(Flotsam is our occasional series of educational ideas from other places…)
Linking this to live commentary/chat by Facebook sign-in, Karim’s experiment seeks to make the idea of MOOC’s more accessible and discursive. Taking out the loneliness factor from on-line educational consumption? He calls it ClassroomFM.
The early model streams YouTube videos from Stanford University, across a range of themes including enterprise, health, society, technology and education.
As the project develops we would like to see some form of timetable or forward view of upcoming talks, perhaps with ‘time available localised’ to your machine or device, along with other forms of sign-in rather than just Facebook perhaps.
This early iteration of the feed has some way to go to be a mature service, but offers an interesting idea that might be adopted by schools, universities and groups like IETT?
Our growing catalogue of filmed debate could be available on-line, looped continuously 24/7, and interested visitors could drop in and comment and discuss, in real time, with their peers the ideas being presented by the featured speaker. (An IETT tech development project for 2016 perhaps…Ed?)
You can see Karim speak at TED AmsterdamEducation below. It is perhaps a talk strong on chutzpah and less pronounced on reforming detail, but it is entertaining. Those who currently teach and lecture may find it challenging…
We had a small intake of breath when we read the headline for a web article, just published, about a state funded school in Orange County, Florida. They are intent on holding a STEM event only for boys.
No wonder some of the technically qualified, female parents began a petition to resist such a move. Which they did. In the U.S. Title IX states that…
‘No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance’.
(Title IX is a portion of the United States Education Amendments of 1972, Public Law No. 92‑318, 86 Stat. 235 (June 23, 1972), codified at 20 U.S.C. §§ 1681–1688, co-authored and introduced by Senator Birch Bayh; it was renamed the Patsy Mink Equal Opportunity in Education Act in 2002…Ed.)
The school have since issued statements stressing that the event was planned as a son and mother event, which still renders some parents speechless, the subject hanging, as it does, on a core branch of the curriculum tree. Stunning thinking in the twenty first century? See the original story on the pages of Jezebel.com here.
The issue of women and science education is part of an on-going debate in England too.
Saturday 21 & Sunday 22 November 2015 at the University of Nottingham – Book on-line here.
‘What is Missing in Action about? A collaboration between the Haydn Green Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship and Digital Women UK, this ‘thought space’ will allow female digital entrepreneurs, academics, creative practitioners and those interested in this field, to discuss professional challenges and concerns, share insights and learn from each other’s experiences and studies of digital entrepreneurship.
Why the title? Missing in Action reflects the fact that although female digital entrepreneurs are aspiring to start up status, or are working widely in the UK, very little is known about who they are, which communities they come from, the obstacles they face and which entrepreneurial activities they are engaged or interested in’. (Narrative source – Digital Women UK – November 2015)
Although this is a female digital entrepreneurship event, the undertow of educational neglect of women in science education is, we would argue, a clear current for discussion.
Oxford economist, Max Roser, has tested the nature of structural income inequality in England and found the arguments as to ‘inevitability’ and ‘the play of market forces’ to be wanting. In his highly detailed and closely argued article, Roser signposts other economic models, and countries, where political will and economic structures are bent to its defeat.
Roser makes some interesting and telling observations about inequality, setting his argument, as he does, across a broad swathe of economic data, by time and country.
England is interesting in that income data, defined by social group, or set out in ‘social tables’, goes back a long way. Flawed, is the Roser argument, citing the lack of scientific discipline in Gregory King’s Social Table for 1688.
However, Roser cites Milanovic, Lindert and Williamson (2008) who have graphed longitudinal data in pre-industrial societies, using the Gini Index to measure ‘inequality’ and GDP per capita to measure ‘prosperity’.
This longitudinal view of inequality, by Roser, incisively demonstrates that it is political and institutional structures which enforce inequality. It is not, he argues, the market or efficiencies of capital which promote inequality as a mechanism for distribution of income. We quote his summation at length…
‘A lesson that that we can take away from this empirical research is that political forces at work on the national level are possibly important for how incomes are distributed. If there was a universal trend towards more inequality it would be in line with the notion that inequality is determined by global market forces and technological progress where it is very hard (or for other reasons undesirable) to change the forces that lead to higher inequality. Inequality would then be inevitable. The reality of different inequality trends within countries suggests that the institutional and political framework in different countries play a role in shaping inequality of incomes‘. (Roser, 2015)
In his well illustrated and closely argued article, Roser compares and contrasts the data for non-English speaking European countries and Japan. All examined countries reached fairly low levels of income inequality in the 1970’s, with significant increases in inequality returning after that decade. With the exception of Japan, where socio-political institutions press for equality in a way that is not available in the Euro-economic matrix.
