Saturday, June 30, 2012

CASE STUDY: A Teacher's Philosophy of Education

Children in a kindergarten classroom in France
Children in a kindergarten classroom in France (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
By Diana Hunter McGuerty

Who are you? Where are you going? Is it a noble journey? These questions are posed at all times, in my classroom and out, since that classroom is a training ground for the real world.

My purpose is to help equip people to answer these questions for themselves; it is also to fight a daily battle against ignorance and mindlessness, to lead people out of the dark of meaninglessness, purposelessness, drift, and over-indulgence ... up a hazardous mountain where there can be gained the truth that makes them free.

My name is Hunter ... Lebensjaeger: life-hunter, and Liebensjaeger: love-hunter (in the universal sense). I know who and what I am; I know where I am going; the journey, though one of great risks and pitfalls, is well worth the effort.

I work to survive and flourish in a hostile and challenging environment, remaining enthusiastic and energetic ( most of the time). It is my chosen work to teach the individual how to teach himself/ herself, to provide an environment in which to help the individual to do good work and widen his range of wholesome options in the present and future.

Enabling people of all ages and circumstances to discover themselves and their place in the world, and to assimilate growth skills that are useful and satisfying ... is what I do as a teacher, guide, and change agent.

By creating an environment (often under alien conditions) in which an individual feels comfortable, accepted, and willing to stretch and grow ... by exercising my self as a wholesome and viable example, I set the tone for the joy of learning, for each individual.

I show others how to teach themselves, and others, such that they can produce good work, become self-reliant and learn how those three questions apply to each of them within the group ... as individuals.

Each person's strength and ultimate survival depend not upon an ability to manipulate and control, but upon an ability to harmonize with nature as an integral part of the holistic system of life. There is a law of nature that causes all things to be balanced; it says that nothing comes free, that all things must be paid for, that all wrongs must be made right.

Attitudes create atmospheres. A practiced instructor can create a tangible atmosphere of confidence in a classroom through direct outward projection from his own mind ... of a conscious state of clarity and a feeling of calm. The current systems often work to negate the elucidative effect of such effort, unfortunately ... just as an unresponsive and inanely resisting person can do ... by projecting a state of confusion and unnecessary control.

Without autonomy ... it does become a battle. However, out of a good teacher's perception, an unusual sense of communication, and a straight and simple manner, come words and gestures and expression superbly suited to creating a strong feeling of confidence and an attitude of cooperation.

Once an individual recognizes and accepts the inherent valuable possibilities that can be achieved by doing good work (and you can not force someone to do this, nor can it be done through fear of authority or punishment), then one begins to establish his own clear sense of himself, his direction, and his value.

He/she can then align himself with his own identity, and with the will and energy of his present life within a larger picture. He can then become aware of those with whom he has already associated and with those who are now a part of his life and work. It can then achieve a good change in one's thoughts, feelings, and actions. They can only be shown; they can not be forced.

At that point, the individual can answer these questions and become totally free. All apprehension and anxiety are gone. One loses a sense of "importance". There is nothing to be driven to do, or even to succeed in. I have not yet reached this point entirely ... but I am going in the right direction.

Part Two

There are three things healthy people most need (and want) to do, and education ought to prepare them for those things:

- To act as spiritual beings, that is to say, to act in accordance with moral impulses ... man as a divine being.
- To act as neighbors, to render service (through good work) to his fellows ... man as a social being.
- To act as persons, as autonomous centers of power and responsibility, that is, to be creatively engaged, using and developing the gifts that we have been blessed with ... man himself and herself.

In the fulfillment of the human being's three fundamental needs lies happiness. In their unfulfillment, their frustration, lies unhappiness.

I often have my students respond to introspective and philosophical statements; it is one of our daily thinking and writing exercises they enjoy most, because they are challenged and invited to think, to consider, to relate, to communicate clearly their response, through language skills.

They are offered a knowledge of the tools with which to respond, and the freedom and opportunities to use those tools. The choice is theirs, and the capability is theirs (once they realize it, and are willing to work and exercise these skills).

Ponder these statements:

- There can be no joy of life without joy of work.
- Laziness is the sadness of the soul.

Just watch a bit; if you get too many useful machines, you will get too many useless people.

So how do we prepare young people for the future world of work? First, we must prepare them to be able to distinguish between good work and bad work, and encourage them not to accept the latter.

In other words, they should be encouraged to reject meaningless, boring, stultifying, or nerve-wracking work in which a man or woman is made the servant of a machine or system. They should be taught that work is the joy of life and is needed for our development, but that meaningless work is an abomination.

What about a person's soul and spirit, in addition to the nourishment and good health of his body?

How much of educational thought goes into the development of his soul and spirit? Education for the sake of leading them out of the dark wood of egocentricity, pettiness, and worldly ignorance.

Call me a fanciful dreamer, but I have thirty-four plus years of effectiveness to prove otherwise; the working person needs work for the development and perfection of his soul ... his spirit, his energies.

"It is not as if the artist were a special kind of man; every man is a special kind of artist." This is the essence of good work. It is my chosen direction to help others recognize this fact, and activate it in their own lives, often against great odds.

Traditionally, our ancestors knew the wisdom of good work, but our materialistic scientism/ technology look at this concept with contempt. Who can afford to do good work now? Modern systems leave no room for spiritual guidance or design, thus wantonly creating conflicts and confusion in all people so conditioned.

Education for good work, then, can begin with a systematic study of traditional wisdom (not pap or pedantic, boring, useless dogma), but the source from which are to be found the answers to the questions "what is a man? Where does he come from? What is the purpose of his life?" The goal then emerges and there is indeed a path to the goal; in fact, there are many paths.

The goal is described as "perfection, wisdom, understanding, fulfillment, happiness, enlightenment, harmony, balance", and so forth. And the path to the goal? Good Work! "Work out your salvation with diligence."

It's so simple and pure in its essence that it is also exciting and motivating. This is what individuals need ... a wholesome sense of exciting, motivating possibilities that will lead them to personal fulfillment in life. That's what I offer, and work for. And it is good work for Hunter; it works for me!


Give to me a moment
Of your time, dear kindred soul,
And I will show you mysteries
Of life as they unfold ... an invitation granted
From the messengers of light,
Where man is but a welcome guest
Evolving while in flight.

