Education Readings February 16th

By Allan Alach

If you are a creative teacher who wants to do the best for their class, I strongly suggest you read Bruce’s article (below) “Creative teaching:Learning from the past – John Cunningham teacher 1970s”

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

‘The Cult of Hattie’: ‘wilful blindness’?

Yet another ‘debunking’ of Hattie – got the message yet?

‘Unfortunately, in reading Visible Learning and subsequent work by Hattie and his team, anybody who is knowledgeable in statistical analysis is quickly disillusioned. Why? Because data cannot be collected in any which way nor analysed or interpreted in any which way either. Yet, this summarises the New Zealander’s actual methodology. To believe Hattie is to have a blind spot in one’s critical thinking when assessing scientific rigour. To promote his work is to unfortunately fall into the promotion of pseudoscience.’

Five Ways To Shift Teaching Practice So Students Feel Less Math Anxious

‘Rather than focusing on the algorithms and procedures that make mathematics feel like a lock-step process — with one right way of solving problems — Boaler encourages teachers to embrace the visual aspects of math. She encourages teachers to ask students to grapple with open-ended problems, to share ideas and to see math as a creative endeavor. She works with students every summer and says that when students are in a math environment that doesn’t focus on performance, speed, procedures, and right and wrong answers they thrive. They even begin to change their perceptions of whether they can or can’t do math.’

Why forcing kids to do things ‘sooner and faster’ doesn’t get them further in school

‘Why do some children who learn to read earlier than their peers do so poorly in ways that matter later on? Why do children for whom every aspect of their education, from kindergarten onward, is tailored toward graduating from college often struggle to graduate from college?’

The Joy and Sorrow of Rereading Holt’s “How Children Learn

‘This clearly is a corollary of the point that children learn because they are motivated to do the things they see others do.  They are, of course, motivated to do whole things, not pieces abstracted out of the whole.  They are motivated to speak meaningful sentences, not phonemes. Nobody speaks phonemes.  They are motivated to read interesting stories, not memorize grapheme-phoneme relationships or be drilled on sight words.’

Contributed by Bruce Hammonds:

Creative teaching:Learning from the past – John Cunningham teacher 1970s

‘John wrote “It was the students themselves who effected the changing nature of the classrooms and I had to accept the children as who they are than what I wanted them to be”. Those who visited John’s classroom could not but be impressed with the quality of students work on display and of the way they were able to work independently.’

Teaching: Just Like Performing Magic

‘Education, at its most engaging, is performance art. From the moment a teacher steps into the classroom, students look to him or her to set the tone and course of study for everyone, from the most enthusiastic to the most apathetic students. Even teachers who have moved away from the traditional lecture format, toward more learner autonomy-supportive approaches such as project-based and peer-to-peer learning, still need to engage students in the process, and serve as a vital conduit between learner and subject matter.’

Personalized Learning Vs Personalization of Learning

‘Before she started speaking, I was skeptical because I have seen the idea of “personalized” learning happening in many schools where a student jumped on a computer and based on the information they share, the technology creates a pathway for that student.  Although the technology is impressive, it doesn’t mean that it is good.  Seeing a student completely zone out in front of a screen and letting the computer lead the learning is not where I hope education is moving.’

Technology can hurt students’ learning, research shows

‘Giving school students access to iPads, laptops or e-books in the classroom appears to hurt their learning, new research has found.

However, putting this technology in the hands of a teacher is associated with more positive results.’

Non-Math Essentials for Learning Math

Focusing on these five qualities of thriving classrooms can help foster confident young mathematicians.

‘As a math consultant, I’m in many classrooms, and I get to witness lots of math instruction. I find that there are similar qualities among the classrooms that are really thriving—and those qualities quite often don’t really have much to do with math. There are five non-math qualities I see in the best-run classrooms.’

The New Preschool Is Crushing Kids

(USA): Today’s young children are working more, but they’re learning less.

‘Until recently, school-readiness skills weren’t high on anyone’s agenda, nor was the idea that the youngest learners might be disqualified from moving on to a subsequent stage. But now that kindergarten serves as a gatekeeper, not a welcome mat, to elementary school, concerns about school preparedness kick in earlier and earlier. A child who’s supposed to read by the end of kindergarten had better be getting ready in preschool.’

