Education Readings September 4th

By Allan Alach

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

I know what I like

Here’s your new word for the week: heutagogy.

‘We live in a rapidly changing world that requires people to have the ability to adapt much more quickly than in previous times, where events moved much more slowly. Education is not immune from these changes even though it is an inherently conservative system. In the face of significant innovation in educational practice and as espoused in self-determined learning (heutagogy) and other perspectives, there are new skills to adopted by learners and learning leaders alike.’ 

http://bit.ly/1Pqq5AK

Learning spaces: The subconscious teacher

“The spaces we inhabit have a profound effect on how we inhabit them. Space induces a particular way of feeling, of being. What are we saying to our children with we line them up in 5×8 rows facing the same direction toward a voice of authority? What do we say about desks that lock us in place, where the majority of movement within our gaze is eyes forward, eyes down?”

http://bit.ly/1LcKvhW

“Sit Still and Face Forward”: How the Myth of Teacher Control Undermines Classroom Management

Good article on that essential teacher attribute – helping children manage their behaviour.

“Because teachers are responsible for the behavior in their classrooms, we fall into the trap of believing that they (we) can control the behavior in their (our) classrooms. The reality is that no human being can control the behavior of any other human being. We can attempt to influence it, certainly. Offers of rewards or threat of punishment might influence people’s choices, as do respect, trust, and good relationships. But even young children are still able to make choices about their behavior.”

http://bit.ly/1IRyubY

The Common Core Can’t Speed Up Child Development

This article is about the USA; however it’s transferable to all countries using a standards based education system.

“Educational attainment is part of human development, and fundamentally this is 

a biological process that cannot be sped up. We cannot wish away our biological limitations because we find them inconvenient. Children will learn crawling, walking, listening, talking and toilet training, all in succession at developmentally appropriate ages. 

Once in school, for skills that require performing a physical task, that are in what 

Bloom’s Taxonomy classifies as the “psychomotor domain,” it is understood that 

children will only learn when they are physically and developmentally ready.” 

http://bit.ly/1HN1kbE

The “Mindset” Mindset

This is a must read – Alfie Kohn’s observations on Carol Dweck’s ‘growth mindset.”

“Even when a growth mindset doesn’t make things worse, it can help only so much if students have been led — by things like grades, tests, and, worst of all, competition — to become more focused on achievement than on the learning itself. Training them to think about effort more than ability does nothing to address the fact, confirmed by several educational psychologists, that too much emphasis on performance undermines intellectual engagement. Just as with praise, betting everything on a shift from ability to effort may miss what matters most.”

http://bit.ly/1MvZ5Bp

No Clarity Around Growth Mindset…Yet

Following on.

“So – is growth mindset the one concept in psychology which throws up gigantic effect sizes and always works? Or did Carol Dweck really, honest-to-goodness, make a pact with the Devil in which she offered her eternal soul in exchange for spectacular study results?

I don’t know. But here are a few things that predispose me towards the latter explanation. A warning – I am way out of my league here and post this only hoping it will spark further discussion.”

http://bit.ly/1Ewp0B4

Affirmative Testing Blog: What Students Do With Feedback

On the other hand, here’s Annie Murphy Paul’s observations on growth mindset.

“A passing acquaintance with the notion of mindset—though an excellent start—doesn’t fully convey the richness of Dweck’s idea, however. The influence of mindset shows up in students’ thinking and behavior in so many ways, one of which I want to focus on today. That is the effect of mindset on how students handle feedback.”

http://bit.ly/1I0jy9I

Sugata Mitra and the Hole in the Research

Some weeks back Mitra published research which showed that children, using the internet, could teach themselves at a level several years above their ages.

Well, not quite …

“You’ll forgive me for not being particularly impressed by hand-picked students taking part in a test where they’re made to feel special, given a thin slice of a syllabus to work on, and then tested for that exact piece of syllabus…and then scaling up that work into a magic GCSE grade. Give me a page of quantum physics to memorise, then ask me about it. Can I have a PhD?”

http://bit.ly/1hhnoGv

This week’s contributions from Bruce Hammonds:

Start the School Year by “Awakening Your Dreamers”

Something to start the year but good for any time – awakening student dreams

“When your students return to the classroom this fall, how many will bring along the interests, talents, and dreams that inspired or delighted them over the summer months? Will they see any connection between school assignments and their own passions?”

http://bit.ly/1J5gJ9c

Kids Speak Out on Student Engagement

‘A while back, I was asked, “What engages students?” Sure, I could respond, sharing anecdotes about what I believed to be engaging, but I thought it would be so much better to lob that question to my own eighth graders. The responses I received from all 220 of them seemed to fall under 10 categories, representing reoccurring themes that appeared again and again. So, from the mouths of babes, here are my students’ answers to the question: “What engages students?”’

http://bit.ly/1JtX9c5

Growth Mindset: How to Normalize Mistake Making and Struggle in Class

Is there anyone out there who hasn’t heard of Carol Dweck and the idea of ‘mindsets’?