Diana Hunter McGuerty has been a teacher for over 35 years and a lifetime poet. Diana's first published poetry book is titled Many Shades of Light: Reflections in Poetry. Diana's poetry book and other poetry can be found at: Diana Hunter McGuerty's education plan can be found at:

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Friday, June 29, 2012

The Different Stages of Reading

English: Azerbaijanian girl Leman reading a book.
Girl reading a book (Photo: Wikipedia)
By Deborah P Scott

In English we translate sounds into letters when going from a spoken message to a written one. Reading is looking at letters and translating them back into spoken sounds.

Picture someone reading out loud. Sound really easy? You might be surprised at how common sense the 4 basic stages of reading progress are from here.

Saying the Sounds

The first stage in reading is to get all the sounds that you will be using ready to go. There are 46 sounds that are specifically English. A child getting ready to read has to have these 46 sounds on the tip of their tongue.

It's okay if some sounds are still under construction. For instance, there is a lisp that is being worked on. If on the other hand, a child uses one sound for both "f'" and "v", or switches "y" and "l" sounds then they need more practice in pronunciation.

Recognizing Letters

Next, a preparing reader needs to recognize that all the funny lines and curves on a written page are individual letters. Details like knowing double "t" is still two letters and not one, or "m" is different from "n" are critical and need to be mastered.

Not to be overlooked, beginners need to know that marks like "!" and numbers are not letters. You don't want them trying to sound these out down the road.

What shall we name the letters? Experts are split on teaching just letter shapes and sounds or letter names as well. If you use letter names, like I do, then readers learn them first in order and then mixed up. Skipping letter names works with structured or scripted lessons.

Sound Letter Connection - Ideas Stage

Now that sounds and letters are in place, the next step is to connect the two in general terms. At first, your child just understands that letters stand for sounds.

This means when you read a story book they know you are reading the letters and not the pictures (and not making it up as you go along). Later, a child can hear, and tell you the first, last and middle sounds in a word.

Connecting Specific Sounds to Letters

Now for the grand finale! Connect specific letters to specific sounds and blend them. There are 71 letters or groups of letters used in English. Each one of these has one or more sounds that goes with it, depending on the reading program used. Readers learn the sounds the letters make. These sounds are then blended.

These are the basic reading stages. They are not difficult. I think most parents are really satisfied when they know them because they make measuring a child's progress a relaxed observation. They also allow you to consider a reading program with more experienced eyes. That's a big deal in a world full of hype.

We were parents encouraging our children to become flourishing readers, just like you. Then we hit a point when nothing we found worked. We took 6 years developing a new reading system to teach our kids to read. To our great surprise and gratitude it was a phonics breakthrough.

Read about our story and how it led to the fastest, easiest, most complete phonics book available today at, and

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Thursday, June 28, 2012

A Better Way To Homeschool: Teaching With Toddlers Under Your Feet

Homeschool Picnic
Homeschool Picnic (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
By Bekki Sayler

When I began homeschooling I had a 5th grader, a kindergartener (who was scheduled for major surgery), an 18 month old, and I was expecting baby #4.

I was on bed rest, I couldn't walk, and my older son needed to catch up in a few areas (math in particular).

So how did I survive?

The key to my homeschooling survival was three fold.
  1. I had the heart and attitude that no-one was going to be more invested in my children's success than I was.
  2. I took the time to create a plan.
  3. I found successful homeschool moms and asked a lot of questions and implemented their methods that were successful.
It's all Attitude

When you school around toddlers and infants you have to be dedicated. There is no other way to describe it. It is exhausting to chase little ones and teach algebra simultaneously.

The first question to ask yourself is whether or not you are committed to "Stick and Stay". Our kids desperately need to see us model a 'never quit' attitude. The great news is that, with a few adjustments, it is absolutely possible to do a great job!

Your Plan

If a plan is going to succeed, there must first be a plan; a goal. It was here in my life's story that my husband and I focused and formed our foundational goals; our Mission Statement if you will. I would encourage you to do the same. Our goals were simple.
  • Pass on our faith
  • Teach our kids basic math facts
  • Foster a love of reading while exposing our kids to great literature
  • Begin the lifelong journey of becoming an excellent writer and communicator.
Asking for Help from Experts

I would never have survived that first year of homeschooling had I not taken the time to seek advice and ask for help. Some people have a really hard time asking for guidance, not me. I knew I was a good teacher, but I also knew my house was a mess and I had no idea how to teach with little ones around.

Here's what I gleaned from experts.
  1. Organization: I actually had a new friend come and help me organize my home. She taught me how to clear and organize clutter. She taught me how to store things into clear bins. She taught me that taking the time to organize my home, even above the time I took to teach would save me countless hours. Fast forward to today. This was the smartest thing I ever did. It took me about 3 weeks to completely clean. purge, and organize my home yet I have been able to maintain it for over a decade.
  2. Toddlers crave routine (actually we all do, but toddlers thrive when they can anticipate the next thing). One of the moms I "interviewed" encouraged me to schedule my toddlers into manageable time-chunks. It can best be compared to kindergarten "stations". I established a cycle of activities that followed this order: eat, quiet activity, busy activity.
  3. If I could give any advice it would be to glean this "quiet-time"/controlled environment mentality. I used a high chair, a car seat, a booster seat, a playpen, a crib and a gated area for quiet time activity centers. I chose activities that were age appropriate and safe and gave the toddler their own space. I honestly did not let them "roam"- that's when they would get into trouble. Sometimes they were in the same room and even at or near the same table; other times I had them "play" in the next room or in their room. This was something I trained into their day. I began with 5 minute intervals and slowly worked up to 30-45 minutes. It worked beautifully with all my little ones.
There are many, many, many kinds of activities to entertain and educate your toddler available online. Keep it simple. I always kept my school activity time toys out of reach so they were fresh and new when needed.

Toddlers crave consistency. Toddlers will thrive under a schedule of rotation of activities. Toddlers need to have set boundaries, for their own development and safety, as well as the sanity of your homeschool environment.

Sharing tried and true homeschooling resources, templates, tips, advice, and encouragement is our passion. Visit today!

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Wednesday, June 27, 2012

How to Write an Essay

Essay Time (Rousseau and Women): My desk at th...
Essay Time (Rousseau and Women): My desk at the library (Photo credit: Tim Riley 澳大利亚)
By Salena Johnson

All students experience what is described as "student's block", so they should not be unduly alarmed if they find that they have an essay to write and they can't even bring themselves to sit down and begin it.

The time will come, nonetheless, when the deadline has to be met and if you have left your preparation to the night before you are hardly going to do either yourselves or the essay justice.

