Time for a National Celebration .

Letter to the Editor. Globe and Mail

Re: Canadian teens ace OECD test—- From front page to back pages
On Dec 3, 2013 the Globe and Mail lead article was titled, “Canada’s fall in math-education ranking sets off alarm bells”. John Manley, CEO and president of the Canadian Council of Chief Executives had declared, “This is on the scale of a national emergency.” He was referring to the fact that Canada fell from 9th to 13th out of 65 countries on the recent PISA rankings in mathematics. It was followed by weeks of lament about our ” devastating” decline.

While I appreciate and support the need to debate and improve our math instruction, yet I am disappointed that the Globe and Mail relegated the impressive new OECD, PISA results, “Canadian Teens Ace OECD”, to a small story on page four.

Canada outperformed all western countries, all English speaking countries in problem solving and ranked third overall out of 45 countries ( excluding Asian city data), yet it is relegated to a buried article! There was no mention that Ontario, Alberta, and BC did even better, provinces where the public outcry from our decline in rankings in math has forced curriculum changes.

Also unreported on this test of problem solving skills, is that Canada’s achievement gap between the rich and poor, and immigrant groups continues to be the narrowest of any country in the world. (on every measure of educational achievement, on every international test). A staggering achievement! It is a primary goal of our public educational system to not only raise the achievement of all students, but to narrow the gap in achievement between the advantaged and less advantaged.
Back pages! Has the Globe no national pride? After filling the paper for weeks with “chicken little” stories emanating from Manley’s shrill cry of a “national emergency”, this new OECD PISA story is cause for a front page national celebration!

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We’re number one!

While there has been much weeping and wailing about the drop in mechanical math skills by Canadian teens, 2012, since the previous PISA scores ( though still well above all english speaking countries) this latest test of problem solving skills ( which is the focus of our math curriculum) shows Canada is ahead of all Western countries and all English speaking countries and third after Korea and Japan ( several other asian cities including Singapore are ahead but i think it unfair to include cities as they always have superior results to national figures )

The star headline reads
“Canadian teens beat much of the globe in problem-solving skills”

OECD’s latest assessment ranks Canadian students ahead of most of the West in many skills thought most important by 21st century employers.

Ontario Alberta and BC do even better than the national score! Where the hue and cry to bring back the basics has been strongest and where public opinion has forced these province to alter curriculum to bring back more “rote memory” basics instead of discovery, problem solving math

But what i like most of all is the stunning result :

” Moreover, Canadian students performed relatively the same regardless of socio-economic background or immigrant status compared with other countries, the report showed — a sign Canadian schools do well at removing demographic barriers to achievement.

No country compares in this study or any of the other studies in Canada’s remarkable success in narrowing the gap in achievement between the rich and the poor and immigrant groups we still lead the world in that regard ( though the gap has not been eliminated )

Here is the full article

http://www.thestar.com/yourtoronto/education/2014/04/01/canadian_teens_beat_much_of_the_globe_in_problemsolving_skills.html

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Good news buried!

Sent this letter to the Globe and Mail this morning

 

Canadian teens ace OECD test—- From front page to back pages
On Dec 3, 2013 front page, the Globe announced the “end is nigh”. The lead article titled, “Canada’s fall in math-education ranking sets off alarm bells”, cited John Manley, CEO and president of the Canadian Council of Chief Executives, “This is on the scale of a national emergency.” He was referring to the fact that Canada fell from 9th to 13th out of 65 countries on the latest 2012 PISA rankings in mathematics. It was followed by weeks of lament about our ” devastating” decline.
While I appreciate and support the need to debate and improve our math instruction, yet i am disappointed that the Globe and Mail relegated the impressive new PISA results, that “Canadian teens ace OECD” to a small story on page four.

Canada outperformed all, western countries, all English speaking countries in problem solving and ranked third overall out of 45 countries ( excluding Asian city data), yet it is relegated to a buried article!

More importantly there is no mention that Ontario, Alberta, and BC did even better provinces where the public outcry from our decline in rankings has forced curriculum changes.

