Educational Readings February 21st

By Allan Alach

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

 This week’s homework!

 On being a profession…

Written about New Zealand and very applicable all over.

‘Consequently, the whole question of whether teaching is a profession, or can become one, is a bit of a red herring. The real issue is the degree to which teachers can resist deskilling and maintain some measure of autonomy within the schooling system. For that to happen I believe we need a complete re-think about what our schooling system might be like as we sail merrily into the 21st century using 20th Century models of thinking supported by a 20th century Education Act that fails to place the learner at the centre of all subsequent policy and resourcing decisions.’

 Asphyxiating Education

The following quote refers to USA but the same rhetoric is used to justify ‘reform’ all over.

A coincidence of course????

“The standards are designed to be robust and relevant to the real world, reflecting the knowledge and skills that our young people need for success in college and careers. With American students fully prepared for the future, our communities will be best positioned to compete successfully in the global economy.”

 What EXACTLY are the “Skills” needed by 21st Century TEACHERS? – The “Robocop” Upgrade…

Tony Gurr commenting on the role and skill set of teachers in Turkey, applicable all over.

But, my “business” is LEARNing (as if you didn’t know) – not TECHNOlogy. And, I’m interested in how we actually “do” something with all the talk-we-are-talking these days – talk about the ”new kids” on the ”curriculum block”:’

Bill Gates, On the Record

Anthony Cody:

‘Bill Gates is a charlatan as far as education is concerned. He has discarded the expertise of educators as if it were trash, because it did not align with his concept of how learning ought to be measured and improved. In its place, he has fostered a worship of almighty data. He will come to the National Board singing the praises of accomplished teachers, because he wants to bring leading educators to his side, even as he devalues their expertise and autonomy.’

 7 reasons educators secretly fear creativity

‘Developing creativity in the classroom, in the school, in the district is not particularly difficult. Simple teaching techniques can spur divergent thinking. Innovation can be a part of all content areas and disciplines. Any project can have recognition of originality in its assessment. But creativity tends to be actively suppressed by teachers and administrators. Here’s why.’

 Psychologist on a mission to give every child a Learning Chip

Brave New World? Nineteen Eighty-Four? Or something written by Philip K. Dick?

Mind you the title is misleading…. the article has little to do with ‘chips’ and much more to do with the debate over genetics and learning.

The education world, he thinks, doesn’t take enough notice of genes. Learning about genetics should be part of teacher training, he says, so that teachers understand how to draw out individual talents. His big idea is personalised learning. He’s against all labels: dyslexia, attention deficit disorder, gifted and so on. Every child has special needs, he argues. Schools should therefore offer the widest possible choice of subjects and extra-curricular activities, even if it means them being very large.’

Five bad education assumptions the media keeps recycling

Alfie Kohn:

‘While the occasional journalist and even politician may acknowledge that, just possibly, we’re overtesting kids, almost all take on faith that test scores are appropriate for judging a student’s, school’s, state’s, or nation’s education status.  If it turns out that standardized tests are inherently flawed indicators — not just misapplied, overused, or badly implemented — then all judgments based on those numbers would have to be rethought. ‘

 The 4 Most Profound Ways Privatization Perverts Education

‘But there’s no market-based reform where children are involved. Education can’t be reduced to a lottery, or a testing app, or a business plan. Equal opportunity in education ensures that every child is encouraged and challenged and nurtured from the earliest age, as we expect for our own children.’

 This week’s contributions from Bruce Hammonds:

To Help Students Learn, Appeal to What They Value

‘The nonacademic passions, social intrigues and fads we would dismiss are among the things students value and, ironically, are a springboard for learning. What are your ideas for uncovering and working with students’ values? Please share your thoughts and experiences.’

 5 Ways to Make Your Classroom Student-Centered

‘Expert teachers know how to give students choice and voice, finding ways to design learning experiences that tap into what students value. This isn’t always easy, especially if our preparation experiences didn’t frame learning this way. Here are five questions that can help us develop and refine the teacher strengths needed for creating a student-centered classroom. Use them to start the new year off right!’

 Quotes from Sir Ken Robinson’s 2013 TED talk

‘Ken Robinson’s talk “How to escape education’s death valley” is one of my favorites. It was recorded in April of 2013. I highly recommend that you watch his latest talk on The quotes I assembled for the talk are the one’s most salient to me personally. This is not an attempt to summarize his talk in anyway, but perhaps a quote or two will be useful for you in your own presentations related to education, etc. The slides are in PDF, but you can easily cut and paste text as you wish. You can of, course, get the entire transcript of the talk on the website (in many languages). Let’s keep the conversation regarding the education revolution going.’

Seven Types of Projects that Foster Powerful Learning

‘Research projects are an important tool for both instructing students and assessing whether students have developed critical knowledge and skills for college and career success in a 21st century world. Students also have the opportunity to explore their interests, which increases their motivation to learn. They learn how to develop questions, find, sort and evaluate information, read widely and deeply, analyze, think creatively, write in many different formats, problem solve, and communicate results. Students also learn how to work independently and collaboratively. Many of the “soft” skills, such as curiosity, perseverance, “grit”, and dealing with failure and frustration are developed while working on a research project. Like the musician or athlete, students who conduct research projects have the opportunity to practice and improve important skills that they don’t normally get to use regularly in traditional classrooms.’


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