Tag Archives: Germany

When Not Reading Books Means Getting Booked

Thugs and bullies have left their mark on this World Cup. First Pepe got ugly against Müller. Then Suarez took a bite of Chiellini. And now Zúñiga has kicked Neymar all the way out of the tournament.

Brazilian fans are mourning the loss of their star player. But critics argue that the team has only itself to blame – Brazil’s rough tactics have invited opponents to fight back. There has been more foul play than jogo bonito.

Dirty tackles are as unwelcome at school as they are on the pitch. Education research shows that orderly classrooms help students learn more. Fortunately, PISA tells us that the disciplinary climate has been improving since 2003. But how disciplined are the World Cup semi-finalists?

Naughty or Nice

As you can see in the graph, the semi finals will be a battle of Naughty vs. Nice. Brazil (96) and the Netherlands (91) have committed many more fouls in this World Cup than their respective opponents, Germany (57) and Argentina (54). According to school principals surveyed by the OECD, almost 1 in 4 students are affected by bullying and intimidation in Brazil and the Netherlands. Continue reading

Penalties and Geometry: Overcoming your deepest fears

My heart was pumping. My knees were shaking. My throat went dry. I couldn’t concentrate. But last Saturday I overcame my fears. I opened my eyes. And watched Brazil and Chile face off in a penalty shootout. All the way to the end.

Yes. Even watching penalties gives me the shakes! So what must it be like for the players? I can’t imagine! Since 1982, 221 players have lined up to take a penalty in 24 World Cup penalty shootouts. 63 have failed to score.

That’s almost 3 in 10 anxious penalty takers! Meanwhile, the OECD tells us that about 3 in 10 boys get nervous doing maths problems. In most countries, high levels of maths anxiety are closely linked with lower test results. Students who suffer from maths anxiety won’t – or can’t – even try to solve maths problems.

Penalties and Geometry

The bubble graph compares the nerves of maths students and penalty takers in the remaining World Cup countries. I’ve chosen to take boys only, since they’re the ones taking penalties at the World Cup. It’s worth noting that in most countries, girls get much more nervous than boys about maths. This is a big problem, since more confident girls in maths means (a) more equitable education systems and (b) more qualified people to take on techy and scientific  jobs.

We can see that: Continue reading

Valuing referees and teachers: red cards and report cards

When he’s not officiating, World Cup referee Nawaf Shukralla goes fishing. A nice way to escape from a high-pressure job, I suppose. One mistake in tonight’s game between Ghana and Portugal, and Shukralla could be all over the news, mocked for incompetence and accused of corruption.

As an elite referee, he will be well paid for his efforts. But day-to-day referees need more recognition for their roles. In the United States, referees who asked for better working conditions were recently barred from working in the Major League. One in five Bavarian referees say that higher salaries are needed to attract more talented referees.

Despite being society’s next-most important card dealers, teachers also feel underappreciated. According to the new OECD TALIS survey, only one in three teachers across 34 countries think that their profession is valued by society. In Portugal, only one in ten teachers think so.

Red card report card

 

 

 

 

 

Undervaluing teachers is an own goal. Korea and Belgium (who face off in Group H tonight) show us that countries where teachers feel valued are also countries where students perform better. Teachers there are given better training, good feedback and sufficient rewards for good performance.

Like the best teachers, Nawaf Shukralla is more facilitator than preacher. He is known as a calm referee who allows play to develop as much as possible. Let’s hope that he doesn’t have to deal with any biters tonight (though I wish him lots of them on his next fishing trip).

Ghana versus Germany (a.k.a. Boateng versus Boateng)

Two brothers playing in a World Cup is an amazing achievement. Two brothers facing each other in a World Cup is a migrational miracle. It’s what we’ll see tonight, when Boateng brothers Jerome and Kevin-Prince don their respective German and Ghanaian jerseys.

Their father Kevin, a child of cocoa farmers, left Ghana in 1981, hoping to study business administration in Germany. It didn’t work out, though. He ended up working odd jobs and fathering two brilliant footballers (to different German mothers).

Kevin’s story made me wonder how things have developed since he tried studying in Germany. How open is Germany to foreign students from developing countries? How do people with immigrant backgrounds fare in German schools? And how do foreign footballers fare in the German Bundesliga?

I’ll look into some of these questions in the coming days. To get started and help you prepare for tonight’s game, here is a little fact sheet.

ImageBy the way, if you’re struggling with your next maths exam, remember that Jerome Boateng did so too. Despite his mother Martina’s efforts, he dropped out of school in tenth grade to pursue his footballing career. Here’s what she has to say about that: “At the time, I didn’t recognize how determined Jerome was. Today I have to say: Kudos!” 

Let the best Boateng win !

Education policy and football: Can you be good at both?

What do policymakers, football managers and parents have in common? Answer: they worry about trade-offs. Should we fund health or education with the public budget? Should we bring on an extra midfielder or bolster our defense? Should we give her an apple … or let her have chocolate?

But surely we don’t need to choose between good education policy and a winning football team!? As a concerned parent, football fan and policy advisor, I took a closer look at the 23 countries that both participate in the OECD’s PISA survey and have qualified for Brazil 2014.

PISA maths v FIFA World Ranking

The results are alarming! On average, countries drop about 7 points in PISA maths for 100 additional points in the FIFA world football rankings. Maths whizz Korea is ranked 57 in FIFA, while tiki-taka-loving Spain lies PISA 70 points behind Korea. According to the PISA team, that gap equates to almost two years of schooling!

Continue reading