Shifting From School To Work

towerIt is Graduation Time. Apart from the turbulence this period brings it also indicates an upcoming period of transition. After a school career ends by having successfully completed the requisite exams college life transfers into hectic uncertainty.  It is time to flip school for jobs. But then you wonder: Does my school career in any way help me out there to be successful in the zone of work? Ask those already operative in the world of employment about what they think of the preparatory power of education and ten to one you get smiles of sympathy but hardly enthusiasm when it comes to the question of relevance of education for them right now. There may be even some who consider school an adverse context as they experience no bridging significance between their education and work, especially when taking into consideration school accomplishments as an asset for later success in work. One might object to the contrary that school prepares for later work life by building (sufficient) start competences, i.e, a foundational layer that needs to be worked upon later on, but still. As many testimonials indicate (and also some research, (1)) school based knowledge is seldom a thriving power for later competent performance.  This divide has been attributed to a set of reasons: the theory practice gap being among the most prominent (i.e., school is to blame) or referred to as the praxis shock (i.e., student is to blame), and even more alienating: failed induction programs (work is to blame). Never mind these explanations, it is the impact that counts. You don’t want your education to flop. There is hope though.

A Norwegian study on student teacher competence as a predictor for later success in a school career as school teacher showed that levels of teaching competence acquires during the course of the TE program did matter. Perceived competence and self-efficacy as a school teacher were mainly formed during years of active participation in preparation for the profession in teacher education. Even more so, theoretical understanding gained at teacher preparation helped school teachers later on to perceive themselves as good practitioners.

Certainly a hopeful finding and a clear message for those moving from campus to office space. As a reflective signal the study challenges our views on the linkage between school and work (2) which are often quite unidirectional and blunt in demanding immediate gratification of what is learned. School education needs to be ‘useful’ but often it turns out in a different way and more intricate than we think.

Source

 The impact of prospective teachers’ perceived competence on subsequent perceptions as schoolteachers by Ida Katrine Riksaasen Hatlevik, Teachers & Teaching Published online: 08 May 2017

    Download citation http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13540602.2017.1322056

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referencing

  1. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/chris-crouch/grades-do-more-harm-than-_b_4190907.html
  2. http://www.businessnewsdaily.com/6486-transition-school-to-work.html

 

 

Effects Of Time

beeldTime heals, time flies, time will tell (1). School time may not abide to all of these associations that exist with the word ‘Time’ ;  nonetheless it is definitely  a period of time of huge importance and with major impact on our life. So, does it effect last? The school building, the teachers we had, the peers we played with, this all fades away slowly over time. But still we can recall some of them. A recollection of lived through experiences can be confronting sometimes, especially when school time was not a joyful era. Most of us, however, rate their school time as a positive time (2), looking back with satisfaction. School time is both an academic time as well as a social time: you learn together. Later on in life unfortunately “learning together” gets scarcer. For its academic part our recall of what was taught and mastered will decay over time: How to do fractions again? What is exactly a Palindrome? Where on earth lies Armenia? As for its social share a lot depends on time itself. It turns out that with age feelings of identity with school time increase.

At least, that is one of the outcomes of a study linking length of time and school satisfaction. Three groups of alumni could be identified all having different attitudes towards their school time. Those having strong ties remained academically involved (with additional contacts and extended studies); then there were those with weak ties; in time their positive attitude towards the old school increased. And lastly, there were those with no ties disconnecting from the school over time altogether.

Apart from a school’s interest in setting up alumni policies (3) these findings tell us that with the passage of time the influence of identity with a school on students’ loyalty increases (as was the case for university alumni in this study but why not for previous education as well). A lot may be forgotten (academically) but school time is an investment in a long term relationship. It may be realized from time to time by teachers and could be revived in student attitudes that school time engagement ties you up for a long time.

Source

The Effects of Passage of Time on Alumni Recall of ‘Student Experience’ by Nicole Koenig-Lewis, Yousra Asaad, Adrian Palmer, and Elina Petersone, Higher Education Quarterly, Volume 70, No. 1, January 2016, pp 59–80 DOI: 10.1111/hequ.12063

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Referencing

  1. http://hubpages.com/education/phrases-with-the-word-time
  2. http://oecdeducationtoday.blogspot.nl/
  3. http://idealistcareers.org/college-grads-how-to-connect-with-alumni-and-find-potential-opportunities/

