Infidelity to Truth: Education Malpractices in American Public Education Introduction

By Duane Swacker

About Duane Swacker

Introduction

‘All truths are easy to understand once they are discovered; the point is to discover them.’ Galileo Galilei

The righter we do the wrong thing, the wronger we become. When we make a mistake doing the wrong thing and correct it, we become wronger. When we make a mistake doing the right thing and correct it, we become righter. Therefore, it is better to do the right thing wrong than the wrong thing right. This is very significant because almost every problem confronting our society is a result of the fact that our public [education] policy makers are doing the wrong things and are trying to do them righter” states systems theorist Russell Ackhoff.

Many longstanding practices in American public education are rightly described as “doing the wrong thing righter”.  The simplistic grading of students, rating and ranking schools as the US News and World Report does, believing that through using educational standards and its flip side standardized testing we can “measure” student learning and achievement, whatever that may mean, are just a few.

As noted by Ackhoff, doing the “wrong thing righter” is damaging enough to the bottom line in business but in the teaching and learning process it results in error, falsehoods and invalid conclusions about what a student has learned.  More than that, students internalize the labels that misleadingly describe a student resulting in multiple harms to many students, violating their personhood.  The tremendous waste of educational resources, time, energies and monies for practices that are harmful, epistemologically and ontologically bankrupt and that contravene the fundamental purpose of public education should give us pause.

“I’m an ‘A’ student” declares the bright fresh-faced student as she confidently walks into class the first day finding a seat next to her friends.  I hate to burst her bubble but little does she know, she isn’t.  The first few days of a new school year class time is spent going over the syllabus, rules and regulations, and how grades will be determined for the semester and year.  In discussing grades I had the students fill out a very brief survey:

I am a (n) _____student.

A

B

C

D

E (none of these)

F

Then I’d have one student read the answers aloud as another tallied up the various answers on the board.  Inevitably the majority of answers were either an A or B as in order to take Spanish the students had to have an A or B grade in their prior year’s Language Arts class.  Every now and then a C might appear, and never a D or F. (Why is it that in the grading scale the only letter with a word associated with it is F-fail?)  And out of every hundred or so students usually only one would get the correct answer E.  Why is it, that only one out of one hundred students would understand what was really being asked/demonstrated by the brief survey?

Why?  Because socially ingrained practices such as student grades, practices that have existed for generations, are usually accepted as right, good, valid and the way things are, even after they have been shown to be detrimental to students and contradict the fundamental purpose(s) of public education.  Breaking away from societal habits of long standing practices such as grades in schooling can be an almost impossible task, especially for students who don’t have enough life experience to question, counteract or refuse to accept them.  The vast majority, not only of students but also parents and teachers accept grades and standardized test scores as an acceptable practice.  “It’s how school works!”  In this book I will show why using educational standards and standardized test scores as assessment practices are invalid, harmful, unethical and unjust educational malpractices.

I explore the fundamental concepts underlying educational standards and standardized testing used as a basis to supposedly measure student learning to show that said practices which most accept as “the way things are” are based on logical errors and falsehoods that render the practices invalid.  And in being invalid those practices can only cause harm to many students as they are subjected to the many quirks and whims of practices based on false and invalid notions.  As any craftsman, artisan or gourmet chef knows; when one starts with inferior materials it is impossible to construct a high quality product.  It’s the old garbage in, garbage out to put it a bit more crudely.  How can we construct a high quality educational experience for students if we start with practices that are of the lowest intellectual quality and that lack validity?

Many current educational practices, start with and are based on inferior “materials”.  In the teaching and learning process, those deficient materials are the rationo-logically challenged conceptual foundations used to justify the malpractices of student grades, educational standards and standardized testing that cause much harm to each and every student, whether the ‘A student’ or the ‘failing student’.  I will show that those practices are, indeed, malpractices based on faulty logic and irrational thinking that render them invalid, harmful and unjust.

In order to do so, though, we must first explore some basic concerns that relate to the purpose of public education, to truth considerations and fidelity to truth in educational discourse, to justice concerns, to aesthetic matters of quality, to (mis)labeling and attachment issues in pinning names onto students in the sorting, separating and ranking involved in grades and standardized test scores, to Foucault’s “subjectivization” or “internalization”, to conceptual (epistemological and ontological) foundations of standards and measurements, to the misuse and bastardization of language that serves to obfuscate meaning for purposes other than to enhance just and ethical teaching and learning environments, to practical ethical concerns and, finally, to obtaining “fidelity to truth” in public education discourse and practices.

