Education Readings August 29

By Allan Alach

Buon giorno from Siena, Italy. It’s a tough life but I am coping ….

I welcome suggested articles, so if you come across a gem, email it to me at allan.alach@ihug.co.nz.

This week’s homework!

 Equipped for the Future

Continuing down the Common Core “road” with ELA standards that focus primarily on selective and specialized literacy skills instead of broad-based, applicable, and transferable literacy skills, make as much sense as the US Education Department announcing a new initiative to improve U.S. bike riding skills by mandating that all children learn to ride a bike without the use of training wheels, and declaring the new National Standard for being a proficient and globally competitive bike rider is…NO HANDS.”

http://bit.ly/1ldvi4D

Deskfree strategy turns classrooms into creative learning hubs that see student engagement soar

Another article on Stephen Heppell inspired developments in Australia.

“Teachers, parents and students across the state have been briefed by Professor Heppell, a global expert in learning spaces who claims students learn more effectively and behave better within “borderless learning” designs; when they have freedom to work in smaller groups and even learn standing up.”

http://bit.ly/Xscnb8

Teaching Is Not a Business

While technology can be put to good use by talented teachers, they, and not the futurists, must take the lead. The process of teaching and learning is an intimate act that neither computers nor markets can hope to replicate. Small wonder, then, that the business model hasn’t worked in reforming the schools — there is simply no substitute for the personal element.”
http://nyti.ms/1prWRGF

How We Think: John Dewey on the Art of Reflection and Fruitful Curiosity in an Age of Instant Opinions and Information Overload

“Dewey examines what separates thinking, a basic human faculty we take for granted, from thinking well, what it takes to train ourselves into mastering the art of thinking, and how we can channel our natural curiosity in a productive way when confronted with an overflow of information.”

bit.ly/1w0EOMT

The Rise of the Helicopter Teacher

“The risk that helicopter parents run is that they will raise children so coddled that they have a hard time functioning on their own in the larger world. So too with the way we have infantilized our students. Afraid or unwilling to challenge them, we pass them through with perfectly good grades but without much of a sense of how to work on their own or think for themselves.”

http://bit.ly/1kSX6uQ

How A Popular TV Doc Has Learned To Explain ADHD Simply

Implications for teachers?

“ADHD is like having a Ferrari engine for a brain with bicycle brakes. Strengthen the brakes and you have a champion.  People with ADHD are the inventors and the innovators, the movers and the doers, the dreamers who built America.”

http://onforb.es/1oCt7Gz

The McDonaldization of Education: the rise of slow

“In regards to education, McDonaldization attempts to wipe out any of the messiness or inefficiencies of learning. Instead, it attempts to reduce it to a commodity that can be packaged, marketed and sold. Rather than cultivating a deep, holistic love of learning that touches every aspect of a student’s life, learning has been reduced to an assembly line. In reality, we’ve imposed a mechanistic view of life onto how people learn, which is largely an organic process, and at a great cost.”

http://bit.ly/1q0A7wJ

Teaching Critical Thinking in Age of Digital Credulity

“Now, the enormity, ubiquity and dubious credibility of the information available to most of the world’s population is requiring each of us to become something of an expert on figuring out when we’re being misled or lied to. Perhaps, unfortunately, for the future of life online, few teachers or parents impart to young people the always useful but now essential skills of how to question, investigate, analyze and judge that link they just got in email or the factual claim they just found through a search engine.”

http://bit.ly/1s8rO1s

This week’s contributions from Bruce Hammonds:

The New Zealand Election coming soon!!

Bruce’s comment: If you were to listen to some politicians you would think the sky is falling in but New Zealand education is in good heart. I was particularly impressed with his positive experience of secondary education. Well worth a read.

http://bit.ly/1C9DHuX

Looking back

Bruce’s comment: The Labour Manifesto’s education policy of the time made it clear what was expected in education and when elected Peter Fraser, Minister Of Education, asked the Director of Education Dr Beeby to rewrite the then Ministry of Education report to the new government to capture his ideas. Overnight Beeby wrote the following principle:

‘…that every person whatever his level of academic ability, whether rich or poor, whether he lives in the town or the country, has a right as a citizen to a free education of the kind best fitted and to the fullest extent of his power……(and that this ) will involve the reorientation of the education system.’

http://bit.ly/1sPo0SY

With the New Zealand election drawing near the choices are sharpening – or ought to be.

Bruce’s comment: It’s time for all people share in the apparent growing wealth of the few – the disparity between the rich and the poor is still growing. In schools the government talks about an ‘achievement gap’ , ignoring the effects of growing poverty and sees the solution as developing ‘super’ principals, cluster principals and lead teachers as the answer – such people obviously chosen because of their adherence to National’s policies – National Standards.

http://bit.ly/ViEcl2

Education Readings August 22nd

By Allan Alach

I welcome suggested articles, so if you come across a gem, email it to me at allan.alach@ihug.co.nz.

This week’s homework!

Rational And Evidence-Based Responses To Standards Advocates And Critics

This article will provide you with a valuable tool to support all those debates you are having  with pro-GERMers!

