Monkeys and Pineapples

Aussie Friends of Treehorn

encouraging adults to think sensitively, to care for kids, to make wise choices….with their hearts in gear, their pens active and their votes available .

Grown-up Adults respect school children and care about them.
Adult Grown-ups respect school children and care about them

Monkeys and Pineapples.

Despite its crudities, this presentation has a useful list of conscience joggers for those who don’t take much notice of school children and the impact of NAP:LAN. It describes the way that Australian schooling will be going if we don’t ban NAPLAN….the gimmicks we’ll have to use to divert the anguish and stress that the data-miners believe are necessary for good scores. Monkey antics don’t work, but then, NAPLAN test-loving data –miners wouldn’t comprehend that.

Coming to a test factory near you if you keep disrespecting your fellow human beings….school children. Let’s join the anti-violence campaign and ban NAPLAN.

Phil Cullen 41 Cominan Avenue Banora Point Australia 2486 07 5524 6443

Education Readings September 25th

By Allan Alach

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

All this week’s contributions are from Bruce Hammonds:

Providing Space for Wonder: Fostering Children’s Natural Sense of Inquiry

“Why is the sky blue? Who invented the toilet? Why do zebras have stripes? As any parent of a preschool- or elementary school–age child can attest, children are born with a natural sense of curiosity. It is this innate sense of wonder that will lead and support our students’ lifelong journeys of discovery and learning. As educators, we have a moral obligation to not only allow for our students’ inquisitiveness, but to also foster and support this powerful, often untapped potential.”

How to get children to want to do maths outside the classroom

How to get children to want to do maths – try some maths walks

“Ask adults about maths and they’ll often say: “I was never very good at maths at school”. How can we stop young children growing up today saying the same thing. One way to develop ownership is to take children on a “maths walk”, opening their eyes up to the world around them. It’s like a treasure hunt, with the treasures hidden all around us waiting to be observed.”

Three Lessons For Teachers From Grant Wiggins

This advice is offered so that each student can continue to benefit from Wiggins’ teachings and wisdom.

“While Grant is no longer with us, his spirit and ideas live on. Indeed, we can honor and celebrate his life’s work by acting on the sage advice that he offered to teachers over the years. As we prepare to meet our new students, let us consider three of Grant’s sensible and salient lessons for teachers.”

Five Strategies for Questioning with Intention

The art of questioning by Art Costa and Bella Kallick

“One of a teacher’s most important practices is designing and posing questions. Knowing that questions are the gateway into students’ thinking, masterful teachers don’t just ask a lot of questions; they purposefully design and pose questions that are appropriate for each learning goal—questions that will bring about the specific kinds of student learning they are aiming for.”

The Neuroscience Behind Stress and Learning

The real oil about brain friendly learning.

“The realities of standardized tests and increasingly structured, if not synchronized, curriculum continue to build classroom stress levels. Neuroimaging research reveals the disturbances in the brain’s learning circuits and neurotransmitters that accompany stressful learning environments. The neuroscientific research about learning has revealed the negative impact of stress and anxiety and the qualitative improvement of the brain circuitry involved in memory and executive function that accompanies positive motivation and engagement.”

Beyond the Factory Model

Blended learning – many schools are moving into personalised blended learning to move out of a factory one size fits all model.

“A foundation-funded experiment is testing whether “blended learning” can personalize instruction in eight Oakland schools. Blended learning combines brick-and-mortar schooling with online education “with some element of student control over time, place, path, and/or pace” of learning, according to the Clayton Christensen Institute definition of the term.”

Classrooms Flooded with Devices.

Remember B.F. Skinner’s teaching machine? Are similar claims being made for today’s technology?

“By repeatedly rotating a little wheel on the machine’s side, each child was presented with a question and its answer, then another question and its answer and so on. The feedback was instant. Each child could move at their own pace. Learning was fun instead of hard work. It was obvious to Skinner that this technology was going to change the face of education forever. Except it didn’t.”

Nine of the Best Ways to Boost Creative Thinking

“When it comes to creativity, one of our biggest concerns is usually how we can be more creative, or how to come up with better ideas. Research in this area is all over the place, but I’ve gathered some of the most practical studies out there to help you utilize specific techniques that can boost your creativity.

All of these studies are useful for everyday creativity in daily life, so try a few out for yourself and see which ones work best for you.”

