09 February 2015

Items to Share; 8 February 2015

Education Focus: The traditional/progressive debate
  • The Problem With Knowledge Part 1 | Scenes From The Battleground 'My position [...] is that just as it is better to be healthier, or physically fitter, it is better to be cleverer. My position is that there is an intellectual domain, familiar to all of humanity, and it is a good thing to have a more developed intellect. My belief is that this development, this process of making kids cleverer, is as clearly the purpose of education, as it is the purpose of a hospital to make people well, or a gym to help people get fit.'  See also The Problem With Knowledge Part 2.
  • Traditional teaching: it’s all academic | teaching personally 'it appears that the traditionalist camp (within which I broadly count myself) isn’t as united in its understanding of this as it might seem. The observations that followed betrayed a wide range of understanding, not to mention conflicts, regarding the respective positions of progressive and traditional education.' (Complements Old Andrew above)
Education Focus: Nicky Morgan's silly targets
Other Education  
  • Can we teach students effective ‘revision skills’? | Evidence into practice 'There are two issues with the sorts of activities which typically make up a ‘study skills’ sessions for students. The first and biggest problem is lack of transfer. The efficacy of teaching ‘learning skills’ independent of domain knowledge relies upon students transferring (often fairly abstract) strategies to their own studies. We know that transferability is problematic and the intended transfer of ‘skills’ to other contexts typically doesn’t occur. [...] Secondly, many mnemonic strategies only really help where the material they have to learn is mnemonic ‘friendly’; for instance ordered lists of words (preferably nouns). The lack of wide applicability of these strategies is one of the reasons it rates so poorly in the Dunloski et al (2013) review of study techniques.' (Overlaps/complements this work, too.)
  • Let's get moving [teachinginhighered.com] 'There’s just something that happens when we all get moving, students and faculty alike. To that end, here are some ideas for getting physical movement happening inside and outside the classroom...]
  • An Invitation: help write a new curriculum for teacher training | Clio et cetera 'I’ve decided to see just how far I can mobilise teachers online to work together on a project. [...] There is currently a wide variety of routes into teaching, and, increasingly, training is being provided at a relatively small scale by organisations that might have limited access to curriculum materials for teacher education. I would like to see how far a community of teachers (the term broadly defined) might go in creating a curriculum for teacher education that might be of help to such organisations. I am hoping, too, that we might be able to begin a bit more of a debate about what exactly it is that we expect teachers to know.'
  • New ranking exposes curbs on university freedom of speech [theconversation.com] 'Freedom of speech is at the heart of academic life and a university should be a place where every issue is discussed and debated. Not so, according to the findings presented in the first ever Freedom of Speech University Rankings (FSUR). They reveal that 80% of UK higher education institutions routinely regulate and actively restrict students’ free speech and expression in some way. 
  • What to do about research assessment (the REF)? A proposal for two-stage university education [dcscience.net] (David Colquhoun on the Research Excellence Framework) 'it cost at least £60 million. At UCL alone, it took 50 – 75 person-years of work. and the papers that were submitted were assessed by people who often would have no deep knowledge about the field, It was a shocking waste of time and money, and its judgements in the end were much the same as last time..' 
Other Business
  • 3quarksdaily: Blaise Pascal’s Wondertorium 'Everyone learns about Pascal's Triangle when they are young. But I, at least, didn't learn all the wonders contained in the Triangle. Indeed, we're still discovering new things!'
  • I Don’t Want to Be Right - The New Yorker 'The [research] goal was to test whether facts, science, emotions, or stories could make people change their minds. [about immunisation risks.] The result was dramatic: a whole lot of nothing. None of the interventions worked.'
  • Milgram was wrong: we don't obey authority, but we do love drama [theconversation.com] Why have the landmark psychology experiments of the post-war era proved so enduring? Designed as dramas about human behaviour, experimenters drew on theatrical techniques and tailored their results for cinema – results that, though skewed, have become embedded in the collective subconscious.
  • The Dish (Andrew Sullivan takes his farewell. If you missed probably the best blog ever for the past 15 years, the archives will be kept on line; do browse.) 'I hope we can all simply look back at the journey, and the laughs we had, and the pain we lived through together and the love that sustained us as a team and as a community, as we struggled together to figure out the truth about the world. [ ] And yes, this was a labor above all of love. Love for ideas and debate, love for America, love for my colleagues, and love, in the end, for you. [ ] I sit here not knowing what to write next. And yet, in the end, it is quite simple. [ ] Know hope. (Yes, it's a bit OTT, especially given that he is British, but the Dish has been a serious achievement in new media. How? You have to read it. Watch out for whatever he does next.) This New Yorker article explains why The Dish was so special. (Paywalled—limited free access.)

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