Education Readings November 6th

By Allan Alach

I welcome suggested articles, so if you come across a gem, email it to me at allanalach@inspire.net.nz

Losing our grip: More students entering school without fine motor skills

This problem has appeared in New Zealand schools as well, and I suspect the same will the case all over.

“Local teachers and occupational therapists say an increasing number of children are showing up for kindergarten without the fine motor skills needed to grip a marker, hold their paper still while coloring or cut and glue shapes.”

http://bit.ly/1iwQnpB

Powerful play: Continuity and inquiry for children starting school

On a similar theme:

“By allowing children space and time to play they will show you what they know, what they are capable of, and what they want to learn about. Through play they explore and express their ideas, interests, and passions — but you need to listen to these carefully to know what to pick up on.”

http://bit.ly/1KWGhow

Seven is the age of wonder, not the age for formal testing

A story from England but it’s applicable all over.

“How can we foster a love for life-long learning when, before the tooth fairy has even collected a full set of gnashers, children are expected to get down and give their teacher 20? It is bad enough that their final year of primary school is riddled with a strict diet of test, drill, repeat twice every half term for the entire year. But to re-introduce yet more testing for children who can barely get themselves dressed, is a regression.”

http://bit.ly/1GKndyY

Philip Pullman decries ‘terrible state’ of children’s education in the arts

“The author of the His Dark Materials trilogy urged the government to make theatre visits for schools “a firmly established part of the curriculum”, saying he was concerned about falling numbers of children being taken to plays and concerts.

“I do worry what happens to children when they’re deprived of these things by these blasted league tables and this crazy assumption that we’ve got to test everything,” he said.”

http://bit.ly/1RQBBGb

‘It’s time to take a hard look at how we teach reading’

“We have almost a quarter century of studies that document how literacy blooms wherever students have access to books they want to read, permission to choose their own, and time to get lost in them.

Enticing collections of literature—interesting books written at levels they can decode with accuracy and comprehend with ease—are key to children becoming skilled, thoughtful, avid readers.”

http://bit.ly/1PkOXLM

Like it or not, schools are being converted into academies – that’s anti-democratic

‘Academies’ is an English term for charter schools. Readers all over will appreciate the points made here.

“Resistance against “forced” conversion is not a new phenomenon. The Anti Academies Alliance contains a catalogue of conversions of local authority-run schools into academies that were bitterly opposed by governors and parents. Many within education and outside of it are opposed to the highly politicised nature of conversions and the lack of evidence that these conversions are in the best interests of the students.”

http://bit.ly/1kqOGLr

This week’s contributions from Bruce Hammonds:

Curriculums, Collaboration, And Reinventing The Classroom

Riverpoint Academy in Spokane, WA is an innovative public high school to say the least. Students are given autonomy to pursue the projects that they are most passionate about and create real-world solutions to problems by incorporating the latest technology into a collaborative learning environment that is fueled by community professionals and an inspiring staff.”

http://bit.ly/1LYUz9V

What are “tests that are worth taking”?

Annie Murphy Paul:

“Over the weekend, President Obama declared that “our kids should only take tests that are worth taking.” But what would such tests look like? I have a few ideas. Here is my Affirmative Testing Manifesto:”

http://bit.ly/1LPa5rb

Confessions of a Business Artist

“Unfortunately our public schools are far too focused on indoctrination than education, on repetition over discovery. Our educational system specializes in creating trivia masters and kids that hate school, instead of building a new generation of creative problem solvers that love to learn and explore new approaches instead of defending status conferred based on mastery of current truths (which may be tomorrow’s fallacies). We are far too obsessed with STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Math) when we should be focused on STEAM (Science Technology Engineering Art and Music.”

http://bit.ly/1On7wjM

Ten reasons why teaching the arts is critical in a 21st century world

“The arts have a powerful impact on learning and are important in their own right. Here are ten reasons why, in a 21st century world, we should strengthen and expand arts education, not reduce or eliminate it.”

http://bit.ly/1l6T4QA

From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:

What’s wrong with Ability Grouping?

“Today there is an understanding of the relationship between socio economic background and school achievement and the cultural background of students. Ability grouping is unfair if it doesn’t take into account young people’s prior experiences and opportunities to learn.”

http://bit.ly/1SmFcfT

Self managing learners

“If teachers want to develop personalised learning environment students need to have developed the habit of working independently. Self managing is a ‘key competency’ both for the smooth running of a inquiry based classroom and to develop vital life long learning capabilities. As such it is highly related to future success. When students are ‘self managing’ it allows teachers the time to work with students who need help. What independent learning attributes do students in your class exhibit?”

http://bit.ly/1ztBhnu

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