“Carol Dweck’s research on growth mindset has become essential knowledge in education circles. The Stanford psychologist found that children who understand that their brains are malleable and can change when working through challenging problems can do better in school.”

http://bit.ly/1ERVkOW

From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:

Developing real literacy: Margaret Mahy

“Margaret Mahy, one of New Zealand’s most accomplished children’s writers says we are not changed by experiences as common wisdom has it. What changes us are the stories we tell about our experiences. ‘Unless we have formed our lives into story, structured it with words, we can’t contemplate the meaning of our lived experience’ This is done by turning the raw material of our life into stories, and in the process, ‘it can be creatively transformed and given meaning’.”

http://bit.ly/1PnOLKg

Developing natural learners

Natural born learners – before the word the experience . Have we forgotten this in our schools?

“Literacy is built out of, and from, the emotional or felt experiences children have as they play and explore their environments – preferably in the company of others and, even better, a perceptive adult.This understanding was the basis for the language arts experience that was as once such a feature of New Zealand Primary schools. The idea that early literacy should arise from children’s own thoughts from exploring their environment (and their own personal life experiences) was developed early in New Zealand.”

http://bit.ly/1TOyr5Y

Tomorrows Schools had their day?

“Good people poor system’ it was said when the Labour Government introduced ‘Tomorrows Schools’ in the mid eighties. These changes were part of the transformation of the New Zealand’s economy under an ideology that came to be known as ‘Market Forces’.School changes were ‘sold’ to the public as a means to develop greater community democratic control and authority over schools. In reality there was no real dissatisfaction or desire to change things at the time. It was later to be seen as part of the above ideology; all about the advantages of efficiency and competition.”

http://bit.ly/1IZCzL7

Don’t touch the bananas!!!!

The power of culture – learning not to touch the bananas!

“It is always amazing to see how exposure to an environment, or culture, can change how we think without us even knowing – I guess this is called conditioning. New ideas always rely on those individuals who can see reality without the blinkers.”

http://bit.ly/1hLoV7C

Now there’s a real dilemma

PLEASE FORWARD TO ABOUT 10 extra TEACHERS AND PARENTS.

Aussie Friends of Treehorn

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

 

NOW HERE’S A REAL DILEMMA DEVELOPING

Do schools operate for NAPLAN testing purposes or to teach young folk about learning?

Consider:  More and more parents are opting out of NAPLAN testing. While the number is seldom published it is said to be growing at an enormous rate.  It should not be long before at least half of the school parent population does not want their children to be bullied by a pencil in such a dangerous fashion. as they are now.  You’d know that a learning lock-down starts for Years 2,4,6,8 at about this time of the year, getting things ready to practise tricks for next May’s tests. You’d know, but not take much notice, that, as a rule, the school stops operating almost completely for at least three days in May every year for the tests, and for a lengthy period beforehand.  A learning malaise settles over the whole school at the time..

It’s no wonder that so many parents want their children to be free from the NAPLAN style of fear-based miseducation which can causes deep depression, anti-learning, anti-school attitudes.  Stress and depression have reached really dramatic limits amongst school kids everywhere over the past decade.  Twenge of San Diego University maintains that the large  generational increases in anxiety and depression amongst young folk are related to the school  systems’ changes from “intrinsic” to “extrinsic” programs….. from personally guided and meaningful learning to the materialistic and test-based high-stakes type.  The rise in suicidal depression has been parallel to the growth of the world-wide GERM meme that started its spread around the world from New York in 2001.

Australian learners and learning have been neglected for a lot more than three days per year over the past seven years. The kind of learning that promotes permanent personal  intrinsic achievement and cognitive happiness is down-played by politicians, measurers and bureaucratic extrinsically-motivated sciolists, because they know not what it is and what to do.  Master research Professor Masters of ACER said last week : “I don’t think we can keep doing what we have been doing and expect to see a big improvement in literacy and numeracy.”  I’m sure of it, young man.  Treehorn told us that seven long years ago.

Feedback from the test, under existing circumstances – that is, with only some of the potential candidates undertaking the test –  renders the whole caboodle invalid and unreliable for heuristic purposes.  In other words : useless on all fronts.   And, NAPLAN operations are too distant from reality to be diagnostic, as some pretend them to be. On-line might speed results up but has its own demons.  In other words:  it’s all a great big dumb waste of time. Can such a measuring instrument become more useless than useless?  Under the kind of leadership now controlling Australian schooling, things will not change just yet. Politicians and their testucators still seem to think that  hard-data blanket testing has some merit……..as weird as that might be under the circumstances.

Pupils will soon have to be  given back their learning time and their learning space, both of which are wasted during the prep-period and the three-day testing period.  NAPLAN is an intrusion, not the main game.  To deny any pupils access to a full learning curriculum for the full year in a rich learning environment for an imperfect test score, is immoral and unethical…. as it has been for many years. Child-careless ACARA forces schools to provide bare-walled classrooms, police-like supervision and a dark, heavy atmosphere of fear at test time.  Classrooms with all their learning paraphernalia should be retained for that section of the school that has opted out from the tests and wants to learn;  bare walls and serried rows for NAPLAN victims only…preferably somewhere else……as far away from a learnacy atmosphere as possible…..where it belongs.

The presence of NAPLAN in a school diminishes its learning sanctity and its humanity.

For the sake of the whole school, the NAPLAN tests might be better conducted over a three-day week-end. School time is too precious to be wasted on it. Dedicated NAPLANists would not mind. It would help to remove the uneasiness and discomfort of NAPLAN test-time now controlling the school time-table.

