Education Readings February 13th

By Allan Alach

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

This week’s homework!


Why Corporate School Reform will Eventually Fail

Ministers/Secretaries of education all over – take note.

‘It’s not going to happen with top-down testing and “teacher-proof” curriculums developed by people working in companies like Microsoft and Pearson who, in an effort to reboot the Factory School model, have no clue about the children into who’s lives they are intruding, but only wish to be able to “measure” schools, teachers and children so they can manipulate what goes on there, and profit financially from their education “investments.”’

The music is in the musician

Here’s the first article from Steve Wheeler for the year – you can be sure there will be more. Here he references a talk by Sir Ken Robinson.

“One of his most memorable one liners was about teachers using technology, where he said: ‘The music is in the musician, not the instrument.’, and he was also caught channeling Marshall McLuhan with his remark that ‘we amplify our tools and then our tools amplify us.’”

7 tests that expose Blended Learning as actually Blended ‘Teaching’

“‘Blended Learning’ is so often just ‘Blended Teaching’, a half-hearted attempt to retain a mixture of classroom and online. It’s Velcro learning, slamming just a few of things together to satisfy a need to hold on to some of the old and look as though you’ve embraced some of the new. A poor singer doesn’t sound any better when in a duet.”

33 Problems That All Teachers Will Understand: It’s not all apples and summer holidays.

Some light relief…. or is it frightening that there are some truths hidden amongst the jokes?

Pedagogy Before Technology – 10 Ideas to Consider

Something to reflect on …

“Buzzwords are bad. They are intimidating and make educators lose sleep over practices they already do but with a new term coined by someone corporate or selling book. Am I wrong? Principles and ideas are good but buzzwords? However, buzzwords elicit change through intimidation. Now even I am confused.”

When Will We Finally Say Enough? Seriously.

“Forcing any, and all, children to endure the harmful effects of high stakes standardized testing because some state or federal mandate requires all children be tested, ironically in the name of providing equitable and quality education, is the greatest insult ever hurled upon public education and children. To force a child like Ben, whose educational needs are so far removed from that which such a test can provide simply for “compliance sake,” is just heart breaking. It reveals how deeply flawed the system of accountability is, how failed our policies are, and how compliant in the face of insanity we have become … and most of all, how enmeshed we are as a society with a turn- a- blind- eye- faith in the testing mentality. How outraged do we need to be before we put an end to corporate-driven reform?”

Virtual Preschool: Yes, That’s Now a Real Option

The ultimate educational obscenity?

“Now an option for parents of young children: a “virtual” preschool with digital learning materials, activity guides, learning analytics, and “homeroom teachers,” all accessible online through your computer, tablet, or smartphone.”

Really. This is not satire…

Inside Training Document Reveals How Test-Supporters Want to Talk About Testing

Antony Cody spills the beans on the ways pro-test supporters manipulate public perceptions. Notice any similarities to the political spin in your own backyard?

“With this in mind, it is informative to see how supporters of test-driven reform are seeking to shore up their eroding position in the public debate. The document I received is presented in bright colors with cartoon illustrations. I will share some of the main messages here, and you can download the whole thing here: HowToTalkAboutTesting.

This week’s contributions from Bruce Hammonds:

Thinking: Beliefs Versus Actual Creativity

“Most of us are creative and innovative when it comes to solving problems, we really are. But it would also appear that most of us go through a phase where we lose that potential or the motivation to push the boundaries and think of alternative possibilities for what we are doing. And you have to work to get it back once you get into those lazy habits of going through the motions of thought.”

How Do We Raise Critical Thinkers?

Bruce’s comment: A short article about the future skills students will need – with a link to free e-book on project based learning.

We now live in an interconnected world, where the Internet and global communications are simultaneously uniting and isolating us as a society. How do we raise critical thinkers to best face the challenges that face our modern society? What changes in education methods should be implemented to  create a better learning environment for these budding minds?”

7 Ways to Boost Your Creativity

Bruce’s comment: Excellent advice to develop creativity.

“Creativity can seem innate, but like many things, it is actually a delicate balance of nature and nurture. In other words, creative thinking can be enhanced by external forces, and isn’t necessarily reliant on “good genes” or natural ability.

Luckily, new research points the way to a variety of mental and environmental approaches that can help us improve our creative output.”

To Get Students Invested, Involve Them in Decisions Big and Small

Bruce’s comment: Purpose before iPads. Importance of students asking their own questions.

“The hardest part about using design thinking in class is getting the question right and staying in the question. Educators regularly notice how challenging it is for students to stay in the question.  Student conversation can veer off track and the students can lose focus. It takes discipline for students to learn how to dig deep with focus on a design question.”

How Inquiry Can Enable Students to Become Modern Day de Tocquevilles

Bruce’s comment: The importance of open ended inquiry – a contrast to teacher determined studies. Plus some interesting links to inquiry projects.

‘The students are so much more connected to their work and passionate about it that they’re actually doing work that’s higher quality than they’ve ever done before.’

How Student Centered Is Your Classroom?

Bruce’s comment: Is your classroom student centred – some good questions to ask. I would add do you still use ability grouping/ streaming – features of a 19th C industrial age  system of sorting?

“…you need to tell them stuff and show them how to do things, but you also need to let your learners discover, experiment, and practice even if they miss the mark or target. Educational research tell us time and time again that all learners (young or old) need time to muddle through and make meaning of new content, ideas, and concepts with some coaching and guidance, but also independently.”


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