By Allan Alach
I welcome suggested articles, so if you come across a gem, email it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Sir Ken Robinson’s education revolution
A refresher course for you about Sir Ken. Interesting little anecdote here – a Liverpool music teacher had two of the Beatles in his class yet failed to recognise their musical talents. That’s a lesson that shows how unreliable assessment and teacher judgement is, so why does the system persist in trying to prove otherwise?
‘Robinson believes that the current systems of mass education are outmoded, too standardised, and stifle true learning.
“My view of it is that in many respects they are modelled on principles of factory production, like, for example, we educate our kids in batches by age – all the three-year-olds, all the four-year-olds, shunting through the system. There’s no educational reason to do that – it’s an efficiency ideal.”’
When Schools Forgo Grades: An Experiment In Internal Motivation
‘Because grades are often required, and easy to understand, they have become the focus for many parents, teachers and students. The problem is that grades are often subjective, arbitrary and can be demotivating to students. They are also gatekeepers for advanced classes and college admissions, so grades can’t be ignored. This complicated dynamic means that grading policies are at the center of discussions around how to change teaching and learning.’
This is exactly how our society kills creativity, in a breathtaking short film.
“Do yourself a favor and take some time out of your daily grind to be charmed by this beautifully crafted animation into reflecting on the woeful values of our society.’
How To Engage In Pseudoscience With Real Data: A Criticism Of John Hattie’s Arguments In Visible Learning
A long and technical article; however a skim read will give the gist of it, so henceforth you will treat Hattie’s pronouncements with a healthy dose of skepticism.
‘When taking the necessary in-depth look at Visible Learning with the eye of an expert, we find not a mighty castle but a fragile house of cards that quickly falls apart. This article offers a critical analysis of the methodology used by Hattie from the point of view of a statistician. We can spin stories from real data in an effort to communicate results to a wider audience, but these stories should not fall into the realm of fiction. We must therefore absolutely qualify Hattie’s methodology as pseudoscience.’
Kids Are Losing Playtime to Achievement. That’s a Problem.
‘The decline of play and rise of the overscheduled child has become a national concern. Peter Gray, author of Free to Learn, says that kids learn from observation, practice, and support. Most of this is done through play. But what happens when we limit the time kids spend playing, and what does our obsession with “high achievement” say about our culture as a whole?’
Why no one wants to teach in New Zealand
‘Recent analysis also shows that teachers only tend to stay in the job for about five years. They often leave because they are burnt out by the demands of teaching, an increasingly narrow and prescriptive curriculum, and by policy initiatives that promise much, deliver very little, and are quickly replaced by some “new” policy that is equally ineffective and short term. No wonder it feels like ground zero out there for so many teachers.’
Contributed by Bruce Hammonds:
Three minutes to appreciate Finnish Schools
Michael Moore documentary clip on Finland’s school system.
On the Wildness of Children: The Revolution Will Not Take Place in the Classroom
‘The truth is, we don’t know how to teach our children about nature because we ourselves were raised in the cinderblock world. We are, in the parlance of wildlife rehabilitators, unreleasable. I used to do wildlife rescue and rehabilitation, and the one thing we all knew was that a young animal kept too long in a cage would not be able to survive in the wild. Often, when you open the door to the cage, it will be afraid to go out; if it does go out, it won’t know what to do. The world has become unfamiliar, an alien place. This is what we have done to our children.’
Noam Chomsky on the Dangers of Standardized Testing
‘The assessment itself is completely artificial. It’s not ranking teachers in accordance with their ability to help develop children who will reach their potential, explore their creative interests. Those things you’re not testing.. it’s a rank that’s mostly meaningless. And the very ranking itself is harmful. It’s turning us into individuals who devote our lives to achieving a rank. Not into doing things that are valuable and important.’
Kids’ Creativity: Two Important Questions for Parents to Consider
‘Parents typically want to encourage their children’s creative expression. However, uncertainties and misconceptions about creativity abound. Here are two questions that merit thought and discussion—along with ideas so parents can foster kids’ creativity to the fullest.’
From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:
An amoeba – a model for future change!
‘If we want to thrive, in what is being called the ‘Age of Creativity’, we need to see our organisations as living complex organisms able to create all sorts of wonderous things as we work in concert with each other. That’s more impressive than the simple amoeba. Schools as living communities – now that is a powerful metaphor.’
Educational change and leadership – bottom up!
‘The principal’s role is to ensure such gifts are affirmed and shared with other teachers. The principal’s role is to create the conditions for the expertise of teachers to be shared and to develop an overarching vision and agreed teaching beliefs for all to hold themselves accountable.’
Beautiful minds – ‘in a world of their own’.
‘The capacity of the brain is infinite. Lucky for most of us so called ‘normal’ people our brains suppress, or filter out, most of the information coming our way but for the savants their brains take in everything in their particular sphere of interest without interference. It is as if they have no ‘delete’ button; their mind, like a ‘Google’ search, recalls everything! And as a result they miss out on capacities such as social and practical skills that we all take for granted.’