From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:

Control your own destiny – do something!

‘The answer is for principals and schools to work to share their expertise and insights and to develop a group consciousness able to stand up to outside pressures. There will need to be courageous individual principals prepared to start the collaborative ball rolling. I can see problems with so called ‘successful schools’, or the competitive, ‘look at me’ schools, wanting to share, and as well schools who are struggling ‘owning up ‘and agreeing to being helped. But, if someone starts the ball rolling then, as Dean Fink writes, schools can, ‘shake off the shackles of conformity and compliance and imagine and create…. do something. ‘So the answer to stress is to work with others to ‘do something’ and to develop, what Fullan calls, ‘local creative adaptability.’

A new metaphor : Assessment tasks as performance.

“It is somewhat surprising that some educationalists have only just picked up on this way of assessing learning, one used naturally in the real world. The problem is that schools have been diverted from such an understanding by believing in tests, written exams divorced from reality, and an obsession with assessing atomised bits of learning. Such educationalists have not been able to see the wood for the trees. It is exiting to read, in a recent Ministry pamphlet ‘Assessing Key Competencies’ (written by Dr Rosemary Hipkins), that one way to think of assessment is to consider the demonstration of competency as a complex performance’.”


Education Readings November 24th

By Allan Alach

The demise of national standards in New Zealand schools opens the door to a return to more progressive, child centred learning. In the first article, Bruce Hammonds gives his take on the possibilities in the post national standards classroom. All progressive teachers should read this.

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

Organising the school day for 21st Century Teaching – the Craft of Teaching

Bruce Hammonds:

‘What ‘message’ does the timetable, or the day’s organisation, in your classroom give? Does it reflect past expectations or future thinking? Which learning areas are given the most prominence? Which areas are neglected? With the termination of the reactionary National Standards the time is right for progressive thinking re classroom organisations to be considered.’

Progressive Education Is Not Just Child’s Play

‘Despite the incontestable evidence of what is best for young children, our society continues to tolerate – often celebrate – schools and educational methods that directly contradict several hundred years of evolving knowledge. At least among sensible educators, the importance of play and discovery for young children is a consensus belief, despite policies that often make it hard to teach that way.’

The importance of keeping a beat: Researchers link ability to keep a beat to reading, language skills

Anyone want to have a go at trying this in their classroom?

‘Because hearing sounds of speech and associating them with the letters comprising written words is crucial to learning to read, the Northwestern researchers reasoned that the association between reading and beat synchronization likely has a common basis in the auditory system.’

Why Art And Creativity Are Important For Kids

‘Schools that eliminate art programs are doing so at their peril. No one questions foundation subjects like reading and math for the development of competent citizens, but not enough people are inquiring about how important art and creativity are for kids.

The importance is paramount. Arts and creativity nurture well-being and assist learners in creating connections between subjects.’

Always asking questions

‘Hopefully, in most cases, the entire experience is about asking questions. But the curriculum often militates against good question times. It is so stuffed full of unnecessary content, there is far too little time left for teachers to help children to frame their questions. They must make time, because the bloated curriculum shows no signs of going away just yet. Questioning is far too important to gloss over or push into a corner. Give the kids time to ask questions.’

Contributed by Bruce Hammonds:

Creative by Nature

“Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.” ―Pablo Picasso

‘All human beings are creative by nature. Young children know this in their hearts, but as we grow older most of us begin to have doubts. We live in a culture that discourages creative thought and wants us to believe that artistic ability is rare. Over time, most of us learn not to color (or think) outside the box.

What Should Schools Teach?

‘In the UK, decades of political meddling in the curriculum have resulted in endless lists prescribing what – and how – teachers should teach. How refreshing then, that unlike many educational policy prescriptions, What Should Schools Teach? does not offer a dazzling list of innovative academic hybrids, along with an interactively inspirational flowchart of how to deliver them.’

Genius Hour in Elementary School

‘Educators know a good idea when we see one (even if Google eventually ended the program). We want that vibrant creativity pulsing through our classrooms. We can visualize the end, filled with projects in which our students have connected with experts, filled journals with intelligent thinking, and explored with curiosity. How do we get from this euphoric idea to a classroom reality.’

