Education Readings September 22nd

By Allan Alach

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

Don’t Say “Times” When Teaching Multiplication (And What to Say Instead)

‘Choosing our words carefully can have a big impact on student understanding, especially when it comes to multiplication. Make this small change to your multiplication vocabulary today, so students can better visualize and comprehend this important concept.

The word “times” doesn’t mean anything to students.’

http://bit.ly/2xkf8Pa

Should we ‘pupil’ kids or ‘NAPLAN’ them?

Phil Cullen:

‘Australia’s casual indifference to the effects of mass testing on the learning progress of its school children, and its penchant for using children for excessive periods of school time for ‘test-prep’, as if they are mere  inanimate objects available for the collection of  data, contains the seeds for its developing inabilities as a nation to mix with the world at large.’

http://bit.ly/2hhXmbl

Most primary classes ‘get less than two hours of science a week’

If I had my way, Science would be a major part of children’s learning experiences at school. The article is about England but I fear it applies all over.

‘Three in 10 primary teachers did not receive any support to teach science last year, according to Wellcome Trust study Many UK primary schools are teaching science for the equivalent of less than two hours a week, according to a study. A report commissioned by the Wellcome Trust argues that the subject is not being given enough priority or time by most of the nation’s primaries.’

http://bit.ly/2xgHnAK

Cooperative Conflict: Neither Concurrence Nor Debate

By Alfie Kohn.

I’ve been to a workshop run by the Johnson brothers – one of my best professional development experiences. I strongly recommend exploring their work.

‘The good news is that we aren’t forced to choose between creating a classroom in which students must arrive at an artificial consensus and one in which conflict is present but manifests itself as an adversarial exercise.  The alternative is to invite disagreement but nest it in caring and a framework of shared goals. This has been called cooperative conflict, constructive controversy, or, in a poetic turn of phrase by the brothers and social scientists Roger and David Johnson, “friendly excursions into disequilibrium.”’

http://bit.ly/2wHTwtR

Opinion: The value of ‘slow schools’

‘The “slow education” movement, was founded by Maurice Holt in the UK, who advocated that schools should provide students with time to engage in deep learning, curiosity and reflection. This led advocates of this approach to oppose the use of high-stakes testing and rapid improvement in favour of more time spent developing collaborative and supportive classroom relationships for learning.’

http://bit.ly/2xnTACD

A textbook dilemma: Digital or paper?

‘Do we learn better from printed books than digital versions? The answer from researchers is a qualified yes.’

http://bit.ly/2wHuXxq

Contributed by Bruce Hammonds:

Learning Goals… Success Criteria… and Creativity?

‘While I am aware that setting clear standards are important, making sure we communicate our learning goals with students, co-creating success criteria… and that these have been shown to increase student achievement, I can’t help but wonder how often we take away our students’ thinking and decision making when we do this before students have had time to explore their own thoughts first.’

http://bit.ly/29WT7tf

Portfolios hold new promise for school

‘Decades ago, portfolio assessment—using samples of classroom work to document students’ progress toward learning goals—meant finding room for bulging binders stuffed with paper. But digital technologies that make it far easier to collect, curate, share and store student work have dismantled the physical barriers that once made portfolio assessment daunting. Schools are now taking a fresh look at the practice.’

http://bit.ly/2xgKLeR

10 Surefire Ideas to Remove Writing Roadblocks

‘So you want to teach writing well. It’s not as hard as you think. Yes, it’s a challenge, but it can be exhilarating.I believe writing – more than anything we teach – has the power to change students’ lives, for them to see themselves, sometimes for the first time, as smart thinkers and writers across the curriculum.’

http://bit.ly/2fbiGei

From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:

Time for a rebirth of the creative spirit

‘In the early 50s primary education was a very formal and inflexible affair. By the 70s a major revolution had occurred and today we take for granted the colorful child centred classrooms of our primary schools. Early educational innovators came to believe in ‘education through art’. Such teachers embraced enthusiastically: the writing of poetry, movement, dance and drama, story telling, myths and legends, social studies and natural science, the making of creative music, and of course a wide experience of the arts and crafts, including clay and paint – and at the same time the arts of the Maori were introduced.’

http://bit.ly/1Vh3awH

Henry Giroux – lessons for New Zealand educators. Revitalizing the role of public education.

Time to call an end to neo liberal free market drivel before we ruin our country.

