The Madonosoto-no-sonomatamuko Museum is dedicated to children's picturebooks

It’s truly autumn now, the rice harvest is in the fields … and the temperatures are dipping quickly. Below we bring you this week’s roundup of the news on education in Japan:

Japan to introduce integrated day-care facilities (Mainichi Nov 1, 2010)
The government is set to abolish the current childcare system and introduce integrated day-care facilities for young children, starting fiscal 2013. Under the proposed system, the government will, in principle, determine operating costs for the new childcare facilities, taking over the present fare structure at nursery schools, while giving former kindergarten operators a certain degree of freedom in deciding how much they will charge for their services. Parents will pay tuition fees according to the length of time their children will spend at the facilities, choosing from two to three time frame options depending on their work situations. The new system will partially take over the present procedures for tuition and service hours that vary depending on business entities. Currently, kindergarten operators can decide admission and tuition fees at their own discretion, while some of the operating costs for nursery schools are shouldered by the government, with parents paying different amounts of tuition according to their income levels. At present, Japan’s childcare facilities are divided into two administrative groups: kindergartens and nursery schools. Kindergartens are educational institutions designated by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, while nursery schools are child welfare facilities supervised by the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry and only cover young children with working parents. In June, the government announced its basic guidelines for the nation’s child welfare policy, saying it
will eliminate administrative barriers among kindergartens, nursery schools and other childcare facilities licensed by prefectural governments by introducing a new, integrated childcare system. The guidelines did not mention the treatment of existing institutions; however, the new plan states that all these facilities will be abolished and replaced by new childcare centers in about 10 years. In 2006, the government had introduced new types of day-care centers licensed by prefectural governments, accepting children with both working and nonworking parents. However, there were only 532 such facilities as of April 2010. Read the entire article here

Related story: Insurer to enter day nursery business (Yomiuri Nov 1, 2010)

Nipponkoa plans to open a certified day nursery iwth a capacity of 30 children in Bunkyo Ward, Tokyo. It also plans to open another nursery next year, and two additional nurseries every year after that.

Museum cultivates child bookworms (Oct. 30, 2010)

Like a huge mosaic, 1,500 picture books splash color across the walls of a museum in Iwaki, Fukushima Prefecture. The museum, Madonosoto no Sonomatamuko, sits on a hill overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Sunlight streams through triangular windows that offer beautiful views of the ocean and distant horizon. At the museum and the three affiliated kindergarten libraries, each child goes through an average of about 600 picture books in three years.

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School loans tied to volunteerism (Yomiuri Oct 24, 2010)

Excerpts follow…”The education ministry plans to make volunteer activity a requirement for university and college students seeking state-funded loans and other financial assistance, according to government sources.
The move is designed to give students who are using state funds for their education a sense of the importance of giving something back to society.According to the ministry, there are basically two types of financial assistance programs for university and college students in this country: interest-bearing and interest-free loans from the Japan Student Services Organization (JASSO), an independent administrative corporation; and individual schools’ financial assistance programs to waive or lower tuition. In fiscal 2010, state money was used for about 30 percent of all student loans and financial assistance programs–interest-free loans totaling about 254.9 billion yen for 350,000 students and tuition waiver and reduction programs worth about 23.6 billion yen for 70,000 students. Students who receive interest-free loans, or have their tuition waived or reduced, entirely at government expense will be subject to the envisaged requirement of volunteer activity. The ministry plans to ask students to report whether they participate in volunteer activity when they apply for financial aid or apply to renew it. Also, universities will be asked to take into account students’ history of volunteering when choosing who should receive aid and to provide guidance to students who fail to meet the volunteer requirement.The ministry is expected to treat part-time jobs that are deemed to contribute greatly to the public interest as volunteering, according to the sources. Universities that encourage students to engage in such activity are expected to be provided with additional subsidies.”Read more here


Bullied in Japan, pre-teen half-Pinay commits suicide
(gmanews.tv Oct 29, 2010)