Most everyone believes they know the purpose of public education but few actually know where to find the fundamental purpose and what that purpose is.  In Chapter 1 I will explore what those purposes are and how they should serve as our fundamental criterion, the guiding spirit against which all public education practices should be judged.  A brief discussion of the purpose of government follows and what the effects of a government gone awry in its doings are.  Issues of personal liberty in relation to public schooling will also be discussed.

In Chapter 2 I explore what constitutes truth in its various manifestations and that without “fidelity to truth” in educational discourse and practices one can only end up with a logically compromised teaching and learning process that may serve certain political ends but doesn’t, can’t serve the students justly.

Following up on “fidelity to truth” and closely allied with it, in Chapter 3, I explore the nature of justice and how justice concerns, in light of the fundamental purpose of government and public schools, interact to either help or hinder individual student rights and liberties.

In Chapter 4 I will focus on the nature of assessment touching on issues of quality, assessing quality, objective vs subjective assessment and on Wilson’s four frame of references in the assessment process and how confusing and conflating the frames in our evaluation practices add another layer of invalidity.

The 13 logical errors identified by Noel Wilson in his 1997 treatise “Educational Standards and the Problem of Error” will be discussed in Chapter 5.  His never refuted nor rebutted definitive destruction of the concepts of educational standards and standardized testing are delineated and then discussed in relation to Foucault’s concept of subjectivization and its impact on students in relation to the stated purpose of public education.

In Chapter 6 I explore the conceptual foundations of measurements and standards as conceived by the major standard and measurement organizations.  It will be shown how the misuse of these terms and concepts lend a false sense of scientific veracity to the educational standards and standardized testing regime.  Also included is a brief discussion of the conceptual error and falsehoods of standardized testing as it is outlined in the testing bible “Standards of Educational and Psychological Testing.”

Professional ethical considerations are addressed in Chapter 7, first through the dictionary definitions of ethics and then through a brief discussion of various ethical codes of conduct from three organizations that are involved in education.  Commonalities found in the codes are identified and discussed in relation to considering whether the malpractices of educational standards and standardized testing in respect to fundamental student rights as outlined in our fundamental purpose of public education should be considered unethical.

In the Conclusion I ask a series of questions concerning how the malpractices of educational standards and standardized testing analyzed as malpractices through logical definition and thought can only result in massive amounts of errors, falsehoods and inaccurate categorizations of students which cause much harm to students, are unethical, fail to honor constitutional mandates and therefore should be rejected immediately and replaced with practices that are “faithful to truth”, help uplift the student to his/her potential in enjoying his/her constitutional rights and privileges in liberty.

Finally, in the Afterword I will present some thoughts on how to obtain “fidelity to truth” in educational practices so that we may break the cycle of educational malpractices in which we currently find ourselves.

Education Readings June 30th

By Allan Alach

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

Shifting Needs in a Digital World

‘Our kids need to learn the responsible and safe use of digital devices. They need to learn not only balance but also boundaries. And as parents and educators that means modeling limits and responsible use. What message do we send our kids when we ourselves are not present but instead distracted by the device in our hands, instead of focusing on them? Technology is a tool, and with it comes a means to powerful connectivity and knowledge, but in the end, it does not replace the importance of human interaction, face to face conversations and personal relationships.’

http://bit.ly/2s3Qejh

Thirty Minutes Tops

A nice little satire.

‘As a parent, I really cannot cover everything I want my kids to learn from me in the four hours I have them at home. I really like my kids teachers and I really appreciate all the work they do during the day, but due to the short amount of time I have my kids at home, I’m going to have to send some work back to school with my kids to complete during the seven hours they spend in the classroom. I apologize for the negative impact this work might have on the teachers and the rest of the class.’

http://bit.ly/2tqLvwd

Preaching the Value of Social Studies, in a Second Career

‘While spending anywhere from several weeks to half a year on a topic might seem excessive, she said, students are really learning not just about that particular topic, but about how to study something. They’re learning that, when studying a culture, they need to look at a variety of features, like religious beliefs, economy and gender roles. When studying a system or an organization, they need to look, as Ms. Switzer often says, at “the tools, the rules, the consumers, and the workers.”’

http://nyti.ms/2sT5our

Is it okay for children to count on their fingers?