Also unreported on this test of problem solving skills, is that Canada’s achievement gap between the rich and poor, and immigrant groups continues to be the narrowest of any country in the world. (on every measure of educational achievement on every international test). A staggering achievement! It is a primary goal of our public educational system to not only raise the achievement of all but to narrow the gap in achievement between the advantaged and less advantaged.
Has the Globe no national pride after filling the paper for weeks with “chicken little” stories emanating from Manley’s shrill cry of a “national emergency”
This story is cause for a national celebration!

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Power of Engaged Reading

http://www.cea-ace.ca/education-canada/article/power-engaged-reading

I am excited my recent article is just out, titled, “The Power of Engaged Reading”, about powerful correlation between engaged reading and university attendance and life success (especially fiction) in the current web issue of the quarterly journal of the Canadian Education Association, EDUCATION CANADA, Spring, 2014 .

I was pleased they used a photo of my grand daughter Hannah while reading in Cuba, a year or two ago .
If you know anyone with children especially boys I recommend sharing it.

Here is the link to the article if interested.

http://www.cea-ace.ca/education-canada/article/power-engaged-reading

Warm regards
Jerry

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As someone who grew up always sure I was a few bricks short of a full load, and teachers constantly affirmed that, not to mention the Royal Canadian Navy who almost decommissioned me after receiving my mental ability test results( not a very high admission bar). But they were under their enlistment quota that month, so they accepted me. Over and over again my intelligence was deemed subpar by somebody or some test. By all measures it sure was not intelligence, as measured then, that got me into University of Toronto and graduate there with 4 degrees including at the age of 65, a doctorate. It was not my grades, at any level, that were responsible for a modicum of success as a teacher, principal, superintendent or professor.

Since the 70 s there has been a flurry of alternative modes of talking about human intelligence and I was attracted to and riveted, first by Richard Sternberg’s theory of the “triarchic mind”. Which offered at least two other ways of looking at intelligence beyond the tried, and relied on ( but not true) IQ test. Then came Howard Gardner’s theory of “multiple intelligences” and I knew then, their was hope for restoring my self confidence about my most quirky mind. But to be really honest I still suffer about the areas of my mind that I consider embarrassingly, subpar. So ashamed in fact that i have never shared it with anyone but my wife. She too is amazed at that lack and finds it hard to understand it since it is not readily apparent. ( I will share one clue. I still to this day do not know WTF William Shakespeare is ever talking about. . . Ever! Not one word)

I was elated this morning to read Thomas Friedman’s essay in the New York Times “How to get a job at Google”. I include here a few of my favourite bits. But read it all at:

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/23/opinion/sunday/friedman-how-to-get-a-job-at-google.html?_r=0

Laszlo Bock, hiring chief, stated that Google had determined that “G.P.A.’s are worthless as a criteria for hiring, and test scores are worthless. … We found that they don’t predict anything.”
Do you have any idea how that exciting that statement is to me?
He does goes on to qualify, by saying not to get him wrong,, “Good grades certainly don’t hurt.” Many jobs at Google require math, computing and coding skills, so if your good grades truly reflect skills in those areas that you can apply, it would be an advantage”

“For every job, though, the No. 1 thing we look for is general cognitive ability, and it’s not I.Q. It’s learning ability. It’s the ability to process on the fly. It’s the ability to pull together disparate bits of information. We assess that using structured behavioral interviews that we validate to make sure they’re predictive.”

The rest here is directly from the article. Wonderful! amazing ! exhilarating

The second, he added, “is leadership — in particular emergent leadership as opposed to traditional leadership. Traditional leadership is, were you president of the chess club? Were you vice president of sales? How quickly did you get there? We don’t care. What we care about is, when faced with a problem and you’re a member of a team, do you, at the appropriate time, step in and lead. And just as critically, do you step back and stop leading, do you let someone else? Because what’s critical to be an effective leader in this environment is you have to be willing to relinquish power.”

