Education Readings July 21st

By Allan Alach

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

Ivan Snook: Assessing teachers – a plea for caution

‘In recent discussion of teaching in New Zealand it has been assumed that the achievement of students and schools can be directly attributed to the work of teachers. In its most naïve form, the claim is made that “good teachers” (that is those whose students achieve good grades) should be singled out (and somehow rewarded) and those who do not should be identified (and somehow punished). The report points out how wrong-headed this proposal is since it takes no account of the nature of the students or the progress they may make over a period of time.’

http://bit.ly/2tEFI1Z

Lifelong teachers require slow-burn training

‘New modern learning environments, increasing diversity and the ever-changing world of technology demand new skills and knowledge from teachers. How should we prepare teachers in times like these?

Well that depends on the teachers we want.’

http://bit.ly/2tEQLrL

Learning vs Education

‘Life is always teaching us things, whether we notice it or not. It teaches us lessons by giving us experiences. We cannot not learn at all. For the education system, this is when the school system programs your mind by indoctrinating you with often, false ideas and beliefs, while the average person denies or even defends this.’

http://bit.ly/2uAVI9i

How to Design a School That Prioritizes Kindness and Caring

‘Abri Weissman, a senior who heads up the Making Character Count Committee, has seen a ripple effect of kindness spreading through the school, especially during the second semester. Without prompting, friends have told her stories about sweet gestures coming from classmates, none of which originated in her committee. She sees students from different grades opening up to each other, and being friendlier—a result, she believes, of the mix-it-up exercises. The morning music and enthusiastic greetings have had a positive effect, she added.’

http://bit.ly/2tgWZ1S

Brain-training games ‘do not boost cognition’

Debunking of yet another fad…

‘The past decade has seen a rise in popularity of brain-training games that claim to improve a range of mental skills. However, a recent study that measured brain activity, decision-making, and cognitive ability found that playing commercial brain games offered no benefits above those of playing online video games.’

http://bit.ly/2uB74uf

Factors Contributing to School Success by Disadvantaged Students

‘A new US study contributes to this by examining disadvantaged students’ own perceptions of what it takes to succeed at school. It found that strong peer relationships, caring supportive teachers, family and community support, and strong motivations all contribute significantly to school success by disadvantaged students.’

http://bit.ly/2gLL7mH

Contributed by Bruce Hammonds:

Policies root of school failures

‘New Zealand’s education system is failing due to poor policy-making decisions based on skimpy scientific analysis, some of the country’s leading education experts say. A new report released by the Education Policy Response Group slams the Treasury’s agenda for education, saying it is fundamentally flawed.’

http://bit.ly/2u8EG1z

Difference Between Knowing and Understanding

‘Finding the difference between knowing and understanding can be difficult. It is hard to find a distinction between the two because they are both abstract processes of the mind and the brain. Being able to know their differences can lead us to a better awareness of ourselves, who we are, and what we want.’

http://bit.ly/2tExpTU

Educational doping: how our school system encourages fake achievement

Think of a place where doping is both prevalent and systemic in a public institution and you’re probably thinking sports in Russia or East Germany, right? I’m going to argue that such doping occurs right here in New Zealand – in our education system. I don’t, of course, mean that schools are secretly feeding students speed before exams.  Rather, it’s what happens when learners are helped to achieve assessment results that exceed their actual levels of capability.’

http://bit.ly/2toevoS

Digital Technologies and Research

‘While the potential of technology to support teaching and learning is well established, an understanding of how to integrate technology in ways that are pedagogically sound and enriching for both young people and educators is less certain.’

http://bit.ly/2u6BVfr

From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:

Henry Pluckrose – creative educator

“‘Henry Pluckrose, who has just died at the age of 79, was one of the most inspiring teachers of his generation. He believed that children have intellectual, emotional and aesthetic capacities that few adults realise and too few schools exploit’. From Guardian Newspaper obituary. As a teacher ‘his classroom resembled an artist’s studio, buzzing with activity and creative energy. Arts in the broadest sense formed the basis of his curriculum; not just art and craft, but also drama, music , poetry and dance. He gave particular emphasis to direct personal experience, taking children to museums, art galleries, churches, historic buildings, woods, fields and parks.’”

http://bit.ly/17FbdHV

At last – a book by an inspirational teacher.

“’Welcome to the Aquarium’ is a compelling personal account of teaching full of wise advice on how to set up and maintain an effective and caring classroom. I can’t think of any recent book which talks about teaching through the eyes of a teacher. It is wonderful change from the dry academic books on education that are more commonly available; books that develop their ‘wisdom’ from a safe academic distance.”

http://bit.ly/2uHem00

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

By Duane Swacker

About Duane

Chapter 2

Fidelity to Truth in Educational Discourse

‘We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because the lie is more comfortable.’  Solzhenitzyn

In his book “Truth: A Guide” Simon Blackburn, editor of the “Oxford Dictionary of Philosophy,” concisely states that truth is “the control of belief by fact.”  Seems quite simple!  But in his book Blackburn outlines the many battles fought over what truth is over the course of at least the last two millennia by many philosophers, thinkers and writers.  Almost all the well-known names of the Western canon—Plato, Aristotle, Augustine, Hume, Descartes, Nietzsche, Wittgenstein to name just a few, can be sorted into differing alethiological camps.  Anyone who has studied the subject soon understands that determining a final answer to the question “What is truth” more likely than not realizes that it is quite difficult to firmly answer (not counting those of a faith belief tradition who claim to have “The Truth”) and that perhaps the best way to address the subject is to just leave it alone (a minimalist position).

