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Myriad ways to learn times tables | Letters

Ven, 23/02/2018 - 17:31
Readers share their diverse – and occasionally incomprehensible – methods for learning your times tables

As a retired teacher I was staggered to hear about the cumbersome methods of learning times tables still in use (Letters, 19 February). I taught them to seven- and eight-year-olds by regarding them as factors and multiples (9, 7 are the factors, 63 the multiple). Starting with smaller numbers, I would ask the children to think of the factors of, say, 8 – ie 2, 4, 8 and 1, as well as practising pairing them: 4 x 2, 8 x 1. Moving to larger numbers as the children achieved fluency such as 18 (6, 3, 9, 2, 18, 1) then 24 (6, 4, 8, 3, 12, 2, 24, 1) etc, until 48 became 8, 6, 4, 2, 12, 24, 1, and all the way to 8 x 12 = 96, the children became as familiar with them as knowing that a cat has four legs.

When more complex maths is tackled, later, it is a huge help when, for example, 56 is confidently known to have the factors 8, 7, 4, 2, 14, 28, 56 rather than it seeming a figure with no meaning at all.
Margaret Davis
London

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Categorías: Educación, Universidade

Blackshirts, Beakers and boiling shellfish | Brief letters

Ven, 23/02/2018 - 17:31
CasaPound and Steve Pound MP | Lobsters and mussels | Beaker people and Cheddar Man | School mnemonics | The new LGBTQI+?

I really am very grateful indeed for the long read on the Italian blackshirt movement (22 February) that slithers around the CasaPound in Rome as it will enable me to refute those who, when I am visiting the Vatican, suggest that I may have some sympathy with the foul creed of fascism, when this Pound is actually an obscure politician from London whose sympathies arc far more towards Gramsci than to Mussolini. I cannot speak for my far distant relative Ezra, but then no one could.
Steve Pound MP
Labour, Ealing North

• Is the suffering of a lobster any more important than that of a mussel, and if not, do I have to electrocute every single one prior to making my moules marinière (Letters, 22 February)?
Ian Dowding
Herstmonceux, East Sussex

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Categorías: Educación, Universidade

Don’t knock kids for rereading books. Encourage them to read, full stop | Andrew McCallum

Ven, 23/02/2018 - 14:19
A report that claims returning to old favourites such as Jeff Kinney stalls ‘progress’ misunderstands what reading is about

I get as frustrated as the next parent when my children appear unable to move on to reading pastures new. Dav Pilkey’s Captain Underpants books are hugely entertaining but surely there’s no reason to read the complete collection, volumes 1-12, for the seventh time?

Related: Progress in reading stalls at secondary school. It should be a priority

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Categorías: Educación, Universidade

As a gay teacher, I want to be the role model I never had

Ven, 23/02/2018 - 08:30

Celebrating LGBT History Month with my students has shown me how schools can drive long-term change for equality

When I was a teenager, no one in my school was openly gay. I felt isolated and hid my true identity. Students said “that’s so gay” without a moment’s thought, and without consequence. I don’t remember ever discussing LGBT+ topics, except in a lesson about STDs.

It was my experiences at school that fuelled my decision to become a teacher. LGBT+ young people still often struggle during their teenage years. Last year’s School Report from Stonewall and Cambridge University showed that some progress has been made since my school days. But the report highlights that almost half of all LGBT pupils face bullying and “frequently” hear homophobic, biphobic or transphobic slurs. More than two in five trans young people have tried to take their life.

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Categorías: Educación, Universidade

Working in a UK university is starting to feel like working for a business

Ven, 23/02/2018 - 08:30

When I moved from a European university I was shocked to discover a rule-bound system that devalues academic experience

I am a scholar with several full professorships from different countries and extensive experience in teaching and research. I like working with others and have been fortunate to have collaborated with talented colleagues. When I landed a good job at a top UK university I was naive enough to think it might have been for one of these reasons.

Imagine my surprise when I learned that none of my experience would be needed for the job. I didn’t even need my doctorate for most tasks. No use was made of my research skills, nor of my explicit interest in mentoring early career researchers.

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Categorías: Educación, Universidade

West Virginia teachers stage walkout over wages and benefits

Xov, 22/02/2018 - 21:45

The teachers are the 48th lowest paid in the US, and many make less than $15 an hour after deducting for healthcare, union leaders say

“We gotta keep the blood moving,” said union leader Kim Martin as she revved up a picket line of 50 teachers dancing in the freezing rain to Michael Jackson’s Don’t Stop Til You Get Enough.

Teachers in West Virginia, who are the 48th lowest paid in the nation, quit school for a two-day illegal wildcat strike on Thursday, the first time they have taken such action since 1990.

