Weekend Readings July 27

The Treehorn Express

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Weekend Readings

By Allan Alach

If we look at developments around the world through the right set of spectacles, it is possible to pick out the beginnings of a trend where the anti-test/pro-child campaigns are making headway.  However the inevitable result of this will be an increase in the attacks in an effort to maintain the hegemony.
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!

Doublethink: The Creativity-Testing Conflict
Here is another excellent article by Yong Zhao.The title says it all.
Bill Gates: Why ‘game-based learning’ is the future of education.
Continuing the theme from last week…..
 
The rat race of childhood: Why we need to balance students’ lives

Valerie Strauss’ column “The Answer Sheet’ in the Washington Post is a reliable source of quality educational articles, whether her own, or written by another person.

Chris Lehmann on educational colonialism

US academic Scott McLeod is well worth following. Here he references an article that he felt was very important.

http://tinyurl.com/cakpny6

News Corp Rebrands Its Education Division, But Is It Enough for Schools to Trust It?

Murdoch is one of the big players in the commercialisation of education, aided by his henchman, lawyer and self described expert on education, Joel Klein.

Reduce spelling, grammar, phonics, increase free voluntary reading

It’s not all doom and gloom- many voices keep pushing for quality education.

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Phil Cullen  AM,FACE,FACEL,FQIEL
[Gold Medal :ACEL]                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              
41 Cominan Avenue                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            
Banora Point 2486
07 5524 6443
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Spreading progress or regress by memery. Part 4

Treehorn  Express

For Treehorn’s story, click attachment.

Home:   https://treehornexpress.wordpress.coms
[Maintained by NZ Educator, Allan Alach]
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Spreading School Progress/Regress
Part 4 : Fear-based Scato-meme is dying.


Too slowly, of course. There are positive signs, however, emanating from the great model for everything educational – the U.S.A. – especially New York.  It will be good riddance to NCLB, RTTT, National Standards, NAPLAN and all other crazed forms of system-wide, standardised blanket-testing. They are on the way out. People of goodwill and teachers who care sincerely for kids, are waking up. If school principals would like to give the tests a final push, with the exertion of some professional ethics….they’re gone.
 We rely on these school leaders for so much; and they will surely renew their professional power during this awakening. Fear has to be removed from the classroom. As well, national blanket testing is so useless and destructive for Australia’s financial and social future, that NAPLAN can’t last too  much longer.

Australian child-caring educators are ashamed that it has lasted as long as it has. We have kept things quiet for too long. Mary Murphy Paul of N.Y., who writes from the same page as Joel Klein, reports that a national resolution in the USA calls for the abolition of standardised testing because it is “…an inadequate and often unreliable measure of both student learning and educator effectiveness,” and that it undermines “…educational quality and equity in U.S. public schools.” [ http://ideas.time.com/2012/06/06/in-defense-of-school-testing/ ]  Tell us about it, Mary!

Believe it,  the tyrannical U.S.founder of our present Australian fear-based system, test publisher and Gillard idol, Joel Klein, himself bemoans the continuing decline in scores and achievements of American schools.  He thinks in numbers.  [ http://ideas.time.com/2012/07/16/the-new-complacency-about-schools-is-ill-informed/ ] Lost his grip? Looks like blanket-testing is not all that it’s cracked up to be. His article is about test scores; nothing about schooling. He is not happy.

Even Barry McGaw, head of ACARA is clutching at straws. He says that the “…claim that NAPLAN is creating ‘test-driven schooling’ …is nonsense”…  and that… “ Students take NAPLAN tests for a few hours over three days every second year fro years 3 to 9 – a very small amount of time.” OMG! Wash your mouth out, Barry.