‘…we can see the correlation between increases in the income share of the top 1% and the decrease of the marginal income tax rate since 1960. The graph confirms the hypothesis that in general as tax rates decrease, the income share of the most wealthy citizens increases. The US and the UK are both extreme examples of this happening. France, Germany, Finland, Netherlands and Switzerland all contradict this trend. While the marginal income tax rate on the most wealthy has decreased, the government has implemented other means to decrease income inequality‘. (Roser, 2015)
Ths is economic analysis of a high order, which does not set out to find an answer to a pre-conceived position, rather it uses diverse, broadly sourced data across long time spans to argue for a new mode of thought, to diminish the corruscating effects of inequality.
We are most interested in educational outputs, but see how social justice outcomes and the well-being quotient of so many could also be raised by a new economic mind-set.
The Great Room at The RSA was full. Like a Calima, drawn towards the depression that is education in England, conversation and debate swept across the room.
We had assembled to hear Profesor Danny Dorling and Professor Diane Reay give their assessments of English education today, and to provide us with both data and questions of challenge in our collective pilgrimage for reform.
The short films below give you a flavour of our event and the messages delivered by our speakers…
Professor Dorling challenged his audience to imagine an education system without so much testing. His exposition included illustrations of how we value memory above problem solving and experimentation. He was delighted to see in the audience, after general questioning, that so many of us had achieved ‘A’ grades. A triumph of conformity, alas, in the Dorling assessment. The whole treatise bringing into doubt the formula that a more expensive education is a more privileged education.
Professor Reay used her allotted time to deliver a statistical analysis of the inequalities in education in our country. Highlighting the fact that in the private sector, for example, spend per pupil is 2.5 times higher than in the state sector. She also highlighted the deficiencies in access to the broad and balanced curriculum which children and young people need, along with a strong section in her presentation, on happiness and wellbeing. Often disregarded, she argued, in any assessment of educational utlilty or achievement.
Whether for learners or teaching staff, levels of distress and dissatisfaction have never been higher, Professor Reay argued. Much was also made of the increasingly low level of professional autonomy afforded teachers in England now.
This was a well attended IETT event, with very high quality engagement and telling analysis from our speakers. This prompted some very lively discussion across the room, as well as new networking and professional acquaintance for many visitors to our conference. Ed.
Robert Lindberg is a Swedish writer and speaker, who is currently working in England, developing his theories of personal development, better and more meaningful human contact and perceptions of the sustainable society.
Robert, in a recent talk, declared ‘…it is time to be smart – to be humane is to be smart‘. This chimed strongly with discussions we have been recently engaged in about the quality of discourse regarding society, the individual and, of course, the role that education plays in the formation of these key edifices of civic and personal interaction.
Robert’s web pages offer some simple, elegant and very nicely built examples of his thinking. They are beautifully illustrated, concise and offer the viewer a great way to start a conversation about the key themes of his thesis.
We particularly liked his short opus on Collaboration – Healthy Productivity…
The Linbergian argument, in this case, is supported by the research and writings of Alfie Kohn, whose early book No Contest – the Case Against Competitionstill well illustrates how becoming locked into competitive, anti-equality modes of thought can stifle the creativity, the potential and life chances of children and young people.
Robert generously publishes his film work under a Creative Commons license, and we think they can be perfect as a teaching/discussion tool. Kick starting a session to provoke reflection, analysis and clear thinking on a variety of thematic issues.
‘This fully rewritten and updated edition revisits Dorling’s claim that Beveridge’s five social evils are being replaced by five new tenets of injustice: elitism is efficient; exclusion is necessary; prejudice is natural; greed is good and despair is inevitable. By showing these beliefs are unfounded, Dorling offers hope of a more equal society’.
