Category: Education


Continuing professional development (CPD)

It is true that CPD needs to be reflective and designed to improve an individual’s attributes, knowledge, understanding and skills. There are several reasons why this is true. Firstly, a good CPD program will include “discussions with colleagues or pupils to reflect on working practices.” (TDA-CPD Guidance, 2013) Such a reflection at the outset will help measure its relevance to the participants. Next, it will also help denote learning objectives and design apt teaching strategies toward attaining those objectives. Just as reflective activity is integral to CPD during the event, it is also important afterwards. Herein, participants “may need time to reflect on what they have learnt and what the impact may be – this could be on their own or with others. Colleagues or children and young people in the school may be able to play a part in this collaborative reflection.” (TDA-CPD Guidance, 2013) Hence it is clear why reflective activity is a crucial part of CPD.

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My worldview as it relates to my work as an educator

I am of Asian origin and hence Asian philosophy is ingrained into my psychology. I particularly embrace the Buddhist worldview and it manifests in my professional life as well. My approach to educating my pupils is taken after some of the principles of human nature that I had learnt from my parents and Buddhist texts. In terms of categorizing my world view under the four systems proposed by Ibrahim et. al., I would say mine contains shades of all four except the Pessimistic/Deterministic worldview. I would elaborate on this in the following paragraphs.
There are elements of the Eastern/Buddhist worldview that converge with the Optimistic worldview of Ibrahim et. al. For example, the ideas of living in harmony with nature and focusing on inner spiritual development are basic to Buddhism as well as the Optimistic model. A corollary to this understanding is that sustainability of the environment is to be kept as a cherished goal. But in contemporary society short-term goals have . . . Read More

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‘Why Evolution is True’ by Jerry Coyne

When Charles Darwin published the theory of evolution a century and a half ago, there were still some unanswered questions about the theory. But today, with so many advanced archaeological, biochemical and mathematical techniques at our disposal, there is resounding proof in its support. Jerry Coyne’s book is a persuasive account of the irrefutability of the theory of evolution. I approached reading the book with an open mind, allowing myself to either agree or disagree with the author if logic warranted. But as I progressed through the chapters it became obvious to me that evolution is not ‘one’ among ‘many’ contending explanations for the unity within diversity of life. To the contrary, it was strongly impressed upon me how evolution through natural selection is the ‘only’ explication.

Coyne cites numerous evidences in support of evolution. Firstly, the fossil records of various extinct species fit into a grand ‘tree of life’ where every surviving species . . . Read More

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Logical fallacies in childhood education scholarship

In scholarship pertaining to childhood education one could pick out all sorts of logical fallacies being applied. Some of it is oversight or poor understanding on the part of the author, while the others are deliberate constructed so as to mislead or misinform the reader. American educators have claimed that the steady improvement in SAT scores is an indication of improved literacy and numeracy skills of students. This is a ‘hasty generalization’, for upon critical review the real reason is revealed, namely the decrease in rigor of standardized tests. In childhood education literature we also witness ‘non sequitors’, which is an attempt to create a cause and effect relationship where none exists. For example, the claim that, since enrolments to schools have increased over time the overall standards must have also gotten better is a non-sequitor. Empirical studies show no correlation between these two parameters. ‘Faulty Analogy’ is comparing apples with oranges. To say . . . Read More

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Critical Analysis of Supervision for Learning: A Performance-Based Approach To Teacher Development and School Improvement by James M. Aseltine, Judith O. Faryniarz and Anthony J. Rigazio-DiGilio

The relevance of the book by Aseltine et al cannot be overstated. With respect to the state of education in the United States, the book takes a comprehensive survey of the education system. By doing so, it identifies the inherent weaknesses of the system, while also suggesting robust corrective measures. At the heart of the training philosophy promoted by the book, is recognition of the role of teachers in molding students, but also in the reputation of the school as a whole. In the process of reading the book I had noted down my impressions, reactions, criticisms and an overall evaluation of the work. These have synthesized into my thesis statement. Giving due acknowledgement for the positive facets of the book, including its numerous insights and action plans for teacher and school improvement, I will however argue that as a result of its limited focus the book fails to recognize and address larger systemic factors that have undermined the education system.

