Education Readings September 16th

By Allan Alach

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

Ambitious Mathematics Curriculum

‘What about curriculum? We all know that children enter classrooms in many different shapes and sizes, and that their understanding of the content we intend to teach is as varied, and yet we design curricular resources that mostly aim to support an average child. What if there is no such average child? The curriculum that aims to best support the average child may in fact support no one best. It is well-known, for example, that students need multiple opportunities to both learn a mathematical idea and to access their memory of the idea in order to strengthen their memories. Almost no curricula deliberately interleave practice or offer opportunities for spaced retrieval practice. What if a curriculum deliberately included ideas from cognitive science into its construction?’

What Students Really Remember Learning in School

Food for thought from Will Richardson.

“Very little of what I was taught in school did I actually learn, and very little of what I learned do I remember, and very little of what I do remember do I now use. The things I’ve learned, remembered, and used are the things I’ve sought out or met in the daily, serious, non school part of my life.”

Why school is a ‘confusing mental mish-mash’ for kids

More food for thought, this time from Marion Brady.

Learners discover and deepen their understanding of such relationships by inferring, imagining, hypothesizing, predicting, sequencing, extrapolating, valuing, generalizing, and so on—thought processes too complex and interwoven to be evaluated by standardized tests. Billions of dollars, trillions of hours, and intellectual potential beyond measure, are being wasted on tests that dumb kids down because they can’t measure complex thought.’

Tablets in Schools: Case Study in Success

‘I think that great teachers and great teaching are the key factor in successful learning and technology is the servant to great teaching and learning, not vice versa. I don’t think that technology will ever substitute teachers in a formal school environment but I do think that technology can amplify the reach and impact of great teachers.’

Discover Genius In Your Students: The First 30 Days.

When teachers celebrate student genius, the focus in class moves to student strengths and the ongoing internal conversation with your students and external conversation in the class, is to think about what their particular genius is.’

Contributed by Bruce Hammonds:

Creativity is GREAT : so why would Britain cut its nose to spite its face?

Same applies in New Zealand.

‘Creative new ways of working and innovation fuel our economy, whether it’s GSK, Dyson or ARM (you know the company who make the computer chip in just about everything from your washing machine to smartphones and tablets. The company that was just sold to the Japanese).So why are creativity and creative ways of teaching our children in UK schools such dirty words to many educators, commentators and policy makers? And why don’t parents value it and head teachers lead it?’

Can Morality Be Taught?

The key to molding well-adjusted students: experiential learning.

‘So how can educators and parents retaliate against black and white thinking and the need to create enemies in the other? For my classroom and me, I will focus on cultivating a culture of learning and respect that is focused on human beings and not just content. I will provide authentic opportunities for my students to grow as people, and I will challenge them to do so, even when they are reluctant.’

4 Habits Of Highly Creative People

While creativity is often considered the domain of artists, everyone can utilize more creativity in his or her professional life. Achieving something that is truly fulfilling will come with difficulties and challenges. The only way around these challenges is to face them with the help of creativity. The question then becomes how we incorporate more creativity into our lives and how we create the space for the “muse” to flow through us. Here are a few habits from the most creative people I know.’

Getting Restless At The Head Of The Class

Facing up to a standardised system in the USA

‘Every classroom has a few overachievers who perform above their grade level and don’t feel challenged by the status quo. A new report suggests they are surprisingly common — in some cases, nearly half of all students in a given grade.’

From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:

The Way David Hockney Sees It.

‘Hockney began his interest in art playing around with drawing exploring a range of media when really young as do most young people. Young people, Hockney says, all want to draw something that’s in front of them which he suggests they have a deep desire to depict what they see. Children and artists gain great pleasure making and looking at pictures and this desire to capture images goes as far back as the cave artists. It is a shame in our literacy orientated schools that all forms of art are not taken seriously as they might except by those teachers who retain a more creative approach to learning.’

The forgotten genesis of progressive early education

‘Progressive ideas that helped New Zealand lead the world in education, particularly in reading, were developed by creative early education teachers who were well aware of the modern educational ideas of the time. The history of progressive education in New Zealand (now at risk) is the subject of a new book, ‘I am five and I go to school,’ written by Helen May.’

Looking at Art – Julie Diamond

Ideas about art by Julie Diamond from her excellent book ‘Welcome to the Aquarium’

‘A critical component of art work….is an acceptance of the unknowability of the end product….I have had to learn that mistakes are not only inevitable but necessary and useful, and that dealing with them – untangling some knot- takes us somewhere unexpected.’ Once again in contrast with all the ‘intentional teaching’ now seen as ‘best practice’ in our schools resulting in a conformity of product devoid of personality. And as well the importance of art as a form of expression is demeaned.’

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