Educational Readings April 11th

By Allan Alach

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

This week’s homework!

The Downside of “Grit”

What Really Happens When Kids Are Pushed to Be More Persistent?

One of the latest GERM bandwagon is the notion of ‘grit.’ In other words, children with ‘grit’ will achieve and from there it follows that driving children is the key to success, or the inverse, that children who are not achieving lack ‘grit’ (i.e. are lazy). Alfie Kohn, typically, deconstructs ‘grit’ in this article.

‘Grit is usually justified as a way to boost academic achievement, which sounds commendable.  But take a moment to reflect on other possible goals one might have for children — for example, to lead a life that’s happy and fulfilling, morally admirable, creative, or characterized by psychological health.  Any of those objectives would almost certainly lead to prescriptions quite different from “Do one thing and never give up.”’

Whole Brain Teaching…?

Last week’s posting of a video showing Whole Brain Teaching generated some discussion.  Being a skeptic, I went looking for an article that backed me up and found one on the Neuroskeptic website. I’ll leave it to proponents of WBT to find reputable articles supporting their claims.

“I’m not saying Whole Brain Teaching is useless, I’m not saying anything about the method itself, but the “brain” claims are misleading. Many of the things they recommend are teaching aids and classroom exercises, and no doubt those are helpful.”

Is ‘filling the pail’ any way to train teachers?

Sticking with the drill and kill theme, here’s an article from 2012 about a similar methodology for ‘training’ teachers.

“I do not fault the teacher in the video for her style. She is performing as taught by a system that, in my opinion, better prepares students for the dutiful obedience of the military than for the intellectual challenges they will encounter in college.”

The Classroom of the Future: Student Centered or Device Centered?

Anthony Cody looking at claims for device centred education. His conclusion is not good for Gates, Murdoch et al.

“And I think these devices will fail ultimately fail to deliver. Here is why.

Do boys dislike school? Or just what they’re learning?

“By not exploring where boys achieve and what this achievement means to them, we know little about how to reengage disenfranchised boys, especially those in the “at-risk” categories, with formal schooling. Learning why they disengaged to begin with, and how to re-engage them, is essential to improving the outcomes for boys in schools.”

Risky Play: Why Children Love It and Need It

“An ironic fact is that children are far more likely to injure themselves in adult-directed sports than in their own freely chosen, self-directed play.  That’s because the adult encouragement and competitive nature of the sports lead children to take risks–both of hurting themselves and of hurting others—that they would not choose to take in free play. “

Scientists’ depressing new discovery about the brain

This one’s not directly educational but I’m sure you will see the relevance …

“Science Confirms: Politics Wrecks Your Ability to Do Math.”

Reading Comprehension: Paper or Screen?

A long and somewhat technical article, but don’t let that put you off.

“This suggests that it will not be long before electronic reading might be a better choice than paper reading for reading for comprehension. Such a claim, of course, depends on the familiarity of readers with the interface of that reading technology and its ability to allow for the reading features listed here.”

This week’s contributions from Bruce Hammonds:

Educational Books for Creative Teaching – to develop the gifts and talents of all students

Last week I posted a link to The 50 great books on education.

Here’s Bruce’s own pick of ‘must read’ educational books. Which list do you prefer? What would be in your essential book list?

“I have searched through my postings for some of the best books that provide courage for teachers to make stand against the current anti educational approaches of a market forces competitive ideology.”

50 Ted Talks Every Educator Should Check Out (2014 Edition)

Bruce’s comment: Ideal wet weather viewing or staff Professional Development,

“Using TED Talks to convey an important message or spark creativity might be more effective in teaching students than an individual agenda or preconceived notion of what should be said.”

Is boredom the real epidemic in our schools?

Rapidly being made worse by standards based classrooms…

“It is time we rethink the environments in which we are raising our children and what our priorities are. Are our schools places that provide an environment where childhood can be a happy time full of wonder and exploration? What does that look like and what would it take to make that a reality for children?”

We have lost so much over the past 50 years. We need to return leadership back to creative teachers.

From Bruce’s oldies but goodies file:

“In recent years the myth of the principal as the key to school transformation became persuasive and as result the principal’s status has gone up commensurably. Crowther questions this myth, believing that the reality has not lived up to the rhetoric. The so called ‘heroic leader’ may effect short term change but all too often this is a temporary transformation.”


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