Education Readings December 16th

By Allan Alach

Another year is ending, which means in New Zealand and Australia, it’s also the end of the school year, and time for teachers and children to have a long summer break away from the trials of teaching and learning. Make the most of the break – it’s the only real chance teachers get to have a ‘normal’ life. I will be taking my own advice and also having a break from sourcing education articles for these reading lists, until the end of January 2017. However I’m not letting you off that easy, so this week’s list is a bit longer than usual.

I welcome suggested articles, so if you come across a gem, email it to me at allanalach@inspire.net.nz

Brain-Based Learning: Pushing Children to Learn Faster—Why?

‘Brain-based learning promotes the idea that children learn faster if they are taught differently. But why push children to learn faster than ever before? Why turn children into adults before they are ready? What’s the purpose?

What right do educators and parents under the spell of indiscriminate brain-based learning hucksters have to destroy childhood?’

http://bit.ly/2hxrwTt

CRITICAL THINKING versus CRITICISM: Helping students know the difference

Recent world events suggest critical thinking is a skill that is sadly lacking.

‘Critical thinking is about thinking for yourself rather than accepting, without questioning, the thinking someone else presents to you. Critical thinking identifies and examines underlying assumptions and biases about a concept, a discourse, a work of art or written expression, or some other abstract idea. It involves judgement – your judgement, which is justified with reasons and evidence.’

http://bit.ly/2h2caFT

Why schools should not teach general critical-thinking skills

However …

‘Of course, critical thinking is an essential part of a student’s mental equipment. However, it cannot be detached from context. Teaching students generic ‘thinking skills’ separate from the rest of their curriculum is meaningless and ineffective.’ 

http://bit.ly/2gKZN5e

Play: The Four Letter Word in Primary School

‘Decades of research provides evidence that play is the most valuable and successful way in which children engage in learning.  Through play, children can build all the necessary skills and knowledge required of them in readiness for adulthood.  Social-learning theory, constructivism, cognitive development theories, socio-emotional theories and physical development theories all uphold the power play has in the holistic development of children.’

http://bit.ly/2gMNxiQ

What does the post-truth world hold for teachers and educational researchers?

‘I wonder about the correlation between increasing systems of surveillance and control over curriculum and pedagogy and the growing number of high stakes testing regimes, audit and accountability technologies, and the narrative of slipping standards, declining outcomes and an education system in crisis.’

http://bit.ly/2hH5Uar

The most important thing schools don’t do

By Marion Brady

‘On my list, one aim is paramount: “Maximize learner ability to make sense.” Not only does it enable every other legitimate aim of educating, it gives schooling its proper focus—maximizing human potential. No one needs to be taught how to make sense—to think. We’re born equipped to do it. The challenge is to do it better, to radically improve what are sometimes called “higher order” thinking skills, particularly those involved in tracing complex causal sequences and anticipating possible unintended consequences of well-intended policies and actions.’

http://bit.ly/2hy7RmQ

21st century challenges

Let’s face it “21st century skills” are a bit meh! Especially when they have no context.

‘So frequently is this phrase used in the discourse on education today that when uttered it generates involuntary winces amongst those listening. On the education conference circuit “21st century skills” is the certainty on the buzzword bingo card. Never mind that we’re almost at the end of the second decade of a century that is the only one that every child in school has ever known. To be fair, it’s a well-intentioned phrase used by well-intentioned people. I’m sure it’s a phrase that’s passed my lips on more than one occasion even before I saw the foolishness of it.’

http://bit.ly/2gL3QhQ

My Dream Job Destroyed My Dream: An Unoriginal Statement About Education

A sad story from USA which will ring true to teachers all over.

‘Five years ago, I got my first job as a teacher. My dream job. My dream school. I could not have been happier: life was good. Then, five months ago, despite my passion and idealism, I broke down and accepted that my dream for an education focused on divergent thinking, individuality, and genuine learning was horribly unrealistic, hindered by bureaucratic disconnect and systemic devaluation. It became clear that the job which originally brought me so much excitement, wasn’t at all as I thought. In fact, genuine creation and effective collaboration would be forever secondary to administrative agendas, systemic mandates, and a tireless effort to maintain the status quo.’

http://huff.to/2gL24NN

How useful are standards in helping teachers’ professional development?

Not very…

‘Governing texts such as national professional standards and a national curriculum can have the unintended effect of constraining opportunities for teachers to learn about their work. This occurs when they are interpreted in ways that encourage coverage of individual standards. However, I believe, when teachers are supported to engage in authentic, contextually appropriate professional learning that is focused on their learning needs in relation to the learning of their students, they can transform their practice.’

http://bit.ly/2hPyMJE

Contributed by Bruce Hammonds:

How to Integrate Growth Mindset Messages Into Every Part of Math Class

‘Catherine Good has experienced stereotype threat herself, although she didn’t know it at the time. She started her academic career in pure math, expecting to get a Ph.D. But somewhere along the way she started to feel like it just wasn’t for her, even though she was doing well in all her classes. Thinking that she’d just chosen the wrong application for her love of math, Good switched to math education, where she first encountered the idea of stereotype threat from a guest psychology speaker.’

http://bit.ly/2h28fsE

Learning Goals… Success Criteria… and Creativity?