Some children also stay home or wag-it during the testing period.  That’s very sad, although it must be difficult to want to go to school, if the school is only offering NAPLAN tests for the three days. Legal procedures need to be taken against those who encourage children to stay home from school during school  time, denying them access to proper learning. There are no special conditions re compulsory attendance surrounding test times….or are there?  A normal attendance and normal instruction must be expected for all pupils on all test and other school days; and pupils should expect to be taught..

Access to real learning time is, presently,  a serious school problem….especially in the first half of imagesMay.

The logistics can be reasonably well handled in a large school with adequate facilities and large enough staff during test-prep time. Testucating staff and learnacy staff can even  be kept separate, to a degree, in a very large school, but it’s quite complicated for smaller schools….trying to organise two different kinds of classrooms and teach in two different ways in the same classroom.

The expectation, however, is that, no matter how large the school, children attend them to be taught, according to the school’s curriculum. That’s a serious government responsibility.  Testing is an extra imposition, an unwanted intrusion, claiming precious time, an interruption to learning processes and procedures.

As difficult as the logistics of converting physical learning space into a fearsome jail-like atmosphere is, spare a thought for the principals with principle and their administrative staff with big hearts for kids and their learning atmosphere…..and still have to do as they are told.   It must be very distressing for real teachers  to have to obey anti-cognitive obstructional  nit-wits from some other planet to have to construct and tolerate an alien kind of atmosphere for a long three days each year.

Messy , isn’t it?

______________________________

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

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SPECIAL MESSAGE TO TESTUCATORS, CURMUDGUCATORS AND NAPLANNERS [those who approve & administer NAPLAN] :   “STOP HURTING THE KIDS.   LET THEM LEARN…….. IN PEACE…….WITH ENTHUSIASM”

The Story of NAPLAN

Gillard – Garrett – Pyne –  ?

11904645_1029354460416913_4552843266788957343_n

2008 – 2012 – 2015 – 2017

Education Readings August 28th

By Allan Alach

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

Science Proves Reading To Kids Really Does Change Their Brains

Teachers of school entrant children will already have suspected this is the case; now here’s some proof.

“Pediatricians often recommend parents routinely read aloud to their young children.

Now, for the first time, researchers have hard evidence that doing so activates the parts of preschoolers’ brains that help with mental imagery and understanding narrative — both of which are key for the development of language and literacy.”

http://huff.to/1gVmgIm

Kindergarten boys less interested in language activities, study indicates

Following on….

“We have not looked at whether the differences in reading abilities between boys and girls have any connection with participation in language activities in kindergarten. However, we do know that systematic linguistic stimulation promotes language skills in children. Unequal participation in activities that promote linguistic stimulation may be a factor in reinforcing the differences that already exist between children. If these gender differences persist, we can imagine that girls will have an advantage and boys and girls will start out on a different footing when they start primary school.”

http://bit.ly/1EiycJ8

A Dictionary For 21st Century Teachers: Learning Models & Technology

Thanks to Phil Cullen for this one.

“An index of learning models, theories, forms, terminology, technology, and research to help you keep up with the latest trends in 21st century learning.”

http://bit.ly/1WTrF34

This could change everything about school — for kids, teachers and everybody else

Excellent article by Marion and Howard Brady.

We’re convinced that systems theory is the key to creating a general education curriculum free of the core curriculum’s major problems. And we’re dead certain—based on extensive classroom experimentation—that helping kids lift into consciousness and use their already-known systemically integrated information organizer moves them, in just a few weeks, to performance levels not otherwise possible.”

http://wapo.st/1KlEYnL

At the end of our tether

Steve Wheeler’s observations about the potential impact of mobile technologies on learning.

“Being able to choose when and where to learn is part of the freedom to learn. It is not just about freedom of thought and freedom of speech, but also freedom of space and place. It is about choice. The is academic freedom. We have no excuse now. We are living at a time in our history where the small device in the hand of the student is able to provide opportunities for any time, any place learning.”

http://bit.ly/1gYIg5n

Leave the World Better than We Found It

This article is the introduction to the book A People’s Curriculum for the Earth, which looks as though it could be very worthwhile.

“We educators need to imagine, cooperate, create, hope—and at times, defy and resist. And we need to see ourselves as part of a broader movement to build the kind of society that is clean and just and equal and democratic. One that seeks to leave the world better than we found it.”

http://bit.ly/1Txgf5Y

Research examines relationship between autism and creativity

Time to have another look at autistic children in your classroom?

“People with high levels of autistic traits are more likely to produce unusually creative ideas, new research confirms. While the researchers found that people with high autistic traits produced fewer responses when generating alternative solutions to a problem, the responses they did produce were more original and creative. It is the first study to find a link between autistic traits and the creative thinking processes.”

http://bit.ly/1WpXcJN

This week’s contributions from Bruce Hammonds:

18 Activities That Make Creative Writing Actually Fun

“Here are some great writing strategies and prompts that will honor your students’ imaginations and free their muses to soar.”

http://bit.ly/1WAgEUb

The Best Advice for Creating Student-Centered Learning

The below article includes an excellent small Australian video showing educational changes from 1950s to modern times – worth viewing.

