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Laying out a model of this kind enables us to pursue two types of analysis. One is to specify a certain number of outcomes, and to trace the pathways which lead from various forms of learning to these various types of outcome.
We do this primarily in relation to health, family lives and social capital, though the triangle includes a slightly larger range of outcomes. These pathways may be simple and direct; for example, a particular learning episode may lead directly and visibly to a change in behaviour, as when someone stops smoking as a result of a course on personal health.
They are more likely to be multiple and complex, with a learning episode combining with other factors to lead to 14 Tom Schuller several different outcomes.
Even in relation to children and education as an initial phase of life, it is hard to disentangle the effects of education from those of family background or local context. The further along the lifecourse people are the more their previous life experience comes into play, and learning forms part of complex patterns of cause and effect with a host of different factors interacting over time.
Second, then, the model allows us to investigate the interactions between the different outcomes.
For example, we can make some assessment of how selfesteem and civic participation are interrelated as joint outcomes. The arrows of causality can point in any direction, at least hypothetically. Almost any permutation of two or more 642 tiny things to write about waterstones brussels is a meaningful relationship to explore.
We explore these at one level by drawing on large-scale longitudinal datasets see Chapter 9. However, the interactions are so complex that we are unlikely to aspire to bring them all into a single equation with numerical values assigned to each interrelationship.
Moreover, we need to do this diachronically, over time, as well as synchronically, capturing the interactions at any given point. Human capital I begin with the most familiar of the concepts, human capital. Human capital refers to the knowledge and skills possessed by individuals, which enable them to function effectively in economic and social life.
Its origins as a concept go back to Adam Smith and beyond, but contemporary work is generally traced back to the work of American economists in the early s Schultz ; Becker The key insight in human capital theory was that investment in education produces returns, in more or less the same way as investment in physical capital does.
The theory is used to explain variations at different levels: Coming from the economics stable the main focus of human capital analysis has been on earnings at the individual level, or on productivity or economic growth at the macro level, but it has also been used with a much Three capitals 15 broader focus, notably in relation to health see Grossman and Kaestner ; Gilleskie and Harrison One initial critique of human capital theory came from educationalists who reacted strongly against the economistic character of the theory and its perceived implications for educational policy and practice.
The debate over the way learning policies are dominated by an economic agenda is a live one, but no one challenges the relevance of human capital as a concept. Yet despite its acceptance into the orthodoxy of analytical thinking, human capital continues to exhibit weaknesses, some of which are highly germane to our theme.
Within countries the comparability problem does not arise in the same form but persists nonetheless in at least three respects.
Getting a university degree today, when over one-third of the youth cohort go to university, is obviously very different from reaching the same level when only one in twenty went. Both the relative advantage of having a degree and the relative disadvantage of not having one will change, but in very different ways.
The distributional issue is a major one in many respects, but is often ignored see Green et al. The capacity of human capital analysis has increased enormously over recent decades, with the accumulation of massive datasets and the development of sophisticated analytical techniques.
Technological developments allow us to quantify and analyse information in ways which scholars even one generation 16 Tom Schuller ago could never have envisaged.
Nationally and internationally, we can sort populations according to any number of social characteristics. Nevertheless, two questions remain. Other factors, for example dispositional attributes such as willingness to act as a team player or contextual factors such as the level of investment in workplace technology or neighbourhood quality, intervene substantially to constrain or enhance the effects of human capital growth see, for example, White and Hill However, moving from association or correlation to cause and effect is often a giant leap, involving large assumptions.
The following comes from the most sophisticated general analysis yet of the social effects of education: These choices are made in the presence of important factors that are not observed by analysts in most data sets used to analyze the effects of education. We have more to say on this later on, in Chapter 9, when we discuss the integration of quantitative and qualitative evidence but also present individual case histories.
Social capital Social capital is much more of a newcomer on the scene, though like human capital its origins can be traced back to classic texts of political economy and Three capitals 17 sociology Woolcock ; Schuller et al. It is less closely tied to education, but our discussion here is for obvious reasons phrased in that context.
Social capital is most generally taken to refer to the networks and norms which enable people to contribute effectively to common goals Putnam Unlike human capital, it is not or not only a personal attribute or asset, but refers to the relationships that exist between individuals or groups of individuals.
It is most commonly operationalised by reference to attitudinal measures, for example of expressed trust, or to behavioural ones, such as levels of participation in civic activities. It is the latter set which is more central to our use of the concept, so we are exploring what the mechanisms are that underpin the association between levels of education and participation in most forms of civic activity, but we are also interested in the way learning affects the extent to which people show tolerance and other characteristics which bind society together.
In spite of its massive growth in popularity amongst social scientists and, to a lesser extent, politicians, social capital is less securely established than human capital as a concept with a proven track record of analytical applicability Baron et al.
Arguably, the trajectory of critiques of social capital resemble those of human capital in some interesting but contrasting ways.Enter Things to Write About. I used several prompts and had hilarious stories about students meeting their teachers in department stores, getting stuck with enemies in elevators, waking up in the middle of nowhere with their bicycles and narratives written from the perspectives of divorced parents.
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