Education Readings May 27th

By Allan Alach

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

Against “Personalized Learning”

Interesting article by Annie Murphy Paul:

“…is that it runs afoul of our current understanding of cognition. Put simply, knowledge is cumulative. What a child is capable of learning depends upon what she already knows. When a child encounters new information, if she lacks the preexisting knowledge to put the information in context, she will quickly become frustrated. She won’t learn. So to the extent personalization seeks to devolve a greater degree of the responsibility of acquiring new knowledge to students, it relies on the mistaken assumption that many or most students are properly equipped to make sense of new information.”

Why “21st Century Learning” is No More Than Status Quo

‘So here’s something to consider. 21st century reformers are NOT new. They are NOT cutting-edge. They are nothing they propose to be. In a world dominated by digital services and programs, and in a time in which Silicon Valley is home to the new robber barons, how can selling our education system out to their corporate interests really be “cutting edge”? It’s what we have always done.’

5 Reasons Why Origami Improves Students’ Skills

‘While some of the oldest pieces of origami have been found in ancient China and its deepest roots are in ancient Japan, origami can make an impact in today’s education too. This art form engages students and sneakily enhances their skills — including improved spatial perception and logical and sequential thinking.’

The idea that strong teacher unions impede education quality is ludicrous

‘Throughout history teacher organisations have been the main driver of improving education quality and educational opportunities. Is it a coincidence that the 23 best performing nations on the Programme for International Student Assessment scale have strong education unions? Of course not. Many successful education reforms in the industrial economies were initiated by teacher unions, while the most effective professional development programmes are organised by teacher unions.’

Rigor spagis

An article from the Cambridge Primary Review Trust in the UK that discusses the deadening effects of national tests on children’s writing.

‘Only one of the eight relates to the point of putting pen to paper in the first place. Aside from ‘the pupil can create atmosphere, and integrate dialogue to convey character and advance the action’, the writing criteria spring entirely from the Government’s obsession with grammar, punctuation and spelling. I fear it is only too easy to meet the ‘expected standard’ with writing that is as lifeless, uninspiring and rigorous as the criteria themselves.’

The power of reading aloud: not just for babies and little children

‘There is something special about reading books together at school. A clever teacher can turn the reading experience into an almost theatrical event, and transform ‘the class’ into a keen and interactive audience. A shared story is communal; it is protective to those who are most struggling, who are learning about words, how they sound and what they do; they are helped by hearing others say them. It helps to bring about a shared class-consciousness, a shared memory that enriches and motivates. Reading a shared story every day is one of the most rewarding teaching experiences and one with highly productive outcomes.’

Contributed by Bruce Hammonds:

One to Grow On / Beyond Grades and “Gotchas”

‘My perspectives on looking at student work have been honed over many years of teaching. I don’t pretend to have it all right yet, but I think I’m wiser about that aspect of teaching than I was in my early years. Over time, I’ve arrived at four conclusions. Although a part of me wishes someone had told me these things as a beginning teacher, I know there’s a difference between being handed a list of do’s and don’ts and developing an understanding of how learning works. As Linus once told Charlie Brown, “There’s a difference between a philosophy and a bumper sticker.” Here are four elements of my evolving philosophy about looking at student work.’

How A Strengths-Based Approach to Math Redefines Who Is ‘Smart’

‘The three main tenets of Complex Instruction are that learning should have multi-ability access points, norms and roles that support interdependency between students, and attention to status and accountability for learning. In most Complex Instruction classrooms the majority of class time is spent with students working in groups of four on a rich task that has multiple entry points and ways it could be solved. If one student can solve the problem in his or her head, it’s not a rich task.’

10 Surefire Ideas to Remove Writing Roadblocks

An excellent article by Regie Routman

‘So you want to teach writing well. It’s not as hard as you think. Yes, it’s a challenge, but it can be exhilarating.I believe writing – more than anything we teach – has the power to change students’ lives, for them to see themselves, sometimes for the first time, as smart thinkers and writers across the curriculum.’

