Friday, October 29, 2010

Edumacation 2

Expanding on the theme of education, new research discovers something most people already know.

'Pushy parents' help children make the grade at school

Girls in a library
Parents who push their children to work hard at school have a bigger impact on their child's academic success than their teachers, research suggests.

The effort a parent puts into ensuring their child buckles down to schoolwork has a greater impact than that put in by the child or the school, it says.

Researchers at Leicester and Leeds universities found parents put less effort in the more children they had.

They looked at how much they read to a child and attended school meetings.
And also at teachers' perceptions of their involvement.

The academics used data from the National Child Development Study for pupils born in 1958.
And to judge how much was down to parental influences and how much was down to pupils being self-starting individuals, the researchers also studied the children's attitudes, such as whether, at the age of 16, they thought school was a waste of time.

Family backgroundSchools were assessed on how they tried to involve parents, what disciplinary methods they used and and whether 16-year-olds were offered careers advice.
The findings suggest that there is something of a perfect circle. Parents encourage their children to make more of an effort, and then when their child tries harder, the parents put in even more effort.

The background of a family affects the schools' effort, the study found.

Professor Gianni De Fraja, head of economics at Leicester University, said: "The main channel through which parental socio-economic background affects achievement is via effort.
"Parents from a more advantaged environment exert more effort, and this influences positively the educational attainment of their children.

"The parents' background also increases the school's effort, which increases the school achievement. Why schools work harder where parents are from a more privileged background we do not know. It might be because middle class parents are more vocal in demanding that the school works hard."

The researchers found children were more likely to put more effort into their schooling if their parents showed that commitment too.

Professor De Fraja added: "We found that children work harder whose parents put more effort into their education."

Big families The report says parents put less effort into their children's education the more offspring they have.

"There is a trade-off between quantity and quality of children: a child's number of siblings influences negatively the effort exerted by that child's parents toward that child's education," it says.

The researchers suggest policies aimed at improving parental effort - such as parenting classes - might help to boost children's achievements.
The research is published in the latest issue of Review of Economics and Statistics.
I've thrown out a few of my ideas about how to overhaul the public education system but, the question now becomes, how are we to increase the involvement of parent's in their child's education?

On this one I must admit that I am stumped. How does one change the culture of parenting in Bermuda? My first thought is through education but, if success in education is dependent on the culture of parenting changing how is that possible? I really have no idea.

Maybe Ms. Cox our new Premier and her new Education minister will know the answer but, I won't hold my breath on that one.

I've run out of wishful thinking when it comes to Education.

Thursday, October 28, 2010


Tonight is a big night for Bermuda. We are about to discover at last who is to follow the illustrious Dr. Brown as Premier of Bermuda. What better night than tonight then to discuss Education, one of the most important issues as Bermuda goes forward. perhaps our new Premier will be more inclined to take discussion in the community on board than the outgoing one and actually arrive at a satisfactory solution or perhaps we're in for more of the same. Who knows?

Either way, here's my wish list for reform:

Firstly, employ the best teachers available, Bermudian or Non-Bermudian. Education is not the place to play immigration politics.

Secondly, introduce British GCSE (or IGCSE), A Level and BTEC external examinations for all students.

Thirdly, ensure that any student who is unable to pass an end of year exam in both Math and English every year is made to repeat the year and provided with extra support so they won't fail it twice.

Fourthly, stream students beginning at GCSE level into 3 groups: Top, Middle and Bottom. Call the streams what you like but, make it happen whether it be internal to schools or a situation where each level is at a different school. Ensure that the ability to move between the streams exists for students that show an improvement (or decline).

Fifthly, consider offering vouchers to parents who wish to send their children to private/boarding schools for an amount equal to the spending per student within the public education system (with the rest of any costs to be funded by the parent).

Sixthly, eventually remove all Government involvement in education beyond paying for it.

Seventhly, ensure that all students public or private participate in a Critical Thinking and a Citizenship class. The first to teach rudimentary logic, the construction of arguments, the difference between fact and assertion, the ability to infer information and identify assumptions behind a text etc. and the second to teach the political system in Bermuda and other major countries in the world as well as to discuss alternatives that have been suggested/tried in the past.

Those are the things that I would like to see as part of any meaningful reform of Bermuda's education system.

If wanting that kind of reform isn't Wishful Thinking (given the PLP's past record) I really don't know what is.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Some Good News?

For once it seems I can write about something positive. How refreshing.

It would seem as though we are actually going to get a Park Hyatt Hotel up in St. Georges unless planning manages to turn the developers away even at this late stage. The need to redevelop our tourism product is well recognized by all people regardless of political belief and I'm sure everyone will see this as a positive step when/if it happens. You can't blame people for people being cynical about it though. We've been disappointed quite a few times before.

It's just a shame that this is the exception to business as usual with Dr. Brown.