Education

Dear Ms Morgan, Having read further reports today in the news regarding the situation of the so-called “Trojan Horse” schools in Birmingham, I feel compelled to write to you again (although I know from previous experience that you will neither read nor respond to my letter) about the contrasting fate of The Durham Free School. I read that one of the schools in Alum Rock is finally “making “reasonable progress” in its efforts to come out of special measures – having failed to do so in two previous monitoring visits.” I would like to know why this school has had yet another chance to prove itself, despite failing TWO previous monitoring visits and The Durham Free School has been given NO chance to even have a monitoring visit as you made your final decision to close the school the day...
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Dear Secretary of State, Last week, all six-year-olds in England’s primary schools were tested through the government’s phonics check, together with the seven-year-olds who ‘failed’ it first time round last year. We, the undersigned, have serious concerns about the usefulness of this test, as well as the emerging negative effects on how children are taught to read in Key Stage 1 and their confidence as readers. Officially, it is described as assessing text decoding skills. Actually, it is dangerously confused. The check contains twenty real words and twenty pseudo-words such as "vap" and "ect". The pseudo-words are indicated with pictures of imaginary creatures. It is claimed that all the words in the check can be blended from the letter sounds and therefore are an accurate...
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Dear Mr. Gove, Having ended my school career on Thursday by collecting my A-level results, I am writing to express my concern that future school-goers will have a worse time and learn less than I did. Public exams are certainly imperfect but, under your proposed reforms, I fear they’re about to get worse. I would be grateful if you could take a few minutes to read a pupil’s perspective. A-levels are hard. They require candidates to digest enormous amounts of information and, in order to score highly, to analyse and evaluate it on the fly when faced with unfamiliar exam questions. Punitive time constraints only add to the pressure – in June this year, I had to write an essay about the Angevin kings’ relationship with the English Church in 45 minutes. Books have been written on that...
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"Given that economic growth is so eagerly sought by all nations, too few questions have been posed, in India as in the U.S., about the direction of education, and, with it, of democratic society. With the rush to profitability in the global market, values precious for the future of democracy, especially in an era of religious anxiety, are in danger of getting lost." ----- Martha C. Nussbaum (2007) Education for Profit, education for freedom. Lecture delivered at the Institute of Development Studies, Kolkata. "It almost seems that the university’s motto, “seek wisdom”, has transformed into “seek money” and writing book doesn’t qualify authors as significant contributors to this latter endeavour." ----- Victoria Burbank (2011). Writing a book at the University of Western...
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First published on 3rd March 2014 Third Open Letter to Professor Ranjan Chakrabarti, Vice-Chancellor, Vidyasagar University. Dear Professor Chakrabarti, Prologue At the outset I must admit that your third meeting with the teachers of Vidyasagar University held on 27th February 2014 at the Birendranath Sasmal Hall was more systematic, if not less officious than the earlier two meetings held on 5th June and 7th October 2013. My earlier open letters and your replies are now uploaded in a San Francisco based academic website (Academia.edu) accessible through Google, as recorded documents of the meetings held by a vice-chancellor with the teachers of Vidyasagar University under the new political regime of West Bengal.(1) These letters have now found their niche in the global...
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29 June 2015 "Everything has been said before, but since nobody listens we have to keep going and beginning all over again." – André Gide Dear Professor Chakrabarti, I am extremely sorry that I could not attend your informal meeting with the teachers of Vidyasagar University held on 25th June 2015 at B.N. Sasmal Hall. I was busy in taking classes in PhD course work in Research Methodology in Physics Department during the time of the said meeting. Let me express my best wishes for keeping with your commitment of meeting the faculties at VU. This time, I write this letter as it were the cases with previous occasions. I would like to express my reactions on the meeting. The difference is, in all the previous four occasions my open letters were based on direct firsthand...
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Dear Alan, I have read your piece “Distorted Visions of Buddhism: Agnostic and Atheist,” which appeared in the previous issue of Mandala. While I recognize that some of what I say conflicts with Buddhist orthodoxy, I do not believe that I am distorting the message of Siddhattha Gotama. I am offering an interpretation of the Dharma in the hope that the Buddha’s teaching will continue to speak to the core concerns of people in today’s world and provide an effective philosophy and practice with which to address them. I realize that what I say might seem puzzling, objectionable and even heretical to followers of traditional Buddhist schools. And I regret any offence I might inadvertently have caused you and others through my writings. Here is an email I received via my website a few...
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Dear Ms. Dusbiber: We don’t know each other, but I’ve been in your English teacher shoes. The other day, I read the Washington Post article that mentions how you no longer want to teach Shakespeare because of your “own personal disinterest in reading stories written in an early form of the English language that [you] cannot always easily navigate, but also because there is a WORLD of really exciting literature out there that better speaks to the needs of [your] very ethnically-diverse and wonderfully curious modern-day students.” I have to call foul on your assertion for many reasons. Here’s why. If you truly believe that your students can’t navigate their way through Shakespeare, then you aren’t giving them enough credit. Your students are young, enthusiastic, intelligent, and...
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Dear Everyone Presently Involved In My Kids' Education, You won't remember me as Elizabeth. Or Liz. Or Grace's, Jack's, Henry's, George's and/or Nina's Mom. You will remember me, this year anyway, as That Parent. I'm going to own it right from the get-go in order to save us both time and disappointment. You're welcome. No doubt, you are some of the most under-compensated, under-appreciated individuals on earth. And not for one moment do I want you to believe that you are under-appreciated or under-valued by me. You aren't. You hold a very dear place in my heart as a catalyst to ensuring that these kids can move out one day. And survive for more than 22 minutes. We have just embarked upon what is sure to be an indescribably long school year, and I feel it's incumbent upon me to...
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Dear Friend, Congratulations on your new astronomy teaching assignment. For the last 25 years I’ve enjoyed the challenges of teaching social studies to junior and senior high students. But when my principal asked me to teach an astronomy course last year, I was a bit apprehensive. I’ll be glad to share some of my first-year experiences with you and I hope you will do the same when you’ve finished your year. So here’s my first piece of advice: Take the astronomy assignment with a thrill in your heart. Many teachers don’t always get to decide what subjects to teach, and if you feel unprepared or unsupported, hesitation is understandable. Even though I’ve been an active amateur astronomer for several years, I took a week to talk with others and think, before accepting the offer. Take...
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