Preparing to give a talk.

Aussie Friends of Treehorn

encouraging adults to think sensitively, to care for kids, to make wise choices….with their hearts in gear, their pens active and their votes available .

‘Since 2008, the neoliberal corporate sector, using its own forms of unionism and exploiting the most powerful elements of New Public Management [Managerialism on steroids], has been very successful. As a first step it captured and corralled  the leaders of various professional groups and arranged for mass ethical  gelding. It then cloned and dominated these associations that once used to stand guard on professional ethics, when they had balls….. Such organisations could rescue Australian schooling from the present doldrums….now….tomorrow…., but their pride has been successfully neutered and muted.” 


I was recently asked to present a talk to a group of people who are very interested in the direction that Australia, especially the education of its young, is going.

I should like to share some thoughts with you as to what I planned to do. I wanted to remain optimistic about the possibility that Australia would, one day, think seriously about  its education system. Yes. There have been one or two attempts in the past, prominent amongst which was the establishment of a Schools Commission in 1973, with scholar Malcolm Skilbeck in charge….as you do {Google him]. His work in the U.K. since then in the development of school-based curriculum has been seminal. The likelihood of school-based development of anything to do with basic schooling  in Australia  seems quite remote. Schools are now controlled by a higher authority which treats schools as simply collection centres for useless data that testucating measurers like to play with.

Despite this, I wanted to remain optimistic.  NAPLAN will go. One day.  It’s too damaging to Australia’s future to last. Entrapped in a serious corporate desire to control schooling as the big-end-of-town sees fit, schools have been forced to tolerate too much dismemberment of children’s desire to learn. 

  1. Disinterested adults now ignore the wonder of childhood to such an extent that its very existence is not relevant. Children are regarded as hardened, little adult robots.
  2. The exercise of humane attitudes towards children is no longer discussed in the schooling context. Data matters, not kids.  [‘Homophobia’ or ‘Superannuation’ is a preferred public discussion point!]
  3. Respect for children’s modes of individual development is now being totally  ignored.
  4. The heart of a healthy, social, professionally ethical  and economically  secure learning environment for all has disappeared from our down-under island nation..

You might be able to see, from my notes [attached], why I maintain a little bit of hope, however.  Australia can only stand so much of NAPLAN-based  ennuic schools, just going through the motions…..the stage that is all too common at this time. While schools are encouraged to be just formal and functional, collecting heaps of data, there’s a bit of grit left at this ennui stage; and recovery is possible. Australia badly needs innovative schools with enthusiastic personnel, independent in curriculum interpretations, icons of professional ethics; and happy places for children to attend, because of all the wonderful learning enterprises that are offered there. But…

The Treehorn call over the years for adults to be conscious of the damage being done at present,  has fallen on deaf ears.

 Since 2008, the neoliberal corporate sector , using its own forms of unionism and exploiting the most powerful elements of New Pubic Management [Managerialism on steroids], has been quite successful.  As a first step it captured and corralled the leaders of  various professional groups and in the style of ‘lambs to the slaughter’, arranged for the mass gelding of professional ethics.  It then cloned and dominated the associations that used to stand guard on professionalism, when they had balls.The Australian Primary Principals Association gave way to the Australian Government Primary Principals Association, for instance. Both deknackered Associations approved of NAPLAN and continue to support its crude use. Once strong on ethical behaviour, the organisation and its network acquiesced in obscene haste. There has been no serious public discussion regarding testing and system evaluation since 2008.  Such organisations could rescue Australia from the present doldrums and positively alter the course of Australia’s future, but their pride has been neutered and muted.

State governments themselves had no choice. They were captured first.  A piece of cake, really. No testing; no money. They sold their respectability without a question. None seems to care much about kids.

Screen Shot 2016-07-22 at 9.48.33 AMSince 2008 Australia has used an education system controlled by fear-based standardised testing techniques. Once state responsibilities, Australian schools are, clearly, now run by ACARA, a politico- kleinist  organisation established by Julia Gillard and a group of testucators. Children have been exploited in the interests of a greedy testing industry whose profits rely on the neoliberal way of doing fearful things to children. Adults, in tune with the causal attitude  shown by school administrators,  don’t care much what happens to the kids..

