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What Kids Learn From Travel

The Huffington Post – Aimee Chan

“Our family Christmases can be a little unconventional — once we took our 2-year-old son to South Africa. Some of my friends gave me a hard time. They said I gave myself a safari holiday while my son was too young to protest instead of giving him a tree and a stocking. For his third birthday, instead of a big birthday party, we took my son to Malaysia on a road trip. We split the weekend visiting a real life submarine outside Malacca and then at a theme park in Johor Bahru. He talked about it for weeks. (Despite my cynical misgivings, his favourite part was actually the sub, not the Thomas The Tank Engine-themed rides. And he barely remembers the low key bash we held for him at all.) These trips were such a success that this has become our family tradition: to really go out of our way to plan family holidays that are interesting and unique. Despite what you might think, time has proven that my kids remember these times together in foreign environments far more than candy canes and opened presents.”(more)

Education Is The Answer To Income Inequality

Forbes – James Marshall Crotty

“In an op-ed entitled “Knowledge Isn’t Power,” in the February 23 New York Times, Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman argued that “soaring inequality isn’t about education; it’s about power.” Because of my own “preference for diversity,” I welcome Mr. Krugman’s well-meaning and learned viewpoint. Unfortunately, like other bright, beloved and left-leaning public intellectuals – such as Krugman’s fellow MIT grad Noam Chomsky (whose remedy for the ills he diagnosed in Manufacturing Consent was a global system of kibbutzim) – Mr. Krugman is great at articulating capitalism’s flaws (his take on the contagion effects of highly leveraged financial institutions was spot on), but weak at prescribing workable real-world remedies. In eschewing education as a solvency to income inequality, Mr. Krugman argues that we should, instead, place “higher taxes on corporations and the wealthy, and invest the proceeds in programs that help working families.” Never mind that those “programs” would inexorably center on job training (i.e., education), unless the Princeton University Professor merely plans to give a man a fish while failing to teach him how to fish.”(more)

School implements standing desks to boost student engagement

E-School News – Staff Writer

“As educators turn their attention to how physical learning environments can influence student learning, more companies are responding to the demand for flexible and innovative classroom furniture. Ergotron, Inc. placed LearnFit Standing Desks in a classroom at Dr. Kirk Lewis Career and Technical High School in the Pasadena ISD, a suburb of Houston, Texas, earlier this school year and is already receiving positive feedback. Students taking freshman geography started the school year at traditional sitting desks and in October transitioned to Ergotron LearnFit adjustable standing desks to support project-based learning and reinforce the school’s focus on open, collaborative classrooms.”(more)

Guide for parents to help girls consider male-dominated careers

The Guardian – Mark Tran

“Girls should be encouraged to embrace subjects that open doors to traditionally male-dominated sectors, according to a new guide from the Government Equalities Office. Your Daughter’s Future, developed with the help of girls aged 12 to 16, sets out what support girls want from their parents as they weigh up exam and career options. It offers parents information on which GCSEs and A-levels to consider for different careers and contains tips on organising workplace visits to gain experience, managing exam stress and boosting confidence, with tailored information for different ages. The guide encourages parents to inspire their daughters with role models and case studies. “The most effective role models are ordinary people who you know in your day-to-day life – who your daughter can talk to and may aspire to be like,” says the guide, directing parents to websites such as Sciencegrrl and organisations such as the Institution of Engineering and Technology.”(more)

No Child Left Behind and Testing Help Hold Schools Accountable

Education Next – Paul E. Peterson

“The controversial education law known as No Child Left Behind is up for reauthorization, and amid the nuances under debate one question stands out: Will pressures from the left and right force the federal government to abandon its annual, statewide testing requirements? When enacted into law in 2002, NCLB had widespread, bipartisan backing including support from President George W. Bush and Sen. Edward “Ted” Kennedy . Nonetheless, it had numerous creaky provisions, not least of which were the testing provisions that held schools accountable for student achievement. Its measure of whether a school was failing was too bizarre for most people to understand and placed schools with the most challenged students at a disadvantage. Other mandates were equally meaningless. Giving students at failing schools a choice among other schools in their district simply shuffled children around the city. Requiring after-school programs did nothing to improve the school day itself. All such provisions were potentially up for revision in 2007, but Congress couldn’t agree on how to bring the law up to date. As a fix, Obama’s education secretary, Arne Duncan, waived for most states the law’s most onerous provisions. Still, the administration continues to support testing every student in math and reading in grades three through eight and again in high school.”(more)