Education Readings August 28th

By Allan Alach

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

Science Proves Reading To Kids Really Does Change Their Brains

Teachers of school entrant children will already have suspected this is the case; now here’s some proof.

“Pediatricians often recommend parents routinely read aloud to their young children.

Now, for the first time, researchers have hard evidence that doing so activates the parts of preschoolers’ brains that help with mental imagery and understanding narrative — both of which are key for the development of language and literacy.”

Kindergarten boys less interested in language activities, study indicates

Following on….

“We have not looked at whether the differences in reading abilities between boys and girls have any connection with participation in language activities in kindergarten. However, we do know that systematic linguistic stimulation promotes language skills in children. Unequal participation in activities that promote linguistic stimulation may be a factor in reinforcing the differences that already exist between children. If these gender differences persist, we can imagine that girls will have an advantage and boys and girls will start out on a different footing when they start primary school.”

A Dictionary For 21st Century Teachers: Learning Models & Technology

Thanks to Phil Cullen for this one.

“An index of learning models, theories, forms, terminology, technology, and research to help you keep up with the latest trends in 21st century learning.”

This could change everything about school — for kids, teachers and everybody else

Excellent article by Marion and Howard Brady.

We’re convinced that systems theory is the key to creating a general education curriculum free of the core curriculum’s major problems. And we’re dead certain—based on extensive classroom experimentation—that helping kids lift into consciousness and use their already-known systemically integrated information organizer moves them, in just a few weeks, to performance levels not otherwise possible.”

At the end of our tether

Steve Wheeler’s observations about the potential impact of mobile technologies on learning.

“Being able to choose when and where to learn is part of the freedom to learn. It is not just about freedom of thought and freedom of speech, but also freedom of space and place. It is about choice. The is academic freedom. We have no excuse now. We are living at a time in our history where the small device in the hand of the student is able to provide opportunities for any time, any place learning.”

Leave the World Better than We Found It

This article is the introduction to the book A People’s Curriculum for the Earth, which looks as though it could be very worthwhile.

“We educators need to imagine, cooperate, create, hope—and at times, defy and resist. And we need to see ourselves as part of a broader movement to build the kind of society that is clean and just and equal and democratic. One that seeks to leave the world better than we found it.”

Research examines relationship between autism and creativity

Time to have another look at autistic children in your classroom?

“People with high levels of autistic traits are more likely to produce unusually creative ideas, new research confirms. While the researchers found that people with high autistic traits produced fewer responses when generating alternative solutions to a problem, the responses they did produce were more original and creative. It is the first study to find a link between autistic traits and the creative thinking processes.”

This week’s contributions from Bruce Hammonds:

18 Activities That Make Creative Writing Actually Fun

“Here are some great writing strategies and prompts that will honor your students’ imaginations and free their muses to soar.”

The Best Advice for Creating Student-Centered Learning

The below article includes an excellent small Australian video showing educational changes from 1950s to modern times – worth viewing.

“Student-centered learning puts the emphasis on experience and hands-on learning. Buzz words are: Inquiry-based learning, case-based instruction, problem-based learning, project-based learning, discovery learning, and just-in-time teaching.Whatever you call it, the emphasis is on students becoming empowered to own their learning. So let’s embark on a little journey exploring student-centred learning.”

Students Advise New Teachers: From Structure Comes Freedom

Advice for new teachers.

“Follow these tips and you can build a classroom culture of respect, rapport, and learning. When the classroom culture is positive, students are more apt to participate in all types of learning activities.”

Choosing the wrong drivers for whole system reform

Michael Fullan asks have we been using the wrong ‘drivers’ for educational reform? Short answer  – yes!

Successful drivers of change focus on relentless development of  ‘capacity building’ – to make learning more exciting, more engaging, and more linked to assessment feedback loops around the achievement of higher order skills.”


“A ‘wrong driver’ is a deliberate policy force that has little chance of achieving the desired result, while a ‘right driver’ is one that ends up achieving better measurable results for students.The culprits are 1. accountability: using test results, and teacher appraisal, to reward or punish teachers and schools vs capacity building; 2. individual teacher and leadership quality: promoting individual vs group solutions; 3. technology: investing in and assuming that the wonders of the digital world will carry the day vs instruction; 4. fragmented strategies vs integrated or systemic strategies. Although the four ‘wrong’ components have a place in the reform constellation, they can never be successful drivers. It is, in other words, a mistake to lead with them.”

From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:

Guy Claxton’s Magnificent Eight

Guy Claxton believes that teachers need to focus on how they relate to students in their classrooms. What is important , he writes, are the values embodied in how they talk, what they notice, the activities they design, the environments they create, and the examples they set day after day. These represent the culture of the class.Every lesson invites students to use certain habits of mind, and to shelve others.”

Bureaucratic ‘creep’ and curriculum ‘drag’!

Bureaucratic creep and curriculum drag 2004 – have things improved?

“Tomorrows Schools ( when schools were made self governing in NZ in the 80s) was all about community control – or so the publicity went. It sounded good at the time but the possibility of local control and creativity was quickly crushed by the imposition of confusing curriculum statements and time wasting assessment requirements.”

In praise of slow

“The ideas of Carl Honore, in his book ‘In Praise of Slow’, are a real antidote to our current obsession with productivity, speed, consumerism and ‘workaholism’, which has filtered its way into all we do – including education. Carl Honore believes too many of us are living our lives on ‘fast forward’ and as a result our health and relationships are paying a heavy price. Obese children are but the most recent symptom of this fast life. Carl writes that we are to ‘over stimulated and overworked and struggle to relax to enjoy things properly, to spend time with family and friends’.”

Inspiration and challenges for today

Pioneer New Zealand creative teacher Elwyn Richardson recognised – and some good advice for today’s teachers.

“In April of this year (2005), at the age of 80, Elwyn Richardson was given an honorary doctorate by Massey University to recognize his work as ‘one of New Zealand’s most inspiring, innovative and influential teachers whose ideas were ahead of his times’. His recently republished book ‘In The Early World’ outlines his philosophy of learning and teaching including his respect for the emerging abilities of the children he taught. ‘They are my teachers as I was theirs and the basis of our relationship was sincerity, without which, I am convinced, there can be no creative education’.At the ceremony Professor Codd said that, ‘It is timely in the 21st century to recapture teaching as an art. In the early World inspires teachers to take risks, to contemplate values and philosophies as central to the teaching – learning process and to adapt prescribed curriculum to the children’s own desire to explore , inquire and create.’’


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