Around the World

I don’t know if you are aware, but the NBA All Star game is tonight. When I was a kid I spent hours and hours and hours playing “Around the World” with my friends, a shooting game that was a kind of race.

That’s my segue way into a few articles that I’ve collected this week about stuff going on around the world. Lame, I know, but it’s the best I can do on a long weekend, so here goes:

~Things in Puerto Rico are ramping up, again. An $800 fee increase is leading to mass protests, civil unrest, police presence on campus, and more.

~Changes are afoot in the curriculum of India (you know, one of those countries whose students score significantly better on standardized tests than American students, and so (according to the Punditocracy, pose a threat to America “Winning the Future”). Another interesting angle is the disdain  that I so often hear from students for “memorization” and their perception that it is something they are naturally good at or not. It’s so often treated as this evil thing, as if it weren’t a necessary part of the later steps of learning, if that learning is to be deep and effective, that is. But I digress.

~Marta’s team lost to Arsenal, setting up a high anxiety match on March 8th.

~The situation in the Middle East continues to develop in fascinating ways. Are you talking about it in your classroom? If not, why not?


The End of the Public University Across the Pond

I thought that this article was a really interesting and thought provoking piece of Comparative Education research.

For example:

The cost of a university education may be charged to the individual student but they will be forced to pay for it through the sort of debt-financing that governments across the world now consider so inappropriate for themselves. The scale of national debt is so ruinous we are told it requires emergency austerity measures (like all state intervention these days couched in the inevitable military metaphor of Osborne’s ‘war of welfare and waste’). Students, meanwhile, will be encouraged to take on loans based upon an imagined future income. They will effectively gamble that the loan will eventually pay-off by enhancing their future job prospects and earning power. It will be a hedge against their future security. What are effectively sub-prime loans are guaranteed by the state. Higher education is now modeled on the types of financial speculation that has helped get us in to this mess.

And there’s more!

Friday Spotlight: Times Higher Education

I don’t know exactly what it is, except that it seems to be British and a magazine of some sort, but I spent (note: not wasted!) a good bit of time yesterday poking around among the stories of something called Times Higher Education.

It’s full of good stuff, interesting stuff, and stuff I just don’t understand because I don’t know how the system works over there.

I was led to it by this annual piece featuring funny comments students accidentally made in papers or exams, called “The Principles of Confusianism.”

There’s more great stuff in the same issue:

~ a piece on Orwellian linguistic fascism at Starbucks;

~ a review of a book called African American Writers and the Classical Tradition

~an article advocating that faculty teach students to think in order that they might get jobs (a la Pippen, in a fashion);

and more.

Even better, when I went back to look for the piece on Confusionism, I found a whole new issue, full of equally interesting looking stuff.

Comparative Education–Access to College in India

I don’t know a lot about systems of higher education in other places, particularly in regard to access, except a general impression that they tend to involve High Stakes Testing and extremely limited access. Reading about it though, makes me, again, grateful to be a part of a system that functions in a manner that is the polar opposite (or, I guess, more clearly, I’m excited to be working in the part of the system that serves as a sort of safety net for those who get shut out by the exclusionary aspects of American higher education. India needs some community colleges!

This last part of the article would be hilarious if it weren’t so horrifying:

She is so busy with test prep that there is one thing she almost never does.

“People hardly go to school,” she said. “They rely on their tutorials mainly.”