Educational Readings August 10

The Treehorn  Express
[Maintained by NZ educator Allan Alach]

Weekend Readings

By Allan Alach

The strange world where politicians and associated deformers pursue their agendas in seeming ignorance of the ever increasing objections of educators and parents continues all over. The same complaints “Why don’t they listen?’ can be heard in many countries. The fact that this happens, and is ignored, tells its own story. As far as New Zealand is concerned, the government have pushed on with their plan to make each school’s national standards data available to all and sundry via a website. The existing scheme of allowing schools to submit ‘data’ in a wide range of formats has made it impossible to collate the ‘data’ and this has spoiled the plan to produce league tables this year. As I expected, the system is being tightened up next year, requiring schools to enter ‘achievement data’ online, and further, also as I predicted, the following year (2014) will see the introduction of a online assessment tool that will rank children against national standards. Given the internationality of GERM, it is not drawing too long a bow to suggest that this approach is being trialled here, before being introduced elsewhere. The USA, with their Common Core Standards, is not too many light years away from being ready to go. Beware. This is another step to demote teacher professionalism and judgement – the other end of the ‘computer as teacher’ approach.
I welcome suggested articles, so if you come across a gem, email it to me at
This week’s homework!
The remarkable successes of the student strikers in Quebec
Lessons for us all from this? We can overcome neo-liberalism!
Privatizing Public Schools: Big Firms Eyeing Profits From U.S. K-12 Market
A couple of quotes from this article, which is applicable to other countries as well:
“Think about the upcoming rollout of new national academic standards for public schools, he urged the crowd. If they’re as rigorous as advertised, a huge number of schools will suddenly look really bad, their students testing way behind in reading and math. They’ll want help, quick. And private, for-profit vendors selling lesson plans, educational software and student assessments will be right there to provide it.” 
“Autism in particular, he said, is a growth market, with school districts seeking better, cheaper ways to serve the growing number of students struggling with that disorder.”
Open the Flood Gates
Thoughtful posting by Walter McKenzie of ASCD. Makes a very good case for the need to discard standardisation.
Noam Chomsky – The Purpose of Education
Noam Chomsky discusses the purpose of education, impact of technology, whether education should be perceived as a cost or an investment and the value of standardised assessment. An antidote to the madness spreading around the world.
Education funnels and webs of learning
Steve Wheeler, from University of Plymouth, UK, writes a very good blog “Learning with e’s” While predominantly commenting on digital technologies in education, he also casts his eye over the wider educational scene, and the purposes of education. In this article he references visionaries such as Illich and Freire.
Let’s read them a story! Helping your children succeed in school
OECD article that highlights the importance of parents reading to children at home.
Recommended Links
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