“A practical logic problem also exists for those advocating or criticizing standards: If I am teaching, my job is to identify where any student is in her/his learning and then to take that student farther, both in terms of direct teaching and by motivating that student to learn. That fact of real-world teaching renders detailed standards irrelevant because it doesn’t matter what a standard deems any student should know and when since the reality of that student supersedes those mandates.”

http://bit.ly/VacczD

What’s the real purpose of educational benchmarking?

Very good article by Andy Hargreaves:

“Is there a second purpose of educational benchmarking then? Is it to delineate the weak from the strong, inciting nation to compete against nation, Americans against Asians, and school against school. After we have pinpointed schools that are failing, does this just make it easier for invading opportunists to set up charter schools in their place, or to market online alternatives, tutoring services and the like?”

http://wapo.st/1qk4GL6

The Opposite of Excellence

Another excellent blog by Peter Greene:

“When they talk about highly effective teachers and excellent schools and proficient students, all they are talking about is the scores on a standardized math and reading test. That’s it.”

http://bit.ly/1oULVMQ

8 Needs For Project-Based Learning In The 21st Century (thanks Tony Gurr)

“We tend to think of project-based learning as focused on research, planning problem-solving, authenticity, and inquiry. Further, collaboration, resourcefulness, and networking matter too–dozens of characteristics “fit” into project-based learning. Its popularity comes from, among other characteristics, its general flexibility as a curriculum framework. You can do, teach, assess, and connect almost anything within the context of a well-designed project.”

http://bit.ly/1omGBrr

Let’s Stop Trying To Teach Students Critical Thinking

‘The philosopher most associated with the critical spirit is Socrates. In the 1980s, Australian philosopher John Anderson put the Socratic view of education most clearly when he wrote: “The Socratic education begins … with the awakening of the mind to the need for criticism, to the uncertainty of the principles by which it supposed itself to be guided.”’

http://bit.ly/1ueD8xr

Never Again! Now The Evidence Is Irrefutable…

Read how three separate groups have taken over American education, then use this to analyse the situation in your own country. Are there any similarities?

“Finally, each group attempting to destroy or reform public education and access the tax dollars citizens pay for public schools, violates some or all of the tenets that guide the education profession. What are some of these tenets?”

http://bit.ly/1vwVGL0

Reformers Standardize – Teachers Individualize

“Only in the field of education do we find The Professional completely superfluous. Much has been made of the public’s disregard for teachers: the idea that since you’ve graduated high school, you know what it means to be a teacher. You don’t. You don’t get a teaching certification digging around in a Crackerjack box. People earn genuine college degrees in this – many of them get masters and doctorates. Those degrees even require you to go out and do some actual teaching! Let me assure you, none of it entails reminiscing about your old high school days and all the teachers who were mean to you.”

http://bit.ly/VcYY5r

Shifting The Point Of View

How to best develop the use of technology in education?

“Technology is advancing too fast and its effects on society for today and future are observed clearly by many institutions and they are changing themselves accordingly. Unfortunately educational institutions can not follow them since they are the most resistant ones to change. Most of the schools who are having their technology transformation nowadays are only changing their shop windows. A deeper and more realistic change can not happen until they really shift their perspective from technology to pedagogy.”

http://bit.ly/1AKkAGR

This week’s contributions from Bruce Hammonds:

The Science Behind Classroom Norming

Bruce’s comment:Use this primer on the five stages of norming to establish a positive classroom community.

“Does the norming process take time? Yes, but when students share important values, beliefs, and goals, they accomplish more. Don’t trust me. Trust the science.”

http://bit.ly/1mLWDpo

The 5 Critical Categories of Rules

On a similar theme:

“Regardless of whether a school is open and free or traditional, limits or rules are necessary to teach students responsibility. I have identified five areas that I call critical categories which are useful when deciding what rules you need. Because rules work best when students have a say in their selection, I prefer teaching students what these critical categories mean, and developing rules together.”

http://bit.ly/1q9Nub2

Back to School: A Surefire Strategy for Building Classroom Community

And another – back to school time must be approaching in the USA!

‘… this post does not address anything related to technology or the CCSS. It addresses a topic of much greater importance — the emotional environment of the classroom. Without an excellent, intentionally designed, emotional environment (one which builds authentic community in the classroom), the standards and the technologies are of little value. As Steven Covey and many others have said, “First things first!”’

http://bit.ly/XjnQdm

20 Things Educators Need To Know About Digital Literacy Skills

Bruce’s comment: Something to think about – even for those who struggle with digital technology.

Teaching digital literacy is about more than just integrating technology into lesson plans; it’s about using technology to understand and enhance modern communication, to locate oneself in digital space, to manage knowledge and experience in the Age of Information.” bit.ly/1yQAZ94

Difficult Discussions Are The Most Important Discussions

Bruce’s comment: Making difficult decisions before your ‘train’ goes off the track!

“The best way to prevent a train from heading down the wrong track is candid discussions about the facts and clarity around why the journey should happen. But we need to do a better job at having those tough discussions earlier in the process.”

bit.ly/1v7OKQm

Universal Design for Learning: A Blueprint for Successful Schools

Bruce’s comment: An excellent 18 minute TED Talk – lessons from flying a jet – personalised talent based learning. A very simple message.