I still wait for the teaching profession to grow in spunk terms and sternly exert its ethics based on the considerations of  effective teaching strategies, whose results would make Australia a proud nation.  It will happen. I’m optimistic.  Why am I so certain? I have never met a teacher who has joined the profession to be as nasty to our children as the present system demands…..and I’ve met a number who have left because of the lack of professional ethics. We have some strong, great teachers in Australia. No classroom teacher that I know, favours NAPLAN.  How many do you know?

That’s why. There will be a strong resurgence of professional ethics.  Compliancy and heresy [the belief that fear works best in the teaching act] need to be divorced.  Principals and school administrators need to come out and stamp their authority….before  any more NAPLAN tests are allowed into the learning processes. Schooling needs to be returned to schools.


Phil Cullen  41 Cominan Avenue  Banora Point  Australia 2486              

Education Readings July 22nd

By Allan Alach

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

10 ways Pokemon Go portends AR in learning

May as well jump on this bandwagon…

‘Quite simply, this opens up immense possibilities and opportunities for learning. If we could take some of that AR ‘magic dust’ and sprinkle it on learning, we may, at last, lift and augment tasks that were traditionally passive, static and 2D into activities that are active, dynamic and 3D. The real world, in which we live, learn and participate is, after all, active, dynamic and 3D. You can literally superimpose anything on anything, anywhere at anytime for anyone. It is personalised learning in the extreme, with a huge does of curiosity, motivation and addiction thrown in.’

Five Things Education Technology Could Learn from Pokémon Go

‘However, during my weekend search for Pikachu, Snorlax, and the other 248 Pokémon, it dawned on me how right the developers of the game got it when it came to building a technology that motivates and inspires users to get hooked and stay that way, even when the searching process gets more difficult. I think about this — how to motivate people and keep them motivated — often, although typically within the context of subject area that most fourth graders (and, lets be real, most thirty-year-olds) find less exciting than the hunt for mythical, magical beings: education.’

Coding in the Curriculum

Another bandwagon…

‘I don’t know about you, but the first thing I asked was who is going to do this? I have met many a good soul who dedicate their lives to teaching students, but who’s computer literacy is extremely limited.  And while the content knowledge required to for Level 1 of the curriculum will be very basic, it still requires a great deal more teaching knowledge to be able to teach it effectively. What are students getting stuck on? What are the next steps? How do I solve the next problem?’

Coding Is Over

This article is not about education but does show that the current ‘teach the kids to code’ bandwagon may have a dubious underside.

‘Companies have an economic interest in lowering the barrier to entry for software engineering jobs, as well as decreasing the number of people they need to hire to push new features and show “growth”. If making web applications becomes easier, more people will be available to fill those positions, and salaries will go down.’

Slow Processing Speed and Anxiety: What You Need to Know

‘But for kids with slow processing speed, anxious moments can pop up throughout the day, and without warning. That’s because their processing speed issues can impact everything from taking tests to talking with friends. And in some cases, the frequent anxiety turns into an anxiety disorder.’

Think More Abstractly to Develop Creativity and Innovation

‘Creative problem solving is enhanced by thinking more abstractly or at an intellectual distance, rather than more concretely, according to research studies.’

Contributed by Bruce Hammonds:

The Need for Adaptation in Schools

‘The young people at the conference want to take an active role in their communities and their futures. It’s an upbeat group that’s full of passion.So how do schools provide outlets for these Generation Z students to pursue their passions, be active participants in community life, and steer these learners toward their futures?The answer is adaptation.’

How To Raise Brilliant Children, According To Science

‘We’re training kids to do what computers do, which is spit back facts. And computers are always going to be better than human beings at that. But what they’re not going to be better at is being social, navigating relationships, being citizens in a community. So we need to change the whole definition of what success in school, and out of school, means.’

Learning Goals… Success Criteria… and Creativity?

