Roundup of the week…

  • Economist article [April 14th 2012] on academic publishing – “Government bodies that fund academic research should require that the results be made available free to the public”
  • Interesting article on the politics of succession in the ANC, an excerpt:  “ANC branch activists can make their way through this mishmash of the New Testament, Lenin, and Walt Disney without having to engage with uncomfortable realities of corruption, unethical campaigning and state incapacity.”
  • Andreas Schleicher on Preparing teachers and school leaders for the 21st century: “Everyone realises that the skills that are easiest to teach and easiest to test are now also the skills that are easiest to automate, digitize and outsource. Of ever-growing importance, but so much harder to develop, are ways of thinking, creativity, critical thinking, problem-solving, decision-making and learning; ways of working – including communication and collaboration; and tools for working – including information and communication technologies. The Nordic countries, in particular, also highlighted the importance of skills around citizenship, life and career and personal and social responsibility for success in modern democracies”
  • An interview with Andreas Schleicher “The principle lesson I’ve learned is that focusing on teaching is going to be key. The second lesson is that there’s been an increase in educational spending (especially in industrial countries), but if we look at the way we spend the resources, they’re often focused on lowering class size rather than creating more engaging learning environments and raising the quality of teaching”
  • C.S. Lewis on writing “Good English” is whatever educated people talk; so what is good in one place or time would not be so in another”…always prefer the plain direct word to the long, vague one. Don’t implement promises, but keep them…Never use abstract nouns when concrete ones will do. If you mean “More people died” don’t say “Mortality rose”  via Chris Blattman
  • Interview with Esther Duflo: “Can better data end global poverty?” I particularly liked Duflo’s answer to the question “Do you have a final goal in mind that you work towards?” and in true economist fashion she answers:

ED: I am not sure I have really an opinion on this, or that I should. I think the goals should be set by the political process, by what a society at some point wish is important. I may have my own view on what is important in life, but I am not a philosopher, and I don’t feel it is my job to tell people what they should think is important. I think the job of an economist should be to help individuals or societies (via their policy makers) reach these goals, once they have been set. 

 Photo from Nic Atmore 

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