Friday, April 3, 2009

St. Petersburg/Leningrad: Then and Now

The web site English Russia has some really interesting photos of St. Petersburg/Leningrad which intersperse current photos with footage from the Nazi siege of the city during the war. I'm a sucker for anything relating to Russia in WWII -- it's endlessly fascinating to me.

Fewer Indian Students Going to American Universities

When I visited India several years back, it seemed like a huge number of students were making their way to study in the U.S. According to a recent article in the Chronicle of Higher Education, however, this is not quite as true as it used to be. Fewer students are making their way to the U.S.A. and people are talking about a "reverse brain drain" back to India.

Here's a fascinating statistic:

The Educational Testing Service has reported that the number of Indian students taking the Graduate Record Examinations fell from 74,000 in 2007 to 55,000 in 2008. That could result in a significant decline in graduate applications to the United States, which absorbed nearly 80 percent of the more than 120,000 Indian students who went abroad last year.

From the perspective of India, that's a really good thing: India needs all the talent it can muster as it continues its path towards economic development. My one worry is that the cultural cross-pollination that has happened as a result of Indian students coming to the U.S. will lessen the strong ties between the two nations. But could it be that perhaps more U.S. students will start heading out India?

Educational Jargon Generator

I love academic jargon in the sense that I love to be disoriented. Reading it is the intellectual equivalent of spinning in circles with your head balanced with a baseball bat and running across the yard. That's why I love the "Educational Jargon Generator". Just hit the "generate jargon" button and you'll come up with such gems as "integrate thematic relationships", "target mission-critical pedagogy", and "iterate open-ended competencies".

Monday, March 30, 2009

Harvard Defends the Classics

A recent article in highlights Harvard's efforts to reinvigorate the classics.

I sometimes worry that I portray myself as a dyed-in-the-wool utilitarian when it comes to education. Phrases like "21st century skills" and "relevance" and "engagement" have become part of my vocabulary. But I'm not just that -- I think we need to find ways to make learning the classics relevant in the world today. I think students need a background in the "basics" but also need to see how this shapes the world we live in today. One of the most influential books on the thinking on the subject is Cicero's De Officiis -- he sums my hopes for putting classical learning to use for the contemporary world.

My favorite quote in the article says it all:

Harvard hopes to bring more of its undergraduates back to the university's liberal arts roots. President Drew Faust, a Civil War historian, has said that education in the humanities prepares students to challenge the status quo.

Clever boys dumb down to avoid bullying in school | Education | The Observer

This is a depressing report from the U.K. The title really sums it all up. Some things never change.