Have we forgotten that children are still just children?

‘We seem to be so desperate to jump on the next bandwagon, to shape our classrooms for the future, to teach these supposedly ‘different’ learners, who are so ‘different’ to how we were, in progressive ways. But what is it that has made them so different? My thinking has now meandered to this point….children are no different to how we were….they are still just children.’

Here’s How to Apply the 4P Approach to Building a Creative Classroom

‘What is a creative classroom? Creative learners are not linear thinkers. Contrary to popular belief, while others have a plan from the beginning, creative learners are different. They might need to play first and experience the medium before they begin to come up with ideas of their own. That’s why the students in a creative classroom strive for innovative solutions to unexpected problems.’

From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:

Learning is about constructing meaning.

Marie Clay was more than about reading

‘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.’

John Holt quotes on learning – more pertinent than ever

‘The freedom and anti-authoritarianism movement of the 60s challenged traditional views in all areas of life. Creative teachers of the time had access to a number of writers spreading the message of an alternative approach to education. I am reassured that there are still  many creative teachers doing their best; unfortunately far too few innovative principals. With this in mind I thought the sharing of John Holt’s quotes are as relevant as ever.’

Education Readings November 17th

By Allan Alach

Now that the curse of national standards is being removed from New Zealand education, the way is clear for schools and teachers to really let loose. Bruce Hammonds’ two articles on Elwyn Richardson provide a really good insight into this teaching genius of the 1950s, whose work is very relevant today in the post national standards world.

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

The Northland school teaching with art

‘There is a place for the arts in the teaching of all subjects across the curriculum. Teaching becomes lively and fun; children are ‘doing’ rather than sitting, and the classroom becomes an environment where students love to learn. This is a simple definition of ‘arts integration’ which is being researched by educators globally: A small school in Northland has taken the ideas on board and the results are proving remarkable.’

Teaching to Forget

Much of the ‘learning’ children do at school each day is gone by the time they walk out of the school gate…

‘The truth that we all know but are loathe to discuss is that the vast majority of what kids “learn” in our classrooms will soon be forgotten. We know this because we ourselves forgot the vast majority of what we learned in classrooms when we were in school.

And the other truth that we don’t want to admit is that the grades that we give that are supposed to show what a student has “learned” are pretty meaningless considering that student will forget most of the “learning” once the grade is given.’

Engaging Practice: Making in English Language Arts

Use creative technology tools to engage struggling readers and writers.

‘Creative multimedia tools allow for multiple forms of representation, providing an opportunity for students to demonstrate understanding while practicing literacy skills through writing (text), reading (audio), and illustration (picture walks and visualization). “When students publish their own books, you tap into their innate desire for recognition as they learn to connect to literature, play with language, and beam with pride at their accomplishments,” shares California educator Linda Oaks.’

It’s Time for a New Core Curriculum

‘If we were starting the American school system from scratch today, knowing what skills our students will need, we could change the subjects and not base them on what big-time publishers want us to focus on with our students.  Building on some of the great work from, the ISTE NETS for Students and keeping in mind those most desired future job skills from above, I would propose the development of the following 7 courses for every student:’

6 Strategies For Dealing With ‘Difficult’ Students

‘As a new school year approaches, the guidance offered by six “pillars” can help you stay at the top of your game by dramatically influencing even your most challenging students to want to behave and achieve. Each pillar is explained followed by a few hands-on suggestions. Add or substitute other methods within each pillar to reflect your style and preference.’

A Surprising Strategy Makes Kids Persevere at Boring Tasks

‘With the onset of early childhood and attending preschool, increased demands are placed on the self-regulatory skills of kids. Children need to start completing tasks that may be much less interesting than the myriad of entertaining distractions around them. Researchers have been interested in how to develop self-control and perseverance in children by teaching them tactics like averting their attention away from distractions.’

Contributed by Bruce Hammonds:

Use Einstein’s Educational Philosophy to Boost Your Learning

‘Although he overall did well in school, Einstein was skeptical of the schooling system and strongly disliked academia’s restrictions on learning. Here are 10 things we can learn from Albert Einstein about school and education: “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.”’

