Educational Readings April 18th

By Allan Alach

New Zealand teachers have just reached the end of the 12 week first term of 2014 and are now looking forward to a two week break so they can rest and recuperate, not a holiday as non-teachers would have it. It’s intriguing how non-teachers make a big deal about all the so-called ‘holidays’ that teachers get, yet they are very quick to say that they could never be teachers.

I hope that all teachers, everywhere, take the advantage of Easter to get right away from the pressures of their job and spend quality time on themselves and their families.

I welcome suggested articles, so if you come across a gem, email it to me at

This week’s homework!

Decisions about teaching methods should be made by educators not politicians

An opinion post from Australia, however you will no doubt notice it is applicable all over.

“In these examples we have a lawyer, turned politician, suggesting that education policy should take us back to an earlier era on the basis of his intuition, the comfort level of parents, and how he was taught many years ago.”

The Long Death of Creative Teaching: Common Core standards are part of a bigger movement towards stifling teachers.

Does this ring any bells for you, wherever you are?

“Being lost is the practical wisdom and planned spontaneity necessary to work with 20 to 35 individuals in a classroom. Academic creativity has been drained from degraded and overworked experienced teachers. Uniformity has sucked the life out of teaching and learning.”

Why many boys only do just enough.

Last week, I included a link to this article “Do boys dislike school? Or just what they’re learning?”  In response, Kevin Hewitson sent me an article he has written on a similar theme. Kevin commented in his email:

“I believe it is not just what we ask boys to learn but also how they respond in how well they learn it. It is my experience, 36+ years of teaching and a father of 2 boys, that boys often do “just enough”. What is just enough is determined by a whole host of things including targets or expectations of others, something schools are awash with. When the target is self-imposed, internal to their needs, then the sky is the limit for boy’s achievement. As a teacher and parent you can use this knowledge to good effect, you just have to lie about what the desired goal or outcome is.”

How Does PISA Put the World at Risk (Part 5): Racing to the Past

Part 5 of Yong Zhao’s series on PISA. More evidence for ideologues to ignore…

“The top performers of PISA are simply better implementation of the old paradigm—the Prussian industrial model of education, which many Western education systems, including the U.S. system, are based on.”

In Defense Of Poetry: “Oh My Heart”

“Will we soon wake one morning to find the carcasses of poems washed up on the beach by the tsunami of the Common Core? That question, especially during National Poetry Month, now haunts me more every day, notably because of the double-impending doom augured by the Common Core: the rise of nonfiction (and the concurrent erasing of poetry and fiction) from the ELA curriculum and the mantra-of-the-moment, “close reading” (the sheep’s clothing for that familiar old wolf New Criticism). It seems we have come to a moment in the history of the US when we no longer even pretend to care about that which is the result of the human heart: Art.”

Education’s culture of overwork is turning children and teachers into ghosts

“Educational reform now largely equals intensive schooling: early-morning catch-up classes, after-school clubs, longer terms, shorter holidays, more testing, more homework.

The trouble is, the human body and human communities do not flourish through being flogged. Families don’t benefit from frenetic rushing. They simply forget who each other is, or could be, which is where the real problems begin. Overtired children don’t learn. And hungry overtired children simply fall asleep, or kick off.”

This week’s contributions from Bruce Hammonds:

How Technology Is Changing The Skills We Need To Learn

Bruce’s comment: “ A brilliant small article.”

“We teach people that everything that matters happens between your ears when in fact it actually happens between people.”

Creativity and the Brain: What We Can Learn From Jazz Musicians

Bruce’s comment: “Importance of the arts and improvisation.”

Luckily, creativity isn’t an unknowable, mystical quality. It can be developed. “You have to cultivate these behaviors by introducing them to children and recognizing that the more you do it, the better you are at doing it,” Limb said. The problem is a lot of kids don’t get much unstructured time either in school or out of it. School is often based on right or wrong answers, leaving little room for students to come up with ideas that haven’t been taught to them before.”

Time for a national conversation about education?

Here’s another article from Bruce’s oldies but goodies file.

Bruce’s comment: “Good for a reading over Easter – supposed to be a time of reflection!”

“What we need now is a national conversation about the role of education in the Twenty-first Century. Education is far too important to leave to the politicians and their advisers. They are far too influenced by the need to stay in power and not upset those who have a vested interest in the status quo.”