While I am aware that setting clear standards are important, making sure we communicate our learning goals with students, co-creating success criteria… and that these have been shown to increase student achievement, I can’t help but wonder how often we take away our students’ thinking and decision making when we do this before students have had time to explore their own thoughts first.’
http://bit.ly/29WT7tf

If there’s a magic bullet to fix education outcomes, it starts with equity

Things aren’t good in Australia either.

‘Kids are disengaged, results are declining, school only works for a third of students. And in fortuitous timing, education ministers are meeting this week. With the end of the school education year comes the ritual release of end-of-school exam results. Once again we’ll parade the names of the top 100 schools and marvel at those that seem to do so well.

At the risk of raining on their parade it is all very predictable: two thirds of the top 100 are still there when the schools are ranked by the socio-educational level of the parents. Even the public/private school comparisons are largely spurious: results coming out of schools enrolling similar students don’t vary much between the school sectors.’

http://bit.ly/2h2i7CG

From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:

John Dewey – New thinking 1897!

‘John Dewey’s famous declaration concerning education was first published 1897 and is still as pertinent now as it was then. All school communities ought to declare their beliefs about education and then work towards aligning all their teaching to achieving what they believe in. If they do not determine their own destiny someone else will. Having clear beliefs provides both security and the basis of making all choices – or simply saying no as appropriate. The following are excerpts from Dewey’s declaration.’

http://bit.ly/1EeQDlT

The corporate takeover of society and education.

‘Since the early 90s society has been reshaped by a neo liberal corporate ideology. An emphasis on private enterprise and self-centred individualism has replaced an earlier concern for collective good of all members of society.   As a result of this ideological shift a wider gap has been created between the rich and poor causing a number of social concerns. Schools as part of this shift have been transformed from a community orientation to being part of a competitive cut throat ideology.’

http://bit.ly/1hARUnP

The surprising truth about what motivates us.

‘Daniel Pink’s latest book, ‘A whole New Mind: Drive’, subtitled ‘the surprising truth about what motivates us’, is truly exciting. He writes that for too long school have relied on an extrinsic ‘carrot and stick approach’ (or ‘name and blame’).The three things, he writes, that motivate us all are: autonomy, mastery and purpose. Real learning is achieved when the joy of learning is its own reward.’

http://bit.ly/2gMq29u

Signs of a creative classroom

‘One thing seems obvious to me, after several decades visiting primary classrooms, is that real innovation only comes from creative teachers and not from imposed programmes. Unfortunately,  all too often, creative teachers are the last ones to be listened to in this era of school consistency and formulaic ‘best practices’. It seem we are moving towards a standardised approach to learning at the very time when we need to value (and protect) our creative teachers and their creative students.’

http://bit.ly/2gMUlNg

For New Zealand readers (but may be of interest elsewhere):

Given the changes in New Zealand politics recently, such as the sudden resignation of prime minister John Key (my pet theory, which I’ve been espousing for many months, is that he timed this to ensure he would get a knighthood before the election next year), as well as a stampede of government ministers for the exit door, here are few articles from a few years back about the government’s national standards based education agenda.

A teacher’s response to National’s ‘Education in Schools’ policy

Those of us who spoke out against national standards (and in some cases losing their careers as a result) in 2010 and 2011 are being proved correct. There is an increasing amount of evidence that is demonstrating that the main outcomes has been harming children’s educational and therefore life opportunities. How immoral is that?

‘I am saddened that this is the direction National want to take with our education system. We have a world-leading curriculum and (as National agree) excellent performance from our top students. However, we also have a long tail of underachievement, primarily from our Maori and Pasifika students and those from poorer backgrounds. Teacher input is only one aspect of learning – it is difficult to learn if you are hungry, tired or worried.’

http://bit.ly/2hPb14E

John Key and Mrs Tolley turn education into a McDonalds – principals will now become managers complying to franchise regulations.

‘Time will show John Key and Mrs Tolley to be the simplistic wreckers they are. In the meantime creative teachers will have to cope by going underground  and if the remainder can’t see the problem then they will be seen as complying with the destruction of an education system once held in high esteem  by educators (if not politicians and technocrats) around the world.’

http://bit.ly/2hGMBhw

National’s ‘brighter future’ doesn’t include the students or their teachers!

