By Allan Alach
I welcome suggested articles, so if you come across a gem, email it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Fast policy: when educational research morphs into quick fixes and ‘silver bullets’
‘These new ‘actors’ in the field produce and promote usually short, easy-to-read and easy-to-implement glossy reports, which offer simplified evidence and give definitive solutions involving ‘best practice’, and where research knowledge is orchestrated to best influence government policy. Evidence is tailored to the needs of policymakers but also fits within the report generator’s own interests and agendas.
We call this type of report ‘fast policy’; that is, policy shortcuts via readymade examples of ‘what works’, which are often borrowed from other countries (or systems) and cherry picked to meet political needs.’
We are in “Deep” Doo Doo: Latest Buzz Word of Caution
Beware ….when will this arrive in your location?
‘Here it is: DEEP LEARNING
It’s something we can all start following/investigating.
It’s a word… like GRIT, PERSONALIZED LEARNING, CHOICE, and 21st c LEARNING…words that are code for corporate colonization… meet “deep learning.”’
The Curse Of The Bell Curve
‘On a crisp July winter’s morning, I had the pleasure of spending 45 minutes listening to the fabulous Yong Zhao (YZ). For all 2700 seconds, I sat on the edge of my chair enthralled by what he said, the synapses in my brain tingling with passion and purpose. A few weeks later, my mind is left buzzing; his words still ringing in my ears. Which is why this blog post exists; my way of re-gifting these key messages (and calls to action) from such an inspirational gentleman.
So, sitting from the comfort of my chair, in the warmth of my wee house, it feels fitting to tell the ‘Sherlock-Holmes’-style tale of, “The curse of the bell curve”. Cue: the typical murder mystery introductory style music….’
The Child Predator We Invite into Our Schools
‘There is a good chance a predator is in the classroom with your child right now. He is reading her homework assignments, quizzes and emails. He is timing how long it takes her to answer questions, noting her right and wrong answers. He’s even watching her body language to determine if she’s engaged in the lesson. He has given her a full battery of psychological assessments, and she doesn’t even notice. He knows her academic strengths and weaknesses, when she’ll give up, when she’ll preserver, how she thinks. And he’s not a teacher, counselor or even another student. In fact, your child can’t even see him – he’s on her computer or hand-held device. It’s called data mining, and it’s one of the major revenue sources of ed-tech companies.’
The rearview mirror
Unfortunately what I continue to see is a vicious cycle where teachers don’t trust the administration when improvement is advocated, where governments want students to be creative and innovative but continue to support high stakes testing and where parents want more engaging learning experiences without schools daring to be innovative in teacher practice and school design. All these come together in the perfect storm alongside publication of international test rankings and federal and state elections.
Contributed by Bruce Hammonds:
What About the Rules? A Lesson Plan for Building Trust First
‘Before I start my second reading of the poem, I ask students to think about a teacher who has been one of their “hands-down favorites.” When the poem concludes, students turn their notebooks to page two to find their first task:
Your first homework assignment is connected to the poem I read to you today: “Dear Mrs. McKinney of the Sixth Grade.” For me to understand the type of teacher who motivates you to do your best work, I want you to write about a “good” teacher from your K–8 school life. Include specific examples from his or her class. Remember, first homework = first impression. Spend time writing your story. I am looking for the details in the story, not punctuation and spelling (at least not this time).’
How Creativity Works
‘What differentiates humans from other species is their ability to think, imagine, create and shape the nature. It is the creative fire that every human being carries within itself. Creativity is the ability to create the new, which does not already exist in our physical world. . Every human being is born creative, while children we live immersed in creativity, and along our growth, we are led to abandon it and follow patterns.’
Why Learning Should Be Messy
‘Can creativity be taught? Absolutely. The real question is: “How do we teach it?” In school, instead of crossing subjects and classes, we teach them in a very rigid manner. Very rarely do you witness math and science teachers or English and history teachers collaborating with each other. Sticking in your silo, shell, and expertise is comfortable. Well, it’s time to crack that shell.’
Messy Works: How to Apply Self-Organized Learning in the Classroom
‘SOLEs are short forays into the kind of self-organized learning that Sugata Mitra found to be so powerful.
In a classroom SOLE, Bechtel asks her students a “messy question,” something that doesn’t have just one right answer, then sets them loose to research the question in small groups. Students choose who they work with, find their own information, draw their own conclusions and present their findings to the whole class. It can be a bit chaotic, but Bechtel says that’s often good.’
From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:
Tapping into the student’s world
Schools to develop the talents of all students.
‘The stance taken about how children learn is vital. Those who think they know more than the child work out prescribed curriculums and, as part of this, develop elaborate systems to see thing as are being learnt – including National testing. This is the ‘jug and mug’ theory of learning where the teacher is the full jug and the teachers job is to pour knowledge from the full jug to the empty mug.For others the aim is to do everything to keep alive the innate desire to learn – or to ‘recover’ it if it has been subverted by prior experiences.’
Developing talent in young people?
‘Benjamin Bloom is well known to teachers for his taxonomy of questioning. In the late 80s Bloom wrote a book called ‘Developing Talent in Young People’. Bloom was interested in what contributed to the greatness of talented individuals and what role did schools play in their success.’
A new creative agenda for education required
In 2013 New Zealand teachers stood out against the Government’s agenda, and recently they did so again.
‘Teachers, it seems, have woken up to the true agenda of the government which began with the introduction of ‘Tomorrows Schools in 1986.The agenda is summed up in the acronym GERM (Global Education Reform Movement) – an agenda that will, when in place, will lead to the privatisation of education – the beginnings of which are to be seen in the push for Charter Schools. The corporate thinkers behind the GERM agenda see education as a fertile ground for private enterprise. As part of this agenda we have National Standards which will lead to National Testing and League tables all to allow for school comparison performance pay and parent choice. Choice, it seems, for only for those who can afford it. The trouble is that the standards will have the effect of narrowing the curriculum and eventually teaching to the tests.’