‘Is it OK for children to count on their fingers? Generations of pupils have been discouraged by their teachers from using their hands when learning maths. But a new research article shows using fingers may be a much more important part of maths learning than previously thought.’

http://bit.ly/2tmNXDp

7 reasons why ‘marking’ sucks

‘Inside the Black Box by Black &Wiliam, should be compulsory reading for all teachers, trainers and lecturer, so it was a delight to see him give a masterclass in assessment with solid, evidence-based advice that you can apply straight from the hip in teaching. Marking may do more damage than most educators realise. It is a summative assessment technique, all too often wrongly used in formative assessment.’

http://bit.ly/2s3GXHR

Contributed by Bruce Hammonds:

The need to place creativity central to all learning.

Bruce’s latest article.

‘Existing research has recognised that successful/creative people in any discipline use creativity to enhance their thinking but until now this has not been applied to exemplary teachers.  The study focussed on how exceptional teachers use creativity in the classroom and was based on in-depth interviews with highly accomplished teachers.’

http://bit.ly/2s4Ie1v

Sir Ken Robinson: How to Create a Culture For Valuable Learning

‘“If you design a system to do something, don’t be surprised if it does it,” Robinson said at the annual Big Picture Learning conference called Big Bang. He went on to describe the two pillars of the current system — conformity and compliance — which undermine the sincere efforts of educators and parents to equip children with the confidence to enter the world on their own terms.’

http://bit.ly/2jEkts6

How Silicon Valley Pushed Coding Into American Classrooms

Not just an American issue:

‘Last year, Microsoft and Code.org helped push for a career-education bill that, education researchers warned, could prioritize industry demands over students’ interests. Among other things, they said, it could sway schools to teach specific computer programming languages that certain companies needed, rather than broader problem-solving approaches that students might use throughout their lives.“It gets very problematic when industry is deciding the content and direction of public education,” said Jane Margolis, a senior researcher at the Graduate School of Education and Information Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles.’

http://nyti.ms/2t2jHvk

There’s an essential skill not being taught enough in classrooms today

‘That skill is thinking. “Most teachers never really ask students to think very deeply…. Most of what is assigned and tested are things we ask students…“Most teachers never really ask students to think very deeply…. Most of what is assigned and tested are things we ask students to memorize,” ., a common underlying problem is this “dearth of critical thinking skills.”’

http://bit.ly/2u00fzr

Personalized Learning Is NOT Inclusion!

‘Personalized learning must not be mistaken for inclusion. The reality is that it’s student isolation!Inclusion is generally defined as the action or state of including or of being included within a group or structure. Doing schoolwork on a digital device by yourself is not inclusion. It’s ability grouping for one.’

http://bit.ly/2sjgg6o

Alarm raised over principals’ burnout rate

I can really relate to this.

‘Rural school principals are struggling to cope with the demands of their job and the Educational Institute says it wants more help for them. The problem was highlighted at a recent meeting of principals who ran schools so small that they had to teach in the classroom as well as manage the school, the institute said.’

http://bit.ly/2t2xS3u

From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:

Guy Claxton – building learning power.

“We need, says Claxton, ‘to provide our students with the emotional and cognitive resources to become the ‘confident, connected, life long learners’; the vision of the NZ Curriculum . To achieve this is all about powerful pedagogy.The important thing, he said, was to infuse the Key competencies into every thing that happens at school and not see them as a ‘bolt on’.”

http://bit.ly/1G23Q2m

Write Now Read Later

‘These days reading, or better still the language arts ( now called by a more technocratic title ‘literacy’) seems to have been taken over by academics who are pushing a phonemic approach onto schools – ‘P’ Pushers! This is an approach that distorts the organic relationship between experience, oral language, writing and reading – all premised on a need to make meaning and to communicate.’

http://bit.ly/1IzS3Vw

‘Infidelity to Truth: Education Malpractices in American Public Education’

Something new on Treehorn Express:

Over coming weeks, the book ‘Infidelity to Truth: Education Malpractices in American Public Education’ by Duane Swacker will be serialised on Treehorn Express:


Duane has provided Treehorn with the following introduction:

 Duane Swacker is a retired public high school Spanish teacher of 21 years, now an education researcher/writer, and public school advocate.  I received a Masters degree in education administration, was certified to be an administrator and also did some doctoral work in education administration but didn’t complete the course of study.  I started teaching at 39 years of age, working many different jobs prior.  Over the years, I’ve worked in inventory control/purchasing, production scheduling and materials management, and customer service management.  I am also a master upholsterer but do not do hardly any upholstery now.  I’ve been an avid outdoorsman and sportsman all my life.  Health issues have curbed those activities greatly, so most of my time is spent doing educational policy research and writing and public school advocacy now.
 
