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World Teachers' Day: Teachers For Gender Equality And Global Educators (Huffington Post)

From a joint statement by UNESCO, UNDP, UNICEF, ILO and Education International on the occasion of World Teachers’ Day:

If we want to give equal opportunities to our daughters and sons to realize their full potential and claim their rights, we must devise policies and strategies that attract and motivate capable women and men to teach, while also enabling them to create gender-equal learning environments. More and better education for all requires good teachers and incentives to encourage male and female teachers into all areas and levels of teaching. This will ensure that boys and girls have appropriate role models throughout their schooling.

At China’s New Museum, History Toes Party Line (NYTimes)

But one tradition has remained firmly in place: China will not confront its own history. The museum is less the product of extensive research, discovery or creativity than the most prominent symbol of the Communist Party’s efforts to control the narrative of history and suppress alternative points of view, even those that exist within the governing elite. It is also an example of how China finds it difficult to create cultural institutions that prove equal to its economic achievements.

The exhibition walks a delicate line. Organized by Chinese dynasties, it tries to show how all of the 56 ethnic groups in today’s China have always worked together harmoniously. Even the Mongolian empire, which conquered China in the 12th century, is made part of the story. It is referred to as a precursor of today’s multicultural China.

It ignores the conflicts, which real history shouldn’t do,” said an archaeology professor at Peking University who asked to remain anonymous because of the issue’s delicacy. “This is why I would not call this exhibition real history but propaganda.”

Very interesting article that would be a great discussion-starter for a discussion on bias in history / textbooks / reporting.

A father with his three-month-old baby girl, in Katsina, northern Nigeria. His wife died while giving birth. (Guardian.co.uk article, The impact of the global shortage of midwives – in pictures.)

A father with his three-month-old baby girl, in Katsina, northern Nigeria. His wife died while giving birth. (Guardian.co.uk article, The impact of the global shortage of midwives – in pictures.)

'History has never been so unpopular' (Guardian UK via International Education News)

Second, as the inspectors’ report acknowledges, England is the only country in Europe where history is not compulsory for students beyond the age of 14. Worse, many state schools now offer a two-year key stage 3 course, which allows some pupils to stop studying history at the age of 13.

And here are four more facts that are not in the Ofsted report:

• 25% of all schools no longer teach history as a discrete subject in year 7

• 30% of comprehensives spend less than one hour a week on history in the years up to age 13

• More GCSE candidates took design and technology than history last year

• More A-level candidates took psychology.

Wow. And I was worried about the state of social studies in the US! Good thing I’m not in the UK.

Even more disturbing is the evidence of widespread historical ignorance among school-leavers. A recent survey of first-year undergraduates reading history at a reputable UK university found that: 66% did not know who was monarch at time of the Armada; 69% did not know the location of the Boer war; 84% did not know who commanded British forces at Waterloo (a third thought it was Nelson); and 89% could not name a single 19th-century British prime minister.

OK, I don’t know any of these answers, but I’ve also never taken a British history course. I could certainly answer the American equivalents. I’m always surprised by people who don’t know basic US history. Were they not paying attention, or was it not taught?

How did we get here? The problem is surely not poor teaching. Rather, it is the stuff that teachers are expected to do, which is the product of an unholy alliance between well-meaning politicians and educationalists, not forgetting over-mighty examination boards.

Ah… so the problem in the UK is the same as it is here. Well-meaning people adding more and more to the curriculum, to the point where it’s hard to learn anything at the pace at which it must be covered.

Libyan Woman Struggles to Tell Media of Her Rape (NYTimes)

People in hotel uniforms, who just hours before had been serving coffee and clearing plates, grabbed table knives and rushed to restrain the woman and to hold back the journalists.

A wild scuffle began as journalists tried to interview, photograph and protect her. Several journalists were punched, kicked and knocked down by the security forces, working in tandem with people who until then had appeared to be hotel staff members. Security officials destroyed a CNN video camera and seized a device that a Financial Times reporter had used to record her testimony. A plainclothes security officer pulled out a revolver.

Two members of the hotel staff grabbed table knives to threaten Ms. Obeidy and the journalists.

Regardless of whether the claims turn out to be true or false, this behavior reflects poorly on the Libyan people. Much of the world believes in free speech, and victims’ rights. By not allowing this woman to speak, it gives the impression of even greater guilt. And it violates her all over again.

I can’t believe that hotel staff and others acted so… disgustingly. Disgraceful.

March 29 UPDATE: Libyan Woman Is Sued Over Rape Accusation

“Oh, yeah, they have filed a case,” the spokesman, Musa Ibrahim said. “The boys who she accused of rape are bringing a case because it is a very grave offense to accuse someone of a sexual crime.”

Mr. Ibrahim initially described her as drunk and potentially delusional. Then, later on Saturday, he called her sober and sane. And on Sunday he termed her a prostitute and a thief.

He said that her case against the men had been dropped because she refused to submit to a medical examination, and he reiterated a promise that she would be offered a chance to speak again to the press.

Art Exhibit Stirs Up the Ghosts of Zimbabwe’s Past

“It is only when nations grapple with their past, in its reality, not as a biased fiction, that they can start to deal with that past,” Mr. Coltart said in a lecture delivered above Mr. Maseko’s show.

“We live in a society where we’re so afraid, even of our own shadows,” he said. “To create democratic space in a society like ours, we have to deal with fear.”

Shanghai Schools’ Approach Pushes Students to Top of Tests

One by one, a series of students at this medium-size public school raised their hands. When Ms. Li called on them, they each stood politely by their desks and usually answered correctly. They returned to their seats only when she told them to sit down.

Successful or not in China, this is not the kind of classroom I want to have, and this is not what our kids want. This doesn’t sound like fun for the teacher or students. Sure, discipline problems aren’t fun either… but this is just too boring to think about. If I wanted a boring job, I wouldn’t be going back to school to be a teacher - I’d just stay with what I’ve got.

The Shanghai students performed well, experts say, for the same reason students from other parts of Asia — including South Korea, Singapore and Hong Kong — do: Their education systems are steeped in discipline, rote learning and obsessive test preparation.

Public school students in Shanghai often remain at school until 4 p.m., watch very little television and are restricted by Chinese law from working before the age of 16.

In an interview, Mr. Jiang said Chinese schools emphasized testing too much, and produced students who lacked curiosity and the ability to think critically or independently.

“It creates very narrow-minded students,” he said. “But what China needs now is entrepreneurs and innovators.”

This is a common complaint in China. Educators say an emphasis on standardized tests is partly to blame for the shortage of innovative start-ups in China. And executives at global companies operating here say they have difficulty finding middle managers who can think creatively and solve problems.

We’ve Only Got America A

When Britain went into decline as the globe’s stabilizing power, America was right there, ready to pick up the role. Even with all our imperfections and mistakes, the world has been a better place for it. If America goes weak, though, and cannot project power the way it has, your kids won’t just grow up in a different America. They will grow up in a different world. You will not like who picks up the pieces.

The Value of Higher Education Made Literal

That opportunity — to stroll into a world from which he might otherwise have been barred by class and a lack of funds — is not likely to be extended to young men and women in England today….

It hardly need be said that under this scheme the arts and the humanities (and most of the social sciences) will be the losers: the model of rational economic (as opposed to educational) choice does not encourage investment in medieval allegory or modern poetry or Greek history.

The confidence in consumer choice as a means of identifying value will be supplemented (one might say weakened) by a state subsidy that will ensure that the proper values — technological and scientific — are nourished and make it even more likely that other values, associated with art, literature, philosophy, history, anthropology, political science, etc., are not.