‘There is no doubt that current political leadership, influenced by a neo –liberal philosophy of small government, individualism and the need to privatise of all aspects of living has led to the erosion of the belief in the common good resulting in a growing gap between so called ‘winners and losers’.The winners are the financial and corporate elite – the one percent.The corporate and financial elite, right wing think tanks –and extreme fundamentalist political groups (the Tea Party in America and the ACT party in New Zealand) are increasingly focusing on privatisation.’

http://bit.ly/18ntJX8

Experience and Education – John Dewey 1938

Time to listen to John Dewey again?

Maybe, as the self centred greedy capitalism of the West is crumbling, the time is right to develop a new democratic vision for the 21st Century. John Dewey’s book Experience and Education provides idea to think about for the century ahead of us? Dewey wrote extensively about the relationship between education and democracy (1916) – a link that those in power today choose to ignore but what better place to establish democratic ideals through example than the school.’

http://bit.ly/17J12HR

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Education Readings September 15th

By Allan Alach

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

Data Driven Into the Weeds

‘Having a data-driven school has been all the rage for a while now, because when you express your ideas, thoughts, and biases in numbers, they qualify as “facts,” whereas judgment expressed in words obviously lacks data-rich factiness, and so should be ignored. Yes, the fact that I am 100% an English teacher may make me about 62% bitter about the implied valuing of numbers over words; I’d say I’m at about 7 on the 11-point Bitterness Scale, and that’s a fact.’

http://bit.ly/2vUFcPc

Don’t Spend A Penny On Education Technology Until This Is Clear

‘This ‘keeping up with the Jones” is a familiar practice, especially in anything related to technology. That approach, though, can lead to imbalanced education policy, mediocre edtech programs, and a lot of wasted money. Integrating education technology is a complex thing that depends entirely on local and constantly changing factors.’

http://bit.ly/2h3tRGx

Why Students Should Take the Lead in Parent-Teacher Conferences

‘But at schools built on Deeper Learning principles, the meetings are often turned into student-led conferences, with students presenting their schoolwork, while their teachers, having helped them prepare, sit across the table, or even off to the side. The triad then sits together to review and discuss the work and the student’s progress. The message, once again, is that the students are responsible for their own success.’

http://bit.ly/2x24UUY

The Power of Visualization in Math

‘The power of this moment, the change in the learning environment, and the excitement of my fifth graders as they could not only understand but explain to others what the problem was about convinced me it was worth the effort to pursue visualization and try to answer these questions: Is there a process to unlock visualizations in math? And are there resources already available to help make mathematics visual?’

http://edut.to/2xzgzMH

How can teachers introduce forest school principles to their curriculum?

‘More commonly, forest school is part of a bigger educational mix in which pupils enjoy time outdoors perhaps once a week, but the same principles apply: a drive to build young people’s independence and self-esteem through experiencing the natural world. Lili Pluck, forest school assistant at Ashdon, says: “It’s about learning to realise what is around you, appreciate nature and enjoy the freedom, space and sense of peace.”’

http://bit.ly/2y6NKUH

Contributed by Bruce Hammonds:

The Internet Is Killing Creativity – And Analog Is About to Make a Comeback

‘In some ways, I think the internet has made it harder to become creative because it encourages us to be interested in all the wrong things. (Note: I differentiate between becoming smarter–educating yourself on every topic ever, which the internet is like freakin’ fantastic at, and being creative. Artistically putting yourself out there.) Why my negativity around creativity?’

http://bit.ly/2xZTCht

Sir Ken Robinson on how schools are stifling students’ creativity

‘While many Canadian educators struggle to find the solution to students’ declining math scores, there’s one expert who says we may be looking at the problem the wrong way. Sir Ken Robinson – education guru, author and adviser – says relentless testing and the push for standardized scores are destroying students’ imagination and talent. He argues that schools are stifling instead of nurturing kids’ creativity.’

http://bit.ly/2vUPnU2

Reasons Today’s Kids Are Bored At School, Feel Entitled, Have Little Patience & Few Real Friends

‘Today’s kids come to school emotionally unavailable for learning. There are many factors in our modern lifestyle that contribute to this. As we know, the brain is malleable. Through environment, we can make the brain “stronger” or make it “weaker”. I truly believe that, despite all our greatest intentions, we unfortunately remold our children’s brains in the wrong direction.’

http://bit.ly/2vV7Kbc

A Haeata student gives her view on modern learning

‘Three years ago when we knew some of our local schools would be closing, my school, Aranui Primary, started what was called “modern learning”. At first it was really weird and we didn’t know what we were doing, but then the teachers got trained in modern learning. Over three years we changed the way we learnt to the way that best suits us so we could self-manage, but not too much depending on how good you were at self-managing. We had stages: Manager, Self-Managed, Self-Directed, and Self-Driven.’