“Infidelity to Truth. . . ” is the culmination of two decades of teaching and of thinking, reading and writing about the teaching and learning process.  That thinking, reading and writing have been greatly influenced by Noel Wilson’s seminal dissertation “Educational Standards and the Problem of Error”.  Much of what is being done currently in education is based on falsehood and error, guaranteeing that assessment practices are invalid and harm students.  I’ve exposed those errors and falsehoods that make up the onto-epistemological foundations of the educational malpractices that are educational standards and testing.  The abuse and misuse of the terms “measure” and “standards” are explored.  I discuss how those errors and falsehoods and the misusage of terminology, in consideration of the fundamental purpose of public education, and issues of truth, justice, and ethics all come together to show that the current mandated inanities of the teaching and learning process are malpractices that result in violations of student being/personhood.

Watch this space…

Education Readings June 22nd

By Allan Alach

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

To Help Students Learn, Engage the Emotions

‘Emotion is essential to learning, Dr. Immordino-Yang said, and should not be underestimated or misunderstood as a trend, or as merely the “E” in “SEL,” or social-emotional learning. Emotion is where learning begins, or, as is often the case, where it ends. Put simply, “It is literally neurobiologically impossible to think deeply about things that you don’t care about,” she said.’

http://nyti.ms/2sX85g0

Let’s Stop With The Worksheets And Create Engaged Readers

‘Picture a classroom full of youngsters. They could be darling, chubby-cheeked kindergartners or swaggering, confident high school seniors – or anything in between. Can you see them? Now, picture this class engrossed in reading. What does being engrossed in reading look like? What does it sound like? What evidence exists that true, engaged reading is taking place?’

http://bit.ly/2rY8dXv

Children need to be in the right mental state to learn effectively

‘Taking action early enables vulnerable children to rebuild their self-esteem and take responsibility for their emotions, behaviour and learning. The outcome will be that they re-engage with education, perform well and are confident and happy young people.’

http://bit.ly/2sYjTyd

Montessori Was the Original Personalized Learning. Now, 100 Years Later, Wildflower Is Reinventing the Model

‘Students guiding their own learning with minimal teacher direction — it’s a personalized learning dream. But this is a Montessori school, following a century-old model that has been doing personalized learning since before it even had a name. That model was the creation of physician and innovator Maria Montessori, who opened her first school in Rome in 1907 and built educational materials around her belief in children’s natural desire to explore their world.’

http://bit.ly/2sDIKVb

Saying ‘No’ To Best Practices

‘The worst best practice is to adhere to, or go searching for, best practices. I have been in countless rooms with teachers, technologists, instructional designers, and administrators calling for recommendations or a list of tools they should use, strategies that work, practices that cannot fail to produce results in the classroom. But digital tools, strategies, and best practices are a red herring in digital learning.’

http://bit.ly/2sWLUq0

A Brief History of the “Testocracy,” Standardized Testing and Test-Defying

‘Who are these testocrats who would replace teaching with testing? The testocracy, in my view, does not only refer to the testing conglomerates—most notably the multibillion-dollar Pearson testing and textbook corporation—that directly profit from the sale of standardized exams. The testocracy is also the elite stratum of society that finances and promotes competition and privatization in public education rather than collaboration, critical thinking, and the public good.’

http://bit.ly/2sYppAB

Contributed by Bruce Hammonds:

Measuring What Matters: A Framework Review

‘Good habits are at least as important as basic skills when it comes to success in college and work. The ability to self-manage, interact successfully, and make good decisions (often called social emotional learning) pays big life dividends. The ability to apply creative know how in new situations is at least as important as historical and technical knowledge.

This post reviews several whole-student outcome frameworks, particularly those that attempt to describe and measure productive dispositions and habits.’

http://bit.ly/2rXrh8f

On Teaching Well: Five Lessons from Long Experience

‘Today I turned 70 years old. I have no idea how this happened. I was going along, struggling to do the best I could and then suddenly I woke up and this old guy was staring back at me from the mirror. Turning 70  I wanted to celebrate with you, my esteemed readers. And so I share five lessons I have learned from a career in education spanning nearly 50 years.’

http://bit.ly/2rTIC6N

The 5 Biggest Reasons Why Teachers Quit the Profession

‘Recently on our Facebook page, WeAreTeachers posted an infographic from the Learning Policy Institute which addressed many of the frustrations and issues teachers are dealing with in today’s education culture. The infographic illustrated the top reasons cited as to why teachers quit the profession.The topic definitely struck a chord with our readers. We received an overwhelming amount of feedback to the post, with teachers sounding off on issues from challenging physical and emotional work conditions to health and personal reasons.’

http://bit.ly/2tReUfj

‘I wake at 2am worrying about the children’: the headteachers leaving Britain’s schools

Why are head teachers leaving British schools? Coming soon to NZ!

