By Allan Alach
I welcome suggested articles, so if you come across a gem, email it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org
A primer on the damaging movement to privatize public schools
An excellent article by Marion Brady to start off this year’s readings. Applies all over.
“When, about 30 years ago, corporate interests began their highly organized, well-funded effort to privatize public education, you wouldn’t have read or heard about it. They didn’t want to trigger the debate that such a radical change in an important institution warranted.
If, like most pundits and politicians, you’ve supported that campaign, it’s likely you’ve been snookered. Here’s a quick overview of the snookering process.”
The danger of National’s Standards!
Here’s an article that I wrote way back in 2011 when my brain was working. It discusses the imposition of national standards (similar to USA Common Core Standards) on New Zealand primary schools, and wonders why all informed people haven’t stood up in unity to say no.
“I really wonder why it is that there appears to be significant numbers of principals who don’t seem to be aware of this, or, even more puzzling, why there are principals who are actively promoting standards in their schools. Or is the answer that many people see only the surface level problems with the standards, and believe that they can work their way around them? I don’t know. People who play with fire are in danger of getting burnt.”
One of the best
A Steve Wheeler article from November last year that looks at the tragedy of an English headteacher who couldn’t cope any more with the pressures. Variations of this story, although mostly not ending in such a drastic way, are happening in New Zealand and elsewhere. Enough!
“It’s impossible to say what other pressures there were in Carol’s life, and what finally caused her to decide to take her own life. But for those who knew her, and knew the pride with which she led her school, and looked after the children in her care, it is clear. The OFSTED visit would have caused a tremendous amount of unneeded pressure on everyone, and the trauma of receiving a report that showed the school in a bad light would have been a major contributory factor to her death.”
Long hours, endless admin and angry parents – why schools just can’t get the teachers
Another article from England that will also resonate with teachers all over.
“British schools are reporting a classroom crisis, with thousands of disaffected teachers leaving the profession, and new graduates discouraged from training because of the daily stress and grind. And with the number of state school pupils set to rise by a million by 2022, the problem is only getting worse.”
The Future Belongs to the Curious: How Are We Bringing Curiosity Into School?
“In this era of overly scripted, overly tested, overly controlled students AND teachers, there seems to be little or no room for curiosity at school. So what is the cost of curiosity-void schools? The result , way too often, is a school culture of malaise rather than a culture of curiosity, engagement, excitement and joy for learning. Educators along with their administrators need to be agents of their own teaching and bring curiosity into their classrooms especially if they have the slightest belief that the future belongs to the curious.”
Multitasking Is Killing Your Brain
A lesson we need to take note of in our classroom programmes.
“This constant task-switching encourages bad brain habits. When we complete a tiny task (sending an email, answering a text message, posting a tweet), we are hit with a dollop of dopamine, our reward hormone. Our brains love that dopamine, and so we’re encouraged to keep switching between small mini-tasks that give us instant gratification.
This creates a dangerous feedback loop that makes us feel like we’re accomplishing a ton, when we’re really not doing much at all (or at least nothing requiring much critical thinking)”
Contributed by Bruce Hammonds:
Full STEAM Ahead: Why Arts Are Essential in a STEM Education
“Everyone from software engineers and aerospace technicians to biotechnical engineers, professional mathematicians, and laboratory scientists knows that building great things and solving real problems requires a measure of creativity. More and more, professional artists themselves are incorporating technological tools and scientific processes to their art.”
What I Worry About When I Worry About STEM
“Are we training our future employees, or are we educating our present and future citizens?”
“By focusing on STEM subjects in isolation, or congratulating kids on studying engineering over elementary education, we are not only failing to challenge the idea that engineering is objectively harder, we are playing into the hands of a power structure that values industry more than humanity, and demands our complicity. We risk teaching them that good ideas come from technology and science, not where they really come from, which is everywhere”
Developmental Art Stages: The Magical World of Children’s Visual Literacy
“There are some general stages of drawing that many children pass through. However, as you know, children (like grownups) are all unique and may not pass through all of these stages, or may do it out of order. Many adult artists strive to recover the purity of their childhood drawings. So that being said, this list is only meant as informative, not as an evaluation tool for children’s Art. Let them make the way they make! Visual Literacy, or leaning to receive and express information visually, is a personal journey that can be encouraged through Art exposure and experiences, but not forced.”
Artists Share “Before and After” Evolution of Their Drawing Skills with Years of Practice
“Drawing, like all things, requires dedicated practice to master the craft and create amazing works that wow a wide audience. Although many people dabble in art when they’re younger, few people choose to hone their skills into their teens and adulthood. Those that do work on improving themselves have had impressive results—especially when comparing their refined techniques to their early work.”
The case for restoring creativity in our schools
‘Sir Ken Robinson:“What I am arguing for is more personalized education,” he told Quartz. “Kids have all sorts of unfulfilled promise. It’s about the opportunities you provide for them.” The first thing that has to happen is that we need politicians and policy makers to understand the problem they are trying to solve. To some degree, they are contributing to the problem.’
After technology – What then?
Jamie Mckenzie is always worth reading.
“Some of us argued from the beginning in the 1980s that this was not about technology or software. The prospect of changing schools and learning depended most upon teaching and learning strategies. But the money went overwhelmingly to machines and software. In most places, professional development was done on the cheap if done at all.”