“Teachers confront this challenge with every lesson, activity, and course as they acknowledge that no two students learn the same way. With the added pressure to address standards, integrate technology, and prepare students with 21st Century Skills, consider the potential if school leaders could offer teachers a single strategy that would address all of their students’ needs. Universal Design for Learning (UDL) does just that.”

http://bit.ly/1tfR2N4

NAPLAN results. Teachers’ fault.

No NAPLAN Improvement – Teachers to Blame.

While many thought that results would be announced in September, NAPLAN results are available now….at least to the press. Monday 18 August S.M.H. reveals that “ Students Perform Badly in Writing Test”. The article highlighted a confusing question in the test of literacy.

1. ACARA will investigate the writing question “but suggested the reason students across all years scored lower in writing compared to 2011 may have been because schools overprepared for the test.”.

Of course it’s the teachers’ fault. “Please explain”…how? Testors know more about classrooms than teachers do, it seems; so blame is apportioned by all-knowing testor to testee. That’s professional behaviour?

2. “Some schools prepare for the test at the expense of the curriculum in order to achieve better marks.”

Now there’s a revelation for ACARA. It did not know this; so, It tried to be tricky this year and “did not reveal whether the writing task would be a narrative or persuasive piece.” The children were asked “which law or rule would you make better in your view?” One wonders how many marks the pupil who wrote about getting rid of NAPLAN received. All we know is that his mother gave him 10/10 and was very proud of him. That’s something.

3. Test expert Dr. Randall conceded that the test “…may have been confusing for some primary school students.” That’s testing expertise in action! Reliablity used to be an essential in test preparation!

4. The test experts reveal that “…teachers are teaching to the test.” Well! Fancy that ! These experts tricked the teachers this year! “In a bid to stamp this out, this year ACARA did not reveal whether the writing task would be a narrative or persuasive piece.” ACARA is now one up in the dirty tricks department. They hoodwinked the kids and blamed the teachers. Since such activity reveals that the aim is not to assess performance but to score points in the contest between testor and teacher, what is being proved? Will Tom Waterhouse be allowed able to run a book. on next year’s contest? Pupils and schools will now have to purchase more test-practice books, attend more tutoring shops, take more performance-enhancing supplements and listen more to testucator’’s advice than to educator-classroom-teachers. It could be called the Pyne/Murdoch solution. Robustness! Phonics! Direct Teaching!

5. “In NSW we have seen a substantial increase in the number of students undertaking the writing test who received a zero score, indicating that they did not attempt the task at all.” said a spokesman for the NSW Board of Studies, Teaching and Educational Standards. “This is most evident for the younger years, particularly year 3.” What do teachers and test experts make of this ? How can statements be made about performance if the animals can’t or don’t perform?

6. In this kind of State of Origin contest, the blues have won hands down. “NSW also has the highest participation rate in the country.” That’s a win?.

The case for the abandonment of NAPLAN rests. Now, what should be the punishment for those who dare to corrupt the intellectual development of our young with this sort of nonsense? Where’s the ethics? Is the a code of ethics for testucators as there is for educators?

Teachers over prepare! Schools neglect the curriculum! Young children can’t answer a question! ACARA will investigate itself!

Assessment? Reliable? Effects on Classes? Effects on Learning?

___________________________________________________________
Phil Cullen {……… for the kids that are damaged] 41 Cominan Avenue, Banora Point , Australia 2486 07 5524 6443 cphilcullen@bigpond.com
http://primaryschooling.com    http:// kelleyandcullen.net

Education Readings August 15th

By Allan Alach

I welcome suggested articles, so if you come across a gem, email it to me at allan.alach@ihug.co.nz.

This week’s homework!

 

A Big Problem with Ed Research

If this article is accurate (and there’s no reason to suspect otherwise) then the basis of Hattie’s mega-analysis research may have been severely undermined.

‘It means that very likely a great deal of what’s passed off as research-based knowledge is information that has never been checked, the result of just one piece of research. Imagine if you were seriously ill and your doctor said, “Well, there’s this one treatment that only one guy did only this one time, and he thought it turned out well.”’

http://bit.ly/1oxifv2

Revisiting Content And Direct Instruction

This is a very important article about the battle for education in America (and applicable elsewhere) over the last century. The seeds of today’s problems were sown a long time ago, and survive, in spite of visionaries such as Dewey and Freire.

“Before diving into the content and direct instruction debates, I want to address what is really going on. You don’t have to read George Orwell or Ray Bradbury to know this (although you should*), but the powerful in any society recognize that those who control knowledge (and language is knowledge) ultimately control everything. Thus, to codify what is known, what counts as knowledge, and what facts mean is to establish power.”

http://bit.ly/1sZ6wWv

A Conversation On Lessons From Finland

More from Pasi Sahlberg, this time in conversation with an Australian educator. Very applicable all over, especially in the usual five Anglo-Saxon dominated countries.

“Your question about the value of PISA is like asking what do you think about fire! They are both useful and can benefit our lives significantly if we know how to deal with them. Unfortunately PISA is often like a box of matches in the hands of a child. PISA certainly has had negative consequences in some places where it has taken the driver’s seat in determining priorities in national education policies. There are a number of countries now (including Australia) that have formulated their goals in education to be on the top of the global league tables. An over-reliance on reaching such targets, by insisting that schools and teachers focus on a narrow area of academic achievement at the expense of broader learning and personal development goals, may have worrying effects later on.”

http://bit.ly/1xOPWbf

The Time is Now

An article by Dr Robert Valiant, sourced from the US website Defend-Ed.

