Education Readings April 1st

By Allan Alach

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

What happens when we interfere with the learning relationship?

“This graphic is my way of showing how the responsibility for learning should, over time, pass from the teacher to the learner. The time period may be a single term, year, key stage, a course, or educational phase (primary/secondary). This is the form of relationship that will ultimately produce independent rather than dependent learners, learners able to manage their own learning rather than be dependent on others to manage it for them.”

Technology makes a difference

Steve Wheeler:

“I have often heard the argument that there is no evidence that technology improves learning. This is a vacuous claim that is either a) based on ignorance of the available research literature, or b) possibly the result of a deep seated fear, mistrust or dislike of technology in general.”

Formal Schooling and the Death of Literacy

How to kill literacy and the enjoyment of reading:

‘From the first years of K-3 until the last years of high school, students have their experiences of literacy murdered by a blind faith in and complete abdication to labeling text by grade levels and narrow approaches to literary analysis grounded in New Criticism and what I call the “literary technique hunt.”’

Everyone Learns to Read from Direct Instruction

Here’s the follow on to the previous article.

“That is the beauty and calling of whole language—not to banish or idealize any approaches to literacy direct instruction, but to honor literacy acquisition over any set approach or program.In other words, we must seek for each student the array of direct instruction in reading that best suits her/his needs and insure that she/he develops into not only a proficient reader, but an eager reader. When direct instruction of reading is drudgery (such as completing a program or worksheet), as I and others have noted, it does far more harm than good.”

The purpose of education

Well worth reading.

“Education for utility and purposeful application towards the betterment of society should not occur without suitable acknowledgement of human activity that adds to the aesthetic worth of humanity. As Robin Williams said while playing John Keating in ‘Dead Poets Society’ ‘We don’t read and write poetry because it’s cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion.”

Contributed by Bruce Hammonds:

Myths in Education, or How Bad Teaching Is Encouraged

I think most of us have been sucked in by one or more of these over the years.

“I thought I would not have to blog about these fads again but it seems they have the strange ability to be reborn every single year and surface in professional development courses as well as in tweets, blog posts, and conversations within the education community. The reasons are different, ranging from ignorance to vested interests, but the effect is the same: poorer teaching. And no, you are not a bad teacher because you used them but you are a less effective one.”

The Global Search for Education: What’s Really Worth Learning?

“Our world is getting increasingly complex; so how do we know what is worth teaching and learning? I watched David Perkins’ presentation on this timely topic. David is interested in how we ought to adapt our curriculums in light of an ever-changing world. He asserts that what is conventionally taught in our schools is not necessarily meant to produce the kinds of community members we want and need. Perkins believes that only by reimagining what we teach our children can we lead students down the road to learning that results in a flourishing life.”

Making it up as you go along: how your brain improvises

“In recent years, several neuroscience studies have examined what is happening in the brain while jazz musicians and freestyle rappers are improvising. These studies provide a window into what is going on, more generally, in the brains of people while they are being creative.”

How the Power of Interest Drives Learning

“In recent years researchers have begun to build a science of interest, investigating what interest is, how interest develops, what makes things interesting, and how we can cultivate interest in ourselves and others. They are finding that interest can help us think more clearly, understand more deeply, and remember more accurately. Interest has the power to transform struggling performers, and to lift high achievers to a new plane.”

From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:

Two great books

“’Teaching the Best Practice Way’ by Harvey Daniels and Marilyn Bizar is a very practical book and it’s approach very much in line with the New Zealand Curriculum. The authors present seven basic teaching structures that make classrooms more active, experiential, collaborative, democratic , and cognitive.Each chapter begins by describing one key method and follows up with practical classroom examples from early childhood to high school.The second book ‘Powerful Learning’ by Linda Darling Hammond and others  explores the research about what we know about teaching for understanding. It covers much the same territory as the book above ( project based learning, interdisciplinary learning, performance based assessment and co-operative learning) but focuses on the importance of an inquiry approach in three major subject areas – reading and literacy, mathematics, and science.”

Fundamentals in education

“In recent years education has become more and more cognitive or rational; learning that can be seen and measured so as to prove evidence of growth.

In the process real fundamentals have been overlooked.The creation of the mind is more than simply cognitive. The mind is a unified, active, constructive, self creating, and symbol making organ; it feels as well as thinks- feelings and emotions are a kind of thought. Attitudes are created from feelings and emotions.”

Contributed by Phil Cullen:

This is why Finland has the best schools

I particularly like their attitude to politicians!

‘”Our mission as adults is to protect our children from politicians,” one Finnish childhood education professor told me. “We also have an ethical and moral responsibility to tell businesspeople to stay out of our building.” In fact, any Finnish citizen is free to visit any school whenever they like, but her message was clear: Educators are the ultimate authorities on education, not bureaucrats, and not technology vendors.’

OECD education chief Andreas Schleicher blasts Australia’s education system

As has been the case elsewhere, the lesson is – the more the focus switches to testing, the worse the results get.

‘”We treat teachers as interchangeable widgets on the frontline – they are just there to implement prefabricated knowledge.” He said many countries were struggling to keep the best teachers in the profession because of curriculums that restrict creativity.’


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