Are Humans logical? – BREXIT, Clinton VS Trump …

Blogroll, UK Education Comments Off on Are Humans logical? – BREXIT, Clinton VS Trump …

By Dr. Orville Leverne Clubb, Head of BTEC Centre, ITS Education Asia

are-humans-logical-brexit-clinton-vs-trump

As the methods of communication, knowledge storage and retrieval have advanced with modern ICT, the differences in cultures and the role culture plays in interpretation of our environment is becoming more and more apparent.  Two people from different cultures can see an event, or read the same written passage, and have very different interpretations of the meaning. Normally, most of us interpret the world through our learned culture which will have a group view of events on a spectrum of “good’ to “bad”.

Accessibly through the internet and the WWW has caused major international software developers to rush for software “localization” to deal with the different cultural perceptions of knowledge. One of the catalysts of this localization phenomena is that we have seen most major literate societies have their language systems adapted to ICT technology making the WWW access nearly universal. An example of this phenomena is reported in a 2007 BBC  article titled “YouTube Makes International Move”.  In this article, One of the  YouTube founders, Steve Chen, was  very proud of the fact that YouTube was “localizing”. In France for example, for YouTube there are only French items presented in French language that have been selected by French people; thus forming an exclusive French YouTube in-group.

I will give my explanation of this insular attitude and how the new social media and the online generation are using ICT in a series of blogs.

Extelligence is a term that was coined by Ian Stewart and Jack Cohen in their 1997 book titled Figments of Reality. Stewart and Cohen define extelligence as:

            “the cultural capital that is available to us in the form of external media

(e.g. tribal legends, folklore, nursery rhymes, books, videotapes, CD-ROMs, etc.)”

In their book, Stewart and Cohen contrast extelligence with intelligence.  They define “intelligence” as the knowledge and cognitive processes within the brain. Further, they regard the ‘complicity’ (partners in crime) of extelligence and intelligence as fundamental to the development of consciousness in both evolutionary terms for the species and for the individual. ‘Complicity’, as used by Stewart and Cohen, “ is a composite of complexity and simplicity and is used by individuals to express the close and interdependent relationship between knowledge-inside-one’s-head and knowledge-outside-one’s-head that one can readily access.” I believe that the internet, the WWW and its stored information now makes a universal reservoir of extelligence or supratelligence which I wish to define as an online reservoir of multicultural extelligence. 

An interesting idea is the meme which is defined as “an idea, behavior, or style that spreads from person to person within a culture. A meme acts as a unit for carrying cultural ideas, symbols, or practices that can be transmitted from one mind to another through writing, speech, gestures, rituals, or other imitable phenomena with a mimicked theme. Supporters of the concept regard memes as cultural analogues to genes in that they self-replicate, mutate, and respond to selective pressures.”

An individual’s intelligence about his environment are learned by an individual in a culture by way of family, friends, peer groups, formal education, club, associations, religious groupings, etc. A member of any culture will use both intelligence and extelligence of his cultural environment that fits into his belief system as “truth”. These newly formed beliefs may or may not have factual backing to prove that something is true.

This intelligence saves us time by us behaving as defined for us by our own beliefs. This behavior is normally without major reasoning and near automatic. By the word “belief”, the individual bases his way of thinking on faith in his beliefs rather than on truth and trying to resolve the case using reasoning with empirical facts. There is evidence that suggest that once we form a belief or point of view that we do not easily change our minds. There is an old Emory University study that provides us with the following:

“The investigators used functional neuroimaging (fMRI) to study a sample of committed Democrats and Republicans during the three months prior to the U.S. Presidential election of 2004. The Democrats and Republicans were given a reasoning task in which they had to evaluate threatening information about their own candidate. During the task, the subjects underwent fMRI to see what parts of their brain were active. What the researchers found was striking.

‘We did not see any increased activation of the parts of the brain normally engaged during reasoning (my italics),’ says Drew Westen, director of clinical psychology at Emory who led the study. ‘What we saw instead was a network of emotion circuits lighting up, including circuits hypothesized to be involved in regulating emotion, and circuits known to be involved in resolving conflicts.’ …”

The researches concluded: “The study has potentially wide implications, from politics to business, and demonstrates that emotional bias can play a strong role in decision-making, Westen says. “Everyone from executives and judges to scientists and politicians may reason to emotionally biased judgments when they have a vested interest in how to interpret ‘the facts,’” We see examples of this emotional based judgment in BREXIT and the latest US presidential election.

There is agreement among the members of a culture to what are their values and norms which can change very radically from one generation to another. An example would be what is acceptable language and material in today’s mass media. We find many words used and things depicted that would have never been allowed in mass media of the 1950s and 1960s.

In my next blog of this series, I will continue the discussion and go into the operations of memes and explore Virtual Tribalism.

Lee Clubb is Head of BTEC Centre at ITS Education Asia which runs one of the world’s first fully online live classroom BTEC courses to create a completely virtual blended learning environment.