For Earth Day and Beyond: Focus on Environmental Action Projects

Bruce’s comment: “Some practical ideas for environmental studies.”

“This year, more than a billion people are expected to take part in Earth Day events around the world. Help your students consider their long-term role as environmental stewards by planning global education projects that challenge students to think (and act) beyond their classrooms.”

Contributed by Phil Cullen:

Public Schools for Sale:  Bill Moyers Interviews Diane Ravitch

Phil’s comment:

“This should be seen by everybody. It takes 25 mins. For busy people, that’s a lot of time.  I’d allow three-quarters of an hour, however, allowing extra time to reflect on the comments…. as the charter school  movement heads down under. In Australia, we call Charter Schools ‘Independent Public Schools’….such a LOLy oxy-moronic title.  It’s a jokey cover-up for what Diane R is describing, since NZ and Australia’s are crazily pursuing this  course of action.”

The short story of NAPLAN

Aussie Friends of Treehorn

For the sake of kids.,, in deepest sympathy for those contemporary colleagues who aren’t allowed to enjoy the passion of achievement-based learnacy.

- – -

The Short Story of Naplan


Kevin 07, splendid P.M. that he was, new to the job in 2007, wanted his revolution stamp on everything:


“Get something, Julia, to straighten out those lazy teachers and make them force the kids to get better scores on PISA tests.”

“ No problem Kevie. I’ll find something. I’m off the USA in June. Maybe Dubbya will let us borrow one of its schemes. They have plenty.”

June 27, 2008…Momentous Day for Australia…

Julia Gillard met Joel Klein at a Carnegie Corporation cocktail party in New York.

Where else does one learn all about education, school evaluation and accountability?

“I’ll have that! That’s a scheme that will  grind them into doing what I want.”

“That you, Kevie? Got one.  Name’s Joel Klein. Works for Rupert. I’ll get him to come down to talk to our sponsors.”

…and so it all began.


And  Joel came  down under….




“It’s in! Didn’t take long. It’s just the thing. I’ll discuss things with our school principals….just tell them what I expect.

“Okay!  Won’t they forbid its use on professional grounds?”  

  “So what! Just let them try.”


And education associations conferred…. and conferred….and still think about things in general.


While….back at the ranch…..





























Phil Cullen, [.....for kids] 41 Cominan Avenue   Banora Point  Australia 2486   07 5524 6443

STRESS – The Essential Element.

Aussie Friends of Treehorn

…..for kids and a stress-free schooling system


STRESS – The Essential Element

“If SBTs, used for high stakes purposes, were not so fundamentally flawed, socially depraved, cognitively dangerous and emotionally damaging to children,they would be treated as a joke.”

STRESS , the vicious whip of NAPLAN {and of all other forms of Standardised Blanket Testing in the galley of schooling) is what makes children and teachers and schools work better, they say. It is the essential ingredient of teaching practices… they say. These testing procedures are designed to cause as much emotional turmoil as possible within each child so that each will try harder to get good marks on a one-hit proven-useless test. This kind of fear and emotional concern rubs off on mums and dads and teachers who care deeply about child welfare and their intellectual development. “So what”?” they say.

You know who they are.

There are thousands of Australian educators who are strongly opposed to NAPLAN and challenge it because of its assessment frailties and its contamination of the curriculum. It is a proven dud, costing millions and millions. Despite this, very few others seem anxious enough to consider the impact of such unsuitable devices on the well-being and cognitive progress of school children. That’s a dreadful shame.

It remains the fond belief of all testucators that fear is the best motivational device known to humans. The dreadful consequences are of little interest to them… and educators remain timidly concerned.


Does an aggressive one-hit, fear-ridden, one-size-fits-all data collection do any harm to children? Murdoch agents, ACARA, state education departments, some roughneck parents and society’s dyslexic indifferents know that it does, but they pretend to be ‘tough’’ cookies . They, clearly, support the credo that a few ‘hard knocks’ doesn’t “do ‘em any harm. Do ‘em good.”

AND…For the maintenance of such a national climate of fear, indifference and timidity within the schooling system, excessive aperient forms of school administration have to be employed. …

McGregor’s Theory X, for instance, suggests that superordinate operators must maintain a punitive atmosphere because teachers are basically lazy and do not know as much about the job as these superordinate test-experts do. Blame is a very useful device and the public is gullible enough to believe what management says.

