All about statistics

https://www.facebook.com/BBCQuestionTime/videos/1917523538261362/

It’s a shame that it’s all about statistics but it’s sad that this is the direction the British education system is heading.

The pressure placed on children is ever increasing and the age of the children is decreasing. Children as young as 4 are tested and examined and experience stress. It is shocking that this is the way the British education system is heading especially when mental health cases are on the rise due to pressures placed on these children in terms of deadlines, grades and targets.

One toy

There are moments in life that make you stop and think. This picture is one of those moments.

I’m not saying that all children with a never ending supply of toys are always sad and a child with only one toy is always happy but it appears as though those with less appreciate what they have a lot more.

I have been following two families on YouTube recently (the channel names shall remain nameless) but one family spoil their children at any given opportunity whilst the other family lead a minimalistic life where the children have limited toys yet, it is without doubt that the children from the latter family have much more appreciation for everything they have in life. They appreciate their food, nature, the outside world and their lives.

I am not condemning those who spoil their children yet I urge you to stop and think. I mean does your child really need 10 dolls? It is important to teach children from a young age that you have to work hard in life to achieve.

The nurture room

An interesting watch about children that struggle in the average classroom setting.

Education or happiness?

I have just finished watching these two documentaries by the BBC. They follow the lives of three Welsh teenagers who go and live with a South Korean family for three days and follow their South Korean counterparts at their day at school.

I have to admit the South Korean education system shocked me. The amount of time these children/teenagers spend studying is mind – blowing. Yes, they do receive some of the best grades in the world and are undoubtedly highly academically intelligent but it is no surprise considering how much effort they put in to be the best they can possibly be.

Pupils sit in the same seat in the same classroom for around 10 hours a day. The style of teaching differs from that here in the UK as students are simply told how to do something, they memorise it and that’s that. There are no questions asked, no discussions in the classroom but rather silence and concentration. There is a real emphasis on getting good grades and going to the top university so much so that students often spend around 5 to 6 hours after school at private evening institutions for further academic tutoring or conduct their own self study. Students often wait to go into the library as it is so busy and children as young as 10 can be seen studying till around 10 in the evening.

Emphasis is placed on being the best rather than on being happy. Although academically South Korea do very well, they rank very low on the “are you happy?” scale. In the documentary a university student was asked about his high school experience. He stated how he had lost a few friends due to suicide due to the high levels of stress their families had put them under. South Korea has some of the highest suicide rates in the world, which seems like no surprise after hearing of their tiresome, long, strenuous days.

They have no time for social activities, no opportunities to be creative, no time to play or listen to music or to attend concerts and enjoy the arts because they study so much. There is often not much time for sleep either, with the headmaster claiming 6 hours was more than sufficient. I personally feel that if my brain was drilled of information for 16 hours a day i would like a little more than 6 hours sleep before cramming in more information the next day.

However, is it really all bad? culturally South Korea is very different to the UK and America. All families see the up most importance in education and do all they can to provide the best educations for their children. This may mean moving across the country in order to attend the best schools or working long hours to earn the money to send their child to the private tutor sessions after school. It is a social norm for families to not see each other due to long working hours yet, in the western world family time is viewed as almost more important than education.

Although some choose to pay to send their child the independent, private institutions in the UK and America. Most send their children to state schools. Yet, in South Korea it is uncommon for a child to not attend some form of private education. It s evident that South Korean parents want what is best for their children and they go to great extends for their children to achieve this.

Something I admired from the documentary was the respect teachers had in South Korea. There was a statue of a man who had said that the king and teachers are equal, something you would never hear in the western world. Instead teachers are paid low wages, are disrespected by students, often frowned upon by society and yet are under enormous amounts of pressure and work hard! It is a real honour to become a teacher in South Korea due to the high status and job security yet ambitions to become teachers in the UK are not quite to the same level.

It seems as though the South Korean education system does have its flaws yet times are changing. They are encouraging students to be more creative from a younger age and have introduced sport into schools. Following by the western example of allowing children to be more free. But, the South Koreans seem to have ambition that puts the rest of the world to shame. Perhaps this is something we need to drill into our children a little more.

The documentary can be found below:

 

A step in the right direction

Once again Finland have made a step in the right direction in terms of the way they educate their children.

They have announced that they are scrapping traditional school subjects and instead focusing on one topic and bringing subjects into the topic. Children will no longer sit row by row in desks but rather will have discussions together in groups.

I have always praised the Scandinavian/Nordic education system and I feel this new move takes it from strength to strength.

Well done Finland!

Have a read of the article below:

https://brightside.me/wonder-curiosities/finland-will-become-the-first-country-in-the-world-to-get-rid-of-all-school-subjects-259910/

£100

Every parent is different. Some choose to entertain their children through the use of the tablet/iPad, whilst the more traditional parents prefer for their children to play with toys.

I pose you a question. If you were given £100 to spend on your child what would you buy?

Would you splash the cash on a tablet/iPad as seen on the right of the picture or would you buy your child a wonderful array of toys, books and games, as seen on the left hand side of the picture?14993540_907361479395172_1113230518912753778_n.jpg

Audi Espana

It’s nice to see such a large, global company tackling gender stereotypes in their newest advert. Enjoy!

