The Moral Crisis

The hottest places in hell are reserved for those who, in times of moral crisis, maintain their neutrality. [Dante]

The Moral Crisis

How do we treat our children?

My twilight years are fading and my preciously held dreams of a schooling system where children will love learning for its own sake and be anxious to get to a school each day because of the wonderful, happy, play-ridden and challenging activities that the school provides, and that they would exit school with much more enthusiasm for learning than they did when they started, seem to have disappeared. Their teachers, I had foreseen, which we already have, will form a warm bond of cooperative learning, that is embedded in the true meaning of PUPIL, with each child anxious to learn because of the special bond with a person anxious to teach them. There would be no fear of learning, no restrictions on the limits, no stress that might effect anyone’s attitude to learning each and every day. Teachers would be trusted to teach in their own way and each school would be free to do the sorts of things it wanted. There would be ‘Freedom to Learn’

I had hoped to leave the place in better condition than when I entered it, but, bugger, the Australian system of schooling is declining rapidly….and it doesn’t give a fig about the way it treats its children. I’m truly saddened by what I see and hear. Its nasty, politically-driven way of ordering schools around is perilous. NAPLAN’s corruption of all the goodness in the curriculum is grossly immoral because it deliberately threatens the mental health of millions of young Australians. Recent extensions of testucation to the very young, to graduands and beginning teachers are ludicrous and downright stupid. They grow every year, madly uncontrolled.

The morality of the way our politicians tell schools how to treat children is gross. We must free our kids.
Our pollies can re-set the course tomorrow if we tell them to do so.
They need to cancel NAPLAN as a first step only.

We have the children and the teachers who want to share happy, effective learning experiences. They are there now in happy groups ready to GO; and they try hard despite the commands of those who still live in the dark ages, who prefer emetic methods of instruction and ‘tough love’ exchanges…all so that each ‘student’ [vis-a-vis ‘pupil’] can reach a mediocre standard in selected topics that are easily measureable. Data. Data. Data. That’s what teachers are expected to do these days…..generally, doing as they are told….. by the politico-corporate duopoly whose intentions have been suspect since the Testing Industry, as a separate entity from the Schooling Industry, assumed power over schooling processes in a number of western countries. Pollies have selected testucation over education.

The Testing Industry established itself in Australia in 2008 as a serious business enterprise, after Joel Klein, the New York lawyer who invented fear-based Kleinism, visited Australia as a guest of the banking industry. [Yes, the same big four!] Banks want to employ geniuses on their counters, not those from the lower base of the bell-shaped curve. Since they are stuck with selections from the honest school plodders, they applaud the use of crash-bang-wallop techniques in schools to force-feed higher measureable scores in numeracy…in the manner that Klein advocated. That kind of force, added to the Rudd-Gillard press for a new election trick, was exerted on the standard timidity of the teaching profession which succumbed very quckly. They produced NAPLAN…. a blunt weapon of the testucrats and their ‘godfathers’. To the ‘ho-hum’ of historians, they dug-up the old reliable tormentor: ‘Back to Basic Standards”, with a new face : More fear. Cunning parental deceit. Slick rhetoric. Cooperative media. Deafening media silence on important topics. Sham professional groups selling their souls for sponsorship. Unlimited public money for testing. Moral degeneracy was in the very air.

While ‘Back to Basics’ lobbies emerge every few years, this one is lasting much longer than usual….much longer than it should. I had thought that School principal groups and professional associations would have refused to have anything to do with it on ethical grounds from Day One – the maltreatment of children – and, having had a trial, the force of ethical opinion would cause NAPLAN to disappear at least by 2010. I was wrong….very, very, disappointingly wrong. The style of ‘client capture’ by managerialists had been refined; and some groups now remain hard-wired to willing corporate sponsors. Kids don’t matter any more.

[When I first heard of the NAPLAN requirements I suggested to the President of APPA that he should have said at the outset, “No way, Julia. We don’t do that sort of thing to children.” Great bloke. He had an answer, but …….]