He helped create the website www.worldmapper.org which shows who has most and least in the world, working with Mark Newman, Anna Barford, Ben Wheeler, John Pritchard, Graham Allsopp and Benjamin Hennig.
Professor Dorling was a speaker at our recent RSA conference, The Future of Education in England. Watch this space for an event review and films of our speakers and their contribution to a lively debate and thoughtful deliberation on educational reform.
Remember to visit our Monographia page to see interesting papers and reports which are attuned to our movements aims. Join the debate.
‘From our inception, we realised this will be a many-to-many effort—involving many talented experts at the core of the Institute collaborating with many talented participants in the movement itself…from deep understanding about the science of learning to design thinking skills, from fueling the movement to building compelling digital tools that spark imagination’.
What the XQ Super School project can do is offer some simple and effective road maps and sound structural examples for delivery of projects like IETT.
We are just beginning our journey of levelling inequality in education in the UK, but the steps needed to make challenge and change effective can, arguably, be drawn from models in other educational locations and cultures.
Thus, with XQ, there are four key steps to their development agenda/competition…
Team Up – ‘Assemble your team and head off into the unknown’. With an open mind and focus on the proposed project outcomes, then a wide variety of voices can be heard and included in the work.
Discover – ‘Start by understanding young people’. A wonderful, people first, philosophy. Deploying knowledge, research and experience that so often gets buried in the political agenda or mainstream educational currency.
Design ‘…take what you’ve learned and use it to come up with audacious, unconventional, unconstrained ideas…’. Made us feel positively dizzy in the IETT office today!
Develop – ‘Map out a formidable plan for turning your…idea into reality’. From human capital, to governance, to implementation capacity – a good plan is sound thinking for any project or agenda.
Inequality in Education (IETT) has a focus on education, as you would expect. Inequality and its consequences stretch across a range of life experiences and outcomes for individuals, including education of course.
Looking through our archive recently, we came across the slides used by Tim Stacey of the Equality Trust in a recent talk he gave, which nicely encapsulates and offers insights into the evidence base for the pursuit of equality in society.
As we travel the country taking our campaign forward we often see a great book, one quarter read, abandoned on the coffee table. Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century (Trans. Arthur Goldhammer).
A master work of economic analysis, which retuns Marxian thought to the high table of discourse, we would argue, but which the average reader might fail to pursue to the end, due to its length and complexity.
Piketty’s framing propositions were developed, it can be argued, in an an earlier paper authored with Emmanuel Saez, in 1995. The Economics of Inequality is a much shorter work than his later magnum opus. (National Bureau of Economic Research, Working Paper 8467. U.S., September 2001)
Recently published as a ‘new’ book by Harvard University Press,The Economics of Inequality (Amazon.co.uk) at 160 pages or so, is a much more digestible read than Capital. It has some newly updated content and tables, although the data used to deliver argument in this new work stops in the mid-nineties of course. (Harvard University Press; July 2015)
In a recent New York Times book review, Inequality as it was viewed in the 90’s, the review article argues that Piketty has achieved something of a volte-face on the 1%, and their limiting effect on the economic distribution of wealth and resources.
…the most important contribution of “Capital in the Twenty-First Century” was precisely its suggestion that since then a rising share of after-tax profits in national income has indeed set us on the path back to a rentier society, in which the rich live off inherited wealth’.
The article expounds further that Piketty’s Capital‘…made a disturbing case that we are well on the way to re-establishing “patrimonial capitalism,” a society dominated by oligarchs who inherit their wealth’.
The weakness in this earlier paper, The Economics of Inequality, the reviewer argues, is that Piketty declares, in his original research with Saez, that ”…progressive taxation seems to have prevented a return to 19th-century rentier society”. We disagree. This shorter paper is still a key piece of analysis on an emerging understanding of inequality even with an anti-rentier argument, with all its concomitant impact on economics, education, property and law.
A better critique, we would argue, is that Piketty has spent another two decades researching and thinking about his core propositions and has tempered his analytical ‘oratory’ accordingly with the publication of Capital.
Do open or download Piketty’s original paper from this page and see if you agree. The paper has some interesting historical analysis on the rise of I.T. professions and their effect on wages. (Even though contemporary analysis would now hold that this view is a ‘paperless office’ proposition, which technology also failed to achieve -Ed ).