Tuesday 30 August 2011

Debating school legislation and teachers in Delhi, again

Last week, Aug 10, I was moderating a discussion on teacher accountability through the Right to Education Act in New Dehli, India. I had done this last year many times as associate director of the School Choice Campaign at Centre for Civil Society, New Delhi's best and oldest liberal think tank. 

It was good to see friends again and the discussions were familiar matter to me. From the minutes taken by the new young SCC team: 
"Chaired by Jan Sjunnesson Rao, former Associate Director, School Choice Campaign with Surendra Nath Dubey, President of All India Awardee Teachers Association and Shashank Shukla, Teach for India Fellow, Chairman at Gurukul Education Society and member of the National Advisory Council Working Group as panelists, the discussions explored the means through which the RTE Act addresses the issue of teacher accountability and looked at possible solutions. Jan outlined the major problems in relation with teacher accountability before introducing the panelists. He summarised the principal problems in India such as the absence of teachers and the shortage of educators that the government is facing while trying to implement RTE Act. In addition he mentioned that the RTE Act is vague on the issue of teacher accountability. He commented on the lack of a direct correlation between teacher salaries and student learning outcomes in India."
Keep up the SCC spirit guys and gals  : )

Saturday 13 August 2011

Modern parenting and the philosophy of children's learning

BBCs Magazine has a piece by the great essayist cum philosopher Alain de Botton where he evokes the ways modern parenting has evolved. His point is that the cozy mollycoddling looks decadent, appalling to older generations and from the outside, but is quite rational given the demands on children of today. Modern theories of childhood such Dion Summer and Dahlberg/Moss could not agree more.
Still I withhold my scepticism. Children are not cultural, but also mammal beings whatever the social constructivists and post-modernists say. Given that base, the modern parenting is at best harmless, at worse making the human species fade out into mini shrinks who terapeut one another. But I could be wrong.  

Tuesday 2 August 2011

Why some believe good teaching cannot be measured

In this blogpost from Teacherleaders Network (US) it says:
" . . .teaching is an extraordinarily complex and demanding form of professional practice whose quality is impossible to capture accurately in a simple metric".

Yes and yet no. There are ways to get around this as we all know the McKinsey reports have tried 2007 and 2010. To say it is impossible is not acceptable, it is just very hard and couragous to do for school leaders. There is no way getting around measuring and supporting the teachers and in the end the students.

Thursday 28 July 2011

Apps and education

I knew it would come something like this when I got my dear Samsung droid:
"Apps created by and for the academy could turn smartphones into essential academic tools for everything from teaching and citations to social-science fieldwork"

Sunday 24 July 2011

Narrow focus on math and reading/writing skills and tests

In India as well as in Sweden, the desire to do well in mathematics and reading/writing has gone too far with the last two years (8th-9th) in Swedish middle school entirely about Math/Swedish/English. India has its 10 standard exam craze for same reasons.

In the US, the No Child Left Behind Act has driven this to the extremes.  ASCD, an education policy unit, has taken on the challenge to thwart this narrow curriculum http://www.ascdpolicypriorities.org/ascdpolicypriorities/0711#pg1

Friday 22 July 2011

Stockholm University invests in international students

My former employer Stockholm university needs more students from abroad :

 "Stockholm University is not only one of the largest universities in Scandinavia, with around 50,000 students, but is also generally ranked among the top 100 universities worldwide. That makes it a great choice for prospective students in search of a vibrant and diverse study environment. " (http://www.thelocal.se/34958/20110715/  and www.su.se)

Jobs  seeem to abound too:

Sweden (Ericsson) needs Indian computer engineers says Migration Board, Stockholm. "The most common native country among those granted a work permit is India. Of these 584 people, 504 work as computer .specialists, making them the single largest group of migrant workers during the first quarter of 2010" (http://www.migrationsverket.se/info/3858.html )

Thursday 21 July 2011

Recommended reading on teacher effectiveness

I met with one of the authors of the report linked below, Tara Beteille, here in Delhi last year 2010  at the World Bank. I was very impressed by her research into the links between teacher absenteeism and local political support in India. Here is more from her team found at http://schoolchoice.in/blog/?p=4322" In this paper, we use value-added methods to examine the relationship between a school’s effectiveness and the recruitment, assignment, development and retention of its teachers." By  Susanna Loeb, Demetra Kalogrides and Tara B├ęteille. http://www.nber.org/papers/w17177.pdf