The importance of education [Letters of note]

Alexander Coward’s email to his students insisting that they turn up to class despite his colleagues going on strike has gone viral.

…do not fall into the trap of thinking that you focusing on your education is a selfish thing. It’s not a selfish thing. It’s the most noble thing you could do.
Society is investing in you so that you can help solve the many challenges we are going to face in the coming decades, from profound technological challenges to helping people with the age old search for human happiness and meaning.
That is why I am not canceling class tomorrow. Your education is really really important, not just to you, but in a far broader and wider reaching way than I think any of you have yet to fully appreciate. 

How a Radical New Teaching Method Could Unleash a Generation of Geniuses [Article]

Joshua Davis, in WIRED magazine, traces the dramatic changes in educational methods that are having significant impacts on how students learn.

..a new breed of educators, inspired by everything from the Internet to evolutionary psychology, neuroscience, and AI, are inventing radical new ways for children to learn, grow, and thrive. To them, knowledge isn’t a commodity that’s delivered from teacher to student but something that emerges from the students’ own curiosity-fueled exploration. Teachers provide prompts, not answers, and then they step aside so students can teach themselves and one another. They are creating ways for children to discover their passion—and uncovering a generation of geniuses in the process.

The story of a student, Paloma, makes this story even more thrilling.

Is schooling absolutely necessary? [Article]

This will upset the apple-cart for a lot of folks – and that’s exactly why it’s worth a read:

Think about how we learn as adults: do we need to learn things by a certain time? Maybe, but only if that is tied to something real — you’re applying for a job that requires certain skills, or you’re working on a project that requires that you learn certain things. But most of the time, learning goes at your own pace, based on what you’re interested in and how much time you have and all kinds of other factors unique to your life situation. 

Then why do we insist that kids MUST learn certain things by the time they reach a certain age?

Human Dreamcatcher – An inspirational story [Link, Video]

Watch this video first:

What would become the Dream Model Street School began in 2001, with one blackboard, at home. Humaira taught ten friends of her age, seven of them girls. She started with the alphabet, in Urdu and English, and proceeded to the names of things. She supplied blank pages from her own notebooks, until it got her into trouble with her teachers. Then the friends went round asking people to donate paper, or bought scrap.

Humaira Bachal is in a class of her own

Kevin Ahern’s Metabolic Melodies, Verses & Mildly Popular Limericks [Link]

Hours of goodness on Kevin Ahern’s site – music, limericks & poems, if such things take your fancy.  Videos like this make me think I would have loved to learn stuff such as Gluconeogenesis if a teacher had made it as interesting! 🙂 Who says education, music & fun can’t go together?

edX’s Anant Agarwal explaining MOOC’s on the Colbert Report [Video]

“I don’t understand. You’re in the knowledge business in a university. Let’s say I had a shoe store, ok, and then I hired you to work at my shoe store. And you said, ‘Hey, I’ve got a great idea! Let’s give the shoes away for free.’ I would fire you and then probably throw shoes at your head.” In other words, why would universities disrupt themselves and give education away at no cost?  Watch Anant Agarwal explains to Colbert

Cleared student goes to space camp – [article]

A few weeks ago, a 16 year old high school student experimenting in her school lab in Florida, US, caused a minor explosion, & a major  uproar – she was charged with a criminal offence, & arrested. Better sense has prevailed since, with her being cleared of charges, and through the benevolence of a NASA veteran, with whose help she wll be going to Space Camp

The Childhood Age That Predicts Future Success | LiveScience [Article]

If you want to see which kids will grow up to be the most successful adults, visit their second grade classroom, according to some new research from the University of Edinburgh.

“These findings imply that basic childhood skills, independent of how smart you are, how long you stay in school, or the social class you started off in, will be important throughout your life,” said the study’s authors, Stuart Ritchie and Timothy Bates.

Don’t Go Back to School: How to Fuel the Internal Engine of Learning [Article]

Maria Popova had a very interesting post recently, on education. Quoting Zack Booth Simpson:

“The best education you can get is just talking with people who are smart…you can get that for the cost of lunch.”