If one turns to Maslow, one can be sure that there is little interest within today’s school systems for trying to fulfil the higher level needs of school children. There is no overt concern nor hierarchical emphasis for full attention to the whole curriculum. There is, unfortunately, a pervading indifference in schools to holistic forms of cognitive development. They find comfort in doing what they are told to do. They close the learnacy shop during April and mid-May. Our schooling is a great big mess, so well described by Leunig in the attachment above.

The new Australian system’s beliefs [d.o.b. 2008] are blind to the holistic learn-how-to-learn techniques in schools; and try to ignore the certainty that there are modes of learning and evaluation that actually sharpen the intellect of every child to the extent that pupils accept the challenge to do everything well, and be happy about it. Learning as much as possible and achieving as high as possible becomes a part of their psyche.

In Australia, the entrenched Nelson-Rudd-Gillard-Pyne belief system reflects the view that life is linear; that school subjects should be isolated from each other, that assembly-line forms of curriculum delivery need to be maintained and that jug-to-mug classroom strategies work best because the goal is to get better scores, not to educate children properly. The system supports the crass belief that achievement can be measured only by numbers – and that such numbers can be used to describe children, teachers, schools, system, countries as it suits them and in a score-based, competitive way. They dare to quantify learning and teaching for goodness sake and talk in placement language! Their conversations depend on the use of score-talk because they know no better. Learnacy-talk seems verboten.

The system ONLY causes STRESS, STRESS, STRESS! Nothing much else.

How often do you read or hear some dyslexic pollie say such things as : “Australia needs to do better. It is only tenth in the world in reading according on the PISA test!” This reliance on the highly-competitive, crazed, unreliable, invalid world test, that is such a risk to the world that it should be discontinued immediately [Zong Zhao], does nothing to enhance the kind of thought processes that enables a country’s schooling system to progress.

{ Famous last words : “Australia will be in the top 5 by 25!.”……..I have spoken.}

There is a problem with the entrenchment of such philosophies within the minds of political parties both ‘down-over’ and ‘up-over’. The recent report from The Parliamentary Inquiry in Australia, after 93 submissions made just a passing reference to the morality of the tests….”Some students are being harmed by this exercise.” Garn. Who’d-have thought!

The use of painful stress on those who do not have the means to resist or ignore, is clearly undemocratic, and, in a continuum of forms of political ideologies stretching from Democracy to Fascism, its use is much closer to the fascist end. All major parties ‘down-under’ in the South Pacific, share similar non-democratic, fascist-style crazy notions that kids have to be scared into learning better, except the New Zealand Labour Party. It’s a stand-out. It cares about kids. U.S. Democrats and the Australian Labor Party focus their attention on the welfare of ‘business’ and ignore child welfare in schools. U.S. Republicans, N.Z. Nationals and Australian Liberals focus their attention on the welfare of ‘big business’ and exploit kids in schools. That’s about the only difference when one considers the school scene in the three countries…..except that ‘down-under’ dwellers tend to follow their ‘up-over’ leaders without question. Australian politicians now exploit school children with the best of them.

[N.Z. Labour Party is a world leader in the belief that the future of their country is in the children presently in their classrooms; that children need to be treated better, with learnacy in mind. While it seems unlikely that they will win this year’s elections – fingers crossed for them, for your sake, you Kiwi kids – they will certainly curtail ‘national standards’, the N.Z. version of NAPLAN and NCLB testing, close all charter schools and seek to find more humane ways of doing things, if they achieve power. May the blessings of an apolitical universe that respects kids at school be with you, NZLP. The world awaits.]


If one thinks that there is not much stress around schools at NAPLAN time, one should just halt for a while…..and consider…

    1. Why is it that bookshops and supermarkets cover their wall with “Practice Tests”? The use of them at school art-BJDarPxCIAAuiQX-jpg-large-620x349and at home must be prolific. Practice stress books.
    2. Why do young mothers on talk-back radio shows, rail against the stress that the testing of their kids causes them; and then do nothing about the tests?
    3. Why do the sales of pharmaceutical performance enhancers spike during this period of the year? Remember the fish oil advert to the right?
    4. Why do parents have to go to extremes to calm their children during the test-induced periods of sleeplessnes? Sing with Dad here.

