Education Readings March 26th

By Allan Alach

You’ve probably noticed that I’m posting this one day earlier than usual, as I will be out of internet access for the next few days.

I welcome suggested articles, so if you come across a gem, email it to me at allanalach@inspire.net.nz

This week’s homework!

 

The battle for education

Interesting article by Steve Wheeler examining the differences between education philosophies derived from Socrates and Aristotle. Readers of Zen and Art of Motorcycle Maintenance may notice familiar themes.

“A battle of words and ideals is raging about which is the most effective, and indeed, the most appropriate approach to adopt for the needs of today’s society.”

http://bit.ly/1C6rreg

Battle lines

Steve Wheeler’s follow up to the above article.

“I have visited schools that are fully traditional in their approach and I have also been to schools where the ethos is wholly progressive. The differences are stark. Individual teachers do have a choice to determine their approach in the classroom, but realistically, these choices are limited, particularly if they are expected to tow the party line of their leadership. One of the most marked distinctions between traditional and progressive approaches – and a battle line that will play increasing importance as the debate continues – concerns the role of the teacher.”

http://bit.ly/1CW0ltO

The tower of PISA is badly leaning. An argument for why it should be saved.

Pasi Salhberg:

“Just think for a moment what would global education look like if PISA had never been launched? There would be, as there was in the 1990s, a number of countries that mistakenly believed their education systems are the best in the world and should set the direction for other nations. Were it not for the fact that these weaker performing countries that include the United States and England have not been successful in PISA, the worldwide pressures for more market competition between schools, less university-based training for teachers, and more standardization of the curriculum, would have had a far easier ride.”

http://wapo.st/1C8mGRv

6 Myths Of Digital Technology

For the record I’m a keen proponent of educational technology; however we need to be mindful of the cliche, that a teacher who can be replaced by technology should be replaced.

“… it is clear technology alone does not make a difference to learning. Rather, how well the technology is used to support teaching and learning is the key determinant of its impact. There is no doubt that technology engages and motivates young people. However, this benefit is only an advantage for learning if the activity is effectively aligned with clear learning objectives.”

http://bit.ly/1Ac2xXo

5 Reasons standardized testing won’t slow down

“While we subject our offspring to endless measurement, what is really being tested? It’s our values as parents—the kind of kids we want to raise and the kind of society we want to have. The testing obsession is damaging our children. But our society is locked into a testing arms race.

The parents who have the most time, energy, and resources are afraid to stop playing the testing game for fear their children will be left behind. ”

http://bit.ly/18tMZa3

Challenging the Cold War Pedagogy of Common Core

This article discusses the situation in the USA; however perceptive readers will be able to link this to their own country.

“Common Core’s creators seems hyper-focused on measurement outcomes, while showing a lack of willingness to listen to and collaborate with education professionals who point out the flaws in this approach. For them, test scores are all that matter and charters schools are the solution to all our problems.”

http://bit.ly/1Am0boa

Robert Putnam: When Did Poor Kids Stop Being ‘Our Kids’?

“If it takes a village to raise a child, the prognosis for America’s children isn’t good: In recent years, villages all over America, rich and poor, have deteriorated as we’ve shirked collective responsibility for our kids.”

http://bit.ly/18d9YpP

Teachers overworked and undervalued but still dedicated to education, survey suggests

This is from England but I suspect the findings would apply in many countries.

“One teacher wrote: “I am happy to work hard, but the current level of scrutiny in my school makes it impossible to make professional judgements about the best way to do things, which is extremely stressful. I have been happiest at times when I have had some control over my workload.””

http://bit.ly/1EE5LK3

This week’s contributions from Bruce Hammonds:

How Do Digital Portfolios Help Students?

Bruce’s comment: I have always liked the idea of students keeping evidence of their achievements in a folder, file, in their study books or a portfolio..  the idea of extending this digital portfolios is an obvious modern extension.

“It means students can save their work in the form of a web page, CD or disk. Kids respond better when they’re able to share their work because they have a valid audience and it does not go onto the pile on the teachers’ desk. Kids today can create and share their work with the world through digital portfolios; they have an authentic audience who will not only read it, but also care about it.”

http://bit.ly/1Co5N6S

16 Ways Your Brain Is Sabotaging Your Effort To Learn

Bruce’s comment: Another article useful for staff to read one and share with others. Read how your brain can sabotage learning – and some antidotes .

“The human brain is our best friend, and our worst enemy, and unless we keep one eye peeled, it can hijack our learning completely. In this article I’d like to examine some of the “traps” the brain sets for us during the course of our academic careers, and what we can do to avoid them. Psychologists have already done the hard work of realising there’s any hijacking going on at all; what’s left for us to do is pay attention.”

http://bit.ly/1EXoAbg

Six Things We Learned At South By Southwest EDU

Bruce’s comment: Flick thru this – implications for the future?

“Student data and privacy will only grow as a bone of contention.

The capture and use of student data from prekindergarten through college is increasing with the adoption of software platforms where every homework problem a student does can be recorded in bits and bytes.

The flipside of the power of analytics and prediction is concerns about privacy. Who owns this data? Who should have access to it? What can be done with it?”

http://n.pr/1BOi7LK

Chinese teachers bring the art of maths to English schools

Bruce’s comment: Well worth a read. UK politicians  are introducing a ‘Chinese’ approach to maths. Not as an art but as training. I like the Chinese ( Asian ?) idea of a belief  that all can learn maths, that they don’t believe in ability grouping  and that they do fewer things well but as for the rest! You read and make up your own mind. Ironically  the Chinese are looking towards the West to develop more creativity in their education system.

http://bit.ly/1CqYwTM

Why are we blindly following the Chinese approach to teaching maths?