What else? Humility and ownership. “It’s feeling the sense of responsibility, the sense of ownership, to step in,” he said, to try to solve any problem — and the humility to step back and embrace the better ideas of others. “Your end goal,” explained Bock, “is what can we do together to problem-solve. I’ve contributed my piece, and then I step back.”
And it is not just humility in creating space for others to contribute, says Bock, it’s “intellectual humility. Without humility, you are unable to learn.” It is why research shows that many graduates from hotshot business schools plateau. “Successful bright people rarely experience failure, and so they don’t learn how to learn from that failure,” said Bock.

“They, instead, commit the fundamental attribution error, which is if something good happens, it’s because I’m a genius. If something bad happens, it’s because someone’s an idiot or I didn’t get the resources or the market moved. … What we’ve seen is that the people who are the most successful here, who we want to hire, will have a fierce position. They’ll argue like hell. They’ll be zealots about their point of view. But then you say, ‘here’s a new fact,’ and they’ll go, ‘Oh, well, that changes things; you’re right.’ ” You need a big ego and small ego in the same person at the same time.

The least important attribute they look for is “expertise.” Said Bock: “If you take somebody who has high cognitive ability, is innately curious, willing to learn and has emergent leadership skills, and you hire them as an H.R. person or finance person, and they have no content knowledge, and you compare them with someone who’s been doing just one thing and is a world expert, the expert will go: ‘I’ve seen this 100 times before; here’s what you do.’ ” Most of the time the nonexpert will come up with the same answer, added Bock, “because most of the time it’s not that hard.” Sure, once in a while they will mess it up, he said, but once in a while they’ll also come up with an answer that is totally new. And there is huge value in that.

To sum up Bock’s approach to hiring: Talent can come in so many different forms and be built in so many nontraditional ways today, hiring officers have to be alive to every one — besides brand-name colleges. Because “when you look at people who don’t go to school and make their way in the world, those are exceptional human beings. And we should do everything we can to find those people.” Too many colleges, he added, “don’t deliver on what they promise. You generate a ton of debt, you don’t learn the most useful things for your life. It’s [just] an extended adolescence.”

Google attracts so much talent it can afford to look beyond traditional metrics, like G.P.A. For most young people, though, going to college and doing well is still the best way to master the tools needed for many careers. But Bock is saying something important to them, too: Beware. Your degree is not a proxy for your ability to do any job. The world only cares about — and pays off on — what you can do with what you know (and it doesn’t care how you learned it). And in an age when innovation is increasingly a group endeavor, it also cares about a lot of soft skills — leadership, humility, collaboration, adaptability and loving to learn and re-learn. This will be true no matter where you go to work.”

How good is all that! Love it!

 

 

 

 

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Musings on grades, intelligence and getting a job at Google

As someone who grew up always sure I was a few bricks short of a full load, and teachers constantly affirmed that, not to mention the Royal Canadian Navy who almost decommissioned me after receiving my mental ability test results( not a very high admission bar). But they were under their enlistment quota that month, so they accepted me. Over and over again my intelligence was deemed subpar by somebody or some test. By all measures it sure was not intelligence, as measured then, that got me into University of Toronto and graduate there with 4 degrees including at the age of 65, a doctorate. It was not my grades, at any level, that were responsible for a modicum of success as a teacher, principal, superintendent or professor.

Since the 70 s there has been a flurry of alternative modes of talking about human intelligence and I was attracted to and riveted, first by Richard Sternberg’s theory of the “triarchic mind”. Which offered at least two other ways of looking at intelligence beyond the tried, and relied on ( but not true) IQ test. Then came Howard Gardner’s theory of “multiple intelligences” and I knew then, their was hope for restoring my self confidence about my most quirky mind. But to be really honest I still suffer about the areas of my mind that I consider embarrassingly, subpar. So ashamed in fact that i have never shared it with anyone but my wife. She too is amazed at that lack and finds it hard to understand it since it is not readily apparent. ( I will share one clue. I still to this day do not know WTF William Shakespeare is ever talking about. . . Ever! Not one word)

I was elated this morning to read Thomas Friedman’s essay in the New York Times “How to get a job at Google”. I include here a few of my favourite bits. But read it all at:

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/23/opinion/sunday/friedman-how-to-get-a-job-at-google.html?_r=0