http://bit.ly/2vUgVsN

The Troubling Trend to Collect Behavioral Data on ALL Children

‘As school starts, many parents are being bombarded with information about behavioral data collection on their children. A lot of this is tied to the trendy push for social-emotional learning (SEL), and the attempt to connect behavior with a child’s ability to read and do well in school. But it’s troubling to see schools monitoring the behavior of every child so tightly. Children will not have perfect behavior.’

http://bit.ly/2vVc5vi

From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:

Back to school to see what really happens in the classroom – Nigel Latta

‘In recent years politicians from the ‘right’ have given the impression that our schools are failing – our current Minister is fond of saying ‘one in five of our children are failing’ and that the introduction of National Standards will solve the situation.  ‘We so often hear stories about how standards have fallen,’ said Latta, ‘that you would be forgiven for thinking the sky has fallen in’.’

http://bit.ly/1C9DHuX

For New Zealand readers – a few articles to consider before the general election on September 23rd, which will hopefully see the end of national standards and charter schools.

National Standards – which Parties will keep them and which will ditch them?

‘It’s election time again, but before choosing which Party to vote for, make sure you know what their education policies are – and pay attention to what isn’t mentioned, too. This time we are looking at National Standards.’

http://bit.ly/2vVfSJ5

Election questions are for all of us

Before we settle on which political party to support this election, let’s ask a few questions of ourselves. An election is traditionally an opportunity to ask questions of would-be politicians. More fruitfully, it’s an opportunity to ask questions of ourselves. Questions to candidates will then follow, but the self-examination is actually the more valuable for democratic engagement.

http://bit.ly/2wYjZrw

Nigel Latta: The New ‘Haves and Have Nots’ – Time for Moral Leadership in New Zealand

As we begin to focus on the upcoming elections it is surely time to move away from on the personalities of leaders and to focus on the real issues facing our country.

The programme was a serious attempt to get to the core of inequality in NZ and its consequences for us all.Once NZ had one of the highest home ownership figures in the world and we didn’t see examples of extreme wealth. Latta is careful to say he is not against people doing well but he was stunned to learn that over the past decades the gap between the rich and poor in NZ has widened more than anywhere in the Western World.’

http://bit.ly/1slX9hB

Government gets an F for education

‘OPINION: My verdict on the Government’s track record in education is that it is an epic fail.

The reasons for this verdict are many and varied, but I will focus on three main areas:

1. Our student achievement data is declining nationally

2. Ideology is overriding evidence

3. Trust has been completely eroded in the sector achievement data’

http://bit.ly/2eXerD5

Education Readings September 8th

By Allan Alach

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

Why I Teach

‘Every action, every thought spent on these children is holy. The tiniest gesture is magnified through infinite time and space. When I help a child gain confidence in her reading, I help not just her. I help everyone she will ever come into contact with –her co-workers, her friends, family, even her own children if she someday has some.’

http://bit.ly/2wDDODx

How can teachers encourage more girls to study mathematics?

‘As a maths teacher at a large sixth form college, I’m concerned by the disproportion of female students in the department. I spoke to three groups of girls in year 12 about their experiences; one not studying maths, those studying single maths, and those studying double maths. Based on their feedback, I have the following suggestions for encouraging more girls to take the subject at A-level.’

http://bit.ly/2wDZcIO

Imagined futures 5: Robot teachers?

Steve Wheeler:

‘In a conversation with Sugata Mitra several years ago, the novelist Arthur C. Clarke stated: ‘Any teacher who can be replaced by a computer … should be.’ 

Clarke was right of course. Teachers cannot be compared to machines, and should certainly never function as such. If they do, then they aren’t teaching.’

http://bit.ly/2w4JKlo

Spinning Plates

‘Workload is the issue that won’t go away, perhaps quite rightly so, it is not sorted. As teachers, and leaders, we are plate spinners. However, we sometimes need to work out what plates we can afford to drop. This is perhaps the single most important question that all of us should be asking – if I don’t do this, what will happen?’

http://bit.ly/2f1WFih

Why Teaching Kindness in Schools Is Essential to Reduce Bullying

‘Kindness changes the brain by the experience of kindness. Children and adolescents do not learn kindness by only thinking about it and talking about it. Kindness is best learned by feeling it so that they can reproduce it.’

