Role of Video Games and Cartoons in Education

Role of Video Games and Cartoons in Education

Do you remember your childhood cartoons? What about your school life? How was it? Were you talking about every single episode of your favourite cartoon with your schoolmates? What was the cartoon’s effect on you? Also, were you interested in video games? Were you spending time in front of a TV screen to play them?

A few days ago, when I was walking in a street, a young boy passed me. He had a school bag with him. I noticed that the school bag had a logo. The logo belongs to a popular video game called “PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG)”. Even though I have been interested in video games since my childhood, I have never tried to play this game but I know what it is like. It is an online game. I guess around 100 people can be online in the same warzone (map). The aim is to remove the rest of the people playing it. If you are removed, you can start with a new map and people.

I will not talk about any more details of the game. After I saw the school bag, my elementary/secondary school days came to my mind. I have begun to think about what we had at that time. We had Lucky Luke, Popeye, Ninja Turtles, Ghostbusters, He-Man, Transformers; and later on as video games, Captain Commando, Cadillacs and Dinosaurs, Final Fight, The Punisher and so forth. All of these had two sides; one side was the bad side (bad characters) who wanted to destroy the world somehow, and the other side was the good side who wanted to save the world from the bad characters. My friends and I were excited when we were watching these cartoons on TV. We were watching without blinking. After they saved the world at the end of an episode, we have become really glad. When we were playing these video games, we were sure that we were part of the good side always. Our aim was clear. Stop the war for peace and a better world. As I wrote, all of us were their fans, we all had notebooks, books, pencils, school bags, notebook cases with their stickers, small posters, images etc. Even if these cartoons and games had violence, we wisely separated what/who was bad and good and aligned ourselves with the good sides.

We grew up, and now we see that real life has two sides, like in our cartoons and video games.

But now, a video game-like PUBG has no side. One hundred people on the same map. No one is good or bad. The aim is just killing others. Even if your friend is online too on the same map, in the end, you have to kill him/her to win the game. I do not want to blame PUBG only. There are many games like this, but I don’t know them.

My question is: why are there school materials with these kinds of game logos on them? They enter schools easily on school bags, notebooks, pencils, and so on.

Dear reader, could you understand what I mean by this? Our kids are following bad examples, unfortunately. What can a student learn from these games/cartoons? If the aim is to kill everyone, they cannot even notice who is bad/good. Students must have role models to show them the right way. Unsupervised freedom takes them down unknown paths during their youth. I’m not saying that they should not play games or watch cartoons. It is impossible in this era. Also, I’m not saying this because I spent many days in front of the screen. Both parents/teachers must keep track of what is popular among youths and, if necessary, block it from harming their kids/students. Ministries of Education must sanction companies that produce these kinds of materials. They must not enter school!

The gaming sector targets our kids to make more money. If games are like our games in the past, I welcome them. But contemporary games are a big question mark for me. Violence is part of this life (unfortunately), but we must find the brightest paths forward, and support the rightful ones.

– Oğuz Yılmazlar

The Purpose of Education

The Purpose of Education

“It’s impossible for humans to fly.” “The earth is the centre of the universe.” “Smoking is good for health.” All of these ‘truths’ the ‘educated’ once believed.

What we know changes. Because the world around us changes. And because we change. We grow, and we learn new things. No ‘knowledge’ is static and unchanging. And yet, we start to assume that things are as they are – in the world, in our societies, in our lives, in ourselves. Because we have an inherent evolutionary fear of stepping beyond what is known and familiar to us, even if we don’t like things the way they are.

What, then, is the purpose of education? If everything ‘that is’ changes, what should we even attempt to learn?

The constant thing is that there is always a) a way that things are now and b) the way we would love things to be and c) action or inaction that will lead us to either further deal with the way things are, or to create what we would love.

Sounds simplistic and far-fetched? So was flying.

The purpose of education is to help us see the world around us both for what it is and what it can be; to help us deeply understand our current reality and our own fears of going beyond, and to help us fall in love with our vision and our inherent genius, and to teach everything in this dual context.

“Humans can’t fly” then becomes, “We currently don’t know of a way for humans to fly. Is that something you’d love to explore? What support do you need to create that? An understanding of physics and ratios and optimal angles? An understanding of how different materials react to the weather? An understanding of cultures where people have tried similar things before? Knowledge of the best locations for you to try this? The skills to share your vision clearly and compellingly with others through words and pictures? Here, let me show you how. Let me share your journey and help you create the world you would love.”

And before you know it, what was once just a ‘crazy’ desire of “I want to fly” transforms into one of the greatest services to humanity: “How can people fly?” – not only enabling the human race to experience the miracle of being up in the air but forever opening up world economics, demographics, cultures and possibilities.

How can we know how each desire will change the world? We can’t.

Our job is to help each individual learn what their true nature and desires are, what they would truly love to create, for instance, “I want to explore flight” or “I want to eradicate malaria”. (Different from a ‘fearful vision’ of “I would like to score 90% in my exams because that would please my parents.” – or the adult version of “I need to get a better job title because that would get me more appreciation.”)

