Information Technology in Education

I INTRODUCTION

Information Technology in Education, effects of the continuing developments in information technology (IT) on education.

The pace of change brought about by new technologies has had a significant effect on the way people live, work, and play worldwide. New and emerging technologies challenge the traditional process of teaching and learning, and the way education is managed. Information technology, while an important area of study in its own right, is having a major impact across all curriculum areas. Easy worldwide communication provides instant access to a vast array of data, challenging assimilation and assessment skills. Rapid communication, plus increased access to IT in the home, at work, and in educational establishments, could mean that learning becomes a truly lifelong activity—an activity in which the pace of technological change forces constant evaluation of the learning process itself.

II DEVELOPMENT OF A STRATEGY FOR IT IN THE UNITED KINGDOM

From the early days of computers, the United Kingdom has recognized the need to develop a national strategy for the use of IT in education. England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland have developed separate but similar plans. The IT strategy for schools was initially developed in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland through the government-funded Microelectronics Education Programme, which had a research and development role from 1981 to 1986. Then followed the Microelectronics Education Support Unit, which provided professional support to local education authorities (LEAs). This merged in 1988 with the Council for Educational Technology to become the National Council for Educational Technology (NCET), with the wider remit of evaluating and promoting the use of new technologies in education and training. Scotland set up the Scottish Council for Educational Technology (SCET) to support developments for Scottish schools. NCET was a registered charity, funded primarily by the Department for Education and Employment (DfEE, retitled as the Department for Education and Skills or DfES after the 2001 general election). In April 1998 it was given a new role as the British Educational Communications and Technology Agency (BECTA).

In 1988 the Conservative government set up the Information Technology in Schools (ITIS) initiative to oversee expenditure in this area. The initial strategy focused on encouraging teacher training in new technologies and the provision of hardware in schools. Grants were made to LEAs; before obtaining the grant, each LEA was required to produce a policy statement and a five-year plan for the development of IT in its area. Different but similar initiatives were developed in Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland, with the general aim of stimulating schools and local authorities to support curriculum and management use of IT. Of substantial importance across the whole of the United Kingdom was the inclusion of IT as an essential component of the national curriculum for every student aged 5 to 16. The curriculum identifies a core set of IT capabilities and stresses that these should be developed by applying them across subject areas.

Grants to schools for IT development in England ceased in 1994. From 1994 to 1997 government strategy was based on providing information and advice to schools and stimulating the purchase of newer technologies. Following legislation in 1988, schools and colleges became increasingly autonomous in making their own purchasing and staffing decisions. The government was concerned to ensure the growth of viable and appropriate commercial markets for new IT products for schools and colleges. Through a number of NCET-managed intervention strategies, it stimulated specific areas, for example, the introduction of CD-ROMs in schools.

Between 1991 and 1995 some £12 million of government funding was made available through NCET for the purchase of CD-ROM systems by schools and the development of curriculum materials. This strategy resulted in over 90 per cent of secondary schools and more than 30 per cent of primary schools in England having access to CD-ROM systems and in the development of an independent market for CD-ROM hardware and software for schools. Similar initiatives of varying scales and technologies, including portable computers for teachers, communications technologies, multimedia desktop computers, satellite technologies and integrated learning systems and libraries, have all contributed to keeping UK schools up to date with changes in technology. Research conducted by NCET showed clearly that IT changes what people learn and how they learn it.

After Labour came to power in May 1997, there was a marked change in government strategy in information and communications technology (ICT) for schools and colleges. Much of this strategy was based on developing a National Grid for Learning (NGfL). The concept was a mosaic of networks and content providers linked together to create a nationwide learning network for schools, colleges, libraries, and, eventually, homes. To achieve this the government set targets for the year 2002: all schools should be connected to the NGfL, all teachers should be competent and confident to teach with ICT, all students should leave school with a good understanding of ICT, and all transactions between central and local government and schools will be electronic. To support this strategy the DfEE provided £50 million in 1998-1999, matched by LEAs and schools. Scotland and Northern Ireland developed similar initiatives and by the end of 1999 all 1,300 schools in Northern Ireland were linked to the Internet. Plans were also made for substantial (costing over £200 million) teacher-training programmes across the United Kingdom; the scheme was run by the New Opportunities Fund (NOF), which reported in 2000 that, to that date, almost half of the teachers in England had registered for ICT training.

A IT in Schools

In 1996 there was an average of 96 computers per secondary school and 13 per primary school in England, for example. Expenditure on IT by schools steadily increased from £20 million per year in 1984 to £132 million in 1994, with well over half coming from schools’ budgets and the rest from central and local government sources. Despite this positive picture, hardware provision is variable, with some schools having a computer-to-pupil ratio of 1 to 3, while others have a ratio of 1 to 60. The average computer-to-pupil ratio in 1995-1996 was 1 to 19 in primary schools, and 1 to 9 in secondary schools. LEAs were set a target for the year 2001-2002 of 1 computer to 11 pupils in primary schools, and 1 to 7 in secondary schools.

B IT in Further Education

The provision of hardware and software resources varies substantially in further education (FE) colleges. Learning resource centres now often contain learning materials published on CD-ROM, and most colleges are connected to the Internet. These technologies have the potential to develop “virtual campuses” and thus increase student access and participation. Although there is a trend towards individualized programmes of study for students, little use is made as yet of computer-managed learning. A programme of training in educational technology for FE staff called the Quilt initiative was launched in February 1997 as a joint initiative between NCET, the Further Education Development Agency, the DfEE, and FE colleges.

C IT in Higher Education

All UK universities are connected to the Internet via the academic network known as JANET. A high-speed broadband version of this network, SuperJANET, is being developed. It currently links 60 universities and enables high-quality moving video to be networked for remote teaching and research purposes. In 1993, through the Teaching and Learning Technology Programme, the Higher Education Funding Council provided over £11 million for 76 projects to develop software materials to support the university curriculum. Use of such materials is encouraged by 20 university centres set up under the Computers in Teaching Initiative. The use of the Internet and CD-ROM to access information continues to grow. In 2000 the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) announced a new project, the ‘e-University’, to develop web-based learning for higher education institutions.

D IT in Training

In 1994 research by a group called Benchmark found that use of computer-based training in public and private organizations in the United Kingdom had grown from 29 per cent in 1991 to 60 per cent in 1994. The use of other educational technologies was also evident: 12 per cent using interactive video, 6 per cent CD-I (compact disc-interactive), and 6 per cent CD-ROM.

III IT AND THE CURRICULUM

As part of the IT curriculum, learners are encouraged to regard computers as tools to be used in all aspects of their studies. In particular, they need to make use of the new multimedia technologies to communicate ideas, describe projects, and order information in their work. This requires them to select the medium best suited to conveying their message, to structure information in a hierarchical manner, and to link together information to produce a multidimensional document.

In addition to being a subject in its own right, IT has an impact on most other curriculum areas, since the National Curriculum requires all school pupils from 5 to 16 years to use IT in every compulsory subject. Science uses computers with sensors for logging and handling data; mathematics uses IT in modelling, geometry, and algebra; in design and technology, computers contribute to the pre-manufacture stages; for modern languages, electronic communications give access to foreign broadcasts and other materials; and in music, computers enable pupils to compose and perform without having to learn to play traditional instruments. For those with special educational needs, IT provides access to mainstream materials and enables students to express their thoughts in words, designs, and activities despite their disabilities.

IV IT AND LEARNING PRODUCTIVITY

Using IT, learners can absorb more information and take less time to do so. Projects investigating the use of IT in learning demonstrate increased motivation in children and adults alike. In some cases it can mean success for people who have previously always failed. Learners may be more productive, challenge themselves more, be bolder, and have more confidence.

V INTEGRATED LEARNING SYSTEMS

Another use of IT in learning is currently undergoing trials in the United Kingdom: integrated learning systems (ILS). These involve learning through rather than about IT, by providing structured, individualized tuition in numeracy and literacy. Using the system for short, regular sessions, learners progress through the programme at a steady but challenging rate. The system keeps a progress record, assesses the learner’s rate of performance, and produces reports for teachers, learners, and parents. This approach provides highly structured, targeted, and assessed learning for short periods of time.

Pupils and teachers alike find the individual ILS reports helpful and motivating, and teachers have never before had such detailed and accurate analysis of children’s abilities. The learning gains demonstrated so far have been encouraging. The multimedia attributes of the system make it possible to demonstrate complex concepts, and students can proceed at their own pace free from the pressure of their peers. Similar trials are taking place in Australia, Israel, and New Zealand. Integrated learning systems are used extensively in the United States.

VI COMMUNICATION TECHNOLOGIES IN EDUCATION AND TRAINING

The use of communication tools such as e-mail, fax, computer, and videoconferencing overcomes barriers of space and time and opens new possibilities for learning. The use of such technology is increasing, and it is now possible to deliver training to a widely dispersed audience by means of on-demand two-way video over terrestrial broadband networks. The vocational training sector has been supported by developments in this area in Britain by projects funded by the Education and Employment Department and the European Commission’s Socrates and Leonardo programmes. Many schools have gained experience of communications through e-mail and electronic conferencing systems that run over the telephone network. The Education Department’s Superhighways Initiative comprises 25 projects—involving over 1,000 UK schools and colleges—that focus on the application of electronic communications in schools and colleges.

Schools and colleges are making increasing use of the Internet. In 1997 all FE colleges, most secondary schools, and some primary schools had access to the Internet but it was expected that all schools would be online by 2002. Schools use the Internet both to access materials, people, and resources, and to display their own Web pages created by teachers and students. The use of videoconferencing is growing slowly and has helped some students learn foreign languages by talking directly to other students abroad. In January 2000, it was announced that teachers taking part in information technology training schemes would receive a subsidy of up to £500 to buy computing equipment.