“I have been doing a little reading on one of my true loves, brain research, and would like to take a moment to say that rapid growth in the field is producing astounding findings that are important to those of us in the brain business, teaching and learning. I am, of course, dismayed by the current education reform efforts, most of which appear to be diametrically opposed to the new research findings. I won’t go into detail here, but even on the macro level the predatory reformers have it wrong.”

http://bit.ly/1rWavAS

Manufactured education

Another blog posting from UK academic Steve Wheeler:

“And yet standardisation, synchonisation and centralisation stubbornly persist in a few notable enclaves. Perhaps the most notorious resistance to the technological wave comes from the state education systems.” And:

‘The factory model of education persists, because in the mind of its proponents, it is still the most efficient, cost effective way to train the workforce of the future. And yet, according to critics such as Sir Ken Robinson, this is not the way forward. In a recent speech, Robinson intoned: “We still educate children by batches. We put them through the system by age group. Why do we do that? Why is there an assumption that the most important thing kids have in common is their date of manufacture?”’

http://bit.ly/1kGQsHY

“Education As Great Equalizer” Deforming Myth, Not Reality

A very comprehensive article that debunks the neoliberal myth that education is the solution to poverty.

“So, you are 2.5x more likely to be a rich adult if you were born rich and never bothered to go to college than if you were born poor and, against all odds, went to college and graduated. The disparity in the outcomes of rich and poor kids persists, not only when you control for college attainment, but even when you compare non-degreed rich kids to degreed poor kids!”

http://bit.ly/1opyf1e

Growth Mindset – The Holy Grail Of Education?

“The author of mindset theory, Carol Dweck, cited neuroscience research that examined brain activity of students when receiving feedback. Students were asked various questions and then told whether they were right or wrong. If they were wrong, they were also told what the correct answer was. Pretty much every student’s brains were active when being told whether they were right or wrong but only growth mindset students’ brains remained active to hear what the correct answer was if they had made a mistake.”

http://bit.ly/1uyiUMo

Ranking and Sorting: The Sordid History of Standards and Tests

Very important article by Anthony Cody, which will give you the essential understanding of the whole testing and standards movement. It’s not nice.

“One of my heroes was the late Stephen Jay Gould, who devoted his life to exploring and explaining the intricacies of evolution. In his book, The Mismeasure of Man, he reveals the roots of standardized testing in the work of Lewis Terman, who brought to us the first widely applied tests, building on the work of Binet, who had pioneered intelligence tests for inductees into the Army during World War 1.”

“This “science” of measurement was also connected to a movement called “eugenics.” It was seen as undesirable for the less intelligent to reproduce, since their offspring would be inferior, and thus a burden to society. And there were heavy racial implications as well.”

http://bit.ly/1stklxP

This week’s contributions from Bruce Hammonds:

6 Things You Should Know About The Future

Bruce: “The future’s not what it used to be!!”

“That’s the funny thing about the future.  It’s never as fantastic as we hope nor as horrible as we fear.  The one thing that’s for sure is that times will change and we will have to adapt. While there is no way of knowing exactly how that change will play out, we can identify trends, make common sense judgments about where they lead and prepare for them.”

http://bit.ly/1B6GDrJ

Why phonetic spelling isn’t effective

GERMers seem to love phonics as the solution to everything (e.g State of New South Wales in Australia). They obviously haven’t read Frank Smith.
However, it seems to me, that those people who want phonetic spelling have not thought through all the problems that would be created by it. The problem is that different people pronounce some words differently and so would spell them differently phonetically. Amongst people who speak English there are many different types of accents and thus pronunciations.”

http://bit.ly/1uqLa6o

15 Things Every Teacher Needs from a Principal

Bruce’s comment:Seems an insightful list to me.

‘“Principalship” entails many things, but at its core, it is—and has always been—about building trusting relationships. We may balance the budget and successfully maintain the building; we may ensure that teachers have the necessary resources and all the professional development opportunities in the world…but if we fail to build trusting relationships, what good are balanced budgets, “SMART” classrooms, one-for-one programs, and squeaky clean amenities?’

http://bit.ly/1r8lB9K

From Bruce’s oldies but goodies file:

The corporate takeover of society and education.

This is the GERM that needs to be challenged – the key issue of the upcoming NZ election. One of Bruce’s most popular blogs.

“As part of the corporate strategy was the demeaning the teaching profession through finger pointing and blaming them for student failure while at the same time ignoring the effects of poverty on student achievement. The market forces  corporate ideology places value on hardnosed economic growth and demonizes teachers and schools as failing students and being stuck in the past. To reform this seemingly failing situation a standardised model has been implemented which has resulted in a one dimensional approach to education with success being determined and measured by narrow literacy and numeracy levels in primary school and NZCEA levels in secondary.”

http://bit.ly/1hARUnP

Another expert on teacher quality? Disruptive or dangerous?

While this article is about New Zealand, it discusses a problem common to all GERM countries, and also the OECD, where economists feel qualified to comment on education and teacher quality. Dangerous.

