Education Readings September 6th

By Allan Alach

Apologies for the delay in posting this – I’ve been in an internet free world for a few days, at Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia. Add this place to your bucket list!

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

This week’s homework!

The ministry of education and Whale Oil: an introduction

This article describes what seems to have been a coordinated dirty politics attack (as part of a government wide dirty politics programme) on New Zealand primary principals (including me) in 2011, for daring to object to the government’s national standards in education agenda.

“And if deep collusion has occurred and basic human rights have, indeed, been transgressed, I look forward to the day when a test case for damages to individuals is undertaken, substantial damages awarded – and with that done, a process of truth and reconciliation following.”

Welcome To The Teaching Profession: Are You Ready To Go To War?

“The teachers who stay in the profession have realized that they are in the fight of their life. Teachers can no longer do what they love, what they spent years being educated to do; they have to fight for their students, their parents, their colleagues, and their selves. They have to fight against the education reformers who have never been teachers but somehow are allowed to make policies that impact other people’s children while their children go to private school.”

The Cult of Order

Yet another gem from Peter Greene – education’s version of big brother?

“Many, many, many reformsters are members of the Cult of Order.

The Cult of Order believes in blind, unthinking devotion to Order. Everything must be in its proper place. Everything must go according to plan. Everything must be under control.”

Newspapers are Bad News for Teachers

Some research from Australia that is applicable all over.

“As such, an accumulation of negative and critical media reportage about teachers is likely to erode public trust for teachers and the teaching profession. This is an unacceptable situation where a teacher’s role is made more difficult with the gaze of non-educationist onlookers ‘second-guessing’ teachers’ every move; and the status of teaching become less attractive for those contemplating their career opportunities.”

Parents, I Cannot Protect Your Children

“Parents, I cannot protect your children. I must be honest in telling you that the war is alive and well in our classrooms, and children are being harmed every day. What is happening is evil, cruel and abusive.”

Scientists Say Child’s Play Helps Build A Better Brain

Don’t know why we need scientists to tell us the obvious!

“When it comes to brain development, time in the classroom may be less important than time on the playground.”

“Got Grit?” Great on a T-shirt, not so good in a gradebook.

“Without rehashing the entire story, the basic premise is that to teach grit, the school and its teachers create an artificial obstacle or challenge that students must overcome (almost like a washout course in college).  Along the way, the mantra of “growth mindset” and “grit” are common, but the basic positive regard for students seems to be deliberately hushed.  The teachers and leaders actually avoid confidence boosting statements like, “You are a smart kid”, they discourage the usual positive comment as “dirty words” in favor of the new language of grit, “failure is success”.  This story struck me as a decent idea gone awry.”

OECD Says That Competition in Education Has Failed

The OECD has issued a damning verdict on education policies that promote competition between schools. Its latest PISA in Focus brief says bluntly that the PISA international test data shows that more competition has failed to improve student results and has increased social segregation between schools.

This week’s contributions from Bruce Hammonds:

‘Grit’ May Not Spur Creative Success, Scholars Say

Seems Bruce has been following this grit meme as well…

‘Ms. Grohman found that neither grit nor two related characteristics of consistency and perseverance predicted a student’s success in various types of creative endeavors, including visual and performing art, writing, scientific ingenuity, or even creativeness in everyday problem-solving.”These are ‘no results’ that we are actually excited about,” Ms. Grohman said during a presentation on creativity. “Creative achievement and grit, intellectual creativity and grit, everyday creativity and grit: no effects whatsoever.”’

Back to School: Looking beyond the 3 R’s

Bruce’s comment: Ontario could be the first province in Canada to measure not just what students learn in school, but also how well the needs of the whole child are being met. A new programme launched this week aims to objectively examine how schools promote creativity, develop social skills and teach citizenship.

‘“These are the things schools say they have been doing for the past 100 years — developing a child’s ability to relate to others, to understand society, to appreciate the arts, to become a citizen, so let’s take it seriously and measure it,” he said. “We can measure creativity, we can measure whether a school attends to students’ mental health. We can measure whether a school provides a positive school climate.’

3 Ways to Plan for Diverse Learners: What Teachers Do

Bruce’s comment: So what do you think – formulaic teaching or student centred learning?

“Differentiated Instruction (DI) casts a spell on educators as to how it meets all students’ needs. The skillset required to differentiate seems mystical to some and incomprehensible to others in this environment of state standards and high-stakes tests. Where does one find the time? The reality is that every teacher already has the tools to differentiate in powerful ways for all learners.”

6 Scaffolding Strategies to Use with Your Students

Bruce’s comment: Some useful ideas to explore.

“What’s the opposite of scaffolding a lesson? It would be saying to students something like, “Read this nine-page science article, write a detailed essay on the topic it explores, and turn it in by Wednesday.” Yikes — no safety net, no parachute, no scaffolding — just left blowing in the wind.”


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