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Categorías: Educación, Universidade

The Guardian view on the lecturers’ strike: a deficit in thinking | Editorial

Xov, 22/02/2018 - 19:35
It is no surprise to find that universities which act and think like big businesses end up in a needless confrontation with labour

The most serious strike disruption to higher education in the history of British universities began on Thursday. Up and down the country academics downed chalk and picketed their lecture halls over a badly handled pensions dispute. More than a million students at 64 universities will be affected. The strikes could extend into the summer, jeopardising students’ final year exams. Like passengers of a grounded airline, students are demanding a refund for the disruption. They may well be successful in exerting their consumer rights: universities last year began paying out for poor services.

The lecturers, and support staff, are striking over a move to change their pensions from defined-benefit schemes to defined-contribution schemes. The former offers the security of a fixed-sum payment whereas the latter is a payout which depends on the performance of underlying investments. The lecturers’ union claims that the changes will leave a typical academic almost £10,000 a year worse off in retirement. This seems a very high price to pay, especially considering that teaching staff salaries have declined in real terms since the financial crisis. In response the universities say they are dealing with a £6bn pension deficit, which if left would mean cuts to spending on teaching, research and jobs. It’s clear that both sides need to return to talks, but that the mindset of universities may prevent that.

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Categorías: Educación, Universidade

Giving guns to teachers? That's an army we don't need – or want | Ross Barkan

Xov, 22/02/2018 - 18:25

Trump wants to arm 20% of teachers to address school shootings. But why should teachers be armed combatants?

Before I fell into journalism and writing, I taught in classrooms. In college, I studied to be an English teacher, and I was a substitute teacher in New York City. It was a gratifying experience that came just before the most recent wave of horrific school shootings, including Sandy Hook and Parkland.

Teachers don’t ask for much. They want to be paid enough money so they don’t have to work a second job at Macy’s to earn a living wage. They want to be respected by their administrators and their students. They want enough resources, like books and school supplies, to actually be able to teach.

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Categorías: Educación, Universidade

Starling flyover is poetry in motion | Brief letters

Xov, 22/02/2018 - 18:25
Geographical mnemonics | Harvest home | Somerset murmuration | Steve Bell cartoon

My father’s “party piece” was to recite the names of the rivers of Ireland and India (Remember this: Sheffield United never win at Chelsea, Letters, 22 February). At the age of 99, he would take a deep breath and begin: “Shannon, Bann, Lee, Blackwater, Liffey, Legge…”. We never did catch the rhythm of the Indian names.
Wendy Joslin
Trowbridge, Wiltshire

• Or the order of the North American Great Lakes remembered, thanks to my geography teacher, by “Stanley Matthews has easy opposition”. Oh dear, am I really that old?
Richard Daugherty
Swansea

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Categorías: Educación, Universidade

University lecturers begin strike action over pensions

Xov, 22/02/2018 - 17:55

University and College Union claims good turnout on picket lines despite freezing weather

University bosses are under mounting pressure from the government to return to talks to try to end sweeping strike action by staff that brought widespread disruption to campuses across the UK.

As tens of thousands of lecturers and other staff staged a mass walkout on Thursday in protest against changes to their pensions, the government intervened to try to bring the two sides back to the negotiating table.

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Categorías: Educación, Universidade

UK university staff strike over pension changes – live

Xov, 22/02/2018 - 17:15

Follow our live coverage as teaching staff begin industrial action over pension changes they say will leave them £10,000 a year worse off in retirement

4.15pm GMT

We’re bring this liveblog to a close for the day, but do continue to contribute via GuardianWitness and please contact our journalists to bring any further issues to our attention. Thanks for tuning in!

4.14pm GMT

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Categorías: Educación, Universidade

The solution to university pensions? Better fund managers | Anthony Hesketh

Xov, 22/02/2018 - 15:05

The USS fund is not in the dire state vice-chancellors claim. A different strategy could save staff thousands of pounds

Never have university pensions been so firmly in the media spotlight as this week. But why are the changes to the universities superannuation scheme (USS) so controversial? Views diverge wildly: vice-chancellors and their representatives say future pensions are unsustainable, while staff see a strongly performing scheme. With an estimated cost of £200,000 to the average member of staff over their retirement at stake, something had to give.

Pensions are complex. To try to understand them, we need to go back to basics. Defined benefit pensions involve employees agreeing a monthly contribution with their employer. The employer matches it at an agreed rate, with the pension at retirement guaranteed – or defined. Both contributions are folded into the pension fund, with some covering the costs of current pensioners and the rest invested to secure returns, keeping track with rising prices. In theory, the fund’s boat should be lifted with rising economic tides.

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Categorías: Educación, Universidade

Exercise is more precious than ever. So let’s stop scaring kids off PE | Anna Kessel

Xov, 22/02/2018 - 14:08

Cutting PE lessons to boost exam results is madness – especially as we now know physical activity aids academic performance

When I was growing up I routinely bunked PE lessons. I saw PE as optional – it was on the timetable, but no one seemed to care if you didn’t attend. PE was for sporty kids anyway, and I wasn’t one of them.

