Education Readings October 27th

By Allan Alach

New Zealand’s new government has been sworn in and is now getting down to work. The new Minister of Education, Chris Hipkins, has made it clear that national standards are going, so that teachers can focus on teaching rather than testing. While I’m sure that there will be policy decisions that we don’t agree with, the overall direction will be positive. Because of this, there will be a subtle change of emphasis in these readings, with more articles focussing on enhancing quality teaching and learning. The odd ‘anti-GERM’ article will still appear, to inform less fortunate teachers overseas, and also as a warning to New Zealand not to go back down that path.

I welcome suggested articles, so if you come across a gem, email it to me at

Building Resilience, Preventing Burnout

Are you putting your health and well-being first? You can’t do the best for your classes if you don’t look after yourself.

‘Burnout is physical and emotional exhaustion. It can manifest as low-level depression. It’s what happens as a result of unrelenting stress—both physical and emotional. And you can prevent it. You can recognize the indicators of burnout, you can boost your emotional resilience, and you can draw boundaries around what you do so that you can tend to your physical and emotional well-being.’

Researchers confirm what parents have suspected for decades… Some old school playing really is better for kids than PE

‘For generations, it has been the go-to instruction for harassed parents pestered by bored and fractious children: “Go outside and play”. Now researchers have confirmed the long-held suspicion that playing outside is better for children than formal physical education classes. The trial at seven Glasgow schools found that encouraging pupils to not only play sport but also create their own games increased their activity by more than half an hour every day.’

Once upon a time: starting at the beginning

‘This might be an issue that is quite specific to our school, but I have realised that the vast majority of our pupils just don’t understand stories. Many of them have not been brought up with stories, not had stories read to them as young children and don’t really understand the point of stories, which makes developing a genuine understanding of what people are trying to do when they write difficult. Pupils could diligently learn all the different language and structural features and sentence starters, and churn out versions of the model answers we’d worked through, but did not have a real feel for why any of it was important.’

How Teachers Can Integrate Drama Into Other Lessons

‘There are few better ways to learn than to do and in a way, adding drama to lessons gives the learner a greater sense of doing. For teachers, adding drama to their teaching and not limiting it to be used as a separate subject, can have notable benefits in the classroom. So, we thought we would compile some ways that educators can include teaching in and also outside of drama class.’

5 Ways Gifted Students Learn Differently

‘What distinguishes gifted children from other children? This question has been under debate for some time. However, as educators, understanding how gifted students learn in comparison to their peers is necessary for the success of their learning experience and your ability to connect with them through teaching.’

Pedagogy before technology

Thanks to Phil Cullen for this article.

Central Queensland University senior lecturer, Dr Michael Cowling, breaks down the factors schools should consider when incorporating mixed reality technology into the classroom.’

‘Mixed reality is an emerging and exciting field that is only just starting to break into education. When you consider the variety of hardware and software available, and the ability of students to develop user-generated content, a focus on “pedagogy before technology” becomes important. When applied to the classroom appropriately, mixed reality solutions can make a positive difference to student learning.’

Contributed by Bruce Hammonds:

The Reggio Emilia Approach To Early Childhood Education: An Overview

‘The Reggio Emilia Approach to early childhood education originated in the city of Reggio Emilia in Italy. Since its development in the 1940’s, this inspiring and innovative educational approach to early childhood learning has since been used worldwide.

The Reggio Approach fosters the children’s intellectual development through encouraging young children to explore their environment and express themselves through all of their available “expressive, communicative and cognitive languages.’

A Starter’s Guide to PBL Fieldwork

‘Five tips to help you get started with taking students out for fieldwork—a powerful component of project-based learning.’

Math Class Doesn’t Work. Here’s the Solution

Jo Boaler:

‘I love math, but I know that I’m unusual. Math anxiety is a rampant problem across the country. Researchers now know that when people with math anxiety encounter numbers, a fear center in the brain lights up — the same fear center that lights up when people see snakes or spiders. Anxiety is not limited to low-achieving students.’

Seymour Papert on How Computers Fundamentally Change the Way Kids Learn

‘Seymour Papert died at the age of 88 in 2016 (see obituary in New York Times). The following description of  Papert was written to introduce the interview he gave to Dan Schwartz in 1999. Seymour] Papert is the co-founder of MIT’s Artificial Intelligence and Media Labs, professor of Media Technology at MIT, and one of the world’s foremost experts on the impact of computers on learning. He is the current elder statesman in a lineage of educational reformers that include John Dewey and Jean Piaget.’

From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:

The corporate takeover of society and education.

Thankfully this will no longer fully apply to New Zealand now that we have a new government.

Any kind of testing/ranking system is aimed at ensuring that the children of the ‘deserving’ (i.e rich) are advantaged and thus prepared to continue the hegemony in the future. The extensive research about the effects of poverty and socio-economic issues on learning shows that the probability is that the children of the rich will ‘achieve.’ As in the past, the system is designed to sift children into levels of ‘achievement’. The socio-economic influences will mean that the ‘deserving’ get a rich education, while the rest just get the 3Rs. Workers in this model are seen as intelligent machines, and, indeed, are replaced by machines as soon as possible. The alternative, of course, is the New Zealand Curriculum.’

Transforming schools through Project Based Learning (PBL) 

‘Terms such as Inquiry Learning, Integrated Learning, Related Arts or holistic learning are well known to New Zealand teachers and are all similar to Project Based Learning. Such approaches were once an important in New Zealand schools.’

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