Saturday, March 26, 2011

“Damn! I thought I didn’t know that!”

Going on reading “The element” of Ken Robinson, on page 53-54 (, we stop in front of these words:
[...] When Faith at last began going to school full-time, she found encouragement and excitement in her art classes. "We had art in elementary school right straight through. An excellent experience. Excellent. I distinctly recall my teachers get ting excited about some of the things that I had done and me kind of wondering Why do they think this is so good?—but I never said anything. In junior high school, the teacher did a project with us in which she wanted us to try to see it without looking. We were supposed to paint these flowers in that way. I said, 'Oh my god, I do not want her to see this, because this is really awful.' And she held it up and said, 'Now, this is really wonderful. Look at this.' "Now I know why she liked it. [...]
Like the traditional photos, with their typical negative and positive modalities, the personal perceptive and evaluative experience of Faith shows us that sometimes we can’t trust in our own skills simply because we don’t have them in mind, we are neither aware nor confident about we can really do and achieve. As we see in the case of Faith, sometimes not only we are not confident of ourselves, but, more than that, we think we perform worse than the others.
This is something like this, as if it was possible teachers hear all Faiths saying: “Damn! I thought I didn’t know that!”

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Education - a report about the current situation in Portugal

The ETUCE has received reports from its member organisations in Portugal that the government has decided not to implement some aspects of a collective agreement that was signed in 2010. Also, the government has determined to reduce teacher salaries significantly (as decided for other workers of the public sector), to decrease hours in the curriculum and to increase the number of students per class in VET courses. These measures, implying a significant degrading of teachers’ working conditions, pose a severe threat to the Portuguese education system and will hinder Portugal in reaching its commitments within the Europe 2020 Strategy. Moreover, this move has been undertaken by the government without any consultation about those issues with the teacher organisations.
While understanding the necessity to tackle the public deficit, the ETUCE emphasizes the need to respect the collective bargaining system, and stresses that the choices to be made in implementing the cuts are critical and should not put the Portuguese education system at risk.

Within this context, the ETUCE,
Having regard to the Directive 2002/14/CE from the EU Parliament and the Council of 11 March 2002 which establish a general framework for consulting employees in the European Community and invite the employers in the EU member states to consult the employees, including at a sectoral level, on any issue likely to impact on their working conditions;
- Having regard to the latest conclusions from the Council of the European Union on the role of education and training in the implementation of the Europe 2020 Strategy (14 February 2011), stressing that “Investing efficiently in high quality, modernised and reformed education and training is urgent because it will both lay the foundations for Europe's long-term prosperity and also, by providing people with more and better skills and competences, help to respond in the short term to the effects of the crisis” (5505/11, I:1)
- Having regard to the Council Conclusions on the New Skills for New Jobs Communication (COM 2008 868), underlining the necessity of investments in education and training (9 March 2009);
Having regard to the Joint Declaration from the European Social Partners in Education “Investing in the Future” (18 January 2011);

1. Urges the Portuguese government to implement the collective agreement that was signed in 2010, and to refrain from cutbacks in education;
2. Invites the Portuguese government to engage in a comprehensive and sustainable dialogue with the teachers’ organisations, in all matters concerning teachers’ working conditions and the education system as such, in order to find a collectively constructed solution to the current situation ;
3. Reiterates its full support for the Portuguese teachers and their trade union organisations FENPROF, FNE and SINDEP.
On behalf of the ETUCE,
Ronnie Smith,
Brussels, 23 February 2011

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Al Seckel says our brains are mis-wired

If the Brian is so eager on doing such tricks of perceptions of outer world, what can we expect about what he can do with our inner world?

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Damn! I thought I knew that!

I don’t know, but I like to think that the sentence “Damn! I thought I knew that!” is a kind of child, or grandchild of that one students use to answer to their moms: “Yes, mom.” when they ask the children: “Did you study for the test?”

We know, as parents and teachers that, most of the times, our children and our students are conscious that they really didn’t enough study for the test, and the final mark, in fact, is absolutely no surprise, neither for students, neither for parents; but sometimes it is really a surprise for everyone.
Some students have always been good students, always having good school marks, always preparing the tests in a satisfying manner. They also answer moms they've already enough studied. It’s why the moment teachers give them back the work with the negative evaluation is their turn to become completely stuck with the unexpected school mark. 
I really believe this kind of learning situations is relative, no matter if in a very far degree, of that one Ken Robinson tells us in the very beginning of his “The Element”:
A few years ago, I heard a wonderful story, which I'm very fond of telling. An elementary school teacher was giving a drawing class to a group of six-year-old children. At the back of the classroom sat a little girl who normally didn't pay much attention in school. In the drawing class she did. For more than twenty minutes, the girl sat with her arms curled around her paper, totally absorbed in what she was doing. The teacher found this fascinating. Eventually, she asked the girl what she was drawing. Without looking up, the girl said, 'I'm drawing a picture of God.' Surprised, the teacher said, 'But nobody knows what God looks like.' The girl said, 'They will in a minute.' I love this story because it reminds us that young children are wonderfully confident in their own imaginations. [The underline stands for our responsibility] Most of us lose this confidence as we grow up. Ask a class of first graders which of them thinks they're creative and they'll all put their hands up. Ask a group of college seniors this same question and most of them won't. I believe passionately that we are all born with tremendous natural capacities, and that we lose touch with many of them as we spend more time in the world. Ironically, one of the main reasons this happens is education. The result is that too many people never connect with their true talents and therefore don't know what they're really capable of achieving. In that sense, they don't know who they really are. in Robinson, K. and Aronica, L. (2009). The element. How finding your passion changes everything, p. xi. New York: Penguin Group.