The biggest effects of the GERM movement have been on child welfare. Never before, in modern times, have children been so maltreated by governments. Illness, depression, bullying, suicides, family disruption, diminishing family coffers…. all part of the 2016 school landscape, thanks to NAPLAN. The increase in the timidity of those who should be most concerned is mind-blowing; and the scandal that it is more than basic timidity, is mind-blowing.

The willy-nilly use of fear-based standardised testing – on 5-year olds in Year 1, 7 year-olds in Year 3, all pupils to Year 9, the linkage of Year 9 tests to Year 12 graduation; on neophyte teachers; on public money allocated to states……all in the interest of “getting more bang for the buck” [Bimingham] is a despicable, destructive way to conduct an education system.

WHEN WILL WE EVER THINK OF THE KIDS AND HOW THEY LEARN AND HOW THEY SHOULD BE TAUGHT…AND TALK ABOUT THESE THINGS WITHOUT FEAR … how happy they are at school, how much joy they find in learning, how ‘lasting’ their school experiences are, whether they leave school with much more interest and joy and zest for learning than they had when they started, whether the period leading up to and including NAPLAN week in May is as much learning-fun as the rest of the year. Schooling, after all, is about KIDS.

These are very serious issues.

Have you ever thought you would see the day when a mother would be so concerned about the effects that our test-crazy system of schooling was having on her child that she would do extensive research and probing and thinking and talking and pondering and then write a book about it? And that book would become a best seller? Even her article about the book received tens of thousands of ‘hits’ on Facebook. Yes, there have also been some stirring articles written in recent times by expert insider teachers that have drawn the attention of the public to the kind a schooling that has been introduced to Australia, but when have you ever read such a comprehensive description such as Lucy Clark’s on the experiences of her daughter? Its insight into schooling activities in this day and age is exceptional.

The public is awakening, Treehorn. Take heart.

Somebody cares.

The book, Beautiful Failures, is a classic. The author has remarkable insight into the subject of schooling. Some of her chapter headings are intriguing: Square Pegs, round holes. Darling, we just want to make you happy. Where’d I come from? The pressure pyramid. Adolescence, lost. Stealing childhood. A wedge between generations. What should education be? Welcome to Education Theory High. Because I say so. The mythical place down the road. Teachers, kindness and making time for compassion.

If you haven’t read it, do yourself a favour.

If, when you have finished it. and don’t think that we are on the edge of a deep national moral crisis, I despair totally.

Phil Cullen, 41 Cominan Avenue, Banora Point, Australia 2486
o7 5524 6443        0407865999
Refer: ‘Who’s Who in Australia’

Education Readings October 21st

By Allan Alach

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

Noam Chomsky on the Dangers of Standardized Testing

“The assessment itself is completely artificial. It’s not ranking teachers in accordance with their ability to help develop children who will reach their potential, explore their creative interests. Those things you’re not testing.. it’s a rank that’s mostly meaningless. And the very ranking itself is harmful. It’s turning us into individuals who devote our lives to achieving a rank. Not into doing things that are valuable and important.”

‘Schools must appoint teacher coaches to keep staff up to speed with rapid changes in technology’

‘Probably the biggest problem teachers have is the rapid rate of change that occurs in our computer-driven culture. Things change so fast, that we are now faced with “data obsolescence”. That which we believe to be true today, may not be true, or might be replaced by another fact or improvement in the upcoming year. Unless the very system that educates our population keeps up with these changes in a timely fashion it will itself in time become irrelevant. The model of professional development that the system relies on most heavily is the same system that has been in place for at least century.’

How to Become and Remain a Transformational Teacher

‘However talented, no one is a natural-born teacher. Honing the craft takes significant care and effort, not just by the individual, but also by the school at large. Though experience does matter, it matters only to the extent that a teacher — regardless of how long he or she has been in the classroom — commits to continued professional development to refresh his or her status as a transformational teacher.’

This viral video perfectly sums up what’s wrong with education today, and how we can change it

‘Here, he’s pointing to the lack of freedom that teachers often have to adapt classes in the most effective way for their individual students. Teachers, he says, “have the most important job on the planet” and “should earn just as much as doctors”. But far from appreciating their expertise and efforts, politicians force them into restrictive boxes.’

