Education Readings October 24th

By Allan Alach

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

This week’s homework!


The Myth of “Knowledge Gaps”

“I asked this question: Is there really a developmental window of opportunity when learning needs to happen, and if it doesn’t happen at that time, can never effectively happen?”

5 myths about the human brain, debunked

Education is full of myths propagated by snake oil salespeople and non-educators.

“The brain is the most amazing organ in the human body. Somehow, this collection of billions of cells gives rise to thoughts, feelings, action — all the things that make us who we are. So it’s no wonder that there are lots of misconceptions about how this three-pound hunk of flesh actually works. Here are five of the biggest myths about the human brain:”

The Science Of The Common Core: Experts Weigh In On Its Developmental Appropriateness

“Child development experts and early childhood educators believe that there is actually quite a lot to lose. The issue is not at all ideological, they say – it’s partly pedagogical, and partly psychological. According to experts, a poorly conceived set of standards has the potential to be, at best, fruitless and, at worst, detrimental to the youngest kids who are on the frontline of the Common Core.”

The great peril of standardized education

“If Einstein was right when he said that “standardization is a great peril,” our nation may have suffered a brain robbery that has stunted the full development of the intellect and unique talents of millions of people. In their obsession with making students uniform or “common” in knowledge and skills, reformers may have overlooked the value of variety. Could it be that the “great peril” of standardization has been the devaluing of student curiosity, creativity and initiative, as well as reducing personal integrity?”

Learning, making and powerful ideas

Recently I’ve included articles about the ‘maker’ movement. This article from Steve Wheeler provides a pedagogical background to this movement.

“The theory of contructionism is experiencing something of a revival in recent years with the emergence of maker spaces, robotics, 3D printing and other tools that can promote the making of objects.”

Metacognition: The Gift That Keeps Giving

“Students who succeed academically often rely on being able to think effectively and independently in order to take charge of their learning. These students have mastered fundamental but crucial skills such as keeping their workspace organized, completing tasks on schedule, making a plan for learning, monitoring their learning path, and recognizing when it might be useful to change course. They do not need to rely on their teacher as much as others who depend on more guidance to initiate learning tasks and monitor their progress.”

Q&A with Daniel Goleman: How the Research Supports Social-Emotional Learning

“Goleman’s work still examines the unconscious influences on our conscious mind, and gives us tools to understand and harness these influences to positive ends. In his latest book, The Triple Focus: A New Approach to Education, he collaborates with Peter Senge to showcase the importance of cognitive control in helping students make good decisions.”

Learning Is Different Than Education

“Learning is different than education. One can be self-directed but supported; the other is led and caused. One is driven by curiosity and the joy of discovery; the other is metered and measured, and a matter of endless policy and mechanization.”

This week’s contributions from Bruce Hammonds:

As Overtesting Outcry Grows, Education Leaders Pull Back on Standardized Tests

Bruce’s comment: The anti testing movement slowly rising to the top as Obama speaks out. Too little too late. Best to not even have gone there in the first place – politics before education.

As the outcry against the overtesting of American children has grown, state and local education leaders – in a move endorsed by President Barack Obama – have announced a new focus on dialing back the volume of standardized testing and dialing up the quality.”

Learning from Live Theater

“In a previous study, we examined the impact of field trips to an art museum. We found significant benefits in the form of knowledge, future cultural consumption, tolerance, historical empathy, and critical thinking for students assigned by lottery to visit Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art (see “The Educational Value of Field Trips,” research, Winter 2014). In the current study, we examine the impact of assigning student groups by lottery to see high-quality theater productions of Hamlet or A Christmas Carol.”

Duluth Middle students use STEM concepts to build solar-battery-powered cars

Bruce’s comment: Importance of active learning

‘“If we learn by using the car, we can actually have a hands-on experience with it instead of just looking at a board and writing stuff down about how to do it,” Jackson said.’

Five Keys To Building A Culture Of Active Learning

“Independence does not develop in a culture that values compliance. Independent learners will be motivated to confront relevant problems, engage in challenging tasks, persevere long enough to overcome obstacles, and have ownership of goals for new learning. These are challenging tasks. Students will need educators willing to give them the latitude and guidance to start today.”

25 Things Skilled Learners Do Differently

Bruce’s comment: Sit down and quietly go through the list of learning strategies – how many do you use – or teach your students to use?

“Imagine for a moment that all human beings had the same IQ, but that some of us knew how to tap into it better than others. How would we approach education differently?”

Innovation Psychology: Innovate like Leonardo da Vinci

Bruce’s comment: Learn by seeing connections between art and science – Learn like Leonardo da Vinci.

“Many people today believe that science and art, like oil and water, do not mix.  However, many of the worlds’ greatest innovators were not constrained by this bias. Leonardo da Vinci was pretty innovative, and his creativity spanned fine art, military engineering, anatomy and biomimicry.  He was not alone.”

Stagnating? Innovate How You Innovate With These 5 Ideas

Bruce’s comment: Is your school stuck in the present? Here are 5 ideas to develop innovative practices?

“Throughout this past year, I’ve been having conversations with innovation leaders from a couple of BIG companies about re-inventing their innovation capability. The pattern of conversation: we’ve had a good run, but feel that our process for making innovation happen is delivering incremental results. Bureaucracy has developed, and so we aren’t taking a lot of risks anymore. How do we shake ourselves out of it?”

From Bruce’s ‘oldies but goodies’ file:

Advice from David Perkins to make learning Whole

“To get students involved in any learning game teachers need to present ‘threshold experiences’ suited to the students developmental level. And students need to see the point of the game in any content area.”

Contributed by Phil Cullen:

Common Core gets AWFUL review in new study

“Bad news for supporters of national education curriculum: States with education standards most closely aligned to Common Core fared worse on math tests than states with their own standards, according to a new study.”


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