"How to write an essay" is a lot easier than you think ... if you pick up the right question, interpret the terms correctly, and follow a few simple procedures. All essays follow the same procedures. You should:

1. Make sure that you understand the essay question completely.
2. Gather information that is relevant to the essay topic, and write down rough notes.
3. Make an essay plan by jotting down the order in which you want to present your information and ideas.
4. Write a good essay draft, following correct essay layout and using formal, simple, clear, and concise language.
5. Give references throughout the body of your essay, if you refer to other people's quotes or findings.
6. Re-check the draft, making final corrections of spelling, grammar, punctuation, and paragraph layout.
7. Ensure that the introduction and conclusion are interesting, and they help guide the reader into and out of your essay.
8. Write the final copy of the essay.
9. Include a bibliography of the entire information sources used in your essay.
10. Finally, re-read the entire essay to check for any final mistakes.

The process of researching, planning, and writing an essay can, and should, be enjoyable. If, presently, the prospect of such an exercise seems either dismal or scary, that is because you have not yet thought hard enough about your own aims in writing an essay.

Follow this three-step process:
• First, ask yourself what the question wants to know.
• Second, ask yourself what you know about it.
• Third, ask yourself how you put it into words.

The essence of your essay is the body. It is here that you do your job of showing "to what extent and in what ways," or of "assessing the validity," or of "contrasting and comparing," or of "explaining" and so on.

The introduction simply points out the direction your argument will take. The conclusion simply summarizes your argument. What you have to do is write a clear, convincing argument in your essay. Keep in mind that an "argument" is whatever you write to answer the question.

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Tuesday, June 26, 2012

University Ranking Rankles: Playing the Prestige Game

The Monash Art and Design Faculty at Caulfield...
The Monash Art and Design Faculty at Caulfield Campus (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
by Robert Nelson, Associate Director Student Experience at Monash University, The Conversation:

Australian universities compete with providers all over the globe. The stakes are high and it is hard to ignore world rankings.

In The Conversation recently, however, University of Southern Queensland’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Jan Thomas, questioned the value of rankings locally, and outlined why her university steers clear of rankings altogether.

Ranking Rivalries

Australian universities naturally want to perform well against our international rivals and attract good students and the best staff. But in the domestic context, rankings have a discriminatory effect for little gain, marginalising and devaluing the work of smaller universities.

The corrosive effect of rankings may not be confined to regional institutions or urban universities outside the Group of Eight (Go8). All universities are understandably jealous of their brand and project this immaterial asset as forcefully as they can.

For some, the rank achieved on league tables reinforces domestic marketing strategies as well as those abroad. One could argue that this emphasis fosters prejudice among prospective students. Advertising promiscuously by any mark of distinction, the sector encourages students to see universities through properties sometimes little better than snob-value.

Rankings tend to validate this bias, with much swagger and presumption among the proud, to the point that even academics view their institutions through performance in rankings, rather than their own experiences.

But inevitably, rankings yield only a partial picture. Consider the great influence that research income has upon many indicators. Any university with a medical faculty is likely to be able to show greater per capita research funding than a university without a medical faculty, because medical research is expensive.

The engorged research budget of a big university with costly sciences does not mean that research in any other field in the university (much less teaching) is superior than in counterparts without a medical faculty.

Alas, the university with the bigger research budget will automatically rank higher and is assumed to have preeminence - a distinction that hardly amounts to good science.

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Monday, June 25, 2012

Protest Criminalised at the "Pepper Spray" University: An Open Letter to Yolo County

by New Statesman:

Sometime in July, in a court in Yolo County, California, eleven students and one professor at the University of California Davis will stand trial, accused of the “willful” and “malicious” act of protesting peacefully in front of a bank branch situated on their University campus.

There has been in recent months a great deal of online coverage of the brutality of public order policing at Davis. The treatment of the Davis Dozen, however, promises more longstanding injury. If found guilty, each faces charges of up to eleven years in prison and $1 million in fines.

The immediate history of the case stretches back to autumn 2008, when state budget cuts trickled down to the partly state-funded University of California. The administration of that University responded by announcing that tuition fees would be increased by 32%, prompting several months of vocal student protests and campus occupations, violently suppressed by the state authorities.

As the collapse of the US banking sector caused the State of California to withdraw its funding for its public Universities, those same Universities turned to the banking sector for financial support.

On 3 November 2009, just two weeks before riot police would end a student occupation at UC Berkeley by firing rubber bullets and tear gas at the students and faculty gathered outside, the University of California Davis announced on its website a new deal with US Bank, the high street banking division of U.S Bancor, the fifth largest commercial bank in the United States.

According to the terms of that deal, US Bank would provide UC Davis with a campus branch and a variable revenue stream, to be determined by the University's success in urging its own students to sign up for US Bank accounts. In return UC Davis would print US Bank logos on all student ID cards, which from 2010 would be convertible into ATM cards attached to US Bank accounts.

Just at the moment when, on the campus of UC Berkeley, riot police were beating up and shooting students who protested against austerity, fee increases, and their handmaiden, debt, the management of UC Davis was selling the debt of its own students to U.S. Bancor, the corporate beneficiary of “austerity.”

The poet and critic Joshua Clover, who has written extensively on those police actions, is among the twelve who sat down in front of the Davis branch of US Bank in protest, and who now faces the prospect of sitting in a cell in the Monroe County Detention Center until 2024, has argued that “the rise in tuition and indebtedness simply is the militarization of campus”. These processes, Clover says, “are one and the same”. The claim concerning police violence will not seem exaggerated to anyone who has watched the videos on You Tube of the police action at Davis.

The sit-down protests outside the UC Davis Branch of US Bank, in which the “UC Davis Dozen” were only a few of many participants, were not only peaceful; they were, in effect, the active demilitarization of campus. Their point was to make explicit the connection between corporate banking, state austerity and an increasingly militaristic police presence in universities.

US Bank closed its branch in the UC Davis Memorial Union Building in March. The sit-down protests were a success. That such effective protest cannot be tolerated is evident from the response of the University administration and the Yolo County District Attorney.

The charges against the Davis Dozen have a notable history of service: “Obstructing movement in a public place” was an indictment invented to criminalise homelessness in Alabama. The Davis Dozen are to learn - on behalf of everyone affected by austerity - that protest against the conditions which lead to homelessness is criminalised by the same legislation that makes homelessness illegal.

For the bankers, millionaire University administrators and state functionaries for whom “revenue” is to be maximised no matter what the cost to the people they serve, this paradox is no paradox at all.

