Why I Teach My Children
This is my son, Brian. He is Thairish. He is half Thai, half Irish. The photo was taken on an island called Koh Mak, by the Thai-Cambodian border when he was 2. It was one of the happiest times of my life. Fiona, my daughter was just 2 weeks old. I felt so lucky to have such a lovely family and to be able to spend every minute beside them while I was working at the beach.
Like many new Dad’s I spent a lot of time imagining the brightest future my children could have and the people they will grow up to be. I don’t believe a father has a right to force his children to choose a path in life but I love to spend as much time as I can with my kids. I like to travel and live in remote places. That limits the types of schools and jobs available for my kids. I know someday they will need to leave home and explore the world but I want them to be able to live beside me, anytime they wish. I want to give them the freedom to travel anywhere without interrupting their education and work. So I have been teaching them to use technology to learn.
Brian is 11 now and has grown up using the best and latest technology. His first memory is falling into a swimming pool with my iPhone, a few weeks after it was released. Now, he wants to drop out of school and be a video game designer. He says “Daddy, why do I need to go to school when I can learn more important things at home?” I understand that I put that thought in his mind. I understand that it’s my fault he thinks like this but I have seen how technology can amplify learning.
Teaching With Blocks
When Brian was younger he became addicted to Minecraft like millions of other kids. For a few years, if he’s was not playing Minecraft he wanted to be watching Minecraft videos and tutorials on Youtube. Like millions of parents I had no idea why he loved this game so much. However, I was happy that he liked this game because I am a big fan of using blocks.
When I first visited America I was fortunate to be invited to visit the most awesome school I had ever seen. Half the classroom was taken up with a town built by the kids with wooden blocks. The kids were
Education In Thailand
Now I have 3 children, I’m living in Thailand and I’ve been doing my best to provide my children with the best education I can. In 2015 Thailand appropriated 20.6% of its budget to education (as opposed to 16% in Ireland and just 4% in the US). However, it was still ranked 47 out of 65 countries for reading according to Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA). Ireland was ranked 7th and the US 17th.
Although I have seen that the Thai education doesn’t work very well academically I have found that it helps give children a good moral foundation in life. The Thai education system was first developed by Buddhist monks and kids are taught how to be kind, disciplined soft-spoken, respectful and happy.
However, In most Thai schools, Christian or Buddhist, students are not encouraged to develop analytical and critical thinking
When we lived in northern Thailand my children went to a wonderful school that followed Waldorf education, also known as Steiner education, which is based on the educational philosophy of Rudolf Steiner, the founder of anthroposophy. Its pedagogy emphasizes the role of imagination in learning, striving to integrate holistically the intellectual, practical, and artistic development of pupils.
Steiner’s division of child development into three major stages is reflected in the schools’ approach to early childhood education, which focuses on practical, hands-on activities and creative play; to elementary education, which focuses on developing artistic expression and social capacities; and to secondary education, which focuses on developing critical reasoning and empathic understanding. The overarching goal is to develop free, morally responsible, and integrated individuals equipped with a high degree of social competence. Qualitative assessments of student work are integrated into the daily life of the classroom, with quantitative testing playing a minimal role in primary education and standardized testing usually limited to that required for college entry. Individual teachers and schools have a great deal of autonomy in determining curriculum content, teaching methodology, and governance.
My children were very happy there but our
Education In Ireland
In Ireland, when I was growing up the school curriculum was really bad – especially for
There has been some great work being developed by the Department of Education and Skills, for
The Twenty-four Statements of Learning (2015)
1. communicates effectively using a variety of means in a range of contexts in the language medium of the school (English in English-medium schools; Irish in Irish-medium schools).
