Renascence School Education News - private school

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

21st Century Skills: Case Studies From Asia

Education Week – Vanessa Shadoian-Gersing

“Innovation is high on the agenda of education systems in the Asia-Pacific region, and the million-dollar question is how schools should change to foster 21st century skills. Education policies and curricula increasingly reflect a broad understanding of the competencies students need to prosper in the global knowledge economy, including critical thinking, creative-mindedness, global competence, as well as character. While there is a shared understanding in Asia of the need for 21st century skills frameworks that combine technical, social, behavioral, and higher-order thinking skills, countries are pursuing this agenda in various ways.”(more)

Monday, April 13, 2015


Education Next – Chester E. Finn, Jr

“The Every Child Achieves Act of 2015, unveiled a few days back by Senators Lamar Alexander and Patty Murray and scheduled for HELP Committee mark-up on April 14, is a remarkable piece of work. The mere fact that it’s bipartisan is remarkable enough, given the polarized state of Capitol Hill nowadays. But it’s also a reasonable, forward-looking compromise among strongly divergent views of the federal role in K–12 education—and between the overreach (and attendant backlash) of NCLB and some people’s conviction that NCLB didn’t reach far enough. The draft has received much applause—some of it muted, some tentative—from many quarters (including the Obama administration). Indeed, some Washington wags have remarked that if so many different factions are saying nice things about it, either they haven’t actually read it or there must be something wrong with it! I like most of it myself, though I (as with perhaps everyone else who has said anything positive) hope that the refinements to be offered in committee and on the floor will yield something that I like even better. I’m mindful, though, that the amending process in the Senate alone is where bipartisanship could get unstuck. This is to say nothing of what might happen if and when it gets to conference with the House Republicans’ version of an ESEA reauthorization, currently awaiting floor action.”(more)

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Call for Mandarin and Arabic to be taught from primary school

Holyrood – Alan Robertson

“Studying a foreign language should be compulsory from the year children start school in order for Scottish firms to compete in the international export market, a business group has urged. Mandarin, Spanish, Portuguese, Hindi, Arabic and Russian have been pinpointed by the Scottish Chambers of Commerce (SCC) as “international languages of business” that must be made mandatory in the education curriculum from primary 1 onwards. It has called on government to implement the measure by 2020 to ensure Scottish businesses have sufficient cultural and language skills to tap into a number of growing economies…“If we want to be more international, then we need to think more international, beginning in our schools, where international business languages must be taught from primary school right through to the end of secondary schooling and beyond,” said SCC director and chief executive, Liz Cameron OBE. “Over the past two decades, the number of students studying modern languages at Higher or equivalent has fallen by over 20 per cent. This is a damaging trend which needs to be reversed. “We should look more closely at where economic growth will be attained and that should determine the languages delivered by the supply side, ensuring the curriculum reflects needs of business more.””(more)

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

How to pick the right school for your child

News Herald – Juliann Talkington


It is hard to believe, but it is time to start thinking about what school your child will attend in the fall. Registration for some schools has already begun.


Fortunately, there are ways you can reduce the anxiety associated with the selection process. First, start early. In the past 15 years many things have changed. As a result, it is important to do your homework, before you make a selection.


Get information about the curriculum. Do the kids learn all the basic subjects (math, science, language arts, history and a foreign language)? According to Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft, it is critical for children to have a strong understanding of math and science in the global age. Is the academic program designed to provide students with these skills?


Ask about results. With grade inflation in the US at an all time high, it is imperative that parents have concrete information on what their children learn. Does the school participate in third party testing? What do the school’s test results show? How do students in the program compare to children educated outside the US — Singapore, Taiwan, Belgium, etc? According to Thomas Friedman, author of the World is Flat, better education is imperative, because Americans now compete with the most brilliant minds in the world. As a result, it is important to make sure your children are prepared for this level of competition.


Inquire about expectations. What is expected of the students? parents? teachers? Is there a tie between student performance and teacher compensation? Schools that expect and reward performance generally produce better outcomes.


Speak to others. Ask to speak with parents whose children attend the school. What do they say about the school?


Consider logistics. Can you get your child to the school and still meet your other obligations?


Observe. You can learn a lot about a program by watching. Ask for a tour. If the school is not willing to show you around the facility, you should be concerned.


Assess. What are the pluses and minuses of each program? For example, a school may be very convenient, but the academic program does not meet your expectations.


Choose. This is the simple part. Once you have done all the homework, it should be easy to pick the best option for your child.


So don’t be intimidated! Finding the right school is not difficult. It just takes time.


Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Beyond the Classroom: Sparking a love for understanding science

The Miami Herald – Laurie Futtermank

“Science helps satisfy our natural curiosity: why is the sky blue, how did the leopard get its spots, what is a solar eclipse? With science, we can answer these questions without resorting to magical explanations. Scientific understanding leads to technological advances, and helps us learn about enormously important topics, such as our health, the environment and natural hazards. Yet each year it seems children know less about how the natural world works and have all but lost that curiosity. Is it because kids are spending less time outdoors and getting dirty? Is it because technology has made them intrinsically less curious? Is Siri, Wikipedia or Google to blame? Is it because they are reading less and being entertained more? Or is it because they just don’t care? No matter what the reason, not knowing spells trouble for all of us. It is frightening to think that we may be cultivating a generation of kids who don’t question or ponder. A 2013 article, “Why everyone must understand science,” references the fact that people feel excluded by science and scientific discussions. Although most people use laptops, fly in planes and use appliances in the home, they don’t know what’s behind this technology. The less people know the more they are likely to be influenced by people who may not have their best interests at heart.”(more)