A Computer Based Management Information Systems

Following a government initiative with LEAs in 1987, schools have made increasing use of computers for administration. The 1988 Education Act gave schools the responsibility for budgets, teacher and pupil records, and many other day-to-day administrative tasks. Many LEAs integrated their schools’ administrative systems with their own financial systems and provided extensive training and support for this. Between 1987 and 1997 schools and LEAs spent over £600 million on equipment and support. This has led to increasingly sophisticated uses of computer-based management information systems (CMIS), and the trend continues as communication technologies offer the opportunity for schools, LEAs, and government to exchange and compare data easily.

VII IT IN EDUCATION IN THE UNITED STATES

Education in the United States is organized at the state and school district level, but significant funding for IT in schools is provided through federal programmes. While all schools make some use of computers, the level of that use varies widely. Between 15 and 20 per cent of schools make extensive use of integrated learning systems. Multimedia computers have been used by some schools to develop pupils’ skills in producing essays containing text, sound, and still and moving images. The proposed extension of electronic communications systems, such as the Internet to all “K-12” schools (kindergarten through grade 12, that is, up to age 18), has given rise to a number of pilots investigating how the education system could capitalize on the opportunities offered.

In his paper of February 23, 1993, Technology for America’s Growth, President Clinton declared that in teaching there should be an emphasis on high performance. He announced new public investment to support technology with the aim of increasing the productivity of teaching and learning in schools.

VIII IT IN EDUCATION IN AUSTRALIA

In Australia, the range and quality of IT-supported learning are comparable to that in Britain. A number of technology-led initiatives have been funded by federal and state departments. The federal government has identified the emerging information age as a major opportunity for Australian industry and society in general. A national strategy has been announced that is to explore ways of networking schools and colleges.

IX IT IN EDUCATION IN CANADA

Each individual provincial government in Canada has responsibility for running its schools, colleges, and universities. Although these may vary in their approach to education, they are all making substantial investments in IT. In particular, they are developing their use of communication technologies to support their school, college, and university systems. Provinces such as British Columbia and Nova Scotia have invested in extensive networks, which offer distance-learning programmes to overcome geographical barriers and to develop school and community use of technology. National involvement in this and the development of a national “Schoolnet” network is supported by the federal department of “Industry Canada”.

X FUTURE TRENDS IN TECHNOLOGY AND LEARNING

Radical technological developments in miniaturization, electronic communications, and multimedia hold the promise of affordable, truly personal, mobile computing. The move to digital data is blurring the boundary between broadcasting, publishing, and telephony by making all these media available through computer networks and computerized televisions (see Digital Broadcasting and Electronic Publishing). These developments are not only giving learners access to vast libraries and multimedia resources but also live access to tutors and natural phenomena throughout the world.

As technology provides easier access for students to material previously supplied by the teacher, it enhances the role of the teacher as manager of the learning process rather than source of the content. Easier access for students to information, tutorials, and assessment, together with the use of IT tools such as word processors and spreadsheets, will help them learn more productively. There will be a clear split in the way schools and colleges organize learning. In areas of the curriculum that are structured and transferable to electronic format, students will work at different levels and on different content. By removing the burden of individualized learning from schools and colleges, time will be freed for teachers to concentrate on the many other learning activities requiring a teacher as the catalyst.

Developments in communications technology and the increase in personal ownership of technology will allow learning in schools and colleges to integrate with learning elsewhere. The boundaries between one institution and another and between institutions and the outside world will become less important. Crucially, technology will remove the barrier between school and home.

The momentum of the technological revolution creates rapid and disruptive changes in the way in which people live, work, and play. As the pace of technological advance shows no sign of slowing, the challenge is in learning to adapt to changes with the minimum of physical and mental stress. To make this possible, the learning systems and those who manage them must prepare people to work with new technologies competently and confidently. They need to expect and embrace constant change to skill requirements and work patterns, making learning a natural lifelong process.

However disturbing this challenge may at first seem, the nature of technology is that it not only poses problems but also offers solutions—constantly creating opportunities and providing new and creative solutions to the process of living and learning.

Contributed By:
Margaret Bell

Reviewed By:
Peter Avis

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Further Education

I INTRODUCTION

Further Education (FE), the tertiary sector of education, following primary and secondary education, and sometimes preceding higher education. Whereas in the rest of Europe the tertiary sector is generally confined to vocational education and training, in the United Kingdom FE embraces both academic and vocational or professional study programmes. FE in the United Kingdom has no direct equivalent in other parts of the world. Other systems tend towards separation of the vocational system from schools and universities.

Most full-time students in FE study in further education colleges between the ages of 16 and 19, but the majority of FE college students overall are adults and study part-time. FE is often regarded as the “college sector” which provides study opportunities between school and university. However, the boundaries between further education colleges and higher education institutions are becoming increasingly blurred.

FE offers study opportunities for those who need help with basic skills: literacy, numeracy, and key skills at a foundation level. The majority of students are following courses at level 1 to 3 (foundation, intermediate, and advanced), and there are more A-level students in colleges than in school sixth forms. About 20 per cent of FE colleges also offer some higher education, and several universities (generally the former polytechnics) offer some FE.

II HISTORY OF FURTHER EDUCATION

FE in the United Kingdom is a distinctly modern phenomenon. It has its beginnings in the mechanical and technical institutes of the early 19th century. The first institute was formally constituted in Edinburgh in 1821. The subsequent growth in institutes was phenomenal and was matched by the development of the first national examining bodies from the time of the RSA Examinations Board in 1856. The RSA has now merged with other examinations boards to become the OCR Awarding Body, one of several awarding bodies that also include City and Guilds and Edexcel.

From the early 20th century until the 1960s, the UK had a tripartite system of schools, grammar, technical, and secondary modern, and the role of FE was primarily as a provider of evening study programmes in the local technical college. Before 1940, the technical college was a place of vocational education for the employed. The end of World War II and the demand for new skills meant further education concentrated on day release from work and evening classes. A new era of partnership with industry began. This developed with the industry training boards and levy systems of the 1960s and 1970s and the Manpower Services Commission (MSC) of the 1980s, to the Training and Enterprise Councils of the 1990s.

In the 1960s, with the arrival of comprehensive schools, many local education authorities (LEAs) wanted to offer second-chance opportunities to students at 16 and evening classes to adult students. The tertiary college was born. Many LEAs reorganized in order to set up tertiary colleges for all post-16 students and adults. The FE sector as we know it was created, although the process of providing schools for just 11- to 16-year-olds was not continued, and there is therefore now a diverse system.

FE today is provided by various institutions, including general further education colleges, agricultural and horticultural colleges, art and design colleges, and other specialist colleges; sixth forms in secondary schools, sixth-form colleges (England and Wales only), and universities. In 1999-2000 there were approximately 3.1 million students in FE in England; 22 percent were full-time students and 78 percent part-time. The government has actively encouraged the increase in FE provision.

III THE ORGANIZATION OF FURTHER EDUCATION IN ENGLAND, WALES, SCOTLAND, AND NORTHERN IRELAND

The structures of funding and quality assurance are different within England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland. In England, Wales, and Scotland, colleges of further education, tertiary colleges, and sixth-form colleges, which previously received grants directly through their LEAs, have since April 1993 had the autonomy to run their own affairs within the further education sector. Northern Ireland followed suit in 1998. Internal organization, as well as finance and management issues (including pay and conditions of service contracts), are matters for each college to determine. All have governing bodies, which include representatives of the local business community and many courses are run in conjunction with local employers. In April 2001 a national Learning and Skills Council (LSC) was established in England, taking on the funding responsibilities of the English Further Education Funding Council (FEFC) and the functions of the Training and Enterprise Councils (TECs).

IV QUALIFICATIONS PROVIDED

In the United Kingdom,, the aim is to establish a qualifications framework which includes both academic and vocational qualifications, overcoming traditional barriers and promoting greater flexibility within the system. The intention is that individuals and employers will establish systems to allow employees to attain progressively higher levels of skill. There is close cooperation between the regulatory bodies in England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. In England, the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA) is responsible for a comprehensive qualifications framework, including accreditation for National Vocational Qualifications (NVQs). This accreditation also extends to Wales and Northern Ireland. In Wales, the Qualification, Curriculum, and Assessment Authority (ACCAC) perform a similar role to the QCA, while the Welsh Joint Educational Committee offers A-level and GCSE assessment. In Scotland, the Scottish Qualifications Authority is a regulatory and awarding body. The main thrust of the framework there is to offer parity of esteem for all qualifications across the system and to include the new competence-based system that has been devised by industry.

In September 2000 a new curriculum, known as “Curriculum 2000”, was introduced. This gives students the opportunity to study more subjects (normally four or five in one year) at AS (Advanced Subsidiary) level, and they can then specialize in two to four subjects in the second year, at the A2 level. The former GNVQs have been renamed as vocational A levels. Key skills of numeracy, literacy, and IT (information technology) efficiency are also examined within the curriculum at different levels.

V INTERNATIONAL FURTHER EDUCATION

College systems overseas tend to concentrate exclusively on the vocational provision, as compared with the UK FE college system, which combines academic and vocational provision. Other countries have priorities similar to those of the United Kingdom, including curriculum, qualification, and funding reforms; the decentralization of decision-making; the encouragement of links between industry and education; quality and standards; guidance and counselling; progression; and non-completion. Generally, vocational qualifications have the same low status overseas as in the United Kingdom; however, governments everywhere are aiming to change this perception.

Contributed By:
British Training International

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Literacy

I INTRODUCTION

Literacy, the ability to read and write at a level for an individual to operate and progress in the society they live in. It is sometimes further defined as the ability to decode written or printed signs, symbols, or letters, combined into words. In 1958 UNESCO defined an illiterate person as someone “who cannot with understanding both read and write a short simple statement on his/her everyday life”.

II THE DEVELOPING WORLD

Most literacy surveys use this basic definition, particularly surveys of literacy levels in developing countries. Based on this definition about 4 in 5 of the population of the world over 15 years of age would be considered literate. According to information from UNESCO released in 2003 more women are now literate than ever before.