“Student-centered learning puts the emphasis on experience and hands-on learning. Buzz words are: Inquiry-based learning, case-based instruction, problem-based learning, project-based learning, discovery learning, and just-in-time teaching.Whatever you call it, the emphasis is on students becoming empowered to own their learning. So let’s embark on a little journey exploring student-centred learning.”

http://bit.ly/1NoZvJb

Students Advise New Teachers: From Structure Comes Freedom

Advice for new teachers.

“Follow these tips and you can build a classroom culture of respect, rapport, and learning. When the classroom culture is positive, students are more apt to participate in all types of learning activities.”

http://bit.ly/1URIQ3d

Choosing the wrong drivers for whole system reform

Michael Fullan asks have we been using the wrong ‘drivers’ for educational reform? Short answer  – yes!

Successful drivers of change focus on relentless development of  ‘capacity building’ – to make learning more exciting, more engaging, and more linked to assessment feedback loops around the achievement of higher order skills.”

And:

“A ‘wrong driver’ is a deliberate policy force that has little chance of achieving the desired result, while a ‘right driver’ is one that ends up achieving better measurable results for students.The culprits are 1. accountability: using test results, and teacher appraisal, to reward or punish teachers and schools vs capacity building; 2. individual teacher and leadership quality: promoting individual vs group solutions; 3. technology: investing in and assuming that the wonders of the digital world will carry the day vs instruction; 4. fragmented strategies vs integrated or systemic strategies. Although the four ‘wrong’ components have a place in the reform constellation, they can never be successful drivers. It is, in other words, a mistake to lead with them.”

http://bit.ly/1PnvPuo

From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:

Guy Claxton’s Magnificent Eight

Guy Claxton believes that teachers need to focus on how they relate to students in their classrooms. What is important , he writes, are the values embodied in how they talk, what they notice, the activities they design, the environments they create, and the examples they set day after day. These represent the culture of the class.Every lesson invites students to use certain habits of mind, and to shelve others.”

http://bit.ly/1KYn8FP

Bureaucratic ‘creep’ and curriculum ‘drag’!

Bureaucratic creep and curriculum drag 2004 – have things improved?

“Tomorrows Schools ( when schools were made self governing in NZ in the 80s) was all about community control – or so the publicity went. It sounded good at the time but the possibility of local control and creativity was quickly crushed by the imposition of confusing curriculum statements and time wasting assessment requirements.”

http://bit.ly/1WjYmWY

In praise of slow

“The ideas of Carl Honore, in his book ‘In Praise of Slow’, are a real antidote to our current obsession with productivity, speed, consumerism and ‘workaholism’, which has filtered its way into all we do – including education. Carl Honore believes too many of us are living our lives on ‘fast forward’ and as a result our health and relationships are paying a heavy price. Obese children are but the most recent symptom of this fast life. Carl writes that we are to ‘over stimulated and overworked and struggle to relax to enjoy things properly, to spend time with family and friends’.”

http://bit.ly/1f8JOro

Inspiration and challenges for today

Pioneer New Zealand creative teacher Elwyn Richardson recognised – and some good advice for today’s teachers.

“In April of this year (2005), at the age of 80, Elwyn Richardson was given an honorary doctorate by Massey University to recognize his work as ‘one of New Zealand’s most inspiring, innovative and influential teachers whose ideas were ahead of his times’. His recently republished book ‘In The Early World’ outlines his philosophy of learning and teaching including his respect for the emerging abilities of the children he taught. ‘They are my teachers as I was theirs and the basis of our relationship was sincerity, without which, I am convinced, there can be no creative education’.At the ceremony Professor Codd said that, ‘It is timely in the 21st century to recapture teaching as an art. In the early World inspires teachers to take risks, to contemplate values and philosophies as central to the teaching – learning process and to adapt prescribed curriculum to the children’s own desire to explore , inquire and create.’’

http://bit.ly/1UPMdaS

Education Readings August 21st

By Allan Alach

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

The King Has Abdicated

Phil Cullen’s take on the announcement by US academic Gene Glass of his withdrawal from the discipline of educational measurement due to its misuse by the school reform movement.

This is big news.

“If ever there was a giant amongst educational measurers of the world, it is Gene Glass, Senior Researcher at the National Education Policy Center at the University of Colorado, Boulder. The seminal mega-research of Glass and Smith into ‘Class Size’ is a study to which any studious commentator refers if ever he or she mentions anything about the efficacy of class size on child learnings. It had an enormous impact on world discussion about class size. His leadership during the 1970’s Minimal Competency Testing movement was profound.”

http://bit.ly/1Nm2AKP

The Great Learning Gap

“Sugata Mitra’s controversial new study summarised in the TES here suggests that self study on the internet can boost a child’s performance by seven years. Basically, 8 and 9 year olds studied GCSE content online before being examined three months later in examination conditions. They were successful. It sounds astounding, but it’s true, at least for the small number of children involved. And actually I don’t think it’s that surprising. To me, this is not a study about the power of the internet. It’s a study about the power of children.”

http://bit.ly/1LZ6GXl

‘Growth mindset’ is not just for school students, teachers can grow their minds too

This is is a must for teachers, much more than the ‘can’ in the title.

“Most educators would be aware of the term ‘growth mindset’ by now. The idea is you can work on being smarter. Whatever abilities and talents you have are just a starting point, if you work hard, make mistakes and keep trying, you can achieve. Teachers are using it to encourage and motivate children in their classrooms.