‘While I am aware that setting clear standards are important, making sure we communicate our learning goals with students, co-creating success criteria… and that these have been shown to increase student achievement, I can’t help but wonder how often we take away our students’ thinking and decision making when we do this before students have had time to explore their own thoughts first.’

From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:

The World IS flat!!!!

“In his book, ‘The World is Flat’ , Thomas Friedman shares how the convergence and explosion of new communication technologies and globalisation has ‘flattened’ the world allowing anybody, anywhere, to be connected anytime, with growing efficiency and speed. Others have called this convergence the beginning of the ‘Second Renaissance’ while others call it the ‘Age Of Creativity or Talent.’”

Henry Giroux – lessons for New Zealand educators. Revitalizing the role of public education.

Time to call an end to neo liberal free market drivel before we ruin our country.

‘There is no doubt that current political leadership, influenced by a neo –liberal philosophy of small government, individualism and the need to privatise of all aspects of living has led to the erosion of the belief in the common good resulting in a growing gap between so called ‘winners and losers’.The winners are the financial and corporate elite – the one percent.The corporate and financial elite, right wing think tanks –and extreme fundamentalist political groups (the Tea Party in America and the ACT party in New Zealand) are increasingly focusing on privatisation.’

Digital technology:Over promised and under-delivered?

‘It seems however that modern technology is sold to schools by people who see schools as a ‘cash cow’. And,once technology is introduced, there is always new technology to replace old models, new upgrades to ‘keep up with the play’, eating up scarce financial resources of the schools.It would be wise to spend money on professional development to assist teachers to use the technology sensibly.’


Education Readings July 15th

By Allan Alach

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

What’s At Risk When Schools Focus Too Much on Student Data?

‘The argument in favor of all this is that the more we know about how students are doing, the better we can target instruction and other interventions. And sharing that information with parents and the community at large is crucial. It can motivate big changes. It’s to serve equity and uphold civil rights, say the latest Ed Department regulations, that states must “provide clear and transparent information on critical measures of school quality and equity to parents and community members.” But we’re also starting to hear more about what might be lost when schools focus too much on data. Here are five arguments against the excesses of data-driven instruction.’

Constructivist Classroom: Knowing The Wrong Answers, Too.

‘Focusing on the wrong answers may seem counterintuitive to many, but doing so helps teachers understand the disconnect between the right answer and students’ common misconceptions. Talking through wrong answers has the incredible ability to make teachers better educators and students less frustrated and more receptive to the mountains of new information presented in the classroom. In short, understanding the “wrong” answers leads to learning that lasts.’

We’re teaching our kids wrong: Steve Jobs and Bill Gates do not have the answers

This is a longish article, but don’t that put you off.

‘A close look inside the classroom door suggests that in the past 150 years we have come to think, perhaps without realizing it, that the purpose of education is to make money. Though going to school hugely increases a child’s chance of earning a decent wage in adulthood, that fact need not, and should not, define our thinking about what and how children should learn. Decent wages may be a very desirable outcome of attending school. But that doesn’t mean that money should be the goal of education or the measure of its success. Of course, the skeptic might ask what harm there is in designating money as the purpose of school. As it turns out, plenty.’

Want to Build a GREAT School? Follow These 10 Commandments…

Another article by Tony Gurr.

‘Thou Shalt create an environment and climate that is organised, secure and safe – yet provides for risk-taking, creativity and imagineering at the student, classroom, departmental and school level…’

Study: Controlling parents have maladaptive perfectionist kids

I suspect that this won’t be news to teachers…

‘In a five-year study of primary school children in Singapore, researchers found that children with controlling parents are more likely to be overly critical of themselves, a problem that increases with age. Being too hard on themselves also had long-term consequences: Children with high or rising levels of self-criticalness reported more symptoms of depression or anxiety.’

What schools can learn from the unschooling movement

‘According to practitioners, unschooling is a learner-centered pedagogy. Learners choose their own path based on interests throughout their natural lives including, but not limited to natural play, household responsibilities, work-based experiences, travel, family, social interactions, and family. Unschooling is about one’s personal learning journey — operating on the premise that the more personal the learning is, the more impactful it will be. By design, unschooling questions the relevance of standard curriculum and instructional approaches, as well as elements that will often impede learning such as grading. In the end, unschooling practitioners would argue that the self-directed learning approach truly prepares students for the real world instead of a formal education.’

