30/9/2012

You Can’t Go Home Again

Filed under: — Bravus @ 6:44 pm

Rationally, we know it’s not the case, but the temptation is to assume that, when we leave a place, it’s in a time capsule, just waiting for us to return. Of course, that’s not the case, but it’s tempting…

Our first (rented) house in Perth looks identical to how we left it, about 15 years ago. We were casting around the streets we hadn’t seen for 11, trying to find it, and first found the park that we used to walk to with the girls when they were 1 and 4, and tracked back ‘home’ from there.

Then the house we built also looked very similar: the new owners have added some fences and gates, and a tree on the verge in front that we saw planted by the council as a sapling is now about 6 or 7 metres tall and very bushy. But the house – we chose the bricks and the paint colours and roof style and modified the plan – is just as it looked all those years ago. I posted a pic on Facebook, so check it out there if you’re interested.

But then, we went back to our old church, Fremantle, yesterday morning. It seemed like a pretty efficient way to catch up with a lot of old friends in a short space, and had a lot of good memories associated with it. When we arrived we were redirected from the church building to the hall – apparently the ceiling was falling in. It seems almost too much like a literary device, but it’s an appropriate symbol for the church community itself.

When we were there, it was a vibrant community of about 150 people or all ages, with a rocking worship band and a warm welcome for everyone. The warm welcome was still there, but perhaps there were 30 or 40 people in the hall, most of them well past retirement age (but still a couple of young families). Some ladies volunteered to lead the singing and did a great job, but it was old-school hymns from the hymn book with a piano. The sermon was great too, but all the worship-style progress we argued so much about 15 years ago is as though it never happened.

I had a long chat with an old friend about what had happened, and there were a variety of vicissitudes mentioned, but his take on the key issue was ‘We lost our vision’. Yep.

So, the world moves on when we go away (and there was a facetious (I hope) suggestion that our nicking off to Canada was the beginning of the end!) That ‘home’ isn’t there for us any more, even if we did come back to Perth. (More later about Perth and why that’d be tempting…)

But one other thing came out of this trip back: I thought to myself ‘Best years of our lives were here’. And in a way it’s true: in the 6 years we were here, Cassie and Alex grew from 4 and 1 to 10 and 7, and I completed my PhD, Sue completed her degree, and we had a lot of fun. Great years. But honestly, they’ve *all* – in Perth, Canada and Brisbane, and PNG before that – been the best years of our lives. And there are more to come.

The Essential Uselessness of Online Reviews

Filed under: — Bravus @ 6:30 pm

We’re staying at the West Beach Lagoon hotel in Scarborough, WA. It’s near the beach – in fact it looks as though our balcony used to have a beach view – but has since been built out by taller hotels closer to the water. Accommodation in Perth isn’t cheap, and I left my run in a bit late in booking it, so I was pleased to get the place for a week for a manageable price.

Before we arrived, I had a bit of a look for online reviews, but they ranged from about 2 stars to about 5, and the comments from ‘Dreadful, would never stay again!’ to ‘great, we stay here every time we come to Perth’.

A few individual things were mentioned, like aged bathrooms in need of renovation. Those things are true of the unit we’re in: but for mine, for the price and the location, and that fact that the self-contained nature of the unit with a little kitchen means we don’t have to eat out every meal, the dodgy tiles are a pretty negligible issue.

And I realised that the online reviews are really not that useful, because they’re not written by me, or people like me. There are people who would be *horrified* by this bathroom… but I’m not them. For the price, with the location, I think the deal is great.

There’s a solution, I think: ‘intelligent agents’ that learn what I’m like, and what I like, and filter the reviews to give me only the ones from people like me. For these kind of online hotel reviews, the pool is probably too small for that to really work , but it’s a possibility.

(I believe the pool is also dirtied in this particular market by people giving their own hotel great reviews and their competitors terrible ones!)

I guess, when it comes down to it, there’s no substitute for just coming and checking it out myself. And, for what it’s worth – I’d stay here again.

27/9/2012

Rape, Blame and Probability

Filed under: — Bravus @ 5:43 pm

I should probably know better: I’ve tried to talk about this issue before, and got into serious arguments. I was going to say ‘I don’t even know why this is controversial’ – but I guess that would be being disingenuous. I really do.