We are grateful to the Davis Dozen for the example of principled and eloquent bravery in response to intolerable extensions of police and corporate power at a time when the poorest are being deterred from university study by the prospect of unmanageable debt. We, internationally located artists, critics, and writers, ask that the Davis Dozen be acquitted of these extraordinarily severe and ignoble charges, to which they have courageously pleaded “not guilty”.


Dr. David Nowell-Smith, Université Paris VII - Denis Diderot, Prof. Robert Hampson, Royal Holloway, Dr. Daniele Pantano, Edge Hill University, Olivier Brossard, Maître de conférences, littérature américaine, Université Paris Est-Marne la Vallée, David Gorin Jean-Jacques Pouce, Fellow, Internationales Kolleg Morphomata, Genese, Dynamik, Medialität kultureller Figurationen, Daisy Fried Abigail Lang, Maître de conférences (Associate Professor), Université Paris-Diderot, Paris
Michelle Levy Schulz Dominique Pasqualini, Directeur de l'école EMA Fructidor (School of media and fine arts, Director), Chalon-sur-Saône, Sean Bonney, Marianne Morris, poet, UC Falmouth, Keston Sutherland, Reader in English, University of Sussex, Orlando Reade, University of Cambridge Binh Nguyen, San Diego, CA, Janet Holmes, Boise State University B, arry Schwabsky, art critic, The Nation, Robert Kiely, Birkbeck College Kent Johnson John Wilkinson, poet, Professor of Practice in the Arts, University of Chicago Alvin D. Greenberg, Boise State University Dr. Alberto Toscano, Department of Sociology, Goldsmiths Stacy Blint, Disappearing Books Katy Balma, Fulbright Fellow and Teaching Assistant, University of Connecticut Wendy Battin, poet and essayist David Lau, Lana Turner Magazine Nick-e Melville, poet and lecturer at Motherwell College, Scotland Peter Phillpott, Great Works, Patrick Pritchett, Lecturer, History and Literature, Harvard University Robert Archembeau, Professor of English, Lake Forest College (Illinois) Rob Holloway, Joseph Kaplan, Dr. Jeffrey Pethybridge, Susquehanna University Dr. Don Stinson, Northern Oklahoma College George Cunningham, Hansa Arts Joseph Walton Hugh McDonnell, University of Amsterdam Megan Kaminski, Creative Writing Lecturer, University of Kansas Jose A. Alcantara K.E Allen, Lecturer in English, Comprehensive Studies Program, University of Michigan Allan Peterson, Gulf Breeze, FL Siobain Walker Dr. Nina Power, Senior Lecturer in Philosophy, University of Roehampton Francesca Lisette Caitlin Doherty, University of Cambridge Frances Richard, Barnard College Ryan Dobran, University of Cambridge Dr. Cathy Wagner, Miami University, OH John Bloomberg-Rissman, University of California, Riverside Carla Harryman, Associate Professor of Literature, Eastern Michigan University Robert Ellen Joel Duncan, University of Notre Dame Jared Schickling, Adjunct Professor, Humanities Division, Niagara Count Community College Dr. Ian Patterson, Fellow, Tutor, Director of Studies in English,  Queens' College, University of Cambridge Dr. Lisa Samuels, Associate Professor, University of Auckland, New Zealand Ian Heames, University od Cambridge Prof. Alex Davis, University College Cork John Temple Jonathan B. Highfield Dr. Jennifer Cooke, Lecturer in English, Loughborough University Dr. Zoe Skoulding, Bangor University Kashka Georgeson David Grundy, University of Cambridge Luke McMullan Josh Robison, University of Cambridge Josh Stanley, Phd Student, Yale University Luke Roberts, Phd candidate, University of Cambridge Gareth Durasow.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Cuts Will ‘Privatise TAFE and Close Campuses’ in Victoria

English: TAFE campus at Bendigo, Victoria
TAFE campus at Bendigo, Victoria (Photo: Wikipedia)
by Justin Norrie, Editor, The Conversation:

Justin joined the Sydney Morning Herald in 2004 and covered the education, crime and urban affairs rounds before moving to Tokyo in 2007 to write about Japan for the Herald and The Age. He returned to Australia in 2010 to take a position as a senior reporter at the Sun Herald before joining The Conversation.

Education experts and senior academics have called on the Victorian Government to abandon budget cuts that they say will effectively privatise TAFE in Victoria and force several campuses to shut.

In an open letter, 14 vocational education and training researchers have expressed concern at “radical funding changes” to the public and private VET sector in Victoria. Victorian TAFE Association executive director David Williams has said that as many as 600 jobs may be cut in regional Victoria while metropolitan TAFEs could lose up to 1500.

The cuts to TAFE institutions, announced in the May budget, will reduce public funding by 22% from the start of 2013. The government has slashed funding for up to 80% of courses. In some courses - from fields including business, hospitality, retail, customer contact, process manufacturing, events, fitness and sport - rates will be cut to less than $2 per student contact hour from the current levels of between $6.50 and $10 per hour.

One of the authors of the letter, David McLean, the TAFE Manager at RMIT University, said that “what’s not seen by the government is the amount of hard work that goes on in the sector to develop resources and to come up with training methods and recruit people and build some sort of consistency to the way programs are developed. It’s all of that that’s going to get lost. There’s a human connection to that, but what’s really lost is the intellectual capital. If you sit down and try to do a budget and things just don’t add up, then you know you’re going to have to make some pretty hard decisions. Programs have been shut down and more will go.”

Nearly every Victorian university is represented by the signatories to the letter, which warns that “the privatisation of TAFE in Victoria is imminent if the newly proposed policy, Refocusing Vocational Training in Victoria, is implemented … We are alarmed that publicly owned TAFE institutes that provide immeasurable benefit to the Victorian economy and its communities should be threatened by such wide ranging and ill-judged reforms.”

The letter goes on to say that there is widespread fear across the sector. “There can be little doubt that this policy will cause campus closures in urban and rural Victoria, force the reduction of learning support services across TAFE and degrade Victoria’s training capacity through the loss of teaching expertise".

"Ultimately, though, it is the people of Victoria who will pay the price through increased fees, reduced quality and decreased access to publicly funded education. We strongly urge the Victorian Government to stop this planned destruction of public vocational education and training, a mandate for which it was never granted.”

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Saturday, June 23, 2012

Physical Changes That Occur in the Brain Through Learning

learning to ride a bike - _MG_2933
Learning to ride a bike - _MG_2933 (Photo credit: sean dreilinger)
By Dr Rebecca Keller

There has been a lot of research into the brain and we home schoolers have learned many fascinating and amazing things from neuroscientists. Probably the most amazing fact about our brain is that it is constantly changing and growing. Scientists call this neuroplasticity.

