Sad news – the founder of Treehorn Express, Phil Cullen, passed away earlier this week. Phil was one of the foremost educators of our times, especially in his home state of Queensland, Australia, where he served as Director of Primary Education (i.e., the top dog) for 13 years. Phil’s educational vision and pedagogical knowledge was immense. He was aghast at the introduction of the Australian national testing programme, known as NAPLAN, about 10 years ago. He started his crusade against NAPLAN at that time, and his battle continued to the very day he died – his last email was sent only hours before his fatal heart attack. I consider myself very privileged to have been able to do my bit to support Phil in his endeavours, by running this website for him.
Should you wish to send condolences to his family, his email address firstname.lastname@example.org is being monitored by his family.
In true Phil fashion, he told his family to please celebrate his life, and not to be sad about his death.
By Allan Alach
I welcome suggested articles, so if you come across a gem, email it to me at email@example.com
Mathematics Part 1: The mathematics pendulum
Here’s a two part series by Kelvin Smythe on the teaching of mathematics.
‘I have long wanted to have Charlotte Wilkinson, an independent mathematics consultant, set out her ideas on mathematics but, in the previous education environment, any association with me would have been dangerous for her work. With that changed, I am delighted to present two writings from her which are an overview of nearly everything in mathematics.’
Mathematics Part 2: Producing literate and numerate children
‘An increasing amount of information is shared in a digital format, therefore there is an ever increasing need for people to be numerate, not just able to carry out set procedures. Being numerate requires an understanding of basic arithmetic, the properties and manipulation of whole numbers, and rational numbers. It requires using number sense to reason whether answers are correct. When a point is reached in solving a problem, knowing which operation or formula is required is still essential, but completing the procedure has been superseded in reality by technology.’
Authentic Learning Begins With Student-Designed Curriculum
Thanks to Bruce Jones (via Phil Cullen) for this link.
‘But then I fought my obsessive need for control and took a giant step closer to my ultimate end goal of a fully authentic learning environment by empowering my students to generate our curriculum.’
Constructivism vs. Constructivism vs. Constructionism
‘I’d like to offer my take on the meaning of these words. I hear them used in so many ways that I often get confused what others mean by them.’
Contributed by Bruce Hammonds:
We are at the beginning of a new educational era. The challenge now is to reimagining the school day to ensue all students’ gifts and talents are identified, amplified and valued.
Another gem from Bruce:
‘Lester wrote that 30 years later we have wasted excessive amounts of time and resources replacing approaches of the past that weren’t broken and didn’t need fixing. It’s time, says Lester “to put the shine back on teaching’ to create a nurturing environment for both teachers and students. For too long our system has suffered from those who mistakenly think they know better.”’
So what is the ‘end in mind’ for teachers in the 21stC?
Yes, Project-Based Learning Gets Kids Ready for the Test (and so much more)
‘I was worried the first time I tried a project-based learning unit with my students. As a young teacher, I had prided myself on running a challenging class and had focused much of my attention on getting my students prepared for what we were both going to be assessed on: the test.
I was not doing test prep. I didn’t believe that giving students sample test questions would make them do any better on our state standardized scores (and still don’t).’
Occupying Their Brains With Our Stupid Questions
‘They say there’s no such thing as a stupid question, but I beg to differ. We hear stupid questions almost every time adults and young children are together.’
44 Practices That Are “Fixing” Education Today
‘Here is a list of at least 44 different positive practices (in no specific order – just the way they flowed out of my head) unfolding in education today that I have seen with my very own eyes…’
‘We must stop trying to apply a sticking plaster to the gaping wound that is teacher workload’
We need a root-and-branch review of the professionalism, accountability and expectations placed upon the teacher workforce. Anything less is a waste of time. A UK article but applicable to NZ?
‘But it is not just teacher recruitment that is the government’s problem. Teacher retention is even more serious as wastage rates (teachers putting down their whiteboard markers and leaving the profession) are rising at every career stage – and most worryingly right at the start of teachers’ careers, after three to five years.’
Embracing the Whole Child
Fully engaging students can include using their interests in lessons, checking in on them emotionally, and being ourselves.
‘In embracing a more whole-child, humanizing approach to teaching and learning, Salazar proposes specific ways educators can express care and engage students in a more humanizing pedagogy. Among her suggestions, I’d like to explore the following four, offering suggestions for each, as I have found them particularly useful to establishing a harmonious community of learners in the classroom.’
When “Big Data” Goes to School
‘The data in question typically are just standardized test scores — even though that’s not the only reason to be disturbed by this datamongering. But here’s today’s question: If collecting and sorting through data about students makes us uneasy, how should we feel about the growing role of Big Data?’
From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:
The corporate takeover of society and education.
Time to ditch the corporate influence
‘Since the early 90s society has been reshaped by a neo liberal corporate ideology. An emphasis on private enterprise and self-centered individualism has replaced an earlier concern for collective good of all members of society. As a result of this ideological shift a wider gap has been created between the rich and poor causing a number of social concerns. Schools as part of this shift have been transformed from a community orientation to being part of a competitive cut throat ideology.’
Educational Books for Creative Teaching – to develop the gifts and talents of all students
‘Over the years I have a lot of feedback from teachers thanking me for drawing their attention to books that I have written about on my blog. With this in mind I have searched through my postings for some of the best books that provide courage for teachers to make stand against the current anti educational approaches of a market forces competitive ideology.’