From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:

Tapping into the student’s world

‘Every student brings with them memories and ideas gained from the experiences they have had. All too often this personal form of motivation is overlooked by teachers who seem to think they have better ideas to use – their own. It is as if students come to school as blank slates ( tabula rosa) when instead they come with a wealth of ideas to share but to do their ideas need to be valued.’

Importance of School Values

‘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.’

‘Superkids’; the hurried generation!

‘The latest metaphor for education , and one with unhealthy consequences, is that of the ‘super kid’. This has resulted in what Elkind calls the ‘hurried child’. Arising out of an ideology of individualism and competition, this metaphor puts pressure on parents to hurry their children through childhood to give them an advantage in the future. It is an outcome of the ‘dog eat dog’, ‘me decades’, or the ‘yuppie me first’ culture!.’

Education Readings May 20th

By Allan Alach

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

Sorry, Nicky, I’m out.

An English teacher writes an open letter of resignation to UK Secretary of Education Nicky Morgan. If you think your version of GERM is bad, I’d suggest that England possibly tops the scale.

“Please accept this as written notice of my resignation from my role as Assistant Head and class teacher. It is with a heavy heart that I write you this letter. I know you’ve struggled to listen to and understand teachers in the past so I’m going to try and make this as clear as possible. In the six short years I have been teaching your party has destroyed the Education system. Obliterated it. Ruined it. It is broken.”

Reading on a Screen Rather Than Paper May Affect What You Learn, Study Shows

Here’s another article suggesting that we may need to be more careful about believing the hype about technology.

‘A new study suggests that it’s not only what you read, but how you read it that matters.

Reading on paper versus on a digital screen may impact what you end up absorbing from the text, according to a study by Dartmouth researchers. This research is being presented at the Association for Computing Machinery conference in San Jose, California, this week, and has not yet been published in a peer-reviewed journal. In the study, people who used computer screens for learning did better when it came to understanding concrete details, but they had more difficulty understanding abstract concepts.’

It’s the Environment, Stupid

Annie Murphy Paul

“Rather than consider noncognitive capacities as skills to be taught, I [have come] to conclude, it’s more accurate and useful to look at them as products of a child’s environment. There is certainly strong evidence that this is true in early childhood; we have in recent years learned a great deal about the effects that adverse environments have on children’s early development. And there is growing evidence that even in middle and high school, children’s noncognitive capacities are primarily a reflection of the environment in which they are embedded, including, centrally, their school environment.”

Inverse Relationship Between GPA and Innovative Orientation

The more students focus on test scores, the less creative they become.

Another article by Peter Gray.

‘Our educational system was designed for a different age, a time when jobs required rote performance and unquestioning obedience, where innovative thinking was considered to be unnecessary or even a liability for the majority of people.  Ironically and tragically, rather than adapt our educational system to the needs of our modern times we have doubled down on the old system, so it is harder today than ever before for young people to retain and build upon their natural curiosity and creativity.’

Study: Teaching Students Philosophy Will Improve Their Academic Performance

An interesting study from England.

‘The kids who were taking philosophy classes improved their math and reading skills by about two months of additional progress compared to the students who didn’t take the classes. The actual aim of the classes was to improve student confidence in asking questions and constructing arguments, but the additional academic gains were undeniable.’

The Disturbing Transformation of Kindergarten

‘One of the most distressing characteristics of education reformers is that they are hyper-focused on how students perform, but they ignore how students learn. Nowhere is this misplaced emphasis more apparent, and more damaging, than in kindergarten.’

Contributed by Bruce Hammonds:

A chance to look around three classrooms 

Bruce’s comment: I found these three short u-tube videos and thought they were useful to give insights into English primary school classrooms. All to often we read or hear from experts well distanced from the reality of the classroom.  All classrooms reflect the ‘message system’ of the teacher or school.  The small videos below do just this.  I believe strongly in the importance of classroom environments and found the viewing most interesting. The fact they are not professional presentations adds authenticity to the small videos. Note Literacy and Numeracy ‘learning walls’, the emphasis on current interdisciplinary  topic displays . What would a tour of your room show?

Michael Fullan believes in an educational transformation? Pearson’s role in education: A Rich Seam: How Pedagogies Find Deep Learning.

Bruce’s latest article.