The number of adults who are illiterate in the world has fallen from 22.4 per cent in 1995 to 20.3 per cent in 2000; in total from about 872 million adults in 1995 to 862 million adults in 2000. If this trend continues the number of illiterate adults in the world in 2010 should have dropped to 824 million, or 16.5 per cent. The largest fall in illiteracy has been in Africa and Asia.

Although women continue to make up 2 in every 3 of the illiterate adults in the world, the number of illiterate women is falling and the percentage of illiterate women has dropped from 28.5 per cent to 25.8 per cent. This tendency is particularly marked in Africa, where, for the first time, most women are now literate. Although discrimination is one major reason why girls and women lack access to education, countries in the developing world increasingly recognize the benefits of providing access to education for girls and women, particularly as the children of educated women are more likely to become educated themselves.

Progress is slow, however, and about 20 per cent of adults remain illiterate. Worryingly, at the present rate, it is likely that the number of illiterate adults will further fall by about 5 per cent by the year 2015. Just as worryingly, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) reports that 121 million children in the world are not in school and most of these are girls.

Although the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948 and the 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child established education as a basic human right, about 1 in 5 adults in the world were unable to read and write at the beginning of the 21st century.

III THE INDUSTRIALIZED WORLD

Far more than basic literacy as defined by UNESCO is necessary for any adult living in an industrialized society. Recognition of this has led to the use of more complex definitions of literacy in most industrialized countries and the use of the term “functionally illiterate” rather than “illiterate”. This term—functionally illiterate—is usually used to refer to adults who are unable to use a variety of skills beyond the reading or writing of a simple sentence. In the industrialized world someone is considered to be functionally literate if they can “use reading, writing, and calculation for his or her own and the community’s development” rather than if they can merely read and write to some limited extent.

There have been rather fewer surveys of functional illiteracy in industrialized countries than of illiteracy in the developing world. However, beginning in 1994 governments, national statistical agencies, research institutions, and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) undertook a large-scale assessment of the literacy skills of adults, called the International Adult Literacy Survey (IALS). The IALS considered literacy in three areas: the first, “prose literacy”, focused on reading and interpreting prose in newspaper articles, magazines, and books; the second area, “document literacy”, focused on identifying and using information located in documents, such as forms, tables, charts, and indexes; the third, “quantitative literacy”, considered how well adults could apply numerical operations to information contained in printed material, such as a menu, a chequebook, or an advertisement.

The IALS considered how well adults in industrialized countries could use information to function in society and the economy rather than just classifying adults as either functionally literate or functionally illiterate. This definition was much more about the ability to operate in a print-based industrialized world than about the simple ability to decode print.

Nine countries—Canada (English- and French-speaking populations), France, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, Poland, Sweden, Switzerland (German- and French-speaking regions), and the United States—took part in the IALS in 1994. Two years later, in 1996, five more areas—Australia, the Flemish Community in Belgium, Great Britain, New Zealand, and Northern Ireland—administered the IALS assessment tests to samples of their adults. Finally, Chile, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Hungary, Italy, Norway, Slovenia, and the Italian-speaking region of Switzerland took part in the IALS in 1998.

The IALS established five levels of literacy:

• Level 1 suggested that a person had very poor skills. Adults at this Level would be unable to determine the correct amount of medicine to give a child from information printed on the package.
• Level 2 adults could only deal with simple material that was clearly laid out, and where the tasks were not very complex. Adults at level 2 had weak skills, could read, but tested poorly.
• Level 3 was considered the minimum for coping with the demands of everyday life and work in an industrialized country. It suggests the approximate level of literacy required for successfully completing secondary education and for moving on to higher education. At this level an adult should be able to integrate several sources of information and solve more complex problems.
• Levels 4 and 5 were used to describe adults who had higher-order information processing skills.
What is clear from the IALS is that there are considerable differences in the average level of literacy both within and between countries. In every country some adults had low-level literacy skills, although this varied from country to country. Common factors that influenced literacy level were home background and previous educational attainment. Recently, however, researchers and other experts have questioned the method used in the IALS and have suggested that it may not give an accurate picture of literacy in industrialized countries.
Contributed By:
Alan Wells

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Adolescence

I INTRODUCTION

Adolescence, stage of maturation between childhood and adulthood. The term denotes the period from the beginning of puberty to maturity; it usually starts at about age 14 in males and age 12 in females. The transition to adulthood varies among cultures, but it is generally defined as the time when individuals begin to function independently of their parents.

II PHYSICAL DEVELOPMENT

Dramatic changes in physical stature and features are associated with the onset of pubescence. The activity of the pituitary gland at this time results in the increased secretion of hormones, with widespread physiological effects. Growth hormone produces a rapid growth spurt, which brings the body close to its adult height and weight in about two years. The growth spurt occurs earlier among females than males, also indicating that females mature sexually earlier than males. Attainment of sexual maturity in girls is marked by the onset of menstruation and in boys by the production of semen. The main hormones governing these changes are androgen in males and oestrogen in females, substances also associated with the appearance of secondary sex characteristics: facial, body, and pubic hair and a deepening voice in males; pubic and body hair, enlarged breasts, and broader hips in females. Physical changes may be related to psychological adjustment; some studies suggest that earlier-maturing individuals are better adjusted than their later-maturing contemporaries.

See also Growth, Human.

III INTELLECTUAL DEVELOPMENT

No dramatic changes take place in intellectual functions during adolescence. The ability to understand complex problems develops gradually. The French psychologist Jean Piaget determined that adolescence is the beginning of the stage of formal operational thought, which may be characterized as thinking that involves deductive logic. Piaget assumed that this stage occurs among all people regardless of educational or related experiences. Research evidence, however, does not support this hypothesis; it shows that the ability of adolescents to solve complex problems is a function of accumulated learning and education.

IV SEXUAL DEVELOPMENT

The physical changes that occur at pubescence are responsible for the appearance of the sex drive. The gratification of sex drives is still complicated by many social taboos, as well as by a lack of accurate knowledge about sexuality. Since the 1960s, however, sexual activity has increased among adolescents; recent studies show that almost 50 percent of adolescents under the age of 15 and 75 percent under the age of 19 reports having had sexual intercourse. Despite their involvement in sexual activity, some adolescents are not interested in, or knowledgeable about, birth-control methods or the symptoms of sexually transmitted diseases. Consequently, the rate of illegitimate births and the incidence of venereal disease are increasing.

V EMOTIONAL DEVELOPMENT

The American psychologist G. Stanley Hall asserted that adolescence is a period of emotional stress, resulting from the rapid and extensive physiological changes occurring at pubescence. The German-born American psychologist Erik Erikson sees development as a psychosocial process going on through life.

The psychosocial task of adolescence is to develop from a dependent to an independent person, whose identity allows the person to relate to others in an adult fashion (intimacy). The occurrence of emotional problems varies among adolescents.

See also Child Psychology.

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Educational Psychology

I INTRODUCTION

Educational Psychology, field of psychology concerned with the development, learning, and behaviour of children and young people as students in schools, colleges, and universities. It includes the study of children within the family and other social settings, and also focuses on students with disabilities and special educational needs. Educational psychology is concerned with areas of education and psychology which may overlap, particularly child development, evaluation and assessment, social psychology, clinical psychology, and educational policy development and management.

II DEVELOPMENT OF THE FIELD

In the 1880s the German psychologist Hermann Ebbinghaus developed techniques for the experimental study of memory and forgetting. Before Ebbinghaus, these higher mental processes had never been scientifically studied; the importance of this work for the practical world of education was immediately recognized.

In the late 1890s William James of Harvard University examined the relationship between psychology and teaching. James, who was influenced by Charles Darwin, was interested in how people’s behaviour adapted to different environments. This functional approach to behavioural research led James to study practical areas of human endeavour, such as education.

James’s student Edward Lee Thorndike is usually considered to be the first educational psychologist. In his book Educational Psychology (1903), he claimed to report only scientific and quantifiable research. Thorndike made major contributions to the study of intelligence and ability testing, mathematics and reading instruction, and the way learning transfers from one situation to another. In addition, he developed an important theory of learning that describes how stimuli and responses are connected.

III THE NATURE OF EDUCATIONAL PSYCHOLOGY

Educational psychology has changed significantly over the 20th century. Early investigations of children as learners and the impact of different kinds of teaching approaches were largely characterized by attempts to identify general and consistent characteristics. The approaches used varied considerably. Jean Piaget, for example, recorded the development of individuals in detail, assessing changes with age and experience. Others, such as Robert Gagné, focused on the nature of teaching and learning, attempting to lay down taxonomies of learning outcomes. Alfred Binet and Cyril Burt were interested in methods of assessing children’s development and identifying those children considered to be of high or low general intelligence.

This work led to productive research which refined the theories of development, learning, instruction, assessment, and evaluation, and built up an increasingly detailed picture of how students learn. Educational psychology became an essential part of the training of teachers, who for several generations were instructed in the theories emanating from its research to help train them in classroom teaching practice.

A Changing Approaches

Recently the approach of educational psychology has changed significantly in the United Kingdom, as has its contribution to teacher education. In part these changes reflect political decisions to alter the pattern of teacher training: based on the belief that theory is not useful, and that “hands-on” training is preferable. However, discipline and teacher education have each been changing of their own accord. Moving away from the emphasis on all-encompassing theories, such as those of Jean Piaget, Sigmund Freud, and B. F. Skinner, the concerns of educational psychologists have shifted to practical issues and problems faced by the learner or the teacher. Consequently, rather than, for example, impart to teachers in training Skinner’s theory of operant conditioning, and then seek ways of their applying it in classrooms, educational psychologists have tended to begin with the practical issues—how to teach reading; how to differentiate a curriculum (a planned course of teaching and learning) across a range of children with differing levels of achievement and needs; and how to manage discipline in classrooms.

