Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Defining a well rounded education

This article written by Carrie Weitz about well-rounded education is
published on

Other links for articles by other writers are also added in the above site.

After reading these valuable articles, we can evaluate our current system of education with a special focus on the ultimate objectives of the 2002 Education Act and Education Reform. Let's see where we are...


A well-rounded education is the pursuit of comprehensive knowledge, balanced across a wide range of subjects. With the purpose of education being to prepare students to become competent, contributing citizens, the broad content of a well-rounded education expands future options, professionally, socially, and personally. Liberal Arts and Classical Education are considered well-rounded studies designed to develop intellectual growth, versus studying for a specific skill or profession.

The current system favors deferring well-rounded studies to higher education, while focusing on a limited number of skills in elementary and high schools. This works contrary to the goals of Liberal Arts, which aim to provide a foundation on which to build specialized knowledge. When the grammar stage has been spent gathering facts, the logic stage spent organizing and testing those facts, and the rhetoric stage has mastered communicating facts, a student gains the tools to learn anything. On the other hand, a student taught to memorize and drill from age five to eighteen has been trained to store knowledge with little need to process or explore further.

Lifelong habits are difficult to break, and the principles of a well-rounded education become harder to grasp. When Classical methods are reserved for those over 18, the developmental stages most suited to this molding are missed. After high school, few students find themselves able, even if willing, to pursue general studies.

According to the US Census Bureau, 53.9% of Americans over the age of 24 have received any college education, and only 27% finish with a Bachelor's degree or higher. The National Association of Colleges and Employers counts 24% of undergraduate degrees as Liberal Arts program completion, or less than 7% of the US population. The expense and competition of higher education prevents most undergraduates from broadening scope and sequence. They find themselves focusing intensely on completing a relatively narrow course schedule designed for specific career and financial goals. General electives are often seen as classes to "get through" in order to meet degree credit requirements.

Despite the growing opportunities for potential degree holders, Liberal Arts studies still carry a stigma. As we continue to specialize, compartmentalize, and hone in on specific skills, we come to devalue knowledge in most other areas, believing they have no relevance to our purpose. When we lose sight of the impact a well-rounded education

has on our lives and on society as a whole, our capabilities are weakened, even within our specialty.

There is no career, no hobby, no community that would not benefit from broader knowledge. A highly specialized medical professional will always be working with patients of varied experiences and expectations. A person who enjoys camping will always meet new environmental and physical challenges. A community will always change in numbers, make up, and need. With a solid, well-rounded education, people have the tools to face a new situation and understand how to approach problems effectively.

Literacy, mathematics, and specific skill sets in chosen subjects remain important factors in success. Understanding the hows and whys of these topics increases potential. True knowledge of how history, science, psychology, sociology, economics, technology, philosophy, art, literature, languages and civics impact all that we study, all that we live, provides the opportunity to expand skill mastery into success in all aspects of life.

Today, the most common resources for well-rounded K-12 education are found in a limited number of private schools, often Christian-based, even fewer charter and magnet schools, and through homeschooling or supplemental home studies. A parent who values the principles of the grammar/logic/rhetoric Trivium is unlikely to find this method being used in a traditional high school and even less likely to find it in a traditional primary school. With the public school focus on basic math and reading, the desire to seek global learning is a family responsibility.

Those interested in learning more about the history and benefits of Classical teaching can visit for a Christian view and for a more secular perspective. Both sites share information and resources for guiding the well-rounded education of homeschool students as well as that of traditional students.

For adults eager to learn how to effectively self-educate, Susan Wise Bauer has written The Well-Educated Mind: A Guide to the Classical Education You Never Had. Through each of the five genres of writing, The Well-Educated Mind shares the keys to analysing and comprehending all forms of the written word, making knowledge in any subject accessible.

Skill-focused education teaches a skill. Well-rounded education teaches the art of learning. "The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn." -Alvin Toffler

Sunday, 20 September 2009


La raison du plus fort est toujours la meilleure!