‘On 31 August, after 29 years and 43 days first as a teacher, then a deputy, then a head, Sandell will be standing down in protest at what she sees as a crisis in education. “We are short-changing our children, and by that we are short-changing the nation,” she says.’

 http://bit.ly/2rYDz0c

From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:

Straightjackets for creative teachers.

‘It is no fun being a creative teacher in what is essentially a conformist education system – the more so as you move up the levels of schooling. It is to creative teachers however we need to look to if we are ever to change the current focus from achievement to realizing the diverse talents of all students.’

http://bit.ly/2rTs2E3

The da Vinci Code

‘Leonardo  was a man for his time and for our own. Indeed some people call our current era the beginning of the ‘second Renaissance’ – or the ‘new era of ideas and creativity’. We need to follow his example if we are to capitalize on the new understandings about learning and the immense power of information technology we now have available to us. Imagine if we could design schools that could tap into the questing intelligences of the young people who enter our schools today so full of hope and imagination.’

http://bit.ly/2sCL4vA

Education Readings June 16th

By Allan Alach

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

Helicopter Parents Are Raising Unemployable Children

‘Helicopter parents are in the news a lot these days. These are the parents who can’t stop hovering around their kids. They practically wrap them in bubble wrap, creating a cohort of young adults who struggle to function in their jobs and in their lives. Helicopter parents think that they’re doing what’s best for their kids but actually, they’re hurting their kids’ chances at success. In particular, they’re ruining their kids’ chances of landing a job and keeping it.’

http://bit.ly/2sv2EED

The Reading Achievement Gap: Why Do Poor Students Lag Behind Rich Students in Reading Development?

What has become clear over the past 35 years is that low-income students learn as much during each school year as do middle-class students (Alexander, Entwisle & Olson, 2007: Hayes & Grether, 1983; Heyns, 1978). But every summer, when school is not in session, kids from low-income families lose two or three months of reading growth, and middle-class kids add a month of reading growth.’
http://bit.ly/2sCZSwR

Play Misunderstood: The Divide Between Primary Classroom Teachers And Senior Managers

‘Teachers of children in years 1–3 are now recognising the need to respond to their students in a more developmentally appropriate manner at a time when more and more children are struggling to fit the mould that once was the traditional classroom. Yet many of these teachers report a key barrier to effectively implementing a learning-through-play approach in their classroom to be that of their school management team and colleagues.’

http://bit.ly/2s3WOZD

Rock On! How I Taught Focus to a Class That Wouldn’t Sit Still

‘As a teacher, every now and then we come across a class with an abundance of energy. Sometimes so much energy that teaching seems like an impossible mission. Students fidget with their hands, feet, dance in their stools and engage in constant side conversations with their classmates.’

http://edut.to/2ryKGfw

Your Pedagogy Might be More Aligned with Colonialism than You Realize

‘What if I told you that prevailing attitudes toward the language practices that students bring into the classroom are rooted in colonial, often racist, logic? What if I told you that by not disrupting these kinds of attitudes in your classroom, your pedagogy might be more aligned with colonialism than you realize?’

http://bit.ly/2ryG74V

Paperwork

‘There is something childishly naive about the bureaucratic belief in the power of paperwork to bend reality. This is not a new feature in education. You may recall that Race To The Top and RttT Lite (More waivers, less money) both featured a required plan for moving high-quality teachers around to districts in need. Nobody ever figured out how such a thing could possibly be achieved– but everybody had a plan about how to achieve it. The grandaddy of modern useless paperwork would have to be all the district plans for “aligning” curriculum…’

http://bit.ly/2t4L730

Contributed by Bruce Hammonds:

National Standards and the Damage Done, by Martin Thrupp

‘We will all have our views on the pros and cons of the National Standards policy and there’s likely to be some truth in even highly divergent points of view because education is complex and contextualised and so much depends, doesn’t it – it depends on the school, the classroom, the teacher, even the individual child. But my argument will be that on balance the National Standards are taking us down a data-driven path that will be very damaging for the culture of our schools and classrooms and for the education of individual children.’