The dark side of classroom behavior management charts

‘With each new school year come shiny new behavior management systems decorating the walls of elementary classrooms. From sticker charts to clip charts to color cards, teachers choose bright and engaging systems with the hope that a little incentive might lead to improved student behavior. The thing is, these systems rarely work for any extended period of time.’

Contributed by Bruce Hammonds:

#DSXOAK: A prototype school comes to life

‘If you could completely re-design the school experience, giving students the greatest possible creative agency, how would you do it?That’s what edu fellow David Clifford is prototyping in West Oakland this weekend during his design sprint. David is a self-described “agitator” who “love[s] to mess with old ideas.”“The thing that we’re trying to do is redesign high school for the 21st century kid to help them navigate and affect change in the 21st century,” said David.“The current school model is still building kids to navigate the 19th and 20th century.” That model is meant to “manage humanity instead of inspire it.”’

Arts-Infused Project-Based Learning: Crafting Beautiful Work

“I would argue that the arts is project-based learning,” says Emily Crowhurst, a music teacher. “In every music lesson, whether it’s a project lesson or what you might deem a typical lesson, there are project-based learning techniques going on naturally in the way that students are constantly critiquing and rehearsing what they’re creating; and they’re always working towards an end project that will have an authentic audience.”

Embracing Failure: Building a Growth Mindset Through the Arts

Teach your students the recipe for success: taking risks, making mistakes, and integrating critical feedback.

‘At New Mexico School for the Arts (NMSA) — a dual arts and academic curriculum — failure is taught as an important part of the journey toward success. Understanding that mistakes are indicators for areas of growth, freshmen learn to give and receive feedback. By senior year, students welcome tough, critical feedback — and even insist on it.’

Rainstorms and Symphonies: Performing Arts Bring Abstract Concepts to Life

‘When early elementary teachers integrate music and theater, student learning improves in reading, math, and science as they become better critical thinkers and problem solvers.’

From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:

Power through reading!

‘Reading, and writing, are not just processes to be ‘achieved’ but are all about power – power of the imagination, power of gaining messages through literature, and power to gain and share ideas that can change how you think. Unless students, particularly those from from families who lack ‘cultural capital’, appreciate this power why would they bother to read or write?.Arguments about literacy never seem to go away. Phonics or whole language arguments occupy literacy critics. Like the nature/ nurture argument the answer is both. Either or arguments only force proponents into corners; the future is always the best of both.’

Developing a democratic curriculum

‘Relating back to the ideas of John Dewey he 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.’

Five Minds for the Future

‘Howard Gardner, renowned worldwide for for his theory of multiple intelligences, shares his latest ideas in his new new book ‘Five Minds for the Future’.Based on the premise that students are entering an accelerating world of change in every area of life Gardner believes that such changes call for new ways of learning and thinking in schools if students are to thrive in the world during the eras to come. The directions our society is taking and the future of our planet demands such ‘new minds’ able to explore creative alternatives for problems that cannot be anticipated.’

Education Readings October 14th

By Allan Alach

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

The problem of perfectionism: five tips to help your students

‘As well as affecting general well-being, perfectionism can lead to fear of failure. When your whole self-worth and identity are tied to your success, mistakes and setbacks are seen as a threat and you avoid taking risks.

We need to talk about these issues – but where to begin? Here are some tips for helping students manage and overcome perfectionism.’

Why For-Profit Education Fails


‘Indeed, over the past couple of decades, a veritable who’s who of investors and entrepreneurs has seen an opportunity to apply market discipline or new technology to a sector that often seems to shun both on principle. Yet as attractive and intuitive as these opportunities seemed, those who pursued them have, with surprising regularity, lost their shirts.’

Teachable Moment

What is a Teachable Moment?

Difficult to achieve in an education environment dominated by accountability/standards/raising achievement etc.

‘A teachable moment is an unplanned opportunity that arises in the classroom where a teacher has an ideal chance to offer insight to his or her students. A teachable moment is not something that you can plan for; rather, it is a fleeting opportunity that must be sensed and seized by the teacher. Often it will require a brief digression that temporarily sidetracks the original lesson plan so that the teacher can explain a concept that has inadvertently captured the students’ collective interest.’