Et le faible, n’a-t-il pas le droit d’exister?

L’avis dans la vie est faible

S’il n’est pas doté d’un bras d’acier.


Plusieurs pensent, beaucoup s’annonce

Mais un brin seulement s’amorce.

Ce qui régis le monde, c’est la pensée

 Conjuguée à la force.


Le droit de penser est ouvertement bafoué,

Contre ta vie ta langue sera déliée :

« Une vie sans langue ou une langue sans vie »,

Cela semble devenir une fatalité.


Fatalité terrestre ou céleste?!

Tout est brouillé.

Tout le long de l’histoire, la pensée visait un but final

Qui ne cessait de s’éloigner créant un vide éternel.


L’homme, malin ou futile, s’agrippe à un rêve mythique

Se jette dans des tracés de violence mortelle.

Usant d’une force féroce qui dévoile son monde atroce.

Et quelle ironie! Contre le destin il se déclare rebelle.

                           Musanaa- Dec 1997


Quand le monde est à l’envers,

Ou l’ami, l’ennemi, le bon et le mauvais

ne se distinguent plus jamais.

C’est là que la charogne, la crasse et

la puanteur, règnent en dominante teneur.


Fragile comme elle est, la vie est piétinée.

On marche sur la queue, on fracasse la tête

sans regrets ni remords pour l’authenticité.


Tous parlent et reparlent de leurs monstruosités

si bien insinuées, trop bien justifiées. Oh Descartes!ton œuvre perdue et ta logique bafouée.


Chacun  prive l’autre de la vie et se l’approprie,

visant à s’assurer un passé, mort hélas !

et un futur sans paroisse.


La terre, fontaine de vie et de volupté, souffrant

 de bien trop de maux, se déclare stérile

sur un ton amer:« Au diable ses enfants 

qui- fœtus ou bébé-répugnent la tétine maternelle! »


« Qu’ils crèvent ses enfants! » Offrande d’une mère au Dieu créateur, comme au bon vieux temps, un acte purificateur.

« Géhenne soit le ventre qui portera ses formes IN-humaines,

mieux vaut être stérile que produire un être plein de cruauté et de haine ». 

(Musanaa- January 9th 1996)

Les temps Modernes

L’homme d’aujourd’hui avec ses visions futuristes,

vit encore ses penchants primitifs.

L’habit, l’habitude et l’étiquette moderne

ne suffisent guerre à les camoufler. 


Grand hommes ou hommes grands sont réunis

Secoués par le temps, ces êtres démunis

de leurs esprits créateurs bienfaisants ou maudits,

Ne valent mieux qu’un bébé- nouveau-né ou un diable effréné.


Un acte innocent, un autre virulent un tout autre déplaisant.

Quelles créatures ces hommes! diables angéliques ou

anges sataniques?! Autant parler d’une vipère domestique!

Plus venimeuse sera-t-elle quand lui revient son instinct fatidique.


Culture est clôture pour l’homme de ce type,

très fragile dans ce monde plein de contradictions.

Clôture ébranlée, seuil dépassé, l’homme revient

à ses actes démesurés, sans artifice ni beauté.

( Musanaa- February 13th 1995)

Saturday, 15 August 2009

The other face of FACEBOOK

Modern technology has certainly impacted our lifestyle and shaped our taste and behaviour. Isn't it spoiling our family quality time?

When connected, children are overwhelmed by the flow of pictures, videos, movies and songs... An irresistible torrent that is gnawing into our wellbeing because it exposes us to the whole world when we should be in our cosy home retreat away from the world headache.

Facebook can incite Jealousy

Here is an article  about the consequences of using (or overusing) WEB2.
This can be used with 2nd and 4th formers. Please make use of it and refer to the original site:

ding time on social networking sites can lead to jealousy toward romantic partners, a new study indicates. 