“No one would challenge Makhlouf’s assertion that education is the key to economic success but how one defines achievement ( in a narrow literacy / numeracy sense, or the development of student’s talent and gifts) needs debating. And as for Makhloufs enthusiasm for performance pay, once again, this depends on what is counted as achievement. Performance pay has had a checkered career in the US. Makhlouf , being an economist, believes it is all about collecting data to measure success. Simplistic stuff – important learning  attributes defy easy measurement.”

http://bit.ly/1sP6gbw

Basing education around student inquiry.

Bruce’s comment: This popular blog  outlines a discovery approach NZ creative teachers at all levels are aware of.

“Well-executed PBL begins with the recognition that, as in the real world, it’s often difficult to distinguish between acquiring information and using it. Students learn knowledge and elements of the core curriculum, but also apply what they know to solve authentic problems and produce results that matter. Students focus on a problem or challenge, work in teams to find a solution to the problem, and often exhibit their work to an adult audience at the end of the project.”

http://bit.ly/16VkKej

The Blue School

“The Blue School in Lower Manhattan was established by members of the Blue Sky Company -a company involved in helping organisations develop creative ideas.They wanted to establish a school that celebrated the creativity and ideas of children – they wanted to establish a school they would have liked to have gone to – a dream school for their own children. They wanted school committed to keeping alive the sense of wonder, play and joy of young children. The school currently caters for children from 2 to 6. The ideas will not be new to creative teachers, particularly those that ‘teach’ younger children but their emphasis on making student inquiry central is a challenge to us all in these day of making literacy and numeracy achievement central.”

http://bit.ly/1pNq8Ld

This week’s contributions from Phil Cullen

A History of Blanket Testing

This is a powerful article from Phil that discusses his experience of Minimum Competency Testing in the USA in 1980. You will notice that apart from a change of name to common core standards, not much has changed.

This is a must read.

“Did I hear you say that things are different these days? Well. This is a personal account from back when. In 1980, I visited the USA and the UK for the express purpose of studying the Minimum Competency Movement in the USA and the Assessment of Performance Unit in the UK, both politically-produced ordurous reactions to the Back to Basics meme of the 1970s. The 70’s “standards debate” had been a vicious attack on schooling that was lasting far too long. In Australia, it was led by “The Bulletin” and one or two conspicuous non-teaching attention-grabbers in each state. It died in Australia as it deserved to do before the the educational dementia of national blanket testing set in. Not so in USA. Sad consequences there as reported below.”

http://bit.ly/1pNr0iR

Told You So

A History of Blanket Testing

“The only thing we learn from history is that we never learn for history.”

Did I hear you say that things are different these days? Well. This is a personal account from back when. .
In 1980, I visited the USA and the UK for the express purpose of studying the Minimum Competency Movement in the USA and the Assessment of Performance Unit in the UK, both politically-produced ordurous reactions to the Back to Basics meme of the 1970s. The 70’s “standards debate” had been a vicious attack on schooling that was lasting far too long. In Australia, it was led by “The Bulletin” and one or two conspicuous non-teaching attention-grabbers in each state. It died in Australia as it deserved to do before the the educational dementia of national blanket testing set in. Not so in USA. Sad consequences there as reported below. [ Australia made up for it in 2008. ....in spades.]

Minimum Competency Testing  – 1980

Fresh from my trip, I was asked to write an article for The Canberra Times. It was printed on 4 August, 1980 and headlined : Minimum Competency Testing: A Spreading Educational Malignancy in the United States. An extract from the article was repeated and highlighted : “Since the future of a country depends on the attention that it gives to its greatest resources, spare some tears for 21st century USA. Its destiny is clear and the news is not good. For Australian children’s sake now and for our country’s sake in the future – pray that the malady does not spread across the Pacific.”

CANBERRA TIMES 04-08-80

“I don’t like the Minimal Competency movement. It’s bad psychology; it’s bad measurement; it’s bad thinking. It’s rooted in the fiction that we know what skills in school ensure success in life”.
These are the words of Professor Gene Glass, meta-analyst, who is well known for his research into class size. He is one of many who are reacting to the spreading educational malignancy in the United States. It is called Minimal Competency Testing.

The movement was spawned by the “decline theorists” of the 1970s who were enormously successful in perpetuating their myths of a decline in standards in most Western countries.

Their calls were based on a simple nostalgia for an unknown golden age, when each student was supposed to have been as competent as Greg Chappell is with his cricket. Their credo was taken up by legislators who called for proper surveillance of the school system. Laws have been introduced in many US States that have called for testing of students, especially those graduating from high schools. In most States, if a student does not pass the test, a graduation certificate is not issued.

What have been the consequences?

Where the minimal competencies are listed as basic survival skills [e.g. changing a tyre, knowledge of first aid], the curriculum becomes a farce and students are not extended. Where the list includes higher-order skills [e.g. a good knowledge of calculus], teachers concentrate on the most difficult aspects; and the important aspects of the curriculum are neglected.
Test-publishing firms are having a field day. A contract for a State or school district represents big business and lobbying is intense. Whether a contract is won or lost, publishers move in on schools hawking audio-tape presentations that promote “beating the test”. Current prices are around the $200 mark.