Contributed by Bruce Hammonds:

The myth of the young artistic genius is keeping us from pursuing our passions

You’re never too old to learn…

‘A lot of us are experts at coming up with excuses not to pursue our creative interests. “Do you know how old I’ll be by the time I learn to play the piano?” we ask, imagining how foolish we’ll look stumbling over “Chopsticks.”Well, we’ll be the same age if we don’t. There is no such thing as a person who is “too old” to be creative. But “I’m too old” is something adults say in order to avoid the emotional cost of the ego deflation involved in being a beginner.’

The Wrong Way to Teach Math

‘Here’s an apparent paradox: Most Americans have taken high school mathematics, including geometry and algebra, yet a national survey found that 82 percent of adults could not compute the cost of a carpet when told its dimensions and square-yard price.’

Let’s Stop Requiring Advanced Math, A New Book Argues

‘Hacker’s central argument is that advanced mathematics requirements, like algebra, trigonometry and calculus, are “a harsh and senseless hurdle” keeping far too many Americans from completing their educations and leading productive lives. He also maintains that there is no proof for a STEM shortage or a skills gap; and that we should pursue “numeracy” in education rather than mathematics knowledge.’

From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:

It is all about motivation

‘In all his years in education Terry said he had come to the conclusion that the most important issue in education is motivation.’Motivation’, he said, ‘is at the heart of learning.”Motivation’, he added, ‘is far more important than the introduction of such things as National Standards . This coming from an educationalist who has dedicated much of his life to the testing of students achievements was worth hearing.’

30 Years ago – so what has changed?

‘Recently I received an e-mail from a student I hadn’t heard of since she was in my class in 1978. She wrote about how great it was to experience the class and how much all that we did has stayed with her over the years. With this in mind I searched out something I wrote, at the time, for the team of teachers I was leading. I was curious to see how much my ideas had changed since then.’

Self managing learners

‘Self managing is a ‘key competency’ both for the smooth running of a inquiry based classroom and to develop vital life long learning capabilities. As such it is highly related to future success. When students are ‘self managing’ it allows teachers the time to work with students who need help.’

Education Readings July 8th

By Allan Alach

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

The Golden Age of Autodidacts

Thanks to Ben Rachinger for this link.

‘There are several components, but the real shocker is that more of us aren’t embracing the current age of access to mastery of any topic. But that may not be so surprising—most of us were taught to be passive learners, to just “get through” school. It’s easy to be lazy. The rewards of becoming an autodidact, though, include igniting inner fires, making new connections to knowledge and skills you already have, advancing in your career, meeting kindred spirits, and cultivating an overall zest for life and its riches.’

How Good Are Your TEACHers?

Tony Gurr is back….

‘It’s not a bad question to kick off with, if you believe (as I do) that the talents, skills and savvy of language teachers is one of the critical determining factors in determining the level of LEARNing and success that LEARNers ultimately achieve.

Some TEACHers do not like it!’

Unleashing the Power of the Creative Classroom

‘What is a creative classroom? Creative learners are not linear thinkers. Contrary to popular belief, while others have a plan from the beginning, creative learners are different. They might need to play first and experience the medium before they begin to come up with ideas of their own. That’s why the students in a creative classroom strive for innovative solutions to unexpected problems.’

The Intervention That Works Across Settings With All Children

‘If you learned there was an intervention to improve student outcomes that worked for nearly all children across communities, what would stop you from using it? This intervention has closed learning gaps, both in urban communities serving predominantly low-income minority students and in isolated rural areas with large numbers of white and Native American students living in poverty. It has worked in suburban, urban, and rural settings with white, African-American, Hispanic, Native American, Asian, and multi-racial students. That intervention is collaboration.’

How should reading be taught in schools?