Why This Second Grade Handout Should Be Your New Creative Manifesto

‘Last week, I attended curriculum night at my daughter’s school. In discussing the things the kids will be learning this year, the teachers handed us the chart above. My first thought was, what an amazing thing to give a bunch of second graders. I am sharing it with you. I feel like this is as good a guideline for a creative department I’ve ever seen. A simple chart for all teachers at all levels.’

How This School Library Increased Student Use by 1,000 Percent

‘To adapt to changing student needs, some school libraries are reinventing themselves as makerspaces, but this Ohio library took a slightly different approach. Now they’re seeing incredible results. A library as a place where students did hands-on work, an extension of what was happening their classrooms toward more personalized learning.’

From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:

What’s the Point of School?

What’s the Point of School asks Guy Claxton

‘The purpose of education’ Claxton writes, is to prepare young people for the future.Schools should be helping Young people to develop the capacities they will need to thrive.What they need and want, is the confidence to talk to strangers, to try things out, to handle tricky situations, to stand up for themselves, to ask for help, to think new thoughts’ ‘This is not to much to ask’, says Claxton, ‘but they are not getting it.’

Reclaiming the joy of learning 

and also

A new inspirational book about Elwyn Richardson – New Zealand’s pioneer teacher

Two articles about the great NZ teacher Elwyn Richardson that all teachers should read.

‘What matters is a curriculum that places children’s natural curiosity at the heart, so that they are encouraged to explore who they are and the world around them.This is evident in Elwyn’s use of an integrated curriculum, focusing on intriguing questions that motivated children to pursue avenues of enquiry. He encouraged the freedom to explore, the opportunity to observe closely, and the discipline to record findings in various ways. He also upheld the value of the arts as a vivid means of expression and not secondary to other subjects. He also realised that one subject informs another; that scientific understanding is enhanced by the aesthetic, and vice versa.’

Looking back

Dr Beeby and the first Labour Government set an example for today

‘Today teachers need to look back to ideas that have been sidelined by the imposition of the current technocratic curriculums of the 90s and to appreciate that it is these curriculums that have caused our current confusion and distress. Dr Beeby believed in a creative role for education. He reminded those present in 1983 that the most important thing realized about education in the previous decades had been the discovery of the individual child. It is not that individuality wasn’t appreciated earlier but that the school system was based on a mass education vision which made realizing such an idea impossible.’


Education Readings November 3rd

By Allan Alach

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

Now What: Recovering from the Standards Era

‘The damage caused by the National Standards policy of the previous government will not be easily undone.  The side effects have had somewhat of a cancerous impact on our education system, and a careful approach will be needed in order to support teachers through this next transition.’

The end of National Standards and the role of researchers and academics

Article by Professor Martin Thrupp, one of the loudest academic voices who battled against national standards.

‘It’s great, though, that New Zealand primary schools will now be able to spend less time shoring up judgements about children – judgements that have often been pointless or harmful – and instead spend more time making learning relevant and interesting for each child. Removing National Standards should also allow teachers to be less burdened, contributing to making teaching a more attractive career again.’

Longworth Forest selected as part of Finnish “HundrED’s 100 Global Education Innovations Project”

‘Longworth Forest was established in Poraiti, Napier, in 2014 by Linda and Bruce Cheer, and seeks to provide children 5 – 7 years of age with safe and semi structured opportunities to experience risk and challenge, to problem solve and enterprise, all at the child’s own pace. It is a child led approach which gives children the power to initiate and drive their own learning, to make meaningful choices and to discover and develop their interests. Through regular outdoor play, children learn to develop positive relationships with themselves and others as well as a bond with nature and an understanding of their place in the natural world.’

My Students Are Addicted to Screens

‘In my kids’ everyday lives, this type of constant technology reliance doesn’t make them better students. It doesn’t give them access to more information. It makes them dependent on instant gratification and sensory overload. Their minds are submerged in a soup of constant noise and conflicting demands for their attention. Stringing together thoughts and coming to reasoned opinions becomes increasingly difficult. This isn’t to say that technology has no place in the classroom.’

