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IN THE SPOTLIGHT
Are valedictorians changing the world? Not according to a small study conducted by Karen Arnold, a Boston College researcher who followed 81 high school valedictorians and salutatorians from graduation into adulthood. While 90% of these bright students are now in professional careers, with 40% claiming the highest-tier jobs, none so far occupies a position that might be considered “visionary” or world-changing. “Valedictorians aren’t likely to be the future’s visionaries, Arnold reports. “They typically settle into the system instead of shaking it up.” She believes this is because schools emphasize and praise conformity over all else (Money, 5/18/2017). Supply soon to exceed demand for international schools in Hong Kong A report commissioned by Hong Kong’s Bureau of Education indicates that the supply of international school places has begun to outstrip demand. This is especially true in the primary school sector, which is bracing for a surplus of 3,000 places within five years. Local demand is increasing and could offset the surplus (The Pie News, 3/29/17). Obsessing over college admissions? Welcome to College Confidential, an online gathering point for college-bound teens and college-obsessed parents. Founded in 2001, the site claimed to have more than 40 million unique users in 2016. Here, the angst of college admissions plays out in real time. Users come to its forum pages with questions on financial aid, coursework, waitlisting, campus life, and more (Washington Post, 3/29/17). Storytelling improves retention in all subjects Whatever the subject, delivering content through a story has positive effects on students’ information retention. The familiarity of the narrative pattern becomes a strong memory-holding template. When new information, whether from algebra or history, is presented in the familiar narrative form, the memory structure facilitates the brain’s retention of that information. With time that map expands to allow students to explore or discover other possible outcomes. Use primary news sources to explore the beginning and middle of stories, then ask students how they think things turned out (Edutopia, 9/12/17). Universities create high schools for international students Amid pressures to increase revenues and international enrollments, some universities are establishing high schools for international students on their campuses. The University of Southern Maine, in Portland, is recruiting its first class for the International Academy, an independent boarding school for Grades 11 and 12. Administrators at various institutions explain the move by underscoring the benefits, such as revenue generation, new international recruitment pathways, and increased cultural diversity on their campuses (Inside Higher Ed, 5/16/17). A Plan to increase happiness in schools With mental health problems on the rise in classrooms, a small group of educators in England is testing a school curriculum focused on students’ wellbeing. The idea is to bring happiness inspectors into schools and develop a GCSE in wellbeing. This approach includes lessons about resilience, personal responsibility, growth mindsets, kindness and mindfulness (The Guardian, 8/25/17). 11,000 girls compete in mobile app challenge Girls from all over the world competed in the Technovation Challenge, a global effort to get girls ages 10–18 involved in applying technology to solve real-world problems in their communities. This year, 11,000 girls worked in teams of one to five to build mobile applications and address the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (T.H.E. Journal, 7/6/17). Student recovery after natural disaster Researchers say academic performance and graduation rates generally drop after a natural disaster, although precise numbers on how many children are affected and in what ways are not available. In poor communities and those that have no post-disaster plans, kids suffer more. In a massive 2010 metastudy, examining post-traumatic stress disorder or post-traumatic stress symptoms in nearly 75,000 youths found post-disaster effects can last years. Schools are urged to write notes to colleges explaining why a student’s performance dropped during a period of trauma (Washington Post, 9/11/17). Students in China compete in service contest More than 200 students from China and the U.S. competed in the Public Benefit International Challenge for Youth 2017. The recent program allows students to plan and execute efforts to raise funds to help improve the lives of people in Africa. Forty-six teams, comprised of 207 students from 61 schools, proposed and carried out projects to raise funds, build facilities, provide greater access to education and more. The contest aims to widen teenagers’ international vision, awaken them to the importance of international public benefit, and urge them to participate in charities going forward (China Daily, 8/7/17). England faces teacher shortage and burn out England’s teacher shortag could be one of the biggest headaches facing a new education secretary. Not enough new teachers are being trained, and growing numbers of young teachers are leaving the profession within a few years. Meanwhile, a baby boom is looming. By 2024, there will be 8% more pupils in primary and 20% more in secondary than in 2015 (BBC News, 5/30/17).
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