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Exploring questions about education in the context of sustainable development.
Curated by Shaz J
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New Mumbai: A comment on the value of education

During the Indian Civil War, the Dharavi slums of Mumbai were flooded with refugees looking to escape the conflict.

 

Bioengineered mushrooms were stolen from Amsterdam, failed to be transformed into narcotics, turned up in Mumbai's Dharavi slum which had a high concentration of highly-educated refugees, including an expert in plant genetics, and resulted in mushrooms being used to light and heat the slums and develop a micro-economy.

Other than being a comment on the very specific circumstances that produced this phenomenon, the video is beautiful and highlights just how hard it is to put a price on education. 

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Terry Elliott's comment, July 26, 2012 2:45 PM
It is not so farfetched given the incredible amount of practical science being born all over Africa right now.
Shaz J's comment, July 26, 2012 11:17 PM
No, but still awesome!
Terry Elliott's comment, July 27, 2012 5:03 AM
High awesome!
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Noam Chomsky – The Purpose of Education

Few months old, yes, but I've just come back to it with fresh eyes.

 

"The person who wins the Nobel Prize in biology is not the one who read the most journal articles, it's the one who knew what to look for. Cultivating that capacity to seek what's significant always will answer the question of whether you're on the right track. That's what education is meant to be about."

 Good Ol' Noam's thoughts on education are indisputably valuable, and as we seek to extend education to all and improve it, we need to keep in mind what we consider to be a success, and how to acheive (and measure!) that.

 

In relation to development, he makes a great case:

 

"If there isn't a lively cultural and educational system which is geared towards encouraging creative exploration, independence of thought, willingness to cross frontiers and to challenge accept beliefs and so on, you're not going to get the technology that can lead to economic gains."

 

Intuitively I wholeheartedly agree. On the other hand, this makes me wonder: what about Japan? They pushed for education and reaped the benefits, though their education system is not reknowned for "encouraging creative exploration". On the contrary, Japanese students have earned the reputation of being afraid to make mistakes.

 

Perhaps the distinction would be in technology vs. technology that will fundamentally change our way of life? 

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Shaz J's comment, July 26, 2012 1:18 AM
I learnt about this phenomenon from the Curating Our Digital Lives hangout. I blame Joe :P
Terry Elliott's comment, July 26, 2012 2:54 AM
Now I can blame him too because I laughed so hard when I googled it that I think my eyes bled a little bit. Mercy.
KevinHodgson's comment, July 26, 2012 4:10 AM
I really like this line: "Curation heightens that capacity to seek what's significant." That captures a lot of what I am thinking, too.
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Open Source Ecology

Open Source Ecology | EdDev | Scoop.it

Open Source Ecology is a project creating the industrial machines needed for a sustainable modern life, from farming to circuitry, in open-source and low-cost format.

 

Initially preparing for post-scarcity in a Midwestern US setting, there could be much broader applications right now. Namely, the costs are but a fraction of what they'd be otherwise, and the internet community which inevitably arises out of open-source (and a good Communications department!) fosters dialogue and collaborative learning. There's also the general attitude of experimenting and most importantly: allowing mistakes to be made and learning from them.

 

That doesn't generally sit well with donors with tighter budgets looking for evidence-based approaches and tangible results.

 

However, the open-source movement can bring ideas to those who maybe have a little more wiggle-room. Open-source is about pooling creative energies and work, maximizing the possibilities for innovation. It is, generally, dependent on internet access. But edtech is increasingly bringing these ideas into the field of education, and combining that spirit with development projects can be very powerful indeed. 

With power, as always, comes ethics - experimentation is always part gamble, part risk, and it's easier to risk the design of an operating system than the design of the tools that will ultimately help feed your family. Treading carefully, this could be great. 

 

[Thanks to Terry Elliot]

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The Relationship Between Poverty and Educational Opportunities (Guest Post by Alejandrina Franco)

The Relationship Between Poverty and Educational Opportunities (Guest Post by Alejandrina Franco) | EdDev | Scoop.it

" There was a time when hard work and intelligence was rewarded. But today it seems as if those things don’t matter anymore. I had to turn down a great opportunity, an opportunity I rightfully earned, because I could not afford it. I had done everything on my part to deserve this opportunity and no one was willing to meet me halfway by helping me pay for it." 

 

A potent reminder that poverty can be crippling, and why the two developments must go hand in hand.

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Invest in education: Amartya Sen - The Times of India

Invest in education: Amartya Sen - The Times of India | EdDev | Scoop.it

"Amartya Sen [...] said it was massive investment in education in the select East Asian nations that not only led to their emergence on the international map, but also helped in the formation of their identity as East Asian giants."

 

Does it really take a Nobel laureate to tell us so? Though the MDG for primary education are getting there, we can push this trend further.

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Learning a Living: The Lumiar schools, Sao Paolo, Brazil | Innovation Unit

Learning a Living: The Lumiar schools, Sao Paolo, Brazil | Innovation Unit | EdDev | Scoop.it

"Amongst other things, Semler believes in a decentralised, participatory business style in which employees are trusted to exercise freedom and autonomy, setting their own working hours and even their own salaries."

