Educational Readings March 28th

By Allan Alach

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

This week’s homework!

To Foster Your Creativity, Don’t Learn To Code; Learn To Paint

And if you want to foster those creative, problem solving skills, the solution isn’t learning to code – it’s learning to paint. Or play an instrument. Or write poetry. Or sculpt. The field doesn’t matter: the key thing is that if you want to foster your own innovative creativity, the best way to do it is to seriously pursue an artistic endeavor.”

‘Closed’ v. ‘open’ systems of knowing

Scott McLeod:
“To fully prepare most students for life – and, arguably, to reengage many of them in the learning, not just social, aspects of their schooling – they need greater immersion in open systems of learning where questions are raised, answers aren’t fixed, and solutions are often contextual. This is true for all grade levels, not just secondary. So far most schools don’t do a great job with this.”

Pearson’s Vision for the World

Welcome to Sir Michael Barber’s version of Huxley’s “Brave New World.” Warning to teachers, everywhere.
‘The “digital ocean” that this paper introduces is coming. Just as “big data” is transforming other industries such as insurance, finance, retail, and professional sport, in time, it will transform education. And when it does, it will resolve long-standing dilemmas for educators and enable that long-term aspiration for evidence-informed policy at every level, from classroom to the whole system, to be realized.’

What have we done?

US educator Jamie McKenzie reflecting on 20 years of the internet in classrooms
“The Internet came to schools with much fanfare in 1994-95, as browsers converted the previously text-based World Wide Web into something far more user-friendly and attractive. Some of us felt these information technologies might transform schools in dramatic ways as students would have wide open access to information much richer than what was available previously. We hoped the Internet would foster independent thinking and originality. Two decades later, how many of these possibilities came true?”

Lessons from Disney Pixar on how creativity leads to more summative success

Ewan McIntosh:
“Pixar, since it was purchased by Disney, gives off an air of resilient creative and commercial success, but the journey is rarely that smooth. In fact, the more creative the output, the more commercially successful it is, for Pixar at least, and the processes used by the teams is remarkably close to what we see in highly effective classrooms.”

How Does PISA Put the World at Risk (Part 3): Creating Illusory Models of Excellence

Part 3 of Zong Zhao’s series on PISA.
“The product of most public value, the national league tables, are based on so many weak links that they should be abandoned right away. If only a few of the methodological issues raised in this volume are on target, the league tables depend on assumptions about the validity and reliability which are unattainable.”

Not choice, bro – I want to opt out

A tale from New Zealand mother (and very active anti-GERM campaigner) Dianne Khan, about her son who has just started school.
“He has been allocated a National Student Number to track him throughout his education.  His results, standards, and lord knows what else is being stored against this number. I can’t opt him out of this – trust me I have asked.  He and every child in or entering the system as of the 2014 school year is in the system, and god only knows what they are recording about him.”

This week’s contributions from Bruce Hammonds:

Like a Wood Duck: Finding Peace in the Classroom

“After a hard day of teaching, I often plop down on my desk chair at home and gaze up at a framed drawing hanging on the wall above my desk that a dear friend of mine gave me. It is a detailed depiction of a pair of wood ducks serenely floating on a calm pond. One of the ducks is male that has brightly colored feathers and beak; the other is female that is plain gray and nondescript. Yet both are at peace and comfortable with each other. Struggling to help students to learn can sometimes destroy our internal peace and serenity, especially when students resist our best efforts. I’d like to share some things that help me to stay calm as a wood duck.”

Concerns about Use of Standardized Tests a Constant over the Years

Bruce’s comment: “Politicians determining education – shades of TVs House of Cards!!!!”
“I think we can generally agree that standardized tests don’t have a good reputation today — and that some of the criticism is merited,” said U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan last April during the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association (AERA). “Policymakers and researchers have to listen very carefully — and take very seriously the concerns of educators, parents, and students about assessment.”

New School Year – what has been achieved ?

Bruce’s reflections after visiting classrooms six weeks into the 2014 New Zealand school year — what was to be seen? Care to make a guess?
“I wasn’t expecting miracles on my visits. I was just hoping for the early signs of the beginning of quality learning – the beginning of the class being a home for mutual studies by teachers and their students. Students as ‘seekers, users and creators of their own knowledge’. ( New Zealand Curriculum, 2007)”

What’s Your Learning Disposition? How to Foster Students’ Mindsets

“Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck’s work on growth mindsets has dominated much of the attention around how students can influence their own learning. But there are other ways to help students tap into their own motivation, too. Here are a few other important mindsets to consider.”

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