Neuroplasticity - a big word but one that is important as we think about teaching kids and actively engaging their brains. According to Judy Willis, a neurologist and educator, neuroplasticity is defined as the selective organizing of connections between neurons in our brains. Basically, what scientists have discovered is that as we learn new things, our brains actually change and physically grow.

Throughout our lives, our brains are growing and changing and making new connections as we learn new things and experience new situations.

Neural Connections

As we learn, neural connections are made. The more we use those connections, the stronger the connections become. "Cells that fire together, wire together" has been a saying among neuroscientists since the late 1990s.

When we perform tasks or recall some information that causes different neurons to fire together, the connections between these cells become stronger. As we continue to do the task and associate the information, those connections become strong links between various parts of the brain.

Not only do our brains make neural connections, but depending on the activity, parts of our brains can even grow. Think about how when you exercise your arm muscles, they tend to grow - become stronger and get bigger. Our brains work the same way. If we are doing an activity or learning concepts that use specific parts of our brains, that part will physically change and grow.

This works throughout our lives. Consider how important it is, then, to begin to build useful connections even in young children. As they gain information, connections are made that become strong. When new information is presented, it is added to these connections and becomes a permanent part of their thought processes.

Things to Think About When Home School Teaching

We can start by telling our children that intelligence is not static. It is something that is malleable and they can work to change. When they know they can grow and change, children are more likely to actually do so.

Practice makes perfect. As children practice with a concept by repeating activities, retrieving memories, and reviewing material, strong neural pathways are built.

Remember to teach in context. Learning is the making of new or stronger neural connections so we need to tap into what children already know. Teach so that your children see the connection between the new information and what they already know.

Help children to understand that this is how the brain works. As they realize that they have control over their learning, they are able to change their brains through study and review.

Homeschool Application

As we teach our homeschool kids a subject like science, for example, we need to constantly be thinking about how to make these neural connections stronger and real. By not being afraid to teach the principles of science, even to young children, we are building pathways that will connect them to even deeper information as they get into high school and college.

Apply what they are learning not just to science but also to the other content areas. Learning the history of how a concept has developed, taking the language and understanding it, and finding out how people have thought about the concept helps children to build connections that become stronger and easily accessible the next time they come across new information.

Most importantly, remember that our brains are not done growing. There is more to do and to learn. The job of a homeschool parent is never done.

Dr. Rebecca Keller is the founder of Gravitas Publications, which produces Real Science 4 Kids homeschool science curriculum. RS4K includes student textbooks, lab workbooks and teacher's manuals on the topics of biology, chemistry, astronomy, geology and physics which makes teaching these difficult subjects easy and FUN!

Please join her and other homeschool parents on Facebook or visit the Real Science 4 Kids blog. Receive Dr. Keller's 10 Tips for Teaching Real Science by visiting either page!

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Friday, June 22, 2012

School Chaplaincy Case: A Missed Opportunity for Secular Education

English: Entrance of the High Court of Austral...
Entrance of the High Court of Australia located in Parkes, Australian Capital Territory (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
by Catherine Byrne, Post-Doctoral Research Fellow at Macquarie University, on The Conversation:

The historic majority Australian High Court ruling that the National School Chaplaincy Program (NSCP) is “invalid” is a gift to the argument for secular public education.

Secular statutes (for example the NSW and Victorian Education Acts) exist at the state level and the Federal Government has no right to overturn them.

Strangely, however, with the gift in their hands Attorney General Nicola Roxon and Federal Education Minister Peter Garrett have immediately defended chaplaincy, publicly declaring their aim to find another funding route. Why? Heaven (and perhaps the Australian Christian Lobby) only knows.

Government-funded religious instruction

The High Court decision in favour of Ron Williams, a parent concerned over his children’s rights to freedom from religious intrusion, has implications for other school religious programs which infringe both children’s rights and church-state separation. Williams’ efforts will inspire other disgruntled parents to take action on their concerns about discriminatory religious instruction (RI).

Most states deliver a weekly session of RI, in these lessons children are segregated according to religion (or non-religion) and are often treated unfairly. In many schools, where RI was previously delivered by paid chaplains, the once paid position will only now be filled by the extremely committed evangelical missionaries.

RI volunteering used to be an intermittent local activity for aging, well-meaning mums, with time and God on their hands. Courtesy of John Howard’s NSCP, school RI became a national, government-funded, permanent mission in public schools.

Thanks to chaplains, RI has also become more militant and more mercantile. This new God squad doesn’t volunteer and they don’t mind if the paper work refers to them as “counsellors” or “student welfare workers”.

Let’s be clear though. These religious employees are paid by Federal government funds channelled through religious providers - despite the High Court’s inability to see the obvious, and didn’t rule that the chaplaincy is “an office under the Commonwealth”.

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Thursday, June 21, 2012

Bilingual Children Have a Leg Up

English: This is a map of Canada showing bilin...
This is a map of Canada showing bilingualism by federal electoral riding based on the 2003 representation order (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
by Staff, Utne Reader:

Doctors once discouraged learning a second language too early, but new research touts advantages for bilingual children, from better concentration to preventing Alzheimer’s later in life.

When it comes to language, Americans are woefully behind. The share of bilingual Americans is about half that of Canada and the U.K., and about a third of Europe’s average.

Spanish is on the increase, even while many Americans are slow to adopt a new tongue. But Americans’ stubbornness may have considerable opportunity costs, as new research suggests bilingualism has some significant neurological benefits, especially in children.

A slew of recent studies from Northwestern, Princeton, and elsewhere have found that bilingual children are better at concentrating, multitasking, and are faster to empathize with others, says New Scientist (May 8, 2012).

One reason, researchers said, is the fact that learning and speaking multiple languages can be very demanding on the brain. Without an off-switch on their language centers, bilingual brains have to constantly evaluate what language they’re hearing, and how they should interpret it. The increased activity helps bilinguals achieve sharper focus when performing any number of tasks.

And when they grow up, bilingualism may even stave off the effects of aging, dementia, and Alzheimer’s as it keeps the brain active and vital. Until very recently, most parents (and even doctors) thought exposing young children to multiple languages could be damaging. Teaching children to be bilingual, the thinking went, would leave them without mastery of any one tongue.

In fact, infants are well-designed to take on more than one language, says Psychology Today (April 16, 2012). Researchers at the University of British Columbia have found that infants can process and react to sounds of multiple languages. This means they can learn the rudiments of two languages over the same time-frame that their monolingual peers learn one.