Anyway, on the back of a Twitter conversation between two people I really like this afternoon, I posted the following two three tweets:

Twitter not well-adapted, but here goes: GUYS, DO NOT RAPE! EVER. AND DRUNK/STONEDNESS DOES *NOT* CONSTITUTE CONSENT! 1/2

Girls: there are still rapists. It’s smart to be in condition to take steps to protect yourself, but if you can’t IT’S NOT YOUR FAULT 2/2

{hides}

It was in the context of one of the awards given out last night at The Ernies – a tongue-in-cheek set of awards given out for a serious purpose for the most egregious examples of public sexism in Australia.

One of the recipients, Senior Constable Cary Coolican, had commented about girls drinking or drugging to excess being vulnerable to rape, and encouraging girls to protect themselves. Here’s the quote:

Many sexual assault victims were too drunk or stoned to remember the details of the attacks… we would be encouraging people to make responsible choices regarding who they drink with and the quantity that is consumed. Some decisions may result in risky behaviour and unsafe actions.

I understand: the responsibility for rape is always, 100%, with the rapist. There has been far too long a history of women being blamed in full or in part for their rape for the way they dressed, for not fighting hard enough or screaming loud enough, for being where they were or for simply being female. And that’s ridiculous and unfair and adds insult to injury, and discourages women from reporting rape.

So, no matter how drunk a woman gets, it is 100% not her fault if she is raped. I absolutely agree: a rapist makes a choice, and all the responsibility for that choice lies with him1.

In the same way, if I walk out onto a zebra crossing and get run over, that is 100% the fault of the driver. The responsibility belongs to the driver for the accident.

Thing is, I will still be hurt. So, for my own sake, I will look before I step out. I’ll try to avoid crossing dark streets in dark clothes at night. If I have to, I’ll look twice.

This is the issue that, in a way, I don’t think should be controversial: women have an absolute right to get as messed up as they like. But, by doing so, they will increase their risk of being raped. It will not be their fault, and in an ideal world there would be no rape and all rapists would choose better. But they’ll still be hurt.

In that context then – of probability and self-protection, not of blame – I think it should be possible to say what I said in the second tweet above – or to say what Senior Constable Coolican said – without winning an Ernie.

Or am I wrong?

  1. I have talked about men raping woman and used the appropriate pronouns here, while still being cognisant that men rape men and women rape women and women rape men. But far less frequently… and at least part of what I’m saying here is about probabilities. I have, though, talked about this issue in the past here: http://www.bravus.com/blog/?p=817

26/9/2012

Young Earth Creationism – A Sin?

Filed under: — Bravus @ 5:59 pm

It’s certainly an interesting perspective: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/slacktivist/2012/09/25/young-earth-creationism-is-no-better-than-any-other-form-of-malicious-gossip/

The author says it better than I can, so read the article, but the gist is that, in order to be a young earth creationist, it is necessary to believe that the vast majority of all scientists in the world are members of a vast, malevolent conspiracy, and to say so. This is an untrue slander, so spreading it is – it could be argued – ‘bearing false witness against your neighbour’. Which is explicitly forbidden in one of the Ten Commandments.

25/9/2012

‘Guess What’s In My Head’

Filed under: — Bravus @ 1:16 am

I’m sure everyone has experienced it – it used to be a dominant mode in schools. The teacher asks a question, and you give an answer that’s interesting and creative, and it gets rejected. It soon becomes obvious that the teacher had one specific answer in mind, and was not really asking the question as broadly as it sounded, just asking for you to supply the next step along a path s/he is constructing.

I’ve experienced the same thing recently in a bit of a theological discussion: someone asked a question about why people wanted to go to heaven, but has rejected all answers offered so far and kept prompting people toward the answer he had in mind all along.

I try to teach my teacher education students that ‘guess what’s in my head’ questions are some of the least interesting and educational questions a teacher can ask.

It’s OK to ask questions that have a single, factual answer, but if you’re going to do that then the question needs to be phrased in such a way that it’s clear what is being asked for, rather than asking a more open question and just rejecting all answers but the one sought.

But it’s even better, in terms of dialogue and learning, and particularly a more modern conception of learning, to ask open-ended questions where you are genuinely interested in, and hope to be surprised by the range of answers offered.

24/9/2012

‘Not Its Bitch’

Filed under: — Bravus @ 8:56 am

I’d posted something on Facebook about the caffeine cold turkey I mentioned here, and went to write ‘show coffee I’m not its bitch’. I ended up revising it to ‘show coffee I’m not its slave’.

The former is closer to what I meant, and has a bit more rhetorical ‘zing’, but I do try to avoid language that’s demeaning, in everything I write.

In the same way that using ‘gay’ to mean something bad is… just unkind and less than useful, I think terms that are considered female or feminine, and are being used for pejoratives, are best avoided.