Don’t Assume I’m Smarter Than My Contractor: Why Schooling Helps Us Devalue the Nonacademic

It is not only what school think is worth knowing – shame teachers don’t understand this

“Whether we mean to or not, we constantly reinforce the message that only the stuff kids are taught in school counts as serious learning. Extracurriculars are fine, but what really counts is in their textbooks and homework.We send them to school precisely because we believe that’s where they’ll be taught the most important subjects. We grade them on those things, and in many ways we measure their worth (at least while they’re in school) by how well they do on tests and school assignments.”

From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:

New Literacies for a New Millennium

Reading has shaped our brains!

“It is hard to imagine that such an innocent act as reading could limit our thinking. After all what could be more innocuous than reading a book?

Creativity: process or product?

What’s often missing in many classrooms are the ‘voices’ and personal creativity of the students.

The point of the creative process is for each student to produce a piece of work (research, poetry, art or dance) that represents the best a learner can do; a piece of work or performance to be proud of. We are what we create to a degree.To many teachers do not understand that to develop student creativity they  need to do ‘fewer things well’ to allow their students to ‘dig deeply’ into any experience and then to express what they discover with individual creativity.

See nothing, hear nothing, don’t talk to anyone!

Time for the elites to listen to voices of the people.

The only way we will get a real change in the basic script of our society is for central government to start listening to the voices of the wider community and, in education in particular, to the voices of teachers, students and their parents.

Unlocking the treasure within

Unlocking the treasure within with regard to Maori students.

“Perhaps there is no way for schools to develop their Maori students learning unless they dramatically change their style of teaching – and if they did all this students would benefit.”

Observation and imagination

Students who are taught to observe the intimate world of their immediate environment not only see more, and have more to wonder and talk about but, in the process, develop a wider vocabulary and ask more questions. From this wealth of sensory experiences arises the source for talking, drawing and early writing.”

Time to re-read John Holt

John Holt quotes on learning – more pertinent than ever

Along with John Holt I now have to admit that, after decades of encouraging school transformation, I have also come to Holt’s view about the impossibility of really transforming our antiquated education system.

My epiphany moment


Don’t forget your local pollies.

Aussie Friends of Treehorn

encouraging adults to think sensitively, to care for kids, to make wise choices….with their hearts in gear, their pens active and their votes available .

My Epiphany Moment

11849317_1160804897279886_907336653_nI used to blanket test all the kids in the school as we principals were obliged to do–each month or period or term.

I was a real test-freak….I went further than most… did weekly tests in Arithmetic and English Grammar almost constantly. Thinking that they were diagnostic, I’d even make judgements about the results. Silly stuff.

Crying at test time

One day a brilliant little Year 2 only got 3 out of 5 for my Notation test. She started to cry as this little girl is doing.

Mail AttachmentThrough her tears, while the scores were being recorded, she started to read a book that had been set for Year 10. High school !? What’s going on? Something stupid, for sure!

Image result for epiphany moment

I started to think. I didn’t take on this job to use curriculum material to make kids cry!
Am I evaluating or teaching or damaging an outstanding intellect? WHAT am I doing?

The answer was obvious. I walked out of the classroom and never gave another such test. I decided to sort out my thoughts as to the differences between terms like that.

When the mass assault on children’s intellect began in 2008, with the child-abusive, morally bankrupt, corporate NAPLAN photo-source-unkown-forwarded-from-charles-a-e-brandt_thumbtesting, here was a serious mission to be undertaken on behalf of kids. Parents and teachers had been silenced, principals hoodwinked. Children were the victims. Serious stuff.

The teaching and learning world that I had envisioned had been sidetracked. My dreams of unleashed school learning and achieving had been shattered.

Professional ethics had disappeared, most adults didn’t care, teacher opinion was ignored and parents were deceived. Kids needed the voices of professional school educators, but the power of corporate greed has been overwhelming.

Schooling-ignorant data miners have now had long enough. Their damage to Australia’s cognitive capital has been monumental. This school generation does not deserve it.

How do I feel now after all these years? Sad. Very, very sad. Still optimistic.

And… times…..

Phil Cullen 41 Cominan Avenue Banora Point Australia 2486 07 5524 6443



The Treehorn Express

encouraging adults to think sensitively, to care for kids, to make wise choices….with their hearts in gear, their pens active and their votes available .

