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What is an aircraft carrier? An aircraft carrier is whatever a particularly navy defines one as. When the Liaoning began her life in a Ukrainian construction yard, the Soviet Navy…

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This is Part II of Hong Kong and the Anti-Cosmopolitan Moment, a response to Ivan Krastev’s Why Did the ‘Twitter Revolutions’ Fail?  Krastev is crashing the ‘idiosyncratic’ party by saying the…

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Here’s a link to my PowerPoint Here’s a link to other writing I’ve done on this topic: Youth Unemployment and the ‘Enrolment Cure’: A Case for Skills Before Schooling Measuring…

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I’ve been doing some work recently on national and regional qualifications frameworks. A big thing, for me, is what I’m calling “horizontal mobility.” I see nearly all around me, and in my own life, people trying moving between careers as much as they’re trying to move up careers. How we frame “qualifications”, in my mind, is deeply flawed and often serve as pointless barriers. In a few months, I’ll be qualified to teach and develop teacher training courses but not qualified to teach in my school system. 

Second, I’m increasingly of the belief that problems we see in work performance are related to the systems themselves far more than a lack of specific skills. Does the US have an shortage of engineers or a shortage of engineers willing to work for a low price? Are service sector employees rude because they’re not paid well and their managers are rude to them or because they simply don’t know how to be empathetic? Is there an entrepreneurialism crises because people don’t know how to start businesses or because competing with Wal Mart is impossible and the police would chase most unlicensed, unregistered vendors off the street?

Getting back to teacher education specifically, I found myself mostly agreeing with the claim by Bill Keller in today’s New York Times that teacher training programs in most universities “have treated education programs as ‘cash cows.'” Why? 

 … they have plenty of applicants willing to pay full tuition, the programs are relatively cheap to run, and they are accountable to no one except accrediting agencies run by, you guessed it, education schools. It’s a contented cartel. 

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Like everyone, I am stunned by the elegance of Malala’s words. I am inspired by her bravery. There’s nothing that she says that any modern, progressive person wouldn’t agree with and cheer on. That said, something hasn’t sat right with me about how and why she’s been placed on the international pedestal. Primarily, I am concerned that how some people are framing her specific situation, as horrific and inspiring as it is, detracts us from some larger issues in educational development and simplifies the drive towards gender equity in the South in ways that might ultimately harm progress.

I get there by invoking Godwin’s Law, which in short form states that when Nazi’s or Hitler come up in a discussion or a debate, the discussion is effectively over. Nazi’s are so unambiguously evil that they can’t be accurately compared to much of anything else today. Unless one is comparing genocide to genocide, and fascism to fascism, it indicates that the conversation has reached a point where all nuance has been lost. It’s a very useful heuristic that informs us about the quality of a discussion.

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