Theory-driven research increasingly suggested that more elaborated conceptions of development were required. For example, the earlier work on intelligence by Binet, Burt, and Lewis Madison Terman focused on the assessment of general intelligence, while recognizing that intellectual activity included verbal reasoning skills, general knowledge, and non-verbal abilities such as pattern recognition. More recently the emphasis has shifted to accentuate the differing profiles of abilities, or “multiple intelligences” as proposed by the American psychologist Howard Gardner, who argues that there is good evidence for at least seven, possibly more, intelligences including kinaesthetic and musical as well as the more traditionally valued linguistic and logico-mathematical types of intelligence.

There has also been a shift in emphasis from the student as an individual to the student in a social context, at all levels from specific cognitive (thinking and reasoning) abilities to general behaviour. For example, practical intelligence and its links with “common sense” have been addressed and investigations made into how individuals may have relatively low intelligence as measured by conventional intelligence tests, yet be seen to be highly intelligent in everyday tasks and “real-life” settings. Recognition of the impact of the environment on a child’s general development has been informed by research on the effects of poverty, socio-economic status, gender, and cultural diversity, together with the effects of schooling itself. Also, the emphasis has changed from one of regarding differences in their performance on specific tasks as deficits compared with some norm, to an appreciation that deficits in performance may reflect unequal opportunity, or that differences may even reflect a positive diversity.

It is now apparent that there are also important biological factors determined by a child’s genetic make-up and its prenatal existence, as well as social factors concerned with the family, school, and general social environment. Because these various factors all interact uniquely in the development of an individual, consequently there are limitations in the possible applicability of any one theory in educational psychology.

IV APPLICATIONS

Professional educational psychologists (EPs) draw upon theory and research from other disciplines in order to benefit individual children, their families, and educational institutions, particularly schools through the following activities:

A Individual Children

An EP may be asked to advise a parent on how to deal with a pre-school child with major temper tantrums; to assess a young child with profound and multiple disabilities; to advise teachers on the nature of a 7-year-old’s reading difficulties; to advise teachers and parents on an adolescent’s problematic behaviour; to undertake play therapy with an 8-year-old who has been sexually and physically abused; or to give an adolescent counselling or psychotherapy.

In each case there is an assessment to identify the nature of the problem, followed by an intervention appropriate to this analysis. The assessment may include the use of standardized tests of cognitive abilities, not necessarily to derive an Intelligence Quotient (IQ) but to investigate a range of aspects of intellectual development; informal assessment and standardized tests of attainment (such as reading and spelling); interviews; observation of the child in class, or with parents or friends; or methods designed to understand the child’s view of their world, including play and structured pictures and tasks where the child arranges the materials to represent their own views of family, or other social arrangements. The interventions (planned procedures) may be equally wide-ranging. In some cases the EP will try to help key adults to understand the child and the nature of the problem. In other cases, more direct advice may be given on how to handle disturbing aspects of a child’s behaviour. In other instances the EPs may advise or produce a specific programme of work, counselling, or behaviour change, which they might implement directly, or they may advise on and monitor the practices of teachers and parents.

In some instances the main basis for advice might be evidence obtained from research on child development; or evidence on intellectual development and its assessment in ethnic minority populations; or theories of learning and instruction as applied to helping a child with literacy difficulties; or theories of counselling or psychotherapeutic intervention may help an adolescent with significant emotional problems. EPs normally work collaboratively with teachers and parents, and with medical and other colleagues. They play a major role in providing advice to local education authorities or school districts in those countries which make statutory assessments of students’ special educational needs.

B Institutions

Often the involvement of an EP with an individual child in a school will lead teachers to recognize that the same issues apply more generally. For example, other children may also have similar learning difficulties or problems in controlling aggression. The EP may then provide a consultancy service to the teacher or school. In some cases this service may be sought direct, for example when a new headteacher wishes to review a previous assessment or the school’s current behaviour policy. Research has indicated, for example, how schools can reduce bullying, improve pupil performance by rearranging classrooms, for example, and optimize the inclusion of children with special educational needs.

V TEACHER TRAINING AND PRACTICE

Educational psychology continues to provide a major basis for the initial education of teachers, particularly in management of learning and behaviour, but also on curriculum design, with special attention given to the needs of individual children. Increasingly, educational psychology is also contributing to student teachers’ understanding of the school as a system and the importance of this wider perspective for optimizing their performance; to their professional development by helping them analyse their own practice, beliefs, and attitudes and, once they begin the practice of teaching, to their continuing professional development based on experience in schools—particularly in areas such as special needs and disability. The impact of information technology and the increasing development of inclusive education provide particular challenges.

Contributed By:
Geoff Lindsay

Credited Images: Yesstyle

 

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Animal Behaviour

I INTRODUCTION

Animal Behaviour, the way different kinds of animals behave, which has fascinated inquiring minds since at least the time of Plato and Aristotle. Particularly intriguing has been the ability of simple creatures to perform complicated tasks—weave the web, build a nest, sing a song, find a home, or capture food—at just the right time with little or no instruction. Such behaviour can be viewed from two quite different perspectives, discussed below: either animal learn everything they do (from “nurture”), or they know what to do instinctively (from “nature”). Neither extreme has proved to be correct.

II NURTURE: THE BEHAVIOURISTS

Until recently the dominant school in behavioural theory has been behaviourism, whose best-known figures are J. B. Watson and B. F. Skinner. Strict behaviourists hold that all behaviour, even breathing and the circulation of blood, according to Watson, is learned; they believe that animals are, in effect, born as blank slates upon which chance and experience are to write their messages. Through conditioning, they believe, an animal’s behaviour is formed. Behaviourists recognize two sorts of conditioning: classical and operant.

In the late 19th century the Russian physiologist Ivan Pavlov discovered classical conditioning while studying digestion. He found that dogs automatically salivate at the sight of food—an unconditioned response to an unconditioned stimulus, to use his terminology. If Pavlov always rang a bell when he offered food, the dogs began slowly to associate this irrelevant (conditioned) stimulus with the food. Eventually, the sound of the bell alone could elicit salivation. Hence, the dogs had learned to associate a certain cue with food. Behaviourists see salivation as a simple reflex behaviour—something like the knee-jerk reflex doctors trigger when they tap a patient’s knee with a hammer.

The other category, operant conditioning, works on the principle of punishment or reward. In operant conditioning a rat, for example, is taught to press a bar for food by first being rewarded for facing the correct end of the cage, next being rewarded only when it stands next to the bar, then only when it touches the bar with its body, and so on, until the behaviour is shaped to suit the task. Behaviourists believe that this sort of trial-and-error learning, combined with the associative learning of Pavlov, can serve to link any number of reflexes and simple responses into complex chains that depend on whatever cues nature provides. To an extreme behaviourist, then, animals must learn all the behavioural patterns that they need to know.

III NATURE: THE ETHOLOGISTS

In contrast, ethology—a discipline that developed in Europe—holds that much of what animals know is innate (instinctive). A particular species of digger wasp, for example, finds and captures only honey bees. With no previous experience a female wasp will excavate an elaborate burrow, find a bee, paralyse it with a careful and precise sting to the neck, navigate back to her inconspicuous home, and, when the larder has been stocked with the correct number of bees, lay an egg on one of them and seal the chamber.

The female wasp’s entire behaviour is designed so that she can function in a single specialized way. Ethologists believe that this entire behavioural sequence has been programmed into the wasp by its genes at birth and that, in varying degrees, such patterns of innate guidance may be seen throughout the animal world. Extreme ethnologists have even held that all novel behaviours result from maturation—flying in birds, for example, which requires no learning but is delayed until the chick is strong enough—or imprinting, a kind of automatic memorization discussed below.

The three Nobel Prize-winning founders of ethology—Konrad Lorenz of Austria, Nikolaas Tinbergen of the Netherlands, and Karl von Frisch of Germany—uncovered four basic strategies by which genetic programming helps direct the lives of animals: sign stimuli (frequently called releasers), motor programs, drive, and programmed learning (including imprinting).

IV SIGN STIMULI (RELEASERS)

Sign stimuli are crude, sketchy cues that enable animals to recognize important objects or individuals when they encounter them for the first time. Baby herring gulls, for example, must know from the outset to whom they should direct their begging calls and pecks in order to be fed. An adult returning to the nest with food holds its bill downwards and swings it back and forth in front of the chicks. The baby gulls peck at the red spot on the tip of the bill, causing the parent to regurgitate a meal. The young chick’s recognition of a parent is based entirely on the sign stimulus of the bill’s vertical line and red spot moving horizontally. A wooden model of the bill works as well as the real parent; a knitting needle with a spot is more effective than either in getting the chicks to respond.

Sign stimuli need not be visual. The begging call that a chick produces is a releaser for its parents’ feeding behaviour. The special scent, or pheromone, emitted by female moths is a sign stimulus that attracts males. Tactile (touch) and even electrical sign stimuli are also known.

The most widespread uses of sign stimuli in the animal world are in communication, hunting, and predator avoidance. The young of most species of snake-hunting birds, for instance, innately recognize and avoid deadly coral snakes; young fowl and ducklings are born able to recognize and flee from the silhouette of hawks. Similar sign stimuli are often used in food gathering. The bee-hunting wasp recognizes honey bees by means of a series of releasers: the odour of the bee attracts the wasp upwind; the sight of any small, dark object guides it to the attack; and, finally, the odour of the object as the wasp prepares to sting determines whether the attack will be completed.

This use of a series of releasers, one after the other, greatly increases the specificity of what are individually crude and schematic cues; it is a strategy frequently employed in communication and is known as display. Most animal species are solitary except when courting and rearing young. To avoid confusion, the signals that identify the sex and species of an animal’s potential mate must be clear and unambiguous (see Courtship below).