Ray Armstrong, retired NSW primary principal, is a commentator whose concern for school children is boundless. He wrote this at 2.30 a.m. one morning this week [as you do] and called it ‘2.30am’. Since it should spur other child-oriented enthusiasts to take some special action to help children to escape from NAPLAN, I have renamed it….

 Beyond 2.30 a.m.

a summary of what NAPLAN is and does.

NAPLAN….This annual bureaucratic extravagance in the name of quality education and ­enhanced transparency will, by some conservative estimates, cost Australian taxpayers $100 million.

What do we get for our $100 million? Improved teaching standards? Greater insight into school performance? Increased student interest in learning? Enhanced student resources or boosts to teacher and student wellbeing? Better resources?

Sadly, Naplan delivers little, if any, educational value. In a report for the Whitlam Institute, Professor John Polesel described how the test is shown to possess poor reliability. The tests provide poor quality data. There is widespread anecdotal evidence of cheating and other breaches of testing protocol (such as schools asking poor-performing students to remain at home so as not to lower the school’s score on the myschool website).

Then there is the fact Naplan results are delivered about five months after the tests are administered, making it impossible to consider meaningful change to ‘‘assist students’’ until the next year.

In other words, Naplan fails, regardless of student or teacher performance.

Naplan does, however, ­deliver a range of outcomes not discussed on the Australian Curriculum and Reporting Authority (ACARA) website. To start with, Naplan delivers a narrowed curriculum as students miss out on various educational opportunities (such as sport, arts and drama, music and sometimes even lunch) for extra classroom time on Naplan practice.

Naplan delivers results that indicate very little about teacher quality, but a lot about the socio-economic status of families at a school. (There is a strong positive correlation between Naplan scores and family income.)

Naplan delivers poorer quality teaching. The Queensland Studies Authority stated that this testing encourages “methods of teaching that promote shallow and superficial learning rather than deep conceptual understanding and the kinds of complex knowledge and skills needed in modern, information-based societies”.

That is because Naplan rewards poorer quality teaching that focuses on the test and strips away context, curiosity and creativity around learning concepts.

Naplan delivers heightened levels of unnecessary stress and anxiety for children as young as seven who are sitting the third grade test.

Empirical data has shown that some students experience so much Naplan-related pressure that they suffer migraines, sleeplessness and even vomiting.

This is related to both parent and teacher expectations, with children being told their performance will affect their ability to succeed in school and in life.

Naplan also delivers powerful labels that can stay with a child, not just for a year, but for a lifetime. Struggling students receive a report five months following their test, informing them and their parents of their academic incompetence in comparison to the rest of the country’s students.

The damage such a result can do for a student in third grade is substantial, potentially lifelong and unacceptable. Of course, the parents and teachers of students who are struggling will usually already know a child is struggling. Receiving the delivery of a Naplan envelope in October means the student will know it as well.

Research that has examined children’s beliefs about intelligence shows that once they believe they are ‘‘dumb’’, they become less motivated, are less likely to try, become more disengaged, and ultimately perform poorly.

Naplan delivers that unhealthy, fixed mindset that harms children’s resilience to all children in grades 3, 5, 7, and 9 if they perform poorly.

Defenders of Naplan will argue that it is important to see how children are doing and how teachers are teaching. These are important indices of a quality education. However, Naplan is a blunt and unreliable instrument for assessing both of these things.

Naplan is a failure. It fails the economic justification test. It fails the accountability test. It fails good pedagogical practice standards. It fails the curriculum. And most ­important of all, it fails our students.

Phil Cullen  41 Cominan Avenue  Banora Point  Australia 2486  07 5524 6443   


Education Readings September 18th

By Allan Alach

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

Why America’s obsession with STEM education is dangerous

Other countries who are being sucked into STEM need to take note.

“A broad general education helps foster critical thinking and creativity. Exposure to a variety of fields produces synergy and cross fertilization. Yes, science and technology are crucial components of this education, but so are English and philosophy. When unveiling a new edition of the iPad, Steve Jobs explained that “it’s in Apple’s DNA that technology alone is not enough — that it’s technology married with liberal arts, married with the humanities, that yields us the result that makes our hearts sing.”’

