Dynamic new French President Nicolas Sarkozy has added his voice to the calls for education reform. Like those of Gordon Brown and his team in the UK change is desired. Sarkozy sent a 30 page letter to teachers to catalyse change. The Economist notes his laments:
not enough respect or authority in the classroom (pupils, he says, should stand up when the teacher enters); too little value placed on the teaching profession; too little art and sport in the curriculum; too much passive rote-learning; and too much “theory and abstraction”. France, the president concludes, needs “to rebuild the foundations” of its education system.
It is good that education method and infrastructure is reviewed and improved, but it will be a challenge to actually make changes simply because the incumbent system is inflexible and pedagogists have little agreement on how to enhance methods. Sarkozy’s intentions are, however, in the right direction. We reiterate our support of natural education systems (such as those espoused by J. H. Pestalozzi 200 years ago) which encourage emotional intelligence at primary level and expand to cognitive intelligences in secondary; encourage experiential learning; include ethics and values as part of the curriculum in all subjects; and start with personal focus expanding to local, then regional, global and universal perspectives.
I’ve always taken issue with closed environments like office buildings, airports, hotels and conference arenas. Invariably the first noticeable thing on entering them is teh whiff of chemistry. Its either materials used, cleaning agents or just stagnant, fetid air. It slows down life and in some cases can cause more sever ailments. BusinessWeek offers a primer on the problems and solutions for turning a sick office in to a healthy one. Perhaps it will help you improve your lifestyle.
This report by The Ecologist is an eye opener, even for the eco-aware. It describes the banana industry today through the supply chain from plantations, with virtual slavery and toxic chemical use, through the monopolistic supply chain to the supermarket. The author points out “As the pursuit of competitive production has fuelled the race for minimal social and environmental standards, it is inevitable that those at the very bottom of the supply chain will ultimately pay for ‘economy’ foods, through their health and the environment”.
In the UK, bananas are now the single biggest profit-making item sold by supermarkets, with Tesco generating an average £800,000 profit every week from banana sales alone! Just four retailers – Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury’s and Morrisons – currently account for 70% of all banana sales in the UK. This represents over one million individual sales every week, which should be used as a vote for Fairtrade alternatives. Next time you buy your breakfast banana please make it fairtrade, or diet.
A special report by Ethical Corp Magazine summarises the global weight of junk food marketing aimed at children. This revealing article is peppered with data on this billion dollar advertising niche and offers some links with more advice.
BusinessWeek reviews Gut Feelings: The Intelligence of The Unconscious which discusses the science cited behind the bestseller Blink. The book helps understand how and why intuition works, but perhaps fails to elaborate on associated processes that help it work well – like being well informed. The social profile in which the scenarios work also offers insight in to the sheep mentality of consumer behaviour. Importantly it helps the reader come closer to merging their emotional and intellectual intelligences.