V MOTOR PROGRAMS

A second major discovery by ethologists is that many complex behaviours come pre-packaged as motor programs—self-contained circuits able to direct the coordinated movements of many different muscles to accomplish a task. The courtship dancing of sticklebacks, the stinging action of wasps, and the pecking of gull chicks are all motor programs.

The first motor program analysed in much detail was the egg-rolling response of geese. When a goose sees an egg outside its nest, it stares at the egg, stretches its neck until its bill is just on the other side of the egg, and then gently rolls the egg back into the nest. At first glance this seems a thoughtful and intelligent piece of behaviour, but it is in fact a mechanical motor program; almost any smooth, rounded object (the sign stimulus) will release the response. Furthermore, removal of the egg once the program has begun does not stop the goose from finishing its neck extension and delicately rolling the non-existent object into the nest.

Such a response is one of a special group of motor programs known as fixed-action patterns. Programs of this class are wholly innate, although they are frequently wired so that some of the movements are adjusted automatically to compensate for unpredictable contingencies, such as the roughness and slope of the ground the goose must nudge the egg across. Apparently, the possible complexity of such programs is almost unlimited; birds’ nests and the familiar beautiful webs of orb-weaving spiders are examples.

Another class of motor programs is learned. In the human species walking, swimming, bicycle riding, and shoe tying, for example, begin as laborious efforts requiring full, conscious attention. After a time, however, these activities become so automatic that, like innate motor programs, they can be performed unconsciously and without normal feedback. This need for feedback in only the early stages of learning is widespread. Both songbirds and humans, for example, must hear themselves as they begin to vocalize, but once song or speech is mastered, deafness has little effect. The necessary motor programs have been wired into the system.

VI DRIVE

The third general principle of ethology is drive. Animals know when to migrate, when (and how) to court one another, when to feed their young, and so on. In most animals these abilities are behavioural units that are switched on or off as appropriate. Geese, for example, will only roll eggs from about a week before egg laying until a week after the young have hatched. At other times eggs have no meaning to them.

The switching on and off of these programs often involves complex inborn releasers and timers. In birds, preparations for spring migration, as well as the development of sexual dimorphisms (separate forms), territorial defence, and courtship behaviour, are all triggered by the lengthening period of daylight. This alters hormone levels in the blood, thereby triggering each of these dramatic but essential changes in behaviour.

In general, however, no good explanation exists for the way in which motivation is continually modulated over short periods in an animal’s life. A cat will stalk small animals or toys even though it is well supplied with food. Deprived of all stimuli, its threshold (the quality of stimulus required to elicit a behaviour) will drop sufficiently so that thoroughly bored cats will stalk, chase, capture, and disembowel entirely imaginary targets. This unaccountable release of what appears to be pent-up motivation is known as vacuum activity—a behaviour that will occur even in the absence of a proper stimulus.

One simple mechanism by which animals alter their levels of responsiveness (and which may ultimately help explain motivation) is known as habituation. Habituation is essentially a central behavioural boredom; repeated presentation of the same stimulus causes the normal response to wane. A chemical present on the tentacles of its arch-enemy, the starfish, triggers a sea slug’s frantic escape behaviour. After several encounters in rapid succession, however, the threshold for the escape response begins to rise and the sea slug refuses to flee the overworked threat. Simple muscle fatigue is not involved, and stimulation of some other form—a flash of light, for instance—instantly restores the normal threshold (a phenomenon known as sensitization). Hence, nervous systems are pre-wired to “learn” to ignore the normal background levels of stimuli and to focus instead on changes from the accustomed level.

VII PROGRAMMED LEARNING

The fourth contribution ethology has made to the study of animal behaviour is the concept of programmed learning. Ethologists have shown that many animals are wired to learn particular things in specific ways at preordained times in their lives.

A Imprinting

One famous example of programmed learning is imprinting. The young of certain species—ducks, for example—must be able to follow their parents almost from birth. Each young animal, even if it is pre-programmed to recognize its own species, must quickly learn to distinguish its own particular parents from all other adults. Evolution has accomplished this essential bit of memorization in ducks by wiring ducklings to follow the first moving object they see that produces the species-specific exodus call. The call acts as an acoustic sign stimulus that directs the response of following.

It is the physical act of following, however, that triggers the learning process; chicks passively transported behind a calling parent do not imprint at all. (In fact, presenting obstacles so that a chick has to work harder to follow its parent actually speeds the imprinting process.) As long as the substitute parent makes the right sounds and moves, ducklings can be imprinted on a motley collection of objects, including rubber balls, shoe boxes, and human beings.

This parental-imprinting phase is generally early and brief, often ending 36 hours after birth. Another round of imprinting usually takes place later; it serves to define the species image the animal will use to select an appropriate mate when it matures. Ethologists suspect that genetic programming cannot specify much visual detail; otherwise, selective advantage would probably require chicks to come pre-wired with a mental picture of their own species.

As the world has become increasingly crowded with species, the role of sign stimuli in some animals has shifted from that of identifying each animal’s species uniquely to that of simply directing the learning necessary to distinguish an animal’s own kind from many similar creatures. This strategy works because, at the early age involved, most animals’ ranges of contact are so limited that a mistake in identifying what to imprint on is highly unlikely.

B Characteristics of Programmed Learning

Imprinting, therefore, has four basic qualities that distinguish it from ordinary learning: (1) a specific time, or critical period, exists when the learning must take place; (2) a specific context exists, usually defined by the presence of a sign stimulus; (3) the learning is often constrained in such a way that an animal remembers only a specific cue such as odour and ignores other conspicuous characteristics; and (4) no reward is necessary to ensure that the animal remembers.

These qualities are now becoming evident in many kinds of learning, and the value of such innately directed learning is beginning to be understood: in a world full of stimuli, it enables an animal to know what to learn and what to ignore. As though for the sake of economy, animals need pick up only the least amount of information that will suffice in a situation. For example, ducklings of one species seem able to learn the voices of their parents, whereas those of another recall only what their parents look like. When poisoned, rats remember only the taste and odour of the dangerous food, whereas quail recall only its colour. This phenomenon, known as rapid food-avoidance conditioning, is so strongly wired into many species that a single exposure to a toxic substance is usually sufficient to train an animal for life.

The same sorts of biases are observed in nearly every species. Pigeons, for instance, readily learn to peck when food is the reward, but not to hop on a treadle for a meal; on the other hand, it is virtually impossible to teach a bird to peck to avoid danger, but they learn treadle hopping in dangerous situations easily. Such biases make sense in the context of an animal’s natural history; pigeons, for example, normally obtain food with the beak rather than the feet, and react to danger with their feet (and wings).

Perhaps the example of complex programmed learning understood in most complete detail is song learning in birds. Some species, such as doves, are born wired to produce their species-specific coos, and no amount of exposure to the songs of other species or the absence of their own has any effect. The same is true for the repertoire of 20 or so simple calls that virtually all birds use to communicate messages such as hunger or danger.

The elaborate songs of songbirds, however, are often heavily influenced by learning. A bird reared in isolation, for example, sings a very simple outline of the sort of song that develops naturally in the wild. Yet song learning shows all the characteristics of imprinting. Usually a critical period exists during which the birds learn while they are young. Exactly what is learned—what a songbird chooses to copy from the world of sound around it—is restricted to the songs of its own species. Hence, a white-crowned sparrow, when subjected to a medley of songs of various species, will unerringly pick out its own and commit it to memory. The recognition of the specific song is based on acoustic sign stimuli.

Despite its obvious constraints, song learning permits considerable latitude: any song will do as long as it has a few essential features. Because the memorization is not quite perfect and admits some flexibility, the songs of many birds have developed regional dialects and serve as vehicles for a kind of “cultural” behaviour.

A far more dramatic example of programmed cultural learning in birds is seen in the transmission of knowledge about predators. Most birds are subject to two sorts of danger: they may be attacked directly by birds of prey, or their helpless young may be eaten by nest predators. When they see birds of prey, birds regularly give a specific, whistlelike alarm call that signals the need to hide. A staccato mobbing call, on the other hand, is given for nest predators and serves as a call to arms, inciting all the nesting birds in the vicinity to harass the potential predator and drive it away. Both calls are sign stimuli.

Birds are born knowing little about which species are safe and which are dangerous; they learn this by observing the objects of the calls they hear. So totally automatic is the formation of this list of enemies that caged birds can even be tricked into mobbing milk bottles (and will pass the practice on from generation to generation) if they hear a mobbing call while being shown a bottle. This variation on imprinting appears to be the mechanism by which many mammals (primates included) gain and pass on critical cultural information about both food and danger. The fairly recent realization of the power of programmed learning in animal behaviour has reduced the apparent role that simple copying and trial-and-error learning play in modifying behaviour.

VIII COMPLEX BEHAVIOUR PATTERNS

Evolution, working on the four general mechanisms described by ethology, has generated a nearly endless list of behavioural wonders by which animals seem almost perfectly adapted to their world. Prime examples are the honey bee’s systems of navigation, communication, and social organization. Bees rely primarily on the Sun as a reference point for navigation, keeping track of their flight direction with respect to the Sun, and factoring out the effects of the winds that may be blowing them off course. The Sun is a difficult landmark for navigation because of its apparent motion from east to west, but bees are born knowing how to compensate for that. When a cloud obscures the Sun, bees use the patterns of ultraviolet polarized light in the sky to determine the Sun’s location. When an overcast obscures both Sun and sky, bees automatically switch to a third navigational system based on their mental map of the landmarks in their home range.

Study of the honey bee’s navigational system has revealed much about the mechanisms used by higher animals. Homing pigeons, for instance, are now known to use the Sun as their compass; they compensate for its apparent movement, see both ultraviolet and polarized light, and employ a backup compass for cloudy days. The secondary compass for pigeons is magnetic. Pigeons surpass bees in having a map sense as well as a compass as part of their navigational system. A pigeon taken hundreds of kilometres from its loft in total darkness will nevertheless depart almost directly for home when it is released. The nature of this map sense remains one of ethology’s most intriguing mysteries.