Weapons of maths destruction: are calculators killing our ability to work it out in our head?

It’s not the calculators that is the problem…

“Sadly, the potential for calculators to transform school mathematics and enhance our facility with mental arithmetic is not being achieved. We are not being provided with opportunities to solve real and interesting mathematical problems in the most effective ways”

How The Ballpoint Pen Killed Cursive


“Sassoon’s analysis of how we’re taught to hold pens makes a much stronger case for the role of the ballpoint in the decline of cursive. She explains that the type of pen grip taught in contemporary grade school is the same grip that’s been used for generations, long before everyone wrote with ballpoints. However, writing with ballpoints and other modern pens requires that they be placed at a greater, more upright angle to the paper—a position that’s generally uncomfortable with a traditional pen hold.”

A New Kind of Social Anxiety in the Classroom

“Kids who constantly use phones and computers tend to be more nervous in face-to-face conversations. What can teachers do to help?”

Making and the Reggio Emilia Approach: Making the Connection

“The Reggio Emilia approach to early childhood education places among the children an atelierista with two primary responsibilities: to conduct deep observation of the patterns in each child’s growth and use these observations to lead children into the process of the artist. Atelieristas often refer to this process as the “aesthetic dimension,” full of desire for meaning, curiosity and wonder.”

Four Reasons to Worry About “Personalized Learning”

Alfie Kohn deconstructing the corporate view of “Personalized Learning”:

“Certain forms of technology can be used to support progressive education, but meaningful (and truly personal) learning never requires technology. Therefore, if an idea like personalization is presented from the start as entailing software or a screen, we ought to be extremely skeptical about who really benefits”

This week’s contributions from Bruce Hammonds:

Putting the Passion in Project-Based Learning

“How do we as teachers get our students to define their own driving questions? One way is by pairing design thinking with project-based learning. If you want students to develop leadership, confidence, and solid core content knowledge, then this is a strategy that works “learning miracles.”Students crave assignments that are relevant to them. That’s why project-based learning is the best way to get students to take control of their learning. Here are some keys to getting the most out of project-based learning.”

Most Likely to Succeed,’ by Tony Wagner and Ted Dintersmith

New York Times review of Tony Wagner’s excellent book  is well worth a read

‘“Most Likely to Succeed: Preparing Our Kids for the Innovation Era,” by Tony Wagner and Ted Dintersmith — argues that the only way to ensure any kind of future security for our children is to totally upend the education system and rethink what school is for.Many of the disruptions the authors suggest — an interdisciplinary approach; hands-on, project-based learning; student-directed curriculums — are already in place in some of the country’s best schools. Less convincing is the assumption that undergirds this whole tract: that every person can — or should — be molded into an entrepreneur.’

Why Ed Tech Is Not Transforming How Teachers Teach

“A mountain of evidence indicates that teachers have been painfully slow to transform the ways they teach, despite that massive influx of new technology into their classrooms. The student-centered, hands-on, personalized instruction envisioned by ed-tech proponents remains the exception to the rule.”

Golden Rules for Engaging Students in Learning Activities

“Research suggests that considering the following interrelated elements when designing and implementing learning activities can increase student engagement behaviourally, emotionally, and cognitively, thereby positively affecting academic achievement.”

Igniting Student Engagement: A Roadmap for Learning

More good advice on engaging students.

“Here are three practices that, when incorporated by teachers, offer entry points for students to invest in their learning.”

Know that you have it: Keys to self-driven, self-loving, self-supporting education

“In life and learning, sometimes it isn’t what we know, but knowing that we have it that makes the difference. How can we cultivate an education system that values both how we feel and behave, as much as what we “know?” Imagine if you went into school every day and learned, along side your core studies, how to listen, communicate, and collaborate; how to honor each other; how to see the best in each other. The possibilities are endless.”

From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:

Negotiating the Curriculum

“In the Australian book ‘Negotiating the Curriculum, edited by Garth Boomer,  four steps are suggested to negotiate a study with students applicable for any level of schooling. Essentially it is an inquiry model that emphasizes valuing the ‘voice’ of students in the their own learning. It is very much in line with the ‘co- constructivist’ teaching philosophy.The four steps outlined below are premised that the study has not yet been widely accepted by the students. In this situation the teacher and the learners should ask four questions and together negotiate the answers. This is essentially about power sharing leaving the agency for learning in the hands of the students.”