‘The current National Government has ignored educators worldwide and opted for an accountants view of education turning students into products and schools into factories so as to give consumers a choice – but what a choice!What many feared has come to pass. Populist political simplicity has won the day!If you repeat a half truth (one in 5 students are failing) without also factoring in the effects of poverty and poor health of  unknown in other civilised countries. One fifth of our students live in distressing poverty (that is, of course, 1 in 5).’

http://bit.ly/2gMR3cT

We failed PISA. How to fix it.

 

WE FAILED PISA-ONE ISSUE ONLY

PISA results down.     TIMSS report damning.   WHAT?  

WHAT HAS HAPPENED?  WHAT CAUSED IT?   WHO’s to BLAME?

HOW DO WE FIX IT ?

Media experts have examined the results and know how to fix it…..well……

Make funding more equitable.                                                 

Restore strict discipline.

Banish smart phones  

Employ only quality teachers.

Improve entrance level to teacher preparation

 Fix our cultural and economic inequality.       

 TEACHERS ARE TOO FRIGHTENED

PAY TEACHERS BETTER.

More after-school tutoring, like Singapore                            

More homework.

Stop funding private schools.                                                  

Make Maths & Science a prerequisite for all Uni. courses.

IMPORT GOOD MATHS & SCIENCE TEACHERS

ooooooooooooooooooooo0000000000000000000000000

Schooling in Australia is now a farce; thanks to the one issue only.     Only one thing has caused the decline. 

NAPLAN

Kill-learn NAPLAN

Julia said, in 2008, that PISA results would improve once  NAPLAN got under way……”TOP 5 BY 25”, she said. 

And her NAPLAN  has been the only one major alteration to the system  since that time; since we have been going down hill.  The curriculum – how and what  children are taught at school – has been taken over by crazy assessments; and testucators have replaced educators in the halls of power; and results continue to plummet.

As Joan said, “Anybody with a brain half the size of a starfish’s must see what caused it.” She must have noticed……that……

THE ONLY CHANGE TO SCHOOLING IN RECENT TIMES HAS BEEN THE USE OF 

NAPLAN TESTS. THEY ARE DESIGNED TO KILL LEARNING.

It hasn’t worked.  It never will. LET’s TALK ABOUT THE REAL CAUSE

The Great One – Simon himself – has proposed that we import better Maths and Science teachers.  {There’s one from left field.  ?!?! ]

We can import Socrates, Plato, Pythagoras, Fibonacci, Frobel, Rousseau, Steiner, Madame Montessori,  Friere, Confucious, Froebel, Rousseau, Einstein, Piaget, Jesus but , for sure, there will still be a decline  in Australia’s results on the PISA tests and any other tests of its kind, while we have NAPLAN in our schools.  There can be no doubt about this. It’s deadly stuff.  It kills the love for learning.  It’s fear-based credo is just too much for our Aussie kids.  They can give the pundits world shattering high scores if they are allowed to learn how to learn with love and encouragements and challenge and to enjoy learning for its own sake and if they treat Maths and Science as really beautiful subjects full of amazing interests and challenges. They’ve proven it in the past. Kids do better without the NAPLAN kind of child abuse.

NAPLAN prevents that kind of attitude, that kind of attention, that kind of positivity.  Kids  are taught to hate Maths and Science.

How many ‘experts’ have noticed the growth in wasteful assessments and the enormous increases in the gathering of data and the impact that it is having on teacher-pupil contact time for learning purposes?

Isn’t it time that one of our political parties started to think ‘kids’ and ‘learning’ and ‘fair go’?  I certainly cannot vote for a party that allows NAPLAN to continue. How can you…if you like kids?

Can we do without it?  Can we afford to keep it going?

What’s wrong with democracy as a way of life? Why can’t we forget about NAPLAN and PISA and get on with learning?

_______________________________________________________________________________________

Phil Cullen, 41 Cominan Avenue, Banora Point 2486.
07 5524 6443  0407865999 
cphilcullen@bigond.com
Refer :”Who’s Who In Australia”

The Most Important Things Schools Don’t Do – A challenge to Australia’s Educatio MinisterThe Most Important Things Schools Don’t Do – A challenge to Australia’s Education Minister