http://bit.ly/2rtNkbt

Schools don’t prepare children for life. Here’s the education they really need

‘It’s only after you have left school and, in adulthood, gained a bit of distance, that you can be fully aware of the gaps in your education. History is a prime example. A group of British people together around a pub table and can probably weave together some kind of cohesive narrative across the centuries. In isolation, however, what you discover is that one person did the Romans, another the second world war, and a third spent two years on medieval crop rotation. Meaning that as a school leaver, you’ll have a vague idea about how it all fits together, but whole epochs remain shrouded in mystery.’

http://bit.ly/2srp6xt

Finland’s new, weird school ‘courses’ say a lot about how we teach our kids.

I don’t know if you’ve noticed this, but there is no such job as “math.”

‘Rather than teach subjects as dry, separate ingredients, from now on, it’s all cooking together.Finland’s concept is called “phenomenon-based learning.” Here’s how it works:Rather than focus on one subject like math, students and teachers sit down and pick a real-world topic that interests them — climate change, for example — which is then dissected from different angles. What’s the science behind it? How are nations planning on dealing with it? What literature is there about it?’

http://u.pw/2suQGea

Back to the Future: How has economic policy influenced the development of education policy and how the educational achievement of children in New Zealand primary schools is measured?

‘My final assignment for my Masters of Education paper, Education Policy traces the history of Standards in primary education and how we have come full circle from our original Standards based education, when compulsory education was established in New Zealand in the late 19th century, to the disestablishment of the Standards in the 1950s, through the development of a variety of assessment tools from the 1960s through into the 2000s and then the reintroduction of Standards in 2009’

http://bit.ly/2sv27m8

From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:

Creative Leadership lessons from Stoll and Temperley

‘Creative schools depend on creative leadership. The trouble these days is that the pressures on principals to: be seen by parents as doing what is expected, from analysing endless tests ( all too often in a narrow range of capabilities); coping with the imposition of National Standards; and most of all pressure to comply with Ministry and the  Education Review Office requirements,  being creative is the last thing on principals minds. And of course creativity was never something one thought of when thinking about school principals!’

http://bit.ly/2sru7Gn

Bring back the Jesters!

Modern boards of directors are a bit like mediaeval courts where no one questions the king or the senior courtiers because they have become far too important to challenge. And as long as they can’t possibly be wrong, they can continue doing the wrong things all the time and never know it.The idea is worth spreading throughout all organizations to combat the blindness created by past success. It is one way to counteract the conformity which pervades top down management.

http://bit.ly/1PbtD8g

Education Readings June 9th

By Allan Alach

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

Finland Will Become The First Country In The World To Get Rid Of All School Subjects

Thanks to Phil Cullen:

‘How many times have you wondered if you were going to need subjects you were made to learn because the curriculum said so? Finland has decided to change this in their educational system and introduce something which is suitable for the 21st century.

By 2020, instead of classes in physics, math, literature, history or geography, Finland is going to introduce a different approach to life through education. Welcome to the phenomenon based learning!’

http://bit.ly/2qVv8mt

Persistent bullies: why some children can’t stop bullying

‘Persistent bullies continue bullying in spite of interventions and sanctions employed by schools. Why they persist remains unclear. These students were the focus of our research. We believe understanding their behaviour and why they may be resistant to change will be gained by accessing their lived experiences.’

http://bit.ly/2s2DGfx

Data Walls: Why you will never see one in my class.

New Zealand teacher Melanie Dorian:

‘While I acknowledge that children will always know if they are bottom of the class or not, we can give them the dignity of some privacy.  To display their next learning step or what they have achieved on some reading rocket is garish in my opinion and unneccessary.  There are other ways of informing students of their achievements, next steps and goals that do not make them despondent about learning.  As one of the first photos I published at the top of this post says, “How would you like to be Norissa?”’

http://bit.ly/2sReZiO

On the Wildness of Children

THE REVOLUTION WILL NOT TAKE PLACE IN A CLASSROOM

‘We have forgotten that these were the original purposes of the factory-like institutions that most of us grew up in; we speak of our familiar school experience almost as though it were an integral part of nature itself, a natural and essential part of human childhood, rather than the vast and extremely recent experiment in social engineering that it actually is.’

http://bit.ly/2r08Rbc

Research Finds The Effects Of Homework On Elementary School Students, And The Results Are Surprising