Bruce’s comment: And for a contrary point of view – and mine as well.

“A one-size-fits-all approach is unlikely to improve children’s learning. Worse still, it undermines more important features of our culture and heritage, where we punch above our weight in creativity and celebrate originality and difference rather than uniformity.”

http://bit.ly/18EK3ri

From Bruce’s oldies but goodies file:

Learning styles

Bruce’s comment: I have my concerns about learning style ideas but by the use of focussed group work the various personal preferences can be catered for. Group work is used successfully in reading programmes but, in my opinion (and considerable research) less successful because of the destructive use of ability grouping.

“In traditional teaching teachers presented their ideas to the whole class… Today, with an appreciation of the diversity of student learning styles, the idea of multiple intelligences, the modern emphasis on active learning, and the need for all students to gain success, such a simplistic pedagogy will no longer do.”

http://bit.ly/1GgidNa

Teachers as artists.

Bruce’s comment: A real oldie but ain’t it the truth!! Creative teachers a lost resource.

“Isn’t it time that people in power realized that the real insights about teaching comes from the work of ‘master’ teachers. That teaching is more about the artistry and the craft of teaching, than following any prescribed approach.The trouble is these days no one is even bothering to look for such teachers – and of course they are liable to be outsiders, mavericks and idiosyncratic. The very traits those who like to control things hate, but paradoxically, the very same traits required for progress in any field of endeavour.”

http://bit.ly/1blkAVD

Questions from Prof.Bill Bassett

The Treehorn Express

Professor G.W. [Bill] Bassett asks

Professor Bill Bassett, one of Australia’s most respected and formidable academics wrote his memoirs in 1987. He described the period of learning excitement of the 1960s and 1970s, when teachers were free to respect the intellectual, social and emotional differences between children and to innovate and teach -and pupil their pupils without fear – as the greatest period of his lifetime. They were free to teach and children were free to learn. Humanity prevailed all year round. Things were different. I have recently found that, in a post-script to his memoirs, he suggested that that good schooling needs to include a liberal component which deals with knowledge, values and skills of the citizen living in a free society. He suggested that a statement by J.H.Newman [1912] was relevant and worth quoting at length.

Schooling “..aims at raising the intellectual tone of society, at cultivating the public mind, at purifying the public taste, at supplying true principles to popular enthusiasm and fixed aims to popular aspirations, at giving enlargement and sobriety to the ideas of the age, at facilitating the exercise of political power, and refining the intercourse of private life.

It is the education which gives man a clear conscious view of his opinions and judgments, a truth in developing them, and a force in urging them. It teaches him to see things as they are, to go right to the point, to disentangle a skein of thought, to detect what is sophisticated and to discard what is irrelevant.”

Bassett suggests that these are the sort of qualities which ordinary people must have if democracy is to become a reality; and asks…

“Is the intellectual tone of Australian society what we might expect to find after 120 years of universal education?

Certainly we are more literate. But for many that has meant little more than increased vulnerability to exploitation by those who print to deceive.

Are there signs that the national taste is being purified by the increased availability of education ?

Is our education system facilitating the exercise of political power in the sense of making democracy more widely prevail ?

How well can we see things as they are, go right to the point, disentangle a skein of thought, detect what is sophistical and disregard the irrelevant ?

We seem to have a lot of difficulty acting in this way when our interests are involved, particularly when we are electing governments. “

G.W.Bassett
[see “The Educational Historian”, Vol.11 No.1 1999]

One might also ask : How democratic is the removal of the rights of parents to choose what is best for their children [e.g. the right of choice : Yes or No to NAPLAN testing]?
How democratic is it to impose major changes without an open examination of the integrity of their source [e.g. high stakes testing, charter schools, direct instruction] ?

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

Education Readings March 20th

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!

 

How teachers are taught to discipline a classroom might not be the best way

“Research clearly shows that students learn best in engaging environments that are orderly. However, all children are different; they respond to discipline in different ways. So how do we teach our teachers to manage all types of behaviour?”

http://bit.ly/1yHPkE6

Put Working Memory to Work in Learning

“…working memory is a key cognitive skill for students and their teachers. As an educator, you know well how you must to be able to maintain the mental skillfulness and agility to process many variables in everyday teaching practice, such as students’ prior knowledge, the primary purpose and goal of a lesson, sequence of learning activities, time constraints, interruptions throughout the school day, and on and on.”

http://bit.ly/1749mlL

The Triumvirate of Upheaval in Our Classrooms

“Teachers are being asked to scrap what they know about teaching and children and start from scratch with really bad materials. This means throwing out volumes of craft knowledge that these teacher collectively hold and doing so for no good reason.

Why would you make teachers who are doing amazing work completely change what happens in their classrooms? This is the short answer – tests and money.”

http://bit.ly/1BVcEGl

Secret Teacher: don’t let spineless school managers drag you down

“I don’t believe these invertebrates started life without their spines. They were probably born with them and maybe even showed a bit of it in their early careers. Back then they had vision, drive and the desire to make the world of education a better place. They planned lessons, did playground duty and even gritted their teeth through the next tome of paperwork to land on the doorstep from the DfE. Yes, my friends, they were like us. They may have spoken out against the “machine”, railed against it even.”

http://bit.ly/1E1Bvpw

The 47% Solution: Playing Musical Chairs With Our Children’s Futures

Is this the unspoken intent behind current education policies in USA and elsewhere?

“We are adding one twist to the game of musical chairs we are imagining as our children’s future, where a seat represents a job. Before our young graduates can begin their hunt for a chair, they have to prove they are “college and career ready” by passing a Common Core test. And those tests have been designed so that only about 30% of our students will pass.”

http://bit.ly/1Biqnn8

 What neuromyths do you believe in?

