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Showing posts from July, 2015

Future shock: Teaching yourself to learn

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by Marilyn Achiron 
Editor, Education and Skills Directorate

The book reviewer for the Wall Street Journal wrote of reading Tyler Cowen’s 2013 book, Average is Over: Powering America Beyond the Age of the Great Stagnation, “with a deepening sense of dread”. 
The Economist understatedly called the book “bracing”. What does Cowen, a professor at George Mason University and daily blogger on marginalrevolution.com, say that provokes such fear and trembling in readers?  Essentially this: if you’re not among the 10-15% of the population that has learned how to master and complement computers, you’ll be doomed to earn low wages in dead-end jobs. We spoke with Cowen when he was in Paris recently to participate in the OECD Forum. His comments are drawn from both our interview and his presentation at the Forum.
“There are two things people need to learn how to do to be employable at a decent wage: first, learn some skills which complement the computer rather than compete against it. Some of these …

Breaking down the silo: connecting education to world trends

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by Tracey Burns
Analyst and Project Leader, Innovation and Measuring Progress Division, Directorate for Education and Skills 

Did you ever wonder if education has a role to play in stemming the obesity epidemic sweeping across all OECD countries? Or what the impact of increasing urbanisation might be on our schools, families, and communities? Or whether new technologies really are fundamentally changing the way our children think and learn? If so, you’re not alone.

The OECD’s work on Trends Shaping Education stimulates reflection on the challenges facing education by providing an overview of key economic, social, demographic and technological trends. It has been used by ministries to guide strategic thinking and in Parliaments as a strategic foresight tool. It’s also part of the curriculum in teacher education colleges, and is a resource for teachers when designing courses and lectures, as well as parents and students themselves.

The fourth edition of the book will be launched in Januar…

How to help adult learners learn the basics

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by Hendrickje Catriona Windisch
Analyst, Education and Skills Directorate

Tackling weak basic skills is hard and incentives to learn are often lacking 

The fact that some adults cannot understand the instructions printed on a box of medicine is not only dangerous, it shows that, somewhere along the line, the education system failed them. People who find themselves in this position are often shy of admitting their problems, and the idea of going back to school is their worst nightmare. A new OECD Working Paper shows that even for those adults who want to improve their reading and numeracy skills, it is not easy to translate that interest into action. Adults with busy working and family lives have little time for learning – as is evident in the high rate of dropout from learning programmes targeted to adults. And even when adults do acquire basic skills in mid-life, they find few jobs open to them in which they can use those skills.

Building and sustaining learner motivation

Research shows …

Teachers in the digital world

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by Katarzyna Kubacka Analyst, Education and Skills Directorate
Rapid developments in Information and Communication Technology (ICT) have made it an important part of our daily lives, from staying in contact with people, to checking traffic and booking tickets. However, ICT can also be a useful tool for teachers in advancing 21st century learning. As the new Teaching in Focus (TIF) brief ‘Teaching with technology’ reports, the use of ICT for students’ projects or class work is an active teaching practice that promotes skills for students’ lifelong success.
So how common is the use of ICT in the classrooms?  Across the countries and economies participating in the Teaching and Learning International Survey (TALIS), it seems that ICT is still used less frequently than more passive teaching methods, such as working in exercise books. For example, over 70% of TALIS teachers report checking students’ exercise books frequently, while only 38% report frequently using ICT. This is surprising giv…

Easing the learning journey for immigrant students

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by Marilyn Achiron Editor, Directorate for Education and Skills
Put yourself in their place: if you were new to a country and barely able to communicate in the local language, how do you think you’d do in school – particularly if you were living in a poor neighbourhood and attending a school with inadequate resources? It might come as a surprise to learn that, in some countries, immigrant students perform better in mathematics than their non-immigrant peers. Does that say more about the individual students or about the education systems in their host countries? 
Between 2003 and 2012, the percentage of students who were raised in immigrant families grew by around 3 percentage points across OECD countries. At the same time, as this month’s PISA in Focusnotes, migration policies in some countries became increasingly selective while education outcomes in many countries of origin improved considerably. As a result, larger proportions of immigrant students are arriving in their host countrie…

Are vocational programmes preparing school leavers for a risky job market?

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by Dirk Van Damme
Head of the Innovation and Measuring Progress division, Directorate for Education and Skills



One of the most dramatic consequences of the economic crisis has been the soaring levels of youth unemployment in several OECD countries; and the hesitant recovery of the past years was insufficient to improve the job prospects of young people. At the end of the first quarter of 2013, youth unemployment rates still exceeded 25% in nine OECD countries, including Greece, Ireland, Italy, Portugal and Spain. High youth unemployment is a huge waste of human potential and an unacceptable social tragedy.

Unemployment is a consequence of economic recession and the resulting dearth of jobs. At the same time, high youth unemployment reveals the weak spots in the connections between education and training systems and labour markets. When demand for labour weakens, differences become more visible between education and training systems that are preparing young people well for employability…