Education Readings June 12th

By Allan Alach

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

This week’s homework!

Showing Up

Excellent post by Peter Greene highlighting the importance of teacher-pupil relationships in the learning process.

“Attempts to “teacher-proof” classrooms by using carefully constructed lessons and word-for-word scripting are attempts to make showing up irrelevant. Whoever shows up in the classroom, the reasoning goes, the lesson will go on exactly the same. But teacher-proofing a classroom is like husband-proofing a marriage, trying to come up with some set of rules so that it won’t matter who shows up to fill the husband role, the marriage will work just fine. That’s crazy talk. If the teacher doesn’t really show up as a living, breathing human being, students cannot be engaged.”

Don’t Overthink It, Less Is More When It Comes to Creativity

Did you ever find that group brainstorming doesn’t work that well? Maybe this is why:

“Most of us have experienced writer’s block at some point, sitting down to write, paint or compose only to find we can’t get the creative juices flowing. Most frustrating of all, the more effort and thought we put into it, the harder it may become. Now, at least, neuroscientists might have found a clue about why it is so hard to force that creative spark.”

Let Kids Fidget in Class: Why It Can Be Good For Those with ADHD

“Are you a pen-clicker? A hair-twirler? A knee-bouncer? Did you ever get in trouble for fidgeting in class? Don’t hang your head in shame. All that movement may be helping you think. A new study suggests that for children with attention disorders, hyperactive movements meant better performance on a task that requires concentration.”

Why America Demonizes Its Teachers

“The issue of teacher responsibility for student performance must be placed within this broader social context of what has been happening outside the American classroom for the last 30 years. Only in this way will the discussion about student learning become more realistic, and honest, and why singling out teachers alone distorts the true nature of both the problem and its solution.”

Reading Readiness Has To Do With The Body

This is well worth reading and shows that the move for earlier and earlier ‘instruction’ is potentially damaging to children who are not developmentally ready.

“We know that our little ones walk and talk on their own timetables. No rewards or punishments are necessary to “teach” them. Yet children are expected to read, write and spell starting at five and six years old as if they develop the same way at the same time. Academics are pushed on preschoolers with the assumption this will make them better students. This approach is not only unnecessary, it may be contributing to problems such as learning disorders, attention deficits, and long term stress.”

I worry about teachers who blog

Some excellent advice here:

“By all means, ignore the above thoughts and blog away to your heart’s content. I can’t stop you. But hopefully, just hopefully, albeit you write like no one is reading to help you grow and develop professionally; hopefully you’ll just stop for a minute. Do what’s right. Think about your audience and credit where appropriate. I know that I could’ve done better in the past. As I’ve learned, perhaps we all can too?”

Is school improvement a myth?

“My heart aches for kids who receive a substandard education. I believe that much of what happens inside schools needs to change. But the only way we will make great strides in this area is to give up on the myths that have led us to that point– to be really precise and logical about what it is that we are trying to improve and how to measure it.”

Principal: I’m retiring because Common Core puts test scores before children

Contributed by Ken Woolford from Queensland, Australia.

“I bristle when I hear that evaluating teachers by test scores is needed to “hold them accountable,” as though teachers are outlaws or laggards. If there are some who are not doing their job, it is our responsibility as principals to address the problem. We should not destroy our schools to create a bell curve of accountability performance, which is created when we compare teachers to each other using student test score growth.”

This week’s contributions from Bruce Hammonds:

Five Methods To Get Students Asking Essential Questions

“If  the true goal of education is inspiring students with a lifelong capacity and passion for learning, it is at least as important that students be able to ask the right question as it is to know the right answer.”

4 Misconceptions About Teaching and How to Avoid Them

“Let’s put some focus on strong misconceptions about teaching and the teaching profession, and not the teachers. We know the world is full of great teachers. Making generalizations, assumptions, or misconceptions about teaching would be fruitless. So let’s focus on the profession itself and it’s changing nature.”

Need a Job? Invent It

Education for a new world by Tony Wagner:

”Reimagining schools for the 21st-century must be our highest priority. We need to focus more on teaching the skill and will to learn and to make a difference and bring the three most powerful ingredients of intrinsic motivation into the classroom: play, passion and purpose.”

From Bruce’s “goldie oldie” file:

Ways of exploring a bridge

“An idea that was around well before the idea of ‘multiple intelligences’ emerged was to encourage children to explore and interpret their environment using a number of frameworks or viewpoints; the more frameworks, or ways of seeing, the bigger their ‘net’ to capture experiences.”

Beautiful minds – ‘in a world of their own’.

“Savants.The capacity of the brain is infinite. Lucky for most of us so called ‘normal’ people our brains suppress, or filter out, most of the information coming our way but for the savants their brains take in everything in their particular sphere of interest without interference. It is as if they have no ‘delete’ button; their mind, like a ‘Google’ search, recalls everything! And as a result they miss out on capacities such as social and practical skills that we all take for granted.”

The End of Education

Bruce’s comment: Something to think about. Is the intrinsic purpose of education coming to an end? Education is not chasing a grade. It is not chasing a college or a job. If you do that you may get what you want, an “A” or a “B,” but you will never be educated.An education is a process. It has a beginning but no end. It continues throughout life. It is learning to see and think.

“The reduction of things to the quantifiable and to an end makes shallow a world that is deep; it makes dull a species that should be complex; it makes unthinking, uninvolved humans; it reduces human life to quantities: more money, more fame; more things, higher test scores. We aren’t interested in education; we are interested in getting things out of what passes for education.”

Re-imaging education; lessons from Galileo and Brazil.

The importance of educational deviants.

“Education stands at a crossroad caught in the lights of market forces ideology which blinds all but a few to beginnings of a new era some call the Second Renaissance – a new creative era. In his 1980 essay ’The World of Tomorrow and the Person of Tomorrow’ psychologist Carl Rogers contemplated the kind of people that would usher in the new era as people with the capacity to understand , bring about and take part in a paradigm shift.”

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