Our job is then to help that individual understand what the current limitations are, both environmental, “This is the way the law of gravity works” and, crucially, also internal, “I haven’t taken this action not because I can’t do it, but because I fear disapproval if I succeed.”

And our job is then to help bridge the gap to the vision. (“Have you tried wings with variable angles for take-off and flight?”; “How can you create what you would love beyond your fear of disapproval?”)

Anything that we were born with a love for, we were born with an ability to create. The only thing that limits us is that little voice of fear that tells us, “This is how it is, and this is how it has to be.”

The true purpose of education is to help us find our heart’s highest calling and put paid to anything that holds us back from fulfilling our potential – creating the next level of planetary evolution in the process. That, right there, is quality education…without fear.

– Stuti Singh

About the Author:

Stuti is known for her ‘A Life without Fear’ series of talks and workshops at events around the world, and her Fearless Mastery coaching and leadership development programme.

She combines a degree in Psychology and an MBA in International Business with Intuitive Mastery and has held various leadership positions at blue-chip companies including Unilever, Pfizer and GSK.

Her mission is to help individuals and organisations realise their power for the greater good of the planet.

The opinions expressed by the author and those providing comments are theirs alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of #WAYSWF.

© Stuti Singh 2019 (

Equal Opportunities – Yes or No to Uniforms at School?

Equal Opportunities – Yes or No to Uniforms at School?

In my previous article, I discussed test results versus equal opportunities. The controversial No Child Left Behind Act placed too much emphasis on testing and that teachers were focusing on test scores. This means testing is not sustainable in the long run because it places too much pressure on both sides.

It stresses students because they are forced to keep focusing on obtaining high test scores rather than gaining deep and profound knowledge. But it torments teachers too because they are forced to teach to the test and not put the knowledge students gain into practice. Teaching to the test also means they are kept busy with assembling these standardized tests, correcting them, distributing them and so on. The fresh Every Student Succeeds Act focuses on equal opportunity for everyone. Standardized tests were restricted and emphasis was not placed on practice. This is where the old Prussian method gets a strike. Practice enhances creativity. What does that mean? In-depth understanding of the material in the end. This should be the target. Needless to say, providing equal opportunities also enhances compliance.

This article focuses on the ongoing debate on whether schools should have a uniform or not. My primary school has a uniform, which is a blue and white checked shirt complete with a tie, on special occasions. The shirt has an alternative, a white, blue, or yellow T-shirt with the school’s logo on it. On special occasions, the shirt is required to be worn with the tie. My primary school specializes in music. Hungary has a distinguished music education tradition (see Call to Action No. 1). At any rate, whether wearing a uniform increases equality is an ongoing debate. It is a popular argument that uniforms teach children that everyone is equal, therefore children become more open to each other and they start to build a community. Then this community should start doing a lot of research together. It helps to dismantle stereotypes and brings children closer to each other. This is what my school intended to do. Dismantling stereotypes, moreover, conceals social differences. It does not matter whether you came from an impoverished or a well-to-do family. The school is open, the community is open. What does this mean? Equal opportunities. Where does it get us to? More compliance and less disrespectful students. As I said, my primary school is blessed with a great tradition of music and singing education. We had a music class every day. Twice a week, I attended choir rehearsals. These rehearsals were compulsory, however, I never felt that I was forced to go. Of course, my choir represented the school at music festivals around Hungary and even Europe. The school built close friendships with a German school and one in the UK—once I managed to go to Germany because the choir was invited. We even sang to the Prime Minister of Bavaria, who was amazed by the fact that we learned some Bavarian folk songs (in Bavarian, of course!).

It is worth noting that my school was often considered as a privileged one, as they had an entrance test. Yes, they measured my singing skills. When I enrolled, the headmaster of the school was at the singing test. My mother was there and said I would fail because I could not sing. However, the headmaster (whom I respect a lot) thought differently and said I did not have a problem with the lower pitch, he would put emphasise on a lower tune, which solved the problem. This headmaster never humiliated a student. Rather he found true talent in everyone. However, he got annoyed if students were sneaky. Again, I would like to refer back to my article on discipline. Why did that slap fly? To sum up, having a uniform does help schools to build a community and help them dismantle stereotypes. Moreover, it teaches us that everyone is equal and encourages us to place emphasise on “effort” over “excuse”.

On the other hand, one popular argument against uniforms is that they go against freedom. Well, this has some truth to it, but consider schools in the United Kingdom where every school has one. We have never heard any complaint about British school uniform policy. Of course, a uniform can be expensive to make, and you have to clean it yourself. Well, this is a reasonable argument, again, but some uniforms are made of special material to resist sweat and dirt. Moreover, the material is durable. A third relatively common argument is that uniforms conceal the beauty of girls. Well, in my view, we do not have to parade everything we have at home at school. It will fuel jealousy among others, and subsequently, disrespect towards others. Uniforms teach one to comply and be disciplined.

All things considered, uniforms are a good idea at primary and secondary schools. This way children learn the value of teamwork to get an in-depth understanding of the material. In-depth understanding means they will have no difficulty putting it into practice.

Calls to Action:

  1. Watch Interview with Zoltán Kodály on the importance of music education, the footage of which was made in 1946.
  2. Read more about Zoltán Kodály and his famous method.