Do you hate math? It’s not about you

The Bulletin – Sharon Noguchi

“Hate math? Relax; it may not be about you. Fear of math represents not personal failure or a missing gene but wrongheaded “one-size-fits-all” ways of teaching. That, at least, is the theory behind a quiet revolution in math education incubated in the Bay Area that is exciting teachers even more than an elegant proof of the Pythagorean theorem. A vanguard of math instructors is embracing ideas developed by two Stanford professors to reform math instruction. Their approach includes more visual and creative exercises, discussions of ideas and procedures rather than a focus on memorization and speed, and individually tailored lessons. Mention to people that you teach math, David Foster of the Silicon Valley Mathematics Initiative said, and “to a person they launch into a horror story about high school math. The only mystery is if they blame the algebra teacher or the geometry teacher.” ‘Hard work and practice’ Foster, whose Morgan Hill-based organization offers training and resources for teachers, advocates a more positive approach to get kids to love learning.”(more)

Innovation, Technology, and Rural Schools

Education Next – Andy Smarick

“According to Washington elites, rural schools’ greatest challenge is finding and keeping teachers. Ask the inside-the-beltway crowd for a solution, and, considering all the buzz over blended learning and innovation, they’ll probably shout, “technology!” One small problem: Rural superintendent don’t consider teacher recruitment and retention among their biggest challenges…and mixing rural schooling and technology is more complicated than you might think. Hmmm. Thank goodness for “Technology and Rural Education,” by Bryan C. Hassel and Stephanie Dean of Public Impact, the latest paper from Bellwether’s rural-education project, ROCI. The report begins as you might expect, arguing that technology holds great promise for rural schooling. “It can give students access to great teachers…enable them to tap into resources they would never find in a school’s media center…help them personalize their learning…open doors to forge networks with other students across the world.” But unlike many tech-focused reports, it also recognizes the special characteristics of rural schools, especially as they relate to educators.”(more)

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Language May Change Perceptions of World

The Chosun Ilbo – Staff Writer

“A person’s language changes their perception of the world and others around them, a study seems to confirm. The study suggests that bilingual people’s perceptions change according to which language they use, which also means that learning a foreign language can change how people see the world around them. Panos Athanasopoulos of Lancaster University compared German and English speakers and found that English speakers place more importance on process, while German speakers value goals. Athanasopoulos asked 20 English and 20 German speakers to watch a series of video clips of a person walking or riding a bicycle and then say what they had seen.”(more)

Monolingual Myopia

The Huffington Post – Clayton Lewis

“Debates are sizzling about the efficacy of American education in preparing students for the global economy. Graduates face escalating competition as millions of recent job entrants hit the market from expanding middle-class economies such as India, China and Brazil. Of all the competencies that have the potential to set young Americans apart as they seek jobs, languages are most often overlooked. Recent statistics at both the high school and university levels reveal startling and preoccupying inconsistencies between a globalizing career environment requiring proficiency in more than one language and American students’ curricular choices. One measure of declining interest in language is the Advanced Placement Program, where in 2014, students took a total of 197,208 examinations in Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese, and Spanish. While that number may seem large, it is less than 5 percent of the almost 4.2 million AP examinations taken that year. Remarkably, far more students — 259,789 — took the AP psychology exam. The most common AP language is Spanish, as one would expect. However, the increase in the number of examinations in Spanish Language from 2013 to 2014 was flat. Enrollment in Chinese Language grew dramatically when it was first introduced as an AP course in 2007. Annual increases as high as 32 percent have fallen to only 6 percent in 2014, when a total of 10,728 students took the AP Chinese exam.”(more)

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Prepare Kids for Success in Math

News Herald – Juliann Talkington


Imagine learning to fluently read and write Chinese in one hour a day for only 180 days each year. Impossible!


Now consider learning the foreign language of math in one hour a day for 180 days each year. Realistic?


If the goal is to ensure basic proficiency in addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, fractions, and percentages, the level of exposure is probably adequate. If the goal is to get students to the math levels required for high quality 21st Century employment, there is not nearly enough time.


For success in math, kids must be able read, memorize, organize, and write and sketch legibly. In addition, they need strong spatial abilities, excellent sequential processing skills, and attention to detail.


All these skills take many years to hone. Sadly, most early education programs have a heavy focus on reading and memorizing, but have little (or inadequate) emphasis on organization, handwriting and sketching, attention to detail, sequential processing, and spatial orientation.


Part of the problem is early childhood education teachers are taught in programs where these skills were not a priority, so they either have weak skills themselves and/or do not understand the importance of teaching the skills.


Then there are curricula problems. Most early childhood education curricula are developed by individuals or teams of individuals who have years of experience with humanities and social sciences so spatial, sequential processing, and attention to detail skills are not priorities.


Another challenge is that these technical skills are generally not imperative in math until students reach late elementary school. As a result, teachers, school administrators and regulators often believe students are performing well even though they have skills deficits.


The combination of curricula that does not include the necessary skills, instructors who not well equipped to teach the skills, and delayed feedback on skills deficits is a recipe for disaster.


To correct the problem, we must change our early childhood education graduation requirements to include a 50/50 balance between the humanities/social sciences (psychology, sociology, language arts, etc.) and STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) courses.


Then, we need curricula developed by well-balanced teams that include equal representation from the humanities/social sciences and STEM.


Finally, we need a way of confirming that preschool to grade three students are obtaining these necessary skills.


With these changes, our kids should have the skills to succeed in math, the humanities, engineering, and social sciences!