Mind you, there will still be pressures. The publishing business is getting second wind in its drive for a testucating-techno-classroom mix. There is an enormous amount of money involved in publishing tests and in the future electronic-crowded classrooms. There is sufficient evidence in the following article to indicate that GERM is only about money, never about school renewal. The Pearson push in the UK certainly confirms this and laughs at our naivety…..but we can overcome. We are learning. Check the amounts of money. There is plenty available to keep ‘persuading’ the naive… and childless politicians. Sadly.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/2012/jul/16/pearson-multinational-influence-education-poliy?fb=native&CMP=FBCNETTXT9038

Only the really stupid and naive would believe that heavy pressure will not be exerted here in the South Pacific…..unless teachers and parents make their feelings known. Until now, we have all proved to be easy push-overs, because we have given insufficient thought about what happens to the germs when they infest the classroom. We give in too easily to authority figures as Milgram illustrates. The Murdochs and Pearsons of this world believe that we  work for them, because their cronies, our ‘elected’ politicians and their eminence grise, have us under control on their behalf. We teachers are slowly but steadfastly waking up to the fact that we work for children…no other group of individuals. We parents and grandparents yearn for expressions of greater teacher concern and comment from the classrooms about what is being imposed on them and their pupils. We want true child-initiated learning with challenges and joy of achievement in every classroom in the country. We parents and grandparents want our teachers to tell the truth to testucator’s politicians and to the general public, soon….before the 2013 federal elections, we hope.  Australia deserves fear-free high quality teaching and learning.

During the life of NAPLAN we have learned….

  1. School children are unfortunate victims of NAPLAN testing. Their ability to learn has been assaulted; some ruined.
  2. NAPLAN testing has degraded Australia’s schooling systems.
  3. The scaring-kids tests do nothing to improve learning in the classroom.
  4. Test publishers and on-line lesson producers have grown enormously rich.
  5. Professional teaching ethics have been devalued.
  6. It has cost the Australian taxpayer, billions of dollars – all wasted.

Let’s tell the world that this has happened, but, together we can fix things.  NAPLAN testing has been a very sad patch in our history. Think of the kids.

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Linkswww.literacyeducators.com.au   http://saveourschools.com.au   www.networkonnet.co.nz  http://leading-learning.blogspot.co.nz
http://primaryschooling.net   http://www.marionbrady.com  http://www.dianeravitch.com  http://susanohanian.org
http://alfiekohn.org     http://www.essential.org     http://opttoutofstandardizedtests.wikispaces
http://www.essential.schools.org               http://www.joebower.org
http://treehornexpress.wordpress,com/bridging-the-ditch/
http://allthingslearning.wordpress.com

Phil Cullen AM,FACEL,FQIEA,FACE
41 Cominan Avenue
Banora Point  2486
07 5524 6443
treehorn@bigpond.com

Spreading progress or regress by memery. Pt. 3

Treehorn Express

Maintained by NZ Educator, Allan Alach]

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Spreading School Progress/Regress Part 3.

Control of scato-memes.

The scato-meme: “fear-based teaching encourages learning” is now endemic to the politically controlled, publisher-supported G.E.R.M. [Global Education Reform Movement http://www.pasisahlberg.co/blog/?p=234 ] in a few unfortunate countries. Called NAPLAN in Australia, it is known to be cruel, immoral, unnecessary, expensive, curriculum destructive, development inhibitive. It is a notion that is so destructive of the teaching/learning process, that it requires strict political cum totalitarian control for it to be maintained in school systems that do not really believe in it, did not ask for it, are now finding it crippling; and pray for the day when it will disappear.

The world knows that the use of the meme is the brain-child of Joel Klein, a sad peg in a round hole, who found himself in charge of a New York school district where he tried it out. Fear is a motivator. It’s sadistic. We all know that. He says that his fear-based ideas work. They don’t and never have. Alas. His future employer saw pay dirt. Although it was proving to be a curriculum ruinator, publishing titan Rupert Murdoch promptly hired Klein at an exorbitant salary. The warehousing of standardised tests and computer programs produces more money faster than mints can, once the politicians are on side to establish control and maintain the helotry. Rupert knows this from previous experiences. So….the scato-meme spread, applauded by incompetent politicians of all persuasions, even though this meme has no home in any known educational endeavour connected with learning.

 

It spread to Australia because clear and recognisable totalitarian methods were employed to introduce it. The Minister at the time having met the sweet-talking Klein and intoxicated by her own new-found power, arranged for like-minded humanity-free Australian bankers to bring him down under to tell them how wise their new Minister was; and that they should support her when the school-inclined academics, caring teachers, thinking principals and concerned parents objected. It worked pretty well. Soft targets.

