Educational Readings April 25th

By Allan Alach

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

This week’s homework!

Secret Teacher: if you want teachers to be happy in the job, show them respect

“Valuing and supporting students is a fundamental part of teaching. So why don’t we show the same concern for our colleagues? asks Secret Teacher”

The Learning Curve for Boys: Is it Different?

I linked to this article on Twitter and received a fairly terse response that we shouldn’t be differentiating for boys. What do you think?

“In summary, boys follow a unique learning curve, one that can be significantly enhanced in an environment that appreciates the differences between genders.  A setting that recognizes the cognitive, emotional and social processes which motivate boys to reach their full potential is the optimal learning environment for boys.”

Why free market will not fix problems with teachers and teaching

This article is from Australia and reveals an amazing coincidence – the rhetoric about non-performing teachers and way to sort this so-called problem is identical to that used in New Zealand, England, Canada and the USA. What are the odds on that?

“Related beliefs include the “fact” that teacher education is ineffective and needs reform, that the value of a teaching qualification is questionable and even unnecessary, and that there are benefits that will accrue from appointing non-educators as principals and running schools as businesses.”

A Passionate, Unapologetic Plea for Creative Writing in Schools

(thanks to Michael Fawcett)

“Human beings yearn to share, reflect, and understand one another, and they use these reflections to improve the state of things, both personal and public. If we want our students to have this kind of impact, we have to teach them to express themselves with both precision and passion.”

‘We trust our own instincts more than we trust Pisa’

‘Singapore came third in science and second in maths and reading, and also topped a recent problem-solving exercise. But Pak Tee Ng, associate professor at Singapore’s National Institute of Education, said: “So what if we are near the top of Pisa? What may be the ticket for success in the past may be a ticket to doom in the future. I think we trust our own instincts more than we trust the Pisa results.”’

The Poverty Scam

An article written about New Zealand and which is applicable all over.

“So why is it that Governments persist with an ideology that is demonstrably flawed?

In part it is because the ideology is easily sold to the electorate. Who, after all, would oppose a simple silver bullet that would provide better schools to help poor children succeed? What’s more it enables right-wing Governments to paint themselves as caring, while pursuing economic policies that are are ultimately unfriendly to children.”

Give childhood back to children

A lengthy article by Peter Gray – recommended.

 “The most important skills that children everywhere must learn in order to live happy, productive, moral lives are skills that cannot be taught in school. Such skills cannot be taught at all. They are learned and practised by children in play. These include the abilities to think creatively, to get along with other people and cooperate effectively, and to control their own impulses and emotions.”

Sustainability in schools: give young eco-warriors space to grow

An encouraging article from the UK, with no standards or tests in sight.

“Nash believes the real beauty of student-led projects is enabling children to make that difficult link between their own concerns and what matters to the wider world. It’s a struggle for a nine-year-old to care about global warming, but showing a child the tangible results of, for example, saving energy to free up more money for class resources, actually means something to him or her.”

This week’s contributions from Bruce Hammonds:

Seymour Papert : The obsolete ‘Three Rs’ – blocking real change in education

Another one from Bruce’s extensive oldies file:

“All this  Victorian emphasis on the ‘three Rs’  according to people like Professor Seymour Papert, a highly respected MIT expert in learning and computers, ‘expresses the most obstinate block to change in education’.’ The role of the basics’, he writes, ‘is never discussed; it is considered obvious’. As a result other important educational developments are being ignored.”

Quality teaching and learning. 

Bruce’s latest article, looking back over lessons about learning gained from teachers and students he has worked with over the decades.

“What I have observed in all the  creative teachers I have  worked with over the decades is that they are always in motion, working with students, singly, in small groups; briefly addressing the class as a whole, inviting , explaining, explaining, gently correcting, and sincerely affirming. As Elwyn Richardson has written ‘I learnt as much from my students as they learnt from me’”

Contributed by Phil Cullen:

‘Why are they trying to sell me something during the test?’ 

(thanks to Mary Mackay, Amsterdam)

Corporate capitalism lacks morality …

“Grade-school students baffled as brands including Nike, iPods and Barbies appear in exam papers

•Brand names appeared in a New York Common Core standardized test

•Exam was taken by more than a million students in grades three to eight 

•Many complained about the use of specific branding in the test

•New York education officials insist there were no paid product placements”


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