But there is another application for this idea; it can be used as an underlying ethos for the professional learning of teachers.”

http://bit.ly/1MEOzH2

10 Ways To Fake A 21st Century Classroom

“It’s 2013, so whatever you’re doing in your classroom right now is technically 21st century learning. Semantics aside, we all can improve, and many of us are being held accountable for improvement by administrators, blogs, and the local PLC to “bring the next generation into the 21st century.” With that kind of pressure—and constant district walk-throughs—it may be necessary for you to fake a 21st century thinking and learning environment to make the right kind of impression with the right people, and give the appearance of forward-thinking.”

http://bit.ly/XeyyO6

Play’s the thing

There’s a lot of useful information here, both in and out of school.

“Somehow the importance of play has been lost in recent decades. It’s regarded as something trivial, or even as something negative that contrasts with ‘work’. Let’s not lose sight of its benefits, and the fundamental contributions it makes to human achievements in the arts, sciences and technology. Let’s make sure children have a rich diet of play experiences.”

http://bit.ly/1IWKi1T

Imagine that you wanted to slowly kill public education

Does this article by Scott McLeod ring any bells for you?

“Somehow you have to create a narrative over time that erodes citizens’ support for public schools and counters their incredible historical legacies of college and career preparation, citizenship development, cultural socialization, economic opportunity creation, and facilitation of intergenerational income mobility. Here are some things that you and your like-minded colleagues might try to do:”

http://bit.ly/1eU0C5y

How Should Learners Influence Classroom Design?

“Researchers and designers of learning environments often debate whether the learner should adapt to the learning environment, or whether the learning environment should adapt to them. Arguably, this is the wrong question. A better question is: how does the environment shape the learner, and in turn, how does the learner shape the environment?”

http://bit.ly/1W9Bbi7

Why Schools Should Teach Meaning and Purpose

“I believe it is the responsibility of a school to help students develop their personality, but this is not possible when a school tries to be efficient. You need ‘pointless’ and ‘ineffective’ student activities that don’t lead to better grades if you want them to live a life of meaning and purpose. Sacrifice a bit of your academic excellence and make room for personal development. The system won’t thank you for it, but the students will – by living a more fulfilled life.”

http://bit.ly/1Mi6bcS

This week’s contributions from Bruce Hammonds:

Does a MLE suit all learners?

“Essentially, I don’t find this sort of question helpful. There are some more important questions that should precede it. That’s not to be dismissive at all of the fact that people will be interested in these sorts of things – it’s important that these themes are fully investigated as new approaches are being adopted in our schools and learning institutions. It’s like asking “does an MLE suit all learners?” when the equally valid, yet often uncontested question is “does a traditional egg-crate classroom suit the needs of all learners?”’

http://bit.ly/1PfjEAp

The neurons that shaped civilization

Culture Counts

Seven minutes Ted Ed talk to illustrate the power of culture and learning from others – a change the rational ‘scientific’ GERM approach to learning.

Neuroscientist Vilayanur Ramachandran outlines the fascinating functions of mirror neurons. Only recently discovered, these neurons allow us to learn complex social behaviors, some of which formed the foundations of human civilization as we know it.” 

http://bit.ly/1IsEnhA

If life is a game, then education is play

Education is best when built upon such notions of play.

Play embodies our natural inclination to explore and experiment with objects and systems outside of us and integrate them first-hand into our psyche. Through educational play, we get to explore new ideas and come to know ourselves, as well as those around us in often-profound ways.”

http://bit.ly/1Kigrfa

From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:

‘Haiku Curriculum’ – simple and deep!

“At some point the Japanese threw away complex poetic forms and invented haiku.This is what we ought to do with our current incoherent curriculums Since the 90s schools worldwide have had to implement a complex set of curriculums imposed on them by ‘experts’ long removed from the reality of the classroom.”

http://bit.ly/1KXQC9S

Messages about education.

“I have been reading an article on the web about the pressures being placed on young children and their teachers in the United States to achieve expectations set by standardized tests. In the process teachers have had to narrow their curriculum to ensure their school does well when results are published. And as well, I guess, they would be worried about their tenure?”

http://bit.ly/1KWBtml

Why are teachers so reluctant to change?

“Over years of visiting schools it seems mean to say that there has not been as much change as one might have hoped for considering all the imposed reform efforts. Ironically the biggest change I have seen was when a more progressive pedagogy entered our primary schools in the late 60s and early 70s. Out went straight rows, the strap, and the overbearing role of the teacher. Even the introduction of computers hasn’t yet changed school structures as much but there are signs they will.”

http://bit.ly/1Pfwbnk

Sailing into the future on the educational SS Titanic!

Many school structures still reflect a Titanic mentality

“Many of our current organizations may look impressive but there are plenty of signs that all is not well. There are ‘social icebergs’ of discontent and alienation ahead that will eventfully force change on us. Just as it takes a tragedy in our personal lives for us to face up to new reality, so it is with the wider world of organizations – particularly those designed in, and for, past eras.”

http://bit.ly/1hk5NOm

The King Has Abdicated

An oversized, ugly, brutal giant called Naplan walked into a bar with a toad on his head.
The surprised barman asked, “Where did you get that thing from?”
The toad replied. “ I dunno. It just started off as a wart on my backside.”