– Gergely Lázár

The opinions expressed by the author and those providing comments are theirs alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of #WAYSWF.

Education at a Ghanaian Kindergarten and Nursery

Education at a Ghanaian Kindergarten and Nursery

On the very first day of my volunteer project, I found myself experiencing a billion waves of emotions: glad, amazed, shocked, heartbroken, angry, loved, exhausted…

I was glad that the director gave us a one-hour car ride from busy Medina to rural Taifa. As a first time European traveller to a developing nation back then, I was immobilised.

Besides being grateful for surviving what could be described as the craziest traffic on earth, I was amazed. When I arrived at Emmanuel School Complex in Taifa-North, nearly 100 little babies, in their cute blue uniforms were standing in line, singing the national anthem of Ghana and impressively repeating from memory the oath of the nation. In Hungary, we don’t pay attention to teach things like that to little ones. Moreover, doing that every single day is not a habit, either.

Unlike me, some kids didn’t find this daily routine amusing. They were more interested in running towards their best friends or just talking with them when their teachers rigorously interrupted to discipline them. Sometimes with scary facial expressions, they even whipped them with canes.

Just then, I had a flashback to my primary school days. Back in the 1990s in barely post-communist Hungary, my music teacher grabbed my hair to turn me towards the board to stop me talking to my best friend behind me. The order was to face the board and learn what my teacher stated, no matter whether I appreciated it or not.

Regulations have changed in the last three decades, and today we prefer not to use physical discipline on our kids across the Western World. So my eyes and my soul were no longer used to seeing such scenes. Being abused at school or on the streets—where mothers used to try instantly rewarding their kids with a slap for swearing, being disrespectful, or something like that—are almost entirely unfamiliar nowadays.

To me, as a first impression of educating the next generation of Ghanaians wasn’t coming across quite well. Having been in that school for only five minutes, I was already afraid of facing the six upcoming weeks.

And the students knew it well. They were well aware that I was different, and I was afraid of harsh actions. So they manipulated me, in my very first class.

In the classroom, I was left alone with 35 infants aged between 4-5. Antie Nina did everything she could to introduce me and establish my authority. She even left me alone, placing the cane in my hand.

Alas, street smart kids don’t fall for this…

Shortly after, Little Kaziah came up to be excused to use the bathroom: “Madam, I need to wee-wee”. I naively let her walk out of the classroom door, which opens straight into the inside garden (the place where we gathered for the morning routine on my arrival). Then, I started the lesson.

We were halfway through learning how to fold a page into a square when I realized the toilet-break-kids were still out for seemingly way too long in the garden. I stared out of the door, as we always kept them wide open, and I saw my pupils playing in the dust together with stones. I smiled because I noticed how smart they were to recognise opportunities to get up to mischief.

After that, when I asked them to get some paper out to fold a few basic shapes, I noticed that some of them didn’t have any, so I quickly took several pages out of my notebook for them to use.

In my country, it wasn’t a big deal, nobody would have even noticed it. But in Taifa district, where kids need to walk hours to school between rusty, old cars on mud roads with gigantic potholes, circumstances are different.

All the other kids stood up to see what they had received. It seemed like they were not used to anyone giving out anything freely. I realized later on that if some students get something, then all of them should.

After quickly getting them back to their seats, John raised his hand: “Madam, I need to wee-wee”, so I let him go. Then, one by one, a few more kids wanted to go too, so I let three more go, and asked the 4th one to wait for Kaziah to return.

The headteacher was temporarily in the kitchen to assist other teachers in cooking lunch for the entire school. They could not afford a separate crew member for duties like that. If Madam Gloria had been sitting in her usual place in the garden, she would have made the kids return instantly. Or actually, the kids would have never even thought to do otherwise.

I was just smiling at myself and shouted out to call the kids back. They waited till I held up the cane. Then, with a huge smile and giggles, the little group ran back to find their seats and finally listen to my lesson.

I couldn’t help but love how smart and cute they were, but also realised how exhausting it was to keep them all in order. By break time, I was already exhausted, even though the teacher came to observe the class every 15 minutes to keep the kids’ voices down.

Snack time was always around 10 am. I was told to go to assist with feeding the smallest kids who were aged between a few months old and 2 years old. I noticed the teacher took everyone’s bag off the little shelves and searched for their snacks. Some had nice bottles for their water, some had biscuits, others were sent off to school with a piece of bread—a few only had their change of clothes with them, in an otherwise empty bag.

Teachers were told to serve everyone with what had been brought from home explaining to me why it was not permissible to serve food to some, and not to others.

So, we usually put everyone’s food together to reallocate it a little bit less unfairly—at least everyone received something—consequently, all of them shared something with their community.

I loved feeding the kids. They were not picky at all. Rice in tomato sauce with bits of fish in it was their favourite. I spooned it in tiny portions to the bigger ones, and they enjoyed it even with fish bones. They already knew how to separate them, unlike the toddlers. We had so many rules to follow for them, such as not serving certain foods like beans or fish, especially with bones in it as they could potentially suffocate.