Honey bees also exhibit excellent communication abilities. A foraging bee returning from a good source of food will perform a “waggle dance” on the vertical sheets of honeycomb. The dance specifies to other bees the distance and direction of the food. The dance takes the form of a flattened figure 8; during the crucial part of the manoeuvre (the two parts of the figure 8 that cross) the forager vibrates her body. The angle of this part of the run specifies the direction of the food: if this part of the dance points up, the source is in the direction of the Sun, whereas if it is aimed, for example, 70° left of vertical, the food is 70° left of the Sun. The number of waggling motions specifies the distance to the food.

The complexity of this dance language has paved the way for studies of higher animals. Some species are now known to have a variety of signals to smooth the operations of social living. Vervet monkeys, for example, have the usual set of gestures and sounds to express emotional states and social needs, but they also have a four-word predator vocabulary: a specific call alerts the troop to airborne predators, one to four-legged predators such as leopards, another to snakes, and one to other primates. Each type of alarm elicits a different behaviour. Leopard alarms send the vervets into trees and to the top branches, whereas the airborne predator call causes them to drop like stones into the interior of the tree. The calls and general categories they represent seem innate, but the young learn by observation which species of each predator class is dangerous. An infant vervet may deliver an aerial alarm to a vulture, a stork, or even a falling leaf, but eventually comes to ignore everything airborne except the martial eagle.

IX ANIMAL COURTSHIP

Animal courtship behaviour precedes and accompanies the sexual act, to which it is directly related. It often involves stereotyped displays, which can be elaborate, prolonged, and spectacular, and includes the exhibition of sign stimuli (releasers), dramatic body colours, plumage, or markings. It may also involve ritualized combat between rival males.

Its primary purpose is to bring both partners to a state of sexual receptiveness simultaneously. This is especially important in aquatic animals whose eggs are fertilized externally and may be dispersed by water currents before sperm can make contact with them. Copulation is often over quickly and an elaborate courtship ensures its success.

A male three-spined stickleback starts his courtship by building a nest inside a territory he defends. When a female approaches he performs a zig-zag dance towards and away from the nest until she turns towards him and raises her head. He then leads her to the nest and waits, head down, beside the entrance. If she enters the nest he nudges her tail. She lays eggs, and leaves by swimming through the nest. He follows, fertilizing the eggs. In this ritual, each response stimulates the next activity and an incorrect response causes the last step to be repeated.

Courtship rituals differ from one species to another and individuals are attracted only by the attentions of members of their own species. This greatly reduces the risk of unproductive hybrid matings, especially between species that look alike. Male Photinus fireflies attract mates by patterns of flashing light, but each species has its own distinct pattern.

Many female animals secrete odours, pheromones, when they are sexually receptive. The female silkworm moth uses her wings to disperse bombykol, a pheromone secreted by abdominal scent glands, which is detectable by males up to 10 km (6.2 mi) away. Female mammals, including the rhesus macaque and other primates, also use pheromones as sexual attractants.

In most species, however, males court females. Females invest much more time and energy in producing eggs and raising young than males invest in producing sperm, and males usually contribute little or nothing to the care of offspring. It is in the interests of females to choose mates that will give their young the best start in life and in the interests of males to mate with as many females as possible. A male, therefore, must persuade females of his suitability; he must court them.

The song with which many male birds proclaim their presence also serves to attract females, but once they arrive the male must impress them, often by displaying extravagant or brightly coloured plumage. The plumage of the mallard drake is brighter in the breeding season, and the peacock impresses the peahen by displaying his huge tail. Males of some species, such as the sage grouse, gather in large numbers at a particular place, called a lek, where they all display while passing females make their choices. In other species, males present gifts to the female, and bowerbirds try to attract females into elaborate display grounds that they have constructed and decorated with brightly coloured objects.

Such extravagant plumage and behaviour evolved (see Evolution) by “runaway” sexual selection as opposed to natural selection. Males adorned with ornamentation that restricted their mobility, or who spent time obtaining gifts or constructing decorated bowers, showed their strength and competence. Females chose the most spectacular, so with each generation the displays became more extreme until they reached limits beyond which the males would be too encumbered to survive. Darwin’s view of male ornamentation was that it appealed, quite arbitrarily, to female “whim”, but other theorists believe that extravagant male ornamentation advertises genuine male qualities to otherwise sceptical females.

X SOCIAL ORGANIZATION

Animal social organization, the sum of all the relationships among members of a group of animals all of the same species, varies considerably. It ranges from the cooperation between a male and female during courtship and mating, to the most complex societies, in which only one female at a time produces young, all other females collaborating in the care of offspring and maintenance of the colony. Some animal societies are hierarchical, with dominant and subordinate members; others are loose arrangements of fairly independent family groups.

These relationships have evolved in response to the circumstances under which the species live. Many birds establish a territory during the breeding season. This ensures a supply of food for the young, but by excluding all other individuals the pair must mate only with one another. Because of this most birds are monogamous, even if they are not territorial. Some aquatic species mate for life. Only if one mate dies will an albatross, kittiwake, or swan seek a new partner. Monogamy is much rarer among mammals, although prairie voles mate for life, as do gibbons and some lemurs.

Where the food supply is dispersed, animals tend to be solitary. Bears, most cats, and European hedgehogs live solitary lives, the female accompanied by young which leave as soon as they are capable of living alone. Adult males and females meet only to mate.

Social groups based on mating and the rearing of young are often seasonal, members dispersing once the young leave. Other groupings, for protection or hunting, are permanent. In open country, many mammals live in large groups. Herds of antelope, deer, zebras, and horses, and troops of baboons are familiar examples. They benefit from the safety of numbers.

Often, these groups comprise females and their young with one adult male. This is a harem. The male mates with all the adult females and spends much of his time trying to prevent them deserting. Adult males without harems form all-male herds, but individuals constantly try to acquire harems by abducting females. The male of the harem is not necessarily the leader of the group. A herd of horses, for example, is led by the senior female, to whom all others defer. Other groups may have more than one male. A wildebeest herd comprises about 150 females and young and up to three bulls, which patrol outside the herd, keeping it together and guarding it from predators.

Elephants form extended-family herds of females and their young, which often include an old male relative among Asian elephants. Other adult males live outside the herd and male African elephants form their own groups.

Lions are the only cats that live in social groups and collaborate in hunting, a pride consisting of up to 3 males and about 15 females and young. Dogs are much more social. Hunting dogs live in packs of up to 90 individuals. They collaborate in hunting and share food amicably, allowing the young to feed first and disgorging food for latecomers. Wolves mate for life and packs consist of one or more family groups, sometimes with outsiders that have been accepted. A strict social hierarchy is maintained by ritualized postures and gestures.

Species that live in colonies exhibit extreme social relationships and are said to be “eusocial”. They include social insects, such as termites, ants, wasps, and some bees, and one species of mammal, the naked mole rat of eastern Africa. The organization of social insects is based on the roles of certain groups within the colony. There is usually one reproductive female, the queen, who may lay thousands of eggs in her lifetime. Most of the other insects in the colony are involved in the construction, maintenance, and defence of the colony. Certain groups of insects may have specific physical features which relate to their roles. The queen bee is usually much longer and has an enlarged abdomen for egg-laying, the worker bees are equipped with stings to defend the colony and pollen baskets for collecting pollen, while the drones are stingless and do not have pollen baskets as their only role is to mate with the queen before they die. Much of the insect colony behaviour is determined either by instinct or by pheromones released by the queen.

A The Question of Altruism

One fascinating aspect of some animal societies is the selfless way one animal seems to render its services to others. In the beehive, for instance, workers labour unceasingly in the hive for three weeks after they emerge and then forage outside for food until they wear out two or three weeks later. Yet the workers leave no offspring. How could natural selection favour such self-sacrifice? This question presents itself in almost every social species.

The apparent altruism is sometimes actually part of a mutual-aid system in which favours are given because they will almost certainly be repaid. One chimpanzee will groom another, removing parasites from areas the receiver could not reach, because later the roles will be exchanged. Such a system, however, requires that animals be able to recognize one another as individuals, and hence be able to reject those who would accept favours without paying them back.

A second kind of altruism is exemplified by the behaviour of male sage grouse, which congregate into displaying groups—leks. Females come to these assemblies to mate, but only a handful of males in the central spots actually sire the next generation. The dozens of other males advertise their virtues vigorously but succeed only in attracting additional females to the favoured few in the centre. Natural selection has not gone wrong here, however; males move further inward every year, through this celibate and demanding apprenticeship, until they reach the centre of the lek.

The altruism of honey bees has an entirely genetic explanation. Through a quirk of hymenopteran genetics, males have only one set of chromosomes. Animals normally have two sets, passing on only one when they mate; hence, they share half their genes with any offspring and the offspring have half their genes in common with one another. Because male Hymenoptera have a single set of chromosomes, however, all the daughters have those genes in common. Added to the genes they happen to share that came from their mother, the queen, most workers are three-quarters related to one another—more related than they would be to their own offspring. Genes that favour a “selfless” sterility that assists in rearing the next generation of sisters, then, should spread faster in the population than those programming the more conventional every-female-for-herself strategy.

This system, known as kin selection, is widespread. All it requires is that an animal perform services of little cost to itself but of great benefit to relations. Bees are the ultimate example of altruism because of the extra genetic benefit that their system confers, but kin selection works almost as well in a variety of genetically conventional animals. The male lions that cooperate in taking over another male’s pride, for example, are usually brothers, whereas the females in a pride that hunt as a group and share food are a complex collection of sisters, daughters, and aunts.