Power To The Pupil

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Certain things in life are so obvious and regular they hardly need mentioning or consideration at all, like: having a good night’s rest; eating your veggies, love your parents… They get ignored. It is a good thing to be remembered about their worth from time to time. Self-evidency tends to eat itself. There is the story of a good servant who was completely forgotten about by a rich family when moving out of their mansion (1). Apparently, he was too much taken for granted. Unless you are a Kevin (from the movie Home alone) you will be trapped in oblivion. Lesson drawn? Be, or find at least, a Kevin. Professionals (including parents) without a Kevin enter a danger zone: too much of what they do is taken for granted (and ignored). The danger being: what counts and matters most tends to get obscured by routines and worn paths (2). Encapsulated in custom behaviors is a deadly trap for good, professional service (3). Not to fear; it can be mended, not necessarily though the sturdy way of Kevin but by having some kind of investigative reporting that keeps track of professional traps and easygoing. Behind the classroom door pupils can be “helpful Kevin’s” (no, this is not an oxymoron).

A nicely done action research study in Finland showed that pupils, when given the investigative tools like video observation, making photographs, can come up with relevant instances of good and bad classroom activities. Bringing them up in classroom discussion with the teacher helped, according to the findings, to reflect on practices, restructure practical theories, and learn about pupil perspectives. The activity helped pupils to create a sense of belonging and partnership in teaching.

The promising outcome of the study is that “evidence” can be collected (beyond evaluation happiness sheets; i.e, by photographic documentation) about how teaching and learning evolves in a classroom and together with subsequent reflection can enlighten the teacher’s work. But true as well, in a truly Kevin-world this also could scare away the professional. Because there is no reciprocity, or mutual benefit. When viewed as investigative research into classroom activity which is being conducted by teacher and pupils jointly it would really empower to learn.

Source
Reetta Niemi, Kristiina Kumpulainen & Lasse Lipponen (2015) Pupils’ documentation enlightening teachers’ practical theory and pedagogical actions, Educational Action Research, 23:4, 599-614, To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09650792.2014.942334

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Referencing
1. https://books.google.nl/books?id=X_y5BwAAQBAJ&dq=books+faulkner+servant+mansion&hl=nl&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwixusztyb_KAhVERg8KHdj_AgQQ6AEIKTAA
2. http://www.enotes.com/topics/worn-path/themes
3. https://www.gov.uk/guidance/teacher-misconduct-regulating-the-teaching-profession

Making Sense

 

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“All knowledge begins with the senses, and proceeds then to understanding…” Kant said that (Critique of Pure Reason (1781; 1787)(1). At that time it was a revelation. It merged combatting views on learning and understanding. But we still do not fully grasp the meaning, let alone the implications of that statement. Kant added a little extra to the statement that makes it even tougher: “ …and ends with reason”. Here is, comprised in one sentence, what energizes instruction, although admitted, a bit masked by the clouds high up the philosophical mountain. If we start at the foot of the mountain (our senses) the statement has much to do with how we teach our students and how students come to know the essentials of what they are supposed to learn. Scholastic approaches (originating in the Middle Ages – 2) govern still much of what we do in education. i.e., to teach the structural first as a solid layer of elementals and then trickle down to the details. We aim for coherence; i.e., it is about understanding, isn’t it? Still, it may not be the best way to operate.
In a study which used games to teach fundamental concepts in mechanics another view was exposed. The game set-up allowed for a searching and exploring behavior to make provisional steps and pilot approaches to get to experience mechanics laws. It was a fragmentary and piece-meal route to make sense of a subject. The authors speak of getting ‘a sense of mechanism’. i.e, actively and gradually dealing with the real world of objects to understand.

Knowledge we already have can block new understanding. We are trapped in our own ‘theories’ and often well-articulated notions about something. Learning then first becomes to have to discard the old. The alternate way is to build understandings from the case, the setting, the context that you can manipulate, or experiment with to gain gradually and continuously ideas of what it entails what you are learning. It is a kind of organic, distributive making sense of things. Knowledge comes in pieces (3).
Kant would smile, probably; and add: “Thoughts without content are empty, intuitions without concepts are blind”. Intricate, it is.

