Another dot in the blogosphere?

Posts Tagged ‘comments

I poke and prod some quotes from various stakeholders of PSLE2021. Links to source material of the quotes are in the headers.

Quote 1

Currently, the T-score (short for transformed score) reflects how well a student did in relation to others in the cohort — using a mathematical formula. A student may have got high marks for a subject, but would receive a lower T-score if most of his peers performed better than him.

This encapsulates the main issue with the current PSLE. It is a sorting model based on bell curve or normal distribution.

There is nothing wrong about making the assumption of normal distribution for a large population. What is doubtful is if a cohort of Primary 6 students is representative of that population.

Quote 2

MOE said the changes are part of a larger shift to nurture well-rounded individuals and move away from an over-emphasis on academic results. They will reduce fine differentiation of students – a key complaint of the current scoring system; reflect a student’s level of achievement regardless of how his peers have done; and encourage families to choose schools based on their suitability for the child’s learning needs, talents and interests.

This quote ticks all the right boxes, but we need to read in between the lines.

Student achievement as measured by standards or criteria instead of comparison with other students in the sample is a good move. I wonder if we have studied the USA’s implementation of Common Core and its testing regimes.

The kickback there is how testing has affected curriculum, restricted teaching, influenced teacher appraisals, and increased stress levels of stakeholders. The only ones that seem to have benefitted from the programme are test companies.

As for the desired change in parental mindsets, read one example in the quote below.

Quote 3

This was also an issue raised by Jean Lim, a former teacher with more than 30 years’ experience. “In the past, if a student scored 75, we could tell parents that their child scored an A, and there were happy. But now, if they score an AL4, which is still considered an A in the old system, they will not be happy, because an AL4 just doesn’t sound as nice,” she said.

The message that the focus will be on the learner and learning will fall on deaf ears if PSLE2021 comes across as only about changes in scoring and school selection.

The current PSLE regime has created a cultural monster that feeds on kiasu-ism and is fueled by enrichment tuition for competition. Numbers like T-scores, aggregates, and cut-off points are the well-understood rules.

We wait with bated breath on what MOE and schools will do to deal with these. If they take action, we do not need more dialogues on what PSLE2021 means. We can read and think. We need MOE and schools to listen and reflect first.

Quote 4

Time needed for parents to change mindset of chasing ‘good schools’

This was an awful title for a forum letter. It is not just time that will change mindsets, as if the influence is somehow automatic. It will take a lot of concerted effort.

There was a plan for the original PSLE in 1960. It changed over time, but it was people that communicated, forced policies through, and implemented the regime. Once enculturated, the PSLE took a life of its own when schools and parents responded to the increased stakes and competition with hot-housing and tuition.

Better than the headline was conclusion of the letter:

The greatest change that this new system is supposed to elicit is a mindset change. With the clock ticking away from now until 2021, more things can be done by schools and the Education Ministry to alleviate the fear and uncertainty that parents feel, to help them have more confidence in the new system.

Quote 5

It depends on what is best for her, not what the best school is,” said Ms Ho. “Ultimately, you want your child to grow up to be a good person with good character, good morals and if you’re always focusing on the academics, you will miss out on other things.

If I was facilitating a change management effort, this quote would be an integral part of the visioning process. Change agents need to visualise what they want to achieve otherwise they will be running blindly.

We need need more parents with this perspective. MOE needs more parents with this perspective.

There already are some who have this mindset. How many are there? What is MOE going to do take advantage of this?

I am being realistic, not blindly optimistic, about the changes in and around PSLE2021. It is piecemeal change, not systemic change. It is evolutionary change, not revolutionary change. It is not enough. More thoughts on this in Part 6 tomorrow.

Yesterday I rambled on why too much of a good thing is bad. Today I reflect on why too little of a good thing is also bad.

42/365 - feeling low by jypsygen, on Flickr
Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.0 Generic License   by  jypsygen 

Unlike mine, Steve Wheeler’s blog is always a quality read. That is why it is one of my must-have RSS feeds.