And further ideas:

How to engage students – advice from the experts!

“Engaging students at the year 7 to 10 year age groups seems to be a growing challenge worldwide as non ‘academic’ students are finding their learning boring or irrelevant. The obvious answer would seem to be to ask the experts themselves – the students!

This is what was done by the innovative Australian project ‘Negotiating the Curriculum’ of the early 80s edited by Garth Boomer.”

Transform schools or exclude students

Either we transform schools or exclude disengaged students.

“On Sunday night TV One a play, ‘Ahead of the Class’, based on the true story of how Lady Marie Stubbs turned around a notorious school in South London was shown; this school, no doubt, had more than it’s fair share of suspended students; the previous principal had been murdered by a pupil! The play faced up to the challenge of ‘turned off’ learners that face too many of our secondary schools. And it also faced up to a staff who had accepted that the problem lay with the students.”

Education Readings September 11th

By Allan Alach

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

When Knowledge Is Unforgettable: Adults remember more of what they learned in school than they think they do. 

Education-policy debates tend to focus on structural issues—things like teacher quality, licensure requirements, and laws governing charter schools. But research on human memory indicates that academic content and the way it is sequenced—i.e., curriculum—are vital determinants of educational outcomes, and they’re aspects that receive insufficient attention. In other words, perhaps what matters most after all isn’t mental exercise.”

Bedtime Stories for Young Brains

“The different levels of brain activation, he said, suggest that children who have more practice in developing those visual images, as they look at picture books and listen to stories, may develop skills that will help them make images and stories out of words later on.”

Taking Notes: Is The Pen Still Mightier Than the Keyboard?

This topic has been covered in earlier readings but is worth revisiting, especially as it ends up discussing the use of images in note taking – the obvious connection being Tony Buzan’s Mind Maps.

“While unconventional, drawing as note-taking makes sense based on memory research, which shows that if multiple ideas can be condensed into an image, the brain stores all those related ideas as one. The image acts as a zip drive for multiple ideas, helping to fit more into the limited short term memory.”

Want to Reform Education? Let Teachers Teach.

Not rocket science, is it?

“Tinkering with assessments is just rearranging the deck furniture on the titanic failure of education reform. Real education reform will come when, and only when, we address poverty, fund schools properly and honor the teaching profession with good pay and the respect teachers deserve.”

Why young kids need less class time — and more play time — at school

The importance of play has been covered in a number of previous readings – here’s another excellent article.

“It seems counter-intuitive to think that less classroom time and more outdoor play would lead to a better education for kids. But longer time on task doesn’t equate to better results, only greater burnout. For years, educators have tried different unsuccessful strategies – more testing, more instruction– to reverse these trends. The answer, however, is not more class time. It’s more play.”

What do Students Lose by Being Perfect? Valuable Failure

Teachers know this, but do parents and wider community?

“Many educators already know this, but what to do about it? Educators can play a crucial part in helping kids to get comfortable with failure, which Lahey calls “autonomy-supportive teaching” and goes hand-in-hand with “autonomy-supportive parenting.” She says there are ways educators can encourage parents to let go, and here are a few.”

How a Moveable Space Can Ignite Creativity in the Classroom

“Rethinking learning environments will play an important role in education in the years to come. Are you rehashing old models or covering new ground? Everyone who cares deeply about education wants to find creative ways to engage the next generation of learners. The thinking about these spaces will continue to evolve and change as we try them out and learn from these experiences. This is the design-thinking process for creating the next generation of learning environments.”

Why You Shouldn’t Waste Your Time With ‘Learning Styles’

This topic has been covered several times in previous lists, but it’s worth highlighting it again.

“In the future, someone may prove that learning style practices are effective. In the meantime, learning is too important to gamble with something that might work. Use methods that we know do work.”

This week’s contributions from Bruce Hammonds:

Inquiry-Based Learning in the Science Classroom 

“Beginning with a central question and driven by curiosity and personal passions, science students at Casey Middle seek answers through research, experimentation, and data analysis.”

When Educators Make Space For Play and Passion, Students Develop Purpose

“Harvard education specialist Tony Wagner has been advocating that we reinvent the education system to promote innovation for years. He’s clear that content should no longer be at the centre of school. Instead, he says a teacher’s main job should be to help students develop key skills necessary for when they leave school. Take 15 minutes to watch his TED Talk – it would make a great staff  or parent meeting.”

