“China hands out location-tracking smartwatches”

From Karen Chiu of Abacus News:

A district government in the southern city of Guangzhou recently distributed free location-tracking smartwatches to about 17,000 students from 60 elementary schools, according to Guangzhou Daily. The aim, the government says, is to help parents supervise their children.

…Authorities maintain that participation in the scheme is voluntary. They also say that users’ personal information will be verified and stored in a database run by the police and the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology. More than 8,000 people are said to have signed up so far.

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Squirrel Seeks English-Speaking Nut

In 2015 I heard about AltSchool. It was a startup. Had raised $100 million.

My friend Matt Candler told me: “They hired a bunch of software engineers. But they don’t know what problem to solve. They told me they were improving how to take attendance. I explained that wasn’t really so hard for teachers to handle. It didn’t strike me as a problem that needed technology to solve.”

This year AltSchool pretty much called it quits, though not entirely. The money is all gone.

VC investors love to hear the technology story. Love, love, love.

But in the education context, sometimes the start-ups involve technology in search of a problem (so there is a narrative to attract investment), rather than to solve a problem.

China has a lot of VC-backed
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School Indulges/Alienates Teens?

Bright Scholar, the Nasdaq-listed Chinese schools group, just bought a group of private high schools, for $190 million.

One campus is in Boston. It serves grades 9-12. A full year there for an international student, depending on precisely what you buy, costs about $66,000.

It’s hard to judge a school without really spending time there. I’ve never visited. So I won’t name the school.

Internet searches however seem to suggest teacher turnover in the 40% range. Many of the online reviews are brutal
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Teacher Effectiveness in China

From Charles Teddlie and Shujie Liu:

Another important contributor to the high time-on-task ratings obtained in this study is discipline, which is a function of the system for maintaining orderliness in the schools and of cultural norms.

For example, observers in one school in the study reported the following:

Teachers in this school are very strict with students in both discipline and studies. During a class, teachers often remind their students to sit appropriately, which means sitting straight and putting their hands behind their backs. If a student wants to answer a question, he/she is expected to raise the right hand with the elbow on his/her desk.

Some of the schools that we studied apparently had a hierarchical approach to discipline involving a couple of players unique to the Chinese system: the aforementioned banzhuren and the daduifudaoyuan.

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Moonshot Academy

Interview here by (I think) Jordan Corson.

Moonshot Academy, a new private school for an initial group of 37 14-16-year-olds, opened in the fall of 2018 on the campus of the Affiliated High School of Peking University. Wen Chen, Head of Research at Moonshot, talked about the origins of the school, the key features, and a few of the things that the school leaders have learned as the school has evolved. 

Often, a new school starts with an idealistic bet on pedagogy, and things turn out to be challenging in “real life.”  Seems that way with Moonshot: Continue reading “Moonshot Academy”