The father of a 12-year-old Japanese-Filipino girl said on Tuesday that his daughter’s suicide may have been triggered by bullying at school, and that his wife’s Filipino nationality may have been one reason for the bullying. In an interview with the Japanese daily Mainichi Shimbun posted on the newspaper’s website, Ryuji Uemura, 50, made this disclosure about the bullying of his daughter Akiko, who committed suicide in Kiryu, Gunma Prefecture, in Japan’s Honshu island. “I think the fact that her mother was a Filipino was also one of the causes of the bullying,” he said. The father of a 12-year-old Japanese-Filipino girl said on Tuesday that his daughter’s suicide may have been triggered by bullying at school, and that his wife’s Filipino nationality may have been one reason for the bullying. In an interview with the Japanese daily Mainichi Shimbun posted on the newspaper’s website, Ryuji Uemura, 50, made this disclosure about the bullying of his daughter Akiko, who committed suicide in Kiryu, Gunma Prefecture, in Japan’s Honshu island. “I think the fact that her mother was a Filipino was also one of the causes of the bullying,” he said.

Related news: Father of schoolgirl suicide victim says daughter was teased about mom’s nationality (Oct
28, 2010, Mainichi)

A man who says his 12-year-old daughter’s suicide was triggered by bullying at school has told the Mainichi that his wife’s Filipino nationality may have been one of the reasons for the bullying. Ryuji Uemura, 50, made the comment on the possible cause of the bullying of his daughter Akiko, who committed suicide in Kiryu, Gunma Prefecture, in an interview with the Mainichi on Oct. 26.

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Nobelist urges youth to go abroad, study (Nov 2, 2010)
Nobel Prize laureate Akira Suzuki urged Japanese youngsters Monday to study abroad and broaden their views, saying that doing so would help improve their language proficiency. He also called on senior academics to make greater efforts to instill in younger generations a sense that science and technology are interesting, as science is crucial to the country’s survival.S uzuki is one of the three recipients of the 2010 Nobel Prize in chemistry who has also been awarded the 2010 Order of Culture, the country’s top cultural award.
Related news: Studying in U.S. ‘key’ for entrepreneurs: Roos (Nov 4, 2010 Japan Times)

The number of Japanese students studying abroad has been on the decline, partly due to difficulty in finding jobs when they return home and because they have become more inward-looking than before, analysts said. U.S. Ambassador John Roos tells participants of a Tokyo symposium on entrepreneurship, “US Studying and pursuing careers in the United States will improve ability to communicate across borders and help Japanese entrepreneurs collaborate with talent around the world”. He also said “The value of outside education, of getting intraperspectives and practices, directly bolstered Japan’s incredible economic growth through (the 1950s and 1960s and beyond)”. Read the entire article  here

FORUM WITH NOBEL LAUREATES / Role of science must grow to tackle pressing global issues (Nov 4, 2010 Yomiuri)

Nobel Laureates speaking at a forum’s first session on the theme “What can science do for human beings?” in Tokyo and on “Wisdom of Science–Nobel Laureates’ Wishes for Young People”in Kumamoto, give some useful advice and pointers…excerpts follow…

– Ryoji-Noyori: “I would like everybody to realize that science and technology should not merely determine international competitiveness but are fundamentally important for human society.”

-Kiyohiko Nakae (panelist): “For the application of basic science to industry and production development, it’s necessary to integrate several forms of knowledge and perceptions. It’s essential to widen one’s knowledge of different areas while also deeply cultivating one specialized field. Have dreams about what you want to do and passion to carry on no matter what anyone says. For researchers working at companies for three to four decades, they only have one or two chances. I always tell them to be sure and not miss those chances.”