I avoid using ‘the c-word’, not so much because it’s considered obscene, but because it treats something very good as though it was something very bad.

I’m a little less careful when using terms related to maleness, since (a) I’m male and (b) in our society men have traditionally been privileged and powerful, and pejoratives relating to their parts and characteristics have been considered less pejorative.

I guess others may weight words differently, and have different reasons, but I do choose my words carefully – including the occasional swearwords – and I think there’s value in having calm (non-shaming) conversations about why we choose the words we choose – and avoid the words we avoid.

Cold Turkey

Filed under: — Bravus @ 7:11 am

I have a headache. I’ve had a headache, of varying ferocity, since yesterday afternoon. It’ll probably be with me most of today, but hopefully subside after that.

I realise that migraine sufferers have worse headaches for longer, more often, but I’m not posting to get sympathy for my headache. 😉

This is just a periodic attempt to show caffeine that it’s not the boss of me. Did it a couple of years ago, might have to again in future.

Because I really enjoy my coffee. I like it in quite large doses, too. And, on balance, the medical evidence suggests that it’s good for my health, over all, if not taken to excess and in combination with other healthy living.

But I just dislike being the slave of a chemical, so every now and then I think it’s worth just having none for a while… and perhaps that also helps with the ‘not to excess’ part.

When I get into a bad cycle it tends to involve bad eating, and drinking coffee in the morning, Diet Coke in the afternoon and beer in the evening. I need to avoid Diet Coke entirely, because I’m sure the aspartame exacerbates my allergies, makes me retain water, makes me hungrier and is just generally bad for me. And while beer is great and a great pleasure, too much just leads to a beer gut I don’t want.

So it’s water, water and more water, with the odd paracetamol if I have to function through the headache, for the next few days, and then water all the rest of the time but the odd morning coffee.

And yeah, I could go to decaf, but the range of flavours and qualities is quite different… and as I say, the evidence seems to be that ‘real’ coffee is actually healthy… when done right.

23/9/2012

Science Words and Woo-meisters

Filed under: — Bravus @ 10:04 am

It started out this morning. I told Suzie that I’m going to do a ‘water fast’ – no food or drinks other than water – just for a couple of days. I suspect I’ll say more about that later, but the point is that she said ‘You should put lemon juice in the water to make your system more alkaline’.

It’s something I’ve heard before, from her and others, and it always seemed backward to me. Lemon juice is acid, containing enough citric acid that its pH can be down near 2 – which is very acid. How would drinking more acid make my system go the other way. Expressed these doubts, and she said that when it’s metabolised it turns alkaline, and bade me ‘do the research!’ (It’s how such things tend to be dealt with at our place – more productive than arguing!)

So I did, and found that there were no papers supporting this claim from reputable scientists in reputable journals, but lots from various ‘woo-meisters’: by which I mean naturopaths, homeopaths, alternative practitioners, self-taught (and unqualified) ‘nutrition gurus’ and so on.

Now, while ‘consider the source’ is one of the key principles of critical web literacy, these folk do sometimes get things right. But when they do, there’s always some evidence of the science that backs up the claims. And for this one, there just isn’t any.

Now, it’s kind of a plausible claim, in a way, in that our bodies are reactive systems, not just beakers. If we wash our skin excessively, for example, it doesn’t end up drier, it ends up oiler, as our bodies try to compensate. So the notion that drinking an acid would cause our bodies to shift to a more alkaline stance in response kind of makes sense… but there’s no evidence to support it.

There’s another issue, though, that I found as I read the various discussions around the issue. The woo-meisters tended to say ‘yes, lemon juice is acid, but when it’s broken down in the body it releases lots of things that are alkaline – sodium, potassium, lithium and so on…’

And a light dawns: because in science, the word ‘alkaline’ has two (related) meanings. It can mean ‘the opposite of acid’ but, precisely because of this ambiguity, the preferred term in chemistry these days for that tends to be ‘base’. We talk about acidic and basic, more than acidic and alkaline. It can also refer to the ‘alkali metals’ – the metals in the first period (vertical column) of the Periodic Table. The elements in the second period are also called the ‘alkali earth metals’.

I suspect that what’s happened here is that people have confused the two meanings of the word – it’s not that acidic lemon juice makes our bodies more basic, it’s that it releases the alkali metals, as nutrients… but there are plenty of other sources for those.