Education in Africa

The Uberfication of Education by Bridge International Academies.

How a US for-profit, data-driven, education experiment is failing children from poor African families and homogenising culture.’

‘So bottom line. No reliable evidence of efficacy supported by independent academic research conducting randomised school trials.’

We live in a sick world…

Why do parents take such different approaches to their kids’ education?

Thanks to Phil Cullen for this article.

‘While some children spend the school holidays studying in tutoring centres, enrolled in sports camps or other structured activities, others are left to do their own thing.

So why is it that parents take such different approaches to education and how their children spend their time?’

Getting Curious (Not Furious) With Students

‘When their students act out, I propose the novice teachers do the following: Get curious, not furious. Let’s explore what that means. Rather than a teacher resorting to traditional discipline measures, it behooves the student greatly for the teacher to realize classroom outbursts, verbal defiance, or volatile anger can be symptomatic of repeated exposure to neglect, abuse, or violence. Traumatic stress can also manifest as withdrawal or self-injury.’

Contributed by Bruce Hammonds:

One best piece of advice to ensure students achieve quality learning and teachers time to teach: ‘Slow the Pace of Work’.

Bruce’s latest article:

‘Too many students spoil what they do by rushing through their tasks working on the principle that ‘first finished is best’. When teachers allow this ‘mindset’ to be an implicit part of the school culture students are not encouraged to stop and think (or reflect) about whatever they are undertaking and, as a result, a frenetic atmosphere can result. Slowing the pace  allows no time for teachers to give students (particularly those struggling) appropriate help.’


‘Makerspaces are environments that foster passion for projects of all stripes and sizes. If you can dream it, a makerspace will help you breathe life into it.  I christened the makerspace the STEAMworks. The STEAM, as I told anyone who would listen, stood for science, technology, engineering, arts and math. The “works” came from what we accomplished there. Even though I was a science and math teacher, I realized a needed to integrate the arts into the science curriculum. The arts play a crucial role in child/learner development and can benefit the STEM classroom and workplace.’

Ten Tips for Mentoring a Student Teacher

If you have a student teacher in your room here is some good advice.

‘I remember the first time I was asked if I would be willing to have a student teacher. Looking back, I was totally unprepared, both by my experience and by the university, to know what to do as a cooperating teacher. I relied on the experience I had just a few years earlier and tried to model after the cooperating teacher I had—sort of the way some teachers teach today.If you are in the same boat I was in back then, I have a few tips that I hope will be useful.’

Students Use Phones, iPads to Create Digital Biographies for Senior Citizens

A simple but powerful idea:

‘A group of Orange County fifth-graders isn’t only reading about history, they’re documenting it.

As part of the Fullerton School District’s narrative writing and listening curriculum, 100 students taking part in the “Story Angels” program have begun interviewing seniors and using technology to create digital biographies of their lives.’

From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:

Creative Schools – an impossible dream?

‘If children grew up according to early indications, we should have nothing but geniuses’ said Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.It is hard to believe that something that starts so well results in so many students leaving school with little to show for their experience – and even those deemed successful still have talents and gifts unrealised.’

What’s wrong with Ability Grouping?

‘New areas of research started to focus what was happening in classrooms which showed that teachers themselves are implicated and maintaining persistent patterns of differential achievement; that ability grouping helps create the very disparities it purports to solve. It does this in subtle and unintended ways through the ways it has on teacher’s thinking and through the impact it has on self-image for children in the ‘lower’ ability groups. It is obvious that teachers do not set out to do their children harm but they also know that children live up or down to what is expected of them.’

Please explain….


 Please Explain….

 Australia could have the best schooling system in the world, but doesn’t want to try.

 Why doesn’t it talk about schooling ? Why does it force children to be institutionalised and then be nasty to them?  Is it some sort of mystical belief that our politicians follow …that fear and coercion as part of an all-powerful and all-encompassing testing routine really motives people to learn better?  Why does it neglect the great parts of the curriculum?