“…people do not perform any better in their preferred learning style, rather they perform better in the learning style that best matches the material being taught. People are in fact poor judges of what form of learning will be best for them, in reality often a mixture of learning styles is the best solution…”

http://bit.ly/1BTrlYV

Reconnecting Adults With Playful Learning

Following on from previous articles about the importance of play for children and teenagers, here’s one for adults.

“… incorporating playful learning into their trainings with educators is a very practical approach. It has helped them achieve major turnarounds in the quality of education, making the learning process more engaging to help young people pick up the life skills they’ll need to succeed in the classroom and beyond.”

http://bit.ly/1NuIoFb

What Makes Great Teaching and the Role of Technology

Hmmm …

“Most teachers have agreed wholeheartedly with its findings, but other teachers and academics have cautioned that reports such as this may be simply propounding strategies for which it is easier to find evidence while eschewing others, which may be equally beneficial to learning, but for which the evidence base is not yet strong enough. Trying to measure the relationship between teaching and learning is notoriously difficult, chiefly because nobody actually knows how learning takes place in the brain.”

http://bit.ly/1FtuGwE

This week’s contributions from Bruce Hammonds:

#26 – “Without Government Schools, Most People Wouldn’t Get an Education”

Bruce’s comment: An interesting read. I think it comes from a libertarian source but it criticizes the one size fits all American system obsessed with standardised testing and suggests more variety is needed.

“Today’s schools have become standardized, homogenized and regimented. The unhealthy obsession with testing (coming from remote politicians and bureaucrats) drives the incentives of teachers and administrators alike. The result is a perverse factory model governed by one-size-fits-all curricula and five-year plans reminiscent of the failed central planning of now-defunct socialist regimes. Of course, such plans are at odds with local experimentation and innovation.”

http://bit.ly/1BsLdS8

What Charter Schools Can Teach Us About Teacher Voice

Bruce’s comment: Interesting!

Charter schools were originally proposed as vehicles to give teachers more leadership opportunities; however, the sector has evolved to focus on empowering management over teachers, and today just 7% of charter schools are unionized. This commentary piece explores what lessons can be drawn from the experiences of charter schools, both positive and negative, and how to run schools and structure the teaching profession to build and retain strong teachers.”

http://bit.ly/1EIfD5h

In An Ideal World, How Would You Measure School Quality?

Bruce’s comment: How to measure an ideal school – ideally! A short but insightful read. Few current schools would measure up.

“Together, we the educators can and must be unwavering in our attempts to turn the discussion of school quality back to the Whole Child. Then and only then can we be sure that school quality is being measured by what matters most— how well students’ needs are being met every day. “

http://bit.ly/1NTUY0P

6 Awesome Blogs for Project Based Learning

Bruce’s comment: Seems like a set of useful blogs to integrate ICT with project based learning including one of my favourites Edutopia.

“When you feel like you’re too bogged down (we know how busy teachers can be), it’s easy to feel alone in your quest for affording your students the best 21st century learning opportunities. To save you the trouble of searching on Google for websites to help you with implementing project based learning, we’ve listed some of our favorites and what they have offer.”

http://bit.ly/1x2vppm

Creating Innovators – Tony Wagner, Sir Ken Robinson and Kirston Olsen’s plea for change.

Bruce’s comment about this article that he wrote last year: Not so old but a ‘goody’ – Wagner’s book is well worth acquiring if you want a classroom or school facing a future requiring innovative creative thinkers. How to extend the innate curiosity of the very young through passion, play and purpose.

“Wagner identifies patterns that educators could emulate in their classrooms. The innovative individuals all had a childhood that involved creative play and the fostering of deep-seated interests which eventually blossomed into deeper purpose for career and life goals. Play, passion and purpose are the forces that drive such innovators.”

http://bit.ly/18losUD

From Bruce’s oldies but goodies file

The Interactive Teaching Model

This is a MUST READ.

Bruce’s comment: My impression is that today’s NZ teachers  do not feature in depth inquiry studies as central to their classroom programme . With the imposition of the Literacy and Numeracy National Standards,  and the time they require, such inquiry topics are limited. The answer is to ‘reframe’ literacy to introduce the appropriate information research skills to allow students to work independently  on inquiry learning. Thirty years ago teachers were making use of the below, all but lost,  excellent NZ research.

“Learners from birth do their best to make sense of any learning situation that attracts their attention but all too often develop misconceptions. At school they ‘learn’ to provide the ‘right’ answers while at the same time still holding on to their hidden personal views. If this process of a mismatch between teacher and students’ knowledge goes unchallenged then students gain, what some call, ‘fragile’ learning.”

http://bit.ly/1q7oL8V

30 Years ago – so what has changed?

Bruce’s comment: My teaching philosophy from the mid 70s – and a link to a brilliant letter written by a past student. Nothing much I would change in my beliefs except to make use of modern information technology.

“Education is a means of helping all students achieve their full potential…this includes the development of interests that might lead into personal fulfilment or a career. As well we need to broaden each child’s awareness of their immediate environment and the wider world.The key to any success will be seen in the attitudes of each learner to their own education.”

http://bit.ly/1CqW0Nt

The Aussie School Culture.

Treehorn:           Why can’t we kids have a test-free, pupil-centred, achievement-oriented, holistic-learning-based-curriculum?
Testucator:        Australia has established a profit-based, stress-laden, teacher-squirming, unreliable test program, thanks to Murdoch & Klein piled on top of our 1880’s exam-based system  We won’t change it. We aren’t allowed.
Treehorn:            Why can’t you replace tension with challenge, fear with encouragement, ritual with creativity, teacher-bashing with professionalism, subject-hate with love-of-learning, time-wasting-tests with shared  evaluation
Testucator          None of your business. You do as you are told.

