015

Education Focus
  • Donald Clark Plan B: Why Finland is finished as a role model in education 'Everyone in education, from politicians to teachers it seems, is a fully paid up member of the Finland Fan Club. Finland has been portrayed as an educational paradise, topping or near topping the PISA tables, with a strong economy that makes it the envy of Europe. Big problem – it’s not true.' Also Donald Clark Plan B: Vocational learning – unwanted child, used and abused? 'How many Secretaries of State have been responsible for ‘vocational skills’ in the last three decades? [61] The skills sector has been subjected to every half-baked whim and fancy for that period. It’s treated like an unwanted child, handed off into care then bounced around the system, itself dysfunctional, used and abused, until the next election comes along.'
  • What to avoid when teaching | Monkeymagic 'While it would be wonderful to think there is a simple, step-by-step formula to a perfect lesson, I’m not at all convinced it exists. In fact, I tend to think any complicated scenarios [...] preclude those sorts of plans beyond the “Stay in touch, keep moving and head for the high ground” heuristics. One of the sections that caught my eye, though, was a list of things that don’t work. That instantly appeals.' (Sourced via the Echo Chamber: an excellent portmanteau source for education blogs.)
  • Why I Hate Highlighters! - HuntingEnglish 'Ok – so perhaps highlighters aren’t the biggest problem in education, but [...] For me, highlighters can represent how our habits of teaching and learning can go unexamined and how we can too easily waste time and money each year by not being truly critical about our practice in the classroom.'
  • Another week, another Ofsted story | Musings and Mutterings of an Idiot Scribe 'Firstly, Ofsted is, and I apologise for my bluntness, bollocks. [  ] Its inspection practices are not evidentially-based and, while much of what it recommends has some proven validity in terms of classroom practice, because of the ridiculous pressure [...] on educational leaders, what should be presented as part of a range of pedagogical practices is instead presented as orthodoxy and dogma.
  • Effective Ways to Structure Discussion | Faculty Focus 'The use of online discussion in both blended and fully online courses has made clear that those exchanges are more productive if they are structured, if there’s a protocol that guides the interaction. This kind of structure is more important in the online environment because those discussions are usually asynchronous and minus all the nonverbal cues that facilitate face-to-face exchanges. But I’m wondering if more structure might benefit our in-class discussions as well.' 
  • Dyslexia Can Deliver Benefits - Scientific American 'These findings raise the intriguing possibility that dyslexia involves certain advantages. The research hints that people with dyslexia exhibit strengths for seeing the big picture (both literally and figuratively) that others tend to miss. And if this is true, the work reinforces the larger idea that differences that people might perceive as a source of difficulty in some domains can become a source of strength in other contexts.' 
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