Posts Tagged ‘education’

Zoltan Acs
by Zoltan Acs
Thu Jul 23rd 2009 at 4:45pm UTC

The “Creativity Crisis” in Industrial Cities

Thursday, July 23rd, 2009

Creativity is changing the way in which cities approach economic development and formulate policy. Creative metropolises base their economic development strategies, at least partly, on building communities attractive to the creative class worker. While there are countless examples of high-tech regions transforming into creative economies, traditionally industrial cities have received much less attention in this regard.

In a recent article with Monica Megyesi, we study Baltimore to assess the potential of transforming a traditionally industrial region into a creative economy. It analyzes Baltimore’s performance on dimensions of talent, tolerance, technology, and territory both as a stand-alone metropolitan area and in comparison to similar industrial metropolises.

This case study concludes that Baltimore has the opportunity to capitalize on the creative economy because of its openness to diversity, established technology base, appealing territorial amenities, and access to the largest reservoir of creative talent in the USA: Washington, D.C.

While a decade ago it seemed that you can transform an industrial city, today it looks bleaker than ever. Baltimore is a case in point. The rise of the creative class and the international creative class has driven a wedge between the members and nonmembers of the creative class. The evidence is to be found in the rise in inequality in income and wealth.

Without resetting the goal posts to create opportunity, America faces an uncertain future. It appears that without investing in the education and training of the non-creative class, the U.S. is on a long-run decline. How we reform, invest, and deliver educational services remains one of the most daunting challenges for the U.S. in the 21st century.

Kwende Kefentse
by Kwende Kefentse
Tue Nov 18th 2008 at 1:20pm UTC

From Toronto to Rome: The Education Situation…

Tuesday, November 18th, 2008

While I know that Richard is the official ”Global Trends” guy around here, I hope that he won’t mind my pointing one out; if not a trend, a global synchronicity at least. In two of the world’s great cities – Toronto and Rome – disagreements in educational policy have led to strike situations.

In Toronto, from the Globe and Mail:

The campus was a ghost town yesterday, the first day of the strike by contract faculty, teaching assistants and graduate students, with classes for more than 50,000 students cancelled and pickets letting cars onto university grounds only every few minutes.

There are no plans to resume negotiations.

Christina Rousseau, chair of the Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 3903, said the striking workers are waiting for a signal from university administrators that they are ready to return to talks.

“Right now the ball is in their court,” she said. “We feel it is their turn to make a move.”

The university has offered a 9.25-per-cent wage increase over three years. A university spokesman said the administration is willing to go to binding arbitration.

The workers have asked for a two-year contract with a wage increase of 11 per cent over that period. The demand for a two-year deal is part of a broader strategy by CUPE Ontario to co-ordinate bargaining on all Ontario campuses in order to gain leverage at the negotiating table.

And in Rome from the BBC:

Sleeping bags in lecture theatres, lessons in parks, people wearing plasters on their faces. They are just some of the ingredients in Italy’s hugely divisive row over education.  The sleeping bags are being used by students, who have taken over a number of buildings. Lessons in some places are being held in parks, as classrooms are occupied, and the plasters are the symbolic sign of the “cuts” the students and staff are protesting against.

But these are not just isolated protests by a few disgruntled hardliners.  A number of recent marches in Rome have attracted up to half a million demonstrators.  Seasoned Italian commentators say they are the biggest in 15 years.

The protests are not just for university students. Secondary school teachers and pupils are also on the streets, as their slice of the education budget comes under threat as well.  The government is pushing its reforms because it believes universities and schools are inefficient and producing lacklustre results.

I also did a little bit of Facebook reconnaissance and found popular groups for and against the strike in Toronto, while Italy Education Minister Mariastella Gelmini’s page has been flooded with comments from young people on the situation.

While both are complex and ultimately different situations, one of the few comparables is popular support: In Rome it is overwhelming, while in Toronto it’s very divided. With starkly different political climates, I can’t speak on how well this bodes for either side, but it will be interesting to see how both situations are resolved. They each represent what the prospective futures of significant numbers of young people within their respective regions will be like. In turn, this will ultimately affect the overall prosperity of the regions.