2. listens, speaks, reads and writes in the second language (Irish in English-medium schools; English in Irish-medium schools) and one other language at a level of proficiency that is appropriate to her or his ability
3. creates, appreciates and critically interprets a wide range of texts
4. creates and presents artistic works and appreciates the process and skills involved
5. has an awareness of personal values and an understanding of the process of moral decision making
6. appreciates and respects how diverse values, beliefs
7. values what it means to be an active citizen, with rights and responsibilities in local and wider contexts
8. values local, national and international heritage, understands the importance of the relationship between past and current events and the forces that drive change
9. understands the origins and impacts of social, economic, and environmental aspects of the world around her/him
10. has the awareness, knowledge, skills, values
11. takes action to safeguard and promote her/his wellbeing and that of others
12. is a confident and competent participant in physical activity and is motivated to be physically active
13. understands the importance of food and diet in making healthy lifestyle choices
14. makes informed financial decisions and develops good consumer skills
16. describes, illustrates, interprets, predicts and explains patterns and relationships
17. devises and evaluates strategies for investigating and solving problems using mathematical knowledge, reasoning
18. observes and evaluates empirical events and processes and draws valid deductions and conclusions
19. values the role and contribution of science and technology to society, and their personal, social and global importance
20. uses appropriate technologies in meeting a design challenge
21. applies practical skills as she/he develop models and products using a variety of materials and technologies
22. takes initiative, is innovative and develops entrepreneurial skills
23. brings an idea from conception to
24. uses technology and digital media tools to learn, communicate, work and think collaboratively and creatively in a responsible and ethical manner
Ireland has been ranked by the World Economic Forum as having the sixth best school system in the World. Our secondary students rank among the best in the EU (especially for reading). Ireland has the second-highest percentage (43%) of working-age adults with a third-level education in the EU, according to an OECD report in 2016.
English Language And Literacy
The UK’s curriculum is outstanding, especially
Teachers should develop pupils’ spoken language, reading, writing
Pupils should be taught to speak clearly and convey ideas confidently using Standard English. They should learn to justify ideas with reasons; ask questions to check understanding; develop vocabulary and build knowledge; negotiate; evaluate and build on the ideas of others
Reading and writing
Teachers should develop pupils’ reading and
Pupils’ acquisition and command of vocabulary are key to their learning and progress across the whole curriculum. Teachers should
Top Performing Countries In Education
In the The Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Japan and South Korea took top places for reading, respectively. However, these countries generally employ strict, drill-heavy, repetitive teaching methods that have been likened to 1980’s Soviet olympic level training. My sister, who taught in Korea said she let tiny kids fall asleep in her class because they were so tired studying extra classes in the evening after an early morning start.
Finland: First Place In Western Education
In first place in the West and sixth place overall lies Finland, a country that approaches education very differently. “In Asia, it’s about long hours — long hours in school, long hours after school. In Finland, the school day is shorter than it is in the U.S. It’s a more appealing model,” says Andreas Schleicher, director the PISA program.
There’s a lot less homework too. “An hour a day is good enough to be a successful student,” says Katja Tuori, a student counsellor at a school in Finland. “These kids have a life.” In Finland kids take off their shoes when they enter the school and call the teachers by their first name. Many schools feature common spaces to foster mingling among age groups and nooks for small group based learning. Principals and teachers work with architects, who enter anonymous competitions to design the buildings because it’s how a young firm can get its start. The result is schools that often resemble tech companies. Curving glass walls maximize the country’s most precious resource—daylight—and turn hallways into viewing galleries where classrooms and the outdoors are always on display. Finnish pedagogy also gives students a lot of individualised attention, so designers include nooks where a teacher can retreat with a small group said Justin Davidson in New York Mag.
“The first six years of education are not about academic success. We don’t measure children at all. It’s about being ready to learn and finding your passion.” says Pasi Sahlberg, a Finnish educator and author. In stark contrast to Thailand, the Finnish national curriculum is only broad guidelines which means that teachers are flexible to customise education to their group’s needs.
“The best learning happens in real life with real problems and real people and not in classrooms.” Charles Handy
In Finland, kids prepare for class by venturing into the snow and collecting sticks, berries
The next big reform taking place in Finland is the introduction of a new National Curriculum Framework (NCF), that came into effect in August 2016. Developing schools as learning communities, and emphasizing the joy of learning and a collaborative atmosphere, as well as promoting student autonomy in studying and in school life – these are some of our key aims in the reform. focus on more on “topics” and less on subjects. “We really need a rethinking of education and a redesigning of our system, so it prepares our children for the future with the skills that are needed for today and tomorrow,” says Marjo Kyllonen, Helsinki’s education manager. “There are schools that are teaching in the old fashioned way which was of benefit in the beginnings of the 1900s — but the needs are not the same and we need something fit for the 21st century.”
