Education Readings June 17th

By Allan Alach

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

Diane Ravitch to Obama: ‘I will never understand why you decided to align your education policy with that of George W. Bush’

Much of this article is applicable all over.

‘I quite bluntly admit in the book that the pursuit of national standards, national curriculum and national tests is a dead-end. There seems to be an assumption that if every child is exposed to exactly the same material at the same time, achievement gaps between children from rich homes and poor homes will close. If the curriculum is over the heads of the students, and if the tests are made harder, achievement will rise. I now think all of this is nonsense.’

First Comes Achievement. Then Comes Confidence.

Bill Ferriter:

‘A few weeks back, I wrote a bit here on the Radical titled Are Grades Destroying My Six Year Old Kid.  In it, I shared the story of my daughter — who came home broken one day because her progress report wasn’t what she expected it to be.  Her peers were earning threes and fours, but her report was covered in twos — and while she knows little about what those numbers really mean, she felt like a failure.  That broke my heart.’

Reading: It’s Not Always Fun-damental

‘Parents and teachers work hard to instill a love of reading in young people. In fact, most consider that the love of reading is absolutely essential to a happy, successful, and fulfilling life. They are on an endless pursuit to find ways to cultivate readers or ignite a love of reading.  But what about individuals who prefer not to get their information that way?’

Contributed by Bruce Hammonds:

9 creativity myths you should stop believing

‘Creativity is a relative subject. Some perceive creativity as an art that can be trained and some think of it as an innate talent. Creativity is associated with many such myths that make people form different opinions of this subject But what defines “creativity” in its true sense?Creativity is anything that stimulates thinking and gives new directions to our thoughts. Keeping into the essence of its definition, any person can be creative in his own way. So, we can say that there is nothing called “born talent” or “innate creativity” in the real world.’

‘Teaching to the test means schools are meeting literacy targets but failing to cultivate a love of reading’

‘It is difficult to work out a balanced view of the role and influence that testing has on the experience of pupils and the quality of their education. Numerous policymakers insist that national testing provides an effective instrument for raising standards and rely on exam results as evidence of achievement in education.Opponents of testing deploy the language of emotional deficit to condemn testing. During the past three decades, a continuous stream of reports have claimed that testing has fostered a climate of stress and anxiety in schools.’

What I Worry About When I Worry About STEM

‘The bias toward STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) as the subjects for more intelligent, or more productive people is nothing new. It’s easier to see that they instil skills that are useful to industry, and that makes perfect sense, but only if we think education is all about a direct path to employment.We should encourage more young people into STEM, and do much more to demystify these subjects, but are we so worried about the economy that we’re willing to accept that education is simply a path to being an employee or entrepreneur.’

8 Myths That Undermine Educational Effectiveness

‘Certain widely-shared myths and lies about education are destructive for all of us as educators, and destructive for our educational institutions. This is the subject of 50 Myths & Lies That Threaten America’s Public Schools: The Real Crisis in Education, a new book by David Berliner and Gene Glass, two of the country’s most highly respected educational researchers. Although the book deserves to be read in its entirety, I want to focus on eight of the myths that I think are relevant to most teachers, administrators, and parents.’

Classroom Aesthetics: Not the “Art of Teaching” – Teaching As Art

‘Sometimes the magic and beauty of the classroom, the soaring beyond simple skills and content, happens in the most unexpected ways. At these moments, we are experiencing a kind of performance art in the classroom. Take the following example.’

‘Rote learning: the pantomime villain in education’

‘In one corner (shall we call it the blue one?) we have Dickensian school-masters in gowns and mortar boards forcing cowed and passive pupils to learn their tables by heart and recite them perfectly at the point of a cane, or these days a stop-watch.

And in the other corner, we have caring, modern-day teachers gently leading their pupils on a journey of understanding where they discover for themselves that three fours are twelve and, because of that intimate and personal experience of learning, they never forget that fact for the rest of their lives.’

From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:

30 Years ago – so what has changed?

‘Recently I received an e-mail from a student I hadn’t heard of since she was in my class in 1978. She wrote about how great it was to experience the class and how much all that we did has stayed with her over the years. With this in mind I searched out something I wrote, at the time, for the team of teachers I was leading. I was curious to see how much my ideas had changed since then. What follows are extracts I wrote to clarify my thoughts and to share with the team followed by some reflective comments.’

Rip van Winkle and schools

‘A recent Time Magazine lead story begins with what it calls ‘a dark little joke exchanged by teachers with a dissident streak: Rip Van Winkle awakens in the 21st century after a hundred year snooze and is of course utterly bewildered by what he sees’. ‘Every place Rip goes just baffles him. But when finally he walks into a schoolroom, the old man knows exactly where he is. “This is a school”, he declares. “We used to have these back in 1906”’

We need a new story for our future.

‘What we need, as we make our way into the new millennium, is a new way of thinking to align our thoughts behind. We need a new story , myth, narrative, or metaphor, to replace current thinking – thinking based on a mechanistic emphasis on economic progress, exploitation and short term thinking.

It is obvious that current thinking is unable to solve the problems of inequality in our society – the gap between the rich and poor continues to grow.’

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