Most bilinguals acquire their languages in sequence, but the fact that a child has the capacity to do otherwise is a significant finding. The best part? Even as an adult, it’s never too late to learn.

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Wednesday, June 20, 2012

A Guide to Studying in Scotland

Glasgow University, [Glasgow, Scotland] (LOC)
Glasgow University, [Glasgow, Scotland] (LOC) (Photo credit: The Library of Congress)
By Harvey McEwan

Many school leavers have already chosen where they intend to spend their next three or more years of studies, while for others the decision still lies ahead.

Studying in Scotland has many perks. For starters, Scottish and European Union nationals do not have to cover the costs of their higher education, while for English, Welsh and Northern Irish students the fees are lower than at universities back home.

What's more, students at Scottish universities get to spend four years learning and developing their skill set in comparison to elsewhere in the UK.

Whether you're hoping to study in a big city, small town or even a rural setting, Scotland offers it all. Study programmes are diverse, and cover everything from classics to engineering to sports.

Rural Higher Education Institutions in Scotland

If you study best in a peaceful setting with ample amounts of fresh air and outdoor scenery, the University of the Highlands and Islands could be for you. As the name itself suggests, the campuses are scattered throughout Scotland's northernmost areas such as Shetland, Orkney and Moray.

Modern facilities are housed in purpose-built academic buildings, many of which boast sprawling views across the local hills and valleys.

Each campus has its own atmosphere and community feel thanks to the small number studying at each location. This is one of the best features of the uni, and will make everyone feel welcome.
Up North you could be studying Tourism, Science, Gaelic (which is rare in the UK!), and more.

Small Town Scottish Universities

Not a fan of big cities, the prices, congestion and other factors that come with them? Fortunately, Scotland is home to various universities set in smaller towns, one of the best known of which is the University of St Andrews, famous not only for its high academic standards, but also for being the alma mater of Prince William.

The town is perched on the East Coast and is easily accessible by car or coach, but not by train. Prices in the area are steep with rents considerably higher than the Scottish average.

St Andrews has a firm focus on academics, and so the town isn't the most buzzing of places to spend your student life, but this, of course, suits many individuals. The town does boast excellent restaurants and shops, including designer outlets. You can also find true pearls at the many charity shops. Here you can read classic subjects such as Art History, Divinity, and Mathematics as well as others.

Stirling University is a medium-sized institution set on one of Britain's most striking campuses with its very own loch, and trails leading up into the nearby mountains. Founded in the 1960s, the uni prides itself on offering an array of modern courses such as Film and Media, Sports Studies, and Marketing.

The town is Scotland's historic capital and so features stunning attractions like Stirling Castle, the Old Bridge, and the Wallace Monument. Its centre is compact with one major shopping centre, a few independent shops, and a generous offering of pubs and restaurants. Life here is quite a lot cheaper than in Scotland's bigger cities.

Other options to consider are the University of the West of Scotland, and individual campuses such as the University of Glasgow's Dumfries branch, and Heriot-Watt University's Galashiels campus.

Big City Universities in Scotland

Edinburgh, Glasgow, Dundee and Aberdeen are all home to more than one university. Therefore there is a certain degree of rivalry between students who place a big emphasis on university rankings.

Glasgow is arguably Scotland's most student-friendly city in terms of prices and entertainment opportunities. Much of its student population resides in the city's West End, the hippest part of town. Many are involved in one or more of the city's many political movements.

Edinburgh is quite a bit more expensive, but boasts a rich, historical heritage and academic atmosphere. With four universities to choose from, you could be studying anything from the classics to computing.

The best way to choose a Scottish university is to spend time in each location, soaking up on the local atmosphere. Spend a couple of days in a city hotel in Glasgow, then move on to Edinburgh or wherever else you've decided to check out.

Harvey McEwan writes to offer information and advice on a variety of areas, from what city hotel in Glasgow to stay in to festival fashion tips. View Harvey's other articles to find out more.

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Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The College Identity Crisis

Higher education -- Remember young man, your f...
Your first step in the REAL WORLD is 8 feet ahead (marsmet471)
by Sam Ross-Brown, UTNE Reader:

Going to college is getting complicated. With higher ed becoming both more essential and less of a guarantee of future success, many young people today face a kind of impossible choice.

At the same time, for many kids higher education has become an expectation, a social obligation, less an accomplishment than a prerequisite to something more difficult and less certain. It’s also becoming much less attainable.

It wasn’t always like this. For generations, college offered a romanticized leap into the middle class - practically a guarantee of future prosperity, or at least, a good chance of avoiding the job market’s worst pitfalls.

All through American history, it’s impossible to separate education from the idea of social mobility, and by extension, the possibility of equality. Access to higher education formed a big part of the early women’s rights movement, and later, antislavery and civil rights.

Federal aid to education was at the center of Washington’s desegregation effort under the Johnson and Nixon administrations. From a student’s perspective, higher education can instill self-direction and lifelong learning, and can teach us to discover new ideas in a collaborative, community-based way.

But more recently, when people talk about education in America, they mostly talk about crisis. And not just the student debt crisis that movements like Occupy recently propelled into the national consciousness.

And not just the crisis in higher education that’s impoverishing instructors and grad students and underfunding the liberal arts. The other crisis - the one that’s been at the center of our education policy for two administrations - is about competitiveness.

It’s this idea that has spurred the Gates Foundation to pump hundreds of millions into struggling schools. It’s also the subject of a popular and fascinating 2010 documentary (Waiting for “Superman) on why schools must address changes in the global economy.

We’ve all heard the argument. Students in Europe and Asia are outperforming Americans on standardized tests, especially in math and science. We have lower graduation rates than other countries (college and high school), and those that do graduate don’t study the right things.

On average, class sizes have gone down and education spending has gone up since the 1960s, and we’re still at the back of the rich country pack. And this is an information age, with an information-based global marketplace, and we’d better be ready to compete with the tech schools in China that are churning out millions of engineers a year.

The U.S. job market is still hurting, but the real growth areas will be in - you guessed it - math and science. We need more chemical engineers now than novelists. More computer technicians than historians.

Beyond the anti-union rhetoric and reductive view of social inequality that usually comes out of a discussion like this, it’s a really interesting argument. After World War II, higher education was available to more people than ever before through programs like the GI bill. That availability reshaped the American economy, supporting a large middle class and low inequality.

But today, the prevailing wisdom is that schools must “provide an education that is relevant to the needs of business,” in the words of Bill Gates, whose Gates Foundation has become a major player in the ongoing debate.