– Toshihide Masukawa: In his book, “Elements of the Philosophy of Right,” [Georg] Hegel described it as something like this: Freedom is insight into inevitability….Science is the academic study of figuring out nature. Insight into inevitability offers human beings broader frameworks of freedom… I want to recommend a “1.5th class” way of studying and living. People should adhere to learning a single field of academic study through high school and university. Simultaneously, they should be able to learn another academic field with only half the energy spent on the major.This way of learning is equivalent to a phrase I’ve coined: “A definition of a frog in a well.” When taken out of a well, a frog initially recognizes the existence of a world different from the one inside the well. And immediately after this realization, it notices a third possibility of what kind of world exists beyond the two. I have nearly 10,000 books at my house. Most of them are recent paperbacks on topics related to general knowledge. I tell my students that if they don’t understand the contents of a book, it’s better to leave it for a while. After reading other books on various topics, in six months or so they will eventually be able to understand the original book.””In the science world, people say that brilliant students, those who immediately understand any kind of academic article, often unexpectedly end up not having achieved much. In life, everyone runs up against a wall. At these times, smart people tend to move on to different fields that also look interesting. If they keep doing that, they won’t be able to achieve anything really great. I think people who seem a little slow but keep on working at a problem are those that are more likely [to achieve big things].”-Leo Esaki: “Experiments in which answers are not easy to find are those that are worth doing. There’s no need to do experiments where answers come easily. The harder the experiment, the more worthwhile it is to tackle it.”
Why is this so? General knowledge expands students’ insight and imagination. A”1.5th-class” in general knowledge will help students master their primary professional activities.

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Japan texts at fee-free North schools? (Nov 4, 2010 Japan Times)

The education ministry wants pro-Pyongyang high schools to use Japanese textbooks on politics and economics when the government includes such high schools in its tuition waiver program, official sources say. More here

Meanwhile, a UN committee raps Japanese history textbooks…JoongAng Daily Jun 17, 2010

The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child yesterday expressed concern about Japanese history textbooks and recommended their review to be more balanced, saying the books present only Japan’s view of events in the Asia-Pacific region. Tokyo’s neighbors believe its school textbooks sanitize its wartime history, including its 1910-45 colonial occupation of Korea, and lays claims to disputed territories such as the Dokdo islets. The Japanese textbooks “do not enhance the mutual understanding of children from different countries in the region, as they represent a Japanese interpretation of historical events only,” the committee, chaired by South Korean Lee Yang-hee, said in a report posted on its Web site. (Yonhap)

Osaka Gov. Hashimoto to visit top institutions in Seoul (AP Nov 2, 2010)

Osaka Gov. Toru Hashimoto is on a visit in Seoul to inspect leading educational institutions there, including a high school where students are required to master three languages. Hashimoto plans to use his findings to help shape the prefectural government’s policies.

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Small schools offer hope amid eikaiwa slump (Nov 2, 2010 Japan Times)

The collapse of the Geos eikaiwa (English conversation school) chain earlier this year came as a cruel blow to an industry still struggling to restore its credibility years after Nova’s high-profile implosion. Since the Nova bankruptcy of 2007, the financial situation at the major schools has continued to worsen, with both student numbers and sales dropping, and many teachers are now looking for ways to make money outside the big eikaiwa model. Throughout Kanto, however, there are teachers who have managed to make the market work for them through a little innovation. Since the Nova bankruptcy of 2007, the financial situation at the major schools has continued to worsen, with both student numbers and sales dropping, and many teachers are now looking for ways to make money outside the big eikaiwa model.”The model depends on a constant intake of students and their cash, and with the moribund economy and shrinking population, the luster has worn off of forking over hundreds of thousands of yen to spend an hour or two a week studying English with a foreigner,” says Shawn Thir, who blogs on LetsJapan.org, a website that documents the fortunes of Japan’s eikaiwa industry.”The interest in learning English is still there, but people are cutting back on their discretionary spending, and when they want to study, they are looking to alternatives such as game software and Internet-based lessons. In this kind of environment, large schools will have to drastically downscale — or at least re-think their business model — or disappear.”Throughout Kanto, however, there are teachers who have managed to make the market work for them through a little innovation. In a dance hall in Abiko, Chiba Prefecture, on a recent Wednesday, Patrick and Yoshie Sherriff, the owners of Tower English School, prepared for a playgroup drop-in. The concept is simple: Mothers pay ¥500 each week to play a series of English games with their toddlers.Deeper connections with the local community, however, are not the only advantage small schools can gain over the major players, as Michael Lopez, who runs Primrose English School in Ibaraki Prefecture, has discovered. His school, built on the side of his house, has plush carpets, is decorated in warm colors, and has photos of younger students and their artwork on the walls. Entering the classroom, Primrose seems a far cry from the dour, colorless classrooms that eikaiwa-chain students often have to endure. Dominic Berry, 41, from England, has been teaching in Japan since May 2008 but has never worked for one of the major eikaiwa chains. His clients include private students and small eikaiwa schools, and he teaches some of his students via Skype. He also gives a number of lessons in English on philosophy and art. His advice to others considering going freelance is simple: Have selling points and utilize them if you want to survive as a teacher in Tokyo.

