Education Readings February 6th

By Allan Alach

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

This week’s homework!


How long before administrators lose touch with the realities of the classroom?

A good question…

“In closing, are administrators who are freshly out of the classroom better at evaluating teachers since they are recently removed? Or, are these new administrators stuck in their offices dealing with school discipline while the more senior administrator, who is further removed from the classroom, handles most of the classroom observations?”

Why Is This So Hard?

Ruminations on the problems of convincing people about the damage caused by testing policies.

“But I cannot wrap my head around how any system of standardized testing, which was designed during the Eugenics movement to sort and track people according to race, class, and gender can possibly offer the solution to the persons and groups it was intended to harm the most.”

How Strict Is Too Strict?: The backlash against no-excuses discipline in high school

Is this crazy or what?

“In step with an energetic breed of charter advocates nationally, the reformers who descended on New Orleans were convinced that progressive pedagogy and discipline had an especially sorry record in low-income districts, where many children faced more than their share of disorder and violence. Chaotic classrooms, the newcomers argued, were a major reason schools floundered and failed. The controversial broken-windows theory—which holds that a firm response to minor signs of disarray, like broken windows, is essential to inhibiting more-serious criminal activity—was the reigning analogy, invoked by top administrators on down. No infraction was too small to address.”

Allowing students to deeply understand assessment.

Hmmm, I like the approach but not the use of rubrics that turn learning into the educational version of paint by numbers.

“It was interesting observing students move through the class. Once they realized how different each chart was, they became absorbed in reading the charts, giving feedback and then, unexpectedly commenting on the feedback and observations being made.

As you read, notice how the students have internalized our classroom discourse.”

5 Things Teachers Wish Parents Knew

Thanks to Stephen Baker for this one. What would you add/delete/change?

“Reading all these responses from teachers was a great reminder to me, just how important it is to be PRESENT when you are with your kids. Pay attention to what they enjoy and make their schoolwork a priority. Teachers have such a short amount of time to give your children all the skills they need, so you HAVE to help. “

Learn math without fear, Stanford expert says

“Stanford Professor Jo Boaler says that students most effectively learn “math facts” working on problems that they enjoy, rather than through exercises and drills they fear. Speed pressure, timed testing and blind memorization damage children’s experience of math, she says”.

What You Need for a Caring Classroom: Daniel Goleman and Peter Senge outline three kinds of empathy kids need for success at work and in life. 

“A new article in Scientific American, “The Secret to Raising Smart Kids,” suggests that “focusing on ‘process,’ rather than intelligence or talent, produces high achievers in school and in life.” This process consists of personal effort and effective strategies. One process we are talking about today is building empathy into the classroom setting, and how developing emotional intelligence is key to success inside and outside of the classroom.”

It’s time ministers realised that teachers really do want to teach

Thanks to Joce Jesson for this link.

“Children are measured at an ever more granular level, to a narrowing set of performance indicators. It is fundamentally disrespectful to them, a cynical waste of their time for the purposes of political point-scoring.

This misunderstands the nature of learning: that individuals do different things at different rates, and the speed of one individual’s learning can vary wildly, without being anybody’s fault.”

This week’s contributions from Bruce Hammonds:

Why Preschool Shouldn’t Be Like School

New research shows that teaching kids more and more, at ever-younger ages, may backfire. Ours is an age of pedagogy. Anxious parents instruct their children more and more, at younger and younger ages, until they’re reading books to babies in the womb. They pressure teachers to make kindergartens and nurseries more like schools.”

New Zealand Creativity Challenge 2015 

This looks like it will be very good.

‘… the event will include hands-on workshops, discussion groups and excellent networking opportunities. 

“We want to create something that will have an inspiring and vigorous life long after the conference itself is over. We want to connect people across different fields, such as the arts, science, business and education. 

“The Challenge theme is ‘Creativity Crosses Boundaries’ because it’s time to move beyond the age of super heroes and understand that we’re all in this together. Certainly we need some experts and heroes but creativity belongs to everyone – it is central to our humanity.”’

Is YOUR School Wasting Money on Technology?

A very good question, posed by Bill Ferriter…. Reminds me of an old cliche – Any teacher who can be replaced by technology, should be replaced.

“He calls us “ever-optimistic techno-cheerleaders” — blinded by the belief that if we JUST had more gizmos and gadgets and connections to the web, we could do wonderful things with our kids.  The truth, however, is that communities have gotten no REAL returns on the investments that they have made in classroom technologies.  We keep spending millions on everything from iPads to IWBs to 3D printers yet our schools remain places where learners stagnate.”

Can Students Have Too Much Tech?

In a similar vein …

“To the extent that such a teacher can benefit from classroom technology, he or she should get it. But only when such teachers are effectively trained to apply a specific application to teaching a particular topic to a particular set of students — only then does classroom technology really work. Even then, we still have no proof that the newly acquired, tech-centric skills that students learn in the classroom transfer to novel problems that they need to solve in other areas.”

How To Do Everything Right In Schools.

Bruce’s comment: Develop a culture of intellectual inquiry in your school, or class. A short but insightful read.

“Begin with a theory, make a prediction, test, observe, modify the theory, and so on. Fields from astronomy to medicine have used this process. The fact that education as a field has not universally embraced this process is one reason it remains vulnerable to fads and fashions. This is where the role of school and district leaders comes in. It’s up to those leaders to establish a culture of intellectual inquiry, one that values mistakes for what they teach us about what we might try next rather than one that uses mistakes as a reason to punish others. This certainly runs contrary to the way some education leaders have been trained to operate.”

What attitudes towards learning have your students brought with them – what will need to change?

Bruce’s latest blog posting, making suggestions for New Zealand teachers reflect on at the end of their first week of the 2015 school year.

“Negotiating with your students to develop ownership is always a good idea. It would be interesting to ask your class to list and then share the things they would like to learn about, the things that concern them and the things they wonder about.  Teachers who have done this have found that their students study ideas align well with the suggestions of the curriculum.”


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