Quotation for the week

Children have never been very good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them.

James Baldwin

More quotations about teaching and education

Education of the future?

[From Fast Company]

On the face of it, Philadelphia’s High School of the Future, a
collaboration between Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) and the city’s public-school district, seems like the kind of out-in-left-field experiment guaranteed to inspire dissent. Yet the school opened last September to almost universal acclaim. Breathless press reports read like an old Jetsons script: Interactive whiteboards! Combination-free lockers! A laptop for every student! An NPR feature titled “In Philly ‘Future’ School, Books Are So 20th Century” went all gooey over the school’s universal Wi-Fi and student-ID smartcards, glossing over just how these bells and whistles were supposed to revolutionize

But the news reports captured only part of the project and, in many ways, the least-important part. The School of the Future is not just a high-tech overlay on the traditional curriculum–it represents a wholesale tearing apart of that traditional curriculum. The three Rs are gone; science, English, math, writing, and the rest are being taught not as separate”disciplines,” but as a set of interdependent tools for understanding real-world problems. And while the School of the Future may occupy a relatively radical position on the spectrum, corporate involvement in the education system is becoming commonplace, a role that has stirred plenty of controversy.

For example – this comment from Stephen Downes:

When schools come to depend on the infusion of talent and money from a corporation, what happens when the corporation pulls out (or threatens to pull out unless the learning takes on a pro-corporate spin)?

and this from Tim Stahmer

I’m somewhat ambivalent about allowing big business to direct the course of American education. It’s certainly good that elements of the larger community are interested in improving teaching and learning.

On the other hand, K-12 education should not be all about training “a future generation of Redmond cubicle warmers” or building “a nation of pitchmen”.

Nursery Rhymes

Nursery Rhymes are generally brief, anonymously written songs or verses intended for children. Though these rhymes are thought to help develop vocabulary and counting skills, scholars have actually linked many of these rhymes to historic events. For example, some believe that “Pop Goes the Weasel” is about silk weavers bringing their shuttles or bobbins (known as “weasels”) to pawnbrokers to exchange for drinking money. What event does “Ring a Ring O’Roses” supposedly reference?

Switch Awards 2007: Energy Safety Week competition

The Switch Awards are open to all primary and secondary schools in Victoria, South Australia and Queensland. Schools participating in any program or activity that engages their community in energy and the environment are eligible to enter. Winning schools will share in prizes worth $30,000, including two fully installed solar systems (each valued at $10,000). Schools that register their participation before 29 June could win a $100 or $200 early bird assistance grant. Entries close Monday 17 September.


Using test scores to evaluate teachers


Comment from Biglearning:
Please show me a profession where beating people over the head with threats of dire penalties for someone else’s work, while taking away their autonomy, has led to sustained performance improvements. No, it doesn’t matter – I still wouldn’t wish it on our teachers. Even the bad ones.

Research study on preprimary care and education

Researchers from the High/Scope Educational Research Foundation have reported on the results of the IEA Preprimary Project, a longitudinal, cross-national study of preprimary care and education. Many diverse countries participated and used common instruments to measure family background, teachers’ characteristics, structural features of settings, children’s experiences, and children’s developmental status. Consistent findings related to language and cognitive performance have implications for early childhood education.
Read on …

Schoolboards: net dangers over-rated; bring social networks to school

[Via Tech.Blorge]

The internet isn’t as dangerous as people think, and teachers should let students use social networks at school.

That’s the surprising new recommendation from the National School Boards Association — a not-for-profit organization representing 95,000 school board members — in a new study funded by Microsoft, News Corporation, and Verizon.

Is it important, as Stephen Downes points out to notice those last five words?

But the study was funded by funded by Microsoft, News Corporation, and Verizon – organizations that are not exactly neutral about the outcome.

New Copyright Challenges for Schools


This website focuses on copyright law, its operation in schools in each State and its implications for various members of the school community. The nucleus of the content covers recent changes to hard-copy printing costs, moral rights for creators and the extension of copyright law in relation to advances in communication technology.

World Tales


Australian animators have created twenty films based on folk tales, myths and legends from around the world. The interpretations of these tales highlight the beliefs from various cultures and are told in both English and the story’s native language.