Even human societies may not be immune to the programming of kin selection. In their study of sociobiology, anthropologists consistently report that simple cultures are organized along lines of kinship. Such observations, combined with the recent discovery that human language learning is in part a kind of imprinting—that consonants are innately recognized sign stimuli, for instance—suggest that human behaviour may be connected more with animal behaviour than was hitherto imagined.

Reviewed By:
Michael Allaby

Credited Image: Yesstyle

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Musical

I INTRODUCTION

Musical or Musical Comedy, theatrical production in which songs and choruses, instrumental accompaniments and interludes, and often dance are integrated into a dramatic plot. The genre developed and was refined in the United States, particularly in the theatres along Broadway in New York, during the first half of the 20th century. The musical has origins in a variety of 19th-century theatrical sources, including the operetta, comic opera, pantomime, the minstrel show, vaudeville, and burlesque.

II ORIGINS

The American musical actually began in 1796, with The Archers; or, The Mountaineers of Switzerland, composed by Benjamin Carr and with libretto by William Dunlap. The Black Crook, produced in 1866, is generally credited as the first musical; actually, it was an extravaganza, combining melodrama with ballet. In the late 19th century, operettas from Vienna (composed by Johann Strauss, Jr. and Franz Lehár), London (by Sir Arthur Sullivan), and Paris (by Jacques Offenbach) were popular with urban audiences in the eastern United States. At the same time, revues (plotless programmes of individual songs, dances, and comedy sketches) abounded not only in theatres but also in some upper-class saloons, such as the music hall operated in New York by the comedy team of Joe Weber and Lew Fields. The successful shows of another comedy team, Ned Harrigan, and Tony Hart were also revues, but with connecting dialogue and continuing characters. These, in turn, spawned the musical shows of producer-playwright-actor-composer George M. Cohan, the first of which appeared in 1901.

In the years before World War I began in 1914, several young operetta composers emigrated from Europe to the United States. Among them were Victor Herbert, Sigmund Romberg, and Rudolf Friml. Herbert’s Naughty Marietta (1910), Friml’s The Firefly (1912), and Romberg’s Maytime (1917) are representative of the new genre these composers created: American operetta, with simple music and librettos and singable songs that were enduringly popular with the public. The text of a musical (the libretto) has been divided since that time between the “book”, which is the spoken dialogue, and the “lyrics”, which are the words of the songs. These two are often by different authors.

III THE MODERN MUSICAL

In 1914 the composer Jerome Kern began to produce a series of shows in which all the varied elements of a musical were integrated into a single fabric. Produced in the intimate Princess Theatre, Kern used contemporary settings and events, in contrast to operettas, which usually took place in fantasy lands. In 1927 Kern provided the score for Show Boat, perhaps the first musical to have a high-quality libretto. It was also adapted from a successful novel, a technique that was to proliferate in post-1940 musicals.

Gradually the old musical formula began to change. Instead of complicated but never serious plots, sophisticated lyrics and simplified librettos were introduced; underscoring (music played as background to dialogue or movement) was added; and new American musical elements, such as jazz and blues, were utilized by composers. In addition, singers began to pay more attention to the craft of acting. In 1932, Of Thee I Sing became the first musical to be awarded a Pulitzer Prize for drama. Its lyricist and composer, the brothers Ira and George Gershwin, had succeeded in intelligently satirizing contemporary political situations.

In the 1920s, satire, ideas, and wit had been the province of the intimate revue. These sophisticated shows were important as testing grounds for the young composers and lyricists who later helped develop the serious musical. One composer-lyricist pair who started in the intimate revues, Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart, wrote Pal Joey in 1940, a show that had many of the elements of the later musicals, including a book with well-rounded characters. But it was not a success until its 1952 revival. In the meantime, Rodgers, with Oscar Hammerstein II as his new writing partner, had produced Oklahoma! (1943), which had ballets, choreographed by Agnes de Mille, that were an integral part of the plot. The choreographer-director was eventually to become vastly influential on the shape and substance of the American musical. Jerome Robbins, Michael Kidd, Bob Fosse, and Michael Bennett are were notable among the skilled choreographers who went on to create important musicals, most notably A Chorus Line (1975) and Dancin’ (1978).

IV POST-WORLD WAR II ERA

As these and other innovations altered the familiar face of musical theatre, audiences came to expect more variety and complexity in their shows; a host of inventive composers and lyricists obliged. In 1949, Cole Porter, who had written provocative songs with brilliant lyrics for many years, finally wrote a show with an equally fine book: Kiss Me, Kate. Rodgers and Hammerstein followed Oklahoma! with Carousel (1945) and South Pacific (1949). Irving Berlin, who had been writing hit songs since 1911, produced the popular but somewhat old-fashioned Annie Get Your Gun (1946). Frank Loesser provided both words and music for Guys and Dolls (1950), with its raffish Damon Runyon characters. Brigadoon (1947) was the first successful collaboration of the composer Frederick Loewe and book-and-lyric writer Alan Jay Lerner, who were later to contribute My Fair Lady (1956), based on George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion, and Camelot (1960).

In the 1950s a number of composers gained prominence. Leonard Bernstein wrote the scores for Candide (1956) and West Side Story (1957). The latter, a modern adaptation of Romeo and Juliet, mostly danced and heavily underscored, was greatly influential. Jule Styne wrote the music for Bells Are Ringing (1956) and Gypsy (1959). In the 1960s and 1970s the composer John Kander and the lyricist Fred Ebb collaborated on Cabaret (1966); composer Sheldon Harnick and lyricist Jerry Bock produced Fiddler on the Roof (1964); and Stephen Sondheim, who wrote the lyrics for West Side Story and Gypsy, did the entire scores for a series of musicals, including Company (1970), Follies (1971), A Little Night Music (1973), and Sweeney Todd (1979).

A show that opened on Broadway in 1968 and went on to affect world theatre was Hair. Called a folk-rock musical, it presented a situation rather than a plot, and its lyrics were often unintelligible. But its youthful exuberance, ingenious theatricality and concentration on rock music produced many imitators, notably Godspell and Jesus Christ Superstar (both 1971). The score for the latter was the work of the English composer Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber, who went on to write the hits Evita (1978), based on the life of the Argentine political figure Eva Perón; Cats (1981), adapted from poems by T. S. Eliot; and Song and Dance (1982). Webber’s adaptation of Gaston Leroux’s novel The Phantom of the Opera opened in London in 1987; the show received wide critical acclaim and achieved great popularity, and was followed by Sunset Boulevard (1994).

By the mid-1980s the traditional La Cage aux Folles (1983) by composer Jerry Herman and playwright Harvey Fierstein and the innovative Sunday in the Park with George (1984) by Sondheim, to a book by James Lapine, marked possible new trends. For their dramatization of the life of the French painter Georges Seurat, Sondheim and Lapine shared the 1985 Pulitzer Prize for drama. In 1986 the musical adaptation of Victor Hugo’s novel Les Misérables opened in London to popular acclaim and on Broadway the following year.

Bill Kenwright’s 1988 revival of Blood Brothers by Willy Russell became an enduring success in the West End and on Broadway through the 1990s. Other successful musicals of the decade included Miss Saigon (1991) by Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schönberg; The Kiss of the Spider Woman (1993) with music and lyrics by Kander and Ebb of Cabaret fame; Rent (1996) by Jonathan Larson, which in that year collected four Tony Awards and the Pulitzer for drama; and Fosse (1999), a celebration of the work of the legendary choreographer and showman Bob Fosse. There were the stage versions of popular Walt Disney films Beauty and the Beast (1994) by Howard Ashman and Tim Rice, who later collaborated with Elton John on the hit The Lion King (1997). Whistle Down the Wind, the classic film about some farm children who find an escaped convict hiding in a barn and believe him to be Jesus Christ, was the basis of a musical of the same name by Lloyd Webber and Jim Steinman, which opened in 1998.

At the start of the new century, Lloyd Webber’s next productions were Bombay Dreams (2002), a musical influenced by the Bollywood film genre, and The Woman in White (2004), an adaptation of the Wilkie Collins novel. A US television talk show inspired the Sherman brothers to write Jerry Springer—The Opera (2003), which received several prestigious Best Musical awards after its West End opening (although a performance screened by the BBC in 2005 attracted vociferous protests of blasphemy from some Christian groups). 2005 also saw the premiere of Billy Elliot, an exuberant stage adaptation of the successful 2000 film (both directed by Stephen Daldry), with a score by Elton John.

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Educational Broadcasting

I INTRODUCTION

Educational Broadcasting, use of radio and television to assist teaching and learning.

Pioneers of wireless telegraphy (radio), such as Marconi, working 100 or so years ago, believed the new technology would soon be put to useful purposes. Shortly after it was set up in 1922, the British Broadcasting Company, later the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), began to see how it could use “wireless”, as it was first called, to assist learning. John Reith, who, as a public service broadcaster, aimed to “educate, inform, and entertain”, set up the first National Advisory Committee on Education in 1923 and appointed a Director of Education, a school inspector, who, in 1924, wrote an article in the BBC’s programme listings magazine the Radio Times, proposing a Broadcasting University.

The earliest experimental broadcasts to schools emanated from Glasgow and London in 1924 and by the autumn of that year regular secondary school and adult education broadcasts were in place, with regular supporting publications coming soon after. A new weekly publication, The Listener, began publishing transcripts of educational talks from 1929 and developed into a magazine until 1991 when it ceased. As the services grew, education officers were appointed to liaise with the educational world and to advise on policy. Separate Advisory Committees for School and Adult Education were set up and, for the latter, a Group Listening movement was encouraged. During the 1930s the whole system flourished, with most subjects on the curriculum treated. Mathematics was, interestingly, an exception.

Among initiatives at this time were new ways of learning, emphasizing a more imaginative, child-centered approach. Programmes in Gaelic and Welsh were introduced for children in Scotland and Wales. In the early 1930s, it was not thought appropriate to make broadcasts for younger pupils. However, largely because of improved broadcasting practices, using drama and music in place of straight “talk”, such broadcasts quickly became successful later in the decade. History and foreign language teaching series were firm favourites.