The King Has Abdicated

“I am no longer comfortable being associated with the discipline of educational measurement.”If ever there was a giant amongst educational measurers of the world, it is Gene Glass, Senior Researcher at the National Education Policy Center at the University of Colorado, Boulder. The seminal mega-research of Glass and Smith into ‘Class Size’ is a study to which any studious commentator refers if ever he or she mentions anything about the efficacy of class size on child learnings. It had an enormous impact on world discussion about class size.

His leadership during the 1970’s Minimal Competency Testing movement was profound. The application of the most misused and misapplied concept of competency aka basics in American history, resulted in state authorities and school districts wondering what schools could do about it. The foolish thought that testing would encourage school pupils to perform better. They used local tests and the SAT : Student Aptitude Test as measures.
Glass described the movement as one would describe NAPLAN : ‘the case of fruitless use of an analogous concept – the minimum lethal dose’ ; ‘bad logic and worse psychology’ ; ‘a return to Payment by Results, abandoned by the British over one hundred years ago’ ‘has nothing to do with science and technology; not with psychology, not with measurement. It has to do with politics’ ; ‘the business of failing students’.Why would such a giant of the measurement profession ‘no longer feel comfortable ‘ with the American version of NAPLAN testing? Without a doubt, the world’s leading measurer for endless years, Gene Glass has been ‘slowly withdrawing his intellectual commitment to the field of measurement’ and has even asked his University to shift him from its measurement program. In the field of education, this decision represents a greater comment on prevailing educational circumstances than King Edward VIII’s did for regal circumstances; or if one of highest test performing schools in the country decided to drop NAPLAN and HSC contests from its curriculum ….that sort of thing.

This is monumental.

It says so much that ought to have an impact on the principles of schooling and the place of measurment in it.He once said, “I favour competence, I prefer classrooms where teachers know where they’re aiming. Sloth is as unattractive to me in children as it is in grown-ups. Bad writing stinks; it’s as ugly as litter. And bad arithmetic is pathetic, and sometimes unfair. But I don’t like the MCM {aka NAPLAN [Aus.]}. It’s bad psychology; it’s bad measurement; it’s bad thinking. It threatens to subjugate what’s easily measured to what isn’t. It is rooted in the fiction that we know what skills in school insure success in life.”

You must read….. “Why I am No Longer a Measurement Specialist”

Onya, Gene Glass. God bless you.

 

Phil Cullen 41 Cominan Avenue Banora Point Australia 2486 07 5524 6443 cphilcullen@bigpond.com http://primaryschooling.net    http://qldprimaryprincipals.wordpress.com
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I once visited Professor Glass at Boulder. The Ahern Inquiry into Education in Queensland was in full swing, and , as Chairman of the Queensland Primary Curriculum Committee, I wanted to find out as much as I could about Minimal Competence Testing in the United States. Small world, Dr. Barry McGraw whom I knew, then at Murdoch Uni., was visiting Professor Glass to find out more about measurement. Dr McGraw later became Julia Gillard’s captain’s pick to lead ACARA and apply NAPLAN, based on Klein’s New York model, to Australian schools. How about that? Ironic?

Principals with principles

 Aussie Friends of Treehorn
encouraging adults to think sensitively, to care for kids, to make wise choices….with their hearts in gear, their pens active and their votes available .
PRINCIPALS WITH PRINCIPLES

It must be difficult for a 2015 school principal with principle these days….to conduct curriculum activities using the best of what is known about learning within an institutionalised context, and also coping every day with the demands of a political whim that actually impairs cognitive development of school children.  The 2008 whim was based on a belief, held more by significant politicians of the time than by any other sector,  that school children learn best when the school climate  is one of heavy rigour and driven by fear of testing results.  So, there is an extraordinary amount of school time nowadays that concentrates on measuring parts of schooling that only testing experts,  employed by such politicians  believe should be taught and tested. Principals are stuck with organising a byzantine system of control that keeps pupils and teachers  in line; and parents in the dark.

