Education Readings November 13th

By Allan Alach

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

‘World’s best teacher’ warns on too much testing

Mind you I’m not sure who chose her for this honour, nor what the criteria were, so I’d take the ‘best teacher’ claim with a pinch of salt.

“… she warned against education systems moving to what she thought was an over-prescriptive curriculum.

Such an approach would limit children’s range of reading, she warned, so that they would spend too long focusing on a small number of texts in order to pass tests.

“Parents are recognising that their children are being tested rather than taught,” she said of US schools.”

Innovation: What Does it Really Mean in Schools?

“Technology alone will not make it happen. Indeed, the technology will achieve little unless the ecology of learning and the purpose of technology have been clearly established. It’s about culture, imagination, creativity, risk-taking, failure, learning, questioning and the amplification of this entire process – especially the innovation piece – through the appropriate use of tools and technologies that help extend our ambition and learning outcomes. It’s about how we use those things.”

The Timeless John Dewey

If you don’t know much about John Dewey, here’s your homework – research him!

“Dewey wrote much about the power and importance of experiential learning (learning by doing, outdoor education, hands-on experiences), and how the teacher should be more of a facilitator or guide in a child’s learning experiences rather than the “sage on the stage”, which sadly became the traditional approach.”

“Peak indifference”: Cory Doctorow on surveillance in education

An important topic, given the ever increasing eyes of the state on our every day activities, and there’s no reason to think that education will be spared from this.

“In the educational domain we see a lot of normalisation of designing computers so that their users can’t override them. For example, school supplied laptops can be designed so that educators can monitor what their users are doing. If a school board loses control of their own security or they have bad employees, there’s nothing students can do. They are completely helpless because their machines are designed to prevent them from doing anything.”

What if everything we thought we knew about learning was wrong?

Here is a series of articles exploring the nature of learning.

’It is time to go back to basics of teaching and learning, not those of the 3 R’s, or of rote learning, of the industrial revolution or that of the information technology revolution but instead the basics of relationships and trust in education. It is time to rethink our pedagogy. A time to wipe the slate clean and rethink things from the beginning and not keep adding things that we think will or should “work”.’

Part 1:

Part 2:

Part 3:

Part 4:

Part 5:

Contributed by Bruce Hammonds:

Bruce Hammonds – Lessons from the Masters

Want to know what Bruce thinks – his ideas are captured in this PowerPoint presented at a creativity course.

45 Design Thinking Resources for Educators

“Design thinking consists of four key elements: Defining the Problem, Creating and Considering Multiple Options, Refining Selected Directions, and Executing the Best Plan of Action.”

‘I can be happy – or I can be a teacher’

“I come across weary, disillusioned teachers on a daily basis in the course of my visits to schools as an author. Now here’s the rub, not one of these good professionals references the very real stresses and strains of the classroom as the factor that could drive them out of teaching. It always boils down to workload, the endless collection of data, the subordination of teaching and learning to tracking, testing and “accountability”, which invariably means stress-inducing targets and anxious over-the-shoulder concerns about the next Ofsted inspection.”

Contributed by Phil Cullen:

Swamp Drop For Skills and Learning.

Here’s an interesting little task to work through.

“This exercise will build your skills in recognising how communications can activate unproductive cultural models. It’s an essential first step in keeping your messages from being eaten by dominant understandings of your issue.”

From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:

Survival of the fittest or the best connected – Market Forces or creating conditions for all to thrive. A new look at Darwin.

“Competition it is still believed leads to innovation but when you look at innovation from a long term perspective competition turns out to be less central that we have been led to believe.  Survival of the fittest has been oversold – from a long term perspective openness and connectivity may be more important.”


“Shame is that  our current market forces competitive orientated government seems prepared to destroy such an environment by introducing competitive league tables which will destroy the valuable aspects of collaboration and connectivity and, in the process, narrow the curriculum as teachers will naturally begin to teach to the test – a version of the outdated ideas of ‘ survival of the fittest.”

Importance of School Values

The importance of shared values in a school

“A vision gives an organization a sense of direction, a purpose, but only if it is ‘owned’ and translated into action by all involved.But vision is not enough in itself. The values that any organization has are just as important or even more so because they determine the behaviours that people agree to live within. Alignment of people behind values is vital but too often both vision and values are just words hidden in folders are rarely referred to. What you do must reflect what you believe if there is to be integrity. And any alignment needs to include students and parents as well.”


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