After returning to my class, the teacher came with me. The kids were still playing with the folded flowers I made for each of them—for which, by the way, they rewarded me with millions of hugs—when I heard Antie Nina shouting at them. She didn’t like the idea of “wasting” paper. Later on, I realized the kids have to skip almost all of their art classes due to the lack of teaching materials. They focus mainly on learning the basics of reading, writing and counting instead.

Going back home, tired, dirty, and overwhelmed made the boot of the jeep seem like a limousine. That day, I experienced more quality education about people, personalities, what life is, and how to lead and manage situations than through my leadership and management master at university.

I’m truly grateful for Emmanuel Complex School in Accra, AIESEC in Ghana, and all the others enabling my two months of moving life-changing experiences.

Calls to Action:

  1. Read more on the Sustainable Development Knowledge Platform.
  2. Discuss the following topic with your sympathizers: How would our world change if we were to reach all SDG 4 targets? What are the consequences of the lack of Quality Education to those who have no access to it? How come we understand the importance of SDG 4, but still have giant gaps in delivering its targets?
  3. Find a project and reach out to the host entity to support them with advice or funds to deliver it, especially West African entities as there is an urgent need to provide SDG-related changes there.
  4. Sponsor and motivate someone in your world to take on a Global Volunteer project with AIESEC. I suggest Creative Mind in the Benin Republic.

– Krisztina Kapuvari

  • Created and Photographs Provided by Krisztina@Whatareyoustillwaitingfor.Space
  • Illustrated by Oguz@Whatareyoustillwaitingfor.Space
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  • Edited and Published by Lee@Whatareyoustillwaitingfor.Space
  • Supported and Funded by Advertising-Free Online Sales of What Are You Still Waiting For? Publications and Affiliation with WordPress

The opinions expressed by the author and those providing comments are theirs alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of #WAYSWF.

How Important Is Quality Education?

How Important Is Quality Education?

Quality Education was voted among 160,000+ young people as the most burning issue globally says YouthSpeak Global Report 2016 (1) run by AIESEC in 2016. Why is that?

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world,” said Nelson Mandela (2), and it seems like the world agrees with this narrative. Why is it still among the Sustainable Development Goals for 2030 even though we all have agreed on its importance for a while now?

Unfortunately, there are some serious issues around the globe when we talk about the Quality of Education and its current state. I have some numbers for you to meditate on below. Some statistics to learn about the current state of Quality Education all over the world based on SDG 4 Targets (3) follow:

  • 4.1 Free, equitable access to quality education at primary and secondary schools:

“The total (out of school number) includes 64 million children of primary school age, 61 million of lower secondary school age and 138 million of upper secondary age.” (4)

Let alone the moral issues of competing for work in our soon to be AI-controlled future, how can those kids have any chance in the drastically changing external environment of modern life?

  • 4.2 Access to quality early childhood development, care and pre-primary education:

“… more than 200 million children under 5 years fail to reach their potential in cognitive development because of poverty, poor health and nutrition, and deficient care.” (5)

Can we replace a missing step of early development in their lives until later on? With higher odds than others, they are doomed to fail in school and life.

  • 4.3 Access for all women and men to affordable and quality education:

“Limited access to educational opportunities in the past has left 774 million adults lacking basic literacy skills, of whom about two in every three are women.” (6)

How can they stand a chance against the free/easy movements of the better-educated workforce due to globalization? Are they doomed to remain in the lower strata of societies?

  • 4.4 Increase the number of youth and adults who have relevant skills for employment:

On proficiency in computer skills, even among OECD countries, “only 5% of the population reached level three – those most proficient in computer-related activities.” (7)

While we have countries with completely digital e-governments and in some parts of the world with an entire C (connected)-generation already in adulthood, how can the vast majority of the world live in this rapidly changing technological environment, or even make decisions over the unforeseeable future, if many of them do not even know how to turn on a computer or perform basic computer tasks like writing an email or using a touchpad?

  • 4.5 Eliminate inequalities including gender, persons with disabilities, indigenous peoples and children in vulnerable situations:

One billion people are “living with a disability in the world, out of which 10% are children.” (8)

How many of them can get access to schools? In the developing world, 9 out of 10 children with disabilities never get basic education (8). Why are we marginalizing them, even more so as their physical health makes it a must to care for them?

  • 4.6 Achieve literacy and numeracy:

171 countries out of 197 are having illiterate citizens. (9)

How can you educate and provide access to information or digital solutions for those who cannot even read or count?

We are the privileged ones, who can independently open this digital platform and read this article, and many more we can access online. Can you imagine your life without free access to such information? Or accessing it without having studied the education you did? How different would your life be, and what consequences would your family face? Do not even start to think about your near-future relevance on this planet concerning the rapid increase in the use of infotech and biotech!

With that in mind, read the last target and sense your responsibility to make the world a better place:

  • 4.7 By 2030, ensure that all learners acquire the knowledge and skills needed to promote sustainable development, including, among others, through education for sustainable development and sustainable lifestyles, human rights, gender equality, promotion of a culture of peace and non-violence, global citizenship and appreciation of cultural diversity and culture’s contribution to sustainable development.