Education In 21st Century
“If we teach today as we taught yesterday, we rob our children of tomorrow”. John Dewey
The top 10
Let’s look at the current job market. In Glassdoor’s 25 Highest Paying Jobs In Demand 2015 report 14 out of the 25 jobs were directly technology related (for example software architect, software development manager, analytics manager, IT manager, security engineer, UX designer etc). Over a quarter of the job growth in London comes from the technology and digital sector, according to Tech City Investment Organisation. A study carried out on behalf of O2 towards the found that Britain will need 750,000 skilled digital workers by 2017. “Of the top 25 highest-paying, in-demand jobs, more than half are in technology. And most of them require strong programming skills.”. Of top 25 jobs that weren’t directly
“A physician who cannot efficiently integrate a computer into his or her daily workflow will be incapable of working in the modern ER”. “Nurses should master technological tools and information systems … Nurse leaders must begin thinking now about how emerging technologies will change the practice of nursing and proactively create the educational models and leadership development programs necessary to assure that nurses will have the competencies they need to address these emerging technologies.” states The Institute of Medicine’s report on The Future of Nursing (2010).
Today’s young people live in a digitally-connected world surrounded by computers at school and at home. They run their lives
David Clarke CEO of BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT suggests “Just as we give every student the opportunity to learn the workings of physics, chemistry, and biology, because they live in a physical, chemical, biological world, so we should offer every student the opportunity to learn the workings of the digital systems that pervade their world. This knowledge is empowering, enriching, and inspiring; the skills involved readily transferable. Writing a computer program, while seemingly esoteric, is the closest a child can come to thinking about thinking. Likewise, debugging a program is the closest one can come to
There is little doubt
Teaching Technology At An Early Age
Extensive research has shown that because young brains are so adept at picking up languages, it’s best to introduce children to foreign languages as early as possible. This is why parents all over the world are sending kids to kindergartens that teach Chinese and English.
What these parents don’t understand is that the same neural
The evidence is beginning to suggest that as brains age, their capacity for procedural memory diminishes in favor of “declarative” memory, which we use to amass facts. The drawback to declarative memory is that it requires mental exertion to tap into—a huge minus when you’re trying to conjugate a tricky foreign verb on the fly. It is far preferable to have those conjugations be second nature to you, as a result of having learned them when your procedural memory was at its sharpest”.
There has been a debate going among academics since the 1950’s about what is the best age to learn a second language but many agree it’s as young as 3. Penfield and Roberts (1959) and assert that language acquisition occurs primarily, possibly exclusively, during childhood as the brain loses plasticity after a certain age. It then becomes rigid and fixed, and loses the ability for adaptation and
Kids who learn a foreign language outscore their non-foreign language learning peers in verbal & maths
Just as learning a second language early provides cognitive benefits later in life, early exposure to coding shows signs of improving what educators call “computational thinking”—the ability to solve problems with abstract thinking. “I would speculate that the same general-purpose memory systems that underlie language learning in children and adults likely underlie the learning of computer languages,” says Michael Ullman, director of the Brain and Language Lab at Georgetown University.
“The logical problem solving and algorithmic thinking at the core of computer science force kids to think about thinking – a process referred to as meta-cognition that has proven benefits related to self-monitoring and independent learning”, says Grant Hosford CEO at codeSpark. In The Impact of Computer Programming on Sequencing Ability in Early
Research findings are unanimous, children learn computer languages faster, easier and deeper when they are younger. Children who become fluent in technology at a young age have the best opportunities in life. As a Dad I couldn’t sit back any longer, watching my kids get older, knowing that each year that they don’t receive a formal education in technology they will never get back.
At the same time, my son was very unhappy in our local school so I allowed him to leave to study at home like we did when we lived in Bangkok. In Bangkok, I hired a teacher from the international school who was pregnant. She came and taught my 2 eldest mostly how to read or write English Monday to Thursday 10 am – 4 pm and it was a great success. This time we have found even more success.
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