Education Readings October 3rd

By Allan Alach

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

This week’s homework!


Education Reform explained in 3 memes

Highly recommended post from Save Our Schools NZ:

“Feel free to right click, copy and share these memes as far and wide as you wish.”

Dickens and Standardized Testing

“And it is this that is so very chilling about this educational “reform,” which is not about reform at all, but something very ominous — control of the mind.

How better undermine education than by crippling thought; how better discourage critical inquiry than by stressing rote learning; how better weaken democracy than by subverting its schools!”

What’s wrong with standards-based education? Let me count the ways.

We had hoped that the recent New Zealand elections would see the end of GERM, sadly that wasn’t the case and so this article remains topical, as it is elsewhere in the world.

“However, standards are not a concern of wealthy kids and schools—why is this? By claiming one set of standards, we create the illusion of equal opportunity without the community development needed to create affluence which has been documented more than any other factor to determine school success. The truth is that standards are for poor kids. Wealthy kids don’t need them. Accountability measures strangle schooling in poor communities-wealthy schools can take them or leave them because they have the infrastructure of family, income, education and community that enables those students to do well, standards or not.”

‘How We Learn’ offers new look at how our brains work

“The science says something completely different. It says the brain is not by nature a school learner. It’s a scavenging learner, a foraging learner. That’s the way it has essentially evolved to learn, by pieces, on the move, picking up information as it goes along. The implications of that are huge for studying or for learning of any kind. It means that when we feel restless during practice it’s not because we’re not good learners, it’s because that’s the way the brain works.”

Thomas Kane On Educational Reform

Gene Glass comments: “Ask a Harvard economics prof how to reform schools and naive nonsense comes out.”

“I do have to say, though, as a former teacher, I would advise others to not heed the advice of a person who has conducted a heck of a lot of research “on” education but who has, as far as I can tell or find on the internet (see his full resume or curriculum vita here), not ever been a teacher “in” education himself, or much less set foot in the classroom.”

School’s quality does not affect gaps in attainment, research shows

Ah but who reads research when ideology is seen as the way forward?

“Professor Steve Strand, of Oxford University, says the stubbornness of the attainment gap across all types of schools suggests that the quality of a school is not enough to overcome a disadvantaged background.”

Father’s education level strongest factor in child’s success at school – study

More research to be ignored …

“A father’s level of education is the strongest factor determining a child’s future success at school, creating a self-reinforcing cycle of poverty and lack of achievement passed down from parents to children in Britain, according to research. The report from the Office for National Statistics claims that children are seven and a half times less likely to be successful at school if their father failed to achieve, compared with children with highly educated fathers.”

Why Teachers Can’t Have a Seat at the Table

“Knowing why teacher voices have not been pursued or included would tell us something about reformster attitudes about teachers and illuminate the relationships at the heart of how public education works in this country. So let’s consider the possible reasons that teachers are not, and have not been, at the infamous table. What are the reformsters thinking?”

This week’s contributions from Bruce Hammonds:

Questioning the System- Are We Harming Kids?

Bruce’s comment: This is a great website to explore. This blog is about what dogs can teach us about personalising learning.

“That nagging feeling that we are doing more harm than good. That schools for the most part, as they currently exist are resulting in the dumbing down of education. We are developing mediocrity rather than excellence in our graduates. That we are missing opportunities to help children develop deep learning around their passion due to our one size fits most approach to learning in our schools.”

School garden teaches students many lessons

Bruce’s comment: Now that it is spring (in the southern hemisphere), is it time to think about establishing a school garden?

“The garden is tied to the student’s curriculum. Math, science, reading and healthy living are all part of the equation. The kids measured the beds for planting and record what’s going on in the garden.”

Here’s a number of articles from Bruce about passion based learning:

Passion-Based Learning: An Interview with Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach

“Educator Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach challenges us to rediscover our own passion for teaching by helping our students become passionate seekers of knowledge and understanding.”

Passion-Based Learning

“Passion is hot. It is a force that sells movies and margarine and everything in between. It is a force the can move mountains, inspire art and make the weak strong. We need to bring passion back into learning, in teaching and all around. Passion motivates. It makes a way out of no way. It allows students to overcome hardships to achieve a goal that is meaningful to them.”

25 Ways to Institute Passion-Based Learning in the Classroom

“Common sense tells us that students are more likely to learn if they are motivated by and engaged with the curriculum or project at hand. Now, hard science is telling us the same thing. When students are passionately engaged in their learning – when they are mesmerized by their learning environment or activities – there are myriad responses in their brains making connections and building schema that simply would not occur without that passion or emotion.”

How to Ignite Passion in Your Students: 8 Ways Educators Can Foster Passion-based Learning

‘In the end, it is passion that drives all great things to be achieved.  If passion is forgotten in classrooms, we are losing half the meaning of learning. As Einstein once said,

“Education is what remains after one has forgotten what one has learned in school.”’


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