Education Readings June 20th

By Allan Alach 

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

Greetings from England.

This week’s homework!

The Problem Isn’t Just Common Core, but the Entire Reform Agenda

New Zealand readers, substitute ‘national standards’ for ‘common core’ but otherwise this article is relevant all over.

“A call for national standards ensures that we continue doing what is most wrong with our bureaucratic schools (establish-prescribe-measure) and that we persist in looking away from the largest cause of low student achievement: childhood poverty.”

Just ask the teachers

“One of the central features of corporate school reform is that those driving it haven’t bothered to seriously ask teachers to offer their solutions to improving public education.”

I’m a teacher. I never saw this coming.

A story from Canada that will resonate with teachers all over.

“The only people I can talk to these days are my colleagues. We’re all like dogs that have been beaten too much. We’re skittish and reactive around the public. We don’t trust the motives of the parents of the students we teach, lest they believe the narrative that our own government has created about us. We are afraid to put a bad mark on a paper, or discipline a child lest we be called to the carpet. We have been violated, and demoralized. And we seem to be alone. I never saw this coming.”

Why Pearson Tests Our Kids

A must read article about Pearson Group, possibly the biggest threat to education around the world.

“Pearson Personalized Learning” is not about supporting schools; it is about replacing them. And it is about replacing them without any evidence that their products work or any concern for the impact of their products on schools and student learning.

How the PISA Tests Mislead the World

Yet another academic shooting holes in PISA – reformers, please take note!

‘The international test-score rankings are almost universally interpreted by countries as an indication of the quality of their schools, despite the extensive methodological problems that make it virtually impossible to draw causal relationships between test scores and school quality. We are taking tenuous results and applying them in a questionable way.’

What You See in Today’s Public School Classroom Is A Mirage

A variation of this is found all over – teachers spending their own money on classroom materials. This is totally ignored by teacher bashers, probably because they have no idea this happens.

“It’s the first day of September. You bring your child to her new classroom, and as you say goodbye, you poke your head in the room. Everything looks great! You see neatly arranged desks. There’s a SMARTboard at the front of the room. The walls are covered with beautiful paper or fabric and colourful borders. But it’s all a mirage. What you do not see is the room’s bare bones before your child’s teacher came in over the summer and transformed it.”

Markets are Ineffective in Education and Create Social Inequalities

Surprise, surprise, not that our corporate influenced politicians will take any notice.

“A new study has found that competition between schools and greater school autonomy do not increase student achievement. It also found that competition tends to increase social inequalities in school results. The study is published in the latest issue of the Journal of Education Policy.”

Tony Abbott backs US-style corporate schools for Australia

Poor Australia, what did they do to deserve this?

“True to form, it is no surprise that he would come out with an announcement, during his visit to New York, ‘that the federal government will unveil plans next month for an Americanised education system in which schools are run in partnership with big companies and children educated to work specifically for those companies or others in the same field’”

This week’s contributions from Bruce Hammonds:

Democratic Education And Unschooling

Bruce’s comment: “Explore this site – lots of good reads/views/links”

“Democratic education is a educational philosophy towards greater decision-making power for students in the running of their own schools. It brings democratic values to education and can include self-determination within a community of equals, as well as such values as justice, respect and trust. There are a growing number of democratic schools in the world. Unschooling is type of homeschooling that doesn’t use a fixed curriculum, allowing children as much freedom to learn in the world, as their parents can comfortably bear.”

12 Timeless Project-Based Learning Resources

“Project-based learning is based on the idea that students learn best by tackling and solving real world problems. Students are much more engaged with the subject matter and look to the teacher as more of a coach who guides them through their own reflections and ideas. Project-based learning often involves students working in pairs or groups, thus facilitating a deeper understanding of cooperation and communication in solving problems.

Ready to try project-based learning in your classroom? These tried-and-true resources are sure to get you on the right track.”

Downhills loses the fight as academies move in

A warning for New Zealand schools and, most likely, for Australian schools.

“The four primaries – Downhills, Coleraine Park, Noel Park and Nightingale – were told by the Department for Education last year that they were potential academies after years of low results and recent Ofsted reports labelling them inadequate. Six other schools in the borough are also firmly in ministers’ sights.These changes form part of an official policy backed by Michael Gove, the education secretary, of enforced conversion of the country’s 200 worst-performing primaries into academies.”

In New Orleans, traditional public schools close for good

There are now NO public schools in New Orleans – a text book case of disaster capitalism.

“But in New Orleans, under the Recovery School District, the Louisiana state agency that seized control of almost all public schools after Hurricane Katrina ravaged the city in 2005, the traditional system has been swept away.”

3 Super-Simple Summer Science Activities

Bruce comments “A bit of science fun.”

“Here are my top three super-simple science demonstrations that mix the wow factor of any good science demo with some nice science exploration.”

From Bruce’s oldies but goodies file:

Creating a culture of Creativity for New Zealand

“Could New Zealand become such an innovative culture equivalent to Shakespeare’s England?  Was Shakespeare an isolated genius or the result of cultural conditions or both? ‘Elizabethan England,’ Lehrer writes, ‘provided the ideal place for a young dramatist to develop’. It was an age obsessed with theatre aided by a massive increase in literacy. The result was a ‘dramatic democratisation of knowledge’.’ Shakespeare is a reminder…that culture largely determines creative output.’”

This week’s contributions from former Queensland Director of Primary Education Phil Cullen:

Teacher Proofing

An excellent article that is applicable all over.

“There is a new list on the way from up-above… instruction,  blended learning, differential learning, closing the achievement and talent gap, student-centric instruction, yap, yap. Makes one ever wonder what ever  happened to classroom teaching as a descriptor?”

Frequently Asked Questions

“Pretend that you are an Education Minister or shadow minister in one of Australian States or at the federal level; and that your colleague, Mr. Chris Hipkins, the child-oriented shadow minister for education in New Zealand, has ‘possessed’ your intellect. You respond as truthfully as he usually does to the sort of questions that Aussie ministers are likely to receive.”

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