Why Solidarity? Notes on Social Justice

Our Natural Sense of Solidarity is Both Necessary and Compromised Our natural sense of solidarity with others is situationally compromised, no matter how self-glorifying we perceive ourselves. While we generally feel great empathy for the suffering of others such as e.g., on TV as we see children ripped apart by bombs in war zones or scrapping for food on third-world garbage landfills, we also close our eyes with ease once we are asked to pay…
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What the OECD Findings on Students’ Collaborative Problem-Solving Skills Tell Us … And What Not

Congratulations, Singapore! As one of the pioneers that have championed Problem-Based learning (PBL) in Singapore, I was delighted to see Singapore on the No.1 spot in collaborative problem-solving when the OECD (OECD, 2017) presented its results on November 21, 2017. Many years of hard work by consultants like myself and government investment into a more student-centered pedagogy have, obviously, paid off.  Still, we need to be prudent on how to interpret the results since there…
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The Creative Mind: Kant, Hegel and the Complexity of Life in the 21st Century

Artwork: Through spirit’s gaze by Andrew James Campbell. Acrylic on torn paper. A4 1982. With kind permission of the artist. The source of the title is “The Spirit shall look out through matters gaze, and matter shall reveal the Spirits face” Sri Aurobindo Kant and Hegel, 2.0 When Kant postulated in a Cartesian manner that we are the children of two distinct worlds, the cognitive and the empirical, and that we can derive clear-cut conclusions…
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Metacognition (Part 2): What Makes Us Truly Human? A Literature Review

To learn is to create: Educational robotics are a very recent trend that requires children and adolescents to plan, reason, experiment, create, play and learn from failure. In the process, they acquire and apply new knowledge. As in most such technology-based scenarios, students learn in teams. Photograph by Alain Herzog, 2015 The path of least resistance and least trouble is a mental rut already made. It requires troublesome work to undertake the alteration of old…
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Metacognition (Part1): What or How We Think is Not Quite as Important as How We Can Govern Our Reasoning

Photograph: Al Gore explaining data findings on global warming for his documentary ‘An Inconvenient Truth’ (Picture Credit: The Hollywood Reporter) Reason in a creature is a faculty of widening the rules and purposes of the use of all its powers far beyond natural instinct; it acknowledges no limits to its projects. Reason itself does not work instinctively but requires trial, practice, and instruction in order to progress gradually from one level of insight to another.…
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Women in IT: Where are the disconnects?

Picture credit: Harvey Mudd College While the emerging knowledge- and service industries of the 21st-century is a continuing discussion topic of public discourse, the minuscule percentage of women embarking on careers in IT is deeply troubling. The IT industry struggles to find enough applicants to fill open positions as women are losing out on a personal and societal level by not embarking on beneficial career paths, effectively excluding themselves from Economy 4.0. Problem Definition Across…
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How Unregulated For-Profits Degrade Higher Education: The Case of Raffles Education Corporation

The picture above: The Raffles Campus in Bangna, Bangkok. Nice to look at, but where are the students? After losing the TEQSA accreditation, the student population dropped from about 340 at the Silom Campus to about 70 after moving to the Bangna Campus. The Commercial and Academic Failure of Unregulated For-profit Education The following is a summary of my experiences that I made in over a decade with Raffles Education Corporation. The presented argument states…
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Constructivism Today: How Should Students Learn?

Our schools: Same old, same old The most commonly voiced out critique against traditional rote learning is that it doesn’t deliver what it promises, this is that acquired knowledge fades fast and students start to forget mental content shortly after their exams. In this model, learning serves to achieve a good grade by internalising syllabus material as fast as possible, forgetting it as fast as possible and to move on to the next short-term goal.…
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The Ethics of Grading (About Grades, Part 2)

Grading is a method to measure students’ performance while the type of grading system employed is a representation of its underlying educational ethics. The more simple the grading system, the more simple the assertions of graders about the graded. The more multi-faceted the grading system, the more factors an assessment entails. In the latter case, justifications for stipulating assessment criteria need to be provided. Typically, no or little justifications are given in the case of…
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