December 2018: What’s News in Education
Fraction wars, philosophical wars, photo-bombing teachers, incredible data displays and much more.
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Want to bring strategic thinking into artithmetic? Check out these ideas:
- Meet Mr Nik’s Bullseye Challenge: when arithmetic meets target practice.
- From Open Middle: Using the digits 1 to 9, at most one time each, fill in the boxes to make a whole number product.
From the NY Times’ November selection of graphs to get you thinking and wondering. Two distributions of the ages of first-time mothers, over 30 years apart. What do you notice about these graphs?
What’s going on in a function of the form f(ax+b) +c? Kalid Azad explains.. now wait, he demonstrates in this interactive post.
Simple images that open up a depth of conversation and insight about fractions. Thanks to Carla Dawson:
After something more geometrical to ponder over? Take a look at these five shady puzzles from Alex Bellos.
From Dan Meyer, mistakes are in the eye of the beholder: “ Instead of seeing the student’s work as a window into her developing ideas…, I see it as a mirror of my own thinking.” Myer’s follow up blog, helpfully outlines what you can do with ideas that were once interpreted as mistakes.
Mathematics isn’t passively done to students. In a recent presentation, Shelly Jones describes what culturally relevant pedagogy is and why it matters. Check it out here.
- The Maths Wars over explicit instruction vs inquiry learning continue. From Andy Hargreaves at Boston College and Pasi Sahlberg at UNSW: “while we can’t resolve the math problem simply by getting ‘back to basics,’ we can revive good ideas about math education.”
- What’s wrong with a ‘knowledge-rich curriculum’? Teacher, Jon Hutchinson, provides three arguments — and then describes why they’re wrong.
- With reference to the Aristotelian tripartite division of knowledge, Nina Hood from the University of Auckland explains why the ‘knowledge vs skills’ binary view isn’t appropriate.
Early Childhood to Tertiary Education
“Children who have been to preschool seem to stay in school longer, get better jobs, commit less crime, and require less welfare. The thing most of the early studies were looking for — academic ability — is one of the only things it doesn’t affect.” — Scott Alexander, on the benefit of early childhood education.
It’s report time! From Jordan Baker, the evolution of the report card:
“Primary school reports have evolved over past decades, from the crisp, one-page summary of the 1950s to the frank, opinionated musings of the 1980s and the anodyne standardisation of the 2000s.” [note: ‘anodyne standardisation’ really captures the spirit of pre-written comment banks.]
Learning First has released a series of papers on “how strong curriculum combined with teacher and school leader development can be the driver of powerful school and system improvement”. Check them out here.
From Bill Lucas and Charlotte Smith at the Mitchell Institute comes this paper on the trajectory of ‘capabilities’, “the attributes or competencies that are developed alongside content knowledge and skills”.
Podcast of the Month: Ollie Lovell’s interview with Dylan Wiliam on leadership for teacher learning. (Confession: I listened to it on 1.4 speed, it was long. Then, I went and bought Wiliam’s book).
“ Educating people for employment is likely to provide them with skills and knowledge, but when education is restricted to mere job training, we risk closing students’ minds to matters that might not translate into employability.” — Matt Beard on why a STEM focus isn’t a silver bullet.
School autonomy comes in many shapes and sizes. A new paper out of the O.E.C.D., examines what ingredients are needed for this to be successful. Read on.
A Window into Schools & the People in Them
Although not strictly speaking in school, it would be remiss not to mention the over 10,000 Australian school students who went on strike on 30 November in protest against the federal government’s lack of action on climate change. Here’s a taste of them in action:
Dr Jane Franklin used to be a research scientist in molecular biology. Now she’s a high school teacher in Katherine, N.T. Why? Read on.
The Victorian Education Excellence Awards have been celebrated. Amongst the honours, was Horsham College principal, Rob Pyers. From Pyers: “I know one person does not make a school. The award is a reflection of the entire Horsham College community’s work and effort over the past five years”.
Remote Queensland town, Woorabinda, is changing the way they do secondary education. A new school is being built on 135 hectares with the aim of better supporting the high number of students with FASD (fetal alcohol spectrum disorder) and associated challenges of short attention spans, intellectual difficulties and otitis media.
The Follow The Dream project provides academic enrichment support for Aboriginal students from remote towns around Western Australia’s Pilbara region. Students in the program have had increased school attendance rates, with Year 12 graduates having strong pathways beyond school.
A number of Victorian schools are at a tipping point with their student populations. With extra extra portable classrooms brought in to accommodate student numbers, Melton Secondary College has found itself needing to roster class heating and cooling. That is not okay.
At the other end of the spectrum…
Northside Christian College teachers have surprised Year 12 students with musical photobombs. Say no more.