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EDUCATIONAL RENAISSANCE / Activities: Rule is quality, not quantity (Daily Yomiuri Nov 4, 2010)

This week’s feature article focuses on schools that use extracurriculuar activities in their attempts to encourage students to improve themselves.
It looks at Oedo High School, a public school in Koto Ward, Tokyo. Excerpts follow…”The school opened in 2004 with the goal of bringing drop-outs and students who don’t want to go to school back into the fold. About 80 percent of the students fall into one of these categories. Among its other efforts to do so, the school is using club activities to help them acquire communication and other social skills.In a gymnasium filled with excitement, a volleyball team runs through their drills, practicing passing, receiving and scrimmaging. The intense training session, however, lasts for only about an hour.Unlike most high schools, Oedo offers a flex-time system and does not have after-school activities. Instead, club members must coordinate their open class periods to meet for extracurricular activities. This results in a need to emphasize quality practices over quantity.” Another school is also featured, also “in Tokyo, Kodaira Nishi High School is trying its own reform through club activities. Prior to the reform, many of the students were ashamed and could be heard complaining they were not at the school by choice.The school decided to make extracurricular activities mandatory, under the assumption that their students would feel a sense of accomplishment if they tried and succeeded at something.Kodaira Nishi has since ranked well among Tokyo’s public schools in bicycle racing, rugby and baseball. At the same time, only 29 students dropped out or transferred to other schools during the 2009 school year–down nine from 2007.”

See related story: EDUCATIONAL RENAISSANCE / Self-evaluation cards motivate students (Oct.28) and Committed teachers help clubs survive (Oct.21)

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Elsewhere in the world, the news on education …

Outrage at banning spelling tests (Washington Post Nov 1, 2010)

This is just another case of K-12 progressive educators devaluing the basics, putting down spelling tests. He is a close student of the evolution of American education practices, and often warns of the deterioration of standards. …

Getting an education in learning over the Internet (LA Times Nov 2, 2010)

A father talks about his “newfound appreciation for the merits of online education, or “distance learning…as a teaching tool, especially for subjects where it’s better to show than to tell.” He also explores the possibility of distance learning replacing classroom instruction in the future.
Excerpts follow:
“Not exactly,” said Vicky Phillips, chief executive of GetEducated.com, a website that rates and ranks online colleges. “There are some things you can’t do as well online, such as nuclear physics. You’d need a lab or a reactor for that.”
But for many if not most subject areas, she said, online education can complement classroom instruction and help people manage increasingly busy schedules.
These days, Phillips said, about 12,000 different degrees can be obtained online from accredited U.S. universities. The number of degrees available has grown by double digits annually for the last five years.
“You can even learn mortuary science online,” Phillips said.
A recent report by the U.S. Department of Education found that “students in online conditions performed modestly better, on average, than those learning the same material through traditional face-to-face instruction.” Read the entire article here

Encouraging youngsters via service, challenge and support (Oct 23, 2010 EducationNews.org)

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary explains that encourage means “to give support, confidence or hope to (someone).” It’s no surprise that these are challenging times. So what will it take to offer more encouragement to young people? Read the rest of the blog post here and see related articles:
Community Service: A Family’s Guide to Getting Involved and Family Volunteering Ideas and Resources: Community Service and Charities for Kids (Dec 8, 2009 Suite101)

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How much do colleges value volunteer hours?
A fact sheet by Davila and Mora asserts that research shows positivie links between scholastic performance and civic engagement, i.e. volunteering and community service show higher academic performance. The authors found:

– Students who participated in school required community service were 22 percentage points more likely to graduate from college than those that did not and were more likely to have improved their Reading, Math, Science, and History scores.

– Similarly, students who performed voluntary community service were 19 percentage points more likely to graduate from college than those that did not.

