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Final event to mark the end Learning Lab

By Maayan Arad

Amsterdam – The fourth round of the interdisciplinary honors course offered to students UvA and the VU students, the ‘Learning Lab’ will come to an end next week. It will be celebrated by the students and instructors in a special event in the occupied shell laboratories on Tuesday Dec 13, announced the students.

The learning lab is not the usual university course. It gives the students the space to research and discover what interests them the most.

“The course is about pioneering, it’s about figuring out what you want to create in the world, tapping into inspiration and creating it right now,” says Daniel Molloy, a student of the learning lab.

While working on individual and group projects, the students bring their own personality and insights in the world, while learning about group dynamics and creative enquiry.

They learn how to bridge the gap between their own aspirations and society and become pioneers in their own fields.

Every student will invite several guests to the final event, who will learn about the process and the projects of the students.

“We have this big space, the occupied shell laboratory and we have our own room to present our own project and also a general space to present the journey we have been on and show who we are, and for food and drinks of course”, Explains Molloy.

The future of this course at the university is uncertain but students have expressed their wish that it would continue to inspire many other students and influence education paradigms.

“The Learning Lab needs to continue or at least programs that share the ideals of the learning lab need to spread throughout education, because students need to start being the change they want to see in the world.” says another student Lena Klabukova.

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Categories: Education

Smart kids take drugs more than others.

By Eline Hædersdal

A  new study released Monday by researchers at Cardiff University indicates that children with higher IQ’ s are more prone to drug use than their less intelligent counterparts.

“High childhood IQ may increase the risk of illegal drug use in adolescence and adulthood” concluded the report by James White and G. David Batty.

The report incorporated a large sample of nearly 8000 participants from a 1970 British Cohort Study. The study measured the use of various types of drugs, such as cannabis, cocaine, ecstasy and amphetamine, compared to IQ scores, educational attainment and socioeconomic factors.

The study tested the children’s IQ at ages 5, 10 and 16 and then asked about their use of drugs in the past year, at the age of 30.

One explanation of the findings  is that people with higher IQ are more experimental than others.

“It is not yet clear exactly why there should be a link between high IQ and illicit drug use, previous research has shown that people with a high IQ are more open to new experiences and keen on novelty and stimulation” said White in a news release.

At age 30, 35% of the men and 16% of women had used cannabis and 9% of the men and 4% of the women had used cocaine, all within the last year.

Men, who had a high IQ score at the age of 5, had a 50% higher chance to have used drugs at the age of 30. This correlation was twice as strong with women.

However, Dr. White urges that more research is needed to detemine the cause for this association: “There is a clear need for future epidemiological and experimental studies to explore these and other pathways”

Categories: Education, Home

Students assist elementary school children in final test preperation

By Sefanja Saino

AMSTERDAM – Student organization New Urban Collective (N.U.C.) is joining forces with U.S. scholars specialized in ‘diversity in higher education’, for its tutor project, which targets secondary school students residing in Bijlmer, starting Nov. 19.

Inspired by non-profit organization Harlem Children’s Zone’s activities, N.U.C.’s board members show initiative by starting a tutor project ‘Then + Later = Now’ to guide children preparing for their final secondary school exam CITO-toets.

N.U.C. says that “The CITO-toets is an important moment part of your school career.”  Statistics show that South-East of Amsterdam students score lower than the average, and N.U.C. says “We want to contribute in increasing this average.”

The project is divided into three segments, ‘CITO-training’, ‘Personal Coaching’ and ‘Writing your Story’.

During workshop ‘Personal Coaching’ attention will be paid to three questions related to student backgrounds, qualities and ambitions.

N.U.C.’s board members invited guest speakers Dr. Waters and Dr. Clayton-Pedersen to engage with them into a debate on the tutor project, race and education Nov. 12.

Dr. Clayton-Pedersen currently holds a position as Senior Policy Director of the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U), which focuses its attention on improvement of secondary school education and campus diversity work.