Source
Pratim Sengupta, Kara D. Krinks & Douglas B. Clark (2015): Learning to Deflect: Conceptual Change in Physics During Digital Game Play, Journal of the Learning Sciences, 24:4, 638-674,
To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/10508406.2015.1082912
Taylor & Francis Group, LLC ISSN: 1050-8406 print / 1532-7809 online

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Referencing
1. http://www.iep.utm.edu/kantview/
2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scholasticism
3. http://edutech.csun.edu/eduwiki/index.php/P-prim_Model_of_Science_Learning

Scattered Minds

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Interacting with the world – we all have to learn it one way or the other. So, better start early. Children’s play is probably one of the most powerful ways to explore opportunities, rules of conduct, hindrances, and limitations in what surrounds us. A playground can be harmful but is also a space for repossession and gaining confidence. In our play, for instance at the schoolyard, we learn how to communicate with others: setting rules, disabling interpersonal blockades, and negotiating arrangements. Not all children are efficacious tough. Children with autism fear the playground. To communicate, to interact in rapidly changing social interactions, to bend the rules if only for a short while; these are difficult things to manage for an autistic child. And other children spot this immediately. It is much safer for a child with autism to retract in an inner world of playful experimentation and exploration, in this way to be able to learn about the World. However, it is often considered bad that autistic children withdraw in mindful play, as if it is of a lesser kind (1) .
Fortunately, there is a study that gives a more detailed accounts. Autobiographies of adult autistic persons were carefully analyzed with regard to the nature of their play during childhood. What strikes most it the intensity and vividness of remembrances and height of sensory imaginations in the playful interaction with the ‘world’ in these memoirs. By using varying forms of pretending from different perspectives this play created representations that were orderly and predictable. And especially, provided an enjoyable play time activity.

Play can open a world not previously explored and enables creation of new horizons (2). What can be taken from these autobiographies is the strong sensory experience to get to know the real sense of things. In this way delivering a more intense involvement in what otherwise would remain perhaps superficial or unnoticed. The experience of vivid imagination allowed for a playful manipulation on details and specifics of objects. Children without autism could learn from such a deep engagement with the world of their fellow autistic playmates. That is, deploy another looking glass to gauge at what lies behind ‘normal’ things –, at least, that is what is the essence of play (3) .

Source
Carmel Conn (2015) ‘Sensory highs’, ‘vivid rememberings’ and ‘interactive stimming’: children’s play cultures and experiences of friendship in autistic autobiographies, In:Disability & Society, 30:8, 1192-1206, To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09687599.2015.1081094

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Referencing
1. http://www.amazon.com/Scattered-Minds-Origins-Attention-Disorder/dp/0676972594
2. http://consumer.healthday.com/cognitive-and-neurological-health-information-26/autism-news-51/what-is-play-to-a-child-with-autism-679575.html
3. http://developmentalpathways.com/program-essence.html Continue reading

Parents’ Pride

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Children are parents’ pride, especially when children are doing well at school. Therefore, the ultimate function of schools is to make parents proud. Overall, parents seem to be quite satisfied with the school they send their kids (schools get a small plus)(1) . Once a school is selected for their child, which is mainly based on school test scores and school safety, parents’ judgment of school quality is primarily guided by adequate information they receive from the school about their children (2). Next in the parents’ view, school quality is determined by the degree to which parents are involved in the school and how well they communicate with teachers. This social emotional tie seems far more important than adequacy of school resources, or how effective the school is managed.
We know quite a lot about what makes a school stand out in the view of parents. Conclusion?: It is not just school average test scores. This is true for parents from different backgrounds and with children of all abilities (3). A nice illustration is found in a study on offering bilingual education in the school to raise academic level/ opportunity of English speaking students. “Nice…” parents seem to be thinking but first comes how well my children will learn from good instruction on standard curriculum subjects (quality of instruction gets a 52% and how safe a learning environment is for my kids comes second with 22%) .

“Nice…”one could rejoin, but what about the object of parents’ pride? It turns out that children’s’ self-reported happiness and satisfaction with their learning environment is unrelated to average test results in their school (4) : children are just as happy in schools where average test scores are low as in schools where average test scores are high. So, parents’ satisfaction with school quality is not strongly related with their children’s’ enjoyment of school. A noteworthy circumstance. The thing is that a child’s happiness and enjoyment with the school affects learning results – which makes the circle round again. Satisfaction/parent, quality/school, happiness/child and learning: a strong loop.

Source
Lisa M. Dorner (2015) From global jobs to safe spaces: the diverse discourses that sell multilingual schooling in the USA, In: Current Issues in Language Planning, 16:1-2, 114-131,
DOI: 10.1080/14664208.2014.947013
To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/14664208.2014.947013

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Referencing:
1. http://www.nais.org/Articles/Pages/The-NAIS-Parent-Satisfaction-Survey.asp
2. http://www.emeraldinsight.com/doi/abs/10.1108/09578230710747811
3. http://cee.lse.ac.uk/ceedps/ceedp103.pdf
4. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0272775710001470