5. Did you know that increased stress on children from unstable family environments are more likely to suffer damage to their DNA than do others [SMH 9/04/14]?

6. PNSD – Post Naplan Stress Disorder – is now a fact of life. It lasts a lifetime

7. Can you judge the level of professional integrity and reading proficiency of a person by the level of their use of score-talk or learning-talk? ‘Seasy really. Try it.

Why do we have to treat our young children this way ? The use of NAPLAN testing is clearly damaging to our children on a number of fronts. It is professionally immoral, unnecessary, costly, curriculum wrecking and only serves to line the pockets of identifiable plutocrats and their lobbyists.

There’s too much fear about.

How come that there is no known Australian politician in any party, in any state or federal electorate, who is prepared to stand up for kids with sincere determination and spunk in their party room? If there is, no one has heard about her or him. Is the pay-off so controlled that none dares? It’s truly mystifying that those pollies who have children of their own can follow their party’s low-level ideological processes, its totalitarian party line, so timidly; tolerate the ridiculous score-talk without comment; and allow small children to be stressed sick. Isn’t there a pollie somewhere with the stomach to stand up for kids?

Who will test the party line? Which party?

What if the new power-source, Clive Palmer, almost in command of the Senate, became worried about school children? Let’s pray.

Do Aussie adults really want to perpetuate stress-laden tests?

What ever has happened to social justice for kids?

Who cares?


Please make sure you look at
and tell all parents to keep looking at it.

Expect interesting news this week, if you care about kids facing NAPLAN

Phil Cullen [...for kids and stress-free schooling] 41 Cominan Avenue Banora Point Australia 2486 07 5524 6443…


Educational Readings April 11th

By Allan Alach

I welcome suggested articles, so if you come across a gem, email it to me at

This week’s homework!

The Downside of “Grit”

What Really Happens When Kids Are Pushed to Be More Persistent?

One of the latest GERM bandwagon is the notion of ‘grit.’ In other words, children with ‘grit’ will achieve and from there it follows that driving children is the key to success, or the inverse, that children who are not achieving lack ‘grit’ (i.e. are lazy). Alfie Kohn, typically, deconstructs ‘grit’ in this article.

‘Grit is usually justified as a way to boost academic achievement, which sounds commendable.  But take a moment to reflect on other possible goals one might have for children — for example, to lead a life that’s happy and fulfilling, morally admirable, creative, or characterized by psychological health.  Any of those objectives would almost certainly lead to prescriptions quite different from “Do one thing and never give up.”’

Whole Brain Teaching…?

Last week’s posting of a video showing Whole Brain Teaching generated some discussion.  Being a skeptic, I went looking for an article that backed me up and found one on the Neuroskeptic website. I’ll leave it to proponents of WBT to find reputable articles supporting their claims.

“I’m not saying Whole Brain Teaching is useless, I’m not saying anything about the method itself, but the “brain” claims are misleading. Many of the things they recommend are teaching aids and classroom exercises, and no doubt those are helpful.”

Is ‘filling the pail’ any way to train teachers?

Sticking with the drill and kill theme, here’s an article from 2012 about a similar methodology for ‘training’ teachers.

“I do not fault the teacher in the video for her style. She is performing as taught by a system that, in my opinion, better prepares students for the dutiful obedience of the military than for the intellectual challenges they will encounter in college.”

The Classroom of the Future: Student Centered or Device Centered?

Anthony Cody looking at claims for device centred education. His conclusion is not good for Gates, Murdoch et al.

“And I think these devices will fail ultimately fail to deliver. Here is why.

Do boys dislike school? Or just what they’re learning?

“By not exploring where boys achieve and what this achievement means to them, we know little about how to reengage disenfranchised boys, especially those in the “at-risk” categories, with formal schooling. Learning why they disengaged to begin with, and how to re-engage them, is essential to improving the outcomes for boys in schools.”

Risky Play: Why Children Love It and Need It

“An ironic fact is that children are far more likely to injure themselves in adult-directed sports than in their own freely chosen, self-directed play.  That’s because the adult encouragement and competitive nature of the sports lead children to take risks–both of hurting themselves and of hurting others—that they would not choose to take in free play. “

Scientists’ depressing new discovery about the brain

This one’s not directly educational but I’m sure you will see the relevance …

“Science Confirms: Politics Wrecks Your Ability to Do Math.”

Reading Comprehension: Paper or Screen?