The Treehorn Express

The Aussie School Culture

Australia holds tenaciously to the 18th century beliefs that standards of school performance are always low and that they can only be raised by diligent attention to the passing of examinations and tests, that fear of failure is the greatest of all learning motivators and that better ‘results’ can be achieved by publicising the differing standards between schools to make the poorer achievement ones feel bad about it.

The basic belief is that children go to school to pass tests.

These beliefs are now set in hard, undrillable ACARA concrete.

I’d like to talk about how this kind of schooling culture,  that developed in Australia after Governor David Wenham landed here in 1788. As convict folk wanted their children to be schooled, the British traditions for elementary schooling were strictly observed : dame schools, charity schools, Sunday schools and common schools, as well as schools for the privileged. They became part of the landscape, funded by the Gov.  We were British.  Labouring families’ children at school  were  tolerated, and access to more privileged schools became competitive…even  for the lower classes to enter state-owned  public model schools. We are a competitive lot.  Physical and mental  punishment was excessive, as was the use of examinations  to help defend the privileged against easy access of the poor to the learning places….all part of British schooling. As compulsory schooling became the norm,  there developed a pedagogic purulence  that schools could do as they pleased with children, and that parents should not interfere with any of the processes used. That’s maintained today with testing routines. Ignoring the wishes of parents is now standard practice

Open or Closed System? Schools have become increasingly closed systems, despite the rhetoric and ballyhoo about being community-centred. Australian adults treat their isolation from decisions affecting their children’s rights to an energetic learning system with casual indifference.  They just don’t care, it seems  and, by following the schadenfreuders-gone-rogue, they certainly endorse the naming of this newsletter after little neglected Treehorn. Not too many adults care about kids at school, like Treehorn,  and teachers are too busy preparing them for exams.

Aussie children have no known advocates……none, for sure, in positions to do something useful.

Sorting Out  A system of schooling that relies on the passing of examinations to distinguish and sort out the younger population into ‘hopeful’ and ‘hopeless’ for selection by the leaders of industry has become an entrenched part of our culture.  Through the 19th Century, Australian children were sorted out by tests at the end of primary schooling, then again at leaving age at about the level of present Year 10 when most children left school; while survivors were allowed to head towards the access examinations set by University lecturers.  It was perfectly natural for the requirements of universities to determine what should be taught in schools all the way back down the school curriculum to upper primary.  This schooling methodology seeped into the Australian DNA, unchallenged during the 18th and 19th Centuries. Our system was dominated by universities which only cater for those few who passed all their examinations. These examinations determined the kind of schooling and the kind of teaching, usually of the inefficient didactic, direct instruction kind because the didactic dominance attached to these styles, it is believed, produces better examination results.

The Quiet Ones It is not part of our nature to question. Teaching is a profession inhabited by calm, uncomplaining,  nice people.  Acquiescence, obedience and patience is a job requirement. This is the way things have always been; the way that the Gov who supplied all the goodies,  wanted them.  Teacher attitudes have now been twisted  to suit those who love to test and examine; and because exam preparation is a piece of cake when compared with teaching children how to learn and achieve. Teaching Learnacy a complicated professional esoteric activity.  The use of only didactic instruction techniques do not need quality teacher preparation either. Passing examinations is now our total schooling, so adjustments to the existing schools-as-test-factories is tightly secured. Success means passing examinations. Teachers are easily persuaded  to just instruct students how to pass exams, not teach pupils how to achieve by embracing learning. Again, now standard practice.

Our Aussie DNA also assures us that hating Maths or Grammar or Latin or Writing is a normal aspect of schooling.  We are comfortable with knowing that most kids will hate school or parts of it before their 12 years incarceration is finished. It’s just a bit of a shame. It’s okay, but….. Listen carefully, if you get the chance,  to the emphasis on the word ‘HATE’ as used by many pre-Year 12  drop-outs at the end of their dubiously useful  years of contesting exams and tests.

[There is a field of thought that children should exit school at Year 12 with a far, far greater zest for knowledge than when they entered school and that it is the business of schools to ensure that. The sort of views propounded by the likes of  Bill Bassett, Alby Jones, Hedley Beare, Henry Schoenheimer and yours truly [if I may add my views to those of real Aussie giants] together with a caste of thousands of True Blue Kid-carers now seem to be regarded as subversive.  Pollies, captured associations and all sciolist data-miners don’t like us.  Right? So sad.   [By the way..  Sciolist: One with only superficial knowledge who assumes a privileged position.]

The predominant school of thought is that children go to school to pass examinations….and little else. A sub group of this school has the peculiar erroneous belief, of British Grammar origin,  of course, that private schools push children through exams better that public schools do, despite the evidence. We’re a weird mob. ]
 
Standardised That’s  Australia. Our schooling  system is an accident of history when it could have  become a lighthouse to the world of learning and achievement. We are  too afraid now of our system glauleiters to try to change things. The desire to test and examine, to compare results, to make judgements, no matter what, is part of us. [As a test-fixated principal, I was amongst the most crazed of testucators ever. My bible was Fred Schonell’s “Diagnostice and Attainment Testing” which ended up dog-eared from over-use.  In a wonderful Epiphany moment, while blanket testing a couple of classes, I dropped blanket testing like a hot potato…on the spot… when I realised what abominable stress I was causing.] We talked about standards in those days rather than achievements and learning.  We still do. We bordered on being test-crazy. We still are. We preferred not to think outside that paper-bag.  We were cruel.  We used Standardised Blanket Testing [e.g.NAPLAN] as a nasty weapon. We now steer clear of positive intergenerational thinking about schooling as a state activity. In Keatingesque terms, we are all ‘shivers’ looking for a ‘spine’ to climb onto.