As Professor Costa [Calif.StateUni.] states : “What was educationally significant and hard to measure has been replaced by what is educationally insignificant and easy to measure. So now we measure how well we taught what isn’t worth learning.”    School principals with principles are expected to maintain this farce and are expected to hoodwink the public  on the virtues of running schools based on the whims of teaching-inexperienced measurers employed somewhere else.  The logic that teaching a child how to fill in the right bubbles on a piece of paper somehow helps the child to read better, calculate more accurately and develop profoundly in other critical literacy and numeracy skills is twisted logic. It is the kind of logic that a full generation of wise school leaders have had to tolerate.
Many educators believe that the use of such data to make judgements about schools is a sneaky, dishonest  scheme to privatise Australian schools, to undermine Gonski recommendations and to maintain the flow of money to testucating, publishing and computer programming corporations.
It’s a real dilemma for principals with principles. The forces that have no regard for children’s feelings nor parental concerns are very powerful. While a self-respecting principal can call upon his or her professional ethics to deny access to his or her classrooms, it’s a very brave thing to do under the existing political, totalitarian-based regimes since 2008. The hubristic arrogance of lawyer-trained Ministers has been and is so overpowering.  It’s possible only for  principled principals to reform as an ethical, professional group. Even then, they need to be strong to protect school children the way they should be protected.
Sometimes, chances come at Conference time for large organisations which principals and teachers subscribe to, at great expense. No free rides. The really productive ones are those run by subject associations but,  during the coming month or so, there is a number of conferences with highbrow connections:
Australian Council for Educational Leadership –Sydney – “Setting the Learning Agenda. Courage and Commitment to Lead”. [ The title suggests that the likes of NAPLAN, Direct Instruction etc. might be coming to an end very soon.]
Australian Secondary Principals Association –  Attendance at ACEL Conference suggested.
Australian College of Education – Sydney – “Education on the Edge.”  [Sure is. Should be some fireworks. Methinks it’s toppled already.]
Australian Primary Principals Association – Hobart –  “The Heart of Leadership”  [In view of leadership principles involved in the dispensing of NAPLAN tests, – see above- the outcomes of this conference should be momentous.]
Australian Government Primary Principals Association – [No conference. Unsure of its place in the schooling landscape.  Allied with APPA or trods on its toes?  A CIA outpost?]
Association of  Heads of Independent Schools of Australia – Sydney– “Culture, Character, Collegiality. “  [ Jolly good.]
At such conferences, some of the most productive time is spent in rooms, bars, coffee shops and  cafes  discussing the major issues of the day or just ‘chewing the fat’ about major issues affecting Australian schools.  Under such conditions, one would imagine that principals with principles would discuss what they are going to do about NAPLAN and its control over Australian schooling. With the conversions to tablet use, this period of 2015 is super-critical for serious decision-making that can have  its foundations in sessions like these.  Indeed….It’s  time for all schooling-connected organisations to get together. As Professor Kenneth Wiltshire says, “The whole of the NAPLAN plan needs to be put on hold…” [Treehorn 3 Aug.2015] Yes. It’s serious business, that can’t be neglected.
Supposing that conferees were challenged by a comprehensive list of comments and examined them comment by comment,  about  standardised blanket testing provided by Marion Brady of The Washington Post………..
NAPLAN
– provides minimal to no useful feedback for classroom teachers;
– leads to neglect of music, art, other oral ways of learning, physical health;
– unfairly advantages those who can afford to pay for out-of-school tutoring;
– hides problems created by margin-of-error computations in scoring;
– penalises test-takers who think in non-standard ways [which the young frequently do]
– radically limits teacher ability to adapt to learner differences;
– gives control of the curriculum to test-manufacturers’
– encourages use of threats, bribes, and other extrinsic motivators;
– uses arbitrary, subjectively-set pass-fail cut scores;- 
– produces scores that can be [and sometimes are] manipulated for political purposes;
– assumes that what the young will need to know in the future is already known;
– emphasises minimum achievement  to the neglect of maximum performance;
– creates unnecessary pressures to cheat;
– reduces teacher creativity and the appeal of teaching as a profession;
– lessens a concern for and use of shared evaluation techniques
– has no “success in life”  predictive  powers;
– unfairly channels instructional resources to learners at or near the pass-fail score;
– are open to massive scoring errors [as has already occurred] with life-changing consequences;
– are at odds with deep-seated ‘fair go’ Australian values about individuality and worth;
– Create unnecessary stress and negative attitudes towards learning;
– perpetuates the artificial compartmentalization of knowledge by field;
– repels a wholesome holistic attitude towards inter-discipline learning;
– channels increasing amounts of tax-money into corporate coffers and special programs instead of general classrooms;
– Wastes the vast, creative intelligence and potential of human variability;
– blocks instructional innovations that can’t be evaluated by machine;
– unduly rewards mere ability to retrieve second-hand information from memory;
– subtracts from available instruction time;
– lends itself to ‘gaming’ – use of strategies to improve the success–rate of guessing;
– makes TIME – a parameter largely unrelated to ability – a serious factor in scoring;
– creates test-fatigue, aversion to subjects and an eventual refusal to take tests seriously;
– is a monumental waste of money and time;
– destroys institutions’ reputation  and that of the profession in myriad and unsuspected ways
Wouldn’t you like to be a fly on the wall if any group  dared to discuss some of these comments….and follow it through??
If significant teacher groups or learned societies should examine a few of these factors seriously……..it’s bye-bye NAPLAN.
When? 2015?
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Phil Cullen  41 Cominan Avenue  Banora Point  Australia 2486  07 5524 6443   cphilcullen@bigpond.com             http://primaryschooling.net                     http://qldprimaryprincipals.wordpress.com

Education Readings August 14th

By Allan Alach

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

Choice Stifles Learning for Educators

“What is it about a mandated, contractually obligated, professional development conference that inspires some teachers and completely turns off many others? Why do some teachers glow with excitement at conferences and many others complain as they go through the motions? Is it the conference itself, or the attitude of the educators attending, or a combination of both?”

http://bit.ly/1gc7f4H

‘Nothing you learn at university has any relevance in a classroom’

This article doesn’t reflect the title….

“But teacher education in Australia has become a zombie discipline. Its brains are being eaten by ‘experts’ that hold no proficiency in teaching and learning, but are offering a view because they attended school at some point. These ‘experts’ are instructing universities – holders of self accrediting authority – about the necessity to return to the ‘basics.’”

http://bit.ly/1fy099N

Why Dyslexia Is No Bar To F1 Champions

This isn’t strictly educational but then again it shows how people can succeed at the highest level in spite of their reading disability.

