BACK TO Home Page 50 CONVERSATION TOPICS Schools and Education

Stories you can use to start conversation or to add interest to speeches or presentations

Resources for Speakers - Anecdotes About Education Schools Teachers

First in school, last in life.

Schools Learning and Education

Warren Buffett spent $1m trying to persuade American schools to teach kids to play Bridge because so dismayed at popularity of on-line poker. Believed that Bridge taught kids logical thinking and co-op behaviour but teachers more worried about what parents would think about kids being taught to play cards in school so no-one took him up on offer

Computer Games

Video games are challenging but doable; and they constantly assess your skill level. Ideal way to teach (in theory).

Home Schooling

1981 home schooling illegal in US today 2m families mainly bc power Christian right - internet making much easier to get material and to join virtual communities to swap info

Schools Learning and Education

School reports and horoscopes two of best examples of bush beating around

Schools Learning and Education

Jim Hopkins (Christchurch NZ commentator) had 2 good reasons why religion should be taught in schools - 1. Anything about miracles will help them understand exam marking (esp NCEA) and 2. Kids should learn that none of the Ten Commandments begin with the words "I Want"

Schools Learning and Education

Indian companies are offering Internet based one-on-one private tutoring for abt $30 an hour vs $70 per hr pay for local tutor

Indian cities students studying on street at night near bright lit public places. home is an apartment with lots of noise; the street is quiet and others there for group study.

Learning and Education

Most valuable result of education is ability to make yourself do something you have to, whether you like it or not

When you're in college, don't worry too much about grades. Other than getting into a decent grad school and associating with the cream of your generation, getting straight A's means diddly-squat in the real world, where it's all about hustle, determination, focus, dressing right, sucking up, and who you know.

There's none so daft as an educated man when you get him off the subject he was educated in.

John Nash, the Nobel Prize-winning mathematician, and subject of the film A Beautiful Mind, earned a Ph.D. thesis in 1950 with a 26-page dissertation. It had 2 citations, one being an article that Nash had written.

There is a math competition (William Lowell Putnam Mathematical Competition) for undergrad students that is so hard that in 2014 the median score was 1/120.

After analyzing losses over North Vietnam in 1968, the US Air Force invested in upgrades for its F-4 jets while the Navy created an advanced combat school for its pilots: TOPGUN. The Navy saw kill ratios climb to 13:1 while the Air Force saw no improvements.

Grammar Nazi To The Bitter End

Before his execution, the Marquis de Favras (French aristocrat), upon reading his death warrant stated, "I see that you have made three spelling mistakes".

Kids Who Don't Go To School

In Britain 5000 kids are not enrolled at school (this figure excludes truants, who are enrolled but not attending). Parents keeping kids home as babysitters for siblings, or following itinerant work, or 'just keeping parent company'. But they turn into 'human time bombs' - make up most of the worst teen offenders - lack empathy and aggressive.

Schools and Parents

Teachers call the worst of these helicopter parents Blackhawks, because they will go to any lengths in their mission to create the perfect child.

School Discipline

Kings College (Auckland NZ) in 1992 headmaster caned 150+ boys at morning assembly (as punishment for sneaking into staffroom to get an early preview of their reports). He nearly expired with the effort - even not guilty boys were joining the queue just to see if he could get through.

They were once frowned on as a sign of adolescent rebelliousness. Now boys' ear studs have become so commonplace that schools are increasingly allowing them to be worn with school uniforms. The change has been driven by a combination of equality legislation, evolving social conventions and pestering by parents and boys who want the same rights to wear jewellery as girls. Under new policies, pupils are usually permitted to wear a single stud in each lobe. Schools with "gender-blind" stud codes - The policy is exactly the same as for girls. Schools have updated their policies to avoid sexism rows. "Dress codes have to stay up to date with social conventions. We say in our rules, 'No extremes of fashion', and the definition of what is extreme changes."

Cheating Exams

U.S. students may be clever, but they apparently badly trail Chinese students in the genius of cheating on exams (and especially on the use of cheat-enabling technology). The government's newest anti-fraud weapon, employed recently in the city of Luoyang during the crucial university-determining tests, is a six-propeller drone that can hover above a cavernous exam hall, trying to pinpoint the locations inside in which designated ace test-takers are radio-transmitting correct answers to their clients, whose tiny earbuds are worn deep in ear canals. Cheating students also use beverage-bottle cameras; ordinary-appearing eyeglasses that can scan and transmit images; and fingerprint film (to fool fingerprint scanners that otherwise would root out test-taking "ringers").

Cheating Exams

India (especially in Bihar state) has been plagued by legendary school-cheating scandals--with parents last year even seemingly re-creating the scene of the siege of the Alamo by using tall ladders en masse to climb the walls of a testing center to pass cheat sheets to students. In February on recruiting day for prestigious army jobs in Bihar, wary officials administered written tests in a field with all aspirants sitting cross-legged and clad only in underpants, balancing exam papers on their thighs. Officials thus avoided needing to frisk the large number of applicants.