Control We are so well controlled that we dare not listen to alternatives views nor encourage thinking about a system of learning that might be better. We approve of any alteration that we believe will bolster results in tests by accepting schemes that claim to do so.  A scheme might cost billions of dollars. We know that it is unethical and unproductive and that it has been a pup  ‘sold’ to our leaders, but that doesn’t deter our us from our aim to maintain our 18th Century British traditions of schooling. Gather scores and numbers and other nuts in May and fiddle with the kinds of judgements made.  It is just so apparent;  and future generations will certainly rue the day when their cognitive capital was attacked by our zombic functionality of 2015 or thereabouts. We can dream of the days of yore when kids were loved and their work respected and they appreciated the dignity of their accomplishments no matter how small. Now we just operate according to an expensive political chacanery on behalf of various test-based industries that have taken advantage of the casual indifference of parents and teachers.

Money  There can be no money crisis while NAPLAN is allowed to continue. Let’s go back a couple of years….
2012…
“An ambitious attempt to lift literacy and numeracy skills has failed, according to a report to Federal Parliament by the Australian National Audit Office.
The audit found a $540 million scheme introduced by the Rudd government  made no discernable difference to the results of the schools taking part. An analysis found that NAPLAN made little, if any, difference. Under the scheme, $322 million in reward payments  were made to the states. Yet analysis of the NAPLAN data from 2008 to 2011 ” indicates that the program is yet to make a statistically significant improvement in any state.’ Teachers know that children who have fallen behind by age 15 will struggle to keep up and ultimately ‘disengage’.”  {Courier Mail 01-07-12]

So What? Despite this sort of evidence and with full knowledge of the forms of child abuse used to obtain the results, we test-anglophiled Aussies have stuck to our guns. It’s our tradition! Give it to ‘em….those silly little Treehorns.  It’s our way of life. Don’t pander to kids or parents. . Toughen them up. Yes. We have  heard  about some countries, like Finland, that emphasise ‘Learning’ per se and their achievements have been remarkable while happily poking their tongues at the use of tests ….but heck…that’s that a place way up near Commie Russia.

During the middle of the 19th Century post-war British folk started to have second thoughts about the bang-crash–wallop forms of schooling. So did the Yanks.  Schools started to become places where children’s rights and needs were respected and teachers fostered learning from things like using childhood curiosity, courage, self-discipline, exploration, risk-taking, experimentation, rigour, sociability, ethical practices, imagining, reliability, industry. It was just great to be alive during that period. Schooling and learning meant something. Since  learning how to learn the essentials can’t be tested with a pen and ink, public examinations disappeared from elementary schooling and children entered secondary schooling with a real passion for learning; but it was difficult for post-primary schools to adjust  because schooling at this level was focused on subjects that had their own internal and internecine problems.

The Future We are undoubtedly heading down the path of countries that do not care about consequences. We will continue to invade the privacy of young individuals for nefarious purposes, raspberrying their families as long as we can produce test scores.  Australia’s British schooling heritage has to prove that it has the kind of Grammar School  muscle power that works on the defenceless.
The down-sized sciolist polemic promoted by NAPLAN is becoming more deeply entrenched in our otherwise once-proud Aussie culture every day. It is growing, mycelia-like through the fabric of social discourse and damning our future to mediocrity. Its totalitarian modus operandi is an uncivilised way of treating our young.  Sadly, it is now the Aussie way.  

Parents Opt-out Some parents are objecting. The numbers of those saying ‘NO’ is growing, but it will take a while for our determination to care for kids like Treehorn, will overcome our historical inclination to be nice and ‘go with the flow’ of mediocrity and politically-inspired child abuse.

Wise Parents are Opting Out

Add our entrenched ancient British Grammar School style culture to other market-driven ideologies, with the corporatocracy encouraging us to spend millions on failed American packaged-deal, teacher-proof kits, labelled products [e.g D.I.] and digital testing machines and you have a clear future of mass cognitive decline and national depravity…..sure and certain. At least the machines can be used for a better purpose.

We are now living in  the worst period in the history of Australian schooling, run by sciolists who just don’t know nor appreciate what they are doing. The future looks glum. Why do we waste time pretending to talk about intergenerational exchanges from an engrained, mechanistic, ‘lay-down misere’ British-Grammar-school-established culture?

____________________________

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

Education Readings March 13th

By Allan Alach

I welcome suggested articles, so if you come across a gem, email it to me at allanalach@inspire.net.nz

This week’s homework!

 

How Technology is Changing the Way Children Think and Focus

“There is also little doubt that all of the new technologies, led by the Internet, are shaping the way we think in ways obvious and subtle, deliberate and unintentional, and advantageous and detrimental The uncertain reality is that, with this new technological frontier in its infancy and developments emerging at a rapid pace, we have neither the benefit of historical hindsight nor the time to ponder or examine the value and cost of these advancements in terms of how it influences our children’s ability to think.”

http://bit.ly/1EYRbcf

Redefining Teachers with a 21st Century Education ‘Story’

“At a time of great transformation in the world, there are no shortages of themes to pick from. But teachers have special opportunities to tell a magnificent story about themselves and their profession:”

http://bit.ly/1JbzXyQ

Schools of the future must adjust to technology needs

Professor Stephen Heppell – if you ever get the chance to attend one of his presentations, take it!