http://edut.to/2w4ShVl

If I was teaching Social Studies today…

‘Some folks know that I started my education career as a middle school Social Studies teacher in Charlotte, North Carolina. If I was still doing that now, I would be incredibly excited because so many wonderful resources would be available to my classroom. For instance, if I was teaching Social Studies today…’

http://bit.ly/2wFcSDl

Contributed by Bruce Hammonds:

Nine reasons National Standards aren’t working (and other issues with our education system)

‘Sometime during the 1970s, jet engines superseded propeller driven planes for most domestic air travel in New Zealand, as it had for pretty much all international flights. The same should now happen to an archaic back-to-basics system like National Standards, which a modern understanding of effective teaching and learning had rendered out of date before they were even introduced.’

http://bit.ly/2wDhbij

Embracing Failure: Building a Growth Mindset Through the Arts

“Students have to take risks,” says Cristina Gonzalez, the former chair of NMSA’s visual arts department. “That’s something that is so unique to learning in the arts. Great art comes from risk taking, from being willing to fail. Maybe it will work. Maybe I’ll discover something about myself, something about my capacity that I wasn’t even aware of, and that’s so exciting for a student.”

http://edut.to/2eD8jQ0

How To Weave Growth Mindset Into School Culture

‘The Academy of Health and Medicine, a small learning community within Arroyo High School in California, has been pioneering a focused approach to teaching growth mindset that starts with Strong Start, a summer institute that incoming ninth-graders are highly encouraged to attend.”We’ll purposefully try to put them in situations where they’ll be uncomfortable, and yet not feel vulnerable — it’s a kinda fine line we walk — and then provide opportunities for them to work their way through it and find some success,” said Jim Clark, who helped start the program.’

http://bit.ly/2eMBdAO

From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:

The teacher’s role in the creative process.

‘Authentic problems are not hard to find if you listen to your students and enter into dialogue with them. Perhaps some favourite dog or cat has died. An older brother or sister is getting married. A new baby has been born. A grandparent is very sick. Dad has bought a new car. A tree has burst into bloom. There has been a flood.They mightn’t sound like a curriculum but they are things that really matter, they cause anxiety or delight, and need a resolution. This is the reality of the children in your classroom but how often do you see this world celebrated?’

http://bit.ly/2f4Vizo

Learning is about constructing meaning.

‘Marie Clay was ‘constructivist’ or more accurately a ‘co-constructivist’ believing, like such researchers as Jerome Bruner, Piaget and Vygotsky that students create their own meanings and that this is best achieved by sensitive teacher interaction, always leaving the responsibility of learning in the child’s hands. Holdaway(79)calls this need to make meaning a ‘semantic drive’ – one that it put at risk by insensitive teachers who do not value student creativity as the source for all learning.’

http://bit.ly/1kV5g08

Cathy Wylie outlines new wave of change for New Zealand Schools!

‘In the 1980s a new political ideology swept through Anglo American countries. It was a time of dramatic change as the democratic welfare state was replaced by  what has come to be known as a ‘Market Forces business oriented’ approach based on small government, valuing self-interest, privatisation, competition, choice and accountability. This neo liberal approach was believed to be the only way to cope with dramatic worsening worldwide economic circumstances. A common phrase at the time was TINA (there is no alternative).New Zealand was not immune.’

http://bit.ly/TNlnzy

Infidelity to Truth: Education Malpractices in American Public Education: Conclusion

By Duane Swacker

About Duane

Conclusion

‘Truth, like Ol Ma Nature always wins in the end’ D. E. Swacker

The truth and the only conclusion that can be drawn from this study is that the educational malpractices of educational standards and standardized testing are so rife with conceptual and consequential errors and falsehoods that to use the invalid results of said processes to evaluate any aspect of the teaching and learning process and/or students can only be described as illogical, invalid, unethical and mind-bogglingly insane.  Yet those practices and their offshoots in teacher evaluations continue to be used on a daily basis.

Should the state, through the public education system, be using undeniably false and invalid malpractices, malpractices that have been proven to lack “fidelity to truth” and harm students?

No! The conclusion to be drawn from using these malpractices is that the usage of the results is unjust in discriminating against some students by sorting, ranking and grading (many times in error) by student characteristics that are largely determined by genetic inheritance, family and social influences outside the control of the individual and teacher.  Not only that, but that vast resources are being wasted and educational opportunities for students are being restricted in the name of test prep denying the student ample opportunity to “savor the right to life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness, and the fruits of their own industry.”

Should the state, through the public education system, demand that teachers break codes of professional ethics?