When a state or district issues its list of competencies, it makes promises. These can be tested in court and the American notion of democracy encourages such litigation. Civil-rights lawyers are having a field day ….”for that same reason that Willie Sutton robbed banks. That’s where the money is”, Professor Glass says. Within the courts, judges make decisions about the activities of schools. They tend to direct school districts as to what they must do.

Educationists, many retired from schools, establish private firms selling seminars, workshops. lecture tours and packaged kits on how to cope with the achievement of basic competencies.

A Mess

All in all, it means that the test publishers, the legislators, the judiciary and a host of middlemen take control of the school curriculum. Parents and teachers are left out in the cold. It’s a mess.

Patriotic American are most concerned, for the future of their country is seen to be at risk. The essential aspects of education that are required for the citizens of the new century are seen to be in jeopardy. Children are seen to be basically lazy and a loose confederation of “back-to-basics” pressure groups are jealous of the freedom to learn, that society in the 60s and 70s had extended to its young. Children need to be smartened up, threatened with failure and reminded of their incompetence to fill today’s jobs.

Actually, one needs a strong will to suggest that schools and children are growing worse. Some groups, businesses and individuals have that twisted will. They seek to ensure that public school systems break down and given to free enterprise. They are determined; and assume a divine right to claim ownership of a centralised curriculum which is easy to control and peddle.

Blanket testing of competencies doesn’t solve anything. Testing of any kind , when necessary, needs to have a human, encouraging tone that disposes children to upgrade their learning styles with confidence.

The children of the United States are compelled by law to endure great stress for some years, as this innovation works itself to death. Currently, the love for learning is being converted to the drudgery of work and punishment for failure.

Since the future of a country depends on the attention that it gives to its greatest natural resource, spare some tears for 21st century USA. Its destiny is clear and the news is not good. For Australian children’s sake and for our country’s sake in the future, pray that the malady does not spread across the Pacific.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

This was 34 years ago! It is difficult to understand how anyone who had anything to do with schooling, with an E.Q. ‘above room temperature’ would allow the same conditions to re-emerge or to spread anywhere south of the equator. MCT, using blanket testing devices, has been shown to be an abomination. That was 30 years ago!

In Australia, serious educators, with a reasonable E.Q., of course, have known about its foul intent for decades. They just have no power.

But then in 2008, twenty-eight years after this warning, low E.Q. scatophagic politicians, middlemen testucators and money-hungry child-molesters took control.

[E.Q.: Education Quotient is a measurement of educationism determined on the same sort of scale as I.Q.]

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APPENDIX I have been most fortunate with my experiences as a primary education freak. This 1980 trip was dedicated to trying to find out as much information as possible about minimum competency testing and large scale assessment of pupil performance. I started by re-visiting UCLA and I/D/E/A in Los Angeles where I had spent some time ten years earlier.

I caught up with an old pal from that period, who had just resigned from the superintendency of a school district where there was a large weapons research facility. Scientists controlled the school board and had decreed that no child would be given a graduation certificate who had failed to pass a calculus test. Sol Spears argued through the media that the notion was crazy. He had a doctorate, but did not know the first thing about calculus. He was forced out. It was an extreme [one hopes] example of what can happen when child-molesting testucating sciolists take over the curriculum.

I visited other groups and people who were pursuing an interest in MCT : North West Lab. in Portland, Oregon; Gene Glass at the University of Colorado, whom Barry McGaw of ACARA was also visiting in an academic measurement capacity; and AASA [Bill Spady] at Washington DC.

I left the US sharing the abhorrence of many, many high-octane educators there of the notion of blanket testing being used as a fearsome weapon of much destruction. As a weapon of accountability, it was entirely useless. As a diagnostic tool it set individual progress back many years. It was a gung-ho, crazed approach, carelessly conceived. As Gene Glass summarised : blanket testing is based on a minimum lethal dose attitude, on payment by results, on making pupils feel inadequate. “…nothing to do with science and technology; not with psychology; not with measurement. It has to do with politics.”

I then headed for the Assessment of Performance Unit – APU – established by Margaret Thatcher, Minister for Education in England. This unit was divided into sub-units, each independent and removed from each other; each employing methods of assessment that varied. I visited each sub-unit – Mathematics, Literacy and Science. Each ,it seemed to me, was trying to avoid, as much as possible, the pen-and-paper mode of testing even though the assignment of a value to each testing exercise was tricky.

There were some innovative ideas, but I gathered that there was a general feeling of despair and frustration at trying to find the magic formula for mass testing….already conscious of the futility of the same-moment-in-time blanket mass pen-and-paper mode. Tests were random, but each sample involved endless techniques and modes of scoring. As one testor asked, “How do you test the efficiency of each component of a space rocket when its hal-way to the moon?”

The units saw the futility of treating school subjects in isolation.The only conclusion that was common to each unit was: that primary school classrooms were such complicated operations, so intense, and so different from each other that any mass testing debauched individual intellect, was a serious threat to each person’s cognitive development and an enormous waste of time….especially for those who needed more closer and warmer support than the average.

I was especially disappointed with the deterioration in the level of enthusiasm shown by England’s teachers for the spirit of teaching itself, that had been the key feature of my observations in 1970. It had been a child-focussed, busy, achievement-centred, exciting place of learning then. No more.

The only thing we learn from history is that we don’t learn from history.

