Another dot in the blogosphere?

Posts Tagged ‘quotes

When I find a juicy quote like this, I do at least three things:

  1. Try to verify that is was actually said and why.
  2. Find out more about the person who said it.
  3. Create an image quote of it.

Edison's electric light did not come about from the continuous improvement of candles. ~ Oren Harari

A quick search revealed Oren Harari to be a business and management professor. The context of the quote seems to be that of encouraging startups to think and act differently.

The quote seems to have made its way into educational circles as thought leaders seek to challenge outdated teaching practices or correct misplaced notions of “innovative” teaching.

I would have liked to have reused the candle bulbs image, but it was not CC-licensed. So I found an alternative.
 

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.

Today I start guiding leaders who are seeking to embrace educational technology as part of organisational change efforts.

As I dug my archives and prepared new material, I found a common meta message in three artefacts.

The first was a CC-licensed image.
 

 
Most people can rationalise why they need change, but very few will actually get involved in driving the change. This was why I wrote about the differences between buy-in and ownership yesterday.

The second was an image quote I made for a keynote in April.

The hardest part of learning something new is not embracing new ideas, but letting go of old ones.

The quote provides some insight into why there is inertia. Systems have baggage that is historical, emotional, political, etc. People also cannot be loaded with more things to do; some things have to be collectively let go. While systemic change is not a zero-sum game, there must be some balance.

The third was a serendipitous tweet.

The third artefact adds to the message of the second. We have to identify inefficient and ineffective processes, and label them as they are. This is like the preliminary process of a garage sale where you decide what to keep and what to toss. We have to be cruel in the short term in order to be kind in the long run.

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Inspired by a Twitter conversation, I decided to create this image quote.

If your plan is for one year plant rice.  If your plan is for ten years plant trees.  If your plan is for one hundred years educate children. -- Confucius

This was my source for the quote. The original CC-licensed photo below was the source of the background image.
 

Don't say

Earlier this week I mentioned to two people that I think that “lifelong learning” is often misused.

What some people mean by that phrase is actually continuous training (which is linked to compliance) and skills upgrading (which is linked to productivity). Both of these are more like schooling.

If we are honest about it, we do not learn very much from school. Try to remember what you learnt in school or what you really use now that you picked up from school. Not much.

You learnt much more outside of the confines of school or school-like environments. If we are to truly learn over a lifetime, it is to self-actualise and to educate ourselves. It is not to be schooled.

School did not teach me to state and share the CC photo with which I created this image quote. I learnt about CC after graduate school and taught myself to do this.

Neil deGrasse Tyson might have lost some credibility for tweeting a false claim and facing this scientific backlash.

He is certainly as expert in astrophysics. But he should not have ventured into biology.

When students cheat on exams it’s because our school system values grades more than students value learning. -- Neil deGrasse Tyson

That said, he is still a smart man. His observation about why students cheat during exams is spot on.

I do not cheat with images and attribute this CC-licensed image for my image quote.

I never found the companion that was so companionable as solitude. -- Thoreau
 
I like taking public transport because I can read and work on the train or bus. The journeys give me a limited time to do something focused.

Unfortunately, no matter how efficient public transport might get, it suffers from one unavoidable flaw. It is public and often attracts the loud and boorish.

That is why I think that one of the best modern inventions is noise-cancelling headphones. These marvels of human ingenuity are expensive, but they help create “companionable solitude” by some measure. That peace amid the din is what enables me to think and work.

This simple image quote is courtesy of this photo shared under Creative Commons (CC).
 

 
Note: I am not endorsing the brand of headphones in the photo. The image was the best one I could find under CC. I use a different brand anyway.


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