Teachers – and increasingly students – are realising that schools need to be places in which difficult, exciting, challenging, engaging, complex learning happens, rather than being where uniform education is delivered. And they need spaces that encourage that learning and help develop the sorts of skills demanded by employers. Spaces for concentration and collaboration, spaces to make and to mash-up, spaces to celebrate and exhibit, spaces to excel and spaces to share.”

http://bit.ly/1AvH8ee

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.”

http://bit.ly/1waGc0j

Children Educate Themselves IV: Lessons from Sudbury Valley

“The Sudbury Valley model of education is not a variation of standard education. It is not a progressive version of traditional schooling. It is not a Montessori school or a Dewey school or a Piagetian constructivist school. It is something entirely different.”

http://bit.ly/1vqAS8r

Why reading and writing on paper can be better for your brain

“Add to this the help that the physical geography of a printed page or the heft of a book can provide to memory, and you’ve got a conclusion neatly matching our embodied natures: the varied, demanding, motor-skill-activating physicality of objects tends to light up our brains brighter than the placeless, weightless scrolling of words on screens.”

http://bit.ly/1DLMo0Z

Why schools are failing our boys

Boys today aren’t fundamentally different than the boys of 150 years ago. Yet today, they’re confined to classrooms, expected to remain still for the majority of the day, and barely allowed to tackle meaningful labor or the real world until they reach the magical age of 18. Is it any wonder our boys are struggling?”

http://wapo.st/1AEO6NS

Why Preschool Shouldn’t Be Like School

“Adults often assume that most learning is the result of teaching and that exploratory, spontaneous learning is unusual. But actually, spontaneous learning is more fundamental. It’s this kind of learning, in fact, that allows kids to learn from teachers in the first place.”

http://slate.me/1DPCdHf

How to spot if you or colleagues are stressed: tell-tale signs for teachers

“It goes without saying that there is a direct correlation between teacher workload and stress levels, and both are currently unprecedentedly high. It’s also no coincidence that over the past few years hundreds of good teachers have been signed off with long-term sickness or quit altogether.”

http://bit.ly/1uNNpNw

This week’s contributions from Bruce Hammonds:

Back to basics – quality creative learning

Bruce’s latest article is a must read for all creative and innovative child centred teachers.

“All the above ideas point out the vital role of a teacher to assist all students work towards their potential – to ensure that all students have the ability to ‘seek, use and create their own knowledge’ as it wisely says in the 2007 New Zealand Curriculum.”

http://bit.ly/1C341cF

8 Signs You Should Become a Teacher

What’s your take on this list? What changes would you make?

“Are you thinking about becoming an elementary school teacher? If you possess all or most of these personal qualities, I think you could contribute a lot to children, the community, and the field of Education. While there is no static formula for what makes an excellent educator, these personality traits form the essential foundation for succeeding in the classroom as an instructor and as a leader.”

http://abt.cm/1Gs7xOW

Developing a Growth Mindset in Teachers and Staff

“However, in my work, I have found that the notion of developing a growth mindset is as equally applicable to staff and teacher performance as it is to students. This article begins with a brief discussion about the difference between the two mindsets, what that means for education, and concludes with some ideas for how school leaders might seek to develop a growth mindset amongst their staff.”

http://bit.ly/17YYbeT

Playtime Isn’t Just for Preschoolers—Teenagers Need It, Too

Bruce’s comment: The importance of play at all levels of learning – seems blindingly obvious.

“Giving students occasions to learn through play not only fosters creative thinking, problem solving, independence, and perseverance, but also addresses teenagers’ developmental needs for greater independence and ownership in their learning, opportunities for physical activity and creative expression, and the ability to demonstrate competence.”

http://ti.me/1BcnLIH

Project-based program innovates at Springs’ Parkside Elementary

Bruce’s comment: And to continue the obvious – the power of integrated project based learning. Some day someone in the USA will discover John Dewey!!!

“What we teach fits into the curriculum, but we try to make it as interesting as possible for the kids. The focus is on helping them acquire real-world skills and become problem solvers. Nobody works in isolation these days. You need to learn how to work with others.”

http://bit.ly/1wcqrFP

A New Approach to Designing Educational Technology: Is the biggest learning disability an emotional one? 

Bruce’s comment: Valuing the emotions in learning – well it seems obvious to me. Engaging students who no longer engage in learning by using ICT wisely.

‘And now, Rose and his team have concluded that the most pervasive learning disability in schools, and the No. 1 challenge for UDL, isn’t physical or cognitive, it’s emotional—turning around kids who are turned off by school.

“We’ve seen that technology can do a lot of stuff to support students, but the real driver is: Do they actually want to learn something?” says Rose. “If they do, kids will go through a lot of barriers to learn it. Creating the conditions that turn on that drive has become the major function of our work.”’

http://slate.me/1Fnek8O

From Bruce’s oldies but goodies file

Back to the future.

Bruce’s comment: An oldie but goodie. The very with it views of a long retired  innovative principal teacher. Good reading to learn about quality creative teaching – might be useful even for those in a modern learning environment (MLE). The teacher taught before the introduction of computers – now in his 80s he is a whizz on his Apple (computer). One wonders what wisdom we have lost.

“As a group we were disillusioned with the traditional pre-packaged approach …largely adult conceived….including ability grouping.Attributes such as co-operation, understanding and sharing were largely given lip service. We believed that learning should stem from the natural but vital curiosity of children and it should centre around real experiences.”

http://bit.ly/1KzIEUx

Bad Ass Teachers

Treehorn:           Why can’t we kids have a test-free, pupil-centred, achievement-oriented, holistic-learning-based-curriculum?
Testucator:    Australia has established a profit-based, stress-laden, teacher-squirming, unreliable test program, thanks to Murdoch & Klein piled on top of our 1880’s exam-based system  We won’t change it. We aren’t allowed.
Treehorn: Why can’t you replace tension with challenge, fear with encouragement, ritual with creativity, teacher-bashing with professionalism, subject-hate with love-of-learning, time-wasting-tests with shared  evaluation
Testucator          None of your business. You do as you are told.