The appointment of a well-regarded academic to run the show was a good move. He was short on school knowledge, but understood the art of measurement backwards. Surrounded by fellow measurers, the gullible public thought that the basic meme must be pure and they respected the way in which pronouncements were made….. without appreciating its bovine characteristics.

Principals groups, teachers’ unions and educational fraternities all fell for it and co-operated. The forces were too great for them to display any collective voice and, in any case, their collectivities were corralled with the gate locked. Professional ethics that applied to caring for kids were put to one side and left there, by fiat. That “Care for Kids” theme is not tolerated under present circumstances. It interferes with corporate greed, the aim of NAPLAN.

Managerialism. The 1990 scourge of experienced practitioners is recognised as the history-making finish of child-based schooling and learning progress in Australia. The managerial knowledge of the big controllers at the time [e.g. K. Rudd, adviser to Q’ld premier] were limited to very basic organisational themes. They knew little of the effects of their crude beliefs on administrative outcomes. For instance, the devaluing of experience is probably the greatest error any organisation can make. Its value is a basic administrative tenet. Now, Australia’s crude use of managerialism per se is overdue for devaluation.

All organizations want to get things done in the best possible way. The term ‘managerialism’ is a naive term that believes that any person can manage anything, once organisational charts have been drawn and people are told what to do. Amen. That is what governments believed in the 1990s and they ignored the esprit of the public services that they are supposed to provide….the cultures and sub-cultures that keep the show on the road and engender the notion of pride, progress and improvement….and service to the public. They overlooked a simple dictum that true administration starts when people start to inhabit the positions on the charts. Schools are the most people-oriented places on earth and those who over-see school activities for them, have to know what such people-based administration in them requires….at ground level….in the classroom….in the school office……for an extended period. As well, ordinary organisational Management from its 1990 induction is ‘FORMAL’ and ‘Personal’, whereas true Administration is ‘PERSONAL’ and ‘Formal’.  Leadership in both fields is ’PERSONAL’ and ‘SITUATIONAL’. A leader has to know what is going on. Experience.

Applied to the Australian government’s view of personnel management, it has made a big mistake. It was recently examined. [ http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/breakfast/poor-managers/4128262 ] School ‘productivity’ cannot be described by measureable test scores. Schooling is a totally human operation…children and teachers interacting…nothing more, nothing less.

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Control-central at the national level, just hasn’t done its managerial homework. By following Machiavelian principles to create Orwellian conditions it treats its schools’ workforce as dumbclucks. Its managerial manipulations fracture so many basic rules of productive leadership, its determined pursuit of the ridiculous is plain crazy and dangerous. Let’s look at some concepts that never lose their currency.

  • French & Raven’s “Bases of Power” with ‘Expertise’ born of experience at the top rung and ‘Coercion’ at the bottom of the ladder- table of motivations, surely indicates that the government’s inversion of these dimensions is not healthy.
  • “The Self-fulfilling Prophecy” should have told the government’s managers that teachers do not appreciate being insulted, shamed, punished, blamed and threatened by them and Joel Klein and Rupert Murdoch and Bill Gates and the media and corporations; and can lose their zest. Everybody responds to positive stimuli.
  • McGregor’s Theory Y applies to teachers rather than Theory X. Given sincere beliefs in what teachers can do and giving them the freedom to ‘have a go’, the results in terms of pupil achievement will have no limits.
  • Richard Carlson’s distinction between managing a “firm” in a ‘wild society’ and one in a ‘domesticated society’ can help operators to understand where they are in the scheme of things.
  • The Hawthorne Effect would have told them that the social situation and its social interactions are of greater consequence than governments believe. A superordinate’s sincere interest in what is going one, motivates.

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Our government presently ignores such indicators. It has no respect for people as people; for children as children.. Alas, it prefers to follow totalitarian conditions of control revealed by…..

  • The Milgram Experiment. This ensures that the teachers groups and principals do as they are told. Comparatively easy to Eichmannise, they tend to obey authority figures without too much questioning.
  • The Stockholm Syndrome. Once made captive and held for long enough, they convert to the will of the oppressor. Watch out kids.
  • Stalinism. Repressive action begets repressive action. Governments repress principals. Principals repress teachers. Teachers repress children.