The results are based on a survey of more than 300 college students, and reveal a vicious cycle that plays out in the digital ecosystem called Facebook and ends in a frenzy of jealousy feeding jealousy. 

Facebook, which announced its 200 millionth member this year, lets users set up profile pages on which "friends" post comments, photos and other banter, for the most part. 

Here's how Amy Muise of the University of Guelph in Ontario and her colleagues think the ugly green-eyed monster rears its head: 

Student spends time on Facebook. He or she monitors the profile page of a significant other, finding ambiguous information about their partner that they otherwise may not have access to. This new information stirs up jealous feelings in said student, who then scours for more Facebook information that further fuels the fire. 

This escalating cycle can become addictive, according to the new research published in the August issue of the journal CyberPsychology & Behavior. 

Facebook fodder 

In the surveys, participants answered questions about demographic factors, Facebook use and jealousy. They rated on a scale from "very unlikely" to "very likely" 27 jealousy items, including: "How likely are you to become jealous after your partner has added an unknown member of the opposite sex?" and "How likely are you to monitor your partner's activities on Facebook?" 

On average, students spent nearly 40 minutes a day on Facebook and had an average of about 300 friends. 

About 75 percent of students were at least somewhat likely to add previous romantic or sexual partners as Facebook friends, and just as many reported their partner had added previous significant others. Almost all participants said their partner was at least somewhat likely to have Facebook friends who they don't know. 

And the more time a person spent on Facebook, the higher they scored on the jealousy scale. This result held regardless of personality and relationship factors, including a person's propensity toward jealousy, self-esteem, trust and commitment to the relationship. 

Jealousy is jealousy 

Such jealousy triggers are not new. 

"It seemed like jealousy was still being triggered by the same things that jealousy is typically triggered by," Muise said, "such as seeing a partner interact with a past romantic or sexual partner, an attractive member of the opposite sex, or ambiguous scenes involving a partner where you don't know the context of, or your partner's relationship with, that person." 

The difference between the jealousy playing out on Facebook versus in offline social circles is the easy access to information, she added. 

"You're exposed to more information," Muise told LiveScience. "And you can also monitor your partner's activities very easily and without being detected, because they don't know how many times a day you're looking on their Facebook page unless you communicate that with them." 

The researchers say the study results are not meant to bash social networking sites. "It's not necessarily about blaming the medium of Facebook or saying that Facebook is negative," Muise said. Rather, she added, the study just shows one of the outcomes of this social platform. 

"For this generation, Facebook has become a very big thing," Muise said. "In some ways it's changing the way we're communicating and interacting in our relationships." 

One limitation of the study was that the sample was predominantly female. Preliminary results from follow-up research by Muise and her colleagues using a balanced sample shows a gender difference. While both guys and gals reported jealousy related to Facebook use, women were more likely to monitor their partner's activities more closely as a result. Guys, on the other hand, said they just avoided looking at their partner's profile page.

Friday, 31 July 2009

Multimedia Language labs

Multimedia Language labs


Features and implications on teaching EFL in Tunisia


- IC-LAN: Equipment and software stationed in CREFOCS for teacher trainers (French and English for the moment) to conduct training sessions. The objective is to sensitise teachers to the importance of using the multimedia language labs (MMLL).

The last two week-training sessions focused on the features and specifications of both MMLLs.

IC-LAN is user-friendly software with a nice interface. The MMLL consists of 14 PCs containing the Pupil Console a double-monitor PC for the Teacher Console.

The Teacher Console allows the teachers to be in control of everything. The teachers can block, intercom, chat and assist/guide students (as individuals or groups) while they are on task.

The Group discussion panel allows the teachers to randomly create groups or pre-select them- for mixed-ability classes for example- and even colour-code them for pedagogical purposes.

Texting and vocal chat also allow teachers to monitor discussions.

Teachers can make students discuss topics in pairs or in groups.

Students can pair-share then pair-square-share.

A student’s good performance could easily be transmitted by the teacher to the rest of the group; a feature that is very useful in web quests or presentations.

