Education Readings February 26th

By Allan Alach

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

Four neuromyths that are still prevalent in schools – debunked

I’d suggest that the so-called education reform movement is the biggest source of learning myths.

“Many “neuromyths” are rampant in our classrooms, and research suggests that people are often seduced by neuroscientific explanations, even if these are not accurate or even relevant. Research also shows that explanations accompanied by images of the brain also persuade people to believe in their validity, however random the illustration.”

6 Ways To Make Learning Visible

“How do we distinguish knowledge, skills, and thinking from….learning? How do we make learning visible, so that we might surface and document powerful discoveries about the influence of our teaching on learners?”

7 things Blended Learning is NOT

“What has ‘Blended Learning’ done for the world of learning? It had the promise to shake us out of the ‘classroom/lecture-obsessed’ straightjacket into a fully developed, new paradigm, where online, social, informal and many other forms of learning could be considered and implemented. This needed an analytic approach to developing and designing blended learning solutions. So what happened?”

Why England is in the ‘guard’s van’ of school reform

Andy Hargreaves contrasting Scotland and England school systems – one of these is failing. There are lessons for many other countries here.

“England no longer values these things. About half of its schools are now outside local authority control. England offers a business capital model that invests in education to yield short-term profits and keep down costs through shorter training, weakened security and tenure, and keeping salaries low by letting people go before they cost too much.”

‘Like a horror show: It is difficult to comprehend the government’s stupidity over testing in schools’

Another article looking at the dire situation in England, especially the move to test school entrants.

“It is not just the age of the children that makes baseline assessment so problematic, it is also its format: a series of yes/no statements which fail to capture the complexity of the learning process or the child’s developmental stage. Can it really be possible to judge, on the basis of observation in the first six weeks of children starting a new school, whether they are or are not “risk taking”, whether they have or do not have “curiosity” and “persistence”?”

Take exams early in the morning to get a higher score

Ponder on the implications of this:

Hans Henrik Sievertsen from the Danish National Centre for Social Research in Copenhagen and his team have looked at 2 million standardised test scores from Danish children aged between 8 and 15. Starting from 8 am, for every hour later that a test was taken, scores declined by an amount equivalent to the effect of missing 10 days of school. Children who were performing worse at school seemed most affected by the time they sat the exam.

Against the Sticker Chart

An article for parents that has implications for the classroom.

“The problem with sticker charts and similar reward systems is not that they don’t work. Rather, they can work too well, creating significant negative and unintended long-term consequences for both the kids and their families. Sticker charts are powerful psychological tools, and they can go beyond affecting children’s motivation to influence their mindset and even affect their relationship with parents.”

Contributed by Bruce Hammonds:

Why Ability Grouping Doesn’t Work

While schools implement ability grouping, streaming or class cross grouping there is conflict with modern approaches to teaching and learning.

“In the ‘Pygmalion Study'(Rosenthal and Jacobson 1968) elementary teachers were told that the lowest achieving students were actually the highest and vice versa.  Simply because of this information and teachers’ subsequent expectations, the low achieving students showed significantly higher gains in their scores. Thus labelling or grouping students not only has a negative impact on their self-efficacy, but on teacher expectation.”

Innovate Like Sherlock Holmes

The power of observation – elementary my dear Watson

Watson: When I hear you give your reasons, the thing always appears to me to be so ridiculously simple that I could easily do it myself, though at each successive instance of your reasoning I am baffled until you explain your process. And yet I believe that my eyes are as good as yours.

Holmes: Quite so. You see, but you do not observe. The distinction is clear.”

From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:

This thing called reading.

If you have never read Frank Smith then you need to rectify this asap.

“Frank Smith believes that children do not need to be taught to read instead teachers need to create the conditions for them to want to. If reading is active process, that respects their ideas and worlds, they will want to join the reading club.”

Lester Flockton.Nothing wrong with being critical!

New Zealand respected educationalist Lester Flockton encourages principals to be critical.

“Lester Flockton encourages principals to develop critical reflective thinking about what is ‘put before them from on high, or the latest offering from theorists, researchers, policy pushers, advisers, consultants, programme package purveyors and the like’. ‘Such people’, Lester reminds us, ‘often have claims that are incomplete in their perspectives and insights about the working of schools and classrooms.”

More Zen – less zest!

“Hare Brain and Tortoise Mind – think less! Guy Claxton is a thinker after my own heart. While everyone else is rushing around introducing rational thinking skills he is pushing the ‘slower’ idea of developing intuition, hence the title of his book ‘Hare Brain Tortoise Mind – how to increase your intelligence by thinking less’.Claxton is about valuing patience and confusion which he believes are the precursors of real wisdom rather than the current emphasis on rigor and certainty. It is by digging into this ‘under mind’ of our unconscious that Claxton believes creativity resides.”


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