Educational Readings May 2nd

By Allan Alach

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

This week’s homework!

Jerome Bruner on what’s behind the “surprise” of creativity

Scottish educator Ewan McIntosh:

“Eureka! moments rarely come from nowhere. Creativity and insight is hardly ever a lightning strike of insight, but more often a long hard slog. But it’s been frustrating to hear people write off the hard slog required for this kind of creative insight, so I’ve been in search of some more backup for why this hard slog, what one might call the “trough of enlightenment”, is necessary.”

Forget test scores: fight poverty and keep education public

This article is from Nova Scotia, Canada.

“Public education is public for a reason — it is created by, monitored and implemented by people accountable to the public. It is not motivated by profit.

Even more importantly, as long as poverty is a factor in children’s lives, all evidence points to the fact that those children’s performance in school will suffer. More than pedagogy, curriculum, or even class size, poverty is the main indicator of how well children do in school.”

Smaller class sizes generally better, new study says

Research to contradict ‘highly selective research’ that purports to show that class sizes make no difference (John Hattie, for example). As Hattie, et al, have provided school reformers with the justification for increasing class sizes, this is a valuable counter argument.

“The evidence that reducing class sizes in the early years of primary schools was that it had considerable impact, but the effect was less pronounced in secondary classes, although again it was greater in the most disadvantaged schools.”

Teaching Students to Embrace Mistakes

“Changing your students’ perspective on mistakes is the greatest gift you can give yourself as a teacher. Imagine having a classroom of students who are engaged and constantly improving — it’s every teacher’s dream. Instead, teachers face too many students who are disengaged and really rather surly. That surliness is years in the making. By the time students walk into your classroom, they’ve likely already internalized their mistakes as evidence that they’re just not smart.”

The Wrongest Sentence Ever in the CCSS Debate

Indisputable. Excellent article in response.

“Businesses are the primary consumers of the output of our schools, so it’s a natural alliance.”

Do Some Charter and Title I Schools Use a Pedagogy of Indoctrination

Applicable all over.

My claim is that the No Child Left Behind Act set in motion a culture of schooling which seeks conformity and an authority to which participants must subscribe, meaning teachers, students and their parents.  Followed by the Race to the Top, we have created in American schools an environment that many have shown to be harmful to the psychological well-being of not only students, but teachers as well.”

Beyond Dystopian Education in a Neoliberal Society (thanks to Joce Jesson)

Excellent article by Henry A. Giroux.

“Welcome to the dystopian world of corporate education in which learning how to think, be informed by public values, and become engaged critical citizens are viewed as a failure rather than a mark of success. Instead of producing “a generation of leaders worthy of the challenges,” the dystopian mission of public and higher education is to produce robots, technocrats, and compliant workers.”

Pedagogy First – Technology….

English educator Daniel Edwards, from his ‘Learning and Innovation’ blog:

“Historically technology has changed the normal methodology, but has had little impact on outcome and teachers have been delivering excellent lessons in a ‘standardised’ way for decades. This way has been challenged by the introduction of tablets into schools. And, it is a challenge to understand the change in pedagogy that comes along with a device that acts as a portal to the world. The ability to access information; give instant feedback and communicate outside ‘lesson time’ restructures the learning process.”

This week’s contributions from Bruce Hammonds:

Do We REALLY Need to Do New Things in New Ways?

This article by Bill Ferriter has a similar theme to the one above.

“Failing to create learning spaces where all children can use today’s tools to learn together, to solve problems, to change minds or to manage and evaluate information is failing kids.”

Legendary Harvard Psychologist Jerome Bruner on the Art of “Effective Surprise” and the 6 Essential Conditions of Creativity

Good article reviewing Bruner’s insights into the creative process.

“The road to banality is paved with creative intentions. Surprise is not easily defined. It is the unexpected that strikes one with wonder or astonishment. What is curious about effective surprise is that it need not be rare or infrequent or bizarre and is often none of these things. Effective surprises … seem rather to have the quality of obviousness about them when they occur, producing a shock of recognition following which there is no longer astonishment.”

We Are All Artists

Bruce’s comment: The blog about the importance of the arts –  worthwhile but I wouldn’t bother with the links and uninspiring illustrations.

“Classrooms are places where different forms of creativity should be nurtured and limiting narratives should be challenged. Learning can be structured so that all are able to discover avenues for creatively expressing themselves. Creation and creativity are integral to joy, investigation, analysis, expression and identity.”


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