A security control panel allows teachers to bar specific sites or embedded PC programs.

The lab is fitted with high-tech devices that allow trainers and teachers to work on projects such as preparing or editing a movie, a video. They can also record external voices, digitize external analog files…

Some other peripherals come with IC-LAN such as high-definition scanner, sound recorder and video recorder.

The features the equipment offers are innovative in the Tunisian educational context as far as languages are concerned.

As its name indicates, this software is using a LAN (Local Area Network) with a cable connection. However, Internet connectivity is always available; the login and password are provided by the CREFOC administration. So Internet can be integrated as an integral part of the lesson.

IC-LAN gives the possibility of preparing interactive exercises with a panoply of quizzes like multiple choice, C-Test, matching… where multimedia files can be embedded.

This feature can be used in both formative and summative assessment.

As the test can be saved automatically by the teacher and checked by the computer software, the heavy burden of marking can be alleviated.


-VOCALAB: Like IC-LAN, VOCALAB has a double interface: Teacher Console and Student Console. The equipment and software are used in prep and secondary schools. They consist of 14 laptops fitted with the Student Console and a laptop for the teacher fitted with the Teacher Console. They are all Wi-Fi connected. The school ADSL connection provides the necessary relay transmitter.

The rationale behind opting for laptops and Wi-Fi connection might be the mobility of the MMLL according to circumstances and the scanty school means.

Still, VOCALAB offers quite a good array of features that make teaching and learning fun. Apart from the features that VOCALAB shares with IC-LAN (the ones I have mentioned before), Vocalab is using the famous J-clic to prepare a wide range of nice interactive exercises that can be embedded in a database. This, however, is a challenge for teachers who are not familiar with this software. To feel comfortable with J-Clic, requires at least 3 or 4 training sessions. This is quite a long period of time the teachers can’t afford.

Both MMLLs allow students to record their own voices and therefore correct their lapses by comparing their performance to the authentic materials that can easily and immediately be downloaded from the net.

In the Tunisian context, both MMLLs solve many of our teaching problems mainly those related to listening and extensive reading activities.

The intercom with students offers teachers the chance to correct/help/guide individually -or as a group- students.

The group work that has never been the highlight of our education system is now possible as the above-mentioned MMLLs can only be used by 14 students. A restriction deemed very positive by our teachers because half of the class only is taken at a time.

The possibility of showing videos, podcasts and presentations that can be visualized time and again - helps students to learn at their own pace.

The infinite possibilities MMLLs offer as far as collaborative learning is concerned open new perspectives for language teachers to envision short or long-term projects about hot-button issues that can involve students from different regions /countries.

To keep track of students’ progress, we can upload their work to e-portfolios which will serve as repository for students’ assignments and a basis for future self evaluation. Parents can also be involved to check on their children’s work by peeping at e-portfolios from time to time.

MMLLs are of course not a panacea for our education ills but the facilities they offer are welcomed by teachers including the most antiquated of them.

The few students that had access to these MMLLs expressed their enthusiasm and expected great outcomes.



Thursday, 16 April 2009

Listening in EFL, what’s the snag?

As far off as my memory can go -about a quarter of a century back- I can say it out loud that teaching listening has not improved at all. Some say it is the least motivating lesson for a class. Others believe it is alienating to both teachers and students.

Others reckon that pre- and post- listening activities take over the real and major task ie. listening. Shocking, isn’t it?

To address this issue, we should hold the bull by the horns.

Before we start, let’s have an overview of the teaching scene without makeup brushes.

If you are not a teacher of English, just fancy this!

This happens in a listening session.

- As a teacher, you are a ‘cassette-operator’ who winds, rewinds, adjusts sound…

- In front of you a class of some 30 students scattered at random in the classroom

- Three or four rows of fixed or unmovable seats

- In your hand a cassette-recorder with one speaker and most of the time without a counter

- A classroom with no sound-proof walls

- The classroom large windows open on the noisy school playgrounds and /or street where trucks, tractors, buses, silencer-free motorbikes never stop buzzing.

