30 March 2015

Items to Share: 29 March 2015

Education Focus

  • Donald Clark Plan B: The fake 'Wellness' cult in education and the workplace 'In all of these cases an unwelcome, and I suspect, unintended consequence, of all of this happiness, mindfulness and wellness effort, is a condescending attitude towards the rest of us who ‘don’t get it’ or ‘don’t live up to these standards’. There is a smugness about the whole affair, a stink of righteousness. It’s the modern equivalent of a meme-inspired cult, a touch of the Temper[a]nce movement and smattering of Scientology.' And Ecclestone K and Hayes D (2008) The Dangerous Rise of Therapeutic Education is worth reading in a similar vein.
  • Skills rhetoric doesn’t make the cut | 157 Group 'Saving adult education is more than about protecting what there is – it is about shaping what it can be in the future.' More on the coming decimation of adult education. (The 157 group lobbies on behalf of Further Education.)
  • #TLAB15: A flash of light | Those that can…'The theme of the day was ‘all in the mind’, and, powerfully, it brought together teachers with experts from other fields to share their research in a clear and accessible format which gave so many ideas and insights into how we – teachers and students – and the cultural, environmental and relational factors which influence this. Below, I have highlighted some of my key ‘take-home’ moments for the day...'
  • What is the point of praise? | Sandagogy '[T]he Year 13 students who were part of my focus group were adamant that they did not want or need praise from their teachers! They were also very clear that they did not find praise helpful and implied that praise is not always used for valid purposes by teachers, for example you were more likely to receive praise if you had a poor mark. Yet from my own informal classroom observations I have witnessed the positive effect that written praise has had on students and the responding increase in motivation and self-esteem.
  • Left Brain – Right Brain: This idea must die | teflgeek 'Blakemore states that the idea of left and right brain separation arose out of studies done in the sixties and seventies on people who had had surgery to divide their brains. Snip. In that scenario, the left and right hemispheres can no longer physically communicate with each other and some brain functions are inevitably degraded as a result. [ ] For everybody else though? No matter how analytical or creative we are being – we use both sides of our brains. All the time.'
  • Donald Clark Plan B: 7 reasons: Why we need to kill boring ‘learning objectives’! 'At the end of this course you will….” zzzzzzzzz……. How to kill learning before it has even started. Imagine if every movie started with a list of objectives; “in this film you will watch the process of a ship sail from Southampton, witness the catastrophic effect of icebergs on shipping, witness death at sea but understand that romance will be provided to keep you engaged”. Imagine Abraham Lincoln listing his objectives before delivering the Gettysburg Address. Imagine each episode of Breaking Bad starting with its objectives. It makes NO sense.'
  • The Research That Never Was | Sam Shepherd [Sam would like to do some research to test an intervention:] 'The intervention, and those who know me will now groan, is the setting of SMART targets for learning. I know, I’m like a stubborn dog with a particularly juicy slipper on this, but do bear with me. You see, that research would never happen. Smart targets are an integral part of the individual learning plan, and as such, are pretty much unassailable. After all, they tick every ideological and performance management box: achievement of the target runs the argument, supplies evidence of individual student learning. Criticism of the target is seen as criticism of the concept that the learning of the individual is crucial.'
  • Yeah, but what about the visual learners? | barrynsmith79's Blog 'Spelling tests in MFL – I think they went out of fashion didn’t they? Most of you reading this probably can’t recall a time when they were ever in fashion. To be fair, it was a bit draconian expecting kids to get the spelling right and take pride in their work. You know, actually checking what they’d written. Yeah, spelling tests, they’re boring, they are'

  • Umberto Eco's How To Write a Thesis: A Witty, Irreverent and Highly Practical Guide Now Out in English | Open Culture 'I wish, [...] that as a onetime (longtime) grad student, I had had access to the English translation, just published this month, of Umberto Eco’s How to Write a Thesis, a guide to the production of scholarly work worth the name by the highly celebrated Italian novelist and intellectual. Written originally in Italian in 1977, before Eco’s name was well-known for such works of fiction as The Name of the Rose and Foucault’s Pendulum, How to Write [a] Thesis is appropriately described by MIT Press as reading: “like a novel”: “opinionated… frequently irreverent, sometimes polemical, and often hilarious.”
Other Business
  • Bryan Appleyard » Blog Archive » Hell Is Not Other People Review of 'The Village Effect: Why Face to Face Contact Matters' by Susan Pinker. 'Total assets amounting to trillions of dollars depend on you not believing a word of this book. What The Village Effect shows, in a nutshell, is that “we’re lonelier and unhappier than we were in the decades before the internet age”. Life online goes against human nature, providing only a thin, fake version of real contact, real life. We should — we must — turn away from the seductions of Silicon Valley. [ ] Susan Pinker [...] is a developmental psychologist turned author and journalist. This book, being research heavy and stylistically light and readable, draws on both aspects of her career. But, though pleasantly mild-mannered in tone, it is an urgent polemic directed at the virtualisation of our lives.'

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