Thousands will miss out in new university scramble Daily Mail, Oct 22, 2010Colleges face unprecedented demand for degree courses starting next September due to a triple whammy to hit higher education. Scramble for places next year: Colleges face unprecedented demand for degree courses starting next September due to a ‘triple whammy’ to hit higher educationOthers will decide to go into higher education to avoid the dole queue as the recession bites. Both of these groups will be competing for places against students who missed out on courses this year.A record 209,253 – one in three of those who applied – were left without a place this year due to rocketing demand. Read more:

The inscrutable Americans NAS.org John
RosenbergChinese scholars have it right when they equate “American diversity with chaos.” Most Chinese students and scholars interested in the United States concentrate either on English language and literature or on Sino-American diplomatic history and policy studies. There are few opportunities for fieldwork in the United States, and scholarly work on American domestic politics is “woefully inadequate,” according to a Peking University specialist in American studies. The author, Terry Lautz, “China’s Deficit in American Studies” who conducted interviews in China for the Ford Foundation last year has found that“Chinese scholars and policy analysts are increasingly ready and able to move beyond the narrowly focused approach that has dominated American studies in China in the past.” Read the entire article here.

Student debt at all-time high (Oct 22, 2010 Chicago Sun-Times)

Today’s US graduate will join the ranks of four-year college grads facing an increasingly large mountain of student loan debt — as well as a double whammy of an increasing unemployment rate for grads. According to numbers released Thursday by the Project on Student Debt, four-year college grads in the United States, on average, graduated in 2009 with $24,000 in student loan debt, a record high. At the same time, they moved into a work world with an 8.7 percent national unemployment rate for college graduates ages 20 to 24 — the highest annual rate on record, according to the student loan
project, put together by the California-based nonprofit Institute for College Access & Success.

LSE raises spectre of private universities(27 October 2010 The Independent)
Excerpts follow:
“Some of Britain’s leading universities could consider going private if the Government decides to retain a cap on tuition fees – potentially pricing students out of the market.
Lord Browne’s inquiry into student finance recommended lifting the cap altogether, but ministers are understood to be thinking of merely raising it from its present level of £3,290 a year to around £7,000 a year.
The dilemma facing universities is that the cut in funding for teaching – only science, engineering, technology, maths and possibly some language teaching would be paid for by the state – puts more pressure on them to put up fees to maintain high standards of teaching.
Some institutions say that fees of £7,000 a year will not raise enough money to meet students’ expectations about the quality of their education, and that they will need to charge more.
The move was greeted with horror by students and lecturers. Charlotte Gerada, general secretary of the LSE students’ union, warned that such a move would “entrench elitism”.
Howard Davies, the LSE’s director, immediately dismissed the idea, saying that such a move would not be in the interest of students or the university.
If a university did go down the private route, it would be able to charge unlimited fees and would also be released from ministerial pressures to take in more students from disadvantaged communities.
Sally Hunt, general secretary of the University and College Union, said: “If the Browne reforms result in some of the UK’s most prestigious universities breaking away to form a separate tier, that will be a disaster for this country.
“The whole landscape of higher education in this country would change. What a university is and what its purpose is would be completely different.”
University insiders say lifting the cap on fees would prompt some institutions to charge as much as £12,000 a year for more popular courses.”

Pupils from elite schools secure one in ten Oxford places (Oct 28, 2010 The Telegraph)
One in ten new Oxford University undergraduates came from just a handful of the country’s most elite private schools last year.
Westminster School alone secured almost two per cent of all undergraduate places at the university, with 47 former pupils beginning their studies last October.
St Paul’s School in London sent 40 leavers to Oxford last year, while students from Eton College – whose alumni include David Cameron and Princes William and Harry – took up 37 places at the university.