(Just a little side note: ‘lemon juice is powerful medicine’ is probably also linked to the old ‘sympathetic magic’ thing about outer properties mirroring inner powers… garlic similarly gets a lot of props in the woo-meister community. It comes down to ‘it has a powerful taste, so it must be powerful’. That’s not all that’s going on, but I think it contributes.)

‘A little knowledge is a dangerous thing’… and someone who knows words but is not so clear on what they mean in particular contexts is at risk of making these kinds of mistakes. I suspect most of the woo-meisters are sincerely mistaken, not trying to con people…

But I’ll be drinking my water as pure as I can get it.

22/9/2012

Gangnam Style: wait, there’s more!

Filed under: — Bravus @ 10:12 am

If you haven’t yet seen the fun and insanely catchy video for South Korean pop star Psy’s ‘Gangnam Style’… well, first, have you checked lately whether you have become a hermit in cave? And, secondly, there’s a link to it in this article anyway.

So, I think it kinda adds some fun to the song to have a bit of this background: http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2012/08/gangnam-style-dissected-the-subversive-message-within-south-koreas-music-video-sensation/261462/

21/9/2012

Divergence

Filed under: — Bravus @ 6:25 pm

Suzie and I share quite a few interests, but there are also quite large no-go areas for each other in terms of our media interests.

In gaming, she likes strategy games, and usually casual games. Those ones that involve building an economy and juggling a dozen balls in the air at once. I just don’t have that kind of brain. One thing at a time, please (way to reinforce gender stereotypes, us!)

I favour first person shooter/adventure type games – and she doesn’t particularly enjoy them… and also hasn’t spent the last 20 years developing the quick trigger finger and the movement skills and the more-linear approach to puzzle-solving those games tend to require.

The development thing got me thinking, though: we tend to grow apart in these ways because our responses to media are ‘intertextual’: when I’m playing Fallout 3, I’m drawing not only on the mechanical skills and approaches to problem solving, but on the experiences of living in the worlds of Quake and Thief and System Shock and the dozens (at least) of other games I’ve played. This means my subjective experience is very different from that of someone for whom this game is their first – or even their tenth.

Suzie, of course, has the same experience for her games, and while it looks to me as an outsider as though there’s less progression, that may well be about graphics fanciness and budget in my games versus lack of same in hers, rather than about advances in gameplay.

The same things as apply for games are, of course, also relevant for books and music. We do overlap to some extent in the books we read, and in fact in a lot of ways I turned her on to reading novels in the first place, but I’m arguably a more voracious, or at least consistently so, reader, and have read a wider range of things over the years… which informs the things I choose to read now.

In music, she’s also less voracious… music tends to be a pleasant background that she can take or leave, whereas it’s pretty much food for me. And while there’s something of just developing a wider range of interests by listening to more, the fact that I’ve also incorporated a fair amount of extreme metal means that there’s an ‘acquired taste’ element to it, and also something like skill: listening to complex music that is seemingly chaotic but in fact incredibly intricately composed requires experience to fully appreciate.

I don’t at all want to suggest that anyone’s taste in these matters is inferior or superior to anyone else’s. I’m more interested in the ways in which experience changes the quality of future experiences… and how that accumulates, for people who have lived together for a quarter century but still managed to experience quite different media.

If The Answer Is Unclear, The Question Could Be The Problem

Filed under: — Bravus @ 11:52 am

The following question was posed on Facebook:

There followed comments from about 350 people, some saying with great vigour and certainty that the answer is 2, others with equal or greater vigour and certainty that it’s 288. They quoted chapter and verse, and gave citations to learned sources on the order of operations in mathematics to bolster their positions.

Here’s the response I posted to the question:

Don’t be a slave to the question as (poorly) written. Simply give two answers:


If the question can be rewritten as 48/(2(9+3)) then the answer is 2

If the question can be rewritten as 48/2 * (9+3) then the answer is 288


I’d go in to bat against any marker or teacher who would mark that response wrong… but I think most would acknowledge the ambiguity in the original question and reward the creativity and mathematical knowledge.

Fact Checking

Filed under: — Bravus @ 7:38 am

It’s one of the things I try to do. When someone makes a claim – but, more important and more difficult, when I make a claim, I try to check that it’s at least factually correct.

There are things that are matters of opinion, but arguments about opinions are typically based on facts, and if the facts are flawed the argument falls over.

As I tend to say, enough to annoy people: “You can’t support the truth by telling lies.”

Or, to make a slightly different assumption about whether someone knows that their facts are flawed, “You can’t build a strong claim on weak foundations.”