‘Pearson’s version of ‘personalized learning’ relies on ‘data driven analytics’ and technology to ensure  learning. Some of the schools following a ‘Pearson’s approach’ look more like high powered traditional schools with students learning through digital technology. My preference is the New High Tech approach, which is also referenced in the ‘Rich Seams’ document – a real world activity based school making use of a wide range of technology from carpentry tools to computers.’

With Educational Technology, We Don’t Know What We’re Doing

Another Annie Murphy Paul article.

‘A head-slappingly obvious (yet often overlooked) point: Why are we spending millions upon millions of dollars on unproven technologies, when there are so many empirically-proven techniques from cognitive science and psychology that are going virtually unused?’

From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:

Resilience – the ability to bounce back!

Before there was ‘grit’ we had ‘resilience’.

Bamboos are a great symbol of resilience, bending in the wind and quickly growing if it comes to the worst. Going with the flow and knowing when to sidestep are important skills of learning. It is all about resilience.  Students at school need help develop to learn to stick at tasks and to persevere so as to gain the satisfaction of achieving something they didn’t know they could do. Naturally the task has to be meaningful and worthwhile to the individual.’

Seymour Papert : The obsolete ‘Three Rs’ – blocking real change in education

Bruce’s comment: The place of the ‘three Rs’ in an age of computers. Worth reading if you teach in a MLE.

‘All this  Victorian emphasis on the ‘three Rs’  according to people like Professor Seymour Papert, a highly respected MIT expert in learning and computers, ‘expresses the most obstinate block to change in education’.’ The role of the basics’, he writes, ‘is never discussed; it is considered obvious’. As a result other important educational developments are being ignored. Papert is not questioning the importance of ‘the Rs’- children cannot learn effectively in all curriculum areas without them but they need too be ‘reframed’ to be seen as foundation skills to allow students to learn rather than ends in themselves.’

The urge to collect- and display

How can you incorporate this in your classroom?

‘When you visit people’s homes what they collect and display indicates what is important to them. Nothing is displayed with out some thought behind the object – each object has its own story to tell to the collector and to a visitor. Collections reflect the personality and interests of the owners. The urge to collect starts young and for some people early interests become lifetime occupations often turning into careers.’

The only real test

Aussie Friends of Treehorn

protecting school children from nasty excesses of the greedy and misguided
encouraging adults to think sensitively, to care for kids, to make wise choices….with their hearts in gear, their pens active and their votes available.enough
The Only Real Test
“The only real test is whether children are happy and healthy writes William Doyle located at the University of Eastern Finland. He states, “…for five months, my wife, my son and I have experienced a stunningly stress-free and stunningly good, school system.”  [S.M.H. 26/03/16 P.34]
“Let children be children,” “The work of a child is to play,” and “Children learn best through play,” are well-held beliefs in Finland, he says. “Finland doesn’t waste time or money on low-quality mass standardised testing. Instead children are assessed every day, through direct observation, check-ins and quizzes by the highest-quality “personalised learning devices” ever created – flesh and blood teachers.” 
The Treehorn Express” and its fellow crusaders have been repeating this ad initio but Australian politicians, bureaucrats and testucators are so hard-wired to the Murdoch/Klein/Gillard belief that children should be kept anxious and tense and fearful when they have to learn something that is easy to test, like basic maths and English.  Treehorn, the ignored child and his cobbers, are having very little success in getting rid of NAPLAN testing, which must go if Australia is to experience any commercial, cultural or academic success is to be reached.
The use of shared evaluation, as Doyle is suggesting, cannot be overlooked. For schooling to be successful and important in the eyes of the learner, modes of shared evaluation must be used constantly. If anything at all is important enough to be learned, it’s important enough to learn how well one learns it. Self evaluation, it could be called.  Evaluation is an essential part of learning.  The use of shared evaluation, about which I’ve written elsewhere, is based on a partnership between two human beings, whereas NAPLAN is based on the creation of fear and of opposition to each others’ frame of reference, leading to dislike for particular subjects, of each other, of school, of learning.
Finland is considered to be at the top of the world pole of outstanding schooling as far as world opinion is concerned. Australia is said to be 14th [says even our testucrats] and has slipped rapidly during the life of NAPLAN. standardised testing.
Any messages in that for us, do you think?  
[See any “Treehorn Express” during the past five years or so… of learning, love, play, shared evaluation, classroom teacher expertise, holistic curriculum, professional ethics]
Why are our politicians too frightened to discuss such matters in public “?
Why doesn’t any political party provide a comment on NAPLAN, since this particular form of standardised blanket testing drives our present-day schooling?
Will any political party be brave enough to sever its links to Murdoch and Pearson and Klein  and the BCA, for long enough to discuss ‘schooling’ in depth, in public;  and listen to its experts – the classroom teachers [while we still have some quality ones left].
As one Finnish professor said, “Our mission as adults is to protect our children from politicians. We also have an ethical and moral responsibility to tell business people to stay out of our building.” 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.”
 Phil Cullen  41 Cominan Avenue  Banora Point  Australia 2486  07 5524 6443              
07 5524 6443          0407865999


What provokes your thinking?


Aussie Friends of Treehorn
protecting school children from nasty excesses of the greedy and misguided.
What is your stimulous ?
What provokes your thinking?
I confess to listening to speakers who know what is going on  and who challenge any evil in it.
Here are two notable speakers to whom one cannot tire of listening………
If a parent asked me to explain what is going on at the present time, I’d strongly recommend their listening to these two special people over and over and over…..
Sir Ken Robinson
Pasi Sahlberg
Then, if a determined enquirer has more time to listen, the mixed humour and pathos of the effects of Standardised blanket testing, presented by , a brilliant skit by John Oliver, is something else.
And a look-back at past issues of Treehorn Express will not be wasted…..
 Phil Cullen  41 Cominan Avenue  Banora Point  Australia 2486              
07 5524 6443          0407865999

The Defenceless

Aussie Friends of Treehorn
protecting school children from nasty excesses of the greedy and misguided
encouraging adults to think sensitively, to care for kids, to make wise choices….with their hearts in gear, their pens active and their votes available.
The Defenceless
{Catholic Bishops of Australia}
“There are others in our community, near and far, whose voices are unheard,
whose faces are unseen. They are seen as politically irrelevant. They will not 
decide any marginal seats nor determine the result of the election. Yet any
society is ultimately not judged on how well it manages the economy but on 
how well it treats the thrown-away people,”
Phil Cullen 41 Cominan Avenue Banora Point Australia 2486  07 5524 6443

Dear Political Candidate

 The letter below has been sent to a number of politicians of all political persuasions.  The reactions should be interesting
Dear political candidate,
The greedy School Testing Industry [aka Kleinism] relies on the apathy of the press towards the plight of children who are forced to undertake NAPLAN testing in our schools to maintain its predominance. Such tests are having a severe effect on the mental health of our children and they are certainly not achieving [according to OECD statistics] as well as they used to do. We are the only country in the western world going backwards, according to the most recent OECD tests.
If you care about children and you want to increase your votes by adding those of concerned parents and quality teachers to your tally, you will advocate for the banning of NAPLAN.
You will appreciate that a country that does not look after its children in a fair and open manner, is a sick one.
Here is a summary of the Australian Education System. You might like to familiarise yourself with any aspect of it. The veracity of each statement cannot be doubted.
Features of Australian Schooling
* Children are introduced to the rigours of heavy-duty testing at five years of age.(new)
* Fear-based test preparation occupies one-third of every school year for Years 3,5,7,9.
* Parents are not given the choice of a “Yes” or “No” sign-on to test participation.
* School principals do not inform parents of their right of choice prior to test-time.
* School leavers will undertake minimal competency tests of literacy and numeracy in their final year.(new)
* An holistic curriculum is undertaken only by home-schoolers.
* Teachers are punished if their pupils do not perform well at tests held in MAY each year.(new)
As an issue that affects the future of Australia, NAPLAN Testing is as big as it gets. It is of far greater importance than Global Warming, Border issues, Tax reform, Negative Gearing  and other pro tem election issues.
For further information please talk to a teacher of Years 3,5,7,9 whom you know or check
Contact Phil Cullen 07 5524 6443 or 0407865999 or if you wish; or check

Education Readings May 13th

By Allan Alach

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

The scientific case for doodling while taking notes

As I noted last week, Tony Buzan will be saying ‘I told you.’