- Some hammering – over your head in an urgent roof-repair or from an active construction site nearby

- Other jam-packed classrooms around you with students probably taking a test.! With all due respect to a ‘don’t-disturb-test-taking class’…

You are about to play the tape now.

- You peep! Where’s the socket? Here it is. Fine so far…

- Where will you keep the cassette? No problem, you can snatch half of the pupil’s place. Or be ‘the cassette custodian’ and hold it high on your own hands during the listening session.

- Surprise! The socket is not fused.

‘Why don’t you keep a fuse with you all the time?’ suggested the school electrician.

Why not? Another teaching aid for listening sessions!

Will that fuse work in other classrooms? Of course not! An assortment of fuses is needed. Different brands of sockets are installed at school.

- You turn into a magician; you wave your wand and get out of your pocket some batteries. ‘Keep them at hand teacher! You will need them the next lesson’. Got it!

Don’t get bored with this, guys! The setting is not complete.

I forgot to tell you that this is about the end of the 1st decade of the 3rdmillennium. Just one more detail and then we will get started in a moment.

Windows closed! Door closed! Lend me your ears!

You impose a complete silence in the room.

After winding and rewinding, you finally start playing the tape.

A knocking on the door.

- Yes!

- ‘ Mr X told you to turn down the sound’, the first ‘envoy’ from the classroom next door tells you.

- Without disturbing the reverent atmosphere you have imposed before starting, you turn the sound down.

Students now claim their full right to have the sound turned up

- ‘Save your lesson. Do it!’ the voice of reason tells you.

You decide to turn the sound up.

A knocking on the door again.

- Yes! ‘ Mr X told you the sound is still high’, the second envoy informs you.

- ‘Don’t do it!’ The voice of reason tells you.

Without hesitation, you decide to keep it high. You are in your classroom. You are not trespassing and the students are focused on the task after all.

A knocking on the door again.

‘ I can’t work in these conditions. This is unbecoming of you! You’re being inconsiderate. Turn the sound down or else I will call the principal’, shouts angrily the Maths teacher.

- ‘To cut it short, you close the door and finish your lesson’………………………..

This is what practically takes place in every listening session.

You find me very sarcastic. Yes, I am. The situation is surreal. How many times has the lesson been interrupted? Are we really conducting a listening lesson? Are we equipping students with listening skills?

With this tiny cassette, how much will students get?

How many students of that large class will grasp the meaning and use the skills you as teacher want to pass on to them?

You will tell me ‘silence gives consent. You have been doing it for ages, why raise the issue now?'

You’re right. Simply I saw some people putting the cart before the horse. A language lab (Software and hardware) has been installed in almost every CREFOC targeting language teaching. The millions of Euros spent on labs -not yet functional after one year of lingering expectations- could have provided thousands of CD-players to schools and repaired the thousands of dilapidated classrooms, broken windows and of course the never-working sockets.

To my mind, this is putting spoke in wheels. Somebody wanted to prove that they were serving the country’s well-being, innovating education by being the vanguard of themselves.

The reality is down; why should we turn our eyes up and jump over it?

Let’s not speak in riddles… This is the fact of the matter:

- The conditions in schools are precarious.

- The average class in secondary education is 30 to 33

- The substandard attainment recorded every year in national exams is alarming.

- The rate of school dropouts is soaring

- School equipment is seedy-looking

- Internet rooms have been hijacked by the administration and transformed into classrooms

- Violent friction at school involving all parties – teachers, administration and students- is common place

In this hellish misery, the school atmosphere is gloomy and tense. The expectations of students and teachers are low; their relationships are intoxicated and communication between them is barred.

Priority should be given to the urgent daily necessities not to the fantasies of some whimsical high officials who have never left their comfortable seats and air-conditioned offices to see closely the vicissitudes of the education systems.