The Case for Investing in the African Continent

Projected economic growth for the African continent is enormous. It calls for investing in education, production, healthcare, and infrastructure NOW. Are you investing?


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Recruiting high-achieving students to elite universities

From Education Dive:


Dive Brief:

  • Harvard University has announced a campaign to encourage low-income students to apply to Harvard and other elite schools.
  • The Harvard College Connection initiative will feature a new website, social media and video to spread the word about financial aid options.
  • The university plans to hire additional staff for the operation, which will formally launch this fall.

Dive Insight:

Harvard gives the following statistic: About a third of high-achieving high school seniors from the bottom quarter of America’s income distribution attend a selective college, compared with 78% of those from the top quarter. Harvard hopes to change that statistic and says that research shows text messages and Facebook can help encourage students to attend college. The school says the initiative is meant to raise enrollment of low-income students not just at Harvard, but at other schools, too.

I think it’s a great idea; I just hope they all get the social support needed to fully enjoy the university and thrive in the jobmarket and among alumni thereafter.

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On Reading

Neil Gaiman gave a thoughtful lecture (Why our future depends on libraries, reading and daydreaming) for the Reading Agency on October 14th on the value of reading and libraries. It is worth reading the full text, but below are some of his key ideas.

He highlights two uses of novels:

1. They are a gateway to other kinds of reading. They also teach us words and how to communicate and comprehend.

2. They teach us empathy and give us a sense of other possibilities.

Novels render one part of the literate society we want, and it may be the gateway for fostering an appreciation for reading. And we who believe in the value of literacy have obligations. They include:

1. to read for pleasure in public and private

2. to support libraries

3. to read aloud to our children

4. to use our language effectively

5. to write true things that tell us who we are

6. to know that writing for children is important

7. to daydream

8. to make things beautiful

9. to vote against those who do not value reading


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Devaluation of Teaching and Learning

This is a very thoughtful piece about the past, present and future of teachers, students, teaching and learning. It implores us to understand the need and role of teachers. Ultimately, teachers serve as “helper[s] in a journey to discovery and experience…” They guide. Students work hard and expect rigor. They imagine, explore, and operate within the ethical lines we define.
It left me trying to imagine how best to take it to scale.



In the current debate about the future of education a radical position is increasingly popular: teachers and teaching are obsolete, a part of a decrepit model of education. According to this, the teacher organising learning – and any representative of what George Steiner called “the aristocracy of intellect” – is an old model that must be replaced with a revolutionary no-teacher model. It is implied – or directly expressed – that only students have the inherent power to organise learning and teaching better. “Youth” must be left to lead the revolution where learning and teaching are ‘flipped’ to fall in their hands. Technological innovation is always used – along with other valid arguments leading to same wrong conclusions – as a clear body of proof that teachers are not needed anymore and students, from primary school to higher education, need just to be left alone to organise their own…

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Teaching Certification and University for Refugees

Ginanne Brownell reports in The New York Times about an educational initiative for the largest refugee camp complex in the world. She writes about the coming of universities to Dadaab refugee camps:

A pilot program has been developed that aims to offer 400 students in the Dadaab camps a chance, over the next few years, to earn accredited diplomas in teaching and also a chance to earn university degrees in subjects including community health, development, business and natural sciences.

Providing more and higher education possibilities gives people a way forward, helping prevent intense recruitment to extremist groups. I hope this is successful.

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An Educational Disruption

In Turning Education Upside Down, Tina Rosenberg describes “flipped” classrooms:

Teachers record video lessons, which students watch on their smartphones, home computers or at lunch in the school’s tech lab. In class, they do projects, exercises or lab experiments in small groups while the teacher circulates.

This is a compelling approach with seemingly good results (see article for specifics).

As teacher, I appreciate the time it gives students to do “hands-on” work, do labs, create group projects, enact plays and simulations, and engage in a range of activities in class. They have more chances to get one-on-one attention from teachers. I also love the idea that students can re-view a video over and over again until they understand a concept. I am left with a question about when students read lengthy texts. Is this kind of additional homework “acceptable” in a flipped classroom?

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Resource for US College and University Applicants

Senior Year application timeline at College Apps.

It’s October. You should be doing this:


  • Take the SAT, SAT Subject exams, and/or ACT as appropriate.
  • Continue to research schools to narrow your list to roughly 6 – 8 schools.
  • Take advantage of college fairs and virtual tours.
  • Complete your applications if you are applying early decision or early action.
  • Research financial aid and scholarships. Do your parents’ places of employment offer college scholarships for employee children?
  • Get your college essay in shape. Get feedback on your writing from a guidance counselor and a teacher.
  • Request your high school transcript and check it for accuracy.
  • Keep track of all application components and deadlines: applications, test scores, letters of recommendation, and financial aid materials. An incomplete application will ruin your chances for admission.
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Refresh your mathematical knowledge

For those interested in being guided toward filling gaps in their mathematical knowledge, try the new learning experience found in Khan Academy. It now offers a pre-test for math and a set of exercises to help fill in the missing pieces. Learners can still jump to topics where they know they need help (i.e. to finish a homework set).

The learning experience includes a dashboard, where students can track concepts that are being learned as well as which have been mastered.

Very cool tool!

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Studying Psychology Requires Many Disciplines

As Psychology turns more toward using computer-based technologies to understand human thinking, Annette Karmiloff-Smith argues that students and researchers cannot forget the humanity involved. This includes the intuition of the researcher as well as that of the one whose brain is studied. The Human Psychology opinion piece can be found in Times Higher Education.



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Sir Ken Robinson Talks about Education

Sir Ken Robinson outlines 3 principles crucial for the human mind to flourish: diversity (diverse learning environments and subjects), creativity, and curiosity. As he describes these principles, he carefully outlines how the American education system and culture counteracts student learning.

Great talk!


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