• Feature,  For Students,  For Teachers,  Philosophy & Science of Learning

    Some Educational Insights from Confucius

    While travelling in Vietnam I visited the Temple of Literature in Hanoi. Built in 1070, it is dedicated to Confucius sages and scholars. There are many beautiful and interesting features to the site. It is one of the oldest establishments dedicated to learning and scholarship. It is a place of worship as well as a place of learning. The design and layout reflect the ideals of Confucian education, introduced by the Chinese into Vietnam more than a thousand years ago. One of the biggest misconceptions of the Confucian approach to education is that it promoted rote learning and didactic teaching to the neglect of deep understanding, critical thinking and individual…

  • Feature,  For Teachers

    College Teaching: How to let go of PowerPoint

    It started as a means to an end. You wanted to do well in class but felt you couldn’t cope without additional support. “Don’t worry” you told yourself, “I can manage. I’ll just use a few. I’m not really dependent on them.” So you start with five, and then it becomes ten and before you know it your on 30 or more slides per class. Deep down you know you’re addicted.   You may have full-blown PTS! Powerpoint Teaching Syndrome. Here are five indications to help your self-diagnosis of PTS: Preparation for each class is devoted exclusively to preparing powerpoint slides. You even say things like “that’s the first five…

  • Feature,  For Teachers

    New to college teaching – here are some tips to get you going.

    Well done! You’ve been appointed to teach a college module and you’re really looking forward to the experience. You know your topic and whilst you’re very confident about your expertise in your subject or discipline, you’re a little more apprehensive about your ability to teach. Like many other competences, effective college teaching involves a mix of knowledge, skills and disposition. There is certainly a continuum between the novice teacher (albeit subject expert) and the more experienced and accomplished teacher. The good news is that you have a lot going for you from the start. Subject expertise is a necessary but not a sufficient qualification for good teaching. Your in-depth understanding…

  • Feature,  The Cycle of Life

    Away with the fairies

    Our ancestors realised that we cannot explain everything. We see only part of the world and there is more beyond our reach. Long ago young people had much to learn, dangers to be avoided, knowledge and skills to be acquired and lessons on how to survive and succeed. Wisdom resided in the old people but there were no schools of colleges. Stories were the backbone of learning and an important means of preserving culture and tradition.

  • Feature,  For Teachers

    New to College Teaching

    Today more than ever, students of all ages are attending college to achieve higher qualifications and fulfil their work and life goals. Colleges, such as NCI, continue to change and evolve in response to these needs. Yet despite numerous innovations in policy, infrastructure and technology there is still one simple truth that underpins our education system; it is that the quality of learning depends essentially on the quality of teaching.

  • Feature,  For Teachers

    What makes a good teacher?

    One of a series of questions to be explored at Essential Questions for Educators Everywhere open summer course National College of Ireland 26-30th of June 2017 eqfee.org ‘What makes a good teacher’ seems a simple question and you might expect a straight forward answer. However, the more you think about it the more you will realise that it is not so simple after all. For many years now, I have worked with students and teachers in different sectors and contexts. Over time we have developed an exercise to interrogate this question. The exercise is worthwhile for learning professionals everywhere. You can try this yourself. Start by thinking about your own…

  • For Teachers

    Essential Questions for Educators Everywhere

    ‘Essential Questions for Educators Everywhere’ is a summer course over five days at National College of Ireland in association with Mercy College New York between the 26th – 30th  June 2017 . As the title suggests, the goal is to interrogate essential ideas that underpin our understanding and practice of what it means to teach and learn in the world of today. You can get further details at www.eqfee.org The programme is designed for qualified and aspiring learning professionals in areas such as early childhood education, schools, further education, college, university and adult learning settings. Through debate, discussion and critical dialogue, participants will explore issues such as the nature of…

  • Feature,  Philosophy & Science of Learning

    We Need New Stories in Education

    The Seven Basic Plots is an interesting book by Christopher Booker, the main argument is clear from the title; we have a limited number of story lines and regardless of context or medium, we like the familiar, predictable and comforting. Fairytale, folklore, epic novels and modern film scripts all use variations of basic narrative structures; resilience in the face of onslaught, heroic journeys, monsters and dragons and of course, the struggles of good and evil. The argument is not unique, many thinkers have pointed to a form of collective intellectual comfort blanket. We welcome stories that reinforce pre-existing assumptions and avoid those that challenge our biased views and require re-jigging…

  • Philosophy & Science of Learning

    Comments on the ‘Action Plan for Education 2016 -2019’

    The Government’s new Action Plan for Education is a very welcome document that contains clear aspirations and detailed actions to be achieved over time. The overall vision is that we (Ireland) become the best education and training system in Europe. This is excellent news and like many others who work in education, I think it is a highly commendable goal; it is realistic and achievable and the Action Plan is an important statement of intent. In that spirit I would like to make some suggestions and identify areas of improvement. This is not to overlook all of the good stuff and positive actions contained therein. Rather, it is to contribute…