So rather than take an active role in creating the society of the future, schools should instead react to whatever incentives and deterrents already exist in the global marketplace. Moreover, they should tailor the student experience to the future requirements of private enterprise.

“Computer science employment is growing by nearly 100,000 jobs annually,” Gates wrote in 2007. “But at the same time studies show that there is a dramatic decline in the number of students graduating with computer science degrees.” The key to our America’s future prosperity, Gates says, is to correct this imbalance.

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Monday, June 18, 2012

The Technocratization of Public Education: Subverting Educational Practices

Removed from the following pages: Psychology W...
Photograph of Wilhelm Wundt (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
by Prof. James F. Tracy, Global

James F. Tracy is Associate Professor of Media Studies at Florida Atlantic University. He is an affiliate of Project Censored and blogs at James F. Tracy is a frequent contributor to Global Research Global Research Articles by James F. Tracy.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is directing $1.1 million to fit students in seven US pubic school districts with “galvanic skin response” bracelets. 

The devices are designed to measure students' receptivity to teachers’ lessons through biometric technology that reads and records “skin conductance, a form of electrodermal activity that grows higher during states such as boredom or relaxation.”

The funding is part of the Gates Foundation’s $49.5 million Measures of Effective Teachers project that is presently experimenting with teacher evaluation systems. As Melinda Gates put it on the PBS NewsHour, “What the Foundation feels our job is to do is to make sure we create a system where we can have an effective teacher in every single classroom across the United States.”

The effort of extraordinarily wealthy elites to further subvert educational practices through “neuromarketing” techniques is the latest example in a long sequence of educational reforms dating to the early 1900s. Indeed, the Gates Foundation’s fixation on stimulus-response measurement and data collection is a fitting chapter of this history.

State sanctioned education in the United States has become a type of task-oriented training, quite apart from what education once involved - the cultivation of the human will and intellect. Children in most public schools today receive this type of conditioning, while the more affluent often send their offspring to private institutions or home school.

What passes for education today is to a significant degree the legacy of late-nineteenth-to-early-twentieth century German psychologist Wilhelm Wundt and the Rockefeller family's philanthropic project.

A professor at University of Leipzig, Wundt was the originator of what he termed a “new” or “experimental” psychology that stripped psychology of any of its potential philosophical concerns with the soul, will, or self-determination of the individual.

In Wundt’s reconfiguration of psychology the mind is merely an apparatus that responds to given stimuli, and through the measurement and recording of the stimuli and responses of the subject the psychologist in the laboratory (subsequently the teacher - and now the students - in the classroom) can determine the effectiveness of one stimulus-response method over another, as well as the functional capacities of the student.

For Wundt and his followers the human being is the sum total of her experiences; devoid of character and essence that might interfere with the ends of the collective unit. This view of the human psyche set the stage for the establishment of eugenics, psychiatry, and the social engineering carried out in public school classrooms.

Wundt exerted tremendous influence through his American doctoral students who studied at Leipzig and returned to transform US education. One of the most influential of these adherents was G. Stanley Hall, who after studying at Leipzig came back to the US in 1883 to teach at Johns Hopkins, begin the American Journal of Psychology, and mentor American intellectual and educational icon John Dewey.

Others include James McKeen Cattell, who returned in 1887 and took a faculty position in psychology at Columbia in 1891 where he minted 344 doctoral students. James Earl Russell, another of Wundt’s students, became director of Columbia’s Teachers College in 1897 and remained in the position until the late 1920s.

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Sunday, June 17, 2012

Under Pressure? 10 Tips for Student Success

English: Professor Alex Jones (Harvard Kennedy...
Professor Alex Jones (Harvard Kennedy School) giving a lecture about the role of media in social change. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
By Georgia Potter

There's just no avoiding it, college is hard. You have to choose a school and a program. You have to decide on a major. You have to work out how you're going to pay for tuition, find a place to live and get your books. If all of that isn't enough for you, now you have to do the hard part, THE WORK!

If I haven't scared you away yet, you're probably wondering how to succeed in college. Don't worry, I've got your back, here are ten excellent tips to help you succeed in college.

1. Use the Force
If you have made it this far, you must have a strong desire to get your degree. In other words, you hold the force! Use your dreams and goals as motivation to keep you going. With homework and late nights studying you may begin to question why you're doing what you're doing. If you ever get to this point (which I am afraid you will), take a step back and remember why you are doing what you are doing. Constantly remind yourself that YOU and only YOU are in charge of your future.

2. Don't Settle
You may have had to settle on a date to the prom in high school. You may have to settle for tuna when you want grilled cheese. But you never, ever, have to settle on a professor. This is a common mistake that students make these days. You are in charge of your education; you're paying for it aren't you? Make the most of it! If you after a few classes you find that you don't like you professor, or you feel like you're not going to get much out of the class, TRANSFER. There are also many tools out there available to students that allow them to research and rate professors. Put these resources to use and make the most out of college.

Seems self explanatory doesn't it? Going to class is important for sure. But, you would be surprised how many students just don't go to class. Most college professors don't enforce attendance policies, and neither do the schools. So staying in bed can be way too easy. Get yourself to class every time and you will notice a huge difference.

4. Retrain Your Brain
Today, with iPods, phones, and laptops information and entertainment are constantly at our fingertips. Since we've become used to this luxury, it can be hard to sit through a lecture and pay attention. If you want to succeed in school, it's time to retrain your attention span. Force yourself to pay attention and take notes, and you'll do better.

5. Actually do Your Homework
Novel idea isn't it? But really, set a time for studying. Remove distractions, friends, and roommates and get to the grindstone. A good rule of thumb to use is for every one hour of class add 2 hours of study time.

6. Answer Questions the Right Way
I know, this one seems kind of dumb, but it is actually very important. Most professors complain these days about how students don't seem to answer the questions they pose fully or accurately. If you don't understand the question, ask. Take your time to answer and be detailed.

7. Take Your Test, Then Re-Take Your Test
Once you get a study guide from your professor, it is helpful to make yourself a pre-test. Take the test that you've made and correct it. This will help you prepare for the test. Take the test. Once you get your test back, look over the answers that you got wrong and figure out the right answer. This will get you ready for your final.

8. Take Advantage of Your Professor
Most students don't realize that their professors are there to help them learn. Your professor wants you to succeed. Most professors are required to be in their on campus office for at least 4 hours a week. This office time is for you! If you have a question about an assignment or you need help, take advantage of your professor and his or her office time and put it to use.