But just leaving truth alone is not feasible for a study such as this.  Far too many believe that they have truth, however they determine it, on their side. At the same time many mistake expediency for truth.  What happens when it is shown that their truths are actually falsehoods and their conclusions are invalid and that the results of their false beliefs and practices are unjust and harm the most innocent of society, the children?

Yes, truth matters!

Realizing that all truths are contextual not only in time, space and experience this study is limited to examining the veracity of claims of truth and validity (for how can something be truthful if it is not valid?) for the fundamental positions upon which educational practices of today are based.  The educational practices examined—grading, educational standards and standardized testing–in this study are found overall to be riddled with error therefore lacking in validity and truth.

The flip side of truth is error.  Truth implies that something is without error.  How does the concept of error play into the discussion of truth?  Noel Wilson elaborates: “Error is predicated on a notion of perfection; to allocate error is to imply what is without error; to know error it is necessary to determine what is true. And what is true is determined by what we define as true, theoretically by the assumptions of our epistemology, practically by the events and non-events, the discourses and silences, the world of surfaces and their interactions and interpretations; in short, the practices that permeate the field. . . Error is the uncertainty dimension of the statement; error is the band within which chaos reigns, in which anything can happen. Error comprises all of those eventful circumstances which make the assessment statement less than perfectly precise, the measure less than perfectly accurate, the rank order less than perfectly stable, the standard and its measurement less than absolute, and the communication of its truth less than impeccable.”  In other words all the logical errors involved in the aforementioned educational practices render any conclusions invalid.

Now, let’s delve into Comte-Sponville’s concept of “fidelity to truth.”  What is meant by fidelity to truth, that of being faithful/true to truth?  Preliminarily and primarily, Comte-Sponville states “All fidelity is—whether to a value or to a person—is fidelity to love and through love.”  Since he considers love to be the greatest and hardest to achieve virtue that statement rightly precedes all his other thoughts on the subject.  We can follow that up with the consideration that fidelity is the “will to remember” truthfully and that fidelity “resists forgetfulness, changing fashions and interests, the charms of the moment, the seductions of power.”  Fidelity to truth means “refusing to change one’s ideas in the absence of strong, valid reasons, and. . . it means holding as true. . . ideas whose truth has clearly and solidly established.”  At the same time fidelity to truth means rejecting discourse that has been shown to have errors, falsehoods and invalidities.  However, “Being faithful to one’s thoughts more than to truth would mean being unfaithful to thought and condemning oneself to sophistry.”  To be unfaithful to truth, to be in error, then is to reject that which makes honest communications, policies and practices cogent and a human good, a virtue.

The characteristics of truth in public educational discourse can be understood as encompassing fidelity to truth in the following:

  • Speech and/or writing accurately describes policies, practices and outcomes (discourse).
  • Using the correct/intended meaning of a word in light of the context.
  • Discourse serves to enlighten and not obscure meaning.
  • Discourse is free of contradictions, error and falsehoods.
  • The “control of belief by fact” (S. Blackburn).
  • Discourse is based in skeptical rationo-logical thought processes in which a “scientific attitude” holds sway.
  • Discourse based on/in faith conventions is eschewed and rejected outright due to separation of church and state constitutional concerns.
  • Discourse of expediency based on the rationalizations of “Everyone is doing this”, “It is dictated by the State Department of Education” or “NCLB mandates that we have to do this” is firmly and rightly rejected.

In rejecting expediency over truth as a guide to or rationale of instituting practices that are based on fundamental errors and falsehoods resulting in invalid conclusions that many times harm students, we should keep in mind Hanna Arendt’s concept of the “banality of evil.” She concluded that the Holocaust did not occur because of the monstrosity, the evil of the people involved but by the small everyday functioning of ordinary people, perhaps at best not knowing of or at worst of turning a willing blind eye to the results of their daily task along with the daily work of others that compounded into the atrocities of the Holocaust.  The vast majority of “Good Germans”, including Eichmann, believed that they were just following orders as they had been brought up (educated) to do.  Eichmann even believed that he was “saving” as many Jews as he could by instituting certain procedures.

Now, I am not suggesting that some of our current public education laws, policies and practices are the equivalent of the Holocaust.  What I am pointing out is that in order for everyday banal evils to occur, as with some public education practices that cause harm to innocents and that do not allow for students to enjoy their constitutional mandated benefits and rights in utilizing public education, are made possible by teachers, administrators, boards of education, state departments of education, the federal department of education, etc., many have to and have put expediency over truth.  And in putting expediency, especially expediency of self-interest, over truth we regrettably allow unjust practices to flourish and cause untold harm and psychological violence to be perpetrated against the students who have little means to refute and reject such malpractices.

As Comte-Sponville puts it:  “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]

And in speaking of justice one must consider its various meanings and aspects and how it plays out in examining educational malpractices.  Which I shall begin in the following chapter. 

Education Readings July 14th

By Allan Alach

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

Teachers Don’t Want All This Useless Data

‘One of the most frustrating things I’ve ever been forced to do as a teacher is to ignore my students and concentrate instead on the data.’

http://bit.ly/2u7mXZl

Is teacher burnout contagious?

‘Burnout among young teachers appears to be contagious, indicates a new study. It found a significant link between burnout among early-career teachers and exposure to both a school-wide culture of burnout and burnