Education Readings March 6th

By Allan Alach

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

This week’s homework!


Where Have All The Teachers Gone?

I sourced this from Ivon Prefontaine’s excellent Leadership, Innovation, and Creativity site.

As Ivon observes, this is becoming a problem all over, not surprisingly given the incredible teacher bashing in many countries.

“The list of potential headaches for new teachers is long, starting with the ongoing, ideological fisticuffs over the Common Core State Standards, high-stakes testing and efforts to link test results to teacher evaluations. Throw in the erosion of tenure protections and a variety of recession-induced budget cuts, and you’ve got the makings of a crisis.

The job also has a PR problem, McDiarmid says, with teachers too often turned into scapegoats by politicians, policymakers, foundations and the media.”

Teaching Students How to Talk Less, and Think More

“We all feel rushed in today’s classroom — to teach, to question, to respond — but increasingly, we need to teach children how to close their mouths and open their minds. Silence, whether packaged as a reflective writing period, a mandatory three-second waiting time on student responses, or simply as a moment of quiet reflection between subjects, is golden.”

Standardizing Education – Common Core’s Hidden Agenda

I’ve suspected for a number of years that all the variants of standardised education, in many countries, are stalking horses for a longer term plan to computerise education.

“This is the stated goal of the “Adaptive Learning Revolution” being planned by a certain faction within the technology industry. They want to transform schools in a very radical and mechanistic way. Key to all of this is a centralized system of personal data collection. The phrases personalized and individualized are trojan horses used to gain access and control over student personal data. It’s the only way to take teachers out of the equation, in their view.”

If You Want To Improve Education, Get Rid Of All The Computers!

Don’t panic, this article isn’t as gloomy as the headline!

“It is, of course, true that good teaching is the most important contributing factor to improved educational outcomes, but it would, in my view, be naive and shortsighted to suggest it was the only factor or that technology and great teaching are somehow incompatible.”

The problem with opportunity cost and other possibly erroneous criticism of EdTech

This article follows on from the one above.

“In reality, technology is just a means and a tool. You can’t for example, expect technology to magically engage children. To truly engage children in learning beyond the initial here’s-something-new-and-shiny kind of engagement, you need to get the teaching right. Pedagogy matters.”

Curiosity: The Force Within a Hungry Mind

Article about curiosity and learning, an essential attribute, as Albert Einstein acknowledged  in quote likes these:

  • The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing.
  • It is a miracle that curiosity survives formal education.
  • The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing. One cannot help but be in awe when he contemplates the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvelous structure of reality. It is enough if one tries merely to comprehend a little of this mystery every day. Never lose a holy curiosity.
  • I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious.

From the article:

“What makes children want to learn? According to research, it’s the joy of exploration — a hidden force that drives learning, critical thinking, and reasoning. We call this ability curiosity, and we recognize it in children when we see them exploring their environment, devouring books and information, asking questions, investigating concepts, manipulating data, searching for meaning, connecting with people and nature, and seeking new learning experiences.”

Why Reading On A Screen Is Bad For Critical Thinking

Food for thought…

“If as parents and teachers we are serious about developing critical thinking in our progeny and students, we need to ask ourselves whether those handy digital devices are helps or hindrances.”

Arts and culture being ‘systematically removed from UK education system’

‘The report insists that arts education should be an entitlement for all children. It believes the government’s focus on science, technology, engineering and maths needs also to include the arts. It says: “Policymakers are obsessed with a siloed subject-based curriculum and early specialisation in arts or science disciplines that ignores and obscures discussion around the future need for all children to enjoy an education that encourages creativity.”’

This week’s contributions from Bruce Hammonds:

A Welcome Letter to New STEM Students

Bruce’s comment: Thought the below had good advice for students about future learning attributes – and for teachers.

“Have a lot of fun with these STEM projects, and take them seriously. They will teach you how to approach problems, and research and design solutions for the issues that will face our society by the time you graduate. STEM will help you make sense of science and math because you will apply these in solving problems and meeting challenges.”

Taking Back Computer Science: Young Girls Who Learn Code Acquire Problem Solving Skills, Feel Empowered

Bruce’s comment: Something I know little about – computer coding. Although article is aimed at girls it ought to be read by all.

‘“I became convinced, and am even more convinced every day, that teaching girls to code is the domestic issue of our time,” Saujani told Medical Daily in an email. She added that GWC’s main purpose is to empower young girls to build the technology they want to see in the world, as well as assure them coding isn’t only for “geeky guys locked in a dark basement.” It’s for anyone from the prom queen to the bookworms.’

Educator innovation: Re-Making teaching and learning

Bruce’s comment: Combining teaching and the entrepreneur – really about creating a creative learning environment.

“I describe my room as equal parts woodshop, machine shop, rapid 3D-printing lab, art room and science lab that you shook in a blender and took out in pureed form,” he said. “In a classroom, you may not have a perfect space to mix all of these disciplines in one place. A makerspace allows kids to build, make physical objects — with the help of adult facilitators and interesting materials.”

From Bruce’s oldies but goodies file:

Educational lessons from the USA?

Bruce’s comment: A blog indicating why the above developments are so difficult in “American schools that are too busy having to comply with the demands imposed on them.

The efficiency movement that created the mass production factories of the Industrial Age it seems are alive and well in American schools. Henry Ford would be proud of them! Everyone will have an education, but one size will fit all.”

Five principles for learning – worth thinking about?

Bruce’s comment: An antidote from Australia  – great principles for any school to have.

Note: this was written before Australia headed down the GERM route through implementing its Naplan testing regime under the malevolent influence of New York’s Joel Klein.

“I guess the principles are less problematic than defining a set of values but they do underpin the values of a democratic society. If they were all put into practice they would certainly challenge the current educational provisions that are more suited to an ‘industrial age’ environment than a ‘knowledge era’.”

Disorganisation.Why organisations must ‘loosen up’!

Bruce’s comment: The problem in a nutshell – from 2004. Control versus freedom; compliance versus creativity. A problem at every level of education.

“Organizations are caught up in a growing tension between those who want to take greater control in the name of accountability and those who want the freedom to make full use of their individual creativity.”

John Dewey – New thinking 1897!

Bruce’s comment: John Dewey 1987 – shame his ideals were replaced by a ‘Fordist’ ideology.

“John Dewey’s famous declaration concerning education was first published 1897 and is still as pertinent now as it was then. All school communities ought to declare their beliefs about education and then work towards aligning all their teaching to achieving what they believe in.”

Developing a powerful school vision

“The only meaningful way to develop a vision owned by all is to develop a process that involves everyone in developing their ideal school – a school of their combined dreams. Such a process should develop their school not as it is but what it could become. It must reflect the ‘best’ thinking, beliefs, and ideals of the entire community. Everybody must feel empowered.”

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