Education Readings May 29th

By Allan Alach

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

This week’s homework!

Hattie’s research: Is wrong Part 4 – a kind of Svengali

NZ educator Kelvin Smythe’s latest posting in his series that deconstructs John Hattie’s ‘research.’

“I predict the Holy Grail label assigned to his research will, given his personality, prove the death of his reputation pushing him on, to ever extreme expressions of arrogance and wrongness. If he claims to live by academia but does not act on it, only great harm will ensue, in the short term, though, that harm has first fallen on schools. As detailed in past postings, with further devastating ones to come, Hattie’s research can be declared rubbish, beyond merit, deep into negative territory. The difficulty in conveying this truth and having it accepted is that his research is so wrong as to be difficult to encompass and for readers to believe.”

Game Based Learning – the suspension of reality

Another article by Steve Wheeler that raises an important issue.

“They are an important part of youth culture and teachers can no longer ignore computer games or believe they are irrelevant to education. They are staring us in the face and won’t go away. Our challenge now is to discover how we can fully harness the power of these kinds of engagement and the potential for new forms of assessment in formalised settings. Each of these possibilities make learning through games playing highly motivational, but beyond this, they also enable learners to explore new ideas, reflect deeply in their actions, and ultimately, they are fun.”

Why we should focus on well-rounded young people – not exceptional grades

“… there needs to be a balancing act between academia and developing essential traits crucial in the real world. They say knowledge is power but what use is knowledge if children haven’t developed their character in a way which allows them to actually use their knowledge successfully?”

When Kids Decide What They Read, They Read More

Really? Who would have thought it?

“This simple intervention allowing students to choose their own books at [the] end of the school year had a significant positive impact. A multifaceted approach is needed to address poor child-literacy rates, but this intervention can be part of the solution.”

Why the attempt to make reading simple? A reply to Learning to Read: Should We Keep Things Simple?

Powerful article by Ken Goodman – a must read.

“There’s no way to make language learning simple. But there is an easy way to help children to learn to read. It is to make the way they found it easy to learn oral language work for them in learning to make sense of written language.  Written language is learned just as oral language is learned- in the process if using it.”

Deficit model in education: a dangerous conceit?

This article by Donald Clark is well worth reading!

“The illusory maths deficit is the leaning tower of PISAs awful legacy, branding education as a failure and wiping out huge swathes of useful knowledge and skills in favour of illusory benefits.”


“If only more people had more certificates, more degrees, more paper qualifications, we’d live in a utopian paradise of massive productivity and wealth. Sorry, it doesn’t work that way. As more and more people get bits of paper, those bits of paper become commoditized and worth less.”

The Global Search for Education: The Arts Face to Face

Featuring…… Finland of course…

“First, arts subjects are essential if we think in terms of personal development. The arts are essential tools to increase self-awareness and understanding of your own and other’s experiences; the arts are a means to understanding emotions and the emotional aspects of life; the arts are also essential tools in self-expression.”

Lessons from neuroscience

“Yesterday I had the privilege of meeting Andrew Curran who delivered a two hour session on the brain and the lessons we can learn from neuroscience to inform our practice in the classroom. In this post, I wouldn’t dream of trying to replicate his vast knowledge, but thought I’d share some takeaways that might inform what you do. Please note, I’m not an expert, and this is my interpretation of what he said.”

This week’s contributions from Bruce Hammonds:

Inquiry in the Classroom: 7 Simple Tools To Get You Started

“Why Use the Inquiry Cycle?

Often used by science professionals to work through problems and research, an inquiry-based approach, or inquiry cycle, is also used in classrooms for scientific and non-scientific topics to encourage students during the learning process. In an inquiry-based approach, teachers help students generate their own appropriate questions and guide the investigation.”

Eudemic: Connecting Education and Technology

Bruce’s comment: Many teachers use the Edutopia(with its focus on project based learning) devised by Star Wars director George Lucas.  Edudemic is another rich resource for schools integrating technology into their classrooms. Edutopia’s focus is on project based learning.

Edutopia: Vision and Mission.

Bruce’s comment: Read about Edutopia’s brilliant vision.

“Our vision is of a new world of learning based on the compelling truth that improving education is the key to the survival of the human race. It’s a world of creativity, inspiration and ambition informed by real-world evidence and experience.”

Are field trips a good way to spend school district funds? Kids say ‘yes’

Bruce’s comment: A school district in California rediscover the value of field trips – will wonders never cease!!!!

“It was not abundantly clear that the trip had been a success. Certainly, no one was excitedly explaining how she’d just had an insight into how sound waves work; nor going on about the properties of simple pulleys; nor plotting the invention of an improved slow-motion camera.”

Sir Ken Robinson’s new book: ‘Creative Schools – Revolutionizing Education from the Ground Up’

In this article Bruce reviews this book and shows how it could be implemented in the classroom.

“A must read for anyone who believes in an education system that aims at developing the gifts and talents of all students. My plea is for creative teachers, particularly those in New Zealand, to share this with as many teachers and schools as they can because the message is so important. If we really believe in giving every student the opportunity to leave formal education with their love of learning intact  and with all their unique gifts and talents identified then we really have no choice.”

From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:

The killing of creativity by the technocrats.

Not to be outdone by Kelvin, here’s an article Bruce wrote back in 2009, that also casts a skeptical eye over John Hattie.

“John Hattie, professor of education Auckland University, confidante of the present Minister of Education. Is his influence undermining the creativity of our teachers? Kelvin Smythe thinks so and, after visiting a number of classrooms, I have to agree with him. Read Kelvin’s full article on his site.”


“Somehow, just because Hattie has amalgamated every piece of ‘school effectiveness’ research available ( mainly it seems from the USA) his findings, it seems, ought to be taken for read. The opposite ought to be the case – we need to be very wary of such so called ‘meta research.’. More worrying however is that the approaches he is peddling is pushing into the background the home grown innovative creative learning centred philosophy that was once an important element in many classrooms.”

What is this thing called learning?

What is this thing called learning. It seems simple enough. So why do so many ‘learners’ fail at school? Dysfunctional schools or dysfunctional learners?

“Many teachers draw on their experience, common sense, and professional knowledge as the basis for their teaching. What is sometimes missing is a ‘shared language’ of what learning is across a school so teachers can, talk to each other, their student’s parents, and also to hold themselves accountable.”

Children as scientists

“If children are always asking questions then ought not our classrooms help them in their search for answers?

That we haven’t yet created schools based on assisting students research their own questions and concerns just goes to show how much ‘our’ curriculums, what ‘we’ think is important for them to learn, has ignored the source of real motivation for students to learn.”

Fundamentals in education

Maybe it’s time to reflect on what is fundamental in education.

“So what are the fundamentals of learning? It is too simple to fall back on the default mode of literacy and numeracy indispensable as they obviously are. The real basics of learning are: perceiving, thinking, and forming and the tools to make use of these faculties are words, numbers and shapes.”

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