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There is hope, however. Campbell’s Law. “The more any quantitative social indicator is used for social decision-making, the more subject it will be to corruption pressures and the more apt it will be to distort the social pressures it is intended to monitor.” Campbell adds “…when test scores become the goal of the teaching process, they both lose their value as indicators of educational status and distort the educational process in undesirable ways.”

It’s happening.

Hang in there, teachers and kids. Let’s pray that we will get back to proper teaching and learning earlier than we think, when enough people of good-will, experience and knowledge have their say.

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Weekend Readings July 20

Treehorn  Express

Treehorn Story:  http://primaryschooling.net/?page_id=1924

Home:   https://treehornexpress.wordpress.coms
[Maintained by NZ Educator, Allan Alach]
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Weekend Readings

By Allan Alach

A constant theme of many articles revolves around the deformers’ view of the future of schooling (I refuse to label this as education), which is heavily technology based. The fuss over the Khan Academy is an example, then there is the movement towards computer based instruction, with each child sitting at a terminal, connected to online instruction, which will teach and assess ‘achievement.’ (You wondered why Bill Gates is heavily involved in this?) No need for teachers – just think of the savings. Have you wondered why there is so much effort to get schools connected to ultra fast broadband? Just to top this off, I’ve included an article about robot teachers in South Korea.

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!

Critique of Khan Academy Goes Viral

Following on from last week’s link about Sal Khan, here’s another one that arrived not long after I posted last week’s readings.

http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/DigitalEducation/2012/07/by_now_youve_probably_heard.html?cmp=ENL-CC-MOSTPOP

A Glimpse of the future for New Zealand

As we know, the Ministry of Education are working on a database where school details will be posted, so that parents may compare schools. In their usual copycat manner, they are following examples from overseas. Here are two, RAISEonline from England, and My School from Australia. I suggest New Zealand readers have a good look at these, because we’re next. Fancy having your school listed like this, especially with ‘data on school effectiveness in raising achievement?’

https://www.raiseonline.org/login.aspx?ReturnUrl=%2f

http://www.myschool.edu.au/

Why “Making” Matters: Kids want it. We learn when we create.

Self explanatory! Sadly, this is beyond the ken of deformers.

http://www.thedailyriff.com/articles/making-makers-943.php

School camps in St. Louis area aim to give incoming kindergartners a leg up

Summer school for 5 year olds so they are ready to ‘achieve.’  What next?

http://www.stltoday.com/news/local/education/school-camps-aim-to-give-incoming-kindergartners-a-leg-up/article_3dc0b0b4-9063-5755-9261-90cf94269b23.html#ixzz20TASRh3z

The Teaching Revolution

After all the negative articles, here’s a blog article in a more positive vein, targeted more towards older children.

http://lancegking.wordpress.com/2012/06/03/the-teaching-revolution/

South Korea’s Robot Teachers To Test Telepresence Tools in the New Year

The ultimate neo-liberal solution to raising achievement? Don’t discount it!

http://singularityhub.com/2011/01/03/south-korea%E2%80%99s-robot-teachers-to-test-telepresence-tools-in-the-new-year/

What have teachers done to deserve this scorn?

Isn’t it intriguing how commentators in many countries use the same language about teachers’ performance? If anything illustrates that this is an organised movement, this does.

http://www.abc.net.au/unleashed/4138914.html?WT.mc_id=newsmail

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Links:

www.literacyeducators.com.au

http://saveourschools.com.au

www.networkonnet.co.nz

http://leading-learning.blogspot.co.nz
http://primaryschooling.net

http://www.marionbrady.com

http://www.dianeravitch.com

http://susanohanian.org

http://alfiekohn.org

http://www.essential.org

http://opttoutofstandardizedtests.wikispaces
http://www.essential.schools.org

http://www.joebower.org
http://treehornexpress.wordpress,com/bridging-the-ditch/
http://allthingslearning.wordpress.com

Phil Cullen AM,FACEL,FQIEA,FACE
41 Cominan Avenue
Banora Point  2486
07 5524 6443
treehorn@bigpond.com

Spreading progress or regress by memery. Pt.2

Treehorn  Express

Treehorn Story:  http://primaryschooling.net/?page_id=1924

Home:   https://treehornexpress.wordpress.coms
[Maintained by NZ Educator, Allan Alach]
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Spreading School Progress/Regress

Part 2: Memes~ “Ready. FIRE!  Aim.”

