By Allan Alach
I welcome suggested articles, so if you come across a gem, email it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org
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.’
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.’
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.’
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.’
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.’
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?’
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.’
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.’
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.’
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.
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!’.’
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.’