 

This concept has now been applied to 3 primary schools in São Paulo. Note, though, that there is a strong focus on communication and collaboration. The move towards autonomy is highly encouraging with enormously positive results:

 

"And what of the learning design? Learning happens everywhere here." 


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Shaz J's comment, July 21, 2012 2:33 AM
I see a positive trend moving towards learner autonomy, with nothing but positive results. I hope to help this continue and blossom!
Terry Elliott's comment, July 21, 2012 3:06 AM
Thanks, Shaz. I think that collecting positive examples of 'new institutional technologies' is worthwhile. And I like the metaphor of the gardener that is implied although there are some things gardeners do in reality that teachers might not want to do--pruning and deadheading for example ;-)
Shaz J's comment, July 21, 2012 3:09 AM
Absolutely! :P The gardener metaphor can also be extended to those setting up the educational institutions, and how much governments and important actors are willing to invest financially and mentally: you reap what you sow.
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The Uphill Battle to Scale an Innovative Antipoverty Approach | NewAmerica.net

The Uphill Battle to Scale an Innovative Antipoverty Approach | NewAmerica.net | EdDev | Scoop.it

Botoom line: Give individuals the control of their goals, and they will acheive them. 

So how do we let educators and those above them relinquish control? And how do we encourage kids to have healthy goals? 

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Harnessing religion to improve education in Africa

Harnessing religion to improve education in Africa | EdDev | Scoop.it

It's all about drawing the line - religious values you agree with vs. gender equity in school and the classroom, but equally, who decides?

Underlying - also about the reaction to the times! Advertisement that could almost pass for porn, etc.

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Waiting for Superman in Lahore: do poor people need private schools? Guest post by Justin Sandefur

Waiting for Superman in Lahore: do poor people need private schools? Guest post by Justin Sandefur | EdDev | Scoop.it

Today's topic on Duncan Green's FP2P is the private vs. public school debate in development. Sandefur's argument is for privatization of education, because public schooling "is not translating into learning", it's cheaper and produces better results. 

 

I am looking forward to having a bit more knowledge about this long-running debate in order to be able to frame it better. However, what does stand out is his criticism of the validity of the MDGs: cattle-herding students into schools "...is not an end in and of itself. And the push for universal primary school enrollment has been an abject failure in terms of what really matters — learning." Hence his sarcasm as he presents "the following challenging reading passage from Kenya’s public school curriculum", which only half of Kenyan 3rd graders can read.

 

A statement that is striking and worrying  - but also emotional. I wish Sandefur had delved a little deeper. He largely ignores the why's of the story to pursue his argument, only condemning the frequent teacher absences. Looking at the Uwezo article (http://bit.ly/OFycrJ), a lot of students can't see the board properly. When I was teaching in Tanzania, the issue was also that students weren't getting any food and their stomach was occupying more attention than their mind. 

 

Echoing a Kenyan commenter: "I wish the debate would center on how to improve our public schools. We get enough funding and were it not for corruption and poor planning, our public schools would still be a force to reckon with."


Bottom line: you gotta keep things in perspective.

 

Tomorrow's response should prove interesting!

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Geeks for good

Geeks for good | EdDev | Scoop.it
IN THE summer of 2010, a team of self-confessed “socially conscious nerds” came together to create TechChange, a start-up to further the use technology for development.

 

This is an excellent example of the benefits of keeping an open mind on EdDev; educating for what is current, making it relevant, and bridging gaps between North and South. TechChange took what they were good at, based the idea on sound theoretical frameworks, filled a niche and evaluated and tweaked it as they went along. And they've got a stellar Advisory Board.

 

One point that keeps coming back and needs to be more deeply ingrained in the public psyche: "We like to say that tech is only about 10%. It can't really do anything without the right human intent and contextual considerations."

 

At a course price of ~$400, it is aimed at development professionals. Presumably they would then go on to use what they've learnt effectively. I am seeing more and more of this "responsible individual" model, but perhaps that is just because I've only started looking.

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Terry Elliott's comment, July 22, 2012 6:57 AM
I loved Joseph Owuondo's comment after the article: I am Joseph and i am amongst the first team TechVChange trained in Kenya. Now am in the US and still i train community organizations on the technologies they trained me in. I am honoured to be part of the team.

I know next to nada about Eddev and its models, but it seems to me that "bread in the water' model is a profound. The good we do reverberates forever AND in doing so, it comes back to us. The US could truly be the richest country in the world if we would only give from our defense budget to our friends worldwide. That would do more to stabilize our world economy than any amount of wrangling in the EC.
Shaz J's comment, July 22, 2012 7:47 AM
What you send out into the world will always come back to you, in one way or another. And once you really understand that, that's when the magic happens, imho.

The US does give a lot of international aid (for instance, about 50% of the international AIDS investments are American), it's just peanuts compared to the defence budget, unfortunately. It's largely a question of management of funds: is the money used effectively, both abroad and at home? What about decreasing the inequality of opportunity? You're right - a lot would be solved if we/they focused a little more on compassion and giving, as opposed to consuming and keeping.

What is the "bread in the water" model?

