Education Readings November 20th

By Allan Alach

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

The fear of all sums: how teachers can help students with maths anxiety

“The way teachers feel about the subject also has an impact – if we think maths is hard and scary our class will too. Instead of taking shortcuts, teachers must help children see the relationship between the different challenges to ease their anxiety.”

Constructing learning in the digital age

I haven’t included a Steve Wheeler article for a while.

“From a cognitive constructivist perspective, learning is achieved through the twin processes of assimilation and accommodation. The latter implies that new learning is ‘bolted onto’, or constructed within, existing cognitive structures known as schemas. Learning relies on the individual construction of reality, according to Jean Piaget. Such construction of meaning is unique to each individual, and therefore centres on each learner’s efforts to make sense of the subject.”

Children should be allowed to get bored, expert says

“Children should be allowed to get bored so they can develop their innate ability to be creative, an education expert says. Dr Teresa Belton told the BBC cultural expectations that children should be constantly active could hamper the development of their imagination.”

Parents aiming too high can harm child’s academic performance

All teachers will be aware of this….

“When parents have high hopes for their children’s academic achievement, the children tend to do better in school, unless those hopes are unrealistic, in which case the children may not perform well in school, according to research published by the American Psychological Association.”

Art and the Mind’s Eye: How Drawing Trains You to See the World More Clearly and to Live with a Deeper Sense of Presence

An excellent reason to include drawing in your class programme.

“Drawing, indeed, transforms the secret passageway between the eye and the heart into a two-way street — while we are wired to miss the vast majority of what goes on around us, learning to draw rewires us to see the world differently, to love it more intimately by attending to and coming to cherish its previously invisible details.”

Power, Labor, and Compliance in Education Reform: Why We Must Refuse

Does this sound familiar?

“It appears apparent to anyone who has worked in education for more than a few years that what we have before us is a never-ending avalanche of policies. Further, dedicated and committed teachers try their best to follow instructions.  They try to follow the latest round of “to-do” lists hurled upon them from above by “experts” and policy makers.

But there’s a catch.”

Contributed by Bruce Hammonds:

Standardization isn’t Just Killing Students’ Creativity

“Standardization is destroying the soul of creativity in our students. My subject area is about reading and writing, something a majority of my students hate doing. This is tragic because they’re both activities that I love deeply and most young kids enjoy. Older students often tell me that they loved reading and writing when they were younger, but they hate it now.”

Service Learning: Growing Action From the Roots of Passion

“Our goal was to create an educational model in which students’ passions are the driving force, empowering them as global citizens. While we have limited time to cover required curriculum, we are committed to finding ways of embedding curriculum in “real-life” applications within the project.”

The Power of Story in School Transformation

“Human brains are hardwired to understand the world through stories. This is so true that psychologists often refer to stories as “psychologically privileged,” meaning that our memory treats them differently from other types of information (Willingham). Each of us is a collage of our unique life experiences. By organizing these experiences into a story structure, we try to create order from chaos.”

How Can We Harness the Power of Learning Beyond the School Day?

“Discussions of learning tend to focus on what happens in schools, but many students are learning lots of important skills outside of school through extracurriculars like sports, music, art, politics or any other passion. Often students don’t get recognition for the learning they pursue on their own, and many times they don’t even see their passion as learning at all.”

From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:

Developing a co-constructivist unit of study

Bruce wrote this after a visit to my school…sadly all this has now gone due to the switch after my departure to ‘raise achievement’ against ‘national standards’ based on the collection of ‘achievement data.’

“A plan for a school to develop a unit of work which values students’ ideas and thoughts and then challenges them to ‘change their minds’ though interactive activities. Before starting the unit the staff need to clarify their idea of ‘constructivist’ and inquiry learning.”

Mavericks – our only hope!

Creative ‘mavericks’ are our only hope – but times are difficult for creative thinkers in our standardised education system.

“Does your school benefit from the talents and energy of the ‘maverick’ or does it seek to restrain them?.New Zealand was settled by courageous creative Polynesian and European adventurers prepared to risk all for success in an unknown world. Not for then complying to bureaucrats sitting at their desks or self interested populist politicians.It was anthropologist Margaret Mead who said that every new idea was started by a small group of committed people. Or as Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, ‘Every reform was once a private opinion.”


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