Bad Ass Teachers

As crude as the tile seems, this is an organisation that has gained a level of respectability in the United States well above that that teachers’ unions and professional organisations enjoy. It consists of thousands of stalwart True Believers in children’s freedom to learn as opposed to the Data Miners, operating on behalf of publishing corporations, whose main task is to use children as inhuman objects from which [not ‘whom’] information, as inaccurate as it is, can be obtained.  The Data Miners use a cocktail of tests, not unlike Australia’s NAPLAN tests, to measure only those bits of a school syllabus that can be measured. As in Australia no respect whatsoever is shown to the young testees nor their parents. Parents are deliberately mushroomed.

BAT teachers have combined with other teacher-parent organisations in their attempts to persuade their legislators that they should nor acquiesce to the wishes of dominant publishing and testing companies as carelessly as they have. They have joined with Save Our Schools [SOS], a north American equivalent of Australia and New Zealands’  “Save Our Schools” . http://www.saveourschools.com.au  and United Opt Out Associations [UOO], both powerful teacher-parent organisations committed to freeing children from the choking of their cognitive abilities by the political command over the curriculum. UOO http://unitedoptout.com/ is a particularly powerful organisation whose Mum and Dads in most states have persuaded millions of parents not to allow their children to do the tests.  These three groups : B.A.T    S.O.S  and  UOO are a formidable alliance that Obama and Co cannot ignore.

One day.

The BAT organisation is explicit in its present drive to eliminate the kind of testing that forces teachers to abuse children for some months of the year.  Individuals are prepared to stand up and be counted as educational ‘Frackmen’ and women of the public teaching service as you witnessed recently in The Treehorn Express athttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5VhNor95OnI  Have another look

As Duci says. “Australian political parties and their personally-chosen bureaucrats insist that mums and dads forfeit the welfare of their children for 12 years so that they can be treated in any way they like for the benefit of political sponsors.”

Bad Ass Teachers provides an array of hard hitting messages that all True Believers and Mums and Dads will appreciate. For instance…

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___________________________________

Phil Cullen   41 Cominan Avenue  Banora Point  Australia 2486                     07 5524 6443          cphilcullen@bigpond.com

Ever Been Test- Stressed?

Treehorn: Why can’t we kids have a test-free, pupil-centred, achievement-oriented, holistic-learning-based-curriculum?
Testucator: Australia has a profit-based, stress-laden, teacher-squirming, unreliable test program, thanks to Murdoch & Klein piled on top of our 1880’s exam-based system We won’t change it. We aren’t allowed.
Treehorn: Why can’t you replace tension with challenge, fear with encouragement, ritual with creativity, teacher-bashing with professionalism, subject-hate with love-of-learning, time-wasting-tests with shared-evaluation ?
Testucator: Simply : We don’t know HOW.

The Treehorn Express

Stress
Mass Child Abuse

Testucators and other smart alecks know all about it . Pretend teachers will tell you that their Crying%20at%20test%20time[1]NAPLAN test centre doesn’t create it. “Our classroom is its usual calm self.” “We don’t worry much about NAPLAN.” The invigilating test expert will say, “Didn’t notice any tension.” Tough-guy dads will say, “Didn’t do me any harm! Toughens ‘em up. That’s life.“ The old-timers, ‘been teaching the same way for 20 years type’, will truthfully say, “If we have to do well at NAPLAN scores, we’ll do it. No airy-fairy nonsense for the next ten weeks. Practice. Homework, Practice. Test. Test Test”

All child-respectful teachers know, however, what the fear of failure or of not doing well in a high stakes test can do to a child’s emotions.

The creation of stress and fear is part and parcel of NAPLAN testing as “The NAPLAN Girl” to the right illustrates.

It’s the testing device’s essential element.

Psychologists can discuss its effects on our emotions and immune system in their fashion with precise clarity.
Though all lymphocytes have adrenergic receptors, differential density and sensitivity of adrenergic receptors on lymphocytes may affect responsiveness to stress among cell subsets. For example, natural killer cells have both high-density and high-affinity β2-adrenergic receptors, B cells have high density but lower affinity, and T cells have the lowest density (Anstead, Hunt, Carlson, & Burki, 1998; Landmann, 1992; Maisel, Fowler, Rearden, Motulsky, & Michel, 1989). Second, the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis, the sympathetic–adrenal–medullary axis, and the hypothalamic–pituitary–ovarian axis secrete the adrenal hormones epinephrine, norepinephrine, and cortisol; the pituitary hormones prolactin and growth hormone; and the brain peptides melatonin, β-endorphin, and enkephalin. These substances bind to specific receptors on white blood cells and have diverse regulatory effects on their distribution and function (Ader, Felten, & Cohen, 2001). Third, people’s efforts to manage the demands of stressful experience sometimes lead them to engage in behaviors—such as alcohol use or changes in sleeping patterns—that also could modify immune system processes (Kiecolt-Glaser & Glaser, 1988). Thus, behavior represents a potentially important pathway linking stress with the immune system.

Of course. You knew that. Stress makes you feel crook.

Normal mortals know that school leaders deliberately create a climate of fear and tension for a set propose; and that it is used by Colonel Klinks to create anxiety, nervousness and panic….to actually cause stress. Fear is a motivator. It’s a part of the mean side of life and it is unhealthy. It leaves a fingerprint on a child who doesn’t deserve it, that, most times, lasts a lifetime.

True believers in the teaching child-based fraternity do not like the way that tests are conducted to create distress and fear because, amongst other things….