‘When my son was nine years old, he put aside the large Harry Potter novel he had been slowly, but enthusiastically, reading each evening and instead began ploughing through lots of fairly uninspiring books that he brought home from school each day. It turned out the Year 4 teachers had devised a competition at his school – whichever class read the most books would be rewarded with an end of term pizza party. The aim, I presume, was to motivate the children to read. It is ironic then that the effect was that my son stopped reading for pleasure and instead began reading for the numbers. Reading is now increasingly being reduced to a numbers game in schools.’

Contributed by Bruce Hammonds:

Students as evaluators in inquiry-based classrooms

‘When we provide open-ended, authentic tasks, students are placed in the role of evaluators, thus allowing them to see the varied ways that these problems can be solved. What resources did this student consider? Which parts of her solution were effective? Which parts have not been addressed?’

Connecting iGeneration to the Natural World

‘Mobile technology was a powerful teaching tool to introduce and encourage core scientific practices such as observing, hypothesizing, identifying, and sharing information, all while submerged in nature. There was a spark in the air, and it was contagious. All students were pining to go into the field again with the devices. Students were self-identifying and using the app on weekends. With this developing connection also came a growing sense of stewardship about the natural world around them.’

A Capitalist Command Economy

George Monbiot:

‘This is a story about England’s schools, but it could just as well describe the razing of state provision throughout the world. In the name of freedom, public assets are being forcibly removed from popular control and handed to unelected oligarchs.’

Rewild the Child

George Monbiot:

‘What is the best way to knacker a child’s education? Force him or her to spend too long in the classroom.An overview of research into outdoor education by King’s College London found that children who spend time learning in natural environments “perform better in reading, mathematics, science and social studies.” Exploring the natural world “makes other school subjects rich and relevant and gets apathetic students excited about learning.”’

From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:

Asterix theory of talent development

In the well known cartoon, about a Gaul village resisting the Roman Empire, there is a very neatly drawn set of roles.

‘The village comprises of a strong man ( Obelix), a chief ( Vitalstatisitix), a druid (Getafix), a bard (Cacophonix), a blacksmith (Fulliautomix), a fishmonger( Unhygenix) and a man with bright ideas ( Asterix). The harmony of the village owes something to the fact that each man respects the others’ talents – with the exception of Cacophonix, the bard whose songs are universally dreaded.No human being is rich in all talents in the same way but all have potential talents to develop as has been explored by Howard Gardner in his theory of multiple intelligences.’

Developing a democratic curriculum.

James Beane.: developing a democratic curriculum.

‘Relating back to the ideas of John Dewey Beane believes that if people are to live democratic lives they must have the opportunity to learn what that way of life means. His ideas are based on the ability of students to participate in their own education. Democratic schools share a child centred approach but their larger goal is to change the undemocratic conditions of school themselves and in turn to reach out to the wider community.’

Education to realize the talents of all – students and teachers.

‘This post, is all about tapping the power of teachers to enable all students to succeed. It is about helping teachers learn rather than telling them what to do; about putting student learning at the heart of the educational process; about developing a explicit inquiry approach to learning for teachers, students and principals;  about engagement not compliance. It seems like common sense –  but well researched common sense.’

Education Readings July 1st

By Allan Alach

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

I Wonder” Questions: Harnessing the Power of Inquiry

‘Students always have questions. When’s the homework due? How does Siri understand what I’m saying? Why is the sky blue? Student questions can be funny, insightful, and at times wildly off-topic. Rather than fielding these questions one-by-one when they come up, the teachers at Crellin Elementary record student “I wonder” questions so that they can view them holistically, and use what they find to develop lessons and projects that will harness student curiosity.’

The Failure of Failure

Alfie Kohn:

‘A few years ago, two researchers in Singapore published a study that compared the effect of traditional and progressive instruction in middle-school math. The traditional approach consisted of having students listen to lectures and individually solve practice problems with clearly defined right answers. The progressive approach was defined by collaboration, discovery, and open-ended questions. If you’re surprised to learn that the latter turned out to be much more effective….’