“Using simple words and pictures helps us to see connections between pieces of information, get a better idea of what we understand and what we don’t, and remember what we’ve learned later on. Now I’m on a mission to get students to draw in every class and every subject—from kindergarten all the way up through college, and into their professional lives.”

Rejecting “Grit” While Embracing Effort, Engagement

“How does an educator reject the “grit” movement but maintain an atmosphere in the classroom that encourages effort and engagement, especially for our most vulnerable students (black, brown, and poor)?

I think I have failed to address this important question fully so let me do so here.”

An interview with Pasi Sahlberg

I haven’t featured anything about Sahlberg for a while so….

“Quality learning for me is when you infuse curiosity, active engagement and meaning-making in the learning situation. From the teacher’s point of view understanding what the students are thinking and what they know about things to be learned are critical elements of good learning. In short, quality learning happens when students actively build links between their existing knowledge and what is to be learned. Teacher’s ability to really understand the minds of students is what constitutes good teaching and quality learning. Curiosity and genuine will to learn more about oneself, other people and the world around are the outcomes of quality learning for me.”

A Better Way to Read: In the era of attention deficits, the new text will not be black and white.

How can you adapt this in your classroom? I sure found the use of colour much easier to read on screen.

“The mechanics of getting text into one’s brain require skill apart from that involved in processing the meaning in that text. As with something like swimming or skateboarding, it’s a skill where most people can become proficient, but everyone’s capacity for speed and precision is not equal. But there are ways to enhance our abilities.”

From Images to Words

“Pictures generate talk, a fact well appreciated by all teachers. This short post hopes to review some well known ideas as well as give you some new ones on using images to develop your students’ oral skills and foster communicative interaction in your lessons.”

Big data’ was supposed to fix education. It didn’t. It’s time for ‘small data.’

(Thanks to Tara Taylor-Jorgensen for this article.)

A post by Pasi Sahlberg and Jonathan Hasak:.

“Big data has certainly proved useful for global education reform by informing us about correlations that occurred in the past. But to improve teaching and learning, it behooves reformers to pay more attention to small data – to the diversity and beauty that exists in every classroom – and the causation they reveal in the present.   If we don’t start leading through small data we might find out soon enough that we are being led by big data and spurious correlations.”

Contributed by Bruce Hammonds:

‘I have seen the school of tomorrow. It is here today, in Finland.’

Bruce’s comment: “More about Finland – could’ve been NZ if only!!”

“As a public school dad and a university lecturer in rural Finland last semester, I found Finland’s school system to be an absolute inspiration, and a beacon of hope in a world that is struggling, and often failing, to figure out how to best educate our children.Over the past four decades, Finland has climbed to the top of the Western world in educational performance tests, and widely outpaced its fellow Nordic nations. Finland has also won recent #1 world rankings for most efficient education system, most stable nation, greenest country, freest press, women’s participation in the workforce, strongest property rights, least corrupt state, and most innovative economy.”

‘Beebots’ to teach coding in Nova Scotia classrooms

Bruce’s comment: “More about coding from Nova Scotia”

‘”Some of the skills that they will be getting through the use of technology are things like teamwork, critical thinking, problem solving and creativity,” said Casey. She said coding will be applied across a range of subjects to help students prepare for post-secondary opportunities and an increasingly technical workforce.’

The Best Feedback is GATHERED, not GIVEN

Bill Ferriter:

“Ask yourself this: How often is the feedback process that you are using with students active and not passive?  How often does it turn your students into the main agents in a process of discovery, using their minds to create meaning and find sense in their own patterns of performance?”

From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:

Cathy Wylie outlines new wave of change for New Zealand Schools!