II THE IMPACT OF EDUCATIONAL BROADCASTING

The British system of educational broadcasting, transmitted nationally, was soon widely studied and used as a model in many countries, notably those in what, later, became the Commonwealth, and in more distant countries, such as Japan. It was realized that radio had great potential in both formal and informal education by adding to what teachers could provide, reaching isolated groups of learners, filling in for non-existent teachers, and acting as an agent of in-service training. Before long, “radio schools” were operating in countries with dispersed and remote populations, a notable example being the School of the Air in Australia, where two-way radio supplemented correspondence courses.

World War II severely disrupted life in Britain, but school broadcasting flourished and by 1945 some 2,000 more schools were using the service than in 1939, with 30 weekly series offered. Music, drama, and arts and crafts became popular subjects, along with civics and current affairs. Educational broadcasts became an anchor for teachers who, in the words of one headmistress, saw them as “lifebuoys in a queer, turbulent, scholastic sea”. As the war ended, Forces Educational Broadcasts were devised to help demobilized service people with their return to civilian life. Television then became the centre of interest, with pilot experiments in school television in 1952 leading to a permanent service in 1957.

By the mid-1960s a comprehensive system of school broadcasts was being provided both by the BBC and Independent Television (ITV), which had started school television broadcasts just ahead of the BBC in 1957. Channel 4, which was launched in 1982, now handles school broadcasting for commercial television. The visual medium added a new dimension to learning and, significantly, mathematics became a successful subject for educational broadcasting, helping pupils and teachers to deal with the “new maths”, then much in the news. Apart from continuing series in such subjects as modern language teaching, science, and history, adult education broadcasts began to address social issues such as parenting, old age, illiteracy, and unemployment—what became known as Social Action broadcasts.

In less-developed countries, educational broadcasts became a tool in social and political development, with campaigns treating health and farming issues. By the 1960s there was considerable evidence that educational broadcasting was a powerful branch of distance learning.

Much work had been done worldwide, when, in 1969, a major step was taken in the United Kingdom with the setting up of the Open University (OU). This combined the practice of correspondence learning, a well-proven distance learning technique, with educational broadcasts. It was effected by an alliance with the BBC, which created a department to make the radio and television programmes. These were the first broadcast in 1971, accompanying the OU printed courses, prepared by course teams, including the BBC producers. The OU model is now being used worldwide and uses a very broad range of new educational technology.

In the late 1990s the consultative method of deciding educational output with councils started in the 1920s, was changed. An important strand of programmes supported pupils taking new national examinations, and the Internet came into play. The “new” technology was now more interactive.

III TECHNOLOGY IN EDUCATIONAL BROADCASTING

The Internet is the latest “new” technology to propel a development in educational broadcasting. Prominent examples in the past have been the transistor, which allowed many more people to use radio conveniently, especially in developing countries where teachers were scarce; stereo sound; black and white television, followed by colour television, which was an important addition to programmes dealing with subjects such as natural history and geography; improvements in recording techniques, cassetting, and disc recording (CD-ROMs); and the growth of transmission systems, such as cable and satellite, resulting in much increased coverage.

There have been many successful and unsuccessful attempts using satellites to transmit educational radio and television. India, in 1975, saw the Satellite Instructional Television Experiment, aimed at small, distant villages, supported by money and know-how from the United States. Canada and Australia, among many other countries, devised distance learning projects. Most of these earlier, often ambitious, schemes, faced the problems experienced by their earthbound forerunners in the 1920s, namely inefficient transmitting and receiving apparatus, unreliable liaison between users and providers, inadequate backup print material, inappropriate syllabuses, and ultimately the need for human contact.

Most of these problems have been solved to some degree in developed countries, with even liaison and interactivity partially solved. Efficient postal systems, the telephone (fixed and mobile), and various recording and playback systems based on computer technology all have a part to play in educational broadcasting in the new millennium. The Internet and its websites are now familiar to many children in developed countries and among educational elites elsewhere, but it remains of little significance to very much more, who lack the most basic means of subsistence.

Reviewed By:
John Cain

 

Credited Images: Youstyle

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Education, International Standards in

Education, International Standards in, the international comparison between school systems. Such comparisons are useful in describing a narrow range of performances, although, in their present state of development, they do little to explain, in ways that could help policymakers nationally, the reasons for the differences that such tests reveal.

The main cross-national comparative studies of learning achievement have been carried out under the auspices of the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA). Other major studies have been international versions of the United States’ National Assessment of Educational Progress programme. These International assessments of Educational Progress studies are known as IAEPs.

The 14 international studies of this kind that have been carried out between 1960 and 1995 have been predominantly concerned with levels of literacy, mathematics, and science. A unique feature of these studies, or at least most of them, is their use of common assessment instruments (questionnaires) to record learning achievement in specific areas. These are applied to national samples of students of the same ages or school grades in the countries concerned. However, several technical problems arise in establishing valid comparisons between school systems of different countries.

The first problem concerns the sample of school students to be tested. Testing is expensive and samples tend to be small. Much, therefore, depends on the composition of the samples. For example, students from private schools were not included in French studies. Such an exclusion would have had a marked effect in the United Kingdom (which did not, in this case, take part).

The second problem arises from the nature of the questions used in the tests. Different countries have different syllabuses that place different emphasis on different aspects of the school curriculum. Although through international cooperation between those responsible for developing the questionnaires that incorporate the tests, every effort is made to establish common ground, it is inevitable that the questions will suit some national systems better than others. In the 1991 IAEP assessment study of mathematics, for example, 30 percent of the questionnaire was devoted to “number and operations”. In response to questions about the emphasis placed on this area, Israel described it as representing 10 percent of its goal in mathematics, while Switzerland accorded it 50 per cent. In the area of “algebra and function”, however, the percentages were reversed.

Problems of this kind make comparisons between the quality of different education systems difficult to measure. The results of such comparisons do not give an explanation for the differences that emerge. However, information collected at the time of the testing confirms that, unsurprisingly, above-average performance is related to the amount of time spent on silent reading, to the emphasis on storytelling in the early years of school, and, above all, to the level of access to books. On the other hand, there did not seem to be any close connection between the length of the school year or class size and the results achieved.

Comparisons between standards achieved at different ages in different areas of the curriculum in different countries are in principle difficult to make and in practice have so far provided little reliable evidence. Fresh efforts are being made to improve the quality of that evidence in relation to science and mathematics, subjects which, unlike languages, have a degree of consistency of approach internationally, thereby enabling comparisons to be made with some confidence.

Contributed By:
Peter Anthony Newsam

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Education Act 1944

Education Act 1944, legislation that radically changed the structure of education in England and Wales. Rab Butler, as Minister of Education, championed the progression of the Act, and it is after him that the Act is commonly known: “The Butler Act”. The Act affected education in four main ways.

Education Act 1944

First, it increased the role and powers of the Minister of Education. Before 1944, the Minister was simply responsible for “the superintendence of certain matters relating to education in England and Wales”. Under the 1944 Act, the Minister was charged with a positive duty to “promote” education and to “secure the effective execution by local authorities, under his control and direction” of the national policy for education. These strengthened ministerial powers created an education system that came to be known as “a national service, locally administered”.

Second, the administration of education was itself re-shaped: 169 of the 315 local education authorities that existed before 1944 were abolished on April 1, 1945. That left the local administration of all forms of public education in the hands of 146 county councils and county borough councils.

Third, the Act restructured the school system. Previously, publicly funded schools and colleges were either “elementary” or “higher”. “Higher” institutions included everything that was not elementary. So secondary schools, to which about 20 per cent of children went at the age of 11, and junior technical schools, to which only about 1 percent of children were admitted, were both distinguished from “elementary” schools, attended by nearly 80 per cent of the school population. Compulsory education ended at the age of 14 so the country’s 11-to-14-year-olds were in two overlapping systems leading to a very different job or further education opportunities. The Act put an end to this. It organized schools “in three progressive stages to be known as primary education, secondary education, and further education”. This structural change often described as “secondary education for all” was perhaps the Act’s greatest achievement. Part of that achievement, at a time of great economic difficulty, was to raise the school leaving age, initially from 14 to 15, in 1947.

Finally, Butler, the government minister responsible for seeing the Education Bill through parliament, brought about a compromise between schools maintained by councils and denominational schools. The essence of this “dual control” system, which still exists, was that nearly all church (denominational) schools chose either to become “controlled” or “aided”. Controlled schools were entirely funded by the local council, whereas the governors or managers of aided schools remained responsible for capital expenditure on the fabric of the buildings, which they continued to own, and had increased rights over staffing and the curriculum (see Religious Schools).

Much of the framework of the 1944 Education Act remained in place until the end of the 20th century. Although it achieved much, the Act left two important issues unresolved. One was the structure of the newly created secondary schools. Initially, the emphasis was on a tripartite system: grammar schools for some, technical schools for a very few, and secondary modern schools for most. Selection of these schools was managed by local education authorities. The 11+ tests, as they came to be known, were taken in the last year of primary education by all children, and usually consisted of a general intelligence test, a test of attainment in English and arithmetic, and a report from each child’s primary school teacher. As the pattern of schools that followed the 1944 Act has increasingly been replaced by schools that combine all three elements in one “comprehensive” school, by January 2000 the 11+ examination was retained only in the areas served by the 164 remaining grammar schools. Specialisms within comprehensive schools have, however, been encouraged, and aptitude testing related to specialisms, such as music, foreign languages, and technology, has steadily increased.

A second unresolved issue was the school curriculum. The Act deliberately left the curriculum to be determined locally by schools and local education authorities. It was not until 1988 that the notion of a national curriculum, defining a common entitlement for all children in whatever type of school they were enrolled, was given legislative force.

Contributed By:
Peter Anthony Newsam

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