intellectual vanities… about close to everything

TV Is The Opium of The People

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“Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people.
The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is the demand for their real happiness. To call on them to give up their illusions about their condition is to call on them to give up a condition that requires illusions. The criticism of religion is, therefore, in embryo, the criticism of that vale of tears of which religion is the halo.” (Karl Marx: Contribution to the Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right, p 1)

‘The foundation of irreligious media criticism is this: Man makes TV, TV does not make man. TV is indeed man’s self-consciousness and self-awareness so long as he has not found himself or has already lost himself again. But, man is no abstract being squatting outside the world. Man is the world of man — state, society. This state and this society produce media, which is an inverted consciousness of the world, because they are an inverted world. media are the general theory of this world, its encyclopaedic compendium, its logic in popular form, its spiritual point d’honneur, its enthusiasm, its moral sanction, its solemn complement, and its universal basis of consolation and justification. It is the fantastic realization of the human essence since the human essence has not acquired any true reality. The struggle against media religion is, therefore, indirectly the struggle against that world whose spiritual aroma is religion. Religious suffering is, at one and the same time, the expression of real suffering and a protest against real suffering.’ Sounds familiar? It is K. M. too, just one paragraph above the mentioned quote, and actually deals with religion. Where media render a magical outlook on the world they are a fair replacement of religion as opium of the people. And as such, they seem to hamper educational achievement in science on top of it.

In his doctoral thesis, Finnish PISA Researcher Pasi Reinikainen studied the country-specific factors connected to the science achievement of eighth-grade students in Finland, England, Hungary, Japan, Russia and Latvia. He found that factors influential to students’ academic performance differ between countries.

Instead of mimicking others, nations should focus on developing further the national factors connected to students’ good or weak achievement, says Finnish researcher Pasi Reinikainen (Credit: iStockphoto)

t is naïve to think that some countries could improve their students’ achievement by copying some features of, say, the Finnish educational system and then pasting them on to their own educational systems. The national systems and cultures just cannot be changed so easily. Instead of mimicking others, nations should focus on developing further the national factors connected to students’ good or weak achievement, says Reinikainen.Focusing on national features is the key to better educational achievement

Reinikainen’s doctoral thesis shows some specific national and cultural features, which the parents and teachers, as well as the research and development of educational systems, should focus on in their attempts to improve the students’ science achievement.

Parents of Finnish students should be aware of the amount of time their children spend watching TV and monitor the programmes their children watch. The time Finnish students spend watching TV correlates negatively with their achievement in science. Watching news, nature programmes and documents, however, seems to have a positive effect on science achievement, Reinikainen explains.

In England, attention should be paid to test frequency. Students who were given tests almost continuously were found to score lower in science than those who were given tests rarely or not at all. The schools giving frequent quizzes and tests, and the nature of these exams, call for further study.

The Hungarian educational system could be improved by making the students do less pair and group work, as they were found to be connected to weak science achievement. Project work was found to have a similar effect.

Often only a few students in the group focus on the task at hand, while the others merely look on. The teachers could take a more active role in guiding group and project work, Reinikainen says.

In Japan, parents should pay attention to the ways their children spend their time. Japanese students do not normally have much spare time since school or school-related activities take a lion’s share of their time. In Japan, the time students spend with their friends has a negative effect on science achievement.

In Latvia, student-centered approach in teaching predicts weaker science achievement and, in Russia, memorizing textbook material and relying on good luck turned out to be very weak learning strategies.

Ranking lists of comparative achievement studies misleading

There is currently a worldwide boom of large-scale international comparative student achievement studies. However, the major outcome of these studies (PISA, TIMSS, CIVICS, etc.) seems to be numerous ranking lists of separate educational contents.

These rankings are not necessarily linked with student learning outcomes in the studied countries, and can often be misleading if used in educational policy making. Huge databases are collected in these assessments but unfortunately the information is often not utilized to its full potential.

Reinikainen’s doctoral dissertation utilized one of these databases, TIMSS 1999, and explored it much deeper than merely to produce a ranking list. The goal of his study was to reveal significant predictors of student science achievement in Finland, England, Hungary, Japan, Latvia and Russia, and to explain the various cultural situations where those achievements have been made.

Source: “Sequential Explanatory Study of Factors Connected with Science Achievement in Six Countries: Finland, England, Hungary, Japan, Latvia and Russia. Study based on TIMSS 1999” has been published as nr. 22 in the series: Jyväskylä Institute for Educational Research. 263 pages. Jyväskylä 2007. ISSN 1455-447X, ISBN 978-951-39-2953-4 (print), ISBN 978-951-39-2954-1

Written by huehueteotl

October 31, 2007 at 11:52 am

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