Global Shift In Education

‘Education that trains people to be blind about the consequences of their actions is downright dangerous. Even worse, untold millions have no real clue, what their actions lead to, and lack the curiosity to develop it. It did work within the old context and order of the world. Needs and context however have changed so much, that we need to alter our course fast. The survival of our species is at stake, wars may be prevented, scarcity avoided, madness and maniacism overcome. It needs to step away from simple professional preparation to fulfill a job within a company. To do so education needs to level up.’

If you have dyslexia, this website can show your friends what reading is actually like.

This will test you…

‘The letters within each word on the site are scrambled and moving around erratically, and although you might be able to read each sentence if you slow down and focus, it’s no walk in the park. It’s a glimpse into what someone who has dyslexia might have to deal with every day.’

Lessons from Star Trek: Forging a New Path in Our Schools

‘The Captain Kirks of education must stop doubling down on traditional academic instructional time and test preparation and instead devote instructional time to social-emotional and character development and its integration throughout the school day. The highest obligation of educators is to prepare students for the future life challenges they will face in college and in their careers, and to prepare them for a life of civic responsibility and participation.’

Hey, so-called Leaders. Ya want feedback or measurement?

‘Are our students also becoming good at “playing the game of school”, such as studying for the short-term or the next test, rather than learning for deeper understanding and analysis, necessary for higher level cognitive work such as problem-solving, creativity and critical thinking?  And guess what, when those students become employees, managers included, they may be good at showing what the boss wants to see and hear, rather than pursuing the path of real growth and excellence.’

Contributed by Bruce Hammonds:

Envisioning Future Education: 6 Exciting Predictions

‘“Meet George Jetson!” My childhood Saturday mornings were spent imagining what the world would be like many years from then. Cities in the sky, automated rituals, robots working for us—it was the stuff of wonder. Countless humans have tried to predict what the future will be like. Some predictions have come true. Look at smartphones, web conferencing, and holograms, just to scratch the surface. As we move forward, the “roads less traveled” will become well traveled. Shortcuts will be discovered, and more efficient and comprehensive “vehicles” will take us there.’

The Mindful Classroom: Building a True Learning Haven

‘What is a mindful classroom? How does it work, and how does the concept fit into teaching and learning? Teaching in a mindful classroom can help students remain calm in stressful situations. It lets them think clearly when confronted with academic challenges. Helping them develop mindfulness early on will surely shape their demeanor in future situations, and may positively affect their character.’

Learning from Creative Teachers

‘Creativity in learning is often highlighted as a skill essential for success in the 21st century. Daniel Pink (2005) notes that creative thinking is increasingly necessary to accomplish goals in our complex, interconnected world.Despite this increased attention to creativity, we still have little understanding of how to nurture and support creativity in current classroom contexts, particularly creative teaching. The U.S. climate of high-stakes testing and scripted curriculums makes it difficult for education stakeholders to infuse creativity into teaching practices (Giroux & Schmidt, 2004). Teachers and administrators face the question of how to successfully integrate creativity into teaching practice when teachers have many pressures and little leeway.’

From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:

Fundamentals in education

The creation of the mind

‘In recent years education has become more and more cognitive or rational; learning that can be seen and measured so as to prove evidence of growth. In the process real fundamentals have been overlooked.The creation of the mind is more than simply cognitive. The mind is a unified, active, constructive, self creating, and symbol making organ; it feels as well as thinks – feelings and emotions are a kind of thought. Attitudes are created from feelings and emotions.’

Bring back the Jesters!

‘The idea is worth spreading throughout all organizations to combat the blindness created by past success. It is one way to counteract the conformity which pervades top down management. Telling the truth is difficult in too many environments and as a result organizations fail to adapt to changing environments. As Oscar Wilde wrote, ‘Telling the truth makes you unpopular at the club’”

Tapping into the student’s world

‘The stance taken about how children learn is vital. Those who think they know more than the child work out prescribed curriculums and, as part of this, develop elaborate systems to see thing as are being learnt – including National testing. This is the ‘jug and mug’ theory of learning where the teacher is the full jug and the teachers job is to pour knowledge from the full jug to the empty mug.For others the aim is to do everything to keep alive those innate desire to learn – or to ‘recover’ it if it has been subverted by prior experiences.’