RSS
Follow by Email
Facebook
Facebook
Google+
Google+
http://www.itseducation.asia/blog/category/blogroll/uk-education/">
Twitter
SHARE
LINKEDIN

How well would YOU do on your A-levels now?

Blogroll, Hong Kong Education, UK Education Comments Off on How well would YOU do on your A-levels now?

By Danny Harrington, Founder & Director, ITS Education Asia

education-is-the-most-powerful-weapon-we-can-use-to-change-the-world-1

I loved this in the popular UK newspaper The Independent last Friday. They posed the question and put in a set of 15 A-level questions that students will be facing this month. I’ll be the first to admit I did not do very well despite the fact that I took some of those subjects and went on to study at the University of Oxford. But should I be surprised?

Actually no, and for a number of reasons. This is important because as adults, and especially as parents, we sometimes forget that the world our children face is not the same as the one we faced. In fact, the generational difference is now probably about as big as it has ever been in human history because the pace of change is at its fastest. When it comes to education this is as true as in any other aspect of life. As parents we need to listen to up-to-date professional advice, look at the published research and critically evaluate it.

There is often a misconception that exams today are “easier” than in the past (like when I took A-levels in 1988). People often point to grade inflation as evidence of this. But grade inflation has occurred across multiple curriculum changes at a fairly steady rate so this is clearly more complex. I’m always bemused as to why no-one is prepared to suggest that maybe younger generations are “better” at exams. Certainly more young people have access to education, more are supported in working at school rather than getting out and into work (those jobs don’t exist anymore), there is no reason to be surprised that the longer a population works at something, e.g. exams, the more competent they become. At the end of the day, I couldn’t do many of the quiz questions so how could they be easier?

Of course there is the question of specialisation. I have not had to study those subjects intensively every day for the last two years. It raises interesting questions, though, over the purpose of education if I have forgotten that stuff or never even been taught it and yet function perfectly well in the world. This I think is where we get the most differentiation in the quality of schools. Too many people point to the resources – the computer suites, playing fields, building quality, theatres etc – and these are nice to have but they do not educate children. Teachers and parents do. And the most important things we can teach them are not so much the curriculum content but the skills of how to learn, how to get on with people, how to lead and follow, how to problem solve, how to be resilient. So good schools are those which encourage community and foster a love of learning.

These are the important elements that our children need to get on with life and lead it in a rich and varied and fascinating way.

RSS
Follow by Email
Facebook
Facebook
Google+
Google+
http://www.itseducation.asia/blog/category/blogroll/uk-education/">
Twitter
SHARE
LINKEDIN

Hope for international students to UK?

Blogroll, UK Education Comments Off on Hope for international students to UK?

by Danny Harrington, Founder & Director, ITS Education Asia

education-is-the-most-powerful-weapon-we-can-use-to-change-the-world

Recent comments in the election campaign in the UK, as reported in The Observer, suggest growing support on the Right for the removal of students from immigration statistics. I have written extensively about Theresa May’s attacks on student visas since her days as Home Secretary and her continued targeting of them as Prime Minister as a way to reduce immigration numbers to headline figures of the “tens of thousands” per year that has featured in Conservative party policy for the last couple of years.

But now a range of figures on the right are lining up to support maintaining student visa numbers. For example, from the Observer article:

….. Paul Marshall, the hedge fund manager who gave £100,000 to Vote Leave, urged May to remove foreign students from official immigration figures. She has refused to back the idea, despite pleas from Conservative MPs and universities.

As so many of us in education have been saying for a while now, there is finally recognition among politicians and those close to Westminster that undergraduate and graduate students bring great talent into the country and not only contribute at the research and academia level but often look to move into UK-based careers and stimulate the knowledge-based economy. From the financial perspective, they not only bring in millions in tuition fees to university coffers and spending in the general economy while living here, but often also open up networks of overseas investors to UK business.

Yes there are issues with graduate unemployment or underemployment, but getting rid of graduates is not a very healthy approach. Stimulating economic growth to create more graduate jobs is a much better aim and overseas graduates can themselves be part of the solution. To satisfy those with concerns about job competition, it is not too much of an ask surely to require simple immigration assessments for work visas for students who wish to stay and employers who wish to employ them. As long as an employer can show the applicant is the best person for the job and that no suitable UK citizen applied, then why deny them?

For those who bring up the old trope about non-UK citizens being able to fund themselves, well ask for proof of funds. Simple. So few people travel all the way to the UK to become students with no funds that it is laughable. As with so many “issues” the actions of a tiny minority are eld up as “proof” of what the majority do or intend and become a stick to beat them with. Enough. Most overseas students are genuine. I’d help fund their studies but at the very least the UK should be welcoming them with open arms.