Times have changed. We now know so much more about the value of physical activity – for physical and mental wellbeing, to promote positive body image in women and girls, to help people with depression, to engender a healthy lifestyle from an early age, to sharpen concentration and academic performance, and even to tackle the gender pay gap (research shows that women who play sport are more likely to enjoy high-flying careers).

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Categorías: Educación, Universidade

Disadvantaged children need a break – not a system stacked against them | Frances Ryan

Xov, 22/02/2018 - 09:00
Education should be the way out of poverty to a better life, but ministers are making it the preserve of the wealthy

“It’s like giving some people a head start in a race and it’s your job to catch up,” says 13-year-old Kian in Generation Gifted. This month’s BBC’s series tracking social mobility through the lives of six teenagers presented an honest, at times painful insight into the barriers facing low-income pupils.

Several had disabled siblings or parents and had to get by on benefits. Some were in temporary accommodation waiting for social housing, and others in cramped bedrooms without enough room to study. In one particularly moving scene, Anne-Marie – who dreams of going to university to become a criminologist – paused as she Googled the cost of tuition fees. Her mum had thought a degree would cost around £500.

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Categorías: Educación, Universidade

I’m striking with university colleagues as our pensions are being destroyed | Vicky Blake

Xov, 22/02/2018 - 08:00
Staff are already struggling with poor working conditions. Now our employers’ plans will lead to zero security in old age

I will be striking alongside thousands of colleagues at universities across the UK today. Unless Universities UK, which represents university employers, comes back to the negotiating table, we will be on strike for 14 days over a four-week period.

Related: University strikes could hit exams and graduation ceremonies

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Categorías: Educación, Universidade

DfE's plans to convert schools to academies stalled in many areas – report

Xov, 22/02/2018 - 01:01

Failure to check academy leaders are fit for the job and a lack of sponsors are stumbling blocks

Plans to convert schools to academies have cost an estimated £745m so far but have stalled in many regions because of a lack of sponsors, Whitehall’s spending watchdog has warned.

The National Audit Office has found that the Department for Education has hit a number of problems in the programme, including a failure to check that all academy leaders are “fit and proper” as the number of academies has grown to almost 7,000 this year.

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Categorías: Educación, Universidade

Progress in reading stalls at secondary school. It should be a priority

Xov, 22/02/2018 - 01:00

Teenagers are falling below the expected reading level for their age – but good literacy is a key building block for all learning

In his first major interview since being appointed education secretary, Damian Hinds set out his vision for the future schools. Raising school standards, teacher retention and school budgets are rightly top of his to-do list. But a new report has uncovered another challenge brewing in our classrooms.

We have a persistent problem encouraging secondary school pupils to read challenging and age-appropriate books. The tenth annual What Kids Are Reading Report, which analysed the reading habits of almost one million school pupils from 4,364 schools that use the Accelerated Reader assessment programme, found that this is true across Britain and Ireland.

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Categorías: Educación, Universidade

Universities strike blamed on vote by Oxbridge colleges

Mér, 21/02/2018 - 21:03

Move to cut pension scheme risk attributed to wealthiest institutions’ role in Universities UK survey

The higher education strike affecting an estimated 1 million students this week may have been provoked by hardline positions taken by some of the UK’s wealthiest universities, according to academics fighting against pensions cuts.

Oxford and Cambridge universities and several of their colleges have backed policies resulting in the harsh cuts to pensions prompting professors at those institutions to mount efforts to overturn their support.

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Categorías: Educación, Universidade

Suicide is a sector-wide issue, says Bristol university vice-chancellor

Mér, 21/02/2018 - 20:50

Speaking for first time since seven student suicides in 18 months, Hugh Brady says social media is part of the problem

The vice-chancellor of Bristol University, where seven students have killed themselves in less than 18 months, has blamed social media and the cult of perfectionism for contributing to a global crisis in mental health among young people.

Speaking for the first time since the cluster of student suicides, Hugh Brady said Bristol was no different from any other institution in the higher education sector, which is grappling across the board with record referral rates to student counselling services.

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Categorías: Educación, Universidade

Only half of pre-school children being read to daily, UK study finds

Mér, 21/02/2018 - 19:00

Survey finds proportion of toddlers having story time fell by a fifth in five years

The proportion of toddlers being read to every day has dropped by a fifth over the last five years, according to research warning that the decline is a significant threat to child development.

The annual Understanding the Children’s Book Consumer survey from Nielsen Book Research, interviewed 1,596 parents of 0 to 13-year-olds, and 417 14 to 17-year-olds in the UK last autumn. It found that while 69% of preschool children were read to daily in 2013, that figure had dropped to just 51%.

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Categorías: Educación, Universidade