Education Readings June 19th

By Allan Alach

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

This week’s homework!

Hattie warms up Visible Learning for Pearson; also Hattie and Pasi Sahlberg on YouTube

Kelvin Smythe targets John Hattie’s latest ‘research.’

“Hattie’s research is rubbish.

For him, the beauty of it being rubbish is that it allows him to say it says whatever he likes.

In his latest trick he has produced a new book called The Politics of Distraction: What doesn’t work in education.”

School starting age: the evidence

Thanks to Cam Lockie for this:

Interesting research from the University of Cambridge, which runs counter to the usual spin from the school reform movement.

“In my own area of experimental and developmental psychology, studies have also consistently demonstrated the superior learning and motivation arising from playful, as opposed to instructional, approaches to learning in children. Pretence play supports children’s early development of symbolic representational skills, including those of literacy, more powerfully than direct instruction. Physical, constructional and social play supports children in developing their skills of intellectual and emotional ‘self-regulation’, skills which have been shown to be crucial in early learning and development.”

The Common Core can’t speed up child development

When did the science matter to the ideologues?

“However, for skills in what Bloom calls the “cognitive domain,” the school curriculum has become blind not only to the progression of normal child development but also to natural variations in the rate that children develop. It is now expected that pre-school children should be able to grasp sophisticated concepts in mathematics and written language. In addition, it is expected that all children should be at the same cognitive level when they enter kindergarten, and proceed through the entire grade-school curriculum in lock step with one another.”

How Early Academic Training Retards Intellectual Development

Following on, here’s Peter Gray’s contribution to this theme. Maybe one day our leaders will realise that there’s more to education than ideology and economic theories.

“Now, here’s the point to which I’m leading.  It is generally a waste of time, and often harmful, to teach academic skills to children who have not yet developed the requisite motivational and intellectual foundations.  Children who haven’t acquired a reason to read or a sense of its value will have little motivation to learn the academic skills associated with reading and little understanding of those skills.  Similarly, children who haven’t acquired an understanding of numbers and how they are useful may learn the procedure for, say, addition, but that procedure will have little or no meaning to them.”

ALL Babies Walking By Six Months Old… A Satire on the Common Core Charade.

“It was ensured, by adhering to these rigorous standards, ALL babies would be on track for the Olympics and/or professional athleticism. No one questioned the age appropriate sports standards. No one questioned who wrote the standards… and those who did, in any way, were looked down upon.   Many, at first, even believed these standards were appropriate, necessary, and the answer to preparing the babies for a solid future in professional athletics and quite possibly a turn in the Olympic Games.”

The Education Revolution will Not Be Standardized: The “Moral Imperative” of Testing Refusal

“The bigger picture underlying the battle against neoliberal/corporatised education:

Education reform is not happening in isolation. To revolt against testing as vehicle for the destruction of our schools, our communities and our children is to recognize that education is merely one piece to a bigger puzzle of corporate global control over our lives (energy, food, prisons, industry, etc etc).”

Myth: You can do more with less

Another Pasi Salhberg article – any other comment needed?

“Some economists have calculated how much students’ achievement could be improved by enhancing the quality of the teaching force. An efficient way to do that, they argue, is to find poorly performing teachers and get rid of them. Then, bringing young, enthusiastic talent into these classrooms will actually lead to the betterment of education at the same time when resources diminish. Within this logic lie three fallacies that, if taken as facts, will be harmful for the teaching profession and thereby for the entire education system.”

Finland’s Latest Educational Move Will Produce a Generation of Entrepreneurs

And yet another article about Finland….

“The new approach aims to encourage different kinds of learning, shifting from facts to problem solving, individual work to collaboration. In other words, instead of skill-oriented instruction, this topical structure prioritizes the four Cs—communication, creativity, critical thinking, and collaboration—skills that are central to working in teams, a reflection of the ‘hyperconnected’ world we live in today.”

This week’s contributions from Bruce Hammonds:

8 Wishes for My 3-Year Old About the Future of Education

Bruce’s comment: this is a feel good link. What would you wish for in education for a three year old? A good question for schools to ask their parents! Here is one dad’s wishes for his three year old and all the wonderful educators  along the way.

“You may wonder what your educational journey will look like. Honestly, every person’s experience is different. I am hoping that my journey can be a guide for yours, but also that you are able to set your own path. Right now I see an educational system that is evolving, and hopefully it is evolving to meet your needs, wants, desires, and passions. It is my wish that your educational journey will be successful beyond your wildest imagination.”