RSS
Follow by Email
Facebook
Facebook
Google+
Google+
http://www.itseducation.asia/blog/category/blogroll/uk-education/">
Twitter
SHARE
LINKEDIN

British universities fight to keep the door open for international students

Blogroll, UK Education Comments Off on British universities fight to keep the door open for international students

by Danny Harrington, Founder & Director, ITS Education Asia

 

I have written numerous times in support of the UK maintaining an open-door policy for international students at all levels of formal education. International students bring a great wealth of additional knowledge to their destination country, allowing a cultural diversity that stimulates thought, discussion and debate. These enrich the educational experiences of all involved, students and staff alike. More importantly, they can lead to a more efficient innovation environment allowing us to solve or at least mitigate the problems we face as communities from the local to global scale. The world’s top universities may be regarded as primarily research institutions rather than teaching ones and all universities must follow research programmes. The importance of international student migration can be understated.

delfi-de-la-rua-140752

Of course, much of the news concerning student access to the UK at university level in recent years has been bleak (schools remain relatively unaffected), from the removal of right-to-work post-graduation in 2012 to the current review of how many student visas may be issued and by whom. Both student numbers and student rights have been reduced and are under further threat. It is a pleasure then to see two university Vice-Chancellors making a very public call on the government not to attack international students in this way nor to allow them to be dragged into the toxic public politics currently surrounding immigration in Britain. It is heartening also to read of their efforts to go out into the world and speak about the benefits of a UK university education and to carry the message that UK universities are still very much open to international students. Britains academics are not renowned for coming down off their pedestals like this.

In fact, many universities have been making increasingly high-profile visits overseas in recent years in a belated recognition that the UK has to compete for talent with the US, a number of other established university locations and increasingly excellent universities in Asia. These trips are also a chance to build collaborative research ties across international borders. It all ties into the fact, as understood by those of us who work in education, that learning is a collaborative process, and a global project, which has no need of politics and artificial barriers. That is why we must make every effort to overcome the barriers that politicians put in place.

Whether that be by lobbying for student movement or finding ways to allow access such as providing schooling online, we should all do our bit to encourage the continued mix of people and knowledge across the world.

ITS Education Asia runs UK and US curricula for high school and university both at its schools in Hong Kong and online using live-teaching. Contact us for more.

 

RSS
Follow by Email
Facebook
Facebook
Google+
Google+
http://www.itseducation.asia/blog/category/blogroll/uk-education/">
Twitter
SHARE
LINKEDIN

Beware school league tables

Blogroll, UK Education Comments Off on Beware school league tables

by Danny Harrington, Founder & Director, ITS Education Asia

 

We are often faced by parents based in Asia looking to choose UK schools for their children who base almost all of the decision on school ‘league table’ position. It is very difficult to change, or at least balance out, this mindset. People have used it as the starting basis from which to begin considering schools and have heard it referenced by others. It seems, at face value, to offer a solid factual basis from which to begin making choices. So parents often find they are unwilling to let go of this information as a solid basis on which to make decisions. And yet, to many educators, it is so fundamentally flawed as to be worse than useless.

This has been highlighted once more in today’s Guardian which addresses one of the key problems with the tables – the issue of ‘off-rolling’. Under this process, pupils who look like they are not going to gain grades necessary to uphold a school’s place in the league tables are not entered for examinations thus reducing the total population of a school’s exam taking cohort and increasing its success percentage.

There are other corruptions that the current system has led to since its introduction in 1992. Some relate to the quality of teaching such as teaching ‘to tests’ rather than a broad and rich curriculum of learning, and a concentration of effort into pupils predicted marginally ‘failing grades’ in an effort to get them above the line. Some, like ‘off-rolling’, are a more direct and cynical attempt to game the system, such as entering pupils for ‘easier’ subjects. In addition, the stress on both staff and pupils of making such an effort to address the collective position of the schools exam outcomes takes away from everyone quality of school life. These issues are dealt with in extreme depth by an excellent study from the University of Bristol Graduate School of Education published in late 2016.

test-986769_1920

So what should parents do? Well we cannot discount exam results entirely and it is important to see significant quality in exam outcomes. The simplest questions that can be asked is how many pupils took exams and how many subjects they took on average. One might also ask about results in key academic subjects such as Maths, English and Sciences. But at the end of the day, even these figures are only a small element of the decision making process. We must never lose sight of the fact that our child is not someone else’s child. Other people’s exam results are not a very accurate measure of how our own children will perform down the track. We need to pull together all the information we have, both qualitative and quantitative, to make decisions on the best learning environment for our children. Giving them a broad set of both academic and non-academic learning experiences for as long as possible provide the best possible basis for a healthy, well-balanced and successful individual to emerge. That is what we should be looking for when choosing a school or a non-traditional educational pathway into adulthood.

ITS Education Asia provides alternative pathways and experiences leading to global qualifications from secondary school to degree level. Visit our website for more.

RSS
Follow by Email
Facebook
Facebook
Google+
Google+
http://www.itseducation.asia/blog/category/blogroll/uk-education/">
Twitter
SHARE
LINKEDIN

« Previous Entries