Neo Liberal ideology and its impact on education in NZ…

“In 1986 an ‘earthquake ‘hit education in the form of ‘Tomorrows Schools’ and self-managing schools were born.Now, almost three decades later, A  NZCER  chief researcher Cathy Wylie has written a definitive and compelling story of school self-management called ’Vital Connections: Why We Need More Than Self-managing Schools’.Cathy answers the questions: What was the real effect of ‘Tomorrows Schools’? Has the New Zealand Schools system improved as a result? And what changes are needed now to meet our expectations of schools?”

Smart Schools

Smart Schools by David Perkins – a simple but powerful message.

“This book by David Perkins  is full of common sense about the art of teaching.‘Dreams are where the dilemma starts ’, he writes – dreams about great schools.‘We want our schools to deliver a great deal of knowledge and understanding to a great many people of differing talents with a great range of interests and a great variety of cultural and family backgrounds. Quite a challenge – and why aren’t we better at it.’

Some, he would say, is because ‘We don’t know enough.’Perkins, though, thinks they’re wrong, ‘We know enough now to do a much better job’. The problem comes down to this, ‘we are not putting to work what we know.’ ‘We do not have a knowledge gap – we have a monumental use – of – knowledge gap’.Schools that use what we know he calls ‘smart schools’”

Observation – a basic learning skill

“Schools need to tap into student’s curiosity and need to express ideas. It is this sensory resource of impressions that is called upon by learners when they come to read. Better still such experiences inspire students to talk, draw, write and then to read their own ideas. Before the word the experience is a simple enough idea – the more you notice the more words and ideas you will develop.”

Outstanding Features of Australian Schooling

“The conditions for funding include standardised year 1 school assessment of students’ reading, phonics and numeracy skills, annual reports to parents that identify literacy and numeracy attainment against national standards, and a minimum standard of literacy and numeracy skills for year 12 school leavers.

The government also wants to link teacher salary progression to demonstrated competency and achievement against the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers, rather than just length of service”

This news comment on the recent budget indicate significant changes to the Australian schooling system, the likes of which Australia has never experienced before. Once a nation of learners, we are about to become the world’s busiest test-takers. The changes, cunningly arranged as an adjunct to the budget papers were not commented upon by any teacher group nor by any professional organisation nor by any political party nor by any candidate nor by any educational journal nor newspaper. An attempt at drawing public attention to the implications through the SMH, failed. The new rules are here to stay.

The testing industry is now in complete control of Australian schooling and of its associations. Only a large reaction from concerned parents and opt-outers can change it. Reliance on any political party to care about the kids they force to attend school is fruitless. The cry that “Our party will improve school education.” does not ring true until Australia has sorted out what it means by ‘schooling’ and ‘learning’. Until then, the atmosphere is clouded by fear and tension and bullying and unethical conduct. Teacher groups that purport to represent professional attitudes of teachers, maintain a laissez faire attitude and are noticeably silent.

Who would want to become a teacher? There is a serious need for government to listen to the voices from the classroom and to return teaching to the teachers; and to think more seriously about what it is ding to schools.

One can now state, without fear of contradiction, that the most outstanding features of Australian schooling on the world’s stage, are…..

* Children are introduced to the rigours of heavy-duty testing at five years of age.

* Fear-based test preparation occupies one-third of every school year for Years 3,5,7,9.

* Parents and teachers are not encouraged to express their concerns nor given the choice of “Yes” or “No” to test participation.

* School principals do not inform parents of their right of choice prior to test-time.

* School leavers must undertake minimal competency tests of literacy and numeracy in their final year.

* An holistic curriculum is undertaken only by those pupils who attend completely independent schools and by home-schoolers.

* Teachers are punished if their pupils do not perform well at tests held in MAY each year.

These features are about the most rigorous in the western world. Historical evidence [from the US and UK in particular] indicates that such features lead to disaster. The final one stands out. What gives politicians the right to punish? It’s a new and more vicious version of ‘Payment by Results – Revised Code 1862.’[How will candidates look teachers in the face as they electioneer around schools for the next few weeks?]

Punishment by Results is the latest innovation for teachers.

One must ask : How would Finland’s voters react if these conditions were imposed on their schooling system?