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Newton’s Russian school and Kumon classes prepare math students…

If new math just won’t do | Parents find specialized schools to fill gaps (Oct 22, 2010 The Boston Globe)

Excerpts follow:

“Manny Daphnis, a Bristol Community College professor from Brockton, makes the hourlong drive to Newton every week to bring his 6-year-old son, Hakeem, to the Russian School of Mathematics.“It is a sacrifice,’’ said Daphnis, who was grading papers for his own students on a bench one afternoon while Hakeem sat inside learning about patterns and variables. “But he shows an affinity for math.’’ Hakeem might do just fine in life with a public school math education, Daphnis acknowledged, while adding, “What if he isn’t prepared as he could be?’’ That’s a question asked by growing numbers of parents who are sending their children to private after -school classes, hoping to give them a leg up in an increasingly technological world. Most of the nearly 4,000 students enrolled at one of the five Russian School of Mathematics campuses — in Acton, Andover, Framingham, Lexington, and Newton — already attend well-regarded public schools.”

How we create Bullies, and an alternative (EducationNews.org)

Excerpts follow…”Bullying events occur along a continuum which in children probably begins as 1) emotionally isolated, distant, and unconnected. Then they move to being 2) impolite, 3) inconsiderate, 4) annoying, 5) irritating, 6) provoking, 7) attacking, 8) damaging, 9) destructive, and finally 10) criminal.  Most bullying acts might fall into stages 4-6 above, but they don’t drop suddenly from the sky fully formed. They grow from simpler forms of unhappiness and social ineffectiveness. They do so in sight of adults who know exactly what’s happening and do nothing about them. We need to weigh the values we want to enhance, and the leverage we have to obtain them.  Legislators and top administrators need to understand that there’s a zone of children’s emotional growth we can manage thoughtfully and even mesh simultaneously with academic learning. We can greatly increase the odds that even a loose ball bearing like the kindergartner described above can learn to function acceptably. If we’re committed to children‘s well-being as our first value, we ask adults to go after it and back them up when they do. We train them in the best ways we know, and turn them loose to use them. We say, “Do what’s in the best interests of the child, and we‘ll have your back if anything comes down about it.”

Why all the fuss over value-added teacher data? (The Hechinger Report Oct 21, 2010)

Excerpts follow:

“Good teachers matter and—as in every other profession—some are better than others. Researchers have even found that the very best teachers can help students overcome many of the effects of poverty and catch up to or surpass their more privileged peers. That’s why there is intense interest now in finding better ways to judge the relative effectiveness of teachers. But how should that be done? Most teacher evaluations not only fail to single out successful teachers—they also don’t help principals determine which teachers need help to improve and which ones are failing their students altogether. Instead, all teachers end up being judged the same, which is to say, satisfactory.“It’s universally acknowledged—teacher evaluations are broken,” said Timothy Daly, president of  The New Teacher Project, a group that helps school districts recruit and train teachers.Perhaps surprisingly, teacher-union leaders agree. Michael Mulgrew, president of New York City’s United Federation of Teachers (UFT), said last spring that “the current evaluation system doesn’t work for teachers—it’s too subjective, lacks specific criteria and is too dependent on the whims and prejudices of principals.”So, it would seem that a system using student test scores to calculate how much “value” teachers add to their students’ learning would be fairer. Indeed, Mulgrew endorsed New York state’s new evaluation system, in which student achievement counts for 40 percent of a teacher’s rating.”

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Red Bull is a popular drink with young people in Japan too, so the problem described in the next article might exist in Japan too …

Alcohol and caffeine drinks: the next student health problem? (Usatoday.com Oct 24, 2010)

Oct 22, 2010 – Three beers, a can of Red Bull and a large espresso: no big deal, many college students might say. Three beers, a can of Red Bull and a large espresso times three or four, and they still might tell you they’re not intoxicated.

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Why do students take so long to grow up?

The 20-Something Dilemma (Inside Higher Ed, October 21, 2010)
Tim Henderson explores why the 20-somethings …”graduates from some of the country’s best four-year colleges and universities” are finding it hard to enter the “unscripted” chapter of “adulthood” to …
“These feelings of uncertainty, hope, and confusion are, in part, rooted in adolescence and the over-structuring of American childhood. Amid the standardized tests, sports practices, extracurricular activities, and A.P. classes, there is little room for the self-exploration that used to characterize adolescence. Middle and high school seem to be less about discovering or deciding who one is and more about reaching the next benchmark. Today’s students know more factoids than previous generations, but they also know less about themselves. It is therefore no surprise that more American high school graduates than ever are taking a gap year to explore the world outside the academic structure.
The rigid scripting of childhood and adolescence has made young Americans risk- and failure-averse.
Shying away from endeavors at which they might not do well, they consider pointless anything without a clear application or defined goal. Consequently, growing numbers of college students focus on higher education’s vocational value at the expense of meaningful personal, experiential, and intellectual exploration. Too many students arrive at college committed to a pre-professional program or a major that they believe will lead directly to employment after graduation; often they are reluctant to investigate the unfamiliar or the “impractical”, a pejorative typically used to refer to the liberal arts.”” – end of excerpt. Read the entire article here

