Posts Tagged ‘i-Pad’

Pitting Private vs Public Schools is Bad for Education

February 22, 2012

The fallout of the Gonski Report into educational spending has resulted in the typically predictable bashing of private schools. There is a misguided notion that by funding private schools, Governments are robbing the needs of struggling public schools.

This is simply not the case.

I stand by my remarks from last year:

The continued debate between private and public school funding tires me out. I am a big believer of a well-funded (i.e. wisely funded) public school sector as well as a thriving private school sector. There is no reason why parents can’t be given choice and why supporting private schools must come at the expense of quality public education.

This is where the “Moneyball” analogy fits in.

Moneyball is the true story of Oakland A’s GM Billy Beane. Oakland is severely restricted due to the lowest salary constraints in baseball. Winning means beating teams with much better infrastructure and player payment capacities. Billy is presented with the unenviable task of finding a winning team with the miniscule budget offered. Together with a Harvard economics major, a system is devised that uses statistical data to analyse and value players they pick for the team.

Public schools need to take the same approach. Just like the big baseball teams of the time, plenty of money is spent on public schools, but much of it is wasted money. I look at education in a very traditional way. Whilst it is ideal to have the best sporting fields, technologies and building designs, none of these ingredients has been proven to be essential for teaching and learning the curriculum. The school across the road may be able to give each child their own i-Pad, but that shouldn’t explain a marked difference in maths, science or english results. A teacher should be able to deliver on the curriculum with or without such devices.

Whilst many get worked up when Governments subsidise private schools, there is a good reason why they do it.

1. It takes billions off the budget bottom line. This saves Governments money, resulting in reduced taxes and smaller class sizes in public schools.

2. It allows private schools to lower their fees. This is crucial for parents who are by no means wealthy, but are prepared to scrimp and save (and sometimes take on multiple jobs and a second mortgage) to get their children into private schools. These people should be commended. They work long hours, weekends, give up overseas travel and big screen TV’s, just to give their kids the best education possible. Government subsidies allow that to happen.

In Australia, the Government gives $13,000 to every public school per student. Private schools get $5,000. Factor in to the equation that many private schools are not elite schools with truck loads of money and resources (I work in such a private school, where I earn considerably less than a public school teacher), and you realise that the subsidy shouldn’t detract from a thriving public education system.

By constantly drawing attention to private schools, we risk bringing the private school system down to the public level. What we should be doing instead is trying to get the public school system improved to the level where it gives its private school equivalent a run for its money. That way, you have a private school that sets the bar for top quality education and a public school system that is structured to be able to go toe-to-toe with them based on prudent spending, good decision-making and a workforce of supported and fairly paid teachers.

The New App that Gets Kids To Do Their Chores

October 29, 2011

Even the best parents and teachers struggle to get kids doing menial tasks on a consistent basis.  From making their beds to putting their lunchboxs back in their bag, it’s amazing how difficult it is to get children to be responsible for small yet important tasks.

That is, until an app was designed to assist desperate and exhausted parents:

You may find this shocking, but getting my 11- and 9-year-olds to do household chores is like pulling teeth. Rotten kids!

That may change now that I’ve got You Rules Chores on my iPhone. This clever new app turns household chores into a game, rewarding each kid a designated number of coins for each completed job. Whoever finishes the week’s chores first is the winner. (Of course, we all know who the real winners are: mom and dad.)

The app features cute graphics and music, and after a parent gets set up as the “referee,” each kid gets to choose an avatar (from only six available, alas).

Steve Jobs’ Education Legacy

October 7, 2011

Condolences to the Jobs family on the untimely death of a good, decent person who made a telling contribution to innovation and society.  Amongst his crowning achievements, it must be noted, that Jobs leaves a distinct legacy in the education sector:

The death of Apple founder Steve Jobs is an education story as well as a business story.

Among the Jobs tributes flooding the Internet Wednesday night was this from the parent of an autistic child. Although the son does not talk, the parent wrote, he uses Apple’s iPad to communicate.

“Thank you Steve Jobs for helping my son,” the parent wrote on CNN’s iReport site. “You have given us hope we thought we would never have.”

The parent summed up Jobs’ impact on the son very simply: “Steve Jobs saved my son.”

 Jobs’ influence on education is likely to increase after his death. School districts in Florida and elsewhere are turning to the iPad to both engage students and replace textbooks — keeping them more up-to-date at a lower cost.

State Rep. Jeff Brandes, a Pinellas County Republican, believes the devices have the potential to significantly reduce the cost of educating children as less money is available in the state budget.

My daughter has been enriched and engaged by the great variety of educational apps.  I would have loved to learn to read with the tools she has at her disposal.

Thank you Steve!

Kids Adapt to Technology While Adults Watch in Amazement

June 2, 2011

At a time when parents are often criticised for being over-protective and not exposing their kids to taking on challenges, it is amazing to see how quickly young children adapt to new technologies.  The apprehension and indecision that adults have is non-existent.   These kids often make the remarkable transition from inhibited and anxious to confident risk takers as soon as the i-Pad comes out.

Take this revealing clip as a two-and-a-half  year old is presented with an i-Pad for the very first time.  Watch how confidently she navigates the product and how quickly she learns to use its programs and features.

This shows us what kids are capable of, not only when it comes to technology, but in other spheres at all.  When engaged and stimulated, when they enjoy what they are doing, their behaviour becomes more positive and more inclined to take responsible risks.

The challenge of educators is to spend less time protecting students from making mistakes and disappointment, and more time investigating ways to educate through fun and engaging activities.  Confidence does not come about from someone protecting you or holding your hand through a challenge.

Confidence comes about when the challenge is enticing and the outcome is genuinely fulfilling.

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