Improving Our Schools From the Inside Out

Bruce’s comment:  Difficult times for teachers in America. In light of the current issues flooding our education system, from an overemphasis on standardized testing to a shaky implementation of the Common Core State Standards, veteran teachers are turning to extreme measures to stress their dissonance: resigning. Let’s make sure things don’t get so bad in NZ but we know of some teachers who have had enough.

“Foremost, I cannot imagine what it must feel like leaving a profession that you love out of frustration and hopelessness. I am in no position to judge any teacher who expresses his or her grievances publicly and resigns.

But what happens to the teachers who decide to stay?

What happens to the next generation of teachers who are committed to the profession irrespective of decisions made outside of their personal classrooms? I refuse to become jaded and cynical or simply apathetic, counting down the days until retirement.”

How Student Centered Is Your Classroom?

How student centred are you in your school/classroom?

“In the education world, the term student-centred classroom is one we hear a lot. And many educators would agree that when it comes to 21st-century learning, having a student-centred classroom is certainly a best practice. Take some time to think about where you are with creating a learning space where your students have ample voice, engage frequently with each other, and are given opportunities to make choices.Use these questions in this blog to reflect on the learning environment you design for students in your class.”

Study: Feedback doesn’t always help students

The dark side of feedback.Under some conditions, we may need to refrain from ‘rescuing’ children by providing them with feedback, and instead let them struggle, engage and learn on their own. As well the concept of feedback implies teacher know best and can easily lead to a compliance mentality.and diminishing creativity.

“A new Vanderbilt University study challenges the assumption that feedback is always a good thing, at least for student learning.The study, conducted by Emily Fyfe, a doctoral student at Vanderbilt’s Peabody College of Education, suggests that once a lesson is taught, immediately telling students if they are solving problems correctly or incorrectly can lead to lower performance on subsequent problems and post-tests. If a student is working on problems before learning the material, however, immediate feedback is helpful.”

From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:

Together principals can do it

An oldie that Bruce wrote in 2005.

“The true challenge  is for groups of principals to find their common voice – what  is it that they  all believe is important and would focus and engage the energy of them all? The trouble is individual principals are loath to show their ‘real cards’ and share important educational issues. Our system in NZ since the mid 80s had bred into them a competitive ethic and, as well, it is not good form to admit weaknesses to others.”

L.I.S.P. New Zealand’s lost research!

New Zealand’s Learning in Science Project had huge potential but was cut off before it really had a chance due to a change in the political climate.

“Research showed that the ‘prior ideas’ a student brings to any learning situation , if not aligned with the teachers concepts, remains the view the learner holds, even if they know the ‘right answer’ to give back in a test. This has dramatic implications for teachers and teaching and explains why so much of what is taught is soon forgotten or fragile at best. As David Ausabel (68), the educational psychologist wisely wrote, ‘The most important single factor influencing learning is what the learner already knows; ascertain this and teach accordingly’.”

Towards a creative school.

Bruce’s comment: Rear vision thinking – the schools’ default mode?

“It is sad to see schools happily ‘driving into the future using their rear vision mirrors’. Just as our students are entering a world beyond our comprehension we are busy ensuring they will be able to cope with a past age. There is more than a whiff of Victorian ‘three Rs’ around our schools as teachers focus on testing children in what are considered the two areas of concern literacy and numeracy. All this conformist formulaic ‘one size fits all’ teaching is leading us back to the standardisation of Henry Ford who one said, ‘you can have any colour you like as long as it is black’.”

Points of view from Mount Eden School

The New Zealand Curriculum – a lost opportunity? A focus on implementing the New Zealand Curriculum – ideas from Mt Eden Normal 2007.

With regard to the ‘new’ curriculum principal  John  Faire said that, for many, it is a bit ‘back to the future’ and that the curriculum statements and accountability demands imposed since the early 90s had all but ‘squashed out the creativity’ that was to be seen in the 70s and 80s.  It is now he said, quoting from Stoll and Fink , ‘about teaching and about time.’ The front half of the ‘new’ curriculum he said approvingly is ‘future focused’ but the ‘second half’ is the ‘same old same old’. John hopes that the  NZC’s more creative future focus is not lost due to accountability demands.”

Unfortunately the situation has become more difficult for such creativity since John’s presentation in 2007 and his advice is now more relevant than ever.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s