What is the Aim of Scato-Meme 2008?

It was, I think, Professor Galbraith, who recently said something to the effect that one of the advantages of living in the same world as the United States was that one could see some of the horrors that might attack one in the near future and this has proved to be manifestly true in the field of education.

It was the Americans who popularised the objective test whose value no one can deny. But, it was also in the United States that such testing so deteriorated as to produce knowledge in pellet form tested by underlining, blank-filling and ticking alternatives and we, in this country, have recently made progress along this unfortunate path. There is a cult of management which is getting a firm grip on our schools; a head without headmasterly qualities can and does get kudos for posing as a manager. There is the whole business of education technology which when ill understand is used to drive home the kind of knowledge which fills the mind but does little to strengthen it. And now Robert Lowe’s lamentable technique of payment by results which did half-a-century’s damage to this country is to come back to us from America in the form that they have labelled “performance contracting.”

This was 1972 – yes, 1972. Sir Alec Clegg, a practical practising educator from the West Riding, was commenting on the effects of blanket testing on reading in England’s schools. A vicious scato-meme had been developed by the non-school academic authors of The Black Papers, the first two of which appeared in 1969, written to demonstrate their superior intellectual knowledge of the nature of man and childhood by citing crude dichotomies between ‘traditional’ schooling, which was good; and ‘progressive’ education which was bad. When boiled down, the academics could not understand what was happening in a classroom in which all chairs and desks did not face in the one direction with all occupants using paper and pencils for a full day. They thought, as many parents thought at the time, that the disarray indicated a lack of learning rigour. Their ex cathedra manifestations, based on their own adherence to sit-stilleries, spread across the Atlantic; and Americans handled them in the customary manner:- The testing of minimal competencies took off …….and has remained as part of their schooling psyche ever since.

This UK/US meme theme, based on the tawdry ‘Black Paper back-to- basics’ stridency was expressed through their  ten commandments the first two of which state…

  1.  Children are not naturally good. They need firm, tactful, discipline from their parents and teachers with clear standards. Too much freedom for children breeds selfishness, vandalism and personal unhappiness.
  2. If the non-competitive ethos of progressive education is allowed to dominate  our schools, we shall produce a generation unable to maintain standards of living when opposed by fierce rivalry from overseas competitors.”

The papers were described by Education Secretary Edward Short as “…scurrilous documents, quite disgraceful…the publication of which …was one of the blackest days for education in the past century.” That didn’t worry the testucators of the period. Here was their chance.

  America’s dominance of educational thought and its predilection for hard data, ensured that all English-speaking countries followed this testing theme rather that the school-based Plowden 1967 Report’s  messages of good-will and sound advice, which had recommended that schools should attempt to broaden a child’s vista of learning and achievement through a fondness for learning and achievement. Passive school folk just lay low.

This black scato-meme that lauded discipline, competiveness and testing, spread across the Pacific. So, ACER, the Marilinga of Australian schooling, undertook “The Australian Study of School Performance” in 1974 by seeking “…to measure performance in reading, writing and number work of 10 and 14 year-old students in normal schooling throughout Australia.” Measurers don’t like to miss too many chances. The vision of Plowden was being crunched in Britain and its former colonies.

As is the wont of measurers, only negative scoring results were emphasised in the ACER’s Report to Schools.  A measurer’s code of conduct doesn’t extend to the encouragement of  teachers to be pleased with their achievements.[e.g. “On the average, one child per classroom (at 10 year-old level) and one child in 100 (at 14 year-old level) is unable to read the simplest of school books.” said the report.  In these pre-remedial teacher days of large classes, one would have thought that this result might be celebrated.] The measurement hacks’ negativity caught  on, and a Standards Debate of monumental proportions was initiated. TV documentaries, newspaper editorials, The Great Debate raged. Journos loved it. Publishers of The Bulletin made a killing.