Employers’ Challenge to Educators: Make School Relevant to Students’ Lives

“Business leaders and economic thinkers are worried that today’s students aren’t leaving school with the skills they’ll need to succeed in the workplace. They are looking for applicants who show individuality, confidence in their abilities, ability to identify and communicate their strengths, and who are capable of thinking on their feet.”

From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:

‘Crap detecting’

The need for a ‘crap detector’ – good advice from Ernest Hemingway.

“An interviewer once asked the late Ernest Hemingway to identify the characteristics of a great writer. The interviewer asked, ‘Isn’t there any one essential ingredient that you can identify?’ Hemingway replied, ‘Yes there is. In order to be a great writer a person must have a built in, shockproof ‘crap detector’.Hemingway identified the essential future survival strategy and the essential function of schools today. New ideas have only ever been developed when people have challenged faulty assumptions and ideas.”

Tapping into the student’s world

“Every student brings with them memories and ideas gained from the experiences they have had. All too often this personal form of motivation is overlooked by teachers who seem to think they have better ideas to use – their own. It is as if students come to school as blank slates ( tabula rosa) when instead they come with a wealth of ideas to share but to do their ideas need to be valued.”

Creating conditions to ‘invite’ growth

“If teachers really thought hard about the conditions that students, as living being, need to develop their learning potential then we wouldn’t have so many disenchanted or, worse still, alienated students.We spent too much time wishing some students were different and not enough on making learning ‘inviting’.According to Carol Anne Tomlinson, an American Educator, expert in differentiating learning, students care about learning when their teachers ‘invite them to learn’ by meeting their students’ needs for:‘affirmation, contribution, purpose, power and challenge in the classroom’.”

Education is about playing the whole game

“’Making Learning Whole’, written by David Perkins is a book all schools ought to acquire  because it will certainty help them focus their teaching to integrate skills to ensure all their students are equipped with the dispositions to thrive in an unknown future.It is certainly aligned with the intent of the ‘new’ New Zealand Curriculum and provides practical ideas to implement it.”

Education Readings September 4th

By Allan Alach

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

I know what I like

Here’s your new word for the week: heutagogy.

‘We live in a rapidly changing world that requires people to have the ability to adapt much more quickly than in previous times, where events moved much more slowly. Education is not immune from these changes even though it is an inherently conservative system. In the face of significant innovation in educational practice and as espoused in self-determined learning (heutagogy) and other perspectives, there are new skills to adopted by learners and learning leaders alike.’

Learning spaces: The subconscious teacher

“The spaces we inhabit have a profound effect on how we inhabit them. Space induces a particular way of feeling, of being. What are we saying to our children with we line them up in 5×8 rows facing the same direction toward a voice of authority? What do we say about desks that lock us in place, where the majority of movement within our gaze is eyes forward, eyes down?”

“Sit Still and Face Forward”: How the Myth of Teacher Control Undermines Classroom Management

Good article on that essential teacher attribute – helping children manage their behaviour.

“Because teachers are responsible for the behavior in their classrooms, we fall into the trap of believing that they (we) can control the behavior in their (our) classrooms. The reality is that no human being can control the behavior of any other human being. We can attempt to influence it, certainly. Offers of rewards or threat of punishment might influence people’s choices, as do respect, trust, and good relationships. But even young children are still able to make choices about their behavior.”

The Common Core Can’t Speed Up Child Development

This article is about the USA; however it’s transferable to all countries using a standards based education system.

“Educational attainment is part of human development, and fundamentally this is 

a biological process that cannot be sped up. We cannot wish away our biological limitations because we find them inconvenient. Children will learn crawling, walking, listening, talking and toilet training, all in succession at developmentally appropriate ages. 

Once in school, for skills that require performing a physical task, that are in what 

Bloom’s Taxonomy classifies as the “psychomotor domain,” it is understood that 

children will only learn when they are physically and developmentally ready.”

The “Mindset” Mindset

This is a must read – Alfie Kohn’s observations on Carol Dweck’s ‘growth mindset.”