Fact checking is also the cure for ‘confirmation bias’: taking only the facts that support our existing opinions and ignoring those that falsify them.

The US has FactCheck.org, a non-partisan body that attempts to simply report on the facts in any particular case.

This program on ABC Radio National, that I meant to write about when I heard it a couple of weeks ago but just remembered, does a nice job on the discussion: http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/mediareport/fact-checking-the-us-presidental-conventions/4248344

One of the points raised is the old boogeyman of ‘balance’: if fact checkers find the Republicans fibbing about the facts 12 times and the Democrats only twice, that needn’t mean that the fact checkers are partisan and are favouring one party over the other. It may simply mean that this particular set of Republicans have a more cavalier attitude to the truth than some, or that the truth is… less convenient for them.

It’s an unfashionable belief in some ways this day, but the notion that there are facts that are true and claims that are false – that not everything is simply opinion and bias – is crucial to the functioning of democracy.

Here’s to fact checkers and fact checking.

But Will Science Wait?

Filed under: — Bravus @ 6:08 am

I’m in the process of applying for entry to a Master of Philosophy degree in Physics at Griffith Gold Coast – some time within the next couple of days I’ll post my 500 word research proposal here just for your interest.

Shouldn’t be too much hassle getting accepted, I wouldn’t think: I’m not qualified for a PhD, not having done any research in science, but the MPhil is an entry-level research degree, and with the GradCert I just completed I should be fine.

Thing is, I really should probably defer getting started on the Masters for another year: I’m still getting settled in at Griffith, and will be teaching 3 new courses in Semester One and massively revising another in Semester Two next year. Plus I need to keep on publishing plenty of papers in Education…

So I’m thinking about it, but the problem is that science research is much more collaborative than research in Education is (or has been for me). Each little project is part of a larger program of research, and if I wait a year longer to do my little project, that potentially delays other people’s work by a year – with implications for funding, publications and their own work.

So, still thinking it through. It might be possible to have it all… but I have to be strategic about priorities, and disciplined with my time.

20/9/2012

I Love All My Smart Friends (And They’re All Smart)

Filed under: — Bravus @ 9:36 am

(Including My Family)

(OK, Enough with the parentheses already)

So, sure, sometimes we have highbrow, high level discussions of theory and ideas. But sometimes it’s just silly banter, but still replete with ideas.

I get people’s jokes and they get mine, and they make jokes that make me feel smarter… it’s all good.

Here are a couple of recent examples of sublime silliness. First one is from the William Gibson Board, and I have no role in it. ArkanGL has moved from France to Canada in the last couple of years and Mean Old Man is Canadian:

ArkanGL: I’m interviewing for a Web Producer position.

Mean Old Man: Which orifice do they expect the silk to come out of?

ArkanGL: The silk will stay in, until I find someone more deserving. They were looking for a junior… with tons of experience. They were offering a lot less money than my current salary.

Mean Old Man: Our way of offering you a lower tax bracket. Bienvenue au Canada.

The second is from Facebook, with my mates Peter Veitch, Siimon Leevin and James Ward:

James Ward Hi Julius…whats ya swear word vocab like…cuss words is all thes bastards understand ha..me I use only the vocab of angles…

Siimon Leemin Angles ???? Do Angles own thesauri?

James Ward Angels Sii! You dick ha ha

Peter Veitch /-\|<>^ , angles

Peter Veitch Angles don’t exist, they are abstractions, two ( existing) planks of wood, joined together in a manner to “create an angle” . . . that doesn’t actually exist. In like manner etc

David Geelan James’ language has a tan cos it’s a sine

Peter Veitch James’ squirrel will never be behind you. Always circling each other in infinitely small tangents.

David Geelan Zenophobia…

Peter Veitch Tortoises all the way down.

David Geelan All the way down to the short hares.

Peter Veitch Was going to say rabbits all the way down ( actually did but then edited) , I think the original Zeno paradox was illustrated with Achilles and the tortoise, although probably more familiar these days with the hare /rabbit and tortoise 🙂

James Ward sine qua none David!

James Ward non

David Geelan Sine qua nun…

Smart doesn’t have to mean serious and boring…

17/9/2012

Now *that’s* what I call ‘blogging’!

Filed under: — Bravus @ 1:03 pm

P Z Myers has recently added Chris Clark as a co-blogger on Pharyngula, and Chris just posted this: http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2012/09/16/californias-largest-lake-is-doomed/

Just a lovely piece of work, informing, educating and entertaining about a particular place and issue with a scope that includes the human and the geological.

