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n2doc Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jun-18-11 08:27 PM
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How a German scientist is using test data to revolutionize global learning


EARLIER THIS YEAR, delegations from 16 countries and regions met at the Hilton New York for an unprecedented exchange of ideas and angst: an off-the-record summit on how to improve teaching. For nearly 10 hours, the education ministers of places ranging from Hong Kong to the United Kingdom sat beside their teachers-union leaders and haltingly traded stories of successes and failures. Even the Japanese delegation made it, despite the 9.0 earthquake that had rocked their country less than a week before. (They had slept in their offices to ensure theyd make their flights.)

One person at the table, however, was not representing any country: Andreas Schleicher, quietly tapping notes into his computer, was there on behalf of children everywhereor at least on behalf of their data. And without him, the meeting never would have happened. A rail-thin man with blue eyes, white hair, and a brown Alex Trebek mustache, Schleicher works for the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, a bureaucrat without portfolio. And in recent years, he has become the most influential education expert youve never heard of.

Arne Duncan, President Obamas secretary of education, consults with Schleicher and uses his work to compel change at the federal and state levels. He understands the global issues and challenges as well as or better than anyone Ive met, Duncan said to me. And he tells me the truth. This year, U.K. Education Secretary Michael Gove called Schleicher the most important man in English educationnever mind that Schleicher is German and lives in France.

The story of how an introverted German scientist came to judge and counsel schools around the world is an improbable one. As a mediocre student in Hamburg, Schleicher did not particularly care about his classesto the distress of his father, who was a professor of education. Later, at an alternative high school, teachers encouraged Schleichers fascination with science and math, and his grades improved. He finished at the top of his class, even winning a national science prize. At the University of Hamburg, Schleicher studied physics. He had no interest in his fathers field, considering it too soft. Then, out of curiosity, he sat in on a lecture by Thomas Neville Postlethwaite, who called himself an educational scientist. Schleicher was captivated. Here was a man who claimed he could analyze a soft subject in a hard way, much the way a physicist might study schools. At the time, 1986, the education establishment was dominated by tradition, theories, and ideology. You had people dealing with every subject, Schleicher tells me, except looking at reality.

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eppur_se_muova Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jun-18-11 09:44 PM
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1. Not sure what to think ...
"And it measured not students retention of facts, but their readiness for knowledge worker jobstheir ability to think critically and solve real-world problems."

Is job preparedness the most important criterion? :shrug: Is that just the journo's interpretation?

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saras Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jun-18-11 10:13 PM
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2. If you realize your employer is corrupt and unlawful, is that still "thinking critically"?
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