No!  Distressingly, if a teacher doesn’t comply with these legally mandated malpractices, it is all but guaranteed that they will not only be reprimanded but worse, letters written against the teacher to be put in his/her file ultimately resulting in his/her termination usually for “insubordination” in not following these unethical mandates.  While it is perfectly legal for the administration do punish teachers, where is the ethics in that? Or justice?

Should the state through its public schools, be in the position of discriminating against some students while rewarding others through bogus practices?  Where is the justice in that?

Just as discrimination against students due to skin color, gender orientation and/or disability status has been adjudicated as unconstitutional so should the daily discrimination that results from the standards and testing regime be adjudicated not only as unconstitutional but should be judged to be the unjust and unethical practices that they are.  There is no justice in state approved discrimination!

Should the state, through its public schools, contravene its stated purpose of public education and government by demanding compliance with the standards and testing regimes that only results in not  promoting the welfare of the individual so that each person may savor the right to life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness, and the fruits of their own industry“?

The answer has to be NO!

When will the insanity of the grading, sorting and separating and ranking of students, of the standards and testing malpractices end for the most vulnerable of society, the children?

Education Readings September 1st

By Allan Alach

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

Transmit, regurgitate. Transmit, regurgitate. Transmit, regurgitate…

‘Why do we believe that this model is adequate for the demands of a complex, global innovation society?’

http://bit.ly/2wNgNiG

Raising an UnTrump

Alfie Kohn:

‘When the words “Trump” and “children” appear in the same sentence, it’s often because the writer is trying to figure out how to protect the latter from the former. How do we shield our offspring not only from what this man does (particularly if the youngsters in question are at risk of being harassed or deported) but from who he is? How do we explain to our kids that someone who bullies, lies, and boasts about assaulting women has made it to the White House? The news these days presents parents and educators with what might be described as a series of teachable moments that we never asked for and cannot easily avoid.’

http://bit.ly/2xsfbbj

Comics And Reluctant Learners: Dispelling The Myths

‘When I hear teachers say things like this, or that comics are only for the “kids who don’t like to read,” I feel they’re buying into a common myth: that reluctant readers are the only ones who can benefit from comics. While it’s true that comics and graphic novels do work well with reluctant readers, that’s precisely because they work well with nearly all readers.’

http://bit.ly/2wEsmbD

When Memorization Gets in the Way of Learning

‘Some things are worth memorizing–addresses, PINs, your parents’ birthdays. The sine of π/2 is not among them. It’s a fact that matters only insofar as it connects to other ideas. To learn it in isolation is like learning the sentence “Hamlet kills Claudius” without the faintest idea of who either gentleman is–or, for what matter, of what “kill” means. Memorization is a frontage road: It runs parallel to the best parts of learning, never intersecting. It’s a detour around all the action, a way of knowing without learning, of answering without understanding.’

http://theatln.tc/2xHTFhU

Personalized Learning Without People – An Education Scam from the 1980s Returns

‘Sometimes it seems that education policy is nothing but a series of scams and frauds that becomes untenable in one generation only to pop up again 10 or 20 years later with a new name. Take Personalized Learning, the latest digital product from the ed-tech industry to invade your local public school. It’s cutting edge stuff.

Except that it isn’t.’

http://bit.ly/2vCEW7g

Contributed by Bruce Hammonds:

National Standards: Are they working?

‘A new book by Waikato University’s Professor Martin Thrupp effectively warns other countries against the policy in its title, The Search for Better Educational Standards: A Cautionary Tale. Thrupp is horrified by those cards on the wall at Sylvia Park.”I don’t think it’s particularly helpful to have that kind of positioning for students who find themselves in the low group year after year,” he says.’

http://bit.ly/2wE8lBT

The Cold Truth About Personalized Learning

‘This – this twisting and standardizing of the hopes and dreams we have for our children, and the cruel and cold replacement of efficiency and linearity for the messy and impossible to measure qualities like good humor in life that make school memorable, joyful, and maybe even irresponsible every now and then – is precisely the danger we face right now.’

http://bit.ly/2gkbJeO

Using Technology Doesn’t Make You Innovative

‘If a classroom gets iPads, a question you will often hear immediately is, “What apps should I download?”  In our concern for machines taking over education, we often do things that encourage machines to take over our teaching.’

http://bit.ly/2vyPsfJ

One in five boys with behavioural problems lag behind in maths and reading

‘One in five boys in year 3 have an emotional or behavioural problem that sees them lag a year behind their peers in reading and numeracy, according to research that stresses the mental health of young people needs to be a focus in primary schools.’

