Podcast: Play in new window
Tonight Matthew welcomes back Jay Helbert (@learningjay), a podcast stalwart making an all-too-rare appearance, and we are joined by Bill ‘The Literacy Adviser’ Boyd (@literacyadviser) to look at what’s fresh on the educational news front. First up though, Jay has been reviewing the latest project from educational guru Sugata Mitra (@Sugatam). Mitra is the instigator of the ‘Hole in the Wall’ project, which showed the amazing ability of children to learn when presented with a single, isolated, internet-connected computer – lodged literally in a wall in India. The “School in the Cloud” project is taking it to the next level by creating 5 ‘schools in the cloud’ or self-learning environments (SOLE), 3 in India and 2 in North-East England. Mitra himself says he is not sure where the experiment will lead but asks us to imagine a world where you ask a child ‘Do you go to school?’ and he replies ‘I don’t know.’
Watch Sugata Mitra talking about Schools in the Cloud on YouTube
Back on earth and well below the clouds, attention turns to three apparently connected news stories. Bill looks at ‘the strange case of the vanishing GCSE pupils’, a Guardian report which investigates the story behind a school’s dramatic improvement in examination results, to discover that the practice of removing low-achieving pupils from school rolls before exam time is more widespread than commonly thought ( with some 5,500 secondary pupils mysteriously disappearing from the records in 2012 alone).
Staying on the examination theme, the CBI have been making news in The Independent with their claim that schools are increasingly becoming ‘exam factories’ and failing to provide school-leavers with the ‘behaviours and attitudes that are vital for success – including determination, optimism and emotional intelligence’, while the TES were highlighting a report from teachers across the globe which suggested that young people are leaving school without the critical thinking skills required for university or the world of work. The research, from Cambridge International Examinations, also revealed that 85% of teachers interviewed ‘thought it was the skill their students most commonly lacked when they began their post-16 courses at school’, a worrying statistic, given that the same teachers are at least partly responsible for developing the said critical thinking skills.
So there you have it. Exam factory schools turning out unthinking zombies completely unfit for work, study or life. How true is it, and even if it contains an element of truth, what can be done about it? Tune in and find out what our panel thinks.
With all that, a dash of Seth Godin, and a look at Malcolm Gladwell‘s latest offering, David and Goliath, tonight’s podcast offers a substantial dish of food for thought to help sustain you through the long January nights. Enjoy!
Thanks to Asbjorn Floden for the Creative Commons image. Beautiful! http://www.flickr.com/people/asbjorn_floden/