A long and somewhat technical article, but don’t let that put you off.

“This suggests that it will not be long before electronic reading might be a better choice than paper reading for reading for comprehension. Such a claim, of course, depends on the familiarity of readers with the interface of that reading technology and its ability to allow for the reading features listed here.”

This week’s contributions from Bruce Hammonds:

Educational Books for Creative Teaching – to develop the gifts and talents of all students

Last week I posted a link to The 50 great books on education.

Here’s Bruce’s own pick of ‘must read’ educational books. Which list do you prefer? What would be in your essential book list?

“I have searched through my postings for some of the best books that provide courage for teachers to make stand against the current anti educational approaches of a market forces competitive ideology.”

50 Ted Talks Every Educator Should Check Out (2014 Edition)

Bruce’s comment: Ideal wet weather viewing or staff Professional Development,

“Using TED Talks to convey an important message or spark creativity might be more effective in teaching students than an individual agenda or preconceived notion of what should be said.”

Is boredom the real epidemic in our schools?

Rapidly being made worse by standards based classrooms…

“It is time we rethink the environments in which we are raising our children and what our priorities are. Are our schools places that provide an environment where childhood can be a happy time full of wonder and exploration? What does that look like and what would it take to make that a reality for children?”

We have lost so much over the past 50 years. We need to return leadership back to creative teachers.

From Bruce’s oldies but goodies file:

“In recent years the myth of the principal as the key to school transformation became persuasive and as result the principal’s status has gone up commensurably. Crowther questions this myth, believing that the reality has not lived up to the rhetoric. The so called ‘heroic leader’ may effect short term change but all too often this is a temporary transformation.”

Ignorance of Laws Is No Excuse

The Treehorn Express

….on behalf of kids. …against the nasty prejudices of testucating, inexperienced, indifferent dyslexics.

“Ignorance of the Laws is No Excuse.”

Schools are institutions that have been established as happy, secure places for young children to maximize their creative intelligence. Right? They encourage the pupils within to reach any goal that they want to reach, unhindered and at the pace of the learner. Learning how-to-learn-skills and a quest for excellence in all life-skills are built into each child’s psyche through the natural desire to learn at each one’s level of cope-ability . Learning is a pleasureable pursuit and a happy adventure for all .

Well, they are supposed to be. BUT! The 21st century style of schooling has ignored too many fundamental laws. Such lack of knowledge is hardly an excuse for expert, professionally active, learning transmitters in schools. Each of us should know more about these laws, whether we are a rookie in our first year of teaching or a redundant, geriatric has-been, as I am. Agree?

Lets check :

CAMPBELL’S LAW : The more any quantitative social indicator is used for social decision-making, the more subject it will be open to corruption pressures and the more apt it will be to distort and corrupt the social pressures it is intended to measure.

GOODHART’S LAW : When a measure becomes a target it ceases to become a good measure. [Any observed statistical regularity will tend to collapse once pressure is placed upon it for control purposes.]

McNamara’s Law : Decisions based on quantitative variables and ignoring all other variables, are artificial and misleading.
[ They usually 1. Measure only whatever can be easily measured. 2. Disregard that which can’t be measured 3. Presume that which can’t be measured easily, isn’t important.] 4. What can’t be easily measured doesn’t exist.]

Settledge’s Definition of Mark, Score or Grading: An inaccurate report of an inaccurate judgement by a biased and variable judge of the extent to which an undefined level of mastery of unknown proportions of an inadequate mount of material has been completed.

Lucas Critique: If we wish to predict the effects of an educational policy change, we should first model the deeper parameters, the micro-foundations of learning.


Standardised Blanket Testing: A dysfunctional offspring of an unhappy liaison between megalomaniacal greed and crazed testucating politics. Disruptive and depressing as a learning teaching/device.



Ignorance of such reliable, empirical laws is no excuse. We should know better. Their infallibility is unquestionable.

For further definitions, CHECK HERE
Phil Cullen [....for kids] 41 Cominan Avenue, Banora Point Australia 486 07 5524 6443

It’s Embarrassing

Aussie Friends of Treehorn

……on behalf of kids… ignored by the indifferent.

It’s Embarrassing

“It is utterly shocking and embarrassing to see some otherwise rational and well-educated people in powerful positions believe that these test scores show the quality of their education systems, the effectiveness of their teachers, the ability of their students and the future prosperity of their country.”