http://bit.ly/2vypolb

To Develop Future-Ready Students, Project-Based Lessons Teach Real World Skills

‘Recent research indicates there is a direct and undeniable correlation between improved student outcomes and integrating SEL and life skills—like problem-solving, collaboration, and good judgment—into existing curriculum. What’s more, teachers value these skills. So do employers. They help changes lives, break the cycle of inequity, and foster economic opportunity.’

http://bit.ly/2gkH94v

Researchers: Ask ‘what’s right?’ — not ‘what’s wrong?’ — with kids from poor, stressful backgrounds

‘Over the past decade, the share of public-school students who live in poverty in Washington state has grown from about 37 percent in 2006 to 44 percent as of last year.

As that number rises, so too has the body of research showing the short- and long-term effects of living as a child in stressful environments. Studies have found, for example, that poor children achieve less, have more behavior problems and are less healthy than peers raised in wealthier families.But for Vlad Griskevicius, a professor of marketing and psychology at the Carlson School at the University of Minnesota, such studies tell only half the story.’

http://bit.ly/2vCa6M6

From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:

Industrial age systems past their ‘use by date’.

‘Charlie Chaplin was aware of the problem in the early years of the last century!  It was Thomas Kuhn who was the first to introduce us to the idea of paradigms – the idea that we all live in world that we have all ‘bought into’ unconsciously. A potential for a shift happens when we are exposed to new ideas but, all too often our mindsets are so fixed, we cannot understand new ideas let alone make the change. Kuhn was talking about the difference between traditional science theories and new revolutionary ideas.’

http://bit.ly/2gjU8nb

Infidelity to Truth: Education Malpractices in American Public Education: Chapter Seven

By Duane Swacker

About Duane

Chapter 7

Ethics in Educational Practices

‘Ethics are more important than laws.’   Wynton Marsalis

While many, especially those who make a living off of working with laws, might disagree with Marsalis’ statement much is to be said for this simple thought.  Much like with justice and truth, most folks believe they know what ethics are.  Merriam-Webster Online states:

1 plural but sing or plural in constr:  the discipline dealing with what is good and bad and with moral duty and obligation.

2a:  a set of moral principles:  a theory or system of moral values <the present day materialistic ethic> <an old fashioned work ethic> –often used in plural but singular or plural in construction <an elaborate ethics> <Christian ethics> b:  the principles of conduct governing an individual or a group <professional ethics> c:  a guiding philosophy d:  a consciousness of moral importance <forge a conservation ethic>

3:  a set of moral issues or aspects (as rightness) <debated the ethics of human cloning>

As with justice and truth, the topic of ethics has been debated for millennia.  The scope of this chapter does not allow for even a short discussion of the historical issues of ethics and will focus on the current and practical concerns of ethics in educational practices.  As it is, this book falls under the meaning of definition #3 as debating the “moral issues or aspects” of certain educational practices.  As part of that examination I will briefly discuss professional codes of ethics-definition #2b.  And in the spirit of definition #1 of dealing “with what is good and bad” with certain educational practices, and using the fundamental purpose of public education as stated above as the guiding philosophy-definition #2c) I attempt to will forge “a consciousness of moral importance”-definition #2d.

A number of different professional teacher and teacher preparation organizations have promulgated their own code of teacher professional ethics.  In examining a few of them I’ve chosen to use three organization’s codes as typical to extract common statements that will serve as guides to what teacher professional ethics can be.  The American Association of Educators (AAE) code of ethics lists three main categories of ethics:  1) In relation to the students and parents, 2) In relation to practices and performance and 3) in relation toward professional colleagues.  The National Association of State Directors of Teacher and Education Certification (NASDTEC) code details five:  1) responsibility to the profession, 2) respect for professional competence, 3) respect for students, 4) responsibility to the school community and 5) responsible and ethical use of technology.  The National Education Association (NEA) has only two:  1) in relation toward students and 2) in relation to the profession of teaching.

By far the most comprehensive of the three is the NASDTEC code with many pages of detailed commentary.  The AAE code is roughly two pages with some commentary.  And the NEA code can fit on one page with a preamble accounting for about one third and then basic listings of areas of ethical considerations.  The AAE and the NEA focus first on ethics in relation to students and then toward the profession and practices.  The NASDTEC code starts with an overview then lists two sections dealing with ethics in regard to the profession, one for students, one for the school community and in what appears to be a recent addition one on the ethics of technology usage.  All three have short summaries of each section.

