Blaming the Teacher

There is a disturbing trend that is growing. Perhaps it is the absence of proper formation in high schools. Perhaps it is the increased media saturation on television and mobile devices. Perhaps it is a byproduct of the soundbite culture and a loss of the ability to pay attention or pay respect. Any one of these things (and I suspect many others left unmentioned) could contribute to a disturbing trend among young people I’m tentatively calling “blame the teacher.” In many ways this is nothing new. Talk shows have long been riddled with children blaming their parents for their own … Continue reading

Math Class and The Importance of Numbers

Do you hate math class? Do you loathe numbers, fractions, division and multiplication, and/or the elusive “imaginary” number? I’d like to suggest that you learn to love them, or at least get along. One of the most useful skills to have, even in day to day situations, is the ability to think in and utilize numbers to your advantage. If the constant progression of humanity has left us anything at all (and it has) math is one of the most valuable of those skills. You see, numbers are important. I’ve recently been teaching my son to count (kind of) and … Continue reading

At School Too Long?

Author, Hilary Mantel, created a furor recently when she suggested girls were ready to have babies at 14. While I am in no way agreeing with her on that, it did occur to me to wonder whether we are keeping young people at school too long and not allowing them to grow up. Years ago some of us will know from our own experience, others will know from parents and grandparents that young people left school much earlier. By 14-16 they had finished with school and were out in the workforce. In some case it was even earlier than that. … Continue reading

How Much Should a Parent Help with Homework?

How much should a parent help with homework? That’s a question most parents face at some stage or another in their child’s education. Unfortunately some parents tend to take over and end up virtually doing the whole job themselves. They think they are helping. In reality they are not. Doing it for them teaches the child nothing. Often we learn best by doing it ourselves. It’s okay to show an interest or to explain if your child is not clear about what to do, but you should never take over the task and do it for them. The other danger … Continue reading

Politics, Politics, Politics

Politics in Education you say? Never! Unfortunately this is a reality. This is not (necessarily) the same thing as bureaucracy. This is not (necessarily) about teachers being bogged down with the adult equivalent of busy-work; tracking every single digit of each students progress on a variety of forms preventing the educator from doing the one thing she should be doing: teaching! This is not (necessarily) the same thing… but it is probably closer than I’d like to think about. No, I’m talking about office politics. Sometimes it gets ugly. Students, remember how I’ve written frequently about the syllabus (and I … Continue reading

10 Ways Parents Can Help Their Child’s Education

What can you do as a parent to help your child with their education? Here are ten suggestions. 1. The first and one of the most important is to read to them from the time they are born. Don’t stop once they can read for themselves. There’s still something great about being read to. It’s also a great bonding time. Some of my best conversations with my kids have come during that special time after a story. 2. Play counting games and rhymes with them as they get a little older. 3. Teach them basic things like colors, shapes and … Continue reading

The Surprise of Learning

One of the things that I always try to do on the first day of class as a teacher is make the students excited about the possibility of what the class could be and mean for the rest of the semester. I can’t count how many of my first classes with instructors only made me bored and apprehensive at the prospect of being in such a small room with such a boring person for a substantial part of half of my year. Learning really should be fun and enjoyable. As an arts person I was horrified at the prospect of … Continue reading

A Furor Over Education

In Australia there’s a bit of a furor going on at present because of a new website the government has instituted. The website has teachers outraged, as it aims to give a picture of the school and a rating of its performance when compared with other schools. Parents on the other hand, have been logging on trying to find out how their child’s school rates. The problem that concerns some people, and I admit to having some feelings about this too, is that if the school is rated below average it tends to cast a blight on that school, the … Continue reading

More Dangers of Technology

As an educator there is nothing more important to me than transmitting knowledge. The name of the game, essentially, is a transfer of information between individuals. This is not simply a one-way street as I often learn a great deal from my students. The general flow, however, is one from the teacher to the students. Anything that aids that flow is helpful… and anything that hinders it is counter-productive. Great technologies have aided that flow. The printing press enabled the creation of affordable books for the masses. These books transmitted knowledge and thus aided education. While book costs are sometimes … Continue reading

The Move to Technology

Technology is a good thing. Airplanes fly, e-mail doesn’t require a stamp, and finding information doesn’t require a trip to the library (or even the bookshelf) because of the internet and the computer. In education the move to technology has also brought many improvements and benefits to older ways of doing things (I would not have completed a masters thesis if not for the modern word processor as a typewriter would have driven me mad). There are downsides to technology though. Oftentimes digital presentation software will replace the skill of speaking (both for teacher lectures and student presentations). When I … Continue reading