Completeness

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All good things come in threes. This is not only a rule in writing but in education as well. A story has a) a beginning, b) a middle, and c) an ending. Teaching, according to Comenius (1) , allows for i) comprehension, ii) practice, and iii) repetition. Dewey, another founding father of modern pedagogy (2), grounds learning in the interplay of i) engaging with experiences, ii) problem solving, and iii) reflection. (and a bit more). A third key person in “leading the child”, Vygotsky, established the prominence of i) manipulating things, ii) talking about it, and iii) changing the level of support while doing it. For the sake of argument: what would happen if there were only “two”, that is, if we would take out one of the key ingredients? Well, a story would not finish, remain undetermined, which is ultimately unsatisfying. Because it needs a completion, the third ingredient. It would be nice to know if teaching and learning operate the same way. It is a kind of looking for “the third man” (3), the confidence in knowing what should be there is really there.
To be more concrete: a Swedish study looked at how individual students learned from group work. Of interest here is the setting: physical education. The gymnastic group task made it possible to externalize, i.e, make visible through bodily interaction, what is happening when one is learning from others. Learning was interpreted from a (post)Vygotskian perspective; therefore three ingredients had to be in place (i) social interaction, i.e, students engaged in talking to each other about the task; (ii) challenges given to each other during group activities, and (iii) incorporating, internalizing what is learned – in this case of group work- by reaching an agreement. The study concluded: two is not enough, reaching agreement is “the third man” to complete an individual understanding. Talking about and doing the activity will not be sufficient (as the alternative condition in their study made it clear).

The core idea the study brings to us is that learning happens when students working in groups will i) engage in activities and ii) interact with each other in ways that iii) they find appropriate or acceptable. To admit: that it “comes in threes” is not the essence; that it is complete is. It seems difficult to envisage that what we are trying to achieve in learning and teaching comes in bundles of ‘ingredients’. It is in the interactivity of our (teaching and learning) actions that confidence is found to complete a task successfully.

Source
D. Barker, M. Quennerstedt & C. Annerstedt (2015) Inter-student interactions and student learning in health and physical education: a post-Vygotskian analysis, Physical Education and Sport Pedagogy, 20:4, 409-426, DOI: 10.1080/17408989.2013.868875
To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/17408989.2013.868875

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Referencing
1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Amos_Comenius

2. http://eepat.net/doku.php?id=dewey_john
3. http://www.filmsite.org/thir.html

‘S cool boy

WP_20150322_001When you grow up under precarious conditions school is not particularly the place you want to be. Your “community of practice” lies elsewhere. Thriving there is rewarding. School’s standard curriculum has not much to offer. Recognition from your mates gives rewards that exceed far more success in passing a high stakes test. Under these circumstances schools have a difficult responsibility and challenging task to realize “communities of inquiry” in their mission not to loose or waste talent. Creating a college-going culture would be one of the first targets for schools to get students inside the building. A battle would be won when schooling would become attractive again to students coming from underprivileged areas. It is of great concern to schools to find the right response here. A definitely wrong response would be to lower expectations for students in an attempt to make sense to them. But then imagine a school that would stick to State exit exams. It would create hugh problems in (trying to) raising motivation of students. Schools are facing real dilemmas and often support programs fall short in finding the right balance between solutions offered and contexts present.
This is precisely the point made in a publication by the Project Muse which conducted a study on state accountability sanctions. Regulations were held against the prospects of creating a college going culture by schools. From the fine and detailed critical ethnographic study we learn that what schools do, for instance by the support and documentation they provide to students, really misses connection with what students need. State sanctions force schools to adhere to instructional approaches not at all adapted to students’ life perceptions. Hard pressures by state school officers to improve accountability ratings are putting schools in a position at the expense of creating an open entry for students coming from high poverty backgrounds (1) . The critical message from the study being that accountability standards can undermine school readiness.
An easy escape out of this dilemma is not available. Acknowledging the dilemma would already be a victory achieved. Connecting the high and low world: standards with needs; regulations with educational opportunities; state policy with local school activity; accountability measures with instructional process is where a possible answer lies (2) . That is; if we acknowledge that schools are the center spots were all students must be able to find time for education.

Source
Walton, A. & Williams, M. Accountability, Strain,College Readiness Drain; sociopolitical tensions involved in maintaining a college-going culture in a high ‘minority’, high poverty Texas high school
The High School Journal, Volume 98, Number 2, Winter 2015, pp. 181-204
www.DOI: 10.1353/hsj.2015.0001

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Referencing
1. http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2014/11/06/12nycriskload.h34.html
2. http://www.schoolsmatter.info/2012/10/david-berliner-on-inequality-poverty.html