Showing posts from July, 2012

Hooked to be connected!

by Lynda Hawe
Communications Officer, Centre for Educational Research and Innovation (CERI), Directorate for Education OECD
Concerned parents are becoming more and more anxious as they watch their bright children getting completely absorbed by and attached to new mobile devices.  Young people’s attachment to digital media and connectivity will shortly reach a level of almost universal saturation. In some OECD countries, more than 95% of 15-year-olds use an internet connected computer daily while at home. How many of us have experienced frustration while trying to get kids to actually listen, as their eyes remain glossily glued to their favourite pet gadget?  So just how worried should we really be? Well, it still remains difficult to clearly identify the risks or rewards of such behaviour, especially in relation to long-term learning and brain functions.  But first, let’s be reassured - it’s not all bad news!

The OECD’s Centre for Educational Research and Innovation (CERI) has just rel…

Older, wiser, better: ageing workforce and fast-track societies

by Julie Harris,
Consultant, Directorate for Education
Simple fact: older workers are leaving the labour force earlier than they did in the 60s and 70s. The retirement age declined steadily across OECD countries from the 1970s to the early 2000s. Over the past decade this drop has levelled off, with some countries experiencing a slight upturn. Despite this, apart from Japan and Korea, it is still significantly lower than in the 1960s and 1970s.

At the same time retirement age has been declining, life expectancy has been increasing. In many OECD countries, workers who retire can expect to live another two decades.

If this situation does not change, there will be twice the number of retirees per worker in OECD countries by 2050. You don't need to be an economist to understand that such an eventuality would pose a serious threat to living standards and tear deeply into the fabric of the social safety net.

So, what to do? How can governments move to remedy this situation? And what can …

“Creativity” is spelled with a “why”

by Marilyn Achiron
Editor, Directorate for Education
Here’s a science experiment for you: Take a standard-issue van. Equip it with household items – coat hangers, balls of string, maybe even a few potatoes – with which you could demonstrate certain basic scientific principles. Find someone who knows how to drive the van and teach that person some of those basic principles of science (or find someone who knows those basic principles and teach that person how to drive the van…). Send driver and van out into remote, disadvantaged villages. Observe how children react.

While waiting to amass the funds he needed to realise his dream of building a school in the Himalayas to develop creative leaders, Ramji Raghavan performed that little experiment – and discovered a way to ignite creativity. Thirteen years after the first van was sent out into rural India in 1999, the Agastya International Foundation, chaired by Raghavan, now dispatches 62 vans, most focusing on general science, but two special…

The “extra” in extracurricular activities

by Marilyn Achiron
Editor, Directorate for Education
It may be tempting for school systems that are trying to reduce expenses to trim the “extras” from their budgets, including school-sponsored extracurricular activities. But are these activities just a luxury that schools can no longer afford? The latest issue of PISA in Focus makes the case that the availability of extracurricular activities at school is positively related both to student performance and to students’ attitudes towards learning.

As part of the PISA 2006 survey, which focused on student performance in science, school principals were asked about the kinds of extracurricular activities they offered their students. On average across OECD countries, 89% of students attend schools whose principals reported that science-related field trips were commonly offered, 56% of students attend schools that hold science competitions, 48% of students are in schools that encourage involvement in extracurricular science projects, 42% are …