9. Get Your Feet Wet
There are a lot of college counselors out there that will strongly encourage you to choose you're major right away. However, it is a better idea to start with a few classes before you decide on a major. You need to get into school and get your feet wet. Try new things, rediscover yourself and find what makes you happy. Once you've found your dream field, then you can decide on a major. Otherwise you may think you want one thing, and find that you don't.

10. Stay Happy
With all the hard work that goes in to earning your college degree there is one thing that remains the most important. YOUR DREAM. If you feel tired and down trodden and don't want to go to school anymore it can help to remember why you are there and what you love. Take some fun classes once in a while to boost creativity and your spirits.

Georgia Potter is an author of many educational articles. As a student herself she strives to find quality information to help other students survive college.She writes about Online Colleges and Online Degree Programs.

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Saturday, June 16, 2012

The Educational Benefits of Homeschooling - Why Parents Should Consider Homeschooling Their Children

HPIM0436 (Photo credit: whgrad)
By Gwen Nicodemus

With the exception of a few months when my daughter wanted to "try out" school, my kids have been schooled at home. Why? For my family, the benefits far outweigh the tiny problems with schooling at home.

I acknowledge that there are a few disadvantages to homeschooling. I can think of two. Firstly, I don't have frequent breaks from my children. They're always around. I relish my alone time and never seem to get enough.

Secondly, because my children are around all the time, I can't work a full-time, out-of-the-house job. I think the job thing might be more related to the "break from children" thing though.

So, yes, there are a few problems with homeschooling. The advantages, however, are numerous.


Did you notice how socialization wasn't in my disadvantage list? That's because it isn't a disadvantage. I don't want my kids socialized in the manner that schools socialize.

I don't want them to change focus because a bell's been wrung. I don't want them to put emphasis on material possessions. I don't want them to pick on other kids because that's what the popular school kids do. I don't want them to think that it's ideal to be in a group of people their same age all the time.

Instead, I want my kids to have a steady course of social development and real friends. They have a chance to develop friendships with other children at coop and on play dates. They learn that learners, people who learn, come in all ages when we take classes at the local rec center or online. They learn that it's good to be nice and helpful (the great majority of homeschooling families promote these values in their children, actively, and the kids get it).

Despite my attempts to avoid socialization and instead promote social development, they have still been socialized. My kids know that they must wait in lines and not cut. They know that rules exist for reasons. They understand checking books out at the library and they understand about following laws. They're socialized. Fortunately, though, I've been able to focus attention on good socialization and not the bad.

The Actual Education

Ratios: I don't care if a parent is college educated or not. The only time I'd question whether or not a parent could provide a better education for their children than a school system is if the parent had a well below normal intelligence level. Think about this. Your ratio of educator to students is 1 to how many kids you have. At school, that ratio will be at least 1 to 15, but more likely 1 to 30. You have can divide your time among your children and they'll still get more one-on-one time.

Quirks: Also, you know your children and their quirks. My children are sensitive and dyslexic. I understand depression and am learning about dyslexia. I can focus on their needs and not worry if they're getting what they need. They are in the majority in my household. They are not in a minority in a school classroom.

Desire to learn: Additionally, my kids are allowed to get obsessed over topics. If my daughter wants to spend months digging in the dirt and reading about gardening, great! I'm happy to let the three R's slide for a few months while she voraciously learns and directs her own learning. Besides, those 3Rs come into play with her own work more often than you'd think.

Family Time

You're out of the rat race. I have plenty of time with my kids and enjoy them. We rarely have a tightly jammed schedule, so we get to be relaxed.

You can vacation whenever you want. We're planning a trip to WorldCon this year. It's an annual, international science fiction convention. The convention is in late August/early September and we're taking off over a week to devote to it. We didn't have to think twice about missing school.

The evenings are for family, not homework. My daughter wanted to try out school, so she attended the fourth grade for a few months. The amount of homework she had was insane. After a full day of school, they actually expect the kids to do work at home. We lost a lot of family time because of that homework, and I'm glad it's gone.

So Does It Work?

Most people judge whether a child is learning or not by their test scores. I can tell you that won't work for my kids. My son is dyslexic and his standardized test scores aren't that great. However, my son regularly beats my husband and I, and other adults, at strategy games (and we don't let him win). Both of my kids know how to look up answers to questions on the computer. My daughter can out-talk non-paleontologist scientists when it comes to dinosaurs.

I'm not worried about them. They'll be well prepared for employment or entrepreneurship when the time comes. And isn't that the point? Being able to take care of yourself and your family and loving to learn?

Gwen Nicodemus is a freelance engineer/writer and a homeschooling mom. Visit her website, Notion Nexus, for more homeschooling ideas, unit studies, worksheets, notes, and educational videos.

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Friday, June 15, 2012

What’s Up With Universities – Whackademia or Just Grumpy Old Academics?

English: Protesting academics in 2006 at UKZN
Protesting academics (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
by Inger Mewburn, The Conversation:

When a friend showed me the blurb for Whackademia: an insider’s account of the troubled university, I immediately left the office to buy a copy, solely on the promise in the title.

I read it in just two sittings but finished with conflicted feelings. This book made me angry when I agreed with what it had to say, and even angrier when I disagreed.

It starts well; Dr Hil criticises academics for succumbing to a “culture of complaint” about university management, for accepting unreasonably high workloads, parlous conditions for casual lecturers and for failing to suggest viable alternatives.

He then goes on to rant for 200 or so pages without offering any viable alternatives. There is a short list of “tactics” at the end which are not, in my view, very useful.

On reflection, I would have been much happier with this book if had just been the memoirs of a grumpy old (academic) man rather than what it is: an extended essay on the ills of the contemporary university from a left of centre point of view.

Richard Hil went to university in the 1970s when, apparently, Things Were Better. It all went to hell in the 80s when governments around the world had a neo-liberal makeover. Suddenly academics were accountable to taxpayers, the HECs scheme was introduced and universities started selling education to students from overseas.

Now, according to Hil, academics are not trusted to do their primary job, which he believes is to produce engaged and informed citizens.

Hil claims that campuses have become like malls, with cafes and shops. Students are treated like “shoppers who have come to expect that they will get the degree they pay for”.

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Thursday, June 14, 2012

NEW PUBLICATION - Australian Universities: A Portrait of Decline by Donald Meyers

Ormond College (1879), University of Melbourne
Ormond College (1879), University of Melbourne (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Hi readers,

I'd like you to have a read of an eye-opening publication written by Donald Meyers about the damage being done by increasing commercialisation and managerialism within the Australian higher education sector.

I urge you to have a read, and be sure to leave comments - let's start a dialogue. It may make a difference.
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