An article entitled “Top school graduate’s dreams on hold as refugee status remains in doubt” gets published. Twenty-fours hours later it is followed by a new piece, “Asylum seeker student’s university dreams revived after offers flood in”… That’s some powerful journalism. Best wishes to Year 12 graduate, Soumi Gopalakrishnan.
Education Policy & Politics
School funding is notoriously difficult to get your head around. This interactive produced by Inga Ting, Ri Liu and Nathanael Scott shows the precise funding changes that have occurred under the ‘education revolution’. As well as looking at macro data, you can see the data for your school. And for more data-driven analysis of education, location and disadvantage, see this analysis from Macquarie University.
Many secondary teachers are pulled into teaching maths due to a shortage of qualified teachers. New analysis from Michael O’Connor and Geoff Prince at the Australian Mathematical Sciences Institute has concluded, “Re-training current out-of-field teachers must be a large part of the solution and new thinking is needed to attract mathematical sciences graduates to teaching.”
The N.S.W. government has stepped in with an extra $712 million for public schools “after the federal government refused to match its recent $1.2 national “choice” fund for private schools”.
“In 2014, the Queensland government introduced legislation to grant school principals greater disciplinary powers.” As Professor Linda Graham, from Queensland University of Technology, explains however, this approach can be harmful and ineffective. “Contrary to popular belief, suspension does not promote behavioural change.” Rather, it is “associated with an increase in anti-social behaviour and contact with the criminal justice system”
Education Queensland has provided early ‘permission to teach’ to 60 final year university students to address serious staffing shortages in schools across the state.
“Almost 2,000 Year 12 students in South Australia have made history, becoming the first in the country to sit an end-of-year exam electronically by completing it on laptops.” Students sitting the English Literary Studies exam did so on customised laptops with no internet access and no spellcheck.
Victorian teachers have walked out of classrooms to protest children being held in detention. The protest saw teachers from public and private schools come together as part of the #KidsOffNauru campaign.
The Melbourne Declaration’s days may be numbered. Federal education minister, Dan Tehan, is advocating for a review of the nation’s educational goals.
Australia’s largest universities are furious with the Morrison government, after finding out that “$134 million being injected into regional universities would be raided from the Research Support Program, which funds researchers’ salaries, laboratories and libraries”. Read on.
Warning: this is not satire…
Kevin Donnelly, senior research fellow at the Australian Catholic University has launched a book, How Political Correctness is Destroying Education and Your Child’s Future. From the launch: “What we need, Dr Donnelly said, is a return to 1950s Australia, where things were less complicated and children were happier.”
Education Around the World
England: a new government-funded centre, the National Centre for Computing Education, is being set up to support computer science instruction in schools across England.
Finland: a ten-year longitudinal study has found, “No matter the indicators you choose, family background has a significant impact. In addition to choosing high-income and well educated parents, it’s also better to be a girl”.
New Zealand: “At least 850 new teaching staff are needed to guarantee that all primary and secondary school children have a teacher next year.” Ruth Boyask, from Auckland University of Technology, explains the consequences of the government’s proposed short-term fix.
Singapore: In a move to remove financial barriers and encourage students regardless of their background, changes are being introduced to the way students gain entry to secondary school.
South Korea: The nation’s college entrance exam is 9 hours long, with preparation commencing from as young as 13 years of age. After university, the countless hours of study as nowhere near done.
Wales: to support implementation of a new curriculum, since 2011 Wales has set a goal of transforming schools into ‘learning organisations’ with “the capacity to change and adapt to new environments and circumstances as its members learn, collectively and individually, how to implement a shared vision”.
Maths, Science & Tech
Need some mathematical humour in your life? Of course you do. Get it from none other than Ben Orlin.
When is a kilogram really a kilogram? Leaders of the international measurement community have voted on changes to the metric system so that “the mass standard is now based on a value that is woven into the fabric of the universe.”
St Petersburg, Russia, houses “one of the largest public collections of zoological specimens in the world” thanks to Peter the Great. The collection is attracting renewed interest three centuries after it was first conceived of, due to the ‘age of genetics’. Speaking of old animals, a discovery has been made in Borneo of a painting of a banteng, a South Asian wild cow. It is at least 40,000 years old making it the oldest cave painting of an animal known to exist.
Kind of grossed out. Completely impressed. Scientists have “used nanoscale 3D printing to create spiral-shaped robots small enough to pass through the dense jelly known as the vitreous humor that makes up most of the eyeball”.
A new US$14-million scanner is “pushing MRI to new limits of magnetic strength”. The strength of the magnetic field brings greater resolution to “see for the first time how information flows between collections of neurons in a live human brain.”
James R Brown asks, “We can prove things in math, but does that mean they’re true?” Read on.
Can maths solve the fake news voting conundrum? Mathematicians from the University of Surrey, Professor Dorje Brody and Dr. David Meier, have developed a model to help lawmakers.