Education Readings March 13th

By Allan Alach

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

This week’s homework!


How Technology is Changing the Way Children Think and Focus

“There is also little doubt that all of the new technologies, led by the Internet, are shaping the way we think in ways obvious and subtle, deliberate and unintentional, and advantageous and detrimental The uncertain reality is that, with this new technological frontier in its infancy and developments emerging at a rapid pace, we have neither the benefit of historical hindsight nor the time to ponder or examine the value and cost of these advancements in terms of how it influences our children’s ability to think.”

Redefining Teachers with a 21st Century Education ‘Story’

“At a time of great transformation in the world, there are no shortages of themes to pick from. But teachers have special opportunities to tell a magnificent story about themselves and their profession:”

Schools of the future must adjust to technology needs

Professor Stephen Heppell – if you ever get the chance to attend one of his presentations, take it!

Teachers – and increasingly students – are realising that schools need to be places in which difficult, exciting, challenging, engaging, complex learning happens, rather than being where uniform education is delivered. And they need spaces that encourage that learning and help develop the sorts of skills demanded by employers. Spaces for concentration and collaboration, spaces to make and to mash-up, spaces to celebrate and exhibit, spaces to excel and spaces to share.”

Noam Chomsky on the Dangers of Standardized Testing

“The assessment itself is completely artificial. It’s not ranking teachers in accordance with their ability to help develop children who will reach their potential, explore their creative interests. Those things you’re not testing.. it’s a rank that’s mostly meaningless. And the very ranking itself is harmful. It’s turning us into individuals who devote our lives to achieving a rank. Not into doing things that are valuable and important.”

Children Educate Themselves IV: Lessons from Sudbury Valley

“The Sudbury Valley model of education is not a variation of standard education. It is not a progressive version of traditional schooling. It is not a Montessori school or a Dewey school or a Piagetian constructivist school. It is something entirely different.”

Why reading and writing on paper can be better for your brain

“Add to this the help that the physical geography of a printed page or the heft of a book can provide to memory, and you’ve got a conclusion neatly matching our embodied natures: the varied, demanding, motor-skill-activating physicality of objects tends to light up our brains brighter than the placeless, weightless scrolling of words on screens.”

Why schools are failing our boys

Boys today aren’t fundamentally different than the boys of 150 years ago. Yet today, they’re confined to classrooms, expected to remain still for the majority of the day, and barely allowed to tackle meaningful labor or the real world until they reach the magical age of 18. Is it any wonder our boys are struggling?”

Why Preschool Shouldn’t Be Like School

“Adults often assume that most learning is the result of teaching and that exploratory, spontaneous learning is unusual. But actually, spontaneous learning is more fundamental. It’s this kind of learning, in fact, that allows kids to learn from teachers in the first place.”

How to spot if you or colleagues are stressed: tell-tale signs for teachers

“It goes without saying that there is a direct correlation between teacher workload and stress levels, and both are currently unprecedentedly high. It’s also no coincidence that over the past few years hundreds of good teachers have been signed off with long-term sickness or quit altogether.”

This week’s contributions from Bruce Hammonds:

Back to basics – quality creative learning

Bruce’s latest article is a must read for all creative and innovative child centred teachers.

“All the above ideas point out the vital role of a teacher to assist all students work towards their potential – to ensure that all students have the ability to ‘seek, use and create their own knowledge’ as it wisely says in the 2007 New Zealand Curriculum.”

8 Signs You Should Become a Teacher

What’s your take on this list? What changes would you make?

“Are you thinking about becoming an elementary school teacher? If you possess all or most of these personal qualities, I think you could contribute a lot to children, the community, and the field of Education. While there is no static formula for what makes an excellent educator, these personality traits form the essential foundation for succeeding in the classroom as an instructor and as a leader.”

Developing a Growth Mindset in Teachers and Staff

“However, in my work, I have found that the notion of developing a growth mindset is as equally applicable to staff and teacher performance as it is to students. This article begins with a brief discussion about the difference between the two mindsets, what that means for education, and concludes with some ideas for how school leaders might seek to develop a growth mindset amongst their staff.”

Playtime Isn’t Just for Preschoolers—Teenagers Need It, Too

Bruce’s comment: The importance of play at all levels of learning – seems blindingly obvious.

“Giving students occasions to learn through play not only fosters creative thinking, problem solving, independence, and perseverance, but also addresses teenagers’ developmental needs for greater independence and ownership in their learning, opportunities for physical activity and creative expression, and the ability to demonstrate competence.”

Project-based program innovates at Springs’ Parkside Elementary

Bruce’s comment: And to continue the obvious – the power of integrated project based learning. Some day someone in the USA will discover John Dewey!!!

“What we teach fits into the curriculum, but we try to make it as interesting as possible for the kids. The focus is on helping them acquire real-world skills and become problem solvers. Nobody works in isolation these days. You need to learn how to work with others.”

A New Approach to Designing Educational Technology: Is the biggest learning disability an emotional one? 

Bruce’s comment: Valuing the emotions in learning – well it seems obvious to me. Engaging students who no longer engage in learning by using ICT wisely.

‘And now, Rose and his team have concluded that the most pervasive learning disability in schools, and the No. 1 challenge for UDL, isn’t physical or cognitive, it’s emotional—turning around kids who are turned off by school.

“We’ve seen that technology can do a lot of stuff to support students, but the real driver is: Do they actually want to learn something?” says Rose. “If they do, kids will go through a lot of barriers to learn it. Creating the conditions that turn on that drive has become the major function of our work.”’

From Bruce’s oldies but goodies file

Back to the future.

Bruce’s comment: An oldie but goodie. The very with it views of a long retired  innovative principal teacher. Good reading to learn about quality creative teaching – might be useful even for those in a modern learning environment (MLE). The teacher taught before the introduction of computers – now in his 80s he is a whizz on his Apple (computer). One wonders what wisdom we have lost.

“As a group we were disillusioned with the traditional pre-packaged approach …largely adult conceived….including ability grouping.Attributes such as co-operation, understanding and sharing were largely given lip service. We believed that learning should stem from the natural but vital curiosity of children and it should centre around real experiences.”

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