This particular ‘back to basics’ movement then grew tired and irrelevant in Australia by the end of the seventies, but it left a legacy. The reputation of the teaching profession had suffered and it has remained a soft target until the present day. The maintenance of professional ethics has proved difficult, and is now nobody’s concern.

“Back to Basics”, “3 Rs”, “Standards”, and similar sterile movements arise in all societies from time to time.  Robert Lowe’s “Payment by Results” [now resurrected and called ‘merit’ pay] introduced in 1861 all but destroyed school standards in Britain until they were rescued by the efforts of Kay-Shuttleworth and Matthew Arnold. However, it did lead to the entrenchment of public examinations. There have been shorter periods of back-to-basic movements every few years since, enlivening internecine disagreement between crash-bang-wallop, didactic-teaching testucators and child-centred learning-based educators. While the aforementioned differences of opinion have been notable and are fine illustrations of how a malicious scato-meme can dominate any discussion, there is a profound difference between those of yester-year and the source of the present NAPLAN. This  national standards fascist-style hegemony, the manifestation of the meme, had its origins in profit and its introduction by political clout, through which it continues to be powered. It did not travel by the open discussion route as did its predecessors. It spread to our southern shores by totalitarian political manipulation and fiat to the benefit of greedy publishers.

The spread of this most toxic educational scato-meme that the world has ever known has now found a safe-house in Australia and New Zealand. It was moved into residence in 2008 in Australia, by a conspicuous politician with more clout than most. It has taken permanent residence. This assertoric belief that ‘blanket testing in a school culture of fear enhances learning’ is now the prevailing orthodoxy of South Pacific school systems as it is in the USA…..and it exists only  to satisfy greed for money. No school-keen educator of any complexion has had anything to do with its forced introduction in Australia, New Zealand, U.S.A. or the U.K.. It is a scandal.

Fear of the kind that NAPLAN generates, has no place in any school; in any social institution that caters for children.  The whole world knows this. Our little part of the world is too frightened to do anything about it and no politician has shown enough spunk to contest its existence with any gusto. Greed rules.  The rich get rich….richer…richer.

That is the predominate AIM of the 2008 scato-meme. There’s money to be made out of it.

Maybe parents should be told.

More soon.

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Links:

www.literacyeducators.com.au   http://saveourschools.com.au   www.networkonnet.co.nz

http://leading-learning.blogspot.co.nz
http://primaryschooling.net   http://www.marionbrady.com  http://www.dianeravitch.com  http://susanohanian.org
http://alfiekohn.org     http://www.essential.org     http://opttoutofstandardizedtests.wikispaces
http://www.essential.schools.org               http://www.joebower.org
http://treehornexpress.wordpress,com/bridging-the-ditch/
http://allthingslearning.wordpress.com

Phil Cullen AM,FACEL,FQIEA,FACE
41 Cominan Avenue
Banora Point  2486
07 5524 6443
treehorn@bigpond.com

Weekend Readings July 13th

Treehorn  Express
Treehorn Story:  http://primaryschooling.net/?page_id=1924

Home:   https://treehornexpress.wordpress.coms
[Maintained by NZ Educator, Allan Alach]
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Weekend Readings

By Allan Alach

Term 3 is about to commence in New Zealand, and we wait, not particularly enthusiastically, to see what our government has in store for schooling this term. They’ve found, to no one’s surprise except their own, that the system for collection and analysing ‘achievement data’ is unworkable. However we can expect attempts to collate this in some form, either by the Ministry of Education, or the media, so that league tables can be published. Watch this space.

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!

Education Under Attack

(What Schools Can and Cannot Do and How Popular Reforms Hurt Them)

Here is the link to an ebook on this topic. While written for the USA, there is much of value here. Don’t try to read it all at once!

http://rodclarken.files.wordpress.com/2011/04/education-under-attack-ebook-7-1-12.pdf

Why Should We Reform Education Using Microsoft’s Failed Ranking Policies?

