more on: educationmobilitynorms

UP Links 18 September 2013

+ Kari Kohn

The Economist on the Manchester Model

Since then, the city’s leaders—Sir Howard and Sir Richard Leese, the Labour council leader—have transformed the city’s governance, by bringing on board neighbouring local authorities to agree a strategy for Greater Manchester. In 2009, the city’s leaders created a single transport infrastructure fund, worth around £1.5bn, which is paying for a big expansion of the Metrolink. In 2011, this was followed by the creation of the Greater Manchester Combined Authority, which has taken over control of transport and planning policy for the whole city. Everything is intended to boost growth: for example, unlike in London, there are few restrictions on tall buildings, which helped to spawn a series of skyscrapers....Other British cities are learning from its model. Liverpool and Sheffield are both establishing combined authorities—others are mooted. Birmingham is copying Manchester’s centralised transport budget and its planning policies. If Manchester can win the argument for greater independence, then, eventually, freedom for other big British cities could well follow.

The Benefits of Human Interaction in Education

In my classroom at the community college where I teach, students can sit in two types of seats: at computers, which are arranged in horseshoe formation facing three walls in the room,or at the four rows of long desks that are in the center. It’s a tight space, each table seating seven students. But every morning we meet, as if by instinct, my freshmen choose these desks over the individual computer stations. They wait to be asked before logging onto the PCs—and they wait sitting quite close together. They are an ethnically diverse group from various Baltimore communities, different socioeconomic backgrounds, and a wide range of college preparedness.Their desire to sit shoulder-to-shoulder, facing me, is essential. It means, whether they realize it or not, that their concept of college is driven by human interaction....Discussions about the future of education should never undersell the social import of sitting side by side, of holding conversations with students vastly unlike oneself, and of students being able to see their peers respond to their newly acquired insights. These are not mere soft skills being gleaned in a glorified warehouse. These are the true cornerstones of lifelong learning.

The Social Value of Play

...everywhere that children have regular access to other children, most play is social play. Social play is the academy for learning social skills.The reason why play is such a powerful way to impart social skills is that it is voluntary. Players are always free to quit, and if they are unhappy they will quit. Every player knows that, and so the goal, for every player who wants to keep the game going, is to satisfy his or her own needs and desires while also satisfying those of the other players, so they don’t quit. Social play involves lots of negotiation and compromise.

A Proposal to Improve Escalator Norms

Alter’s proposal calls for highly visible orange decals that would signal the right side as stationary and the left side as intended for movement. The designer had first tried yellow footsteps, but thought that might be confused with a double yellow line. Alter writes via email that there are already audio announcements and signs reminding people to stand on the right and pass on the left, but neither are effective in an environment filled with advertisements. His bright-colored, conspicuous design, on the other hand, is meant to cut through the “visual noise” at transit centers and transcend language barriers.

Establishing New Systems of Rules in Graduate Studies

But the work is ultimately designed to help students succeed, Blattman said. Historically, professors – including him – do a “very poor job” of communicating norms to graduate students....Blattman said the approach, as outlined, is an experiment, and it could fail. But if it works, and other faculty start to copy him, raising the level of competition, “then I still win, because it will be a better profession.”
Back to top
see comments ()