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Phil Cullen 41 Cominan Avenue Banora Point Australia 2486 07 5524 6443 cphilcullen@bigpond.com
http://primaryschooling.net     http://kellyandcullen.net     http://qldprimaryprincipals.wordpress.com

Education Readings August 8th

By Allan Alach

I welcome suggested articles, so if you come across a gem, email it to me at allan.alach@ihug.co.nz.

This week’s homework!

 

Thinking about One’s Thinking

“Metacognition is, put simply, thinking about one’s thinking.  More precisely, it refers to the processes used to plan, monitor, and assess one’s understanding and performance. Metacognition includes a critical awareness of a) one’s thinking and learning and b) oneself as a thinker and learner.”

‘This kind of explicit instruction will help students expand or replace existing learning strategies with new and more effective ones, give students a way to talk about learning and thinking, compare strategies with their classmates’ and make more informed choices, and render learning “less opaque to students, rather than being something that happens mysteriously or that some students ‘get’ and learn and others struggle and don’t learn”’

http://bit.ly/1kgDRLj

An Open Letter To My Son’s Second Grade Teacher

My son is a curious kid. He’s high-energy and artistic and he loves thinking deeply. He’s a sensitive soul and sometimes the smallest amount of criticism can feel crushing.  I could tell you the ideal way to teach him. I’d probably tell you to avoid the stickers. Opt out of homework. Go with qualitative feedback instead of grades. Forget the Class Dojo points and the Firebird Dollars and think instead about being ethical.”
http://bit.ly/1l9i8Qt

Run schools like a business? Flip that theory to see flaws

“This is an absurd comparison, yet schools are continuously compared to a business model, which, when reversed, would be considered stupid by those in “business,” for there would be little if any profit, and the expectations of 100 percent success are delusional at best.”

http://bit.ly/1pACcMP

One True Path

Another great article on Curmudgucation by Peter Greene.

“This is one of the fundamental articles of faith for reformsters– there is One True Path to a good life, to happy, healthy, productive adulthood. This idea– along with its corollary (all happy, healthy, productive adult lives look pretty much the same)– is so patently, observably false that I resist writing about it because I feel as if I’m using a slice of the internet to argue that grass is usually green. But as long as these guys keep saying it, we have to keep pointing out that it’s wrong.”

http://bit.ly/1tmXN1N

Child Prodigies and the Assault on Creativity

This is a very good article, that examines how the system restricts opportunities for children, especially those with Aspergers, ADD/ADHD, and other so-called disorders.

“For some time now, the education system has been geared increasingly towards controlling children in an authoritarian environment (much research has been conducted into the comparison between schools and prisons), preparing them for a regimented series of arbitrary tests to make them suitable for a particular vocation.” 

This assault on genuinely creative and original modes of thinking is inevitable, given that the ruling elites of the system are characterized by psychopathy, a personality trait which is inherently incapable of creative thought.”

http://bit.ly/1zvm9XH

Payment by results – a ‘dangerous idiocy’ that makes staff tell lies

Not that neoliberals will take any notice, of course…

“Here’s why: payment by results does not reward organisations for supporting people to achieve what they need; it rewards organisations for producing data about targets; it rewards organisations for the fictions their staff are able to invent about what they have achieved; it pays people for porkies.”

http://bit.ly/UO2u5M

What do standardized tests actually test?

Another excellent article by US educator Marian Brady, a leading voice in the US anti-GERM campaign.

“That’s three very different approaches to teaching—telling, showing, and involving. The first two lend themselves to standardized testing. The third one—the only one that really works—doesn’t. It says that what needs to be evaluated are the outcomes of personal experience, and personal experience is very likely to be too individual, too idiosyncratic, too much a product of a teachable moment exploited or created by the teacher, for its outcome to be evaluated by machine-scored standardized test items.”

http://wapo.st/1uSeh3A

The Danger of Back to School:Children’s Mental Health Crises Plummet in Summer and Rise in the School Year

Another very useful article by Peter Gray – brings back memories of the torture that was my experience of Rotorua Boys High School.

“School, too often, is exactly like the kind of nightmare job that I just described; and, worse, it is a job that kids are not allowed to quit.  No matter how much they might be suffering, they are forced to continue, unless they have enlightened parents who have the means, know-how, and will to get them out of it.  Including homework, the hours are often more than those that their parents put into their full-time jobs, and freedom of movement for children at school is far less than that for their parents at work.” 

http://bit.ly/1r1lFUa

This week’s contributions from Bruce Hammonds:

Habits for Success in School and Life

Bruce’s comment: A number of schools in NZ have implemented Art Costa’s Habits of Mind. The link below will refresh your appreciation of  the thinking habits.

‘The 16 Habits of Mind are drawn from a modern view of intelligence that casts off traditional abilities-centered theories and replaces them with a growth mindset for remaining open to continuous learning, another important habit. These habits are often called soft skills or non-cognitive skills. In fact, these skills are among the most difficult to develop because they require a great deal of consciousness. Ultimately, they become an internal compass that helps us answer the question, “What is the most ‘thought-full’ thing that I can do right now?”’

http://bit.ly/1oLxtLY

How to Make Your Classroom a Thinking Space

Take a moment and imagine a creative work environment. Don’t worry about the kind of work going on. Just focus on the space. Close your eyes and picture it. What is that space like? What does it sound like? How are people interacting? Is there movement? Is there evidence of work in progress? Is it tidy, or busy-messy? Can you imagine working there?”

