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.”


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