PLEASE SEND THIS ON TO YOUR STATE MINISTER. TREEHORN DOES NOT HAVE READY ACCESS TO THEM OR THEIR DEPARTMENTS.
Treehorn Express
A CHALLENGE TO STATE MINISTERS
This week, the collective wisdom of Australia’s education system gathers to consider what can be done to ensure that Australia has the world’s best  system of schooling.  It’s a tough  task considering the direction in which we seem to be going and the unseemly mess we are in.  All those with the title of Minister and their advisers will discuss school funding, the depletion in PISA scores and various issues that have been raised through pre-meeting correspondence. 
The Treehorn Express and its faithful readers maintain a genuine concern for the standard of schooling in Australian, New Zealand and the US and anywhere else that shares a love for school kids and a passion for helping them to learn how to learn. The standard and type of schooling in the western world, controlled by measurement freaks,  is a big worry. Australia is the most test-crazed country in the world  It allows little time for teachers to teach. 
We are supposed t be here for kids, not institutions and measurement manufactories. 
Below, fellow advocate for kids, Marion Brady reckons that the aim of schooling is : MAXIMIZE LEARNERS’ ABILITY TO  MAKE SENSE. Same aim, different expression. All experienced educators are on the same wavelength.
With Brady’s comments in mind, Treehorn would like to challenge each minister to read his article below and leave the meeting 1. Still using NAPLAN; 2. Still having unequal funding for private and public schools and 3. Failing to instigate a serious, wide and open discussion on the best ways to care for Australian kids in a schooling environment, during our children’s  natural search for excellence over 13 years or so of schooling.
If they are fair dinkum Aussie educators, we can expect 1. the end of NAPLAN;  2. Gonski- funding or better; 3. plans for an intense, extensive public discussion.
We don’t want Prime Minister Pauline having to tolerate a bigger  mess than her previous female PM left .  No kind of misogyny intended.
It’s a short article – one of his best – and it deserves to be carefully read with an open mind and pleasant thoughts about school children.  Treehorn has added a short comment at times and highlighted some statements,. You’ll be able to tell.
The original is located in the Washington Post ….
Washington Post, “The Answer Sheet” blog by Valerie Strauss
Posted December 9, 2016:
___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
The most important thing schools don’t do
By Marion Brady
Prepare the young for  tertiary education and careers; promote democratic citizenship; keep Australia  economically competitive; master the core subjects; transmit societal values; instil a love of learning—those are six of about 30 aims for schooling I’ve found in academic journal articles.  Treehorn can add:  ‘care for the mental health and learning attitude of young people.’ That’s seven.
On my list, one aim is paramount: “Maximize learner ability to make sense.”Not only does it enable
every other legitimate aim of educating, it gives schooling its proper focus—maximizing human 
potential. 
No one needs to be taught how to make sense—to think. We’re born equipped to do it. The challenge is to do it better, to radically improve what are sometimes called “higher order” thinking skills, particularly those involved in tracing complex causal sequences and anticipating possible unintended consequences of well-intended policies and actions. We know how to build nuclear power generating plants, but not how to dispose of the waste they create. We know how to produce enough food to feed the world, but not how to distribute it equitably.We know how to start wars, but not how to end them or avoid them altogether. We know how to warm the planet, but not how to navigate the political complexities that stand in the way of adopting measures to stop the process.We know how to frack the aquafers and empty each nation’s underground water tanks and despoil the landscape and oceans, but not how to replace it all. 
Unfortunately, schools—the institutions modern societies have created to help the young maximize their ability to think—have never been able to present well-thought-out strategies for actually improving sense-making. Beyond the primary and elementary levels, the emphasis has instead been on delivering the content of subjects considered “core”—math, science, language arts, and social studies. As those subjects are traditionally taught and tested, “thinking” is primarily a matter of recalling information delivered and, to a lesser extent, applying that information in abstract ways.
Recalling and applying are, of course, thinking skills, but what makes us fully human, and what gives humanness so much potential, is our ability to infer, hypothesize, generalize, categorize, relate, compare, contrast, correlate, describe, abstract, extrapolate, predict, sequence, integrate, synthesize, interpret, translate, empathize, value, envision, imagine, intuit.
That’s 24 thought processes, most of them more complex than recalling and applying. Add to them other thought processes of which I’m not aware. Add the extremely powerful role emotions [like fear of failing NAPLAN]and the place of play in shaping thought. Add the fact that the actual process of sense-making integrates the processes systemically to create a whole greater than the sum of parts. Considering these complexities, the human potential being wasted by teaching to machine-scored tests that can’t evaluate the quality of sense should be obvious.
The failure of traditional schooling to significantly improve thinking skills stems primarily from its emphasis on delivering “pre-processed” information. The contents of textbooks, teacher talk, reference materials, the internet, and so on, are products of the thinking of others, leaving learners with nothing to do except try to store information in memory long enough to pass a test. That’s about as interesting and intellectually stimulating as memorizing completed crossword puzzles.  That’s NAPLAN 
Traditional schooling’s emphasis on recalling exacts a heavy price – boredom, discipline problems, reliance on extrinsic motivators, the rapid disappearance from memory of information once taught, decades of flat academic performance.
That list of problems having its roots in the neglect of all other sense-making processes could be extended.
Thinking skills can be significantly improved by coaching that focuses learner attention directly on immediate, “unprocessed” reality, on primary sources from past realities, and on imagined probable, possible, and preferred future realities. Learning teams can investigate their school’s energy efficiency, compare attitudes toward authority of early  settlers in Australia as manifested in the records they kept, analyze waste disposal procedures in their neighborhoods, predict likely consequences of Australia’s  inevitable cultural change from the western [US dominated] economic culture to those requirements of the Asian  [China dominated] economic galaxy. Those kinds of activities engage because they respect and make active use of the ability to think.*
The complexity of the sense learners make when they’re intellectually engaged in real-world work makes it clear that quality of thought can’t be evaluated by commercially produced standardized tests. Do two “good” hypotheses equal four “fair” or seven “poor” hypotheses? What’s the difference between “good” and “fair”?  Does a kid’s inference show insight or startling insight? Is a learner’s description of an event beautifully succinct or merely sketchy?  Computers can’t answer these questions.
There’s no getting around the inherent complexity of original thought, and no getting around traditional schooling’s failure to stimulate and nurture it.
Today’s reformers dream of low-cost schools where technology does the telling and  technology does the testing, That’s NAPLAN….plain dumb.
“Civilization,” said H.G. Wells, “is a race between education and catastrophe.” Perpetuating the misguided education policies put in place by politicians at the urging of wealthy but educationally clueless campaign contributors doesn’t just invite societal catastrophe, it assures it.
                                                              ###
The links below access free explanatory materials and ready-to-use secondary-level courses of study illustrating instructional activities that routinely require learners to engage in a full range of cognitive processes.
At all times, the caution issued by John Settledge when he toured Australia, needs serious heed : “ When the affective is secure, the cognitive is inevitable.”
Other than the fact that learners’ exercise of those processes produces thought too complex to be evaluated by standardized, machine-scored tests, the activities themselves fit within traditional bureaucratic boundaries and expectations.
Thinking about thinking: http://www.marionbrady.com/CIR .asp
_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Phil Cullen
41 Cominan Avenue
Banora Point 2486
07b55246443
0407 865999
Refer: “Who’s Who in Australia.”

