Adam Renner

Aberdeen, United Kingdom

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Adam Renner
Posted about 2 years ago
Daphne Koller: What we're learning from online education
As soon as I checked out the site I signed up for a couple of courses and stared one straight away. My only regret is that I didn't find out about Coursera earlier. Like some people mentioned before, Khan academy is great for the basics of all major topics in education, but it suits high school education. This is the next step in the evolution of online education.
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Adam Renner
Posted almost 3 years ago
As a trilingual or bilingual, what role does language play in the creation of your identity? Which language do you think in?
I grew up bilingual Slovak / English, living in Slovakia and watching loads of British / American channels and speaking English with my mum when I was younger. I later had English problems because of having learnt some English in Australia, then from a Canadian teacher, and then living in Brussels in a multinational school (which resulted in an ever-changing accent). I personally can't associate myself with any particular culture, partly due to language and partly due to having lived in different environments. I usually think in English, unless I speak Slovak, but nevertheless I find that often I don't fully understand the thoughts of native speakers, and in general I feel less confident in making spontaneous jokes, uttering large sophisticated sentences, etc. I see what you mean by moving in and out of cultures as you change languages, since that language is associated with a particular experiences or areas of interest. A trilinguar friend of mine completely changes his speech and attitude depending on whether he's speaking Italian, English or French, which I find very interesting.
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Adam Renner
Posted almost 3 years ago
Does the future of education lie in bilingualism? Is it even possible?
You said that to you, language can deepen your understanding of specific cultures. This is a view many people would tend to disagree with. Nowadays, as English is becoming more global, language is viewed increasingly as a means of communication, rather than a necessary tool for obtaining certain knowledge. Speaking different languages can certainly make you understand how other people think a lot better, but the significance of using different languages can be a controversial issue. I myself grew up speaking fluent English and a Slavic language, learnt another Slavic language at a young age, and eventually learn German and French. Even though in the past I saw language as something special, or as you put it, ''a passport that grants access to cultural knowledge'', today I see language as a means to an end, a way to pass on information, not as an end in itself, not a necessary key to a culture. Learning more languages at a young age can, however, significantly improve certain areas of the brain which would otherwise remain dormant, giving an individual more potential in life. In my opinion, people will tend to become more bilingual, with English being the other language, thanks to the internet. Native English speakers lack the incentive.
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Adam Renner
Posted about 3 years ago
Isn't it time to eliminate grades in education?
Consider this situation. 2 projects are handed in, 1 gets an A, its very well done, and the other lacks a point of view as you suggested. Even without feedback, but relying on the student's own incentive to improve his own work, the B student would possibly ask to see his friend's A work, and if he trully understands the topic, he will realize he made an omission of the point of view or didn't include enough points of view. If the A student wants to help his friend he'd point out the mistake himself. This would happen in an ideal world were the students are concerned about their results, and often does happen. But since its not the case in the majority of homework tasks, the teacher's feedback is used instead. As for the objectivity, I agree that a narrative feedback is more objective than a B, if only 1 student is concerned, but if 1 student gets his homework back with a comment saying his work is quite good and should improve, another student receives a similar comment, on what basis does a third party decide which one of them is better?
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Adam Renner
Posted about 3 years ago
Isn't it time to eliminate grades in education?
There are many students to whom an A or an F will never mean anything, but the point of using a grade system is not only in order to give feedback. If grades were removed entirely, objectivity would disappear. The main idea behind grades is to create an objective assesment for a student's work. A grade with no commentary is of no use, but we should head towards a system where teachers understand the grading system well and the abilities of people from different environments can be compared somewhar objectively, while narrative feedback should be included to enhance a student's future performance. In my geography calss our substitute teacher gave us back our homework without a grade, saying that if a grade is included the students just look at the grade and don't bother reading the comments. The feedback he wrote was helpful, but I remained puzzled, not knowing if I got a 9.5 and needed to improve to get a 10, or if I got a 5.5 and needed an extra half mark to pass. Giving grades can create positive and negative feedbacks from the students. In my first philosophy essay I got a 9, and encouraged by my success I eventually went to uni to study philosophy among other things. Many of my friends had similar experiences. Your assumption that a student learns nothing from a grade is true for a number of cases, but your first error was to generalize this assumption. Secondly, you can't accuse grades of being subjective, they'll always be more objective than words. Most importantly, you fail to realize that grades have multiple purposes, not just to asses a student's individual performance. I agree with your premise that narrative feedback is better as a perfomance improver, but that doesn;t imply grades need to be eliminated.