Categories: Education, Home

Seeking free education, students flock to other European countries

By Eline Hædersdal

AMSTERDAM – With the European education system facing severe cuts, students have been taking advantage of tuition-free degrees offered across the continent.

Higher education is free for European Union nationals in Greece, Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden.

Nationally, university fees have not increased but more student numbers will put pressure on the Dutch budget.

Students at Dutch universities pay between 1,200 and 2,200 EUR yearly while their counterparts at British Universities have to folk out between 5,100 and 10,300 EUR per year.

All European education is in one way or the other effected by the crisis. It seems that the British universities takes the lead with regards to the high student fees.

The guardian found that over half of the British universities will be charging tuition fees of 10,300 annually next year EUR.

“Many universities across these countries give accounts of facing indirect impacts on their funding structure” said a European University Association (EUA) report, released earlier this year.

The fees could be potentially higher in the future, the report claims.

The quality of education is also in danger as there are fewer teachers per student across the Dutch university spectrum, the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency said.

“The quality of education is crucial in delivering a highly skilled working population that meets the needs of employers.”

For students who cannot afford exorbitant fees in their home countries, traveling to other European cities remains a good alternative.

Norway is the only country were it seems that all types of education is for free for both EU and non-EU students.

Education fees 2011 & 2012

Categories: Education, Home

Commission on Stapel-data-forgery publishes results: extent considerable and shocking

By Marlene Werner

AMSTERDAM – The commission of Tilburg University presented preliminary findings on the extensive forgery of experimental data by Social Psychologist Diederik Stapel in an interim report, Oct 31.

“The scientific fraud committed by Prof. Stapel is considerable and shocking,” concluded the 2-month investigation of Tilburg University, University of Amsterdam and Groningen University according to their press release.

According to the commission, Stapel’s “ingenuity, manipulation and abuse of power” assisted him in sweeping the misconduct under the carpet.

“This fraud has damaged science, especially Social Psychology, to a high extent and stands without precursors for such a position as Stapel’s,” said the commission.

Around 30 articles published in renowned social psychological journals are based on fabricated data according to the commission’s findings.

Furthermore, Stapel spared only 7 of his 21 graduates from using forged data in their dissertation. The remaining 14 were almost definitely handling false experimental results.

Yet, all undertakings were solely conducted by Stapel without informed assistance by any of his colleagues, concluded the report.

This should come as a relief to Prof. Roos Vonk, who publicly denounced Stapel’s conduct earlier this year.

She was protesting her innocence concerning the results of a study on characteristics of meat eaters and vegetarians, which had been conducted by Vonk and Stapel in cooperation.

Stapel himself did not make a personal statement on his situation after his suspension.

Repeated attempts at contacting the professor in order to inquire into his motivations were unsuccessful.

He did not attend the press conference at which the interim report was publicized, reported Tilburg University’s newspaper.

The exact extent of Stapel’s forgery still requires further investigation.

150 additional publications still need to be checked, among which is also Stapel’s own dissertation.

Categories: Education

Major teacher shortages looming

By Omid Azadi

The HAGUE – The shortage of teaching staff has become an increasingly problematic issue in secondary schools across the Netherlands in recent years, a report by state secretary Halbe Zijlstra has concluded.

Although a positive turn of tides was confirmed in 2010, the future looks gloom as tough times are looming due to an increase in student enrollment and obsolescence in society.

Research conducted by the state on overall employment in the education sector concludes that a shortage of 4000 high schools teachers is expected in the coming years.

In the previous school year, there were approximately 950 vacant posts in high schools, down from 1070 the year before.

This decrease can be attributed to the economic recession, which has increased the appeal of employment in education as well as certain measures taken by the state to improve the situation of teachers.

However, in coming years, the labor markets and the secondary education system in particular will experience some dire times.

The state has estimated severe shortages by the year 2017 due to obsolescence, as many educators will retire when they will become eligible for their pension.

“We are on the right track, however, there is a lot that needs to be done to minimize the expected shortages and supply sufficient and highly educated teachers.” Zijlstra said.