Education Readings December 9th

By Allan Alach

I welcome suggested articles, so if you come across a gem, email it to me at allanalach@inspire.net.nz

Taking the PISA

New Zealand teacher Mike Boon (aka Boonman)

‘Well, friends, today was PISA day. The day when all media outlets around the world breathlessly pronounce their education system is either “plummeting” down the tables, or, through some miraculous miracle, soaring to new educational heights.

Three years ago I ranted about this nonsensical test, run by the OECD, which tests hundreds of thousands of 15 year olds around the world on reading, maths and science. I’m listening to Garbage on the Spotify at the moment and that is an incredibly apt word.’

http://bit.ly/2gbXPKP

Academics Worldwide call for the end to PISA tests

‘In education policy, Pisa, with its three-year assessment cycle, has caused a shift of attention to short-term fixes designed to help a country quickly climb the rankings, despite research showing that enduring changes in education practice take decades, not a few years, to come to fruition. For example, we know that the status of teachers and the prestige of teaching as a profession have a strong influence on the quality of instruction, but that status varies strongly across cultures and is not easily influenced by short-term policy.’

http://bit.ly/2gWrJlr

Why Americans should not panic about international test results

Applicable to other countries as well.

‘Unlike elections, one cannot definitively prove PISA predictions to be wrong since student success later in life cannot be conclusively reported like final vote counts. But if we think of a student’s success as winning the election, and the skills and knowledge PISA assesses as voters, what the polls missed during Brexit and the 2016 U.S. presidential election provides some interesting cautionary parallels.’

http://wapo.st/2hl2ohU

“Data is the wrong driver”

Thanks to Phil Cullen for this article about Queensland, Australia, which can be adapted for other similar educationally afflicted countries.

‘To comply with the current curriculum benchmarks, you cannot do justice to children or their learning. It is not practical to run a play-based curriculum AND meet the standards. If a child finds a caterpillar outside, it if far more engaging and meaningful to talk about butterflies and write and explore that, than to read a proscribed book and ask children about how a character can change or what we could do differently.’

http://bit.ly/2gcmSZg

Contributed by Bruce Hammonds:

End of Year Student Survey: Student feedback to implement next year.

Bruce’s latest article.

‘At the end of the school year it is a good idea to gather information from the students you are passing on. Not only is this a chance for you to get some insight about your teaching but it is also a great way to value the ‘voice’ of your students. You might also like to think about developing a similar survey for the beginning of next year to give some insight into student’s attitudes that they bring with them to your class. You could include the various learning areas, what they are expecting to gain from the year with you, and what questions they would like to find out more about. You might be able to work the later into a negotiated curriculum?’

http://bit.ly/2gWjgP1

Responding to Defiance in the Moment: Why Do Children Defy Authority?

