Education Readings May 8th

By Allan Alach

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

This week’s homework!

How to really change education — excerpt from Sir Ken Robinson’s new book

“I’m often asked the same questions: What’s going wrong in education and why? If you could reinvent education, what would it look like? Would you have schools? Would there be different types? What would go on in them? Would everyone have to go, and how old would they have to be? Would there be tests? And if you say I can make a difference in education, where do I begin?”

We’re teaching our kids wrong: Steve Jobs and Bill Gates do not have the answers

“A close look inside the classroom door suggests that in the past 150 years we have come to think, perhaps without realizing it, that the purpose of education is to make money. Though going to school hugely increases a child’s chance of earning a decent wage in adulthood, that fact need not, and should not, define our thinking about what and how children should learn. Decent wages may be a very desirable outcome of attending school. But that doesn’t mean that money should be the goal of education or the measure of its success.”

The myopia boom

This article has ramifications for children during school hours.

“Ian Morgan, a myopia researcher at the Australian National University in Canberra, estimates that children need to spend around three hours per day under light levels of at least 10,000 lux to be protected against myopia. This is about the level experienced by someone under a shady tree, wearing sunglasses, on a bright summer day.”

Learning Modalities

Another rebuttal of the learning styles myth.

“What the research has shown is that when you use all modalities all learners learn better! This is really a boon for teachers, since instead of feeling like you need to test each of your students for their strengths and then designing separate lessons for each type learner, now what you are best off doing is designing lessons that utilize all modalities. The more modalities you use, the more all students will do better.”

Abracadabra! Put The Magic In Teaching

“Let’s use the wonder of creation for children to have magical experiences that may or may not be tied to standards, even for an hour a month? A week? A day? I guarantee my students will always remember having live spiders in the classroom, building a giant peach, and conducting a pumpkin museum. These experiences bring the magic back into learning.”

Stop Penalizing Boys for Not Being Able to Sit Still at School

“In an attempt to get at what actually works for boys in education, Dr. Michael Reichert and Dr. Richard Hawley, in partnership with the International Boys’ School Coalition, launched a study called Teaching Boys: A Global Study of Effective Practices, published in 2009. The study looked at boys in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa, in schools of varying size, both private and public, that enroll a wide range of boys of disparate races and income levels.”

Children with ADHD ‘learn better when fidgeting’

Following on…

“The actions of fidgeting children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder have frequently been labeled as disruptive in the past, but a new study suggests that they may be essential for these children when it comes to learning at school. Children with ADHD could perform better at school if they are allowed to move, the study suggests. Researchers from the University of Central Florida (UCF) have found that excessive movement characteristic of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) helps children with the condition to retain information and work out complex cognitive tasks.”

Are We Training Our Students to be Robots?

This article isn’t as depressing as the title might suggest; however it does flag issues that need to be considered.

“If you take personalized learning to its logical positive extreme, technology will educate every student as efficiently as possible. This individual-centric agenda is very much rooted in American neoliberalism.

But what if there’s a darker story? What if we’re really training our students to be robots?”

This week’s contributions from Bruce Hammonds:

Resources for Developing Questioning Skills in Your Students

Bruce’s comment: Resources for developing questioning skills with your students – aligns well with the NZ Curriculum ideal of ‘students seeking, using and creating their own knowledge.’

“Teachers are always on the lookout for ways to foster great questioning skills. Here are some useful and fun sites, an infographic, and some apps to help you along.”

What is a Performance Task?

Bruce’s comment: It would seem that in the US state and federal politicians introduce all sorts of standardised assessment tests and core standards which have a range of both intended and unintended consequences – narrowing the curriculum, teaching to the tests and, putting it plainly, cheating. With this mind it was refreshing to come across the below blog written by an educationalist Jay McTighe  encouraging performance tasks and, even more so to read, a number of excellent practical examples.

“When used as assessments, performance tasks enable teachers to gauge student understanding and proficiency with complex processes (e.g., research, problem solving, and writing), not just measure discrete knowledge. They are well suited to integrating subject areas and linking content knowledge with the 21st Century Skills such as critical thinking, creativity, collaboration, communication, and technology use. Moreover, performance-based assessment can also elicit Habits of Mind, such as precision and perseverance.”

5 Great Educational Resources for Modern Classroom

Bruce’s comment: For those involved in technology in the classroom – 5 great educational resources to consider.

“In the digital age, many innovative organizations have branched off into educational initiatives, and their timing couldn’t be better. Recognizing the need for visual literacy, digital citizenship practices, and guided ed-tech implementation, many of these organizations strive to offer our students and teachers versatile tools and the most rewarding experiences possible with them. The following 5 educational resources in this article represent exactly the types of learning environments that are meant for today’s students.”

4 Terrific Blended Learning Projects for Your Students

“There are many benefits of using the blended learning methodology in the classroom, but many teachers lack the experience of using technology to help their students. For these teachers, incorporating blended learning projects into the classroom can be a difficult and frustrating experience. Here are four ideas for easy ways to start implementing blended learning projects into the classroom.”

From Bruce’s “goldie oldie” file:

Fundamentals in education

Ask most people what they would consider fundamental in education and they would probably say ‘the three Rs’ or, in,today’s, speak literacy and numeracy. Certainly this is the view of our current conservatist government. But , like most simplistic answers , if people give the question more thought, more enlightened answers come to mind. Learning to interpret and express ideas about ones experiences is the basis of all learning from the moment one is born.”

Principals suffering from HAS Syndrome?

“Schools now suffer from the label they give to their their students ‘ADD’ – ‘Attention Deficit Disorder’ unable to focus on what is important to them – or, more importantly, what is important to the wider community if we want to develop a sustainable creative country. All too often schools have become inward looking and competitive, turning themselves in to ‘Christmas Tree – look at me schools’ with fancy brochures and doubtful narrow success achievement graphs.”

Are you a risk taker? Either you are or you aren’t. It seems who dares wins. What might this mean for schools?

“In a blame culture people are scared to step outside the norms. So it is only brave organization that takes on the brilliant mavericks and they are wise enough not to want them to fit in. They want them to help them see the world with new eyes. So it seems it is important to develop cultures which makes challenge possible.”

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