What cute entertainers … they are! A troupe of good-looking NAO robots (produced by the French company Aldebaran Robotics) performs a harmonious dance. They begin by warming up with light movements and gentle stretching. Then, as the music changes to Ravel's Boléro, the NAOs show their real dance skills with equilibrium, fluidity and precision of their moves, and a certain form of esthetics (with postures of aerobics, tai chi, Haka, Noh plays, etc).
At the end of their performance, they bowed down in salute to the audience, I clapped and cheered enthusiastically. You would get touched by their synchronized dancing!
Watching the video, you will understand that we can use robots in many new (positive) ways – for education, for those who have physical challenges, and for many changes.
p.s.: It is interesting that there are also many negative comments on this robot demonstration. Is this due to the general lack of understanding of technology, the use of robots, or robotics? Or, what? Or, these robots look like humans and they move like humans, so people fear that these robots may think, emote, or act like humans!?
Tutoring, coaching, visit to the psychologist, stress, anxiousness, tiredness, library, revision and study are among the frequently used words we’ve been hearing from our European students and their parents. Grades 4 & 5 (CM 1 & 2) pupils in France took the compulsory national evaluation in French and Maths early this week. High school graduating candidates in many European countries, e.g. Luxembourg, have started their end of the year exams. Likewise, university students in most EU countries are currently inundated with tests, exams and deadlines for essays and assignments.
Last year in France, a father lost his job for aiding his son cheat in the final senior high school Baccalaureate (le Bac)* math exam. The former French Education Minister Luc Chatel wanted prison sentences for those who leaked Bac math exam questions when in fact it’s the education system and examination process that should be reformed. What will the newly elected socialist government do about this?
*Bac is equivalent to A Levels in the UK and High School Diploma in most countries. In France, subjects are graded up to 20: a score of 16 and above is Highest Honour (in French "mention trés bien"); 14 – 15.99 High Honour ("mention bien"); 12 – 13.99 Honour ("mention assez bien"); Below 10 is failure - students either retake the exam or reorient their career to non-academic fields.
Are results of tests and exams a yardstick of ability and indication of future career success? Some students don’t mind setting in exams whereas others prefer coursework with continued assessment (e.g. individual & group projects and essays) because it involves the capability to reason (requiring research, understanding and analysis) and not just answering questions in a limited period of time (memory work).
Grades are used in the awarding of university places, which are getting more expensive and selective, and make a difference in the competitive job market. With such pressure and expectation from their family and society as a whole, some students experience breakdown. Is it possible to get rid of exams? How can we fairly evaluate learning and achievement without jeopardizing the well-being of our children?
There’s neither a miracle nor magic in passing a test or exam; only hard work and motivation. This time last year, I wrote an article on this topic (see my website [[bi:Being Intelligent Gifted]]).
All the best to our students, including those who started their academic year in January (e.g. Australia) & June (e.g. Philippines), who are our future yet most exposed to insecurity and vulnerability (current demonstrations in Canada against the introduction of university fees, deviance due to unemployment and family breakdown, etc.) !