‘Children who defy us often get to the core of our fears as teachers. They make us question our abilities and provoke feelings of insignificance. But when we rise above our own feelings and find developmentally appropriate ways to respond to these students, we offer them a path to success and a model of how to get along in the world.’

http://bit.ly/2gc0q7t

Teaching Without Rewards

‘Children build on their strengths, and to do that building—to grow academically and socially—they need us to recognize and encourage their positive efforts. But what’s the best way to offer that recognition and encouragement?’

http://bit.ly/2h4soi9

When Students Need More: Taking the Long View

‘A reality of teaching that all teachers know well is that no matter how effectively we teach, no matter how hard students try, and no matter how many good days the class has together, students will sometimes need more—more direction, more support, more teaching, more time.’

http://bit.ly/2gDGdDy

From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:

Why schools don’t educate.

‘Notes taken from John Taylor Gatto’s acceptance speech as New York Teacher of the Year 1990. Gatto was recognized in Tom Peter’s (the business ‘guru’) in his book ‘Re-Imagine’ published 2003 as an important future orientated educator.‘We live in a time of great school crises, Gatto began his presentation, ‘and we need to define and redefine endlessly what the word education should mean. Something is wrong. Our school crisis is a reflection of a wider social crisis – a society that lives in the constant present, based on narcotic consumption’ 

http://bit.ly/2bWvrc6

A future Vision for Education

‘We need to move beyond, ‘correcting past mistakes and attempting to improve the quality and productivity of a quasi industrial form of production in which children come in one end, are worked on by professionals and then exit at the other end with the requisite skills and qualifications’.If it only worked for all students there would not be any urgency to change but it is becoming obvious that too many students fail –and even those that ‘succeed’ leave without all their talents appreciated.’

http://bit.ly/1pHqBCy

Robert Fried on Seymour Sarason

‘One of Sarason’s forty odd books has a name that reflects his lifetime theme ‘The Predictable Failure of School Reform’. He retired in 1989 as professor of clinical psychology at Yale University.Fried calls Sarason  a ‘cautious radical’ and a pragmatic idealist who staunchly defends classroom teachers in one breathe and scolds them (and policy makers) in another for their failure to make schools interesting places for teachers and children.’

http://bit.ly/14rjn5y

Does your classroom have the ‘wow’ factor?

‘The first sign of ‘wow’ is the overall first impression the room gives you. The feeling you get is that you are indeed in special place. There is a feeling of positive relationships between teacher and learners and often parents are to be seen quietly helping students. Other students seem to be working without supervision. A quick look around the walls, covered with students creativity gives an impression that this is a room dedicated to the students themselves.’ 