Laszlo Bock, hiring chief, stated that Google had determined that “G.P.A.’s are worthless as a criteria for hiring, and test scores are worthless. … We found that they don’t predict anything.”
Do you have any idea how that exciting that statement is to me?
He does goes on to qualify, by saying not to get him wrong,, “Good grades certainly don’t hurt.” Many jobs at Google require math, computing and coding skills, so if your good grades truly reflect skills in those areas that you can apply, it would be an advantage”

“For every job, though, the No. 1 thing we look for is general cognitive ability, and it’s not I.Q. It’s learning ability. It’s the ability to process on the fly. It’s the ability to pull together disparate bits of information. We assess that using structured behavioral interviews that we validate to make sure they’re predictive.”

The rest here is directly from the article. Wonderful! amazing ! exhilarating

The second, he added, “is leadership — in particular emergent leadership as opposed to traditional leadership. Traditional leadership is, were you president of the chess club? Were you vice president of sales? How quickly did you get there? We don’t care. What we care about is, when faced with a problem and you’re a member of a team, do you, at the appropriate time, step in and lead. And just as critically, do you step back and stop leading, do you let someone else? Because what’s critical to be an effective leader in this environment is you have to be willing to relinquish power.”

What else? Humility and ownership. “It’s feeling the sense of responsibility, the sense of ownership, to step in,” he said, to try to solve any problem — and the humility to step back and embrace the better ideas of others. “Your end goal,” explained Bock, “is what can we do together to problem-solve. I’ve contributed my piece, and then I step back.”
And it is not just humility in creating space for others to contribute, says Bock, it’s “intellectual humility. Without humility, you are unable to learn.” It is why research shows that many graduates from hotshot business schools plateau. “Successful bright people rarely experience failure, and so they don’t learn how to learn from that failure,” said Bock.

“They, instead, commit the fundamental attribution error, which is if something good happens, it’s because I’m a genius. If something bad happens, it’s because someone’s an idiot or I didn’t get the resources or the market moved. … What we’ve seen is that the people who are the most successful here, who we want to hire, will have a fierce position. They’ll argue like hell. They’ll be zealots about their point of view. But then you say, ‘here’s a new fact,’ and they’ll go, ‘Oh, well, that changes things; you’re right.’ ” You need a big ego and small ego in the same person at the same time.

The least important attribute they look for is “expertise.” Said Bock: “If you take somebody who has high cognitive ability, is innately curious, willing to learn and has emergent leadership skills, and you hire them as an H.R. person or finance person, and they have no content knowledge, and you compare them with someone who’s been doing just one thing and is a world expert, the expert will go: ‘I’ve seen this 100 times before; here’s what you do.’ ” Most of the time the nonexpert will come up with the same answer, added Bock, “because most of the time it’s not that hard.” Sure, once in a while they will mess it up, he said, but once in a while they’ll also come up with an answer that is totally new. And there is huge value in that.

To sum up Bock’s approach to hiring: Talent can come in so many different forms and be built in so many nontraditional ways today, hiring officers have to be alive to every one — besides brand-name colleges. Because “when you look at people who don’t go to school and make their way in the world, those are exceptional human beings. And we should do everything we can to find those people.” Too many colleges, he added, “don’t deliver on what they promise. You generate a ton of debt, you don’t learn the most useful things for your life. It’s [just] an extended adolescence.”

Google attracts so much talent it can afford to look beyond traditional metrics, like G.P.A. For most young people, though, going to college and doing well is still the best way to master the tools needed for many careers. But Bock is saying something important to them, too: Beware. Your degree is not a proxy for your ability to do any job. The world only cares about — and pays off on — what you can do with what you know (and it doesn’t care how you learned it). And in an age when innovation is increasingly a group endeavor, it also cares about a lot of soft skills — leadership, humility, collaboration, adaptability and loving to learn and re-learn. This will be true no matter where you go to work.”

How good is all that! Love it! Each of us has a germ of giftedness, brilliance, goodness or talent. Let it flourish!

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Storefronts of Aix en Provence

 

 

 

 

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