Calls to Action:

  1. Read more on the Sustainable Development Knowledge Platform.
  2. Discuss the following topic with your sympathizers: How would our world change if we were to reach all SDG 4 targets? What are the consequences of the lack of Quality Education to those who have no access to it? How come we understand the importance of SDG 4, but still have giant gaps in delivering its targets?
  3. Find a project and reach out to the host entity to support them with advice or funds to deliver it, especially West African entities as there is an urgent need to provide SDG-related changes there.
  4. Sponsor and motivate someone in your world to take on a Global Volunteer project with AIESEC. I suggest Creative Mind in the Benin Republic.

– Krisztina Kapuvari

  1. YouthSpeak Global Report 2016 (Page 31)
  2. Education Quotes
  3. Sustainable Development Knowledge Platform SDG 4 Targets
  4. Out-Of-School Children and Youth
  5. Early Childhood Development Is Essential to Delivering the SDGs
  6. Global Report on Adult Learning and Education (Page 19)
  7. The Four Levels of Computer Skills, and the Surprising Number of Adults Who Fall Short
  8. Children With Disabilities Face the Longest Road to Education
  9. List of Countries by Literacy Rate

The opinions expressed by the author and those providing comments are theirs alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of #WAYSWF.

Why Constant Testing Is Not Sustainable in the Long Run

Why Constant Testing Is Not Sustainable in the Long Run

When the word “test” infiltrates students’ minds, they get scared. Because tests are measurements of their performance in certain subjects. Of course, receiving the results of them is the most frightening part of all!

In this article, I would like to make a comparison between Hungarian tests at schools and the controversial “standardized” tests in the United States. The main question of this article: why constant testing does not represent true knowledge. The most specific way I can answer: because it is placing too much pressure on both the teacher and the students. The teacher’s job is not to test the children but TEACH them. In other words: teachers do not have to prepare a test (or a quiz) week by week because they have to correct and grade them, which takes too much time. To make matters worse, school rules also apply to the teacher: failing to correct and grade a test by the deadline means the grade will not count.

According to regulations in Hungary, the number of grades is limited to twelve in each subject within one semester. However, students must have at least three grades to qualify for the evaluation. The grading system is based on a 1-5 scale, where one means fail and five means excellent. There is also a limit on midterm examinations, which is two in each semester. It is worth noting that they count twice. This means if you fail a midterm, you get two fails. Only in special cases can you retake a midterm (or test), however, the fail will not be annulled. Should you miss a midterm test due to (certified) absence, you must catch up. At the end of your last year in secondary school, you have to take a mock exam of the four compulsory subjects. The grades of these are worth two midterms, so it is ill-advised to fail them.

The title of this article refers to the clash of the two methods, which I focused on in a previous article. Hungary belongs to the “Prussian” camp. That is, as the teacher presents the material, students must comply and write it down, do the homework, and prepare for frequent tests, and so on. Sometimes, these tests are overly frequent as teachers do not always have to announce the time of the test. (It is obligatory to announce midterms, but not so for short tests.) I can understand the intention – students must comply and learn. However, these short tests tend to be overused and only represent fleeting knowledge. Of course, the results do not reveal whether the student was stressed or not. These tests are stressing students and eventually, teachers. Hungary lacks in compliance, sometimes roles are not clarified in certain cases. Who is to blame for bad performance? Back in the day, it was automatically the pupil for not complying and the bad grade served its “punishing” role.

Let me enumerate two cases within my high school. My Maths teacher and my Physics teacher (who taught Chemistry as well) were widely hated within my class for being very harsh and unfair. None of these claims was true. They were harsh, for sure, but they were fair. My Maths teacher, whom I admire a lot, came from Ukraine (Subcarpathian region). She graduated from Lviv University as a mathematician and taught there for some years afterwards. All she did was introduce the mentality of a Soviet university to us with fairness. She required a lot from us because she wanted us to excel in mathematics. Some students did not like the idea of excelling. That is why some of them tried to betray the teacher for being unfair. A common argument was, “I excelled in mathematics in primary school, but now I cannot produce the same results because of the teacher requiring too much of me”. My mother answered in a short but concise way like this: “Maybe you do not prepare well enough. My son practices all the problems before tests. His grades are quite good.”

For being overly harsh, the same issue applied to the Physics teacher. That teacher reminded us to voice concerns face to face at all times. No tattletales. She told us we were not able to use the calculator (in Hungary, at some tests and exams you are allowed to use one), which was true. At the time, some students were not able to distinguish the signs of the four basic operations. Therefore it is not a good idea in primary school that calculators are banned and counting is enforced (you cannot even use one after entering high school). There should be some time set aside to use a scientific calculator. Look at the equation above (source: Wikipedia), and try to solve it on your own!

Let us jump to a short analysis of the controversial No Child Left Behind Act of 2002, repealed in 2015 with the introduction of Every Student Succeeds Act. The former act introduced a standardized test to measure a school’s performance. The intention was to set a rigorous challenge (in reading and math) for students. The keyword is “accountability”. This keyword is measured by Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP). This measure is intended to help minorities reach a proficient level or above in English within 12 years. These standardized tests should take place every year between 3rd and 8th grade. However, they led to constant criticism because schools were required to teach to the test and not to seek practice. What does this mean? A student would only master performing a calculation such as “What is 2+6?”, but not be aware of any practical use for it.

