02 5 / 2012

"It is investment on a breathtaking scale, but most of it will not matter. Here is why: Most of this investment is for commoditized technology in the service of the classroom. Squandering strategic investment in improved classrooms fundamentally disadvantages those colleges that are most in need of change. Here is how to rewrite Nicholas Carr’s message for higher education: “You are making a strategic investment in a commodity that will soon be freely available to everyone. Worse, you are using it to automate a business model that will soon be irrelevant.”"

26 4 / 2012


TED-Ed’s New Video Tool Allows Anyone To Create Video Lessons Online 
TED-Ed’s new free platform allows anyone to “flip” any video on YouTube by adding custom content to play alongside it, making it possible to turn any piece of video content into a teachable moment.

Read more->

Not sure yet how I would use this but it’s cool.


TED-Ed’s New Video Tool Allows Anyone To Create Video Lessons Online

TED-Ed’s new free platform allows anyone to “flip” any video on YouTube by adding custom content to play alongside it, making it possible to turn any piece of video content into a teachable moment.

Read more->

Not sure yet how I would use this but it’s cool.

24 4 / 2012

Newsweek just released its list of the 13 Most Useless Majors. It’s based on US data but I’m guessing the whole world will follow roughly the same trend pretty soon. The majors are:

Fine Arts

Drama and Theatre Arts

Film, Video and Photographic Arts

Commercial Art and Graphic Design


Philosophy and Religious Studies

English Literature and Language


Anthropology and Archaeology

Hospitality Management



Political Science and Government

We in Singapore can probably imagine the Fine Arts, Drama and Theatre, Anthropology and Philosophy to be a waste of time. But Architecture?! I don’t know what’s causing unemployment in that sector in America but it’s something to look out for.

More importantly, the careers mentioned here, and probably a bunch not mentioned, are about to be impacted by an enormous paradigm shift. Russell Buckley’s article, worth reading in full, provides us a clue.

My full thoughts here.

15 3 / 2012


Dear Sir:

I like words. I like fat buttery words, such as ooze, turpitude, glutinous, toady. I like solemn, angular, creaky words, such as straitlaced, cantankerous, pecunious, valedictory. I like spurious, black-is-white words, such as mortician, liquidate, tonsorial, demi-monde. I like suave “V” words, such as Svengali, svelte, bravura, verve. I like crunchy, brittle, crackly words, such as splinter, grapple, jostle, crusty. I like sullen, crabbed, scowling words, such as skulk, glower, scabby, churl. I like Oh-Heavens, my-gracious, land’s-sake words, such as tricksy, tucker, genteel, horrid. I like elegant, flowery words, such as estivate, peregrinate, elysium, halcyon. I like wormy, squirmy, mealy words, such as crawl, blubber, squeal, drip. I like sniggly, chuckling words, such as cowlick, gurgle, bubble and burp.

I like the word screenwriter better than copywriter, so I decided to quit my job in a New York advertising agency and try my luck in Hollywood, but before taking the plunge I went to Europe for a year of study, contemplation and horsing around.

I have just returned and I still like words.

May I have a few with you?

Robert Pirosh
385 Madison Avenue
Room 610
New York
Eldorado 5-6024


My new favorite job application letter, from 1934. He ended up winning an Oscar for screenwriting!

(via Letters of Note)

(Source: megangreenwell)

15 3 / 2012

From a letter dated 14 Mar 2012:

My daughter’s class has been consistently retained during recess because the boys were too noisy. The usually well-behaved girls often wonder why they were punished, too.

I spoke with the teacher, who said he was trying to instill teamwork, such that when one person misbehaves, everyone has to suffer.

Besides affecting the children’s moral compass, this creates poor eating habits, as they must gobble up their food before the bell rings.

My son, who likes to draw in between classes, often has his paper crushed by his teacher who disapproves of it. These forms of power play on children by angry, impatient teachers are, to me, a modern form of child abuse.

I hope this is but an abnormality. No one should be victimized like this. When people are oppressed in this manner without recourse, without any way to fight back, they learn helplessness. For the rest of their lives, they become… timid, passive and resigned.

It’s terribly frightful to know it exists even in our supposedly world class schooling system. Terribly frightful.

15 2 / 2012

Authoritative parents are both demanding and controlling, but they are also warm and receptive to their children’s needs…they have established rules and also listen to their children’s opinions about those rules. Children of authoritative parents tend to be self-reliant, self-controlled, and…

15 2 / 2012


Education was historically considered a great equalizer in American society, capable of lifting less advantaged children and improving their chances for success as adults. But a body of recently published scholarship suggests that the achievement gap between rich and poor children is widening, a development that threatens to dilute education’s leveling effects.

It is a well-known fact that children from affluent families tend to do better in school. Yet the income divide has received far less attention from policy makers and government officials than gaps in student accomplishment by race.

