Before embarking on a blog post, I usually have a good look through the education press of the week. My typical reading includes the Guardian, the Daily Telegraph and the Times Educational Supplement in the UK and the Chronicle of Higher Education in the US, as well as an extensive and varied selection of websites.
One minor but important task for educators is to keep up to date with the latest thinking about our area of interest. I'm sure this is equally true of all professions, but with teaching and learning, people sometimes get lulled into thinking that not much changes and so they make the mistake of not keeping abreast of current thought. Yet change, albeit slow and incremental, is happening all the time. As a specialist, pre-university college, it is important for KYUEM to be fully aware of what is going on in higher education around the world. In the UK, for example, the general election this week will be of interest for a variety of reasons. One of the manifesto pledges of the opposition Labour Party is to abolish student fees and to fund university places through other means, such as taxation. I am not at all sure how this would affect overseas students in Britain; free education at German universities, for example, is universal, but whether this would be true if a Labour government came to power in the UK is a moot point. As things stand at the moment, it seems unlikely that Labour will win an outright majority and consequently, nothing much will happen to alter the status quo. But despite this apparent continuation of normality, Brexit lies just around the corner, and it seems to me that politicians of all parties are not very convincing about its outcome, or how indeed they will ensure that it is a beneficial one, at least as far as higher education is concerned.
In the United States, the presidency of Donald Trump has had an immediate and negative impact on the number of students from Islamic countries applying for university places. I have read a number of concerned articles by US university authorities lamenting this fact and hoping for a reversal of the presidential stance, or at the very least, a little more clarity in his thinking. All this is at a time of international uncertainty resulting from terrorist threats, concern for the environment, the state of global trade and the seemingly inexorable decline of certain national currencies. I have heard it said that we should question what kind of world our young people are inheriting, and if we are doing all we can to prepare them for it.
One of the advantages of being in your 60s is that you have seen a lot of history, and if your memory allows, you can reflect upon it. When I was the same age as KY students, the world was threatened by the possibility of nuclear Armageddon. My parents both served in the second world war and my grandparents had to endure the privations of the first one. Any suggestion of a past golden age, or a time when there weren't serious issues to confront is, I'm afraid, delusional. The world is a dangerous and complex place and the problems we face need to be addressed by men and women who possess the brightest and best minds. The fact that we are preparing such people at KYUEM is in itself a hopeful and encouraging riposte to the doom and gloom merchants. Our students give us much to be optimistic about.
This will be my last post of the current semester and academic year. To all of our seniors, I hope and pray your A-level results will be sufficient to get you into the universities of your choice. To our juniors, I am equally hopeful that you have done well at AS level to prepare for the demands of next year. To our 18-monthers, have a good break, but do some studying because you face internal exams upon your return. We will base our predicted grades for UK university application on your performance, so they are very important.
Lastly, let me wish all of you: parents, students and any other readers of this blog, a pleasant and uneventful summer break. I promise to get back to updating you on a weekly basis in the latter part of July.