Exam results does not mess with people’s lives, life does…

“There were no sex classes. No friendship classes. No classes on how to navigate a bureaucracy, build an organization, raise money, create a database, buy a house, love a child, spot a scam, talk someone out of suicide, or figure out what was important to me. Not knowing how to do these things is what messes people up in life, not whether they know algebra or can analyze literature.” – William Upski Wimsatt

Reblog of the week:Tramadol nights

I chose Tramadol Night by Distant Ramblings on the Horizon as the ‘Reblog of the week’!

I really admire the personal anecdote and how the story appropriately supports his argument for a balance between evidence/protocol and individual/personalised learning.

S

Distant Ramblings on the Horizon

Its been a couple of weeks (and many answering blogposts) since Dr Ben Goldacre launched his paper on research in education, specifically discussing some of the benefits of using Randomised Control Trials (RCTs) and generally suggesting that evidence is a good thing. Nothing in this post should be construed as suggesting that any part of Dr Goldacres paper is unwelcome, or that I do not agree with it completely. What I have written below is not a “but“, it is an “and”.

He gave a little bit of the history, noting that the medical profession had not always had evidence at the heart of its practice. Indeed, initially many doctors fought against this approach “as a challenge to their authority.” Evidence, he suggests, supports professional independence rather than undermining it.

For me, the key paragraph in the report was the final one:

Now we recognise that being…

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Top universities really are biased in favour of private school pupils

Extract from the Independent Article: “Pupils from state schools and ethnic minority groups need higher A-level results than those from private schools to get into Britain’s top universities, says a study out today.”

In my opinion, this is not news nor is it current affairs. This has been happening for years and from personal experience I was one of the few in my course at LSE that went to a state school.

Dr Wendy Piatt makes a valid point in regards to A Level choices individual students make. However, I hope Wendy is not insinuating that it is the fault of that individual student.
From personal experience and I would like to hear from others too, I was not told that my GCSE subject options will affect which A Levels I can choose which in turn affects what University and degree and I can apply for also.
When there are below standard career guidance in state schools how can the blame fall on the child?
When schools are forced to focus on helping their students pass non-creative, production line exams tests, students are not prepared or as prepared for post-16 world let alone the real world.
Yes, it is a serious problem that Universities especially the really good ones are not accepting students from state schools and ethnic minorities. It is also a serious problem that the gap between ethnic minority students and white students accepted to good Universities is still substantially wide!

How can it be addressed: (In my opinion)

1- Career guidance coaches in all state schools with focus primarily on schools that are below average on school league tables.
These coaches are not only to work with the students but parents and teachers. Collaboration is key and necessary here in order to be effective and efficient. Involving parents means a continuation of a ‘what’s next ethos’ and encourages more critical thinking at home. Involving teachers, can bring academic learning to life, how learning quotes from Romeo & Juliet, or how to create pretty colours from different metals & acid is relevant to everyday life and the future.

2- Curriculum needs to be rebuilt on a foundation that education is for life and not for exams. University is just one option of many but all students should be given the opportunity to go to a great University and be equipped to be able to do well also.

WHAT DOES IT LOOK LIKE?

One great quote from the video clip: “In a system that is meant to teach and help the youth, there is no voice from the youth at all.” This is sadly very true about many education systems.

Following on from my previous post Sir Ken Robinson: Changing Education Paradigms, the innovative and effective self-directed learning or Independent projects could be one mode of reforming education for the 21st Century.

collaborative education

I’ll admit that sometimes I can talk a big talk about collaborative education, but not have enough examples of effective and large scale collaboration in a classroom.

But this example is one of the best instance of collaborative education that I’ve seen.  Here we have a real public school in Massachusetts entrusting students to develop their own curriculum, projects, assignments, discussions, and assessments all without the supervision of a teacher.  This semester long program works for passionate students seeking an alternative education experience.  The program covers a variety of topics across all the major disciplines, all of which the students both collectively an independently work on.  This program requires a great deal of drive, focus, and accountability, but the kids in this video are proof that an educational program like this can truly enrich the lives of students.

This program reminds me of the crucial balance between collaboration and independent…

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Evidence-based practice: why number-crunching tells only part of the story

Randomised Controlled Trials are a very good research method that can help radically reform education in order to meet the needs of the individual and society today.

An excerpt from Rebecca Allen’s blog: “Social contexts change faster than evolution changes our bodies. Whilst I would guess that taking a paracetamol will still relieve a headache in 50 years’ time, I suspect that the best intervention to improve pupil motivation and engagement will look very different to those we are testing in an RCT today. This means that our knowledge base of “what works” in education will always decay and we will have to constantly find new research money to watch how policies evolve as contexts change and to re-test old programmes in new social settings.”

Evidence-based practice: why number-crunching tells only part of the story.

Sir Ken Robinson – Changing Education Paradigms

With youth unemployment at an all-time high worldwide, it is seriously time to question all education systems and practices. Unfortunately too many education systems are based on what Sir Ken calls a “production line” mentality. Where we enter a system that should produce educated, enlightened and employable young people. We can see that these production line systems are failing to achieve this: a significant increase in early school leavers, low-skilled and under-educated young people, and high youth unemployment.

Why is this production line education system failing?

I completely agree with Sir Ken, education systems are built for a particular purpose and for period of history when society was a lot less complicated and homogenous.There are thousands of new job positions today that did not exist three years ago and Millions more compared to 50-60 years ago, our schools, curriculum and standardised teaching methods evidently cannot not keep up.

We are in desperate need of an education system that both educates individuals holistically for life and in preparation for the labour market.We need radical but effective education reforms that challenges pre-conceptions of education.

Should we have profit-making schools?

An incredibly well-balanced and informative article on the topic, profit-making schools.

An excerpt from Simon Burgess: “So profit-making is pointless at best: under the current market set-up, improvements in attainment would not make money (so would not happen) with profit-making schools, and cutting costs would make money but would either reduce attainment or leave it unchanged…..Profit making in schools would either solve all schools’ problems nor signal the end of civilisation; the issue provokes strong feelings, but largely misses what should be the central policy concerns. Big gains in levels of attainment depend on raising average teacher effectiveness and big gains in equity depend on weakening the importance of proximity as an admissions rule and on changing the allocation of effective teachers across schools. None of these would be strongly or directly affected by for-profit schools. However, there are certainly merits in piloting policies that link school’s revenue per student to the progress of that student, and incentivising cost reductions through keeping the surplus in the school.”

CMPO Viewpoint

Author: Simon Burgess

Should we have profit-making schools?

Profit-making schools have returned to the education debate in England. This is an emotive issue for many, but an economic analysis is useful in defining the real issues.

There are some simple claims that can be quickly dealt with.

  • “Education is far too important to be left to the mercy of profit-making companies.” Education is undoubtedly very important, for long-run growth, for social mobility, and for personal well-being. But think about possibly the most elemental of human needs, the production and distribution of food. While this is regulated by government, we are happy to leave all the decisions to profit-making companies. No-one seriously advocates the nationalisation of food.
  • “It just won’t work.” It clearly does at a general level. Countries around the world, including those with well-regarded education systems such as Sweden, allow profit-making schools.
  • “No-one should make money out of education.”

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