Using RSS is a bit old school. So is taking the trouble to comment on a blog entry.

Wheeler recently shared the number of views and comments his top five blog entries of 2014 generated.

I calculated the percentage of commenters over viewers to illustrate how rarely people bother to comment or reply.

  • No. 1: Learning first, technology second, 22 comments, 8602 views (0.26% comments)
  • No. 2: Flipping the teacher, 16 comments, 6082 views (0.26% comments)
  • No. 3: Education, schooling and the digital age, 07 comments, 5872 views (0.12% comments)
  • No. 4: Watch and learn, 00 comments, 5688 views (0% comments)
  • No. 5: Vygotsky, Piaget and YouTube, 20 comments, 5586 views (0.36% comments)

Perhaps a decade ago, an edublogger might be fortunate to get one out of a hundred readers to say something. Now an edublogger with a large following might settle for one in a thousand.

A few caveats to the numbers.

  • The number of comments might include Wheeler’s own replies, so the number of commenters might actually be lower.
  • The low percentages are also exacerbated by the high number of views. If the top post garnered 860 views (one-tenth of the actual readership), the percentage would shoot up to 2.6%.
  • Comments and conversations on the blog entries on other channels (Twitter, Facebook, email, etc.) might not have been included.

This illustration is with just one anecdotal case. But I think I have selected a good example of the phenomenon I am highlighting.

This is not a slight on Wheeler not drawing comments because most edubloggers do not write specifically for views or comments. They share because they care.

This is about readers and lurkers who do not give back by critiquing ideas. This is about taking ideas and running away with them without saying thank you. This is about a culture of mute consumerism.

Too little of good things like online civility, connections, and content co-creation are bad. So here is another thought: How well do cyber “wellness” programmes address that?

One of the things we discussed briefly at #edsg this week was an aspect of information literacy — crap detection.

There are many different forms of online crap: Misinformation, email scams, URL bait, troll artefacts, and sadly, so much more.

It does not help that supposedly reputable sources like STonline take liberties with research conducted by others and put their own spin on it.

It helps to have a critical mindset when consuming online resources, but the bowels that produce this crap are disguising the nature of what they drop at our feet.

Example 1
I recently discovered something that looked authentic. It was a well-written blog comment.


Most spam blog comments are poorly written or even incoherent. What set off a small alarm was that the comment was to a blog entry I wrote over six years ago!

I decided to WHOIS this person and check out the supplied URL. The first led to a dead end and the second led to commercial site that had nothing to do with the subject matter.

Example 2
While I was drafting this blog entry, I received an email that was sent through my Contact form. I am not yet sure if this was spam or not.

Like the blog comment, it was well written. It was an invitation to me to operate as a freelance writer on educational technology.

I investigated the email address and tried Googling for the company. I also checked the IP address the person used.

I could not find anything online about the company and the IP address (if not spoofed by VPN) was from StarHub, Singapore. If I wanted to, I could use the WHOIS information and ask the ISP to pursue the matter.

When I replied by email, I received this error message: Delivery to the following recipient failed permanently. The person who filled in the form could have made a genuine mistake. Or this could be the work of a troll.

I tweeted and blogged to reach out to this person just in case. I have not received a reply so far.

Spammers and trolls evolve. So must crap detection methods.

Such methods begin and end with human processes, not technological ones. Processes like thinking critically, pattern recognition, systematic investigation, and making judgement calls.

Adults struggle with these processes and kids will be no different. But adults can draw from greater experiences or might be more likely to transfer skills from one context to another.

Kids do not have the benefit of experience especially if they are irrationally restricted from using social media tools. They may not have the thinking or transfer skills because adults do not prioritize or teach them.

If you agree with the crappy way we deal with the issue of kids with social media, what are you going to do about it?

Click to see all the nominees!

QR code

Get a mobile QR code app to figure out what this means!

My tweets


Usage policy

%d bloggers like this: