Educational Readings May 31

By Allan Alach

 As you read this, reflect on the attacks on children being made under the guise of school reform.

 Your Children 

Khalil Gibran

 Your children are not your children.

They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you.
And though they are with you, they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts.
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
Which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite.
And He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer’s hands be for happiness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
So He loves the bow that is stable.

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

This week’s homework!

Class Matters. Why Won’t We Admit It?

Not class size, not year level, but social class – a timely article given the New Government’s miserly decision to spend $2million per year providing a very basic breakfast for children in our poorest schools, compared to the $40million granted to private schools, over $30million granted to the America’s Cup campaign, the $120million paid to advertise the selling of a state owned asset, $60million paid to Warner Brothers on the clearly suspect claim that this would ensure that “The Hobbit’ movie would be made in New Zealand (and so Peter Jackson could buy himself a new $80million corporate jet) and the $1.7billion paid to rescue wealthy investors in the failed South Canterbury Finance Company.

 Adding the involvement of Sanitarium, who use their religious charity status to avoid paying tax, makes this seem a very dubious piece of political headline grabbing but little else.  New Zealand blogger Frank Macskay has used the very appropriate term ‘Weetbix Government’ to describe the NZ government – very appropriate Frank!

 Note: authors Helen Ladd and Edward Fisk are presently in New Zealand, being, I’m sure, ignored by the government...

 The learning gap experienced by malnourished children (via Bruce)

Another very appropriate article on the learning problems experienced by hungry children.

Teachers in Their Own Words: “A Plain Little Thing”

USA teacher Jeff Nguyen write about his concerns with common core standards in relation to five & six year olds, and also their effect on children with special needs. Do similar concerns apply to New Zealand’s national standards?

‘The effects of these standards are far reaching and go beyond the obvious concerns of limiting teachers’ ability to tailor curriculum to the needs and interests of their current students.’

 The bottom line on ‘learning styles’

This example discusses ‘the notion of different “learning styles” and whether there is any real evidence for them.’

What do you think?

 Are classrooms the antithesis to learning?

Are national standards the antithesis to learning? Is standardised testing the antithesis to learning? Is online instruction the antithesis to learning? And so it goes..

 How school reform preserves the ‘status quo’ — and what real change would look like

Excellent indepth article from The Washington Post that provided plenty of material for the anti-GERM debates. Challenge pro-GERMers to come up with evidence to support their claims. To date New Zealand government Associate Education Minister Nikki Kaye has not responded to a challenge from Save Our Schools NZ blogger Dianne Khan and me, to produce research backing her claim that charter schools will work.

How Can We Make Assessments Meaningful? (via Bruce).

The whole field of monitoring children’s learning is extremely problematical, yet is a pivotal area in the battle against GERM. We need to ensure, regardless of educational philosophies, that we have alternatives available to counteract the narrow mind killing numbness of standardised testing. Here’s one viewpoint.

And now for something completely different…

What does a teacher’s brain look like?


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