Ethics in regard to students and towards practices and performance, are the two categories that interest us and warrant further commentary along with a quick caveat about ethics toward the profession of teaching itself.  Obviously teachers’ main ethical concern should primarily be directed toward the student as noted by the AAE code:  “The professional educator deals considerately and justly with each student, and seeks to resolve problems, including discipline, according to law and school policy” and “the professional educator makes a constructive effort to protect the student from conditions detrimental to learning, health, or safety.” What happens when “law and school policy” actually hinder those dealings as hinted at in the end of the statement?  The answer to follow.  Or from the NEA code:  “the educator shall make reasonable effort to protect the student from conditions harmful to learning or to health and safety.

In regard to ethical considerations in relation to professional competence and practices the NASDTEC code states:  “The professional educator demonstrates responsible use of data, materials, research and assessment . . . and the professional educator acts in the best interests of all students. . . .”  And the AAE code offers:  “The professional educator assumes responsibility and accountability for his or her performance and continually strive to demonstrate competence.  The professional educator endeavors to maintain the dignity of the profession by respecting and obeying the law, and by demonstrating personal integrity.

Would not “personal integrity” entail not only “respecting and obeying the law” but to stridently opposing and challenging the law or policy that mandates the malpractices of educational standards and standardized testing that are “detrimental to learning, health or safety” of the students?  Unfortunately, teachers are under constant pressure to institute and maintain those fundamentally and fatally flawed malpractices.  The vast majority of public school educators, especially administrators, believe that upholding the ethics toward the profession and its practices holds sway over upholding ethics towards the students.  While doings so may be quite beneficial to the educators, it serves to cause harm to the students as their interests play second or third fiddle to administrative decrees which is backwards to the interests of justice for the student.

That teachers and administrators put more emphasis in compliance with state department of education or federal directives and/or laws should not and cannot trump justice for the students.  Again Comte-Sponville:

“Should we therefore forgo our self-interest? Of course not. But it [self-interest] must be subordinate to justice, not the other way around. . . . To take advantage of a child’s naivete. . . in order to extract from them something [test scores, personal information] that is contrary to their interests, or intentions, without their knowledge [or consent of parents] or through coercion [state mandated testing], is always and everywhere unjust even if in some places and under certain circumstances it is not illegal. . . . Justice is superior to and more valuable than well-being or efficiency; it cannot be sacrificed to them, not even for the happiness of the greatest number [quoting Rawls]. To what could justice legitimately be sacrificed, since without justice there would be no legitimacy or illegitimacy? And in the name of what, since without justice even humanity, happiness and love could have no absolute value. . . . Without justice, values would be nothing more than (self) interests or motives; they would cease to be values or would become values without worth.” [my additions]

Keeping that in mind, let’s examine the two most dominant educational malpractices of today–educational standards and standardized testing by utilizing the condensed statements of teacher professional ethics with our fundamental ethical statement of the purpose of American public education in conjunction with a discussion of the demonstrated invalidity and lack of fidelity to truth in educational standards and standardized testing regimes and how all of that plays out in relation to ethical and justice concerns.

How was it that America became the “top dog” nation of the world by the end of the 20th Century without having a standardized public education system?  In the past century over 13,000 separate and distinct school districts went along, doing their own thing, developing their own curriculums as seen fit by the local democratically elected school boards.  And the result of that variety, multiplicity and non-standardization?  An educational non-system that the world admired, copied and emulated.  Why then the push for standardization in the very late 90s and in this current century?  There are many reasons, most having to do with the neo-liberal ideology in free markets and choice but that is not our concern.

Educational standards and standardized testing form the basis for federal and state mandated practices such as rating and ranking students, schools and districts, and teacher assessment through such invalid schemes such as Hanushek’s Value Added Methodology (VAM) and Student Growth Percentiles (SGP).  Considering that the standards and testing malpractices cause significant harm not only to the students but also  to teachers and schools through invalid schemes, that the errors, falsehoods and unfounded claims by proponents of standards and standardized testing render said practices invalid, unethical, unjust and contravene the fundamental purpose of American public education, these mandates violate the trust of the citizenry by not fulfilling the stated purpose of American public education of promoting “the welfare of the individual so that each person may savor the right to life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness, and the fruits of their own industry“.

Our concern is the invalidity of, the injustice of, the unethicalness of and the broken promise of providing to our children an education that promotes “ the welfare of the individual so that each person may savor the right to life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness, and the fruits of their own industry” in the educational standards and standardized testing regime.