Teaching kids real maths

‘I’ve been doing some research about teaching mathematics, and decided to start by reading and listening to the thoughts of the British technologist Conrad Wolfram, who for a number of years has been arguing that we need to rebuild a maths curriculum for the computer age and that students should be calculating “just like everyone does in the real world”.  His argument is that school maths is very disconnected from the maths used to solve problems in the real world, and that it needs to be more practical, more conceptual and less mechanical.’

A Troubling Side Effect of Praise

‘Teachers often use praise to reward good behavior or correct answers. But there’s a potential downside to this common choice: Praising young children for being smart can increase the likelihood that they’ll cheat, according to a new study in Psychological Science by an international team of researchers.’

Contributed by Bruce Hammonds:

Are We Innovating, or Just Digitizing Traditional Teaching?

‘A few months ago, I noticed an increased amount of discussion around the notion of blended learning. Many of these conversations started on a similar note: “We’re blended—all of our teachers use Google Classroom” (or Edmodo, Schoology, Canvas, Moodle, etc.). However, in probing further, I often discovered that these tools had merely digitized existing content and classroom procedures.’

10 Tips for Creating a Fertile Environment for Kids’ Creativity and Growth

‘There’s a common misconception that the best way to encourage children’s creativity is simply to get out of the way and let them be creative. Although it’s certainly true that children are naturally curious and inquisitive, they need support to develop their creative capacities and reach their full creative potential.Supporting children’s development is always a balancing act: how much structure, how much freedom; when to step in, when to step back; when to show, when to tell, when to ask, when to listen.’

Why Learning and People Should Come First

‘My primary objective for all multiday workshops is to illustrate the vital role that technology can play in improving teaching, learning, and leadership.  Most of the first day is spent on emphasizing the importance of a pedagogy first, technology second mindset. The bottom line is that if we don’t get the instructional design right first, then the chances of technology improving learning outcomes is slim to none.’

From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:

The transformative Power of Interest : Annie Murphy Paul – Dan Pink and Carol Dweck

‘If there is just one message I could share with parents, educators, and managers, it would be about the transformative power of interest.’ Annie Murphy Paul. The development of every student’s unique set of talents and gifts is the challenge for a 21stC of education and so far few schools have yet to appreciate this challenge.’

The rise and fall and rise again of teacher expertise

‘Schools need to be seen as ‘professional learning communities’ that respect creative teachers as true co-leaders with ‘principals who can develop such learning communities can create creative schools with extraordinary teachers, and make learning stretching, creative, fun and successful.’ A new sense of excitement could well be on the horizon. Only those who have been around long enough will know this sense of possibility is not new – but this time perhaps the time is right?’

Back to the future.

‘Twenty five years after retiring Bill Guild (currently  91 and still an enthusiast) has been invited back to his old school to share his ideas about quality teaching and learning. It is a half a century since Bill took up his appointment at the school.. Tapping into the wisdom of the past is a powerful idea – and it turns out Bill’s wisdom is very current .Bill was part of a small group of Taranaki teachers who worked hard to develop creative classrooms in the 1970s.’


Education Readings October 20th

By Allan Alach

News flash:

The new government in New Zealand means that the previous government’s National Standards & associated policies (our version of GERM) will be no more. Sanity is returning to New Zealand education.

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

Why I Don’t Have Classroom Rules

A high school teacher tries a classroom management experiment thinking it will fail. Years later, he’s still at it.

‘Although I encouraged my students to think critically and challenged myself to develop new methods of instruction, the actual conduct of the class seemed at odds with all that. I wanted my students to do more than just follow rules handed down to them. I wanted them to understand why those rules exist, and be willing to interrogate ones that didn’t seem valuable, meaningful, or useful.’

Ten Things Pixar Can Teach Us About Creativity

‘For the last two decades, Pixar has produced some of the most creative and epic films of this era. But this is the result of a culture of creative collaboration built on ideas of being frank, taking chances, and failing forward. So, what can educators learn from Pixar as we design collaborative projects?’