  • Children cry, vomit, freeze and display all sorts of behaviours when confronted by this insidious enemy. [See NAPLAN’s emblematic child above right.]
  • It suppresses a child’s natural ability to want to learn.
  • Data collected under stressful conditions cannot be of any use.
  • It substitutes other cognitive behaviours, many of which are negative e.g. dislike for learning, hatred of particular subjects, bullying others..
  • Classroom learners cannot easily build up an immune system. It’s just too poisonous for those so young, some as young as 7 years of age..
  • It leads to different kinds of adaptive behaviour.

Biological responses to stressful circumstance are heavily dependent on a personal appraisal of what is going on, which determines the kind of cognitive and emotional responses that are needed to adjust. Each person is different.

I can assure you that the deliberate creation of emotional stress is a dirty, rotten thing to do to kids, and the Klein storm-troopers in Australia have been scaring kids for seven years now. A generation lost. To allow it to happen throughout a school system for any longer is mass child abuse.

Ever Been Test-Stressed?

Ever been in a deliberately created stress situation? I have. Recently. It’s bloody awful. Truly. Your worst enemy doesn’t deserve it; certainly not school children at any stage of their life.

Because of my age, I was told to report for a driver’s licence test. No sweat. I know that I’m one of the best drivers on the road. I’ve driven everywhere. While I do use ‘age’ as an excuse not to drive long distances, I do like driving. I use the rules on the road properly as others around me don’t seem to bother much. My test would be a piece of cake.

I was calm, full of confidence and chirpy as I reported to the local RTA, where a young examiner called my name.

The climate changed immediately. She was obliged to create an atmosphere of tension. She was determined to dominate and maintain impersonal exchanges. It was so obvious. Curt one-directional instructions only. None of the normal social graces were to be exchanged in case I was a marginal testee and personal feelings might enter the equation. You could cut the examination ‘air’ with a blunt knife. “Drive closer to the middle of the road.” “Both hands on the steering wheel.” Faults only. My silent internalised responses were as trite, “Shut up, you twit.” ‘What would you know?” “Get me out of here.”

It was to last less that half-an-hour, so the stern tester-testee atmosphere was tolerable. I kept calm and cool. I thought. I was the inferior being but I could drive efficiently, so I tolerated the inhumanity and looked forward to getting away from the place.

Then I had to sign my report. I could hardly write. My signature did not reflect any signature that I know of. The pen ran everywhere. I was amazed by this reaction. Me! Do that? Shaking?

I was stressed, good and proper….and only about a simple test.

I thought about Australian school children, who have to endure three days of this sort of tension. My heart really bled.

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Meanwhile back at the school, NAPLAN teachers and supervisors try to make kids comfortable by giving advice to parents [“make sure they sleep well, give them a healthy breakfast, don’t create tension on test day etc”]. Some organise a class breakfast to ease the tension for an hour or so before the test bell rings; reward the kids after the test with a picnic, movie visit etc……

The Australian Psychological Society comments on these antics with a warning…
“While these physical changes help us try to meet the challenges of the stressful situation, they can cause other physical or psychological symptoms if the stress is ongoing and the physical changes don’t settle down. These symptoms can include:
• Headaches, other aches and pains
• Sleep disturbance, insomnia
• Upset stomach, indigestion, diarrhoea
• Anxiety
• Anger, irritability
• Depression
• Fatigue
• Feeling overwhelmed and out of control
• Feeling moody, tearful
• Difficulty concentrating
• Low self-esteem, lack of confidence
• High blood pressure
• Weakened immune system
• Heart disease.” [Australian Psychological Society]

Child abuse is part and parcel of Australian Schooling, 2015. Right ? Deny it, I dare you.

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10995827_764657920269752_7980089748287217038_nWhat are we doing to children, without their   parent’s permission? It’s CHILD ABUSE – pure and simple.

Anyone who allows this kind of inhumanity to continue in an institution that is supposed to care for children, is a dirty rotten so-and-so. Tension is such a different feeling from other emotional encounters. It’s so ugly.

You side-line observers, who ignore NAPLAN issues, may know something about how to test. You know nothing about tension; about tension in the classroom. You know little about teaching properly and your knowledge of psychology is at the dumb level. You are emotionally sick.

Testucation is NOT a part of healthy schooling. Those who support it, even by their silence, should enrol in the Torture 101 course at their local state department test office and then find an occupation that suits that kind of mentality? They should not be anywhere near a school.

Please. NAPLAN OPERATORS!
Don’t go near a classroom. Find victims elsewhere. [e.g.RTA]

__________________________
Phil Cullen, 41 Cominan Avenue, Banora Point, Australia 2486 07 55245443 cphilcullen@bigpond.com

Final thoughts:

Will intergenerational discussion, sponsored by our friendly adviser Joe Hockey and various focus groups, include conversations about the abilities and attitudes of the kind of work force and business leadership required for tomorrow’s wonderful world ?

Do we need to keep producing bruised survivors of a bang-crash test system, concerned only with mining for data, that tries to produce graduates who have had a mediocre level of success in a few items of Literacy and Numeracy while other countries ,that teach Learnacy, are producing creative, high achieving, energised individuals whose cognitive abilities have not been impaired?

Why maintain this relic of 1800 British Grammar Schools as our modus operandli, when we have quality teachers who can transform a test-based curriculum into an holistic one with meaning for the future?

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Treehorn is the young hero of a book called The Shrinking of Treehorn by Florence Parry Heidi. It’s about a small boy with enormous problems, who remained totally ignored by all adults, including his parents, teachers and principal during an important period in his life. Like all young school pupils, he came to learn that adults don’t take much notice of school kids, no matter how dire the circumstances. Children are left on their own to survive, despite the stress that some very cruel adults impose on them – like the operators and users of NAPLAN the Wombat tests. The Shrinking of Treehorn is a powerful story with a morally-stunning conclusion.