15/9/2012

My mission for today…

Filed under: — Bravus @ 8:58 am

…is to write a 500 word research proposal for my MPhil in Physics.

A 500 word research proposal in education, I could whip out before the first coffee got cold beside the keyboard.

But for this physics one, I need to read and understand a whole lot of papers on quantum laser stuff (technical term) and also make some pretty broad guesses about what apparatus is going to be available.

Still, it’s about neural plasticity – not only ‘use it or lose it’ when it comes to neural paths, but ‘if you build it, they will come’. 😉

14/9/2012

Amanda Palmer on Music, Money and Freedom

Filed under: — Bravus @ 12:18 pm

I follow Amanda Palmer on Twitter, and will be getting her new album Real Soon Now(TM) (without ‘can’t afford it’ as an excuse, ‘cos it’s a ‘pay what you want’ release). This is a bit outside the usual ambit of my blog, but hopefully interesting… I found it so.

Amanda is touring with a band at the moment, but has put out a call for string and horn musicians to join her on stage for the current tour. They’ll be volunteering their time to play, for the chance to play with their idol.

A musician named Amy Horn wrote an open letter/blog post suggesting that Amanda was exploiting the musicians and that they should not play for free.

This is Amanda’s response: http://www.amandapalmer.net/blog/20120913/

Lots of issues there, and whether or not you end up agreeing with her position, it shows a thoughtful, playful intellect at work with ideas.

Gotta love that.

13/9/2012

It’s OK to ‘Unfriend’ Me

Filed under: — Bravus @ 10:48 am

I’m totally happy if someone ‘unfriends’ me on Facebook. For a start, that’s because I understand that it doesn’t mean we’re not friends any more. Facebook is social media, and serves certain purposes, but it doesn’t determine whether or not someone is a friend of mine.

Indeed, unfriending on Facebook may well help to preserve our friendship. That’s because most of the reasons people might choose to unfriend on Facebook are irritations… and I don’t want to irritate my friends. There are plenty of other media we can use to keep in touch – including this blog!

So, if:

  • I’m just too posty and I flood your feed
  • You disagree passionately with the things I post
  • You find things I post too sweary, vulgar or whatever
  • Stuff I post is simply not to your taste
  • You have any other reason, or no reason

…then please do feel free to ‘unfriend’ me: I promise I won’t take offense.

(doing this on my blog, knowing it will be echoed to Facebook anyway… and I’ll be able to link back to it later if it’s here)

12/9/2012

Utterly Antithetical

Filed under: — Bravus @ 2:32 pm

Here’s a bit from this report by Andy Hargreaves and Dennis Shirley:

In his new book on Finnish Educational Reform, Finland’s greatest educational expert and former World Bank specialist, Pasi Sahlberg, refers to this pervasive new Second Way strategy as the Global Educational Reform Movement (GERM) (Sahlberg, 2011). The GERM has five defining characteristics:

  • Standardized Teaching and Learning with “clear, high, centrally prescribed performance standards for all schools, teachers, and students”;
  • A focus on Literacy and Numeracy and basic skills in reading, writing, mathematics and natural sciences;
  • Teaching for Predetermined Results with predictable and uniform outcomes;
  • Renting Market-oriented Reform Ideas from other systems or sectors rather than devising one’s own solutions;
  • Test-Based Accountability linked to systems of inspection, punishment and reward;
  • Control through continuous monitoring of data

With colleagues Dean Fink, Ivor Goodson and others, one of us evaluated the impact of these reforms on a range of secondary schools in Ontario and New York
State (Hargreaves, 2003). We found the reforms were utterly antithetical to the knowledge society objectives of schools then being promoted by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and its associated goals of increasing innovation and creativity. – Hargreaves & Shirley, 2011

(Emphasis is mine.)

The whole report is well worth reading.

As I mentioned in response to Jana’s comment on another post, if governments and systems would simply stop embracing all the wrong ‘reforms’ so enthusiastically there’d be more hope. The prescription for the woes caused by these policies seems to be ‘more of the same’.

What do Hargreaves and Shirley think are the solutions? Guess you’ll have to read the report to find out!

Fixing Education: The View From A Student’s Desk

Filed under: — Bravus @ 12:08 pm

The title of this article in Forbes magazine might be a bit overblown (and you might have to endure an ad to read the article), but Nikhil Goyal is talking a lot of sense: http://www.forbes.com/sites/ericaswallow/2012/09/05/american-education-system-nikhil-goyal/

It would be awesome if the fact that he’s a student got a bit of a groundswell going.