By Allan Alach
I welcome suggested articles, so if you come across a gem, email it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org
This week’s homework!
Report debunks ‘earlier is better’ academic instruction for young children
Are you surprised? New Zealand has a wonderful early childhood curriculum (Te Whāriki ) but how long will it survive under the present government?
‘Rather, she says, the research suggests that “preschool programs are best when they focus on social, emotional and intellectual goals rather than narrow academic goals” and provide “early experiences that provoke self-regulation, initiative and …sustained synchronous interaction in which the child is interactive with others in some continuous process, rather than a mere passive recipient of isolated bits of information for stimulation.”’
For Pearson, Common Core is private profit
While this article discusses the USA, Pearson Group is a major threat to education all over. Do you want your country’s education to be defined by a multinational corporation? A definition that just happens to include both their testing and instructional products?
“Taking inspiration from Margaret Thatcher’s motto “Don’t tell me what, tell me how,” Barber rarely discusses what schools should teach or cites scholarship on pedagogy. Instead, the book emphasizes again and again that leaders need metrics — e.g., standardized test scores — to measure whether reforms are helping children become literate and numerate. Of course, Pearson just happens to be one of the world’s largest vendors of the products Barber recommends for building education systems.”
In the Digital Age, How to Get Students Excited About Going Outdoors
Thanks to Innes Kennard for this.
“Louv has since become famous for coining the term Nature-Deficit Disorder — not as a medical diagnosis, but as shorthand for what’s happening to kids who stay, for the most part, inside, away from nature, for the majority of their young lives. He uses strong research to support his claims that rising rates of obesity, depression and anxiety, and ADHD symptoms could well be linked to kids’ disconnection from trees, fields and streams.”
Demystifying the Muse: Five Creativity Myths You Should Stop Believing
Another one from Innes – I may have posted this before …
“We’ve built up an image of what creativity is that is completely wrong. If you don’t believe me, here are a few of the biggest myths about creativity that most of us still believe:”
How Bad Journalism Is Driving the Collapse of Our Once-Great Public Education System
This USA story is easy to transfer to other countries.
“Be afraid, be very afraid, any time you see a reporter in the business media turn his or her attention to education and public schools. What will likely follow is a string of truisms used to prop up a specious argument, steeped in biased notions that were themselves picked up from ill-informed conversations promoted by other clueless business news outlets.”
Modern Learning Environments – the underlying philosophy to success
“Modern Learning Environments (MLE) are all the talk in educational circles right now. Schools, around the world, are knocking out walls and creating bright stimulating classrooms with multi purpose furniture and giving students access to technology. On the surface it looks fantastic, however I am concerned that without a big pedagogy shift, students will be simply just learning the same way many teachers have been teaching – just in bigger classrooms with new furniture.”
MLE and MLP- a returning fad, or something that could be truly transformative?
In a similar vein:
“If nothing else changes except collaborative spaces and collaborative teaching then the end result will not change. You are just repeating the open plan experiments of the 70s and 80s and it will fall over sooner or later. If you are still taking reading groups and writing groups and math groups in the same way, just on a bigger scale with more teachers and with several classes, then you are just streaming and making more work for everyone, because of the communication and organisation required. You are teaching traditionally in a shared space. You are using a MLE, but not practising MLP. There is a huge difference.”
Go Team: Why Teacher Teams Struggle To Work Effectively Together And How Schools Can Create The Conditions For Success
Following on, teacher teamwork will be vital if any modern learning environment is to have any chance of working.
“Even when schools recognize the potential of teacher teams to have a measurable impact on improving teaching and learning, many teams fail to achieve the results they seek. Is it simply a case of good or bad chemistry, or are there concrete steps schools can take to cultivate collaboration that works?”
This week’s contributions from Bruce Hammonds:
Why Talking About the Brain Can Empower Learners
Bruce’s comment: Every teacher should know about Carol Dweck
“Stanford University professor of psychology Carol Dweck, who has been leading the research in this field, discusses “The power of believing that you can improve” in this TED talk.”
The NMC Horizon Report: 2014 K-12 Edition examines emerging technologies for their potential impact on and use in teaching, learning, and creative inquiry in schools
Bruce’s comment: An easily read but challenging document about technology and its transformational implication for education. My advice – set aside a wet afternoon to read and think about the implications. The diagram on page three is a good summary.The report is all about in-depth learning; technology enhanced learning; authentic learning; user friendly technology ; user friendly technology, the changes (for some) of the role of the teacher; new modern learning environments and personalised learning; and other considerations.
A Brave New World for “Personalized Learning”?
‘”Relax, Bill!” I’ll say in the middle of my incoherent ramblings and cold sweats. “SURELY there are good people at big corporations who are developing products with PURE intentions. It’s NOT about capitalizing on fears and making a fast buck. It’s about improving schools FOR THE CHILDREN!”’
Effective Communication Needs Common Language and Goals
To develop a quality learning across a school you need agreement on common goals/ teaching beliefs – a common language to align all teaching behind and to evaluate teachers progress and to provide appropriate feedback and help. A great idea as long as it encourages individual teacher creativity as well. To greater enforcement of consistency (of Common Cores or National Standards) can be counter productive.
“So, how can schools ensure that all leaders are communicating effectively and keeping the school on the right path? By making sure that everyone—teachers, administrators, and support staff—uses a common language to work toward common goals.”
Evolution of the “good” teacher
Bruce’s comment: A great read for the thinking teacher!
“What is good teaching? Does any body really know? The below link struggles with some possible answers. What is clear is that no approach fits all students.Teaching is in the middle of a change, an evolution, a revolution — the intensity of the description depends on whom you ask. One could argue that this change is natural and part of an ebb and flow cycle, but this change feels faster, and possibly more frenetic — likely due to technology’s role in the change. Is good teaching now for the 21st-century markedly different than it was previously?”
From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:
Bruce’s comment: Elwyn Richardson’s thought are more relevant than ever. We have standardised teaching (or in Elwyn’s words ‘normalised’) and as a result creativity has been all but lost. Even art, the most creative of learning areas, is now clone like – the result of zealous over teaching of criteria and oppressive feedback. Poor old Vincent van G wouldn’t last 5 minutes. It’s now a paint by numbers education system and no colouring outside the lines.
“A ‘good’ classroom should develop in students a personal commitment to their learning. Teachers can do this through: talking, discussion, focusing students’ attention, helping them look closely at things,by taking trips into the immediate environment, and by tapping their personal experiences. From such activities students develop ideas to research and share and emotional feeling to express through words, poems, paintings and other art media.”
Education for a Creative Age
Bruce’s comment: ‘Teacher the Geranium on the Windowsill just Died and you kept on Talking’ – more on the death of creative education.
“At the very least schools talk about the ‘Information Age’ but, according to perceptive commentators, this ‘age’ has already passed its ‘use by’ date. According to Juan Enriquez, in his book, ‘As the Future Catches You, the ‘future belongs to countries who build empires of the mind’.”
Importance of Observation.
Bruce’s comment: And an antidote might be to return to encouraging focused observation – interesting that some of schools where Silicon Valley parents sent their students to are computer free!
“Drawing is an ideal way to break through habitual ways of thinking. All too often our students see but they do not look. Observational drawing has long been an important means for some teachers to develop deeper consciousness in students – to assist students see through their habitual ways of seeing and to develop new awareness.”