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Posts Tagged ‘Fiona MacDonald

No more physics and maths, Finland to stop teaching individual subjects

The future is all about learning by topic, not subject.

FIONA MACDONALD. 24 MAR 2015

Finland, one of the leading educational hotspots in the world, is embarking on one of the most radical overhauls in modern education.

By 2020, the country plans to phase out teaching individual subjects such as maths, chemistry and physics, and instead teach students by ‘topics’ or broad phenomena, so that there’s no more question about “what’s the point of learning this?”

What does that mean exactly? Basically, instead of having an hour of geography followed by an hour of history, students will now spend, say, two hours learning about the European Union, which covers languages, economics, history and geography.

Or students who are taking a vocational course might study ‘cafeteria services’, which would involve learning maths, languages and communication skills, as Richard Garner reports for The Independent.

So although students will still learn all the important scientific theories, they’ll be finding out about them in a more applied way, which actually sounds pretty awesome.

“What we need now is a different kind of education to prepare people for working life,” Pasi Silander, the Helsinki’s development manager, told Garner.

Young people use quite advanced computers. In the past the banks had lots of bank clerks totting up figures but now that has totally changed. We therefore have to make the changes in education that are necessary for industry and modern society.”

The new system also encourages different types of learning, such as interactive problem solving and collaborating among smaller groups, to help develop career-ready skills.

“We really need a rethinking of education and a redesigning of our system, so it prepares our children for the future with the skills that are needed for today and tomorrow,” Marjo Kyllonen, Helsinki’s education manager, who is leading the change, told Garner.

“There are schools that are teaching in the old fashioned way which was of benefit in the beginnings of the 1900s – but the needs are not the same and we need something fit for the 21st century,” she added.

Individual subjects started being phased out for 16-year-olds in the country’s capital of Helsinki two years ago, and 70 percent of the city’s high school teachers are now trained in the new approach.

Early data shows that students are already benefitting, with The Independent reporting that measurable pupil outcomes have improved since the new system was introduced.

And Kyllonen’s blueprint, which will be published later this month, will propose that the new system is rolled out across Finland by 2020.

Of course, there is some backlash from teachers who’ve spent their entire career specializing in certain subjects.

But the new blueprint suggests that teachers from different backgrounds work together to come up with the new ‘topic’ curriculums, and will receive a pay incentive for doing so.

Finland already has one of the best education systems in the world, consistently falling near the top of the prestigious PISA rankings in math, science and reading, and this change could very well help them stay there.

Source: The Independent

Note 1: Need to have mathematicians able to model the phenomenon that the student are learning. Math is but the reflection of how the universe and human behave . Physics, chemistry, biology… are modelled mathematically.

Note 2: Fundamental to this new educational approach is instituting the experimental mind early on and encouraging working in labs and setting up experiments for everything they are learning.

 

 

Crimes against nature and humanity: A citizens’ tribunal will investigate Monsanto

Agrochemical giant Monsanto will be investigated by a tribunal of environmentalists, activists, and scientists in The Hague, Netherlands, next year, against charges of “ecocide“.

“Relying on the ‘Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights’ adopted by the UN in 2011, an international court of lawyers and judges will assess the potential criminal liability of Monsanto for damages inflicted on human health and the environment,” explained a press statement.

The citizens’ trial was announced at a press conference on December 3 in Paris, to tie in with the COP21 UN Conference on Climate Change.

Calling themselves the Monsanto Tribunal, the crowd-funded group will evaluate allegations made against Monsanto with regards to damage caused to the environment and human health – but regardless of the outcome, they won’t be able to sentence or charge the agriculture giant.

Still, they claim the trial is more than just a symbolic act, with the larger goal of establishing ‘ecocide’ as a crime for the first time.

Joe Harb shared this link

Looks like this is the beginning of the end for Monsanto’s empire while mainstream media is completely ignoring the news

“The time is long overdue for a global citizens’ tribunal to put Monsanto on trial for crimes against humanity and the environment,” said Ronnie Cummins, director of the Organic Consumers Association and a founder of the Monsanto Tribunal.

“Monsanto is largely responsible for the depletion of soil and water resources, species extinction and declining biodiversity, and the displacement of millions of small farmers worldwide,” added environmental activist Vandana Shiva.

The Monsanto products under scrutiny include RoundUp – a commonly used herbicide – and genetically modified (GM) RoundUp Ready Seeds, which the tribunal claim have caused environmental damage and put financial pressure on farmers.

They will also investigate a compound produced by Monsanto that was used in the chemical weapon Agent Orange.

But while many are celebrating the move, others have criticised it as a publicity and fund-raising stunt, given the fact that the tribunal isn’t part of an internationally recognised court and can’t actually punish the corporation.

However, the Monsanto Tribunal explains that the trial will be used to assess whether or not Monsanto could be eligible for criminal proceedings, and is the first step to prosecution in the future.

“The court will also rely on the Rome Statute that created the International Criminal Court in The Hague in 2002, and it will consider whether to reform international criminal law to include crimes against the environment, or ecocide, as a prosecutable criminal offence.”

The assumption is that if the tribunal can raise enough evidence to support allegations against Monsanto, a criminal court will decide to pursue the matter further.

However, it’s proven incredibly difficult to find evidence against Monsanto.

Bill Nye, who used to be an outspoken GM critic, even toured the company’s facilities and couldn’t find anything untoward.

In fact, since talking with their scientists, he’s announced that he’s a supporter of genetic modification in crops.

Time will tell if the tribunal will have more luck.

This isn’t the first time Monsanto’s come under fire – several court cases have been brought against the company in the past, and Monsanto has also taken its fair share of farmers to court for using their patented seeds without paying for them.

Back in 2012, thousands of certified organic farmers started a lawsuit to prevent Monsanto from suing them in the event of pollen from the company’s patented seeds ending up in their fields. But the judge dismissed the case, claiming that the allegations were “unsubstantiated”.

The Monsanto Tribunal trial is scheduled 12 to 16 October 2016, with the final day falling on World Food Day.

 


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