“Vancouver neurotherapist Mari Swingle insisted there’s scientific basis for Stewart’s theory, saying that dyslexics’ brains have an affinity for things like racing.

“There’s a different form of spacial perception that dyslexics have, so it’s almost fundamentally what hurts them in their learning to read actually helps them on courses and tracks,” said Swingle.”

http://bit.ly/1R13src

7 things that doodling does for you that will probably make you want to start doodling again

Seems we should allow to doodle in class… can you cope with that?

“Shelley Paul and Jill Gough, two learning design educators, have taken the call to doodle into their classrooms. Armed with research and some colored pencils, they’ve come out with some hands-on experience that really illustrates why doodling is the jam.

So here are seven things doodling can do for you.”

http://u.pw/1I5yWTu

Too much too soon? What should we be teaching four-year-olds

Young children with oral language deficiencies are becoming a very common problem in New Zealand schools and this article suggests that the first schooling experiences should focus heavily on redressing this.

“We need to develop children’s oral language skills early and leave formal classroom instruction until children have the foundation skills they need to achieve. This should raise the attainments, and esteem, of all children.”

http://bit.ly/1euU8tG

Climbing a tree can improve cognitive skills, researchers say

Get children outside as much as possible!

“The study, led by Drs. Ross Alloway, a research associate, and Tracy Alloway, an associate professor, is the first to show that proprioceptively dynamic activities, like climbing a tree, done over a short period of time have dramatic working memory benefits. Working Memory, the active processing of information, is linked to performance in a wide variety of contexts from grades to sports.”

http://bit.ly/1eBlAWI

Signing off: Finnish schools phase out handwriting classes

I’m in two minds about this. I can see the logic but then again there’s evidence to support the value of handwriting to children’s learning.

“While purists mourn the loss of personality and the “human touch”, some neuroscientists stress the importance of cursive handwriting for improving brain development, motor skills, self-control and even dyslexia. French education officials took heed of these findings and reintroduced cursive writing classes in 2000 after a brief hiatus but in Finland, there’s been little response to the proposed scrapping.”

http://bit.ly/1OSb1vp

How the Arts Prepare for a Life’s Work in any Discipline

“Here is an outstanding keynote by Dr. Root-Bernstein, who after researching over 200 biographies of outstanding scientists found a correlation between their sustained art and craft avocations to their achievement in other disciplines, especially the sciences.  His talk begins with a quick display of childrens’ art which quickly reveals a playful and powerful connection to some great minds.  In other words, this is not a passive Art Appreciation class here, folks, but a case for active and continuous making, doing, tinkering (especially in high school).”

http://bit.ly/1JE8znX

This week’s contributions from Bruce Hammonds:

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

I recommend you all read this.

“Teachers and schools that are capable of creating real-world, contextualized, project-based learning activities in every other area of school often struggle to do the same for mathematics, even as prospective employers and universities put more emphasis on its importance. This struggle may come from a fundamental misunderstanding about the discipline and how it should be taught.”

http://bit.ly/1IY2wA2

New Zealand’s all but forgotten science research about valuing the both the views students hold and the process of learning to clarify their thinking – The Learning in Science Project. 

“Science teaching in primary classrooms cannot be ignored or forgotten. Primary schools need to provide worthwhile challenges to stimulate and challenge children’s’ present ideas as well as providing  opportunities to ‘learn how to learn’. Primary science, above all else, needs to encourage children to take an interest in their environment and their own learning, explore ideas, and seek and develop understandings about their world.”

http://bit.ly/1Np043q

My Longstanding Beef With Instructional Leaders

Principals as instructional leaders – yeah right!

Two articles by Bill Ferriter:

“But the truth is that despite working for some remarkable principals over the past 22 years, I’ve never turned to them for help with my instruction — and they never volunteered any instructional strategies that challenged my practice in a positive way.  Instead, I have always turned to my peers for that kind of professional challenge because I know that my peers are wrestling with instruction on a daily basis.  The expertise that I need to change my teaching rests in the hearts and minds of other practitioners — not my principals.”

http://bit.ly/1T6QadK

http://bit.ly/1UvO4RP

From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:

The Geranium on the Window Sill Just Died…

The Geranium on the Windowsill just died but Teacher you went straight on.

A book to encourage teachers to listen to the variety of voices of their students and reminded them of what it was like ‘to be small, penned up, bossed around’; and for students retain a sense of resiliency and joy during the time they are at school.”

http://bit.ly/1SXucV4

Schools – so last Century

Schools so last century – still…

“At the end of the nineteenth century schools were developed to meet the needs of an industrial age to transfer knowledge to often reluctant students and, in many ways, they have changed little since those beginnings. In contrast almost every other aspect of our lives has been changed through technological advances. Roland Barth, from the Harvard Leadership Centre has written, ‘many of our schools seem en-route to becoming a hybrid of a nineteenth century factory, a twentieth century minimum security penal colony and a twenty-first century Education Testing Service.”

http://bit.ly/1ILwsgM

Whose learning is it?

“Without meaning to many teachers not only diminish their student’s authentic sense of self but miss out in inspiration to develop engaging personalized programmes. As DH Lawrence wrote, ‘you have to know yourself to be yourself’. At school students learn to fit into a world designed by teachers and not all students will thrive in such an artificial environment.”

http://bit.ly/1HxWSNL