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What can the business community do to support education?

"In business, we rarely have the luxury of making an investment decision with as much evidence as we have to support the economic value of investing in early childhood development and education... Put bluntly, in my terms, they are a financial no-brainer. The only question is 'how strong is the ROI?' The answer. Two or three or more than one."

- John Pepper, former CEO Procter & Gamble

ROI means Return On Investment

I have noticed the trend most business 
organisations follow in their corporate social responsibility agenda. I sometimes wonder if as a people, we have misled them with the notion of what our collective interests are. It seems to me that many people undermine the need for us to drive change in the education sector by our very limited advocacy. It is time for us to up this discussion by seeking support from the corporate world for the right courses.

Business leaders can take various steps to help children access quality education. 

1. Support access to quality early childhood education through secondary education in their communities and states by sponsoring a child or donating teaching aids,  classroom materials and building standard science and art laboratories. 

2. Support programmes to train pre-kindergarten and elementary grade teachers in math and science to encourage inventions and innovations.

3. Offer employees information on engaging their children in fun activities for basic school subjects.
Provide portable early care centers for employees within their premises.

4. Provide expertise, volunteers and  resources to local schools to help develop play-based, hands on science, technology engineering and math (STEM) programs. 

They may even support radio and TV shows that advocate all of the above and more. We know for certain that investing in quality early childhood education programmes in Nigeria not only ensures that all children have access to quality education, but has long term economic benefits for the nation.

"By age 5, it is possible to predict, with depressing accuracy who will complete high school and college and who won't."

- David Brooks, Columnist
New York Times

More from www.readynation.org


Bursting Education Myths - Myth 2: Homework Boosts Achievement

There is no evidence that this is true. In Finland, students have higher achievement with little or no homework and shorter school hours. The more important factor is what students experience during the school day. Project-based learning, as one example, places the emphasis on what is done during the day. If students choose to do more after hours, that's their choice. There also may sometimes be other good reasons to assign homework, but there should be no illusion that homework will help increase student achievement.

The Learning Craft: We know that any classroom that is full of engaging activities would encourage lifelong love for learning. The experiences given or shared within the environment of the teaching - learning process is usually a 'clincher'. Students take more from this sort of classroom experience than most other places. 
Homework should given when the teacher deems it necessary as the case may be OR given as a project. The type and duration of homework should be done according to age  group and most importantly the students should do it themselves. 

  • Note to teachers: You know when that homework is not done by the child, insist they repeat it and do it by themselves.

  • Note to parents: Homework is given so that you can help your child if the need arises, please resist the eagerness to do your child's homework  for them.  You do more harm than good. 


The Joys and Benefits of Cursive Handwriting - Cynthia Dagnal-Myron

As a writer and former English teacher I sensed this. But now, science agrees with me.

Yes, it's official. The New York Times says we learn more and express ourselves better when we write long hand.

In her article entitled What's Lost as Handwriting Fades, science writer Maria Konnikova summed it up this way:

"Children not only learn to read more quickly when they first learn to write by hand, but they also remain better able to generate ideas and retain information. In other words, it's not just what we write that matters -- but how."

How do we know for sure?

Dr. Karen James, a psychologist at Indiana University featured in the New York Times article, used a scanner to observe brain activity in children as they wrote, traced and typed.

She discovered that free hand writing lights up three areas of the brain -- the left fusiform gyrus, the inferior frontal gyrus and the posterior parietal cortex. When we type or trace letters, there is much less activity.

Virginia Berninger, a psychologist at the University of Washington, offered even more insights in the article. Her studies proved that children who wrote compositions in cursive generated more words and ideas than children who typed. In fact, children writing in cursive generated more words and ideas than children who printed their compositions long hand as well.

While this may be news to many educators and parents, many of us who write professionally -- or just for the love of it -- have suspected all this for a very long time. Though now forced to do a great deal of our writing with computers, many of us discovered our love for words by writing long hand.

I call it the "John Boy syndrome," that yearning to curl up with an old fashioned writing tablet, a ballpoint pen or even that old No. 2 pencil to write to your heart's content. As I writer, I can literally "feel" the difference between the writing I do "by hand" and writing I do strictly via computer.

So can some agents and editors. In fact, I've begun to see submission guidelines from both that suggest writers try writing long hand more often. A trend? No.

There are far more agents and editors who will only accept electronic submissions. And very few writers have the time or desire to type or dictate that hand written tome into a digital version.

But I've taken to printing out my fiction and writing the corrections and any idle thoughts that bubble up in the process in cursive. That one extra step seems to unlock a door somewhere -- ideas flow. And I return to the keyboard rejuvenated -- I can't type fast enough.

As an old school English teacher, I even had my students copy notes from the board in cursive. I found that they retained more of what they wrote that way. And they were usually able to write with more confidence and complexity than peers who composed by computer alone.

Yet, cursive writing isn't even part of the Common Core after first grade. And I meet more and more young people who know nothing about it -- they don't even have a cursive signature.

Do they need one? Probably not. It's a digital age.

But now we know exactly what they're missing. And why it matters.

So go get your John Boy on. Write something, or to someone, long hand. And feel those doors open.

The Learning Craft : I have always known this to be a fact. See our previous post on this topic here.


Bursting Education Myths : Myth1 Teachers are the Most Important Influence

It has become very important for educators around the world to tell truths concerning the effectiveness of our education. We are on a mission to bust some education myths most people have believed for too long. Thanks to the increasing research in the field, educators around the world are discovering truths that are scientifically proven about education. 

These widely-shared myths and/or lies about education are destructive for all of us and destructive for our educational institutions. So destructive that they have potentially misdirected our energies as parents, teachers, caregivers and administrators away from adopting best practices in our homes and schools. 

Written by Mark Phillips of Edutopia, I begin with the most popular one.

Myth #1: Teachers are the Most Important Influence on a Child’s Education

Of course teachers are extremely important. Good teachers make a significant difference in achievement. But research indicates that less than 30 percent of a student's academic success is attributable to schools and teachers. The most significant variable is socioeconomic status, followed by the neighborhood, the psychological quality of the home environment, and the support of physical health provided. There are others, but the bottom line is that teachers have far less power to improve student achievement than do varied outside factors.

Yes, teachers can only do so much as stated. There are quite a number of caregivers who disagree with this fact; but the truth is that the above mentioned factors supercede the influence of teachers. Over many years of experience, teachers know this to be a fact. You could ask any teacher you know.


Save the Date: Day of the African Child

The world is standing in support of our children's  safe stay in schools on the 16th of June 2014. Programs will be held and you are invited to lend your voice to Children's rights to a quality, safe, free and compulsory education.

 What are you doing this month? If your answer includes "taking a stand so that children around the world can have safe access to education," that's great. If not, there's still time to act.

Thousands of young people are mobilising - from Malawi to Macedonia, Burundi to Bangladesh, Lagos to London and from the US to the UAE -  to host events throughout June. 

You can stand in solidarity with the abducted girls from Nigeria and advocate for safe schools and the right of every girl and boy to go to school.

Here's how:
Attend the event on 16 June, 2014 - Day of the African Child at The National Stadium Surulere Lagos organised by the African Child's Rights group.  Time: 2pm - 3:30pm

I will be among a group of panelists speaking on the Possibilities and Opportunities of a qualitative, free and Compulsory Inclusive Education in Nigeria.

Keep a date with us as we speak in one voice for our Children's rights.