Education Readings May 6th

By Allan Alach

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

Sometimes Misbehavior Is Not What It Seems

“When Sigmund Freud reportedly said, “Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar,” the key word was “sometimes,” because sometimes a cigar is more than a cigar. So it is with understanding misbehavior. Sometimes the reason for misbehavior is very different than the obvious and requires a totally different intervention than the usual consequences. It is never easy to determine why children do the things they do.”

Emotions Help Steer Students’ Learning, Studies Find

So if children are bored to tears by the formalised instruction, how much learning is taking place? The converse is equally true.

“In a new book, Emotions, Learning, and the Brain, Immordino-Yang and her colleagues at USC’s Brain Creativity Institute found that as students learn new rules during a task, such as the most efficient way to answer a math problem or the best deck to choose in a card game, they show emotional and physical responses long before they became consciously aware of the rules or are able to articulate them.”

What Does “Making” Have To Do With Learning?

“Making is not just the simple act of you being the difference between raw materials and finished product, as in “I made dinner” or even “I made a robot.” I don’t think we always need to ascribe learning to the act of making — but the act of making allows the maker, and maybe an outsider (a teacher, perhaps) to have a window into the thinking of the maker.”

Are We Making Space For Imagination?

“I want my kids to retain this sense of wonder. I want them to remain imaginative. I want them to follow curiosity and see where it leads. I want them to design and build and create and invent. I want them to play with ideas. I realize that imagination changes over time. But it shouldn’t be something that shrinks or diminishes. It should be something that expands and evolves. Maybe it gets more realistic. Maybe it grows more rooted in reality. But the imagination should always remain.”

Education is being hijacked by profiteers

“Education reformers like to say they are doing it for the kids. That the reforms will improve the education system. Mountains of evidence shows this is poppycock and that education reforms overwhelmingly lead to profits being more important than the children’s education.”

The Dystopian Future of Schools

“It is becoming increasingly clear that the original concept of developing greater student agency — a complex task — is being lost in attempts by well-intentioned schools to provide this opportunity in a manageable manner which is, in turn, being capitalized upon by the “education reform” industry. These canned approaches move us further and further away from the objective of making learning personal.”

Contributed by Bruce Hammonds:

Modern Learning Environments (MLEs) / Innovative Learning Environments (ILEs) and what it means for use of space, time and grouping of students in schools

Bruce has written another article in his sequence on this latest trend in classroom design.

“Today we now have have the concept of ‘innovative learning environments’  linked with the development of ‘modern learning environments’. Not that the practices actually ‘new’,  more that they have failed to be implemented in the past, or only to be found in a few creative classrooms. And certainly such innovative learning environments are rare  in schools ‘educating’ adolescent students.”

Creativity: A Choice, a Gift, and a Mission

“When we define and embrace our own creativity, we thrive. And when their teachers thrive, students will learn to thrive as well. We can take responsibility for thriving by giving ourselves the powerful gift of being creative.”

Need to Remember Something? Try Drawing It

Are you able to make use of this in your classroom? I suspect Tony Buzan (Mind Maps) will be saying ‘I told you so.’

“Researchers at the University of Waterloo have found that drawing pictures of information that needs to be remembered is a strong and reliable strategy to enhance memory.”

From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:

The science of teaching – or the teaching of science

“It would seem that students’ experience of school science has not helped them see science as an exciting way of thinking about fascinating areas of learning. Problem solving, finding out how things work, exploring ideas, learning through enlightened trial and error are all innate way of human learning – the default mode inherited from birth. All life is a search for meaning. It is not that children are young scientists but that scientists still see the world with the passionate curiosity of a child.”

Accountability or ‘Accountabalism’

‘Weinberger says we have been, ‘lured by the myth of precision’. Accountabalism ‘suggests there is a right or wrong answer to every question’ and that we can measure all results exactly. ‘Accountabalism’ has well and truly spread to schools where compliance and the need to measure selected achievement targets to prove success is the name of the game.’

Making a real difference!

“What ‘counts’ is the culture of the students, their life experiences and their existing knowledge; what ‘counts’ is involving students and their parents in the learning process; what ‘counts’ are the relationships between teachers and their students; what ‘counts’ are the teaching strategies teachers use in their classrooms and what ‘counts’ is the total culture of the school.”