‘After over 25 years of studying and analyzing homework, Harris Coopers’ research demonstrates a clear conclusion: homework wrecks elementary school students.’ 

http://bit.ly/2bpQuFj

Contributed by Bruce Hammonds:

Black and brown boys don’t need to learn “grit,” they need schools to stop being racist

‘Everyone seems to think that a lack of “soft skills” is the reason why students of color aren’t ready for college and careers. More schools and after-school programs are teaching students how to have “grit,” compassion and a “growth mindset.” Rubbish! Soft skill training is disguised bootstrapping, which insidiously blames youth for failing in racist systems designed to block their success, and it abdicates the middle class from any responsibility to uproot inequality.’

http://bit.ly/2rzHZNS

Inside a Multiage Classroom

‘Dividing students by arbitrary birthdate ranges doesn’t make sense, advocates say.

Multiage education is not a return to the one-room schoolhouse of yore, in which students of all ages learned different subjects in one space. Instead, students from (typically) two grades learn together in an environment that, advocates say, encourages cooperation and mentoring while allowing struggling students enough time to master material.’

http://theatln.tc/2rGeBG7

Finland is famous for its education system. What makes it different?

‘For as small and homogeneous as Finland may be, its repeated success in national education rankings means there are at least a few lessons the US can learn.For one, the tiny Nordic country places considerable weight on early education. Before Finnish kids learn their times tables, they learn simply how to be kids — how to play with one another, how to mend emotional wounds.’

http://bit.ly/2s10Dz5

How Design Thinking Became a Buzzword at School

‘At a recent teaching conference in Richmond, Virginia, a session on “design thinking” in education drew a capacity crowd. Two middle-school teachers demonstrated how they had used the concept to plan and execute an urban-design project in which students were asked to develop a hypothetical city or town given factors such as population, geography, the environment, and financial resources.’

http://theatln.tc/2r6MAZF

Mindful in Middle School

One teacher’s experience incorporating mindfulness into her middle school curriculum.

‘Mindfulness is emerging as a technique adopted in education to address student anxiety and stress, increase focus and creativity, and foster stable behavior and patience. In this essay, I briefly discuss my journey in implementing mindfulness with my sixth and eighth grade students, implications for teaching practice, and lessons learned along the way.’

http://edut.to/2s16owL

From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:

Negotiating the Curriculum

‘Learning is a process to deepen personal understanding or skill. This is best achieved with the assistance of a learning ‘mentor’. Such a ‘mentor’ negotiates learning with the learner, always leaving the ‘power’ to learn with the learner.In the book ‘Negotiating the Curriculum’, edited by Garth Boomer, four steps are suggested to negotiate a study with students applicable for any level of schooling. Essentially it is an inquiry model that emphasizes valuing the ‘voice’ of students in the their own learning. It is very much in line with the ‘co- constructivist’ teaching philosophy.’

http://bit.ly/1Kc8Kd3

Experience and Education -John Dewey 1938

‘Such a lot of the ideas expressed today have their genesis in the ideas of John Dewey.That Dewey’s ideas have yet to be fully realised says something for the power of conservatism in education. ‘Experience in Education’ is Dewey’s most concise statement of his ideas written after criticism his theories received. In this book Dewey argues that neither ‘traditional ‘ nor ‘progressive ‘ ideas are adequate and he outlines a deeper point of view building on the best of both.’

http://bit.ly/17J12HR

Education Readings June 2nd

By Allan Alach

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

Fidget spinner fad may point to deeper problem in the classroom

‘We need to look at making the curriculum more engaging so that fewer kids need fidgeting toys. Fidget spinners are the hottest new gadget among school children, and while they’re billed as useful tools to help kids focus, a University of Ottawa professor believes schools need to better accommodate students who get fidgety and need to move.’

http://bit.ly/2qHZ1Wp

Arts-Based Research: Surprise and Self-Motivation

‘A sense of delight in learning comes as much from encountering what you hadn’t expected as it does from seeing a project shake out the way you intended it. I love project-based learning for the sense of accomplishment it engenders in students, but I miss the sense of surprise — the notion that anything can happen. While it’s important to help kids see the path that will enable them to succeed, I also want them to get lost from time to time — not to take the road less traveled, but to leave roads altogether in favor of the forest.’

http://edut.to/2qI4VHg

Education Technology as ‘The New Normal’

