Educational Readings April 26th

By Allan Alach

There was a wealth of excellent articles to chose from for this week’s list of readings. Make sure you watch the “Why I hate school but love education’ video – very powerful and, to my mind, very true. The series of articles about national standards will keep you out of trouble for quite some time – they are lengthy but extremely well researched and presented, and so are possibly the defining statements about the attempts to impose standardised learning in New Zealand.

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

 This week’s homework!

 In an Era of Global Competition, What Exactly Are We Testing For?

World renowned educator Yong Zhao finds that ‘…the countries with lower scores had students who reported higher interest in the subjects,’ and further,  ‘If the stated goal is to get kids ready for careers, and careers demand confidence, creativity, and an entrepreneurial attitude, then why focus on test scores that seem to produce the opposite effect?’

Don’t Mandate Cursive Writing

‘In their eagerness to drag the schools and children of their states back to the early 20th century, legislators in North Carolina and South Carolina want to mandate the teaching of cursive writing. In this comment, handwriting expert Kate Gladstone explains why the cursive mandate is a bad idea.’

Education Discussion: The History and Evolution of Standardized Testing

While some of this article isn’t that relevant, it does provide food for thought, regardless of whether the tests are used for ranking purposes (summative) or in an attempt to provide diagnostic information (formative).

The break-things-into-bits mistake we have been making in education for centuries – happening today with standards

‘Dewey’s point is clear even if the writing is dense: so-called analysis of things into bits for the purpose of learning the whole has no basis in cognitive psychology or epistemology. Indeed, as he says just after, it is a case of putting the cart before the horse. Distinctions are made when we need them in the service of understanding. Learning an endless array of distinctions and their names prior to encountering the whole and interesting problems that require analysis yields no meaning and merely verbal knowledge.’

Is It Possible to Measure Creativity?

What do you think? I have my doubts.

Why I Hate School But Love Education

‘As the cyclical and seemingly never ending debate about education rages on, the topic – somewhat ironically, often poses more questions than it provides answers.But what is the value of mainstream schooling? Why is it that some of the most high profile and successful figures within the Western world openly admit to never having completed any form of higher learning?’

Indeed. We must not confuse education with schooling. Two different things altogether, yet this is the club used by GERMers to justify ‘deform.’

National Standards and Neanderthals – “They will know what is required …”

Here is a series of three very comprehensive articles about national standards in New Zealand, with much relevance to other countries as well.  This is a superb analysis.

‘It’s pretty clear from the documentation that National Standards ‘double down’ on the directing and controlling aspects of education that have been at the heart of modern schooling since its inception. But there’s a subtler point to be made about what this rhetoric indicates about the actual – as opposed to claimed – role of National Standards.

The role is not, in fact, to enhance learning – or the capacity to learn (‘learning how to learn’). It is about directing learning to achieve a progression within a subject area.’

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