Bill Gates has set himself up as the expert in reforming education, especially via the teacher effectiveness model, performance pay, and so on.  This article about the work culture at Microsoft speaks for itself.

http://crooksandliars.com/nicole-belle/why-should-we-reform-education-using-

District Announces Value-Added Bazaar

Value Added Measurement (VAM) of teacher performance is a developing meme, as part of the attack on education. Here’s a light hearted look at an ultimate version!

http://open.salon.com/blog/dianasenechal/2012/07/02/district_announces_value-added_bazaar

Is Khan Academy a real ‘education solution’?

Education deformers, such as Bill Gates, are promoting the Khan Academy as the future of education. Never heard of this? More homework for you then! Khan produces online educational videos on a wide range of topics. These are delivered, as you would expect, in a lecture style. Note that Khan is not a teacher, just someone who thinks he has found a niche. The danger of this is that deformers will see online tutoring as a way to dispense with teachers, and in fact this is one of the agendas being developed by Murdoch, Pearson Group, McGraw Hill, and not forgetting Bill Gates.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/post/is-khan-academy-a-real-education-solution/2012/07/12/gJQAtApceW_blog.html#pagebreak

No teacher, no problem

Canadian teacher Joe Bower is an articulate commentator on all things GERM. In this article he discusses the ‘robo – grader’ being trialled in New York. This device is meant to be able to grade written language. No further comment needed!

http://www.joebower.org/2012/05/no-teacher-no-problem.html

Singapore Wants Creativity, not Cramming

US anti-GERM campaigner Diane Ravitch is possibly the most powerful voice in this battle, given extra credence because she was once on the other side, before realising the error of her ways. This blog article is about Singapore, which, along with Finland, will prove to be the antidote to GERM.

http://dianeravitch.net/2012/05/31/singapore-wants-creativity-not-cramming/

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Phil Cullen AM, FACEL, FACE, FQIEL.

41 Cominan Avenue

Banora Point 2486

Australia

07 5524 6443

treehorn@bigpond.com

Spreading progress or regress by memery

Treehorn  Express
Treehorn Story:  http://primaryschooling.net/?page_id=1924

Home:   https://treehornexpress.wordpress.coms
[Maintained by NZ Educator, Allan Alach]
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Spreading School Progress/Regress
Part 1 – Adopting memes

There are periods in the history of schooling when an innovation or teaching movement gathers momentum and spreads around the world in pandemic fashion. It follows the pattern of fashions and styles that mark the spread of oddities such as crew-cuts, long hair, mini-skirts, kaftans, ‘long’ shorts, tattoes, rap music. The popularity of particular  fads, fashions and avant-garde social notions is so noticeable that their existence is irrefagable, whether they contribute to human welfare or not. There is an identifiable reaction by the population. It lasts for an indeterminate period and then it goes away, leaving some remnants.

These movements are called memes. Although difficult to nail empirically, they can be identified, described and categorised in cultural terms.

Some memes have a positive outcome for the population that welcomes them. Child-centred education, for instance, developed in bomb-ravaged Great Britain during WW2 when children were schooled under difficult circumstances, having to undertake learning activities in all sorts of places, with wide mixtures of ages in class groups, with subjects losing their strict boundaries, and by using material that was left lying around and by supporting each other in all learning activities. Although steeped in the strict traditions of David Copperfiled & Tom Brown schools and their stern adult controlled classroms, Britons warmly welcomed this open approach to schooling: starting with the child as the base for learning instead of the subject. Such a dramatic social change had never occurred before.

The Good Teaching Super-meme  Outcomes were so positive and so successful in achievement terms for the post-war progress of Britain’s scientific, technological and industrial pursuits, that other countries wanted to copy this open style education. It obviously worked.  In the immediate post-war period, teachers were, to a large degree, left alone to teach their class; with official and professional encouragement to be different, to be brave, to try strategies beyond the traditional, not to set a limit on pupil achievement. Progress was not inhibited by labelling achievements in bits of the active, live, locally based curricula.  LEARNING per se was ‘in the air’ through all age-groups, and became pandemic. Educators, officials, researchers and scholars flocked to England to examine the phenomenon that was causing this light of learning, shining from LEA [Local Education Authorities] lighthouses at Bristol, West Riding of Yorkshire [Sir Alec Clegg], Hertsfordshire [Eric Hake] and others.

