16 February 2015

Items to Share; 15 February 2015

Education Focus
  • Faith and Stuff | Sam Shepherd 'This is a post about teacher faith. You see, not so long ago I was a keen enthusiastic little trainee on a part time training course and there were all these people telling me stuff. Stuff that would make me a good teacher, stuff that I needed to do to pass the course. That sort of stuff. Then I did DELTA, and learned shitloads of stuff. And I believed every single word, referenced or not. Because they were trainers and they knew their stuff, right? And then later on I started working in the public sector and managers told me stuff, and people said that certain stuff was best practice and that I should do that stuff because OFSTED said it was good stuff. I was a true believer. I listened, I absorbed, I followed the True Path of the Righteous. [...] I can pinpoint, to within a few months, the arrival of my professional scepticism...
  • Is knowledge worth testing anymore? Is testing knowledge ‘Authentic’? | TheOtherDrX's Higher Education blog 'My view of assessment, and in particular ‘authentic assessment’ in science, is that it should rely upon some known facts, and students should be able to apply those facts to conclude or deduce something, like an authentic scientist. As a research scientist, I have had some ideas over the years, and none of them have come about by not knowing anything about the topic. In fact I’d go as far to say that all of what I’d call half-decent project ideas have come from deep understanding two or more disparate topics in great detail, and making some sort of interacting link between the two. So the question is: Am I assessing in a manner that is authentic to science?'
  • Donald Clark Plan B: Only 60% attend lectures & plummets across semester & week – and that’s at Harvard! 'University ranking tables are perhaps the most mendacious form of marketing known to man. They are, quite simply, a lie. Why? They say nothing about ‘teaching’ the reason for most of this marketing effort is to attract students and funding (monetising). The reason they say nothing is that they don’t measure anything. It’s all proxies. The Times rankings are a case in point. They claim that their ranking scores include teaching. In fact, only 30% is based on teaching but they use NO direct metrics. The proxies include student/staff ratios (which is skewed by how much research is done) and, even more absurdly, the ratio of PhDs to BAs. It is therefore a self-fulfilling table, where the elite Universities are bound to rise to the top. '
  • Text Savvy: Intuition and Domain Knowledge 'The clearest takeaway for me is that while knowledge and process are both important, knowledge is more important. Even though each of the tasks was more "intuitive" (non-decomposable) than analytical in nature, and even when the approach taken to the task was "intuitive," knowledge trumped process. Process had no significant effect by itself. Knowing stuff is good.'
  • Beyond Dependency Learning: scaffolding, crutches and stabilisers. | headguruteacher 'One of the challenges we face as teachers is knowing how much help to give. There are so many examples of structured support across a range of learning experiences: arm-bands in swimming, stabilisers on a bicycle… the vocab crib-sheet in language learning. They are all designed to provide support in the early phases of learning, with the explicit goal of removing them later on. The question is when. My feeling is that, too often, we leave the support structure in place for too long and students develop a dependency; an over-reliance on the support and a mutually reinforcing fear of failure.'
  • Leaving care is hard enough without the system favouring those who are fostered 'The Office for National Statistics reported that the age at which young people leave home has shifted in recent years. The average age of young people leaving home is now 25 and the number of 20 to 34-year-olds living at home has gone up by 24%. So even with “staying put” until the age of 21, fostered young people are still leaving home earlier than their non-fostered peers. But this age extension does buy more time for foster carers and social workers to best support care leavers as they move into adulthood. It also allows individuals to do things we all begin to do at this age – get a job, consider university, all with a continuation of support and shelter. [...] Reports that highlight the outcomes of care leavers show just how vulnerable this group is during the transition to independence and how much support they need.'
  • Who will stand up for adult education? | The Learning Age '[T]he ongoing cull of qualifications is indicative of a really remarkable narrowing of the educational offer to adults – one which began in earnest under the previous government as it became increasingly fixated on a funding model based on boosting employability and vocational skills. It’s not that employment and vocational training aren’t important it’s just that they aren’t everything. Among the qualifications considered of no or low value will be many that adults have found hugely valuable, in giving them a foothold in learning again, building their confidence, broadening their horizons or simply offering them a second chance. [...] [I]t can make them more flexible, more resilient, more rounded and civilised, helping them become better people as well as better employees. The wider public value of adult education is far too infrequently asserted.'
  • Professionalism: FE’s Rolling Stone | dancing princesses 'What follows is a proposed alternative take on professionalism. To paraphrase The Rolling Stones: you can’t always get what you want from professionalism; but if you try sometime, you just might find, you get what you need: a collective democratic voice…'
  • 3quarksdaily: The Changing Idea of ‘Knowledge' 'In line with the criticisms of IQ tests, one must ask who determines general knowledge? What is relevant to whom? Today, when ‘do research' means ‘Google it', when we're bombarded with more information than we ever have been before, when our short-term memories are suffering from the lack of micro-moments, where does the Lowest Common Denominator of information lie?'
Other Business
  • Rethinking One of Psychology's Most Infamous Experiments - The Atlantic (On Milgram's obedience experiments) 'But as with human memory, the study [...] is malleable. And in the past few years, a new wave of researchers have dedicated themselves to reshaping it, arguing that Milgram’s lessons on human obedience are, in fact, misremembered—that his work doesn’t prove what he claimed it does. [...] The problem is, no one can really agree on what it proves instead.' 
  • BPS Research Digest: Accepting help can be difficult. You'll find it easier if you help others '[The researchers] went on to show how recipients of help can bounce back. In a second stage of the study, participants tackled another set of puzzles and were invited to write help cards for three they had answered correctly, for the benefit of future participants. With this shift from help-receiver to helper, all participants reported an increase in confidence, as well as more affinity for their previous helper.'

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