New Office for Students set to receive powers to crack down on ‘safe spaces’ and bans on controversial speakers
Universities will be told that they must uphold free speech and clamp down on student unions that “no platform” controversial speakers, the government is to announce.
Jo Johnson, the universities minister, set out plans to challenge the culture of so-called safe spaces in universities, which could allow the newly created Office for Students (OfS) to fine, suspend or register universities that fail to protect freedom of speech on campuses.Continue reading...
Thrown out of his Kentucky home for being gay, the writer felt his life spiralling downwards. Then he took up opera singing – and everything he had been forced to suppress suddenly exploded out
I became an opera singer because I failed ninth-grade English. I was a terrible student, lazy and without any apparent gifts, and my mark fell further because shortly before semester’s end my father discovered I was gay and kicked me out. My parents were divorced, and though my mother would have her own long journey when it came to accepting a gay son, she took me in. Even with a bed to sleep in, though, the change in my situation, and the sudden separation from my father, left little room for study. A guidance counsellor sat me down to explain that as a communications student I wouldn’t be able to graduate on time with a missed semester of English; her suggestion was that I change the focus of my studies. I remember looking over the brochure she handed me and being surprised to see that one possibility was choir – the school had the city’s only high-school performing arts programme. I had never been musical but I had sung in church choir and I remember thinking that, of the choices available, choir would surely be the easiest.
It frightens me a little, to think of all that followed from that choice. The choral director, David Brown, heard something promising in my voice. He started giving me lessons after school, for free – and at a cost to himself I wouldn’t understand until decades later when I worked as a teacher and realised how precious that time must have been. He worked with me on scales and exercises and finally simple songs. He taught me about breath and support, and I felt my voice take on a power and spaciousness that surprised and thrilled me. It was my voice, I felt as I sang, but grander than my voice; it suggested I had unsuspected dimensions. He also introduced me to opera, lending me recordings and video tapes, and in doing so gave me my first real experience of art.
New research shows that 94% of staff pay for essential classroom materials. Five teachers describe how the schools funding crisis is leaving them out of pocket
Would you expect a nurse to have to pay for paracetamol for their patients or a firefighter to foot the bill for the water they use in putting out fires? With the schools budget in England slashed by £2.8bn since 2015 – an average of £53,000 and £178,000 for each primary and secondary school respectively – this is increasingly the reality for teachers.
New research from the National Education Union (the newly merged National Union of Teachers and the Association of Teachers and Lecturers) and TES has revealed that 94% of teachers are having to pay for school essentials such as books, while 73% are regularly paying for stationery supplies, because their schools are underfunded. For some, expenses total £1,000, while two-thirds have made cash donations – and this comes on top of the 42% of parents who were asked to donate to their children’s school this year. Other parents and carers have been asked to supply teaching equipment such as stationery and books, in addition to essentials such as toilet paper.Continue reading...
I must prepare my sons to race with the robots, and not against them – but that means sending them to schools that are equipped to exceed the averages
Years ago, as a reporter in Seattle, I watched Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer decry Washington state’s education system. He said Microsoft couldn’t hire enough locals because our schools don’t produce the kinds of minds he needed.
At the time, I was angry. He and his cohort, most notably Jeff Bezos of Amazon, contributed serious money to the campaign against a state income tax on the wealthy that would have funneled billions to our schools. Now I feel a pinch deep in my stomach, an emotion so primal I hesitate to name it.Continue reading...
Throw away the script and think before you speak, say admissions interviewers
Interviews are a chance for university applicants to ask questions about the course, meet the academic team and show they deserve a place. They might also be a time to say “um, like” six times every sentence, develop a muscle twitch and get hit by a crippling cough.
To demystify its interview process and soothe students’ nerves, Oxford University last week released its annual sample questions and – crucially – the answers to them. But besides knowing what questions might come up, what else can you do to prepare? And how does this differ at other universities? We spoke to interviewers to find out more.Continue reading...
China is a growing power in research and innovation. Universities wanting to stay at the vanguard of scientific discovery should cast their eyes east
Amidst the handwringing over the effect of Brexit on the UK’s universities, we need to contemplate our place in a future global economy driven by technology and innovation. From where will the most important discoveries of the coming decades emerge? Which countries and cities will give birth to the technologies, cures and ideas that will shape our future?
China spends five times that of the UK on R&D each year. For universities hoping to build or maintain their position as global leaders in innovation and enterprise, China is hard to overlook as an option.
Praise has its place in any lesson, but using it too much or when it’s not deserved can be demotivating. Here’s how to inspire your students
To praise or not to praise, that is the question. After condemnation in reports such as What Makes Great Teaching, confusion reigns around how frequently teachers should use praise in their classrooms and how best to do it.
Everyone values being praised and recognised for their endeavours – it is a huge part of nurturing our self-esteem and confidence. Praise has its place in any lesson; to reject it would be to encourage a clinical and cold environment. When well employed, it can motivate students and help build a positive and optimistic classroom culture. But people can spot disingenuous praise a mile off, and students are no different; they know what constitutes their best efforts and if they are really striving to achieve it.Continue reading...
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