Now, in analyses of long-term data published in recent months, researchers are finding that while the achievement gap between white and black students has narrowed significantly over the past few decades, the gap between rich and poor students has grown substantially during the same period.

» via The New York Times (Subscription may be required for some content)

09 2 / 2012

Several [ITE] students… asked if opportunities for them to upgrade after graduating could be expanded.

Mr Wong said he understood their aspirations but not everyone would be able to pursue a diploma at a polytechnic immediately after obtaining their Higher NITEC.

This was due to limited places at local polytechnics and employers’ demand for ITE graduates. "If everyone can move up, we will not have enough ITE graduates out there in the workforce," he said.

"At the end, it’s the number of places we can provide … I don’t think we’ll be able to satisfy everyone, frankly," he said.

From Today: “Further education hot topic at ITE dialogue”. Emphasis mine.

I’m sorry, but, Mr Wong’s words are completely illogical. Worse, it sounds offensive. It sounds like people are intentionally being kept less educated in order to meet some quota in the economy for ITE graduates.

We have always been asking for talent. We have always been encouraging people to “skill-up”, “upgrade”, improve themselves, pick up new skills, become creative, etc. Mr Wong’s statement directly contradicts the government and the nation’s message to students and workers.

Furthermore, education isn’t just about jobs. Let me be clear on this. It definitely is partly about jobs and employment, but it is far more than that. If ITE students, and indeed, any other student and non-student, prove themselves intelligent and capable enough, why should we intentionally prevent them from progressing in their intellectual and vocational pursuits? Shouldn’t we encourage and aid them by expanding places in the tertiary institutes?

If ITE students (and other people) improve their skills, acquire new skills and forge new creative talent, then they will contribute to the economy much better than before, and employers will want to hire them. This will add value to the economy, which will in turn increase our GDP and per capita income. This will also add to the vibrancy of the nation’s technological and creative landscape if these students hone their skills to perfection in these fields.

ITE students, don’t listen to Mr Wong. You guys are doing great learning useful and beautiful skills. If you want to enter a tertiary institute, you definitely can if you work at it.

02 2 / 2012


The crucial new idea is that there are two different neural and psychological systems that interact to turn children into adults. Over the past two centuries, and even more over the past generation, the developmental timing of these two systems has changed. That, in turn, has profoundly changed adolescence and produced new kinds of adolescent woe. The big question for anyone who deals with young people today is how we can go about bringing these cogs of the teenage mind into sync once again.

This might be a more important question for the future than we think. When children reach puberty earlier and adulthood later the number of people behaving in a way we used to ascribe to teenagers increase dramatically we are increasingly living in a world where those who shape it are behaving like teenagers… Can this effect have even more impact than e g an aging Western society will? Meaning more teenage logic??

02 2 / 2012

Jennie Magiera talks about how she used tablets in her classroom teaching:

I had seen them as a supplement to my pre-existing curriculum, trying to fit them into the structure of what I’d always done. This was the wrong approach: To truly change how my classroom worked, I needed a technology-based redefinition of my practice.

A summary of what she began to do right:

I moved away from content apps, such as Rocket Math or Math Ninja, which are very engaging but only address a handful of standards. Once a student has mastered the relevant standard(s), such apps only serve as practice—and the data I can collect from them is limited.

Instead, I focused on student-creation apps. Moving beyond replacing paper math games with flashy math apps, students are now creating their own math videos, writing math blogs, and conducting challenge-based-learning math projects.

I used online student surveys and audio/visual apps such as Toontastic to allow my students to voice their emotions, curiosities, and academic goals in private.

To redefine assessment and differentiation, I employed websites such as Google Docs and Edmodo to create a faster feedback loop. These sites utilize color coding, instantaneous feedback, and automatic student grouping to allow me to immediately analyze data. I can enact same-day differentiation—no need to spend an evening reviewing paper-and-pencil exit tickets.

She’s on the right track! I especially love using Google Docs with my students. The instant feedback is absolutely marvellous. I don’t know why teachers and schools don’t use it more often.

My student would be typing at the other side of the table on his computer and I would correcting him on the same document on my computer. He can see what I highlight, what I colour-code and what comments I make, and I can show him different versions of how to say something better. All, instantly.

Jennie Magiera gets it right. I hope Singaporean schools do too. It’s painful when I see my students being forced to purchase laptops in school and hardly ever use them at all for learning. One student only uses his laptop for school about once per term. The rest of the time, he’s Facebooking with friends. The cost and waste is extraordinary.

It’s not just waste to us. In all seriousness, the rare earth metals and other minerals used to make computers are probably mined under terrible and exploitative conditions. There are severe human and environmental costs to the purchase of electronics too.

Anyway, more power to Jennie Magiera!