The fantastic new ways to teach math that most schools aren’t even using

‘At the level of the individual teacher, we have found that preparing teachers to make small changes in status quo practices and tools can be a successful approach that is both manageable for teachers and meaningful for their students. In my work with novice teachers, the small changes I emphasize most include:’

Schools Must Get The Basics Right Before Splashing Out On Technology

‘For years, schools and education experts have debated whether technology belongs in the classroom. Now the discussion has shifted and even schools that had thus far resisted the educational tech revolution are being swept into what’s become a multi-billion-dollar market. The question now isn’t whether technology has a place in schools, but which devices would work best: laptops, tablets, smartphones or something else entirely? However, maybe it’s not the device that schools should be preoccupied with – but rather how students use them to learn.’

How a British School Improved Its Math Scores without Teaching a Single Math Lesson More

‘“We could have gone down the route where we said we need to get results up, we’re going to do more English, more maths, more booster classes, but we didn’t.” Instead, they took a gamble: They added two hours a week of music for every student, and the results have been stunning.”’

The Fisheye Syndrome – Is Every Student Really Participating?

‘Greta doesn’t realize that she is suffering from the Fisheye Syndrome. It’s a condition that impacts our perception, as if we’re looking through a fisheye lens – the kind they use in peepholes. To those afflicted with fisheye, some students appear “larger” than others. They take up more energy and grab more of our attention, making the others fade into the periphery. We have a vague sense that the others are there, and we nag ourselves to include them, but those magnified students are just too hard to resist.’

Contributed by Bruce Hammonds:

Lauren Child: ‘We should let children dawdle and dream’

‘Children are often told what’s good for them, but the advice of the new children’s laureate may take them by surprise. Lauren Child, speaking for the first time since her investiture in Hull this summer, has a simple message: just stare into space. In an age of prescriptive talk about targets and aspirations, Child, the creator of Charlie and Lola, plans to make a stand against the theorising and goal-setting during her two-year tenure.’

Why Daydreaming is Critical to Effective Learning

‘Rather than trying to do everything at the same time, the most productive people prioritize and block off their schedules to focus on one task at a time. “The idea is that if you become more efficient in time management, it allows for more spontaneity and creativity in the day, every day.”’

What Creativity Really Is – and Why Schools Need It

‘Although educators claim to value creativity, they don’t always prioritize it.Teachers often have biases against creative students, fearing that creativity in the classroom will be disruptive. They devalue creative personality attributes such as risk taking, impulsivity and independence. They inhibit creativity by focusing on the reproduction of knowledge and obedience in class.Why the disconnect between educators’ official stance toward creativity, and what actually happens in school?’

Why the right answer should not be the primary aim in maths

‘In maths, the journey to the answer should be just as important as the answer, in maths is really important, it should not be the most important thing that we look for from our pupils.That’s not to say that we are going to start rewarding pupils for getting everything wrong in maths, but how pupils come to obtain an answer should be a quality that we regard highly.’

From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:

Slow food movement – and teaching as well!

‘The ‘slow food’ movement was reaction against this industrialized approach to living. Followers believe one should take time over food and enjoy the subtlety of the cooking;take the time to try out new dishes and to enjoy the conversation and the wine. Or at the very least enjoy a home cooked meal around the table interacting with members of the family or friends We now need an educational equivalent of the ‘slow food movement’ so as to value the richness and relevance of any learning experience. Students need to appreciate that the act of learning is at the very heart of their identity and a high quality life and as such should not be rushed.’\

Time for some heresy?

‘If we want to develop 21stC education systems then we will have no choice but to re-imagine education dramatically. We need to implement some heretical alternative thoughts to transform current systems with their genesis in an industrial age an age well past its use by date. Strangely enough none of the idea being considered are new it is just that few school have put them all together. School are inherently conservative and some schools, secondary ones in particular, seem impervious to change.’


Education Readings September 15th

By Allan Alach

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

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.’

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.’

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.’

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?’

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.”’

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?’

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.’

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.’

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.’

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.’

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’.’

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.’

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.

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.’

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’


Education Readings September 1st

By Allan Alach

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

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

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

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.’

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.’

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.’

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.’

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.’

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.’

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.’

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.’

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.’

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.’

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.’