Educational Readings February 22nd

Treehorn Express:

Shared opinions soaked in knowledge & experience – all well tested.


Educational Readings

By Allan Alach

A few themes in New Zealand over the last couple of weeks, all derivative of GERM 101 as practised around the world. The process to implement charter schools continues, with an emphasis on employing unqualified teacher ‘experts’ – yes that’s the expression used by a government MP. The Christchurch earthquake has been used as the justification to ‘reorganise’ schooling in Christchurch, with charter schools in the mix. Seems that schools in lower socio-economic areas have been listed as closing/merging, while schools in richer areas will continue. Government proposals for charter schools have lower socio-economic areas of Auckland and Christchurch as the preferred options for the first charter schools. Is there a rat to be smelled here or is my nose overly sensitive? Another theme, which has taken a while to arrive here, is the demonisation of teacher unions by ‘tame’ journalists and commentators – also straight out of GERM 101 handbook. Surprise, surprise.

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

This week’s homework!

At Long Last, We Are Treating Doctors Like We Treat Teachers

Performance standards for doctors? At last, let’s make them accountable, as we know this will lift their performance, as has happened with teachers.

U.S. teachers’ job satisfaction craters — report

Surprise. Who would have thought it? Of course NZ and Australian teachers will be fine…… won’t they?

Zombie Ideas in Education

Some really common ones – how many do you recognise? Are you able to add to the list?

Characteristics of Highly Creative People (via Bruce Hammonds)

This article is about adults, however it is easy to adapt to children. Look at your classroom – does it reflect these characteristics? Even more challenging – how does this interface with GERM?

It’s Really Very Simple … The Solution to England’s Education Problem (via Ken Woolford, Australia)
And NZ and Australia and USA and ….. Guess what – not a mention of standards, testing, achievement, inputs, outcomes, performance pay and so on.

‘…just as early years education was seen by the Victorians as little more than child-minding which came cheap, so secondary education was accepted as being specialised and expensive, and most often delivered away from the child’s local home community.  A century or more later primary education is still allocated significantly fewer funds, and far less status, than secondary (which means that classes are much larger when pupils are young, and smaller with more direct teacher involvement, when they are older).’

Inquiring Minds Really Do Want to Know

“How do we go from the natural curiosity of the two-year old to the practiced detachment of the stereotypical teenager? What is it about school that teaches kids to not care about their work — and by extension, their world?


And if we want our students to really be thoughtful scholars and citizens, don’t we owe it to them to teach them how to think for themselves?

Who wants adults who can think for themselves? Why, they may start to question the status quo. Can’t have that.

The need for creative schools – schools as true learning communities.

A very important article by Bruce Hammonds. We cannot afford to lose the voices of wisdom and experience! 

‘ I am almost at a point of giving up my crusade for creative education because it seems a losing battle. In Australia ex Director of Primary Education Queensland Phil Cullen has finally given up a long fight against the evils of an over emphasis on testing in basic subjects. He is disappointed that teacher and principal organisations did not have the courage to confront such politically inspired approach.’

Yup, Bruce and Phil. I look around New Zealand and see what you mean. Much too quiet for my liking.

10 Ways To Fake A 21st Century Classroom

A light hearted article, yet has more than a grain of truth….

Kelvin Smythe: Primary School Diaries Part 1: Stories and Satires.

Highly regarded New Zealand educator Kelvin Smythe has published the first booklet of a series which will revisit his best articles from 23 years of writing, firstly in his Developmental Network Newsletter, and then on his networkonnet website. While some of the articles have a ‘kiwi’ flavour, most are applicable all over. This booklet tells the story of the neo-liberal takeover of New Zealand schooling from 1990 onwards and leaves one truly gobsmacked that we submitted to this nonsense.

I helped Kelvin put this together, and even though I have that inside view, I can affirm that this is a high quality document, well worth reading. The madness of the whole ideology and implementation is so apparent and this helps reveal the present government’s agenda as a part of the same process that was started in the mid 1980s in the height of the neo-liberal agenda. Nothing has changed.

$20 per booklet or $17.50 each for two or more. Email Kelvin

Let concerned adults make sure that NAPLAN eradication becomes a top election issue.

Kids don’t get a vote.

Phil Cullen

February 22nd  2013

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