http://bit.ly/1FxlCvx

Profiteering is more important

Profiteering is More Important

“Profiteering is more important to Australian people than helping children.” said the lady on TV, representing children in foster-care. It was a general statement that applies, not only to kids in foster care, but Australian kids generally.
We are certainly not very good at caring about children. Indeed, it is safe to say that all political parties dislike children. One thing is clear.  Each goes to some lengths to  approve of child exploitation and abuse through testucation stupidity.
Yes. Profits before child welfare is becoming more and more  endemic to the Australian way of life than we care to admit…..especially through the schooling system  The schooling system is now on the edge of a tsunami of money-making rackets… oops…small businesses……. relating to ‘fixing’ learning traits.
We don’t care much about children at school any more. Anything goes; and we can now lay claim to  a world-wide reputation for a negative attitude towards children,  for  our declining test  results in our schools, for  our fiddling with school curricula and for  our immature crush on private schooling; and….. as the lady added “We care more about animals than we do about children.”, presumably referring to the Griffith by-election, and the success of the shooters party. We sure are a weird mob.
Our slump in standards and our sloppy attitude to curriculum matters is not caused by the schools, neither private nor public.  There is no difference in the quality of schooling nor in their achievements. It does not matter what kind of school to which parents send their children. The government parties believe that private schools are better, despite the studies of ‘pathways and future success’  that reveal otherwise. A good school is one that cares for pupils as pupils and as people; and has a link with every pupil’s home.  That’s available at all schools.  If you want a good schooling at the right price, send your child to the local high school. If you want a good schooling – mutton dressed as lamb – and have lots of spare cash, try a private school.
To compensate for the devastation to learning,  caused by the peculiar testing antics of today’s forms of schooling, there will soon be thousands of money-making grab-it firms vying for the rest of your spare coin. Apart from Tutoring places that concentrate on test success, there should be a significant growth in Maths Specialists, Literacy Specialists and Science Specialist of doubtful background who will help you at a price. Some will sell the elixir in packaged form. For instance there are, presently,  some ‘literacy experts’ exploiting the age-old debate about the ‘teaching of phonics’ or the ‘teaching of whole word’ [The Australian 25/11/16] when, in fact, our teachers teach reading [through using these components and others]….and it works very well, thank you.
Both major political parties believe that they know more about curriculum than professionals do and so use inexperienced personnel to advise it on what to do.  They usually recommend that we test.  Australia is amazingly test-fixated. Each test sets a mediocre limit on what has been learned.  It has to, to fulfil the rationales of measurement. As a consequence, we have one of the most rag-tag systems of schooling on the planet.  Our government’s educational termites try to force schools to achieve the mediocre  through its wild testing programs, instead of aiming for the moon in terms of learning. And when they don’t get what they want – mediocrity – they turn on the screws with greater force. It all just so crazy.
There is nothing, however, that can replace a classroom teacher and talking with him or her as much as possible about your child’s welfare.
Australia has to go through these weird machinations because notable profiteering-supportive politicians force their colleagues to assist them in their assault on childhood.  They, in the first place, have been told by media barons and those who profit from school testing regimes, to make sure that education means testucation or there will be no more media support or hefty donations at election time.
The capture of child-centred politicians and figures-in-authority is essential to the cause of profiteering.  Some people have difficulty in comprehending the scale of such an operation.  Julia Gillard performed a major coupe with great neo-liberal aplomb. The success of the manner that kleinism was introduced into Australia is an intriguing political science expose.
It will have to be something very serious to reveal the present day chain of command for profiteering. It does not look like a parent uprising will occur. What will choke it as it deserves? ? Trumpism? Maybe! Things just don’t look too good, no matter what solution one looks for.
Think about it. The fact that such political skulduggery aka kleinism happens in America too, is more than coincidental. After all, we imported it from there in 2008.
The lady [‘profiteering is more important’ lady…] is not wrong…profiteering is more important to Australian people than helping children. To be rid of it, there is a clear need to create an atmosphere of thinking about what’s best for Australian children and how we can enrich their childhood, instead of deliberately stultifying their love for learning so that big business can increase their profits.  We need to keep talking about this sort of issue.  We need to…..Talk. Talk. Talk.
Question. Question .Question.
What do tests do to children?
What do tests do for children?
How do tests lead to improvement….. in preference to spending the time instilling a love of maths or literacy or science?
What do testucating managers know about classroom interaction and the variety of teaching/learning processes being used by teachers?
[For instance, Direct Instruction  -costing taxpayers $37m at last count – that bunch of teaching strategies at the far L-H end of an extensive teaching continuum – seems a little bit over-the-top]
Who decides that children should disregard music and art and health and sport and creativity and challenging problem-solving activities and spend endless hours and days and weeks on dull thought-less testing practice instead?
Why can’t Maths and Science and Literacy be regarded as beautiful subjects instead of being brutalised by being used as fear-based tests?
Who decides?  
Why do keen observers draw cartoons such as this ?  What is it revealing to us?
There are so many questions that need to be asked.
Phil Cullen
41 Cominan Avenue
Banora Point 2486
07 5524 6443
0407865999
cphilcullen@bigond.com
Refer”Who’s Who in Australia”

Treehorn is not sesquipedalian

Treehorn comments…

Treehorn assures us that he not a flocceinaueinihillipilificatinist just because NAPLAN testing has been shown to be useless and worthless, even scataphagous, schadenfreude and emetic. It is enormously damaging to the mental health of children. While he is not hippopotomonstrosesquippedalobic, he prefers to be antipolyphrasticontranominegaloridulative, against the use of long words, and says it as it is. His recent sesquipedalian outbreak is not typical. Put more simply, he hates the stupid bloody thing.

It’s because NAPLAN is such a nasty piece of goods, and, for political/commercial reasons is taking too much time to be banned. It assaults children’s desires to learn and it teaches them to dislike school subjects that are so fundamental to their development. It does great damage. Autralia cannot tolerate the damage for too much longer. The mental health of most Australian children has been battered over the past eight years to an immeasureable degree, because of NAPLAN’S fear-based requirements.

He knows that is why parents are not asked if they give permission for their children to take the tests.The school system pretends that NAPLAN is a mandated requirement when it is not. It’s not only useless and worthless. It’s deceitful and sly. This pretence that NAPLAN is part of the school curriculum, that it is diagnostic and is mandated as part of normal school procedures is deliberately deceitful. IT IS NOT ANY OF THESE THINGS. It is useless rubbish. It can’t be trusted.

Treehorn is frustrated. Politicians spend more energy on the likes of backpackers’tax than they do on the care of their children.They’re always discombobulating.