And now, as always, some music.

Bert Sperling
by Bert Sperling
Fri Sep 19th 2008 at 2:25pm UTC

“Learning” is not “Smart”?

Friday, September 19th, 2008

Here’s something interesting…

So Maclean’s did a nice article about a recent study measuring “Learning,” from the Canadian Council of Learning. The name of the article is “Canada’s Smartest Cities.”

But I wondered about the difference or connection between Smarts and Learning, so I did a search of the meaty 45-page report – and found zero (nada, zilch, l’oeuf) instances of the word “Smart.” The authors were plainly sensitive to the issues surrounding labeling something as “smart.”

I’ve wondered about this frequently. Is it elitist to value higher education?  By celebrating smartness, are we in essence devaluing those who have not had the opportunities or chosen the path to higher learning?

I confess, I enjoy being around smart people. I find a strong connection between well-educated people and those who are open, tolerant, inquisitive, far seeing, and inclusive. But I’ve also found some of the most maddening people in well-educated professionals – rude, selfish, entitled, unsympathetic, and petty. (They make me want to hang out in a trailer park, or some other low-rent neighborhood where anything goes.)

I still think that the educational attainment of city or community is one of the best measures of a place’s quality of life.  Generally, better-educated citizenry make tougher and better decisions for the future, and see value in making a community better for all, not just their peers.

Bert Sperling
by Bert Sperling
Thu Sep 18th 2008 at 1:18am UTC

Learning Mega-Study: Needs Focus?

Thursday, September 18th, 2008

Maclean’s magazine contacted me last month to ask for my comments about a recently released mega-study of “lifelong learning.” The subject of the piece was the 2008 Composite Learning Index (CLI), from the Canadian Council on Learning.

Here’s a link to the Maclean’s article, which has some insightful quotes from CCG’s Kevin Stolarick, and some boring ones from me.

The Maclean’s article is a good overview of the ambitious CLI study, but it’s really worth a look in its raw form. Here is the home page for the Composite Learning Index, and the 2008 report itself.

Your time is valuable, so let me just give you my thoughts about the study, having done many similar ones over the last 25 years or so.

  • First, it’s huge in scope - too big, in my opinion, for any valuable insight. By covering so much, it dilutes its results by including sometimes conflicting measures.
  • The study attempts to quantify “learning” in large and small cities and towns across Canada, nearly communities in all. In an apparent effort to value everyone everywhere, all types of learning are included such as use of the Internet; recreation and sports participation; buying and reading printed matter; attending live performing arts; travel time to nearby museums, libraries, and business/civic associations; expenditures on social clubs; attending church; volunteering and socializing with other cultures; as well as the more common measures of high school and university graduation rates and student test scores. These are all valuable metrics, and all worthy of their own study. By mashing them all together into one index, some insights are undoubtedly lost.
  • Many of the metrics are based on estimates of household expenditures for various metrics. I did not find a list of specific sources, but in my experience household expenditure data is based on a national model, and adjusted for each geographic area, usually on the basis of income. It is unlikely that individual differences between communities are revealed, except as a function of income. Rich places spend more, poor places less.
  • Some measure of the quality of the resources should be attempted, not just the proximity to libraries,  schools and universities, museums and art galleries. It’s much different having access to a world-class museum with rotating exhibits, instead of a small-town one-room museum with the usual few bones, muskets, baskets, and pottery (charming though they are.) Use annual attendance figures or budgets to estimate the quality of the experience, or average entrance scores to rank universities.
  • There are four major segments of the study, based on the type of learning – Knowing, Work Experience, Community, and Personal Development. These would best remain segregated. It’s appealing to combine them all into one super-score but, like mixing many colors together, insights are lost.

All in all, the CLI is a wonderfully ambitious attempt to quantify “learning” and provide a road map for the future. But a Swiss Army knife is rarely the best tool for the job, or even any job. By dividing the components of the study into more meaningful sections, better insights may be gained.

Have a look and tell me what you think. Do their rankings fit with your experience?

Best, Bert