In the long run, there would not be enough places for equal opportunity to succeed. States had set arbitrary scores to reach, which were not realistic at times. Education solely based on these tests would provide only half the necessary information. That is, in the worst-case scenario when something was wrong, it would not reveal exactly what was wrong or what the best way to solve the problem was. (1)

Speaking of unrealistic goals, some schools even manipulated the results to prevent the attrition rate from rising. According to Meier and Woods (2004, p. 36), a high school in Houston, Texas reportedly started with 1,000 first-year students, and four years later, only 300 of them had enrolled for senior classes. However, the 700 other students were not classified as “dropouts”. According to Alfie Kohn, the NCLB was a “destructive” act, constantly placing students under pressure. (2) Subsequently, since 2012, many states have issued a waiver, so they are no longer conforming with the Administration’s requirements.

In the last year of the Obama Administration, Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) was enacted to replace NCLB. This new act places more emphasis on both equal opportunity and accountability at the same time. Tests will remain mandatory, but their timing would be more flexible. That is, states could regulate the spent time for a test. (3) However, as Trump was sworn into office, the days of the U.S. Department of Education seem to be numbered. The new Secretary for Education, Betsy DeVos, suspended the accountability regulations of the Obama Administration. This step is in the crosshairs, as others say that this reversal would harm vulnerable students.

Source: Meier, D & Woods, G (2004): Many Children Left Behind: How the No Child Left Behind Act Is Damaging Our Children and Our Schools. Boston: Beacon Press, p. 36.

Calls to Action

  1. Read ‘No Child Left Behind’ Has Failed by Lily Eskelsen García & Otha Thornton (2015).
  2. Read NCLB: ‘Too Destructive To Salvage’ by Alfie Kohn (2007).
  3. Read With Passage of Every Student Succeeds Act, Life After NCLB Begins by Tim Walker (2015).
  4. Do you want to take part in a life-changing experience abroad? If you are aged between 18 and 30, do not hesitate to hit that Sign Up Button in the top right corner. AIESEC will be in touch!

– Gergely Lázár

The opinions expressed by the author and those providing comments are theirs alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of #WAYSWF.

Do Teachers Have the Right to Discipline?

Do Teachers Have the Right to Discipline?

In my previous article, when I analyzed the two methods, the term “discipline” had next to no place. In my view, discipline and class management are crucial. The old Prussian method is commonly associated with the hard hand of the teacher. What does that mean? Discipline can be maintained even with physical force. In Hungary (and in some other countries as well), a teacher’s job was very prestigious. It was not well-paid, but they had respect all around the country. Many classrooms even had a cane stick, which awakened fears in students. If the teacher used it, they screamed a lot in pain. When I volunteered in the People’s Republic of China, I also had a stick like that. Of course, I never used it, because it was only used in the worst-case scenario. Worst case scenario meant a kid talked back to the teacher, which is considered very disrespectful. At that time, it was even more so. Therefore discipline was strict but, at the same time, fair. In the 1950s, when a strong rise in industrialization began, more and more people moved to the city and the cane stick lost its authority. Fortunately, the teacher enjoyed authority and kids did not want to talk back, because they were in fear of the slap. At that time, if the teacher slapped you, you got its other half at home in case you told a tattletale. Therefore you remained silent and prayed so that it did not turn out that way. However, students immediately understood where the borders were. This discipline method is commonly connected to a Soviet-Ukrainian educator, Anton Semyonovich Makarenko (see Call to Action No. 1). In my view, this is acceptable in the worst-case scenario. Let me tell you a true story to conclude this section, which my friend told me who attended the same primary school as I did.

Let us jump back in time to 1977. At that time, Hungary belonged to the Communist camp, so that it was considered to be a big privilege to travel to Western Europe. My school had a famous choir and got invited to an international choir festival in Belgium. Of course, restrictions applied and each kid received 50 francs (which was pretty much nothing) daily. Kids got amazed by the freedom of the West. Nobody paid any attention to them, unfortunately, some people started to steal from shops. A few days later the whole choir got involved in stealing stuff. My friend admitted that he had also stolen a T-shirt. Another few days passed, then those who had started the stealing reported the choir to the teachers. Of course, the headmaster became very furious. He summoned each member, one by one, to a short hearing. My friend was the first to enter the room. The headmaster asked only one question: “Did you steal?” The answer was: “No, I did not!” The headmaster reached across the table and a slap flew. My friend kissed the floor immediately afterwards. His teacher was so angry that, had the table not been there, he would have even kicked the pupil kowtowing on the floor. My friend left the room, but as others saw him, everyone knew that there was no leeway for lies. The stolen stuff was confiscated and thrown into the Rhine. This is what discipline meant. Students were required to be honest with their teachers. If they lied to them, they would be labelled thieves.