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The relationship between educational institutions and students

The three scholarly articles on the relationship between educational institutions and students are very insightful. The centre of their attention is the influence of student’s economic class on the quality and content of education received. But more importantly, class continues to influence and determine the quality and nature of an individual’s life beyond and after schooling years. In other words, the three authors posit in three different ways that economic class that an American is born into predetermines their course of life. The rest of this essay will flesh out this thesis.

The essay titled The Educated Global Citizen or Student Global Consumer? raises several important questions about the culture of education that has come to be accepted. Far from the ideal notions of education that the founding fathers of the nation envisioned, what we have today is the corporate takeover of schools and academies. The concept of advertising and sponsored programs have become so . . . Read More

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Compare and Contrast Paulo Freire and William Brickman

Both Paulo Freire and William Brickman stand as giants in the field of education. However, their views and concerns hardly ever converged. While Freire’s basic focus was the relation between education and socio-economy, Brickman’s scholarship was on comparative education at the international level. It is fair to say that these two areas are worlds apart. Yet, the work of both thinkers is integral to modern thought on education. Their theories and views continue to influence contemporary education professionals.

One of the major focus areas of Freire’s work was the role of education in maintaining the existing social order. In other words, he sought to answer the question of how the oppressed in society continues to remain so? If the purpose of education is to enlighten, and in consequence, liberate the individual, then why are human relationships ripe with domination of one party over the other? It is a fair question and the answer lies in the way content, structure and . . . Read More

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Steven Johnson’s ‘Where Good Ideas Come From’

Summary and Reaction to Chapter 3 (The Slow Hunch) of Steven Johnson’s book ‘Where Good Ideas Come From’

The main argument in the chapter is that great innovations are due to accumulative processes rather than spontaneous ‘eureka’ moments.  Almost in any major technological or scientific innovation of modern times, the break-through was made possible by the robust base built by accrued prior knowledge.

A key idea put forward by Steven Johnson is that of ‘convergence’.  This is the process of the gradual accumulation of information, concepts and their interrelationships that are precursors to the occurrence of ‘insight’. Although the decision to synthesize and analyze them is that of an individual, the fundamental facts and concepts can be fetched from a disparate range of sources. To this extent, though great innovations are not one-off events of brilliance, they are the result of ‘collective intelligence’. Collective . . . Read More

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A speculation on the most valuable book lost to humanity

Much of the knowledge which the world had at one time has been lost to us now.  Natural disasters, wars, fires, have destroyed books and the knowledge in them.  We know they existed once, but they no longer exist now.Suppose you could protect and save ONE of the things we’ve read this semester so people of future generations could read it and think about it, which one would it be and why?

There are several contenders for the title of the most valuable book lost to humanity.  Homer’s Margites is a strong candidate due to its philosophical richness.  Likewise, the Lost Books of the Bible leaves Christians wondering at possibilities.  Jane Austen’s Sanditon would have enhanced the author’s already formidable reputation.   But from several such worthy contenders, my choice for the most valuable book would be William Shakespeare’s Cardenio. If I am endowed with the power to save the book through . . . Read More

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William Shakespeare: A Question of Authorship

William Shakespeare and JS Bach are perhaps the two most important cultural figures in Western Civilization. This high pedestal that they occupy makes questions over their authorship almost blasphemous for their admirers. If Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D Minor has come for scholarly debate in recent years, the question marks over Shakespeare’s authorship were raised four centuries earlier and cover a substantial part of his work. The Anti-Stratfordians (as those sceptical of Shakespeare’s authorship are called) prefer to attribute his works to one among the following contenders: Sir Francis Bacon, Christopher Marlowe, Sir Edward Dyer, the earl of Derby or especially Edward de Vere, the 17th earl of Oxford. In this backdrop, the challenge facing both the faithful and the doubters is the scarce historical record to either support or disprove their claims. If the late Baroque obscurity surrounding Bach’s primary documents lead to no definite conclusions, it is even more . . . Read More

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