By Allan Alach
The New Zealand school year is about to begin, so Bruce Hammonds and I are back again with our education readings. Hopefully New Zealand schools are well prepared to make the most of the opportunities provided by the dumping of national standards, although we have our concerns that too many principals and teachers will struggle to break their mindsets free from the raising achievement focused dictates of the the previous nine years.
I welcome suggested articles, so if you come across a gem, email it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Assessment too often fails to prioritise learning – let’s change that
‘By relying less on data and more on teachers’ judgment, schools can give student assessment greater meaning while also cutting workload.
Often the focus is on what tracked data tells us about student progress, but I know of no large-scale study that demonstrates the positive impact of data-tracking systems on learning. My hunch is that you could delete all this data and the students would never notice the difference in terms of the education they receive. The majority of teachers have excellent knowledge of their students, with or without the data.’
IXL: Caveat Emptor & Personalized Misery
NZ may have been saved from this by the change of government, but …
‘As the computerized version of personalized [sic] learning continues to gather steam, we can anticipate increasingly aggressive marketing. Remember – you don’t win in a free market by having the best product, but by having the most effective marketing. Marketing for these algorithm-driven software packages of mass-produced custom education belongs to a special class of marketing – marketing that is designed to sell a product to people other than the actual end users… Education has always suffered from this problem– teachers get stuck using products that are purchased by district administrators who will never have to actually work with them.’
This is the one skill your child needs for the jobs of the future
‘Every child begins their journey through life with an incredible potential: a creative mindset that approaches the world with curiosity, with questions, and with a desire to learn about the world and themselves through play.
However, this mindset is often eroded or even erased by conventional educational practices when young children enter school.’
Contributed by Bruce Hammonds:
‘A World of Difference’: the philosophy of a Taranaki pioneer creative teacher – Bill Guild
‘In 2003 Bill Guild attended the Frankley Road 150th Jubilee, a school he had been principal of for 28 years from 1959 to 1986. An accomplished photographer, Bill complied a book ‘A World of Difference’ of the experiences and creativity of the students he taught to share with past students attending. Later an edited booklet was shared widely with teachers throughout New Zealand who knew of the quality of teaching he was well known for. Maybe it’s time to share his ideas again?’
Creative teaching:Learning from the past – John Cunningham teacher 1970s
Uncovering ideas worth sharing
‘The other day I was visiting my old friend John Cunningham. He had been recently sorting through old notes ( John is a bit of a hoarder) and had found some photos from his 1970 classroom and I suggested they might make an interesting blog. In all areas of life we need to look backwards to move into the future; ‘ Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it’ (Santana).’
Starting the year right – building learning-focused relationships
‘If we want students who are confident, connected, actively involved, lifelong learners, how do we maximise the beginning of the school year to ensure this happens? We often use words such as ‘learning’ and ‘learner’ with our students, yet how often do we stop and check that they understand what these words actually mean? It seems to me that with a new year before us we have an opportune time to unpack these concepts with our students. Learning-focused relationships with and between students will not happen by accident; they need to be nurtured through careful planning and design.’
Why Are Kids Impatient, Bored, Friendless, And Entitled?
‘I am an occupational therapist with years of experience working with children, parents, and teachers. I completely agree with this teacher’s message that our children are getting worse and worse in many aspects. I hear the same consistent message from every teacher I meet. Clearly, throughout my time as an Occupational Therapist, I have seen and continue to see a decline in children’s social, emotional, and academic functioning, as well as a sharp increase in learning disabilities and other diagnoses.’
Teachers celebrate the end of National Standards
‘Primary teachers sound excited after the sudden announcement of the dropping of National Standards, and their New Year’s resolutions for teaching in 2018 are about re-discovering the New Zealand Curriculum, and locally relevant learning. They’re talking about passion-based projects, vision, and innovation; about drones and gardens, marine reserves and whakapapa. The romance has been re-ignited.’
Ken Robinson – How Schools Kill Creativity
Now that national standards have been dumped in the rubbish bin of history, it’s timely to bring back Sir Ken Robinson.
‘And the third part of this is that we’ve all agreed, nonetheless, on the really extraordinary capacities that children have — their capacities for innovation… And my contention is, all kids have tremendous talents. And we squander them, pretty ruthlessly. So I want to talk about education and I want to talk about creativity. My contention is that creativity now is as important in education as literacy, and we should treat it with the same status… ‘
Who should learn most about White Privilege—Māori children or Pākehā children?
‘Although, internationally, there is a significant body of research on Whiteness and White privilege (for example, see here, here, and here), in Aotearoa New Zealand we have been largely silent about White spaces in our “Whitestream” schools. The racist backdrop that is pervasive in our education system creates and perpetuates the White spaces that marginalise and alienate our Māori learners, yet it is a backdrop that we rarely name as being a problem.’
Secret Teacher: why can’t my school just trust us to do our job?
‘When I started my career in teaching, I was encouraged to be creative and experiment. I loved that freedom and I think it helped to make me a good teacher. I got used to reading around my subject and trying out different ideas. I made some mistakes, but I was always thinking, always learning, always trying to do better with my students. I got good results. I enjoyed my work. Contrast that with the situation I and many of my colleagues face today. My job and so much of what happens in my classroom is being controlled and my teaching hindered by excessive micromanagement.’
From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:
What messages does your school pass on to students?
‘It is important if students are to become active learners for them to tell their own stories, to pose their own questions and to make their own interpretations of what they experience. If their ‘voices’ are not recognised there will be many who will continue to disengage from their learning.’