The severity of the shortages is most prevalent in larger cities. Week against Loneliness kicks off Thursday

By Marlene Werner

AMSTERDAM – The second edition of the nationwide Week against Loneliness gets underway Thursday, Sept. 22.

About 30% of the Dutch population suffers from loneliness, research has shown.

“It is not a disgrace to be lonely,” said Prof. Dr. Jenny Gierveld of the VU University Amsterdam, an expert on loneliness. “Almost everyone is in his or her way lonely from time to time. If lonely people realize that, it may already be a little step in the alleviation of loneliness.”

‘Coalitie Erbij’, a national collaboration of thirty social organizations, hosts the event.

Festivities begin with a symposium on loneliness among the youths.

Experts on loneliness-research will then present their findings.

Toward the end, a collective panel discussion will explore the promises of ICT to improve the youth’s situation.

Participation is free of charge.

The focal point of this year’s edition is the prevention of loneliness and the strengthening of one’s direct circle of friends.

Related educational activities are guided by three aims: nurture your relationships, establish your friend-network, and invest in it, throughout your lifetime.

“Nowadays we, ourselves, are seen as responsible for our own happiness and giving meaning to our lives. Situations in which we experience loneliness are readily interpreted as personal failure in the current public eye,” said Malou Saat, director of ‘Sensoor’, a Utrecht-based public helpline.

“Loneliness is not a sign of personal failure, it can happen to everyone,” Saat said.

“In order to tackle loneliness, it is mandatory to help people suffering from loneliness. They should be included in organizations which offer relationship-services and host activities,” Prof. Gierveld said.

One such activity will take place on Saturday, Sept. 24, in connection with the Week against Loneliness and the national Neighbor-Day (‘Burendag’).

Nationwide, citizens are invited to eat together and thereby build collectively the “longest dining table in history.” Everyone is welcome to join.

Nationwide, citizens are invited to eat together and thereby build collectively the “longest dining table in history.” Everyone is welcome to join.

Categories: Education, Home

Week against Loneliness kicks off Thursday

By Marlene Werner

AMSTERDAM – The second edition of the nationwide Week against Loneliness gets underway Thursday, Sept. 22.

About 30% of the Dutch population suffers from loneliness, research has shown.

“It is not a disgrace to be lonely,” said Prof. Dr. Jenny Gierveld of the VU University Amsterdam, an expert on loneliness. “Almost everyone is in his or her way lonely from time to time. If lonely people realize that, it may already be a little step in the alleviation of loneliness.”

‘Coalitie Erbij’, a national collaboration of thirty social organizations, hosts the event.

Festivities begin with a symposium on loneliness among the youths.

Experts on loneliness-research will then present their findings.

Toward the end, a collective panel discussion will explore the promises of ICT to improve the youth’s situation.

Participation is free of charge.

The focal point of this year’s edition is the prevention of loneliness and the strengthening of one’s direct circle of friends.

Related educational activities are guided by three aims: nurture your relationships, establish your friend-network, and invest in it, throughout your lifetime.

“Nowadays we, ourselves, are seen as responsible for our own happiness and giving meaning to our lives. Situations in which we experience loneliness are readily interpreted as personal failure in the current public eye,” said Malou Saat, director of ‘Sensoor’, a Utrecht-based public helpline.

“Loneliness is not a sign of personal failure, it can happen to everyone,” Saat said.

“In order to tackle loneliness, it is mandatory to help people suffering from loneliness. They should be included in organizations which offer relationship-services and host activities,” Prof. Gierveld said.

One such activity will take place on Saturday, Sept. 24, in connection with the Week against Loneliness and the national Neighbor-Day (‘Burendag’).

Nationwide, citizens are invited to eat together and thereby build collectively the “longest dining table in history.” Everyone is welcome to join.

Nationwide, citizens are invited to eat together and thereby build collectively the “longest dining table in history.” Everyone is welcome to join.

Categories: Education, Home