Educational Readings April 18th

By Allan Alach

New Zealand teachers have just reached the end of the 12 week first term of 2014 and are now looking forward to a two week break so they can rest and recuperate, not a holiday as non-teachers would have it. It’s intriguing how non-teachers make a big deal about all the so-called ‘holidays’ that teachers get, yet they are very quick to say that they could never be teachers.

I hope that all teachers, everywhere, take the advantage of Easter to get right away from the pressures of their job and spend quality time on themselves and their families.

I welcome suggested articles, so if you come across a gem, email it to me at allan.alach@ihug.co.nz.

This week’s homework!

Decisions about teaching methods should be made by educators not politicians

An opinion post from Australia, however you will no doubt notice it is applicable all over.

“In these examples we have a lawyer, turned politician, suggesting that education policy should take us back to an earlier era on the basis of his intuition, the comfort level of parents, and how he was taught many years ago.”

http://bit.ly/1qJniop

The Long Death of Creative Teaching: Common Core standards are part of a bigger movement towards stifling teachers.

Does this ring any bells for you, wherever you are?

“Being lost is the practical wisdom and planned spontaneity necessary to work with 20 to 35 individuals in a classroom. Academic creativity has been drained from degraded and overworked experienced teachers. Uniformity has sucked the life out of teaching and learning.”

http://bit.ly/1kEi7VW

Why many boys only do just enough.

Last week, I included a link to this article “Do boys dislike school? Or just what they’re learning?”  In response, Kevin Hewitson sent me an article he has written on a similar theme. Kevin commented in his email:

“I believe it is not just what we ask boys to learn but also how they respond in how well they learn it. It is my experience, 36+ years of teaching and a father of 2 boys, that boys often do “just enough”. What is just enough is determined by a whole host of things including targets or expectations of others, something schools are awash with. When the target is self-imposed, internal to their needs, then the sky is the limit for boy’s achievement. As a teacher and parent you can use this knowledge to good effect, you just have to lie about what the desired goal or outcome is.”

http://bit.ly/PZWkxt

How Does PISA Put the World at Risk (Part 5): Racing to the Past

Part 5 of Yong Zhao’s series on PISA. More evidence for ideologues to ignore…

“The top performers of PISA are simply better implementation of the old paradigm—the Prussian industrial model of education, which many Western education systems, including the U.S. system, are based on.”

http://bit.ly/1n3hBEr

In Defense Of Poetry: “Oh My Heart”

“Will we soon wake one morning to find the carcasses of poems washed up on the beach by the tsunami of the Common Core? That question, especially during National Poetry Month, now haunts me more every day, notably because of the double-impending doom augured by the Common Core: the rise of nonfiction (and the concurrent erasing of poetry and fiction) from the ELA curriculum and the mantra-of-the-moment, “close reading” (the sheep’s clothing for that familiar old wolf New Criticism). It seems we have come to a moment in the history of the US when we no longer even pretend to care about that which is the result of the human heart: Art.”

http://bit.ly/1iGc93m

Education’s culture of overwork is turning children and teachers into ghosts

“Educational reform now largely equals intensive schooling: early-morning catch-up classes, after-school clubs, longer terms, shorter holidays, more testing, more homework.

The trouble is, the human body and human communities do not flourish through being flogged. Families don’t benefit from frenetic rushing. They simply forget who each other is, or could be, which is where the real problems begin. Overtired children don’t learn. And hungry overtired children simply fall asleep, or kick off.”

http://bit.ly/1eL26ys

This week’s contributions from Bruce Hammonds:

How Technology Is Changing The Skills We Need To Learn

Bruce’s comment: “ A brilliant small article.”

“We teach people that everything that matters happens between your ears when in fact it actually happens between people.”

http://bit.ly/1iJGpKD

Creativity and the Brain: What We Can Learn From Jazz Musicians

Bruce’s comment: “Importance of the arts and improvisation.”

Luckily, creativity isn’t an unknowable, mystical quality. It can be developed. “You have to cultivate these behaviors by introducing them to children and recognizing that the more you do it, the better you are at doing it,” Limb said. The problem is a lot of kids don’t get much unstructured time either in school or out of it. School is often based on right or wrong answers, leaving little room for students to come up with ideas that haven’t been taught to them before.”

http://bit.ly/1gDbToF

Time for a national conversation about education?

Here’s another article from Bruce’s oldies but goodies file.

Bruce’s comment: “Good for a reading over Easter – supposed to be a time of reflection!”

“What we need now is a national conversation about the role of education in the Twenty-first Century. Education is far too important to leave to the politicians and their advisers. They are far too influenced by the need to stay in power and not upset those who have a vested interest in the status quo.”

http://bit.ly/1m8DAJS

For Earth Day and Beyond: Focus on Environmental Action Projects

Bruce’s comment: “Some practical ideas for environmental studies.”

“This year, more than a billion people are expected to take part in Earth Day events around the world. Help your students consider their long-term role as environmental stewards by planning global education projects that challenge students to think (and act) beyond their classrooms.”

http://bit.ly/1jLJVHN

Contributed by Phil Cullen:

Public Schools for Sale:  Bill Moyers Interviews Diane Ravitch

Phil’s comment:

“This should be seen by everybody. It takes 25 mins. For busy people, that’s a lot of time.  I’d allow three-quarters of an hour, however, allowing extra time to reflect on the comments…. as the charter school  movement heads down under. In Australia, we call Charter Schools ‘Independent Public Schools’….such a LOLy oxy-moronic title.  It’s a jokey cover-up for what Diane R is describing, since NZ and Australia’s are crazily pursuing this  course of action.”

http://bit.ly/P4djOh

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