Education Readings June 24th

By Allan Alach

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

Politics at its worst and best

This article by Robin Alexander (Cambridge Primary Review Trust) discusses the situation in UK as the vote to stay in or leave the European Union reached the crunch point. There’s much in this article that is applicable in many other countries and I’m sure the points he makes will resonate with you.

‘What has this to do with primary education? Everything. Most schools espouse a vision of human relations which is diametrically opposed to the divisive and inflammatory rhetoric to which we’ve been treated during the past few months. Somehow they must hold the line against that rhetoric’s malign pervasiveness and champion with children the possibility of a more generous and inclusive world.  Most schools – at least we hope this is so – make the quest for truth and understanding paramount in their shaping of children’s curriculum experiences, yet myths, lies and obfuscation have been rather more prominent of late in the public sphere.’

Seeing Struggling Math Learners as ‘Sense Makers,’ Not ‘Mistake Makers’

‘In discussions of progressive and constructivist teaching practices, math is often the odd subject out. Teachers and schools that are capable of creating real-world, contextualized, project-based learning activities in every other area of school often struggle to do the same for mathematics, even as prospective employers and universities put more emphasis on its importance. This struggle may come from a fundamental misunderstanding about the discipline and how it should be taught.’

What Educators and Parents Should Know About Neuroplasticity, Learning and Dance

Apart from anything else the children will love it. What else do you need?

‘Talking, writing, and numbers are the media of knowledge. However, we now know that dance is a language, brain-driven art, and also, a fuel for learning subjects other than dance. In short, dance is an avenue to thinking, translating, interpreting, communicating, feeling, and creat­ing. As a multimedia communication that generates new brain cells and their connections, dance at any age enriches our cognitive, emotional, and physical development beyond the exercise itself and extends to most facets of life.’

The #1 Reason for Poor Student Performance

‘His answer is clear: stress. Students from non-supportive and even violent households and environments—which is where, at least in some cases, economics does come into play—are unable to develop higher-order thinking skills.’

Contributed by Bruce Hammonds:

Design Thinking and PBL

‘With the development of Modern Learning Environments schools need to consider cross curricular project based learning and design thinking.While project-based learning has existed for decades, design thinking has recently entered the education lexicon, even though its history can be traced back to Herbert A. Simon’s 1969 book The Sciences of the Artificial. So why the resurgence of these ideas?’

Art the 4th R

What the Common Core Missed 

‘Art and design work together to form a foundational language that allows us to “speak transmedia” with meaning and articulation. It is a highly portable language that translates well across curricular areas, cultures and the universe of diverse ideas. Above all, it is a language that helps us develop new perspectives, skills and habits of mind for solving problems, mining opportunities,  and “seeing” in its most compelling sense. It is time for Art to take its rightful place along side reading, ‘riting and ‘rithmetic. Art isn’t just good for the soul. It is a language we all need to be able to speak.’

Building a Nation of Makers

‘Makers, builders and doers – of all ages and backgrounds – always have had a vital role in pushing our country to develop creative solutions to some of our most pressing challenges. As President Barack Obama has noted, during this week, “We celebrate the tinkerers and dreamers whose talent and drive have brought new ideas to life, and we recommit to cultivating the next generation of problem solvers.”.The term “making” refers to both traditional outlets for creativity such as metalworking, woodworking and drawing, as well as to digital fabrication made possible by computer design tools, robotics, laser cutters, 3D printers and other tools.’

Why Handwriting Is Still Essential in the Keyboard Age

Do children in a keyboard world need to learn old-fashioned handwriting? There is a tendency to dismiss handwriting as a nonessential skill, even though researchers have warned that learning to write may be the key to, well, learning to write. And beyond the emotional connection adults may feel to the way we learned to write, there is a growing body of research on what the normally developing brain learns by forming letters on the page, in printed or manuscript format as well as in cursive.’

How to Design the Perfect Modern Learning Assessment

It seems developing your school as a MLE is the big thing these days! How does one design the perfect modern learning assessment?

‘In good modern learning assessment:

  • students gain instant feedback;
  • they are not penalized for mistakes, and;
  • they are given a chance to apply changes as needed.’

