Education Readings October 17th

By Allan Alach

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

This week’s homework!


Are You an Autodidact? Or Do You Need Other People To Learn?

Thanks to Heather McQuillan for this article, good for self reflection.

“Most people are not autodidacts. In order to learn effectively, they need guidance provided by teachers. They need support provided by peers. And they need structure provided by institutions. “

Reading Is About More Than ‘Evidence’

Sure is.

‘A few weeks later, another colleague and I were designing a reading curriculum. She suggested this daily objective: “Students will categorize evidence from a nonfiction text by subtopic.” How strange to think of the information we gather from a nonfiction text as “evidence.” Evidence of what? I thought. I suggested we keep her objective, but replace “evidence” with the word “information.”’

Curious learning

Uk academic Steve Wheeler:

“Curiosity killed the cat, but it also made each of us who we are today. Without curiosity, none of us would learn very much at all. Learning is based more on curiosity than any other human characteristic. Children who are curious are always interested in discovering more. Children who lose their curiosity usually turn off and tune out. Children are naturally curious, but sadly, rigid school systems and curricula have often knocked this out of them by the time they graduate.”

One size education no longer fits all

This article is from Australia.

“Things like “leadership and personal development, confidence and resilience, wellness and a social conscience”. God forbid that we equip our students with the latter. For might not our charges then turn bolshie and question the premise of rank materialism, the celebrity culture and democracies which are sometimes anything but.”

What Happens When Education Serves the Economy?

A thoughtfully politically post by Anthony Cody – read it!

“Our political system has become one that similarly revolves around making profits. There is no political will to defend the environment, because just like public schools, the common resources of the natural world – including the air we breathe, the atmosphere that creates weather we can live in, and the water we drink, all must be put to maximum profitable use.”

GRIT: A Skeptical Look at the Latest Educational Fad

Alfie Kohn – is any comment needed?

“Anyone who talks about grit as an unalloyed good may need to be reminded of the proverbial Law of Holes:  When you’re in one, stop digging.  Gritty people sometimes exhibit “nonproductive persistence”; they try, try again even though the result may be either unremitting failure or “a costly or inefficient success that could have been easily surpassed by alternative courses of action,” as one group of psychologists explained.”

The Opposite of Grit

Following on, here’s Curmudgucation’s take on grit:

“Life provides plenty of need for grit all on its own. It’s not necessary to provide more on purpose. And the need for grit doesn’t help get things done, doesn’t help people succeed. It may call on their strength, but it doesn’t create it. We know that. We understand it. When we want someone to succeed, we do as much as we can to remove the need for grit. Do we not want our students to succeed?

This week’s contributions from Bruce Hammonds:

Sir Ken Robinson: What you cannot miss in the classroom.

Bruce’s comment: Another great interview with Sir Ken Robinson. Lots of links to other videos featuring Sir Ken.

“Sir Ken Robinson, renowned in the field of education for his valuable contributions, expressed his view on the relationship between education and technology”

20 Collaborative Learning Tips And Strategies For Teachers

Bruce’s comment: Strategies for cooperative learning – building on the ideas of Vygotsky

“Many consider Vygotsky the father of “social learning”.  Vygotsky was an education rebel in many ways.  Vygotsky controversially argued for educators to assess students’ ability to solve problems, rather than knowledge acquisition. The idea of collaborative learning has a lot to do with Vygotsky’s idea of the “zone of proximal development”.  It considers what a student can do if aided by peers and adults. By considering this model for learning, we might consider collaboration to increase students’ awareness of other concepts.”

The Importance of Teaching Critical Thinking

Bruce’s comment: Focussing on standardisation neglecting critical thinking skills.

“Critical thinking is a term that is given much discussion without much action.  K-12 educators and administrators are pushed to teach the necessities as dictated by the standardized assessments in order to catch up the students to students of other countries.  In this push for better test scores, many students are leaving the K-12 education system lacking the critical thinking skills that are necessary to succeed in higher education or in the workplace”

5 Reasons Leaders Need to Encourage Teacher Voice

Being a school leader is not easy. It takes a delicate balance between knowing when to push, understanding how to pull, and making sure that you take the time to listen to all stakeholders in the school community. For too many years teachers have lacked a real voice in schools, and without their powerful and informative voices, we can never move forward to engage and encourage students to have a voice.”

Perspectives / Do-It-Yourself Learning

“This issue of Educational Leadership addresses the question, How do students learn for the long term? Our authors’ research-based answers, although familiar enough, also pack some surprises.”

Why Don’t Whales Have Legs?

Following on from the above article:

‘Time and again, long-term student feedback, program reviews, and end-of-year student reflections cite these two guided inquiry lessons as the most memorable. Posing lessons as questions, or problematizing them, allows students to learn and practice science in ways that make it “stick.”’

From Bruce’s ‘oldies but goodies’ file:

Disorganisation.Why organisations must ‘loosen up’!

“From a creative individuals point of view there is a desire for greater autonomy and flexibility. Such people want a greater say in the future of the organizations they work for. In short they want organizations to ‘disorganize’!”

This week’s contributions from Phil Cullen:

There’s more to education than spelling and numbers

“We need to go beyond the economic, rote-learning mindset, which is singularly concerned with the acquisition and regurgitation of facts. There is great concern that the race to the top in PISA rankings is undermining the education our children and our country really needs. What is the point of top marks in all subjects if you are unable to live a fulfilling life?”

Testing Teacher Professionalism

“Members of the teaching profession are trained to accept each pupil’s natural desire to learn and to develop each one’s learnacy potential at the same time as each one accumulates knowledge. There is no greater kind of care; no greater profession.

There is no greater professional ambition. But we know that we have been turned around. We are under instruction to ignore the best-known teaching techniques and to use “the soft bigotry of low expectations” [Newkirk] caused by judgemental tests.”

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