Yong Zhao said this in his series of articles entitled HOW DOES PISA PUT THE WORLD AT RISK? , read by thousands, the fourth one of the articles made available by Allan Alach in the most recent 4 April edition of Treehorn Express – Readings.

In order, Yong Zhao describes PISA as [1] Romanticising Misery; [2] Glorifying Educational Authoritarianism; [3] Creating Illusory Models of Excellence and [4] Misleading the World. The world’s most outstanding educators, in discussing their own country’s forms of Standardised Blanketing Testing, have been pointing to these issues, for years. They apply directly to the content of PISA, which relies on the kind of information supplied by naive data collectors in each country. Educational pretenders will not want to read about the truths made so explicit in this series of articles. Politicians will deliberately ignore them. Testucators will not be able to cope with the evidence and will prattle on with score-laden codswallop. Dyslexic indifferents won’t care, anyhow.

Children will continue to suffer from the long-lasting injuries to their cognitive development caused by the various standardised blanket testing regimes; and parents will remain mystified and distressed from the bullshit provided through the various test agencies, including some schools. Politicians will continue to ignore such definitive comment with their usual cocky dismissal of politically-mismanaged critical issues. Nothing will be done in countries like Australia and New Zealand where the level of indifference is much too high.

The claims of the PISA adherents are as bold as they are illusory. “Its great success” says Yong Zhao, “ is as a masterful illusionist. It misdirects attention by exploiting the human instinct for competition”. Its signature product is the display of winners and losers and “it has misled the world down a path of self-destruction, resulting in irrational policies and practices.”

Yong Zhao points our that the techniques used to arrive at PISA scores are questionable. Its flaws are numerous; and it has an illogical and incoherent ‘bottom line”. PISA uses the Rasch model which is a psychometric model to produce ratings. As an example, he cites the reading data for Denmark. It can be rated anywhere from 5 to 36 amongst 54 countries! The application of the Rasch model is meaningless. If Einstein and a pupil received the same score on a particular test at the same point in time, are they both outstanding mathematicians and share the same general ability to understand high level mathematics and to succeed in the world of mathematics?

How can one presume that 15 year old contestants in Uganda, Manhatten using NCLB, Brazil, Oxford, Honiara, Maldives, Fangyang or Sydney using NAPLAN, are preparing for the same life challenges and require the same life skills and competencies? [“Fair crack of the whip” says the fair-dinkum Aussie teacher.]

“Even if cognitive skills in maths, science and reading were the most important skills in the universe, they would not – could not – be the only skills an education system should cultivate. Skills and knowledge in other domains, such as ‘the humanities’, social sciences, history, geography, physical education etc.’ play an important role if citizens of a country are to have a fulfilling life. So do non-cognitive skills : social and emotional skills, curiosity, resilience, engagement, passion and a host of other personality traits. In fact, many would argue that talent, skills, knowledge and creativity in domains outside maths, science and reading are at least important, perhaps more important, to live successfully in the new world.”

The kind of energy required by NAPLAN, the unreliable and imperfect source of Australia’s fodder for PISA, not only runs counter to best teaching/learning practices; it also deprives the teacher and learner from adopting and developing the techniques of shared evaluation of children’s effort that enhance, rather than halt as all SBTs do, the intellectual development of young children. And it also deprives children of access to important curriculum learnings, so that they can practice for the tests.

Yong Zhao points out clearly and convincingly that Australia’s reliance on shoddy PISA scores and statements exposes our extreme naivety in the business of schooling. Parents and teachers have been duped into believing that NAPLAN can make a difference. It does, but, in a negative direction. IT MUST GO. IT MUST GO AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. It’s dangerous.

At present, in Australia, NAPLAN-controlled schools will be giving full attention to the annual preparation for testing in mid-May. Their pupils will be lining up at test-supportive tutoring shops, parents will be busy supervising homework and purchasing performance-enhancing stimulants from the chemist shops; and the Murdochs of this world will be rubbing their hands together in glee. That’s NAPLAN-based testucation, dutifully followed by many pretenders. It will depart in the near future….. if children’s prayers are answered.

In the meantime, Yong Zhao says : “ I would not suggest lawyers and doctors in the U.S., U.K., or any other nation to replace their children’s activities in music, arts, sports, dancing, debates and field trips with maths tutoring. For the same reason, it is not time for schools in developed countries to close your swimming pools, burn your musical instruments, end museum visits, or fire your art teachers.”