Robot Education

CosmoBot is a Wizard of Oz robot that is externally controlled by a therapist; it has an elliptical head and the ability to swivel, in order to change its gaze. "The robot performs a motor action in a highly predictable way, repeating exactly the same sequence over and over," Carole Samango-Sprouse, the director of the center, explained. The robot is captivating and toylike, she said, and less stressful than human demonstration, in which minor variations can seem extreme and disturbing for a child with learning or behavioral difficulties. In addition, the robot can change a sequence but still make it appear predictable. More than thirty children have worked with the robot, and the initial observations, presented at an assistive-technology conference in January, have shown improvements not only in motor ability but also in social skills. "These children are encased in their own disability," Samango-Sprouse said. "“The robot gave us a really nice bridge to build imitation for motor development and then speech and then social engagement."

Robot tutor mimic kid's peers, but with constant enthusaism/can do attitude.Performance based praise "That was hard, but you worked hard and got it". Listen to kid tell stories - storytelling improves vocab.

Learning and Education

Only 53% of adults know how long it takes for the Earth to revolve around the Sun. Only 59% of adults know that the earliest humans and dinosaurs did not live at the same time. Only 47% of adults can roughly approximate the percent of the Earth's surface that is covered with water.* Only 21% of adults answered all three questions correctly.

Learning and Education

One of the most vivid arithmetic failings displayed by Americans occurred in the early 1980s, when the A&W restaurant chain released a new hamburger to rival the McDonald's Quarter Pounder. With a third-pound of beef, the A&W burger had more meat than the Quarter Pounder; in taste tests, customers preferred A&W's burger. And it was less expensive. A lavish A&W television and radio marketing campaign cited these benefits. Yet instead of leaping at the great value, customers snubbed it.

Only when the company held customer focus groups did it become clear why. The Third Pounder presented the American public with a test in fractions. And we failed. Misunderstanding the value of one-third, customers believed they were being overcharged. Why, they asked the researchers, should they pay the same amount for a third of a pound of meat as they did for a quarter-pound of meat at McDonald's. The "4" in "¼," larger than the "3" in "⅓," led them astray.

Learning and Education

A particularly memorable science lesson recalled in New Scientist magazine (25 Mar 1995)

Teacher: Now boys we are about to demonstrate an exothermic reaction.
(boys copy the word off the board)
Teacher: We take a piece of calcium hydroxide in a pair of tongs and hold it over a bunsen burner until it glows. We then leave it to cool.
(boys do as they are told)
Teacher: We now have calcium oxide. Put a largish piece in the palm of your hand and allow water to drip from the tap onto it
(boys do so)
Teacher: This is called ....
(boys: AAAARGH!)
Teacher: exothermic reaction. If any of you had kept the piece of material in your hands you would have seen the reconstituted calcium hydroxide.
The resulting blister lasted several days, leaving the boys with an indelible memory of what an exothermic reaction was

University Learning and Education

Science, and the universities that support it, is the grandest example of a system that has evolved to promote the abundance of knowledge. Universities offer incentives in the form of tenure, promotion and prestige to researchers who can discover and share the information which their peers consider most valuable. Academics are human: they are as greedy, short-sighted and treacherous as everyone else, but the academic environment encourages them to focus those vices and impress their colleagues with their cleverness and cool discoveries published in fancy journals. Sometimes those cool discoveries are imagined or incomplete, but then others get ahead by pointing this out, and when the whole process works, the result is science.

Pol party promised to make all schools 2 storey so that everybody cd have access to higher education.


....blamed wealthy families for demanding more luxurious facilities. “These days 13-year-old Jack and Sophie have Holiday Inn-style accommodation, weight training equipment of bewildering complexity and small class sizes,” Mr Turner said.

“Their parents made do with communal showers, tatty wall bars in the gym and much larger classes. Their grandparents sat in cold baths, outside toilets and dilapidated form rooms where they learnt whatever was convenient for the school.

“The improvements have come at a high cost to parents. If children are going to enjoy luxury at private school, in many cases this means austerity at home.”

Schools Discipline Learning and Education

Bouncers and former military personnel are being hired by schools as "crowd control" to cover classes for teachers. One recruitment agency in the West Midlands, Aspire People Ltd, has advertised urging former Marines, firemen, athletes and actors to sign up to work as "hard core cover" in schools. The positions would appeal to "someone who thinks they can get involved in a school environment and control the kids", offering pay of up to 70 pounds a day.

The world's oldest university (University of Al Quaraouiyine in Morocco) still in operation was founded by a Muslim woman (Fatima al-Fihri) in 859 A.D.

Education is the progressive discovery of our own ignorance

Genius without education is like silver still down the mine (Ben Franklin)

There's a fine line between a numerator and a denominator (but only a fraction of you will get this).

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