If you watched the video I linked to in my previous article, did you notice anything? Were there any pupils talking back? Of course not! The material was about graphs and functions, not about coordinate-geometry. The question of usefulness rises again. If you watch it closely, the teacher was browsing around collecting questions and overseeing the workflow. The teacher appreciated every effort and recognised the good things about students first. Is this technique useful in the long run? In a school, a teacher acts as a real leader to encourage others. This will raise confidence among pupils. This is where class management begins. This is where the “Prussian” method falters. Of course, the teacher has authority over the class. Still, at the same time, he or she earns trust from children, so that they feel assured that they will never be left alone. Again, a teacher who has true leadership skills oversees everything. If children cheat during tests, the teacher will give them a fair punishment, which does deter them from doing it again. Will students be slapped, as discussed above? Maybe, maybe not. According to the No Child Left Behind Act (2002), (see Call to Action No. 2; its controversies will be discussed in my next article), signed by George W. Bush, badly performing and badly disciplined kids can be transferred to another school, but that school is not required to accept them. What does No Child Left Behind mean then? The teacher should keep discipline by keeping the materials interesting and eye-catching. Then he or she condemns excuses because they are not making enough effort. Long story short, pupil-compliance is also a crucial part to reach the desired quality of education. This is where Hungary is underperforming. Therefore many classes are wasted with disciplining while, as you saw in the video, there is no such thing in the USA. Thus without compliance, it will be very difficult to keep order in a class. To end this article, I would like to invite you to make a judgment, “Do teachers have the right to discipline with physical force or should they make as useful materials as possible so that students will eagerly want to comply?” In my view, physical force should only be used in the worst-case scenario when a pupil talks back disrespectfully. However, some people in my country run to the police if a teacher slaps a kid. These parents say such a teacher is aggressive and should be excluded from teaching. For sure, sometimes this argument may be right, but more often than not, it turns out that this slap is a so-called Makarenko one, which “gives students a hand” to discover the limits to their unruly behaviour.

Calls to Action:

  1. Who was Anton Semyonovich Makarenko? Read More About Him.
  2. Learn More About the No Child Left Behind Act.
  3. Do you want to take part in a life-changing experience campaigning Quality Education while teaching English to young kids overseas? Live the experience with AIESEC—sign up, and a local committee will call you for a meeting (note that you must be aged between 18 and 30 to participate).

– Gergely Lázár

The opinions expressed by the author and those providing comments are theirs alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of #WAYSWF.

Two Methods in Contrast

Two Methods in Contrast

Education is the most important and influential part of our lives. The future of a country highly relies on educated people.

That is why I chose to be the Ambassador of Quality Education on AlumNet, as I have worked close to education, and even wrote my thesis on American education policy, analyzing the problems and reservations concerning education in the United States.

On that note, in this article, I am going to make a comparison between two distinct teaching methods. On one side, is the old, Prussian-like method and on the other, the more liberal “American” one. I enclosed the word “American” in quotation marks as I am unsure why it is classified so. Anyway, which one is “better” is an ongoing debate as each method has its advantages and disadvantages.

Let us begin with the old Prussian-like method. Many countries still adhere to this way of teaching, each with their modifications. In this method, the teacher explains and the student must take notes, getting homework and tested sooner or later. The topic of the test is usually what the teacher taught in the lesson. There is a big disadvantage of this, namely, it is nothing more than cramming dry facts, no research, nothing. Only the teacher can be right in a class, which can even consist of 50 students in some countries. Moreover, he or she has to maintain discipline. Yes, to a certain extent, it can be done. It has a definite advantage: students will gain wide lexical knowledge and educators can transfer complex ideas to their students.

However, we are in the 21st century. These days, dry facts are accessible to everyone on the Internet. That is why I am shifting my focus to American education. American students research a lot even during primary school. They are taught not only to have ideas but how to defend and debate them. Why do they have so many oral competitions? Incidentally, an American class also consists of a lot of students, but there have been attempts to reduce the size (reference Call to Action No. 1 below). Such classes are divided into smaller groups to enhance group research. Therefore, being very helpful for both sides as teachers will recognize, almost immediately, when students have deficiencies and need attention. Also, even if the outcome of such interaction is not favourable, the teacher will give generous appreciation to students who make an effort. The most common critique of this method is that it does not demand enough of the student. Well, this has some truth to it, but it does not overexert them either.

Last but not least, let us make a comparison between an 11th-grade math class in the United States and Hungary, a clash of the two opposing methods. Hungarian education has a definite downside: it is outdated and has NO TRUST in children. If untrue, why are all smartphones, laptops, tablets, etc. required to be switched off during classes? Are we 100% sure that students will use them for social media? In Hungary, 11th graders (students aged 17-18) are studying coordinate geometry, combinatorics, exponential and logarithmic equations, and fraction-powered calculations—most of their time is spent doing coordinate geometry. According to School Improvement Network (see Call to Action No. 2 below), 11th-grade American children (age varies among states) are studying graphs and analysis. They are learning how to make predictions by learning formulas. What do you think? Which method is more up-to-date and useful in the long run?

Calls to Action:

  1. Search for “Student Success Act Proposal, by John Kline From Minnesota” at the Library of Congress online. Then, enhance your judgment by typing in the term “bilingual education” and read through the results.
  2. Watch this video and draw your own conclusion.
  3. Do you want to take part in a life-changing experience campaigning Quality Education? Live the experience with AIESEC—sign up, and a local committee will call you for a meeting (note that you must be aged between 18 and 30 to participate).

