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What exactly is education?

There is an online university that is trying to entice prospective applicants with the tag line "Invest in your success". We can safely assume that education is the investment that prospective applicants are being encouraged to make to guarantee their success.

Many of us have grown up with the injunction from parents or teachers or other well-wishers that "education is the key to success". This "success" that we have been urged to seek after through education means different things to all of us but, basically, it is an improvement of our lives that is evident in us getting "good" jobs, being able to acquire the desirable material things of life, gaining status among other desirable resources.
The view of scholars
Recent posts

Should the role of children in society be revisited?

The more things change, the more they remain the same, at least for some societies. Berry Mayall, Professor of Childhood Studies at UCL's Institute of Education, writes:
'Some children saw school as something that took up their days when they could have been working. Others tolerated it, as seemingly unavoidable. Some combined school attendance with working before and after school hours. A few who were clever, saw possibilities for advancement: by going, via an exam, on to secondary school. From there they could hope for a steady job that would bring money to their family.
School days, for most children, were long and tedious; but they were taught the basics: reading and writing and arithmetic; and these were useful in later life. For once they had left school, to work in factories and fields, they could go on learning through libraries (free!) and newspapers; their political education continued. School –leavers joined unions and clubs that offered education and companionship.&…

The Magician, the Cheerleader, the Martyr and 7 others: Which one are you?

‘The man is in the coffin,’ she muttered, staring into space.

‘How do you feel today, Ms. Brown?’ the man asked.

‘The man is in the coffin,’ she replied.

‘What is your name?’ he asked.

‘The man is in the coffin,’ she repeated.

‘Ok. Can you write your name?’ he pressed her.

‘The man is in the coffin,’ she reiterated.

Six words. She was left with only six words: ‘The man is in the coffin.’

When commentators are not satisfied with the quality of the work that teachers do in the classroom and the output of the education system generally, they tend to make the mistake of presenting teachers as a homogeneous mass. 

'Teachers are not doing a good job,' they say. Or, 'teachers need to take the job of teaching more seriously than they do'. Or, 'teachers are the reason why students perform poorly in school'. The list of criticisms thrown at the teacher is long.

What these commentators fail to highlight is the fact that teachers differ in many respects. Some teachers produce either…

Teachers: 3 Powerful Lessons That You Learn From Teaching

Teachers, I know that sometimes people who do not work in the education system make you feel unappreciated after you put so much time and effort into helping your students learn as much as they can from their schooling, while you, in turn, learn much from the experience, developing your skills set. As a teacher with more than 25 years in the classroom, I understand exactly how you feel.
Dr. Paul Semendinger, an educator, understands the need that teachers have to be appreciated and he shares this understanding in an article on Edutopia titled, What makes a teacher special?
Dr. Semendinger in a previous role as principal of a school asked students and other stakeholders of his school to nominate a teacher for the award of teacher of the week, citing a reason for nominating the teacher. The students' responses clearly show the central place that teachers have in their lives.
Here are some of the reasons the students gave for nominating a teacher: the teacher is 'kind and helpf…

Teachers: 4 Tips to Help you Maintain your mental health in your teaching job

The teacher is sometimes maligned, a few times for good reasons, but most of the times the teacher is unjustly targeted because those persons who cast aspersions at the teacher and the job of teaching are not fully aware of the complexities of the job and the challenges that the teacher faces in navigating these complexities.

Having been a teacher for more than twenty five years and having taught in a number of countries, I have garnered some insights into the nature of the teacher and the job of teaching. I have shared these insights in a new book, The Teacher's Gift.

One facet of the teacher that I have explored in a number of chapters in this book is her mental health and how she can maintain her mental health, in spite of all the challenges that she has to navigate on the job. Here is one chapter of this book.

Maintaining her mental health 3 – tempering her expectations of her students
One way that the teacher maintains her mental health is by tempering her expectations of her…

Education News from Europe (England's Education in the news)

OECD basic skills report makes grim reading by Brian Creese on the UCL Institute of Education (IOE) BlogPosted on February 11, 2016
Brian Creese
After three years of deliberation, number crunching and further evidence-seeking, the OECD has published its report on the basic skills of adults in England based on the 2012 Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC) survey. It does not make for happy reading, and to save you the misery of trawling through its 110 pages, I thought you might like a brief summary. But you may want a stiff drink before you settle down and read this blog…

An estimated nine million adults of working age have low basic skills.
This is the number of working age adults OECD estimates have poor or very poor literacy and/or numeracy skills and puts England close to the bottom of the OECD rankings.

The particular concern for England is that while in other countries standards are improving, in England they are not. The performance of olde…

Improving School Leadership in Ten Easy Steps

Robert Frost, late American poet aptly said, "education is the ability to listen to almost anything without losing your temper or self-confidence".

Recently, the news media in a society that will remain unnamed reported that a male school principal was in a fight with a female student. Witnesses, however, reported that there were actually no blows thrown by the principal, in spite of his best efforts to box the student into oblivion. It was a super human effort by those who restrained the principal to keep him in check, as for a moment, he let his mask slip - the mask of being a decent, educated man, in charge of his faculties and who weilded much power - and became the man that the environment in which he grew up moulded, a base human being like many of us who does not turn the other cheek in the face of provocation.

It would seem that the student does not respect anyone or anything. She has a reputation for being unruly, foul mouthed, aggressive,  uncooperative, among the…

The Teacher's Gift - Chapter 1

Chapter 1

The Calling

The teacher’s “calling” is that driving need that she has to embark on a course of action as her life's work and that deep-seated belief or acceptance that she has about the “rightness” of that course of action on which she has embarked. And, having embarked on this course of action, the teacher feels a sense of satisfaction in tackling the demands of this course of action, in spite of the challenges.

The course of action that she feels compelled to take, to teach, is her calling. It is from this calling that she hopes to achieve her livelihood.

The teacher believes that teaching is her calling, whether by choice or by circumstance. She knows that in spite of her motivation for entering the teaching profession, she has a responsibility to her students to, among other things, help in guiding them in becoming the kinds of citizens that society, through the policies of government or through its norms and mores, expects them to be. The teacher realises that this…

What goes around comes around - Lessons about Management and Leadership from the Man in the Street

Life is a great teacher and what is certain, if we have thought about it, is that each day will bring with it a new set of lessons for us, and we do not know in what way these lessons will be packaged, who will deliver them and how they will be delivered.

What we do know is that we have the responsibility to recognise each moment that we share with others as an opportunity to learn something. This "something", we may already be familiar with, but the perspective from which it is being presented to us may be new and, we find that we are being challenged to examine this "something" in new ways.

Recently, I had the pleasure of a chance meeting with the man in the street. He is a cab driver. I needed to get to several destinations as soon as possible and he agreed to transport me to those destinations, for a fee of course.

We made our first stop at one of my target destinations, a business situated in what could be described as an industrial complex. This is a sprawli…

Quality Education Enhancement

I have a deep interest in developments in the education industry. The education industry, like all other established industries, has tried from time to time to reinvent itself. As such, we have witnessed changes in many aspects of educational enterprise. The following list is not exhaustive:

the content of curriculathe methodologies of delivering that contentthe job descriptions of teacherseducational technologiesthe widespread privatisation of education in some areasthe mode of government provisionAnd we have seen the introduction of buzz words - the need for better school governance or the need to improve governance structures, or the need for effectiveness, efficiency and economy in the management of schools, or the need to improve the educational outcomes of students. ... you know them! But, for the most part these buzzwords have remained just that - buzz words, because the education industry seems to lack enough of the human resources who are capable of providing committed vision…