What we’ve been reading, week 41

Happy weekend! Time to kick back and catch up on all the education and maker news you might have missed this week. So without further ado, here’s our weekly best of the web reading list.

Students pay the tab with their personal data

We have specially trained staff members who give students additional information about our sponsors while they enjoy their coffee.

This NPR story about students paying for their coffee with personal data had us spluttering into our morning cup of instant coffee. As one wag online noted, “presumably viable because the data for a rich, soon to be qualified kid is worth more than a cup of coffee. Data for someone who can’t afford coffee in the first place probably has no buyers.”

21st Century school building, 19th Century teaching style


We believe in standing at the front of the class and teaching… We do not believe in personalisation or differentiation… We believe in rows of desks and learning things by heart… We do not believe in group work – it can waste time.

That’s not from the pen of Orwell, Bradbury or Atwood, but from the ‘work for us’ webpage of a brand new free school, Mercia, which opened last month in Sheffield. Look at that list above, NONE of those things are in the remotest bit useful for the world of tomorrow and the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Rows of desks with students learning facts off by heart, by rote, is teaching from the last Industrial Age.

And it’s not just the teaching practices that worry us… ‘we believe in zero-tolerance… If you think it is mean to give a detention when a pupil doesn’t have a pen, Mercia isn’t the school for you.’

Singapore abolishes school exam rankings

‘learning is not a competition’ – Singapore Education Minister Ong Ye Kung

Meanwhile, across the other side of the world, Singapore have abolished rankings. And it seems as if the tide is ‘finally’ turning in the UK too, as…

Ofsted inspectors to stop using exam results as key mark of success

Ofsted, the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills, plans to overhaul the way it inspects schools in England, downgrading the influence of exam results.

Concentrating on exam performance “has increased the pressure on school leaders, teachers and indirectly on pupils to deliver perfect data above all else,” says Amanda Spielman, the chief inspector of schools. Well, duh!

The future of education

Last month, UK publisher Penguin launched a new series of talks entitled, er, Penguin Talks. Designed to inspire the next generation of UK readers, they kicked them off with Professor Yuval Noah Harari. The ‘21 lessons for the 21st century‘ author spoke with 350 young people together with comedian and presenter Russell Brand about the future of education and the job market.

The Penguin Talks programme aims to help equip young people for the future by introducing them to new ideas and perspectives, and broadening their understanding of issues which speakers feel to be particularly prevalent for this generation.

Another coffee

Finally, as we started with coffee, let’s end with coffee, and this Dog Bowl Coffee Roaster over at Makezine.

1 Comment

  1. From the outer reaches of the galaxy – well, OK, Scotland – we look on with bewilderment at the chaos that is school education in England.

    Fortunately for us, almost all pupils in Scotland attend publicly funded schools and there is a widespread understanding of the need for pupil-centred learning, which is provided by local authorities held to account by voters and HM Inspectorate of Schools. In addition, the Scottish Government is keen to see effective educational practice from the likes of Finland adopted here, and rates of qualification for tertiary education have never been higher.

    Perhaps your own geography could do with some brushing-up, as Ofsted’s influence is limited to part, but by no means all, of the UK. The backward-looking quote in your article could not have been issued by any educational institution in Scotland, as it is anti-education. ☹️


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