In “Standards of Educational and Psychological Testing” it states at the very beginning of Chapter 1-Validity that “validity refers to the degree to which evidence and theory support the interpretations of test scores for the stated proposed uses of tests.  Validity is, therefore, the most fundamental consideration in developing tests and evaluating tests” (my emphasis) and I would include the standards upon which those tests are supposedly based in that development Noel Wilson has addressed those validity concerns in his review of the prior version of the “Standards. . .” in “A Little Less than Valid:  An Essay Review” stating “To the extent that these categorisations are accurate or valid at an individual level, these decisions may be both ethically acceptable to the decision makers, and rationally and emotionally acceptable to the test takers and their advocates. They accept the judgments of their society regarding their mental or emotional capabilities. But to the extent that such categorisations are invalid, they must be deemed unacceptable [and unethical] to all concerned.” (my emphasis) The brilliance of Wilson’s proofs of the invalidities of educational standards and standardized testing is in his flipping the concept of validity as proposed in the “Standards. . .” into one of invalidity as far as the test taker is concerned.

Taking into account Wilson’s proofs of the invalidities of educational standards and standardized testing we can only conclude that any results are therefore invalid, false, error prone and lacking a fidelity to truth as all the psychometric error factors are kept hidden from all but a select few involved in the promotion and dissemination of those malpractices.  As such those malpractices can only be considered unethical and unjust.  When have the proponents made explicitly clear those validity (and reliability) concerns?  Hardly ever, especially not to the person taking the tests.  They can’t!  Wilson has proven the fundamental concepts to be epistemologically and ontologically bankrupt.  All the errors in classification, in labelling, in construction, in slides of frame of reference, etc., which Wilson has identified are never addressed.  By not explicitly acknowledging all the errors in the process, proponents of the standards and testing regime are not being honest and therefore lack the fidelity to truth that should be the guiding principle for all educators.  Their actions must be considered unethical.

Not only that but since these practices cause untold harm through false conclusions that result in students being denied certain educational goals and aspirations the process must be deemed unethical as a violation of the ethical principle of “the educator shall make reasonable effort to protect the student from conditions harmful to learning”.  False and error filled test results can only insure to produce those harmful conditions and, therefore, rightly should be rejected on ethical grounds.  The results of the tests discriminate against some students not only through mis-categorization but also in falsely labeling (grading) some students as beginning, not proficient, average or whatever other terminology is used to describe the various categories of results.

Should the state be discriminating against individual students through invalid, harmful, unethical and unjust malpractices that are educational standards and standardized testing?

Considering that the fundamental purpose of public education in America can be summarized as “. . . to promote the welfare of the individual so that each person may savor the right to life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness, and the fruits of their own industry” there is only one answer:

NO!


  1.  See:  http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ethic
  2.  The National Education Association (NEA): http://www.nea.org/home/30442.htm;  The American Association of Educators (AAE): http://www.aaeteachers.org/index.php/about-us/aae-code-of-ethics; and The National Association of State Directors of Teacher Education and Certification (NASDTEC):  http://www.nasdtec.net/?page=MCEE_Doc
  3.  The story of that ideology and its practices that have done so much damage to American public education is easily located by a quick internet search.  An excellent review is to be found in Diane Ravitch’s “Reign of Error: The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to America’s Public Schools
  4.  See:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Value-added_modeling
  5.  See:  http://www.rand.org/education/projects/measuring-teacher-effectiveness/student-growth-percentiles.html
  6.  See:  The AERA/APA/NCME’s “Standards for Educational and Psychological Testing”
  7.  See:  http://www.edrev.info/essays/v10n5.pdf

 

Education Readings August 25th

By Allan Alach

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

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.”’

http://bit.ly/2xdzIQN

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.’

http://bit.ly/2is9ZAM

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.’

http://bit.ly/2vq3TSD

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.’

http://bit.ly/2v7HXk1

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?’

http://bit.ly/2xualJH

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.’

http://bit.ly/2wzwD07

Contributed by Bruce Hammonds:

Three minutes to appreciate Finnish Schools

Michael Moore documentary clip on Finland’s school system.

http://bit.ly/2wGca9j

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.’

http://bit.ly/2vpHvc8

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.’

http://bit.ly/1waGc0j

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.’

http://bit.ly/2vh1Ktb

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.’

http://bit.ly/1hRC8eF

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.’

http://bit.ly/1baSNPr

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.’

http://bit.ly/1AP1qD1