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A Rising Tide: The Invisible Grassroots “Movement” for Children |

A Rising Tide: The Invisible Grassroots “Movement” for Children | | EdDev | Scoop.it

"Both scholarly literature and policy papers told us at the time that the extended family – the traditional source of support for African children without parental care – was the primary safety net of care for children infected and affected by HIV." 

 Building on tradition, Community-Based Organizations are assisting and supporting children, especially for their psychosocial wellbeing. This can provide another audience to reach children for education, especially about HIV. Are there any good examples of transforming a safety net into a torch lighting the way?

I feel this is something that advocates have been doing for a long time, educating parents and key actors in the communities at large. My gut tells me though that people don't realizing this enough. Is this just my impression?

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Terry Elliott's comment, July 22, 2012 6:59 AM
Maybe instead of a torch maybe we should extend the net metaphor. Let us learn to connect more nets and to send better messages/vibes down those nets.
Shaz J's comment, July 22, 2012 7:39 AM
Yes, that would make more sense! Except that the child/student should become a _part_ of the net(work), as opposed to being caught by it.
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Developing ICT Skills in African Teachers | A World Bank Blog on ICT use in Education

Developing ICT Skills in African Teachers | A World Bank Blog on ICT use in Education | EdDev | Scoop.it

Seems the international community is learning from the public mistakes with One Laptop Per Child in Peru, and developing teacher training pertinent to ICT. 

This is all great and flashy stuff, but as highlighted by commenter Reem Omar, "we have to be very careful when using ICT in education not to put it at the center of education." 

None of the proposed recommendations are explicit about the effects on students. "Develop a national policy for pedagogial integration of ICT" is a very broad brushstroke; I am curious to see if it will develop into fostering reflective and critical thinking for the students, or just teaching them to touch-type.

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Terry Elliott's comment, July 21, 2012 4:35 AM
I love how you brought the commenter into your curation. And the bookending of reflection/critical thinking with touchtyping is very apt.
Terry Elliott's comment, July 21, 2012 4:36 AM
I think you should 'feature' this post for awhile.
Shaz J's comment, July 21, 2012 5:40 AM
Thanks Terry. There's a big kerfuffle about it at the moment, and we really are on the brink of making great changes - let's just hope that those who do do it right.
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A Place To Heal For Children In A Natural Way

An extraordinary concept I've only heard of in Germany - a farm for kids, run by kids. Supervised, but given complete freedom. It's magical. 

 

The link to international development? Not explicit, I'll grant you that. But the link with empowerement and autonomy resulting in very valuable lessons is undeniably part of the development discourse.

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Shaz J's comment, July 21, 2012 5:43 AM
I would even suggest that the idea extends to all learning.

I think that the housing unit these kids built and their system of ownership and collaboration is a fantastic example or what is possible under encouraging conditions.
Terry Elliott's comment, July 21, 2012 6:18 AM
It reminds me of the principle I try to abide by in my classrooms: remove fear. That is an ongoing task. It doesn't mean to ignore it or deny it, but rather to move through it and past it. Your use of 'encouraging conditions' made me think of that.
Shaz J's comment, July 21, 2012 7:08 AM
Fear is a big one, I heartily agree. With any learner regardless of age, for learning to happen there needs to be a safe space. Naturally with these farms there are adults present, but they're very much in the background watching - not really "supervising" or "managing", if you see what I mean.
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Path to a New Africa (SSIR)

Path to a New Africa (SSIR) | EdDev | Scoop.it

To change Africa’s future, we must change the mindset of young Africans in college today.

 

They will be the leaders.

 

The _ethical_ leaders. This is student motivation at it's best: find the niche, highlight what is needed and marketable, educate, give room for creativity and innovation, and hold people responsible. 

Looking forward to this being contagious. The question is always where will the funding and support come from, especially with unis now having their budgets sliced.  

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The Generalized Hawthorne Effect

The Generalized Hawthorne Effect | EdDev | Scoop.it

Article refers to business; I extrapolate liberally.

 

" Or to put it another way, given the same set of laborers, the management model that involves paying more attention will do better. Within limits, the model itself does not matter."

 

All roads lead to mindful teaching, and ed management. If the attention isn't focused where it would do good, where are the eyes that matter? On the money? 

 

"Good toolmakers intuitively understand the generalized Hawthorne Effect, and realize that minimalist tools are the safest." 

 

Maybe on the processes.

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Terry Elliott's comment, July 21, 2012 3:15 AM
Venkatesh Rao is one of my intellectual heroes. When his big bell rings, mine sympathetically resonates. I am reading Tempo right now and here is a quote that really has me thinking hard, "Work is simply whatever we must do to get from one decisionto the next."
Shaz J's comment, July 21, 2012 3:33 AM
It's all about our own perceptions shape our reality(-ies). Reminds me of the discussion about curation as gruntwork.
Terry Elliott's comment, July 21, 2012 4:33 AM
"Gruntwork" has a good vibe to me. It feels like the word 'foundation'--indispensable and necessary. Just posted some initial thoughts on P2PU you might want to see: http://tinyurl.com/bwyr6um