Learning from pictures in infancy

Today I  was fortunate enough to attend a lecture by Dr Jeanne Shinskey from Royal Holloway, University of London.

The lecture spoke mainly of Shinskey’s research into object permanence in babies and the symbolic value of pictures and objects. She spoke of how familiarity processing is more common in younger children as their speed of processing is slower than that of older children. Most research focuses on object to real life transfer however, she looked into picture to object transfer. The 7.5 month old babies were shown either a black and white picture or a coloured picture of an object. They were then shown the real life object they had seen in the picture as well as a distractor (another) object. It was noted what object the baby went to grab first. There were two conditions in this experiment. One of which where the objects were shown to the baby and then put in to two clear plastic boxes so that the baby could see both objects and the other where the objects were placed into two boxes where the child could not see the objects. Findings suggested that colour had no impact upon the babies object preference however, changes were noted in the two conditions. In the condition where the baby could see the objects in the clear boxes the babies preferred the novelty object, the object they had not seen a picture of previously. In the hidden box condition however, the babies showed a preference for the object they had seen a picture of. This is perhaps an idea that could be researched in further detail to see why this is the case. Why is it that when the babies can see they objects they prefer novelty, yet when they can’t they prefer familiarity?

Shinskey also spoke about Picture Iconicty. Something I was not familiar of before the lecture. She used the example of childrens books and whether real life pictures or cartoon picture books were more beneficial to young children under the age of 1 in terms of learning. She found that at 15 months real life pictures in child picture books lead to more learning. Furthermore, manipulative features in books actually detract away from learning. She looked at pop up vs non pop up books in particular and found that children learnt more from non pop up books than they did pop up books. Books with flaps are also a challenge and hinder word learning. For babies and young children it is difficult to touch, look AND listen which is why pop up books/flap books are a challenge for young children. A point i had never previously thought about but makes complete sense. However, does the flap effect disappear over time? Young children tend to enjoy reading and re – reading books so as time progresses are they actually learning from picture books as the flaps and pop ups almost become ignored and irrelevant. Perhaps they’re not as bad for the child as previously suggested also, getting children reading, whatever the book may be is never a bad thing!

 

Speech and Language

Yesterday I attended a guest lecture regarding speech and language development. The lecture was interesting and informative and provided me with an insight on practitioners views of a speech and language therapist. It was interesting to see how strongly practitioners felt about having speech and language therapists in preschool settings.

The lecture itself focused on the lecturers research project in which a band 5 speech and language therapist was invited to attend weekly workshops with groups of preschool children at 4 preschools in a county in the UK. She discussed the reason behind the research – the reason being that the speech and language skills in school are not quite as good as they were 2 to 3 years ago. The change has been significant and therefore something needs to be done before it is too late. The target was therefore on preschool children that were about to begin school. The idea was that if speech and language skills are improved at a young age then it’ll cost the government less in the future.

The research, like most, wasn’t without its problems. Speech and language therapists are trained in clinical settings on a one on one basis with the child. However, this research required a speech and language therapist to work with a group of preschool children, in 4 different, diverse and challenging preschool settings rather than a nice, quiet, pleasant room. Evidently, the newly qualified speech and language therapist struggled greatly and quit the research project within a month, delaying the speech and language intervention process. There was also poor parental response, commitment and engagement from parents which made the study challenging. However, there a ways this could be improved. Social media is very prominent in today’s society. Although I am still very much on the fence about the idea of children using technology I am all for parents getting involved in the online community. The internet is a great way to share and view ideas and educate yourself. Facebook, in particular, is a very popular site. Why not post videos on a secured, private Facebook page for adults to view whilst their flicking through their timeline in the evening, or private message them, post on their wall reminding them to attend a meeting tomorrow. Alternatively, send them a text. Most adults (and adolescents) are glued to their phones 24/7. Hold meeting straight after schools or school events so that parents are already at school and don’t have the chance to run away. What I am trying to say is that there are ways to overcome parental disengagement.

However, one of the possibilities for the lack of parental support of the speech and language study was due to the stigma surrounding speech and language therapists. Many parents are under the assumption that speech and language therapists are only for children who have definite problems. However, in the case of this study the focus was on ALL preschool children. Not just those with problems. There are a lack of speech and language therapists in the UK which leads to them being in high demand, but, the results of this study show the importance of having speech and language therapists for ALL children. The results were incredibly positive. All the children in all the 4 preschools showed improved language ability by the end of the study after having weekly sessions in a group environment with the therapist. If we are serious about targeting speech and language problems from a young age then group speech and language sessions within preschool settings seems to be the way forward. Perhaps a consideration of how speech and language therapists are trained also needs to be taken into account. For example, they should be trained in dealing with children in groups situations as well as in different environments such as churches where the acoustics are different to everyday life, or outside or simply within a classroom setting.

It is evident that something needs to be done sooner rather than later in order to prevent more speech and language problems in the future. The question is however when will these changes take place and when will the Government listen to expert research that shows something extraordinary.

Lets make a fish climb a tree

I stumbled across a video that broadcasts the issues of the American/British education system. I couldn’t have put it any better myself. So, let’t not judge a fish on it’s ability to climb a tree. Enjoy.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dqTTojTija8