Links I liked…

 bright

  • A book on education in Gauteng 1994-2014 has now been published. I wrote a chapter on standardised assessments. Spaull, N. (2014) Educational outcomes in Gauteng 1995-2011: An overview of provincial performance in standardised assessments, in F Maringe & M Prew (eds), Twenty Years of Education Transformation in Gauteng 1994 to 2014: An Independent Review, African Minds, Somerset West., pp 289-312
  • Free PDF books on race, sexuality, gender and class (really useful resource!)
  • Lifelines for poor children” – Nobel Laureate James Heckman writes an accessible (2013) NYT article on early childhood development. “What’s missing in the current debate over economic inequality is enough serious discussion about investing in effective early childhood development from birth to age 5.”
  • In light of the recent moves by Gauteng Department of Basic Education to introduce “paperless classrooms” we would all do well to read this chapter “Computers in schools: Why governments should do their homework.” But we will go around the mountain one more time and check for ourselves. Because how do you know if it’s a dead-end until you’ve tried it? Well, maybe because everyone else tried to do exactly what we are proposing to do and it didn’t work? If you’re not teaching teachers how to use the tech, budgeting for maintenance and most importantly evaluating the project (to figure out if it’s actually working) then it’s pretty much doomed to fail. As they say in the chapter above “The evidence so far is quite persuasive that programs that overlook teacher training and the development of software may yield low returns” (p169).  I’m all for using tech in meaningful ways but this isn’t that, this is basically “Let them eat iPads.” (also see this NYT article, “Can you have too much tech?“)
  • How Pakistan fails its children” – scathing NYT article (2014) on the state of education in Pakistan and the lack of political will for true reform.
  • The Pursuit of Beauty” – A lovely New Yorker article about a little known Chinese mathematician in the US who solved a pure-math mystery and is now famous. (Thanks Lilli for the link). It’s uplifting to hear that we humans are still making progress and pushing the boundaries of knowledge further and further every year.
  • The HSRC are looking for a Doctoral Research Trainee in Education and Skills Development (deadline for applications 6 Feb 2015). For more details see the advert here.
  • A good friend of mine Shelanna Sturgess has recently started blogging. She’s an art teacher at Durban Girls High School and has a bunch of cool stuff on art and teaching with technology, check out her site here.
  • If you want to know what perverse incentives are then read this Cullen (2003) article “The impact of fiscal incentives on disability rates” – when you give schools extra money for children with disability suddenly the number of children classfied as disabled increases…”My central estimates imply that fiscal incentives can explain nearly 40% of the recent growth in student disability rates in Texas”

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