_______________________________________________

Phil Cullen
41 Cominan Avenue
Banora Point 2486
07 5524 6443
0407865999
cphilcullen@bigpond.com

Education Readings December 2nd

By Allan Alach

I welcome suggested articles, so if you come across a gem, email it to me at allanalach@inspire.net.nz

Teacher Stress & Anxiety in New Zealand Schools

‘The results clearly illustrate the extent of the problem of stress and anxiety in NZ schools today: the majority, 54% of respondents (365) answered Yes.  44% (296) answered No, and understandably, due to the sensitivity of the subject, a small number 1% (11 respondents) declined to answer. These results are extremely concerning because no matter how subjective, for a majority of teachers to feel it is necessary to take time off in order to recover from workplace stress and anxiety, there will inevitably be consequences for the health and well-being of staff and potentially for the quality of teaching and learning in NZ.’

http://bit.ly/2fMUtJa

The Problem with Choice

‘I know too many people who are not educators (and some who are) that are in favor of the choice movement in education. The biggest reason people want choice is to improve the education for their own children and then create competition so that other schools will be forced to improve or shut down. Unfortunately, both reasons are based in misconceptions about education.’

http://bit.ly/2gWOqqw

Russell Stannard: Why are digital literacies so important?

‘I have just returned from Finland where if you can’t use the internet you are massively hindered in your day to day activities as almost all government/ municipal contact is done online. They have huge problems for example with older people, immigrants and refugees, who cannot interact with the system. It is becoming harder and harder to survive in society without having the basic digital literacies.’

http://bit.ly/2fMXkBG

Instead of “Job Creation,” How About Less Work?

Increased automation has not reduced our workload. Why not? What if it did?

So, I say, down with the work ethic, up with the play ethic!  We are designed to play, not to work.  We are at our shining best when playing. Let’s get our economists thinking about how to create a world that maximizes play and minimizes work.  It seems like a solvable problem.  We’d all be better off if people doing useless or harmful jobs were playing, instead, and we all shared equally the necessary work and the benefits that accrue from it.’

http://bit.ly/2gzLIDF

What Kills Creativity in Kids?

‘Creativity is a choice—and if children are going to choose to be creative then parents (and teachers) have to be careful not to stifle it. What kills kids’ creativity? Here’s what to avoid.’

http://bit.ly/2g8FkCY

Standardizing Whiteness: the Essential Racism of Standardized Testing

‘But when you define a standard, an ideal, you make certain choices – you privilege some attributes and denigrate others. Since the people creating the tests are almost exclusively upper middle class white people, it should come as no surprise that that is the measure by which they assess success. Is it any wonder then that poor kids and children of color don’t score as well on these tests? Is it any wonder that upper middle class white kids score so well?’

http://bit.ly/2gmqz2h

Contributed by Bruce Hammonds:

The Big Picture Learning School’s story

‘In the schools that Big Picture Learning envisioned, students would be at the center their own education. They would spend considerable time in the community under the tutelage of mentors and they would not be evaluated solely on the basis of standardized tests. Instead, students would be assessed on exhibitions and demonstrations of achievement, on motivation, and on the habits of mind, hand, and heart  – reflecting the real world evaluations and assessments that all of us face in our everyday lives.’

http://bit.ly/2fFwRLd

The school of the future has opened in Finland

‘Child psychologists have long argued that changing the approach we take to education would help many children learn to love school rather than hate it. We’ve all heard pre-schoolers talk about how they can’t wait to sit at their school desk and run to their next lesson with their rucksack over their shoulder. In fact, we probably remember that feeling of excitement ourselves the first time we went. But right from the first days of school, many children feel a huge sense of disappointment with what they encounter.At the Saunalahti school in the city of Espoo, Finland, they’ve found a brilliant way to overcome this problem. Starting just with the school building itself, you’d look at it and never think it was a school. Instead, it’s more a like modern art museum – wonderfully light and airy.’

http://bit.ly/2fFG3zb

To Advance Education, We Must First Reimagine Society

‘Because disaffection with the education system reflects a much deeper societal malaise, it’s imperative that we first figure out what kind of world we really want: a world populated by responsible adults who thrive on interdependence and community, or a world of “customers” who feel dependent on products, services, and authority figures, and don’t take full responsibility for their actions? The answer, he says, will point to the changes needed in all three pillars of education — schools, families, and communities.’

http://bit.ly/2gmthVs

From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:

Quotes from Frank Smith and John Taylor Gatto

Both of these authors should be on your reading list.

John Taylor Gatto is the author of ‘A Different Kind Of Teacher’. Frank Smith’s book is called ‘An Insult To Intelligence’.  As well, Smith’s book “Reading” is a must read.

http://bit.ly/2gzeLHJ

Teaching for thinking

‘There is a lot of talk about teaching thinking in schools and all sorts of thinking processes are often seen on classroom walls. The trouble is that more than talk and processes are required – there ought to be some real evidence of students thinking to be seen. All too often was is seen is ‘higher order thinking for thin learning!’.’

http://bit.ly/2gLTAkK

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 behaviors 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.’

http://bit.ly/1WQKvVA