By Allan Alach
A day earlier this week, as we’re moving house…
I welcome suggested articles, so if you come across a gem, email it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Networkonnet education manifesto for the 2017 election
Kelvin Smythe has produced this document setting out his vision for education for the coming New Zealand general election in September this year. There’s much in this that could be adapted for other countries.
‘The propagandising and spinning of education ‘achievement’ that dominates our current system, the scapegoating, disenfranchising, privatisation, and financial and spiritual impoverishment is not government whim or a series of unrelated actions, but ingrained ideological policy as part of global capitalism and a shift against democracy.’
Five Reasons Why Performance Pay for Teachers is Dangerous Territory
Here’s a discussion paper from New Zealand’s newest political party:
‘The New Zealand Initiative’s new report calls for performance pay for teachers. It is an alluring concept, and one that intuitively appeals, after all we can all agree that good performers should be rewarded for their effort. However, when it comes to teaching that idea falls down on a detailed examination. Here’s 5 reasons why.’
‘To retain our best teachers we need to stop killing them with planning, marking and meetings’
‘Just about every teacher will recognise the sad truth: they are working longer and longer hours week after week. (It would appear that this is now recognised by the Department for Education, too). The most profound question to address is whether these extra hours spent in the school are actually improving the quality of teaching and learning. Sadly, it would seem, this is not the case. It is rather more likely that we are spending endless hours perfuming menial tasks because that’s just what is expected of us…’
The good, the bad and the ugly: Technology and 21st Century Learning
‘There are many in the world of education (not to forget the corporate powerhouses in the technology industry) who believe that the world was re-created on 1st January 2000 but it is necessary for educators to recognize that there is not a single story and to think critically about the place of technology in our schools. Tom Bennett, the recently appointed advisor to the UK government on issues relating to behavior in schools, has pointed out that schools have been “dazzled” by computers.’
A Pedagogical Shift Needed for Digital Success
On a similar theme:
‘I get the fact that technology can increase engagement, but if that engagement does not lead to evidence of learning then what’s the point?’
Three Myths About “Reading Levels”
And why you shouldn’t fall for them…
‘However measured, reading levels can be a generally useful guide to whether a particular text is going to be far too difficult for a particular reader. For example, the student who scored at 4.6 on a recent, valid reading test will probably have significant difficulty reading and understanding that text at an 8.1 reading level. Unfortunately, though, the ubiquity and precision with which these reading levels are now being tested and reported has led to their increasingly inappropriate use, especially in schools.’
‘Such misguided policies and practices are based on three very prevalent myths about reading levels.’
Contributed by Bruce Hammonds:
‘You somehow imposed your own prejudices on education’ – one primary teacher’s extraordinary open letter to Michael Gove
Letter to former UK Minister of Education, which also applies to New Zealand, USA, and Australia.
‘The most shocking thing about Michael Gove’s reign as education secretary was that one individual was able to change the system so much for the worse, writes this primary teacher.’
Teaching as a Subversive Activity
‘If you were educated to be a teacher in the 60’s – as I was – you were groomed to see “teaching as a subversive activity” after the leading education prep book of the time by the same name, authored by Charles Weingartner and Neil Postman. Their approach to schooling, known as inquiry education, emphasized student questions more than teacher answers. Teaching was characterized as a tool for questioning the status quo, as a means to talk truth to power and as a salvo against the all too often stultifying effects of the establishment.’
Lesson in stupidity: Savage chop in classroom as schools face first real-terms cuts in 20 years
Does this seem familiar in your country?
‘School budgets are failing to keep pace with inflation, meaning rising prices outstrip the amount of cash they have to spend. A new funding formals will also see some schools robbed of hundreds of thousands of pounds. And experts have warned classrooms could see more pupils while the number of teachers drops and the loss of teaching assistants altogether. Subsidised school trips would face being axed and equipment budgets could also be slashed, forcing kids to study old textbooks and education chiefs to impose a freeze on buying new computers.Schools are already scrapping music lessons, turning off heating and planning to charge parents for children’s sessions with mental health counsellors.”
In an age of robots, schools are teaching our children to be redundant
‘In the future, if you want a job, you must be as unlike a machine as possible: creative, critical and socially skilled. So why are children being taught to behave like machines?
Children learn best when teaching aligns with their natural exuberance, energy and curiosity. So why are they dragooned into rows and made to sit still while they are stuffed with facts? We succeed in adulthood through collaboration. So why is collaboration in tests and exams called cheating?’
From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:
Pride through personal excellence
‘It seems these days teachers rush through tasks to ‘deliver’ or ‘cover’ the curriculum.The idea of doing things well has been lost in this rush yet we all know that pride of achievement comes from succeeding so well at a task we even surprise ourselves.As a result students produce little of real substance. Teachers are too busy proving what they have done to focus on the more important need to see each student does the very best work they can.’
Environmental awareness for pre-schoolers – from ‘On Looking’ by Alexandra Horowitz
On Looking – Eleven walks with expert ideas. A wonderful book that reflects the multiple intelligences of Howard Gardner and the importance of different frameworks to interpret the environment. Love the walk with the four year old and the dog. Or culture fosters inattention but this book will help you uncover the unbelievable things to observe in your environment.
‘Alexandra Horowitz, who trained as a cognitive scientist, explains the startling power of human attention and what it means to be an expert observer.’