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The smarter sex: Does it matter if girls do better than boys? (The Independent Oct 21, 2010)

Boys will perform just as you expect them to, it seems. If you tell them they aren’t as intelligent as girls and are less likely to do well in tests, that is exactly what will happen. So says the latest salvo in the battle of the sexes that has preoccupied educationalists for decades. A study published at the British Educational Research Association conference tested two classes of youngsters. One (mixed) class was told that boys generally performed worse in tests than girls; lo and behold, those boys did exactly that.In the other class of 10-year-olds no such information was imparted, and the performance of the two sexes in a reading test showed greater parity. This is in line with the Pygmalion theory of education, as highlighted in the 1968 US study Pygmalion in the Classroom, which showed that if you split pupils randomly into two groups labelled”improving” and “not improving”, the “improving” group will improve and the other one will not.

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Know Your Colleges (Oct 27, 2010)

Colleges want to know that prospective students have a strong understanding of what their college is all about Jeff Haig (Educational Consultant and 20-time International Award-winning Author, “Unlock Your Educational Potential)” offers 5 strategies in your college application process to tell colleges why you standout and to answer why you are applying to their college (Know the Big Picture; Know the Department; Know the student life; Be able to add value to the college; Show passion).

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Japanese public schools has its own NIE (newspapers in education) programme, but this teacher offers advice on how to do it…
I’d like to teach the world to readReading a newspaper is the best way to hone one’s English, says this teacher (TodayOnline Oct 20,2010)

Excerpts follow…”I got my students to keep a folder of newspaper cuttings and from this stockpile of reports set them exercises ranging from vocabulary tests to comprehension. Of course, I used the reports for cloze passages, too. I’m sure many teachers are doing the same, rather than relying on just worksheets and workbooks.
I see this episode as a challenge to teachers, tutors and parents, in particular, to move away from the “worksheets and assessment books” mentality and cultivate in children the more rewarding pursuit of reading the news. The schools and tuition centres which happened to use the article in question as a cloze passage should be applauded for their initiative.
It is never too late to get students interested in reading the news and it always pays to do so. One word of advice, though: – do not force them to do so, but instead get them started by reading the bits they are interested in, before discussing the reports with them. There’s no better way to teach life lessons and social skills to our youth than through newspapers.”

Wanted: BS Detectors What science ed should really teach. (Newsweek Oct 28, 2010)

Sharon Begley argues that “it is time to stop cramming kids’ heads with the Krebs cycle, Ohm’s law, and the myriad other facts that constitute today’s science curricula. Instead, what we need to teach is the ability to detect Bad Science—BS, if you will.The reason we do science in the first place is so that “our own atomized experiences and prejudices” don’t mislead us, as Ben Goldacre of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine puts it in his new book, Bad Science: Quacks, Hacks, and Big Pharma Flacks. Understanding what counts as evidence should therefore trump memorizing the structural formulas for alkanes. …The most useful skill we could teach is the habit of asking oneself and others, how do you know? If knowledge comes from intuition or anecdote, it is likely wrong. For one thing, the brain stinks at distinguishing patterns from randomness (no wonder people can’t tell that the climate change now underway is not just another turn in the weather cycle). For another, the brain overestimates causality. … Science is not a collection of facts but a way of interrogating the world. Let’s teach kids to ask smarter questions.”

Little Rules of Parenting (The NYTimes, Nov 3, 3010) is about the small lessons of parenting we learn along the parenting journey.

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That’s it for now.

Digitally yours,

Aileen Kawagoe