The 1950-1970s’ liberal-style schooling became the most exciting, most progressive and most productive period in the history of schooling. Never before had teaching-learning strategies influenced the architecture of school classrooms. Instead of rows of locked-in single rooms with fixed desks facing a chalk-board, schools were deliberatley patterned for multiple ages and groups and teachers to experience family-style learning, with space for creative activities, for special withdrawal and other spaces so that children could be active learners, using as many of their senses as possible. The shape of the building catered for open-minded, multi-strategic teaching styles.

Unfortunately, educators labelled the movement;  and some tried to ‘package’ parts of it. It was labelled ‘open plan’, ‘open area’ or ‘multiple area’. Those teachers whose personal development and professional reading were limited – the remnants from the pre-war influences –  were frightened by the extra work, planning and preparation and more active teacher-pupil interaction required. They called themselves traditionalists and were uncomfortable.  It was, however, – put simply – good teaching.

As a super-meme, it spread because the professionalism of teaching around the world had grown enormosuly during this period and sound ‘care for kids’ ethics were observed. Teachers started to share their excellence; and a world in which respect for children would become each nation’s boast,  looked like becoming a reality.

However, something serious happened about 1985. What happened?

Another meme – a business-based meme – a scato-meme came from left-field. Managerialism infested the work-force – businesses, corporations, public service, government enterprises.

The Managerial Scato-meme  Managerialism had found credence in tertiary studies.  MBAs, as entres to large corporations and businesses became very popular as courses of study. ‘Business Studies’  invented an esoteric language and invented the myth of standardised control techniques. Influential appointment-makers  were conned into believing that generic forms of leadership and administrative skills could be applied to any organisation irrespective of its ethos. In their bogan view, all structures were similar…so…. the world set about putting plumbers in charge of garages; the kind of operation that would place an Admirable Creighton, a butler,  in charge of the Dirty Dozen instead of Major Reisman [Lee Marvin] or vica versa.  Management clones were assigned to leadership roles and tried to usurp the codified bodies of knowledge and know-how that on-the -job experience brings to efficiency and effectivenss. It just doesn’t work that way. The managerial scato-meme deliberately devalued experience as an administrative factor.

This managerial scato-meme has created monumental mess-ups that are now part of history. Lawyers, Army Officers, University Professors, Railway Managers and the like have been appointed to run school systems in various parts of the world; and the systems have regressed.  With the best will in the world, nothing useful can happen when this scato-meme is followed. The vital ingredient is missing.  Then, some authorities have to introduce big-time gimmicks, such as charter schools, middle schools, LOTE, anything, to indicate that they are doing something useful. The messes compound.

The acceptance of this managerial scato-meme has now placed all school authorities in Australia in vulnerable positions. When another scato-meme in the form of unexamined  and uncontested education change was introduced to Australia just for the sake of change in 2008, there were no gate-keepers to insist on professional behaviour. Copied by a lawyer from another lawyer’s school district in New York, a fear-based blanket-testing-riddled school system was able to be introduced with little murmur. Scato-memes conjoined. Educators were overwhelmed by testucators.

Our unfortunate Australian pupils, parents and teachers are left with NAPLAN – the monumental blunder.  There is a sad future for Australia if allowed to exist.

More soon.

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Linkswww.literacyeducators.com.au   http://saveourschools.com.au   www.networkonnet.co.nz   http://leading-learning.blogspot.co.nz
http://primaryschooling.net   http://www.marionbrady.com  http://www.dianeravitch.com   http://susanohanian.org
http://alfiekohn.org     http://www.essential.org     http://opttoutofstandardizedtests.wikispaces
http://www.essential.schools.org               http://www.joebower.org
http://treehornexpress.wordpress,com/bridging-the-ditch/
http://allthingslearning.wordpress.com

Phil Cullen AM,FACEL,FQIEA,FACE
41 Cominan Avenue
Banora Point  2486
07 5524 6443
cphilcullen@bigpond.co