Education Readings July 3rd

By Allan Alach

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

This week’s homework!

Teachers Work Harder

This article has a New Zealand flavour, written as a result of an incident where a 15 year old girl criticised the quality of her secondary school education and which upset her teacher. The observations made in this article are applicable all over.

“The immense responsibility of guiding the learning of twenty children is not borne lightly, and leads to the ridiculous hours, the tearful breakdowns and the cancelled social life plans because maybe, if you get a little more done, you’ll feel a little better about having a life and taking some time for yourself. If that seems over the top, even illogical, then you’re right. It is. But that doesn’t stop every teacher, wherever they are, having a mental list of all of the things that they have not yet done and still need to do. A list which is continually added to, due to the evolutionary nature of managing the learning needs of twenty or more children.”

Is It Time to Give Up on Computers in Schools?

This is a very provocative article, that, in my opinion, has a lot of truth (and I’m a keen user of technologies!). The problem isn’t the technology; its the underlying ideology that has moved the role of computers a long way from Seymour Papert’s vision.

“Little by little the subversive features of the computer were eroded away: … the computer was now used to reinforce School’s ways. What had started as a subversive instrument of change was neutralized by the system and converted into an instrument of consolidation.”

How to privatise the education system, without people noticing – a step by step guide

This article is about England; however you’ll see the pattern.

“If you have a particular ideological axe to grind, and you want to make things tougher for the socially and economically deprived areas of the country, abolish any data system that compares children’s progress with the progress made by children in schools in similar circumstances (a “contextual” approach) and insist on a system that ignores any such external factors.”

We do everything to escape the rat race. Then we inflict it on our kids.

“At the school gates there’s no bigger topic of conversation than the pressure-cooker nature of it all; the way homework starts aged five, the endless cycle of tests and mocks and exams, the fear that instead of getting children excited about learning we’re funnelling stuff into them like little foie gras goslings.”

The importance of surprise when conducting authentic research

“There should be surprise, delight or even discomfort as one explores.

True inquiry involves discovery. The task at hand should awaken curiosity and take the student on an adventure. Mere topical research requires little more than gathering and is often sleep inducing. It is up to the teacher to frame research projects around questions of import and tasks that require fresh thinking, problem-solving and imagination.”

Secret Teacher: we are too quick to label children who aren’t perfect

If everyone spent less time fretting about the many ways in which our children aren’t perfect and perceiving their natural variations as a defect in need of special treatment, our jobs would be much easier. The more we pander to it, the worse it seems to get: my school’s list of children’s individual needs gets longer every term, and we now have a slot in the weekly staff meeting to help us keep abreast of them all. Of course we need to enable all children to succeed, but part of that is teaching them to embrace their differences and adapt to different situations.”

Aspirational parents condemn their children to a desperate, joyless life

Not purely educational but very relevant all the same.

“In the cause of self-advancement, we are urged to sacrifice our leisure, our pleasures and our time with partners and children, to climb over the bodies of our rivals and to set ourselves against the common interests of humankind. And then? We discover that we have achieved no greater satisfaction than that with which we began.”

The bait and switch of school “reform”: Behind the new corporate agenda for education lurks the old politics of profit and self-interest.

“… those most aggressively trying to privatize public schools and focus education around standardized tests just “happen to be” Wall Streeters — as if that’s merely a random, inconsequential coincidence. Somehow, we are to assume that these same Wall Streeters who make millions off of “parasitic” investment schemes to leech public institutions for private profit couldn’t have ulterior motives when it comes to public schools.”

This week’s contributions from Bruce Hammonds:

Parents, Stop Hovering: ‘Risky’ Play May Have Benefits for Kids

An article for ‘helicopter’ and ‘snowplough’ parents (those who always want to smooth the way for their children), and for schools who have to deal with them.

“There was a time when parents sent their kids outside to play, with the instruction to ‘”just be home by dinner.” Times have changed, however, and worries over children’s safety — whether it’s being injured, or harmed by a stranger — have led to kids having more structured activities, and less “free play.”But there is such a thing as too much caution, experts say.”

Everything I Learned in Business, I Learned From My Kids

Twelve slides to show how our children can help us learn.

“Children,whether they are ours or those of friends or relatives or complete strangers, have valuable lessons to teach us about the way we go about our personal and professional lives. From collaborating creatively to creating strengths from each others differences to the art of simple listening. Children  have helped us discover a new way of working. We should keep these lessons in mind as we interact with others, seek resolutions to challenges, and try to be our best selves in and out of the workplace.”

In DPS imaginarium, room to experiment for students and teachers

Creating conditions for teachers to be creative and then sharing successful ideas with other schools. Seems like a plan.

“Once an idea — which might be as small as a classroom strategy or as big as a new school design — is developed, the ‘imaginarium’ team runs through a series of piloting and reflection exercises. The team then presents a case to district leadership about whether that project should be scaled up.”

5 new realities in education

The future isn’t about developing knowledge or skills it’s about learning

“‘Knowledge’ isn’t the word any longer. ‘Skills’ is no longer the term. ‘Learning’ is the word,” Richardson said, noting that the jobs of tomorrow will require serial mastery. “If our kids don’t have the ability to learn, it really doesn’t matter how much knowledge we give them.”

From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:

Back to the future?

Mark Twain once said that he could live for a month on one compliment so it was great to receive an e-mail, from a student teacher from Glasgow University in 2008 who said, after reading a  newsletter I wrote in 2002, that it ‘completely changed my view of education and teaching.’ I couldn’t resist re-reading what I had written in 2002 and was pleasantly surprised to see how relevant what I had written is to today’s (2015) challenges.

Providing opportunities to develop students passions and interests.

I have always liked the quote from Jerome Bruner that, ‘teaching is the canny art of intellectual temptation.’ Students are innately curious and if they have developed a range of interests they will do almost anything to learn more about, or get better at it.The New Zealand Curriculum asks teachers to see their students as active ‘seekers, users, and creators of their own knowledge’. Achieving this will provide a real challenge to many school. Our identity is closely linked to what we are good at doing, or the interests  we have, and so it makes sense to expose students to a range of experiences that provide opportunities to develop, uncover, or amplify, their interests.

A vision of Schooling

Wise words from an earlier era that need to be revisited – the thoughts of ‘Aussie’ Phil Cullen:

“Phil Cullen a highly respected Australian educator and former Director of Primary Education Queensland 1975- 1988. He is critical of the direction education has taken and believes in a system that has faith in the creativity of teachers. He is very concerned about such imposition as national testing. Maybe it is time for back to the future?”


“Phil worries that throughout the western world education has been placed in the hands of ‘know it alls’ with university degrees and with little practical experience. And all too often primary education is placed in the hands of people whose lack of knowledge of primary teaching is staggering.”

Joyful Learning

What is the purpose of learning. What dispositions do we want to cultivate? ‘Is joy mentioned in any list’? Joy is not to be equated with simply having fun but seen as being gained as the result of doing something personally satisfying.Eleven essentials to put more joy into learning are outlined – do they apply to your school/class?

“If principals can help teachers find joy in their work, and help their teachers strive to ‘own their own teaching’ the teachers can enter their rooms every morning enthusiastic to help their students experience joy in their learning.”


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