“Think back to your mental image of a creative workplace. Was the place you imagined a school? If the answer was “no,” why not? School is a work place for 55 million people in the United States where 51.5 million student “workers” and 3.5 million teachers are charged with shaping the future. That’s a big job. That’s work!”

http://bit.ly/1r1nFf9

6 Things for Children to Understand About Writing and 4 Ways to Help Them Get Started

We understand that if kids don’t read and write over the summer, their reading and writing muscles grow slack. They lose some of their imaginative muscle. Just like a coach sees the difference in her players if they spent the summer lounging instead of being active, I certainly see a literary sluggishness in my students if they return to school in the fall without picking up a book or writing in their journals with true engagement.”

http://bit.ly/1sBaRyX

Learning your way into the future – applied to a Space Study

A blog posting by Bruce.

A recent TED Talk presenter, when talking about developing innovative enterprises, said the future was about learning not education. He continued that education is what others do to you – learning you do for yourself and that it is important to learn how to learn. ‘We need’, he said, ‘to learn our way forward’.” And:

A visit to your local primary or secondary schools will show that teachers are still teaching as if it is they who control the learning. Current teachers reflect the way they themselves were taught or are conformed by accountability systems and pre-defined curriculums.”

http://bit.ly/1okbqMt

An article by Bruce for New Zealand readers:

Nigel Latta: The new ‘Haves and Have Nots’ – time for Moral Leadership in New Zealand

“Even the idea that education is seen as a basis for a successful life is in doubt.  Students mount up tremendous debts. University students leave with $50000 loan debts and still have trouble finding jobs. Even students of the middle class are feeling the squeeze – something never experienced by their parents. Free education is a myth.”

http://bit.ly/1slX9hB

$38.4 million for trial

Aussie Friends of Treehorn Express

NAPLAN trial faces delays

Read this.

$38.4 Million for NAPLAN 0nline Trial

Can You Believe It?

Just how crazy can a schooling system become?

Why not give the money to a few dozen jihad terrorists with free tickets to travel Australia and let them do as they wish? They can’t do as much damage as NAPLAN does.

This NAPLAN Gillard-Pyne version of evaluation already stinks to high heaven. We all know that. It’s a virulent form of bovine incontinence [rupertoid kleinitis], a disease that corrupts the cognitive development of our young. But. Big thanks to big Joe H. who won’t give the curmudgeons the money for now. Breathe again for a while, kids. We might have a principaled [sic] approach by 2016 to release you from the terror machine. My money is on principled principals. I think. I hope.

Marion Brady says….

“For millions of kids, it’s too late to undo the damage they’ve done. But if parents and other concerned citizens make enough noise, the giant, tax-wasting, kid-abusing, craft-and-profession destroying, super-standardizing, multibillion dollar testing juggernaut that’s perpetuating a stupid idea of what it means to educate and be educated, can be stopped.”

Who ever thought that Australians would ever see the day when a government would spend such an amount of money just to find out how to test some little bits of numeracy and literacy? It’s so unreal!

$38.4million

If only half the money could be spent on a quest to make schooling more useful, complex, real-world, theoretically sound,wide ranging, varied, scalable and effective! Marion Brady, here quoted, has been on such a search for a lifetime. So have many of us school principals. Why not try to spend the money on teaching/learning enterprises of this kind, instead of the jihad-type mutilation, New York variety? It’s lasted six hellish years down under.

I began a search that continues, a search for experience-creating activities (a) so interesting, the teacher can leave the room and nobody notices, (b) so useful, the activity’s relevance is self-evident, (c) so complex, the smartest kid in the class is intellectually challenged, (d) so real-world, perceptions of who’s smartest constantly shift, (e) so theoretically sound, the systemically integrated nature of all knowledge is obvious, (f) so wide-ranging, the activities cover the core curriculum (and much more), (g) so varied, every critical thinking skill is exercised, (h) so scalable, concepts developed on a micro level adequately model macro phenomena, (j) so effective, when the activities themselves are forgotten, their benefits are fixed permanently in memory.

Don’t despair, kids. One day.
Check: http://www.marionbrady.com/articles/2014-WashingtonPost8-1.pdf

o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o00o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o

For less than half the price, Australian trials could be run on what sort of classrooms best produces individual ‘personal bests’ in achievement in the business of life-lasting learnings….as Marion suggests; or compare our NAPLAN-based curriculum with an holistic curriculum; or just do something useful.

Can’t our ultracrepidarian sciolists manage that?* Can’t our critics from way beyond the classroom with little classroom experience turn their attention to something useful?

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Listen to some parents and kids talk to the Mayor of New York
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u7h732u7s4I&feature=player_embedded
Click here. Don’t miss it.

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*Did you hear about the testucated,sesquipedalic ultracrepidarian who suffered from hippopotomonstrosequipedalophobia and became discombobulated……not unlike testucator professionals.?”

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Phil Cullen [.....asking: “Why do we allow this sort of waste and nonsense?] 41 Cominan Avenue Banora Point Australia 2486 07 5524 6443 cphilcullen@bigpond.com