“Even when a growth mindset doesn’t make things worse, it can help only so much if students have been led — by things like grades, tests, and, worst of all, competition — to become more focused on achievement than on the learning itself. Training them to think about effort more than ability does nothing to address the fact, confirmed by several educational psychologists, that too much emphasis on performance undermines intellectual engagement. Just as with praise, betting everything on a shift from ability to effort may miss what matters most.”

No Clarity Around Growth Mindset…Yet

Following on.

“So – is growth mindset the one concept in psychology which throws up gigantic effect sizes and always works? Or did Carol Dweck really, honest-to-goodness, make a pact with the Devil in which she offered her eternal soul in exchange for spectacular study results?

I don’t know. But here are a few things that predispose me towards the latter explanation. A warning – I am way out of my league here and post this only hoping it will spark further discussion.”

Affirmative Testing Blog: What Students Do With Feedback

On the other hand, here’s Annie Murphy Paul’s observations on growth mindset.

“A passing acquaintance with the notion of mindset—though an excellent start—doesn’t fully convey the richness of Dweck’s idea, however. The influence of mindset shows up in students’ thinking and behavior in so many ways, one of which I want to focus on today. That is the effect of mindset on how students handle feedback.”

Sugata Mitra and the Hole in the Research

Some weeks back Mitra published research which showed that children, using the internet, could teach themselves at a level several years above their ages.

Well, not quite …

“You’ll forgive me for not being particularly impressed by hand-picked students taking part in a test where they’re made to feel special, given a thin slice of a syllabus to work on, and then tested for that exact piece of syllabus…and then scaling up that work into a magic GCSE grade. Give me a page of quantum physics to memorise, then ask me about it. Can I have a PhD?”

This week’s contributions from Bruce Hammonds:

Start the School Year by “Awakening Your Dreamers”

Something to start the year but good for any time – awakening student dreams

“When your students return to the classroom this fall, how many will bring along the interests, talents, and dreams that inspired or delighted them over the summer months? Will they see any connection between school assignments and their own passions?”

Kids Speak Out on Student Engagement

‘A while back, I was asked, “What engages students?” Sure, I could respond, sharing anecdotes about what I believed to be engaging, but I thought it would be so much better to lob that question to my own eighth graders. The responses I received from all 220 of them seemed to fall under 10 categories, representing reoccurring themes that appeared again and again. So, from the mouths of babes, here are my students’ answers to the question: “What engages students?”’

Growth Mindset: How to Normalize Mistake Making and Struggle in Class

Is there anyone out there who hasn’t heard of Carol Dweck and the idea of ‘mindsets’?

“Carol Dweck’s research on growth mindset has become essential knowledge in education circles. The Stanford psychologist found that children who understand that their brains are malleable and can change when working through challenging problems can do better in school.”

From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:

Developing real literacy: Margaret Mahy

“Margaret Mahy, one of New Zealand’s most accomplished children’s writers says we are not changed by experiences as common wisdom has it. What changes us are the stories we tell about our experiences. ‘Unless we have formed our lives into story, structured it with words, we can’t contemplate the meaning of our lived experience’ This is done by turning the raw material of our life into stories, and in the process, ‘it can be creatively transformed and given meaning’.”

Developing natural learners

Natural born learners – before the word the experience . Have we forgotten this in our schools?

“Literacy is built out of, and from, the emotional or felt experiences children have as they play and explore their environments – preferably in the company of others and, even better, a perceptive adult.This understanding was the basis for the language arts experience that was as once such a feature of New Zealand Primary schools. The idea that early literacy should arise from children’s own thoughts from exploring their environment (and their own personal life experiences) was developed early in New Zealand.”

Tomorrows Schools had their day?

“Good people poor system’ it was said when the Labour Government introduced ‘Tomorrows Schools’ in the mid eighties. These changes were part of the transformation of the New Zealand’s economy under an ideology that came to be known as ‘Market Forces’.School changes were ‘sold’ to the public as a means to develop greater community democratic control and authority over schools. In reality there was no real dissatisfaction or desire to change things at the time. It was later to be seen as part of the above ideology; all about the advantages of efficiency and competition.”

Don’t touch the bananas!!!!

The power of culture – learning not to touch the bananas!

“It is always amazing to see how exposure to an environment, or culture, can change how we think without us even knowing – I guess this is called conditioning. New ideas always rely on those individuals who can see reality without the blinkers.”