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Posts tagged education

UK language learning hits rock bottom
April 21, 2014 | 12:25 pm

With the UK just a few miles away from la belle patrie in places, you'd think that second language acquisition would be a matter of course. A whole second literature, with the heritage of Proust and Baudelaire and a host of other luminaries, let alone the great wine and cuisine, right there on your doorstep, just waiting for you. Should be a no-brainer, right? Well, according to one highly disgruntled language teacher in England writing on Cafe Babel, it's more a matter of no brains. As much among those setting the curricula and overseeing language learning as among the students. And...

Testosterone makes you stupid – if you’re English
April 21, 2014 | 10:25 am

I never thought of stupidity as particularly macho. But then, maybe I've lived outside the UK for too long. Because apparently a lot of British men fit that mold. And I'm rather ashamed to link my own gender to this, but the statistics seem to speak for themselves. Or should I have softened it a bit? Saying, well, if you're male and British there is a greater tendency towards not taking a serious interest in books, rather than making such an emphatic statement? And let British society off the hook? And sidestep that disgraceful conclusion? Because here we have some hard...

Latest UK moral panic warns: Stop infants taking the tablets
April 17, 2014 | 2:25 pm

panic.jpegiPads and tablets now appear set to join ebooks, the Internet, television, bicycles, and other agents of moral decay as hate figures in the latest press-stoked moral panic in the UK. As reported in the UK Daily Telegraph, the Association of Teachers and Lecturers has issued research claiming that tablet addiction has left a generation of manually challenged British children. The Daily Telegraph cites an ATL conference speaker who warns of "increasing numbers of young pupils who can swipe a screen but have little or no manipulative skills to play with building blocks or the like." The ATL will also apparently...

World Literacy Summit opens in Oxford
April 15, 2014 | 12:25 pm

World Literacy SummitThe World Literacy Summit 2014, which "aims to build awareness of the global literacy crisis and provide opportunities for participants to develop strategic plans, exchange information, find solutions and build partnerships to improve literacy standards worldwide," has just opened in Oxford. This year, the theme is "Literacies: the Power to Change," which allows for exploration of "the role of both new and traditional literacy tools and techniques in the worldwide fight to eradicate illiteracy." The Summit is organized by the Aboriginal Literacy Foundation from Australia, which seeks to "transform the lives of Indigenous children by focusing on literacy and numeracy education,"...

R.I.P. Richard Hoggart: A force for literacy, and culture
April 11, 2014 | 3:11 pm

Hoggart LiteracyOne of the UK's most articulate and forceful thinkers, and actors, in the cause of popular education and cultural uplift has just died. Richard Hoggart, born in Leeds in 1918 the son of a housepainter who died in his first year, came from the most authentic English working class background imaginable, and immortalized it in his classic The Uses of Literacy (1956), the most passionate love letter to the English common people since George Orwell's The Road to Wigan Pier.  An immediate bestseller, it's recognized as, in the words of its Penguin introduction, "one of the few truly essential books...

Review: Reading A-Z.com
April 3, 2014 | 4:40 pm

reading a-z.comMy school recently purchased, at my request, a one-year subscription to the website Reading A-Z.com. The website offers hundreds of printable leveled reader books in a variety of languages (English, British English, French, Spanish), and I found it when I was looking for French resources I could use to enhance my program for a child who speaks French at home. I think this resource will be useful for other teachers in my school, and I am looking forward to seeing what people do with it. I had thought initially that I could save the PDF files for use on my iPad....

UK government fosters crime, bans books for prisons
March 24, 2014 | 10:25 am

books in prisons[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="376"] Grayling says: Go to jail. Learn nothing. Come out. Commit crime. Go to jail. Repeat cycle.[/caption] It pays to be nasty. At least, so Britain's current government appears to have calculated, by deciding that there's electoral dividends in barring prisoners from receiving books sent by relatives or others. The rules imposed by UK justice secretary Chris Grayling have not exactly passed unchallenged. "This is part of an increasingly irrational punishment regime orchestrated by Chris Grayling that grabs headlines but restricts education or rehabilitation," asserts Frances Crook, chief executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform, the UK's longest-established...

Tinder Foundation report details minute costs, massive benefits of bridging Britain’s digital divide
March 20, 2014 | 10:32 am

tinder foundationThe UK's Tinder Foundation, "a not-for-profit social enterprise that makes good things happen with digital technology, established in December 2011," recently released a report, "A Leading Digital Nation by 2020: Calculating the cost of delivering online skills for all," that looked at "the investment needed to get everyone in the UK using the internet regularly with Basic Online Skills." And it turns out that the outlay required to upskill the UK's "11 million people still left without the basics needed to use the web in the 21st century" is comparatively minimal: £875 million ($1.45 billion) to be exact. And, as the...

Britain’s World Book Day sees events, promotions UK-wide
March 6, 2014 | 10:25 am

The UK's World Book Day, March 6th this year, has seen promotions, participations by organizations, related articles including travel tips, and events across Britain. According to the World Book Day site, the event is "the biggest celebration of its kind, designated by UNESCO as a worldwide celebration of books and reading, and marked in over 100 countries all over the world." World Book Day is generally celebrated worldwide on April 23rd; however, in the UK, it takes place on March 6th The key offering marking the event in the UK is the World Book Day £1 Book Tokens offer courtesy of...

A digital game plan for education is sorely needed
March 5, 2014 | 11:15 am

digital game plan for educationIn today's Morning Links, there was a wonderful article from The Digital Shift, which reported on a recent conference at which educators and school administrators explored technology. The comments from participants highlighted many of the issues I myself have written about on this blog before: the lack of forethought and planning in rolling out technology programs, the lack of teacher training and the need to prepare future educators before they hit the classroom. From the article: “It’s imperative that we rethink professional development,” says Linda Clark, superintendent for the Meridian Joint School District No. 2 in Idaho. “Many of us were...

Morning Roundup: Nook has lost lots of money. Amazon, please unmute the Kindle Paperwhite
February 25, 2014 | 8:13 am

Nook has lost lots of moneyBarnes & Noble Has Lost Over 1 Billion Dollars on Nook (GoodeReader) Barnes and Noble is quite transparent when it comes to their financial earnings and hold nothing back from investor calls and their reporting. *** Adaptive, Attractive, Interactive: A New Chapter for Digital Textbooks (Futurebook) With more and more educational institutes incorporating BYOD (bring your own device) schemes, education has come a long way from the slate tablet to the digital tablet. *** Amazon, Please Unmute the Kindle (The Digital Reader) A solution would be easy. Just give the Paperwhite text to speech. You don’t need a lab full of MIT Ph.D.s, or even one such...

App Review: Duolingo
February 22, 2014 | 5:05 pm

duolingoInspired by Joanna's article on reading French, I decided it was time to brush up on my long-neglected college-level French. I was looking for a good book or app when I stumbled across Duolingo. It's free (with no in-app purchases), and more important, it's fun. I like their approach to learning. Unlike my long-ago (and much despised) French classes, the app doesn't start you out with conjugating verbs. Instead, they use an immersive approach and let you dive right in. The exercises are varied and teach reading comprehension, writing and speaking, assuming you're using a device with a microphone. My favorite...