– Gergely Lázár

The opinions expressed by the author and those providing comments are theirs alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of #WAYSWF.

Rising Stars of the Steppe

Rising Stars of the Steppe

Can an education model inspire citizens? Can it be a light for the future? Can it create a miracle? My answer is a resounding, “Yes!”

In this essay, I would like to write about an education system that created “flowers” in temperate grasslands named the Anatolian steppes. I will write about how it was a great system and how it was demolished.

This education model is called “village institutes”, which was adopted between 1940-1956 in Turkey. The aim was to mould kids from elementary to university level at the same school to become idealistic and transforming teachers. The schools were called “village institutes” as 21 villages, in total, hosted them. The most extraordinary thing was that instruction started by building the school itself, from inception! Imagine an empty field; after that, design a school with a garden, labs, classrooms, a store, a teachers’ room, or even a farm, and so on; whatever you imagine for the school, everything had to be built by students and teachers in challenging conditions.

Think about a poor village first, then think about ambitious, willing, idealistic teachers and students in the school. Math, science, foreigner languages, literature, sports lessons are already in standard school curriculum, but what about: theatre, classical music, farming, childcare, carpentry, shoe-making, zootechnical, arboriculture, industrial crops, ironing, beekeeping, soldering, playing the violin, saxophone, or piano, embroidery, sociology, psychology, even cooperatives…? Yes! These subjects are all part of their curriculum during their education.

In villages of Anatolia, music composed by Beethoven, Mozart, and Aleksandr Borodin was played by students. The same students cultivated grains to make bread, then learn English, French or German. Afterwards, they studied sociology and applied what they had learned on people. All students could use math, as proficiently as an engineer, and were able to write great poems and stories as well. In the end, after they graduated, they were spread all over Turkey as teachers to teach what they had learned.

Can you even begin to imagine what transpired afterwards?

Perplexingly, too many idealistic, patriotic, talented reformists had been nurtured this way. Nonetheless, they led Turkey a few steps forward.

But, as with everything, Village Institutes had an end too, unfortunately.

Hereinafter, I am going to talk about how this system was blocked, closed, and demolished by some politicians, just for their benefit and career.

Firstly, someone creates an alternative, then finds a way to slander the current system, finding supporters, and with full force, denounces it. The Village Institutes faced such condemnation.

In 1950, the government changed, and the new one was extremely conservative. They were thinking that traditional methods were better than the system of Village Institutes. Slowly they started to campaign publicly that the VIs were full of communists during the Cold War. “Schools are brainwashing innocent Muslim kids”. “Girls and boys are not permitted to be in the same classroom”. “They are learning about communism…”. These kinds of statements were kind of their motto. After defiling the VIs, they created an alternative. This method involved creating religious schools in every city of Turkey. “Kids must be educated following Islam”. And ultimately, they accumulated many supporters, and with their authority, all VIs were closed in 1954.

For 14 years, from 1940 to 1954, Turkey presented its intellectual side to the world. It proved that, if it wants to, it can create wonders in a short time.

After closing, VI students (after graduation, they became teachers, businesspeople, etc.) internalised VI ideology and upheld it. In their minds, Turkey’s interests came first and foremost, so they sustained them; personal benefits were not as important. Even in the harshest conditions, even in poverty, they inspired, impressed, and made an impact on people around them.

Even now, we are still talking about VIs. If they still existed, how would Turkey look now? How come that government closed them? Could they not recognise the results?

Now, we are looking forward to seeing a new, better education system, but our expectations are quite low.

– Oğuz Yılmazlar

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The opinions expressed by the author and those providing comments are theirs alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of #WAYSWF.

Abacus Maths – Numeracy

Abacus Maths – Numeracy

Target 4.6: “By 2030, ensure that all youth and a substantial proportion of adults, both men and women, achieve literacy and numeracy.” Still, people in underdeveloped countries suffer significantly from innumeracy, which hinders them from conducting necessary business calculations. This tendency will propagate perpetual poverty indefinitely.

The fact that early childhood is the most important growing period of a human life concerning emotional, intellectual, physical and social development is widely accepted. So, an introduction to mathematics at a young age is advantageous.

Besides enhancing an overall comprehension of maths, other valuable benefits of abacus maths, in particular, include the following:

• Boost better and faster calculation skills

• Increase tolerance to stress and pressure

• Improve problem-solving abilities

• Teach clearer logical reasoning

• Sharpen concentration and observance

• Develop confidence and self-esteem

• Heighten stronger mental visualisation skills

• Enhance reading and writing

• Enhance photographic memory

• Sharpen listening skills

• Make mathematics meaningful, useful and fun

• Provide a reliable learning foundation for addition, subtraction, multiplication and division

• Increase memory power to sharpen overall mental formation

Primarily determined by our external environment, rather than our genes, every human has the same chance of maximising his or her intelligence. To reach the goal of universal numeracy, can we include abacus maths in school programs throughout the world? At any rate, instead of toys and candies, consider bringing some abacuses on your next trip to any country in the world to hand out to children.

Drafted by Colina Tran