From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:

Fundamentals in education

The creation of the mind

‘In recent years education has become more and more cognitive or rational; learning that can be seen and measured so as to prove evidence of growth. In the process real fundamentals have been overlooked.The creation of the mind is more than simply cognitive. The mind is a unified, active, constructive, self creating, and symbol making organ; it feels as well as thinks – feelings and emotions are a kind of thought. Attitudes are created from feelings and emotions.’

Bring back the Jesters!

‘The idea is worth spreading throughout all organizations to combat the blindness created by past success. It is one way to counteract the conformity which pervades top down management. Telling the truth is difficult in too many environments and as a result organizations fail to adapt to changing environments. As Oscar Wilde wrote, ‘Telling the truth makes you unpopular at the club’”

Tapping into the student’s world

‘The stance taken about how children learn is vital. Those who think they know more than the child work out prescribed curriculums and, as part of this, develop elaborate systems to see thing as are being learnt – including National testing. This is the ‘jug and mug’ theory of learning where the teacher is the full jug and the teachers job is to pour knowledge from the full jug to the empty mug.For others the aim is to do everything to keep alive those innate desire to learn – or to ‘recover’ it if it has been subverted by prior experiences.’

Outstanding Features of Australian Schooling

Outstanding Features of Australian Schooling

“The conditions for funding include standardised year 1 school assessment of students’ reading, phonics and numeracy skills, annual reports to parents that identify literacy and numeracy attainment against national standards, and a minimum standard of literacy and numeracy skills for year 12 school leavers.

The government also wants to link teacher salary progression to demonstrated competency and achievement against the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers, rather than just length of service”

 This news item on the recent budget indicates significant changes to the Australian schooling system, the likes of which Australia has never experienced before. Once a nation of learners, we are about to become the world’s busiest and nerviest test-takers.  The changes, cunningly arranged as an adjunct to the budget papers were not commented upon by any teacher group nor by any professional organisation  nor by any political party nor by any candidate nor by any educational journal nor newspaper. An attempt at drawing public attention to the implications through the SMH, failed. The new rules are here to stay.

 The testing industry is now in complete control of Australian schooling and of its associations.  Only a large reaction from concerned parents and opt-outers can change it. Reliance on any political party  to care about the kids they force to attend school is fruitless.  The cry that “Our party will improve school education.” does not ring true until Australia has sorted out what it means by ‘schooling’ and ‘learning’. Until then, the atmosphere is clouded by fear and tension and bullying and unethical conduct.  Teacher groups that purport to represent professional attitudes of teachers, maintain a laissez faire attitude and are noticeably silent.

 Who would want to become a teacher?  There is a serious need for government  to listen to the voices from the classroom and to return teaching to the teachers; and to think more seriously about what it is ding to schools.

 One can now state, without fear of contradiction, that the most outstanding features of Australian schooling on the world’s stage, are…..

 * Children are introduced to the rigours of heavy-duty testing at five years of age.

* Fear-based test preparation occupies one-third of every school year for Years 3,5,7,9.

* Parents and teachers are not encouraged to express their concerns nor given the choice of “Yes” or “No” to test participation.

* School principals do not inform parents of their right of choice prior to test-time.

* School leavers must undertake minimal competency tests of literacy and numeracy in their final year.

* An holistic curriculum is undertaken only by those pupils who attend completely independent schools and by home-schoolers.

* Teachers are punished if their pupils do not perform well at tests held in MAY each year.

 These features are about the most rigorous in the western world. Historical evidence [from the US and UK in particular]  indicates that such features lead to disaster.  The final one stands out. What gives politicians the right to punish? It’s a new and more vicious version of ‘Payment by Results – Revised Code 1862.’[How will candidates  look teachers in the face as they electioneer around schools for the next few weeks?]

 Punishment by Results is the latest innovation for teachers.

 One must ask :  How would Finland’s voters react if these conditions were imposed on their schooling system?

 Phil Cullen  41 Cominan Avenue  Banora Point  Australia 2486              
07 5524 6443          0407865999