Troops Out of our Schools! Thursday 30th August

August 30, 2007

TONIGHT in Glasgow! – A really interesting event that all teachers should support!  For my views on the subject please see my previous post.

School Students Against War Public Meeting
7.30pm Langside Halls, 1 Langside Avenue, Shawlands, Glasgow
 
Speakers Include:
Rose Gentle (Military Families Against War), Sam Fairbairn (School Students Against War), Lorna McKinnon (Student, Bellahouston Academy)
 
Bush and Blair’s war on terror has left Iraq in ruins.  655,000+ have died at their hands.  The occupying forces are failing to provide basic public services while they rob Iraq of its oil wealth. Hundreds of British soldiers are dead as a consequence of the war.  Troop morale is at an all-time low: senior military figures and ordinary soldiers are increasingly speaking out against the war.  Others are voting with their feet by leaving the army in record numbers. Faced with troop shortages, the military are conducting a recruitment drive among the most vulnerable young people in our society.  Now, school students and teachers are speaking out against military recruitment in schools.
 
Troops out of Iraq, Troops out of our Schools!

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Podcast: Growth Mindset and Understanding Failure

August 27, 2007

This is a great interview and very relevant to how we all learn and improve ourselves.  Its a very important lesson on how we need to teach the correct “mindset” for education.  I’ve met a number of people who came out of school with what Carol calls “the fixed mindset” that they think they are stupid, can’t do things and are too scared they will fail so don’t even try.  What is better is that people understand failure is a part of life, we should enjoy the challenge and know that if we work hard we can improve ourselves over time.

Mindset is “an established set of attitudes held by someone,” says the Oxford American Dictionary. It turns out, however, that a set of attitudes needn’t be so set, according to Dweck, professor of psychology at Stanford. Dweck proposes that everyone has either a fixed mindset or a growth mindset. A fixed mindset is one in which you view your talents and abilities as… well, fixed. In other words, you are who you are, your intelligence and talents are fixed, and your fate is to go through life avoiding challenge and failure. A growth mindset, on the other hand, is one in which you see yourself as fluid, a work in progress. Your fate is one of growth and opportunity. Which mindset do you possess? Dweck provides a checklist to assess yourself and shows how a particular mindset can affect all areas of your life, from business to sports and love. The good news, says Dweck, is that mindsets are not set: at any time, you can learn to use a growth mindset to achieve success and happiness. This is a serious, practical book. Dweck’s overall assertion that rigid thinking benefits no one, least of all yourself, and that a change of mind is always possible, is welcome. (On sale Feb. 28)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

IT Conversations: Carol Dweck


Teaching to Kill? Army School Ban

August 24, 2007

I was really happy when I saw this article on the BBC

“Scotland’s biggest teaching union has voted by a clear majority to call for a ban on the armed forces targeting recruitment campaigns at schools.Teachers vote for army school ban

Schools should educate about peace and non-violence, not propagandize children for the military industry. I use the word propagandize because they don’t seem to tell the whole story

Supporters of the ban claimed the military targeted teenagers with t-shirts, pictures of helicopters and even Christmas cards from the recruiting officers.

I hate it when they make war so trivial ignoring the horrific reality of what you’ll be involved in. All the TV adverts have exciting images, theres never footage of dead or injured soldiers, its all “cool” helicopters, tanks and sporting events.  Like the Simpsons video says mocking this PR “the Army – its everything you love” implying its nothing you’d hate too. They should hand out their postcards then the school should make the children watch a documentary like Baghdad ER.

The UK also has a poor record in regard to child soldiers which no school should play a part in.

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Do we need more technology in Schools? A luddites view

August 24, 2007

[technologies] have nothing whatever to do with the fundamental problems we have to solve in schooling our young. If I do harbor any hostility toward these machines, it is only because they are distractions. They divert the intelligence and energy of talented people from addressing the issues we need most to confront.

 I agree the main problems we should all face in education are with its fundamental aims and we shouldn’t allow ourselves to get to distracted by technology that doesn’t really allow us to do anything we couldn’t do before.  I’d really like to hear peoples opinions on this so please comment.

TECHNOS QUARTERLY Winter 1993 Vol. 2 No. 4

Of Luddites, Learning, and Life

By Neil Postman

“I would bar educators from talking about technical improvements until they have disclosed their reasons for offering an education in the first place.” So wrote Neil Postman in his cautionary tale, “Deus Machina,” in the Winter 1992 issue of TECHNOS. Here he takes his challenge one step further, to those who say that new technologies will soon make schools extinct. They have it all wrong, Postman says, because they don’t understand the real purpose of schools.

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My Brilliant Brain: Make Me a Genius, episode 2

August 21, 2007

Can genius be taught?

This episode focuses on Susan Polgar, the first female chess grandmaster, whose incredible story suggests that genius does not always have to be innate, but can be taught.

Susan’s remarkable abilities have earned her the label of ‘genius’, but her psychologist father, László Polgar, believed that genius was “not born, but made”. Noting that even Mozart received tutelage from his father at a very early age, Polgar set about teaching chess to the five-year-old Susan after she happened upon a chess set in their home. “My father believed that the potential of children was not used optimally,” says Susan. (1)

“Schools, he says, are irremediably broken. Built to supply a mass-production economy with a docile workforce, they ask too little of children, and thereby drain youngsters of curiosity and autonomy.

…..the truth is that genius is an exceedingly common human quality, probably natural to most of us.

…[in education] We need to start from the cold-blooded premise that almost everyone is a genius — not that almost everyone is worthless.” John Taylor Gatto

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Chomsky Quotes on Education

August 21, 2007

Some Chomsky quotes on education (from wikiquote).

  • “Most problems of teaching are not problems of growth but helping cultivate growth. As far as I know, and this is only from personal experience in teaching, I think about ninety percent of the problem in teaching, or maybe ninety-eight percent, is just to help the students get interested. Or what it usually amounts to is to not prevent them from being interested. Typically they come in interested, and the process of education is a way of driving that defect out of their minds. But if children[‘s] […] normal interest is maintained or even aroused, they can do all kinds of things in ways we don’t understand.”
    • Source: Conference titled “Creation & Culture” in Barcelona, Spain, November 25, 1992

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Kohn puts Supernanny in the Naughty Corner

August 14, 2007

I really admire Alfie Kohns work and advise everyone to take a look at “What does it mean to be well educated.”

In the following article he describes the parenting mistakes made in the television show supernanny which is teaching thousands of parents across the world how to raise children (I know its been screeened in the UK, US andBrazil).  For more of his work online see his website.

One of his arguments I found especially interesting was the fact that supernanny never considers wider issues.  In a recent UN survey the UK was found to be one of the worst places to raise children and I think Chomsky does a good job of describing why that is –

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