Phil Cullen [.....on behalf of kids] ] 41 Cominan Avenue, Banora Point, Australia 2486 07 5524 6443

Educational Readings April 4th

By Allan Alach

This week’s stomach churning video:

How To Begin Whole Brain Teaching

I welcome suggested articles, so if you come across a gem, email it to me at

This week’s homework!

The Difference Between Praise and Feedback

“Are the particular words we use to talk to our kids so important? And how do we convey positive feelings without negative consequences?”

You’re Not As Busy As You Say You Are

I was recently involved in a Facebook discussion about teachers’ poor record in reading professional documents (probably including this) because they are too busy. Say, what? Seems this is a world wide problem. But are teachers really too busy?

“The art of busyness is to convey genuine alarm at the pace of your life and a helpless resignation, as if someone else is setting the clock, and yet simultaneously make it clear that you are completely on top of your game. These are not exactly humble brags. They are more like fretful brags, and they are increasingly becoming the idiom of our age.”

Can Any School Foster Pure Creativity?

“Creativity is based on thinking unconventionally, having time to daydream or simply reflect, understanding that there is no single right answer, and appreciating and valuing failure. All of these experiences run counter to what’s measured, and thus valued, in the public school system.”

How Does PISA Put the World at Risk (Part 4): Misleading the World

The next instalment of Yong Zhao’s critique of PISA.

“PISA, after initial denial, finally admitted that more than a quarter of Shanghai students were not covered by PISA. This is much higher than what PISA’s sampling standards permit, which is “up to a total of 5% of the relevant population.” As a result, Shanghai should be excluded from any analysis, as it did to several other countries such as Austria for sampling errors.”

Why do we make students sit still in class?

(via Michael Fawcett @teachernz)

Because .. (insert your ideologue of choice)…. says so…

“This doesn’t bode well for academic success in traditional classrooms, where sitting quietly is a prerequisite for nearly all instruction. I cringe in anticipation of the notes my sons’ constant motion and chatter will prompt future teachers to send home. I worry that their intellectual prosperity will be curtailed by the simple, but daunting, expectation that they sit still for hours each day.”

Schools have limited success in reducing bullying, new analysis finds

“The study revealed that schools are trying many different approaches to protect students, and while the more comprehensive programs have been the most effective, they require substantial commitment and school resources to be successful.”

The 50 great books on education

Great list. Strange, though, there’s nothing about standards/testing/raising achievement … I wonder why? Which books would you add?

“I have often argued that I would not let any teacher into a school unless – as a minimum – they had read, carefully and well, the three great books on education: Plato’s Republic, Rousseau’s Émile and Dewey’s Democracy and Education. There would be no instrumental purpose in this, but the struggle to understand these books and the thinking involved in understanding them would change teachers and ultimately teaching.”

10 things wrong with what kids learn in school

An article by Marion Brady, that looks at the situation in the USA. However, you may find it worthwhile identifying similarities in your own country. Recommended.

“Mainstream media, cued by corporate press releases, routinely claim that America’s schools are markedly inferior to schools in other developed nations. The claim is part of an organized, long-running, generously funded campaign to undermine confidence in public schools to “prove” the need to privatize them.”

Education Hackers: They’re Heeere

A vitally important posting from the USA, about the hacking and destruction of the United Opt Out website. Powerful forces are at work. Its also vital to note that, once again, the evil influence of ALEC on education policy in the USA, which then seeps out to other countries. I especially draw attention to italic section about access to student data. “No later than {insert date}, an authorized LEA user shall be able to access student data  in a Student Achievement Backpack….”

This week’s contributions from Bruce Hammonds:

Controlled Chaos: Project Based Learning

“I think this [PBL] is awesome. It gives us real-world experience for things we will have to do as an adult. We have to learn to work with other teams and communicate our thoughts and ideas. It also motivates us more because we are all working toward a common goal.”

Creative teachers for inspiration or corporate compliance/control?

Bruce’s latest blog article reflecting on the situation in New Zealand, with an election coming up in mid September. However it’s relevant all over.

“It comes down to standardisation versus personalisation; creativity versus compliance and conformity. Formulaic ‘best practice’ teaching versus insights gained and shared between teachers.”