I’m well known, I think, for fierce criticisms and cautions about education technology, and what I’ve prepared today is perhaps even darker and more polemical than I’d like, strikingly so on this beautiful campus. I confess: I am feeling incredibly concerned about the direction the world is taking – politically, environmentally, economically, intellectually, institutionally, technologically. Trump. Digital technologies, even education technologies, are implicated in all of this, and if we are not careful, we are going to make things worse.’

http://bit.ly/2rGnzUT

Boxing Creativity

‘There is a major difference between telling someone they can be creative and telling someone how to be creative. I’m firmly in the Everyone Is Creative camp. I don’t even mean that with the qualifier, “Until it’s beaten out of them by school/work/life/the Trunchbull.” I mean every single person on Earth, and everyone living in the secret moon base established by NASA in the ’70s, has the innate ability to be creative. And every one of us uses that ability on a regular basis.’

http://bit.ly/2qCzPlj

OPINION: It’s time to stop the clock on math anxiety. Here’s the latest research on how

Jo Boaler:

‘Unfortunately math continues to be taught in ways that are far removed from the research evidence on ways to teach well, and many ineffective classroom practices – timed tests, speed pressure, procedural teaching – are the reasons for the vast numbers of children and adults with math anxiety. They are also the reason that so many high-achieving students leave not only mathematics but the numerous STEM courses that require mathematics.’

http://bit.ly/2qCGLTh

Contributed by Bruce Hammonds:

Personalized Learning Pathways & the Gig Economy

‘Students need to be prepared for short-term jobs and not expect full-time employment. How empowering is that?  Sounds like the goal of this radical re-imagining of education is to produce workers willing to eek out a precarious existence in the gig economy.’

http://bit.ly/2qCaxHI

The Loose Parts Movement: Bringing Adventure, Nature and Imagination Back to Children’s Play Time

From Wayne Morris:

‘It is a disappointing thing to see new playgrounds developed in city spaces sit there empty each day, or to walk in the park and hear no laughter. What is missing here is not the children per se, but materials and environments that create challenge, imagination, and creativity that make children want to play outdoors. The absence of such play environments is not only influencing the quantity and quality of children’s play, but also affecting children’s health and well-being.’

http://bit.ly/2soJts3

Sight Words Are So 2016: New Study Finds the Real Key to Early Literacy

This article relates to what creative teachers in NZ  believe. Simply put, children who used invented spelling developed stronger reading skills over time, regardless of their existing vocabulary, alphabetic knowledge, or word reading skills.So, what exactly is invented spelling? Invented spelling refers to a young child’s beginning attempts to spell words. Using what they know and understand about letters and writing, children who use invented spelling are encouraged to create their own spellings based on their own phonetic knowledge.

http://bit.ly/2rGmo87

Efficiency Can Cost Education

There are very good reasons to resist (or at least be skeptical of) efforts to drive “efficiency” in public education.

‘One of the biggest reasons is that any attempt to maximize efficiency automatically elevates – some might say inflates – the role of performance metrics. Once we decide which indicators are going to define success and then set people off to find the swiftest and cheapest way to get those outcomes, we can begin to distort complex enterprises. Other outcomes become expendable, even if those outcomes are important.’

http://bit.ly/2rqInyJ

From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:

Written in 76 – so what is new?

‘Making use of students own experiences, question and concerns as the basis for learning is still an important issue, as is making full use of the immediate environment. This is all the more important these days as far too many children spent too much time receiving a second hand edited world through TV and computer screens.From their own questions and concerns, and through environmental explorations, ’emerge’ real reasons to write , read, to count and measure, and to make art. All students need are teachers with the ‘artistry’ and confidence to take advantage and amplify such learning opportunities.’

http://bit.ly/2qC4dA8

Slow food movement – and teaching as well!

We need an educational equivalent of the ‘slow food’ movement

‘We now need an educational equivalent of the ‘slow food movement’ so as to value the richness and relevance of any learning experience. Students need to appreciate that the act of learning is at the very heart of their identity and a high quality life and as such should not be rushed.The standardized ‘fast education’, as exemplified by the curriculum statements of the past decades, has resulted in a loss of appetite for real learning. There is just no time.’

http://bit.ly/2rGpc4K

Putting the heart back into teaching.

‘Learning is about relationships. Relationships with content and with people who help us acquire it. It is about having mind changing experiences that tap into our desire to make meaning and express what we know.To be attracted to an area of learning relates to what attracts our attention and whether or not we want to put in the energy in to learn more. Curiosity is at the basis of all learning.’

http://bit.ly/1JT6S8O