 Australia plainly wastes heaps and heaps of money on testing.  It costs billions to conduct NAPLAN testing and it knows that the program  is a total waste and is dangerous, but it is reluctant to examine the financial [and human] costs.

 Why does it waste so much on such useless junk? The damage that is being done is staggering. We persist. Why?  Where’s the benefit?  ‘Scuse me…..WHO benefits?

 Some Australians believe that scores on test are indicators of educational standards.   Please explain!

 Why can’t we discuss what happens in schools and what ‘standards’ are all about and what we  do to promote confidence in child learnings?

 Why Australia runs an ordure,  fear-based education system,  copied from one of the weakest systems of schooling in the world.

 Why  is this so?  More successful authorities concentrate on love and encouragement and interest and challenge and dignity and pupil-based evaluation techniques.  Why can’t we ?

 Why state-governments are so toady and fictile when the feds tell them how they should run their schools.

 Don’t states ‘own’ their schooling systems? Haven’t states got any school educators who can run systems as learning systems, say like Finland, that are based on pupilling, instead of testing? Must they comply so easily and just add duplicitous test clones of the worst kind of standardised blanket testing : NAPLAN?

 Why do some states want to brand children as young as 4 years of age as failures? 

They might as well tattoo “Failure” on kids’ chests straight after the Year 1 probe [2017].  The smear lasts forever, in any case.  Can’t we give the young-uns a fair crack of the whip and help them to learn?

 Why  parents are deceived into believing that NAPLAN tests are mandatory?  Few realise that they can ‘opt out’.  Please!! Tell them.

 This is unctuous fascism at work isn’t it?  After nine long years, the freedom of choice has yet to be announced or mentioned in the public arena.  Schools are forbidden to announce that children have a choice. The media seems to be forbidden as well.

 Why so many quality young teachers are leaving the work force, feeling degraded by the expectations and the demands of testucating charlatans?

 When will Australian teachers be allowed to teach properly again?   When will their ethical principles be realised?

 Why teachers, who were once the leaders in the caring professions and respected for their ethical and  prodigious output, have lost their mensch and are now regarded as feeble flunkies,  ethically weak at the knees doing what any ‘hired political gun’ wants them to do.

 Is it because it’s now just a job?  Maybe, one day they will stick up for themselves.  In the meantime the pressure on them from the obscurant  ‘friends of NAPLAN’, hired to prevent the spread of knowledge,  is scary.  After all, our cohort consists of those amongst the best in the world. Let them teach properly.

 Australia wants to prevent its young from learning as much as can be learned and to enjoy the experience.   PLEASE  EXPLAIN!

 Australia persists with a standardised,  mediocre schooling system, maintained for questionable purposes when the sky is the limit.



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

Serious alert. Gonski & NAPLAN unite.

“The hottest places in hell are reserved for those who, in times of moral crisis, maintain their neutrality”  Dante


Gonski and NAPLAN unite

Serious alert

Gonski changes from its needs-based ethos to test-based.

NAPLAN increases its levels of debauchery.

 Australia’s sick obsession with numbers applied to the status of the country’s learning habits will certainly continue to push us down towards the lowest of the international ‘achievements’. It’s on the way now. The fake concern of our erstwhile politicians for child welfare and progress continues to be exposed. 

 Tests create disengagement. Disengagement creates failure in test results.  Failure creates mental health problems. Mental health problems create stress for pupils and parents.

The whole system gets sicker and sicker.

 One observation remains constant: Our politicians and their testucrats do not like public school kids.


 The federal minister of education has recently indicated that the levels of Gonksi needs-based funding from the Commonwealth to the States, will be linked to each state’s results on the previous NAPLAN  tests. 

 For many voters that’s raw fascism at work; and those politicians who remain silent on the issue need to be called to account in the public arena. Do they support this change of Gonski ideals….from needs-based to test-based? It’s a despicable way to fund schooling and will do nothing to repair our broken system. This use of fear as a weapon of social activity was a feature of the 1930s, as Pastor Martin Niemolier pointed out at the time.  It was introduced to Australia in 2008 with the intrusion of kleinism.  It destroys a country’s reputation and any learning ethos that it has.

 It’s fear-imbedded ideology is certainly getting out of hand in Australia….now.

 The latest extension to NAPLAN  is the decision to test the 4 and 5 year olds when they enter school [NSW], so that pollies can have a benchmark for all subsequent data gathering. They’ll brand each and every pupil with a number [unless a parent objects to it].

Then they will use NAPLAN tests for 7 and 8 years olds in Year 3… the same age as advanced countries lovingly introduce children to play learning at a school….and our testucrats check the brand  [unless a parent objects to it].

 Then they do the same for Years 5,7,9 encouraging professional teachers to provide  plenty of practice and tutoring and homework and  useful modes of cheating and pharmaceuticals for each two-year section of schooling [unless a parent objects to it].  

 One of the craziest is the recent official suggestion of a linkage of NAPLAN results at Year 9 to HSC graduation at Year 12.  That’s a doozy of creative testucation.



 WHAT A MESS.         ( ♬ We’ll meet again….  ♬)

 It’s a provocative statement to make, but it does appear that, after nine years of sinking standards of all kinds,  only sensible parents consider the effects of true schooling, compared to those who participate in the artificial schooling according to numbers; and the more alert ones opt out of the use of NAPLAN,  the agent of schooling destruction. Many get in a real tizzy, take their kids to tutors, purchase mind-altering pharmaceuticals, hire counsellors,  pay enormous amounts of money to send their kids to a private school, where, they believe, schooling is better; and generally panic about the place of their kids  in the competition stakes.  Every child should be a winner, shouldn’t each one?

 That’s our system. Yes, Julia. Kleinism has certainly revolutionised schooling in Australia!

 Sadly, at standardised schools, those children, freed by their alert parents from the rigours of being tested and numbered, will, as a rule,  go through the same heavy test-prep routines as the others until the number of learners replaces the number of testees, as they do at advanced schools like Kimberley College where almost all the parents will not permit their children to contest NAPLAN. They, more than most, seem to be able to see through the stupidity and dangers of  standardised blanket testing and the school can get on with the business of learning. The NAPLAN system is absolutely crazy as it exists; and it exists because of the government’s obsession with scores and numbers and data. “No wonder kids keep getting more messed up.” says Lucy Clark –P. 20. “It’s because we judge every inch of their worth by a silly number.”  It’s true. Caring parents opt out.

 {By the way. Weren’t you impressed by the dramatic ending to Lucy Clark’s Beautiful Failures ?  What a remarkable young lady her daughter!}

 If NAPLAN continues, the time is coming when standardised schools will have to provide two levels of schooling.  One level establishes the passing of tests as its centre-point. The ‘fat controllers’ demand it.  The other level recognises the supremacy of the child’s holistic development and the pursuit of learning as its centre-point.  Their parents have pulled them out of the rat-race. Both groups will have to exist in each school, side by side.  The Naplanners and Non-naplanners.  Spare a thought for management.  Staffing arrangements will be tricky.

 Finally. …..while we are flinging NAPLAN tests around everywhere,  how do you think our politicians would  go on, say, the Year 7 NAPLAN tests, prior to selection . Join the teacher neophytes.

 Now. There’s a thought.

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


“They came first for the Communists,

and I did not speak up, because I wasn’t a Communist.

Then they came for the Jews,

and I did not speak up, because I wasn’t a Jew.

Then they came for the trade unionists,

and I did not speak up, because I wasn’t a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Catholics,

and I did not speak up, because I was a Protestant.

Then they came for me,

and by that time, no one was left to speak up for me.”

— Pastor Martin Niemöller

Education Readings October 7th

By Allan Alach

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

If I Were Secretary of Education – A Classroom Teacher’s Fantasy

If only teachers were given the chance to run education.

Steven Singer:

‘I’m only a classroom teacher. The powers that be don’t trust someone like me with that kind of responsibility. It’s okay to give me a roomful of impressionable children everyday, but there’s no confidence I can make sound policy decisions. For that we need someone with experience in management – not schools, pedagogy, children or psychology.’

Creativity and Academics: The Power of an Arts Education

‘The arts are as important as academics, and they should be treated that way in school curriculum. This is what we believe and practice at New Mexico School for the Arts (NMSA). While the positive impact of the arts on academic achievement is worthwhile in itself, it’s also the tip of the iceberg when looking at the whole child. Learning art goes beyond creating more successful students. We believe that it creates more successful human beings.’

Government hell-bent on dismantling public education, says Auckland professor

New Zealand education is also under attack, as the government follows the overseas rule book.

‘Make no mistake, Minister of Education Hekia Parata is on a mission to systematically dismantle public education. Changes already in place and those planned will radically alter the education landscape in New Zealand. Public education serves many purposes. It prepares young people for a life of work, teaching basic skills in literacy and numeracy. This is seen as its primary purpose by the minister.’

Why I Threw Away My Rubrics

‘It was only when I was on the receiving end of a rubric, while taking a graduate-level education class, that I had my first critical thought about rubrics. After looking at the rubric the professor had completed for me, I wondered, where is the human response in all of this?’

The Problem with Exemplars

‘While I believe showing examples of quality work can be useful, many students immediately shut down when they perceive too great a gap between their current ability and what is deemed exemplary. I’m certainly not against the use of high quality exemplars but caution against too few examples as well as a lack of scaffolding to see where incremental success can be found. In addition, the power comes when the student decides what they want their work to be.’

Charters and Choice: Research Shows Negative Impact

So much for the ‘school choice’ ideology:

‘The press continually gets eye-fulls of graphics indicating that accountability and charter schools can increase student performance. Rarely are these studies peer reviewed and almost none ask the questions that policy researchers should investigate. Few ask what will be the most likely results of reforms.  These papers shout out the supposed benefits of favored policies while ignoring their inherent costs.’

Contributed by Bruce Hammonds:

Modern Learning Environments (MLEs) – pedagogy from Jerome Bruner

Bruce’s latest blog posting:

‘Bruner’s ideas are in opposition to the standardized direction being imposed on our schools but are surely the essence of what a modern learning environment is all about? ‘Towards a Theory of Instruction’  is the book, first published 1969, I want to share today..’

Finnish education: a system based on equity, trust & responsibility

Yet another article on Finland for the reformers to ignore. Why is this? Maybe this is the answer:

‘Teaching is a respected profession In Finland, and teachers have a great deal of autonomy in the delivery of the curriculum and caring for their students’ welfare and learning.’

Getting Restless At The Head Of The Class

‘They read a book quietly under their desks, pester the teacher for extra credit, or, perhaps, they simply check out and act up. Every classroom has a few overachievers who perform above their grade level and don’t feel challenged by the status quo. A new report suggests they are surprisingly common — in some cases, nearly half of all students in a given grade.’

From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:

Why are teachers so reluctant to change?

‘Changing entrenched mindsets is a difficult task even for those in charge. Leaders are more conditioned that those lesser mortal working at the fringes. The idea of getting to the top to change things is a myth. Creative ideas are always watered down by what is possible – the art of compromise.’

An amoeba – a model for future change!

‘It seems strange to think of one of natures most simplistic animals as metaphor for an organizational model for the future but the amoeba is a good choice, as it has survived almost as long as life has been on the planet. It is able to sense environmental threats through its semi permeable membrane and move away from threats – it is also able to equally sense the opportunity to move to a better environment or to seek out food which it simply engulfs. The intelligence of the organism is centred in its nucleus and a deeper look indicates it is not as simple as it first looks.’

The killing of creativity by the technocrats.

The killing of creativity by John Hattie

As I visit classrooms I have become increasingly concerned about the use of a number of strategies as defined by John Hattie and promulgated by the contracted advisers spreading the word about his ‘best practices’.Somehow, just because Hattie has amalgamated every piece of ‘school effectiveness’ research available ( mainly it seems from the USA) his findings, it seems, ought to be taken for read. The opposite ought to be the case – we need to be very wary of such so called ‘meta research.’. More worrying however is that the approaches he is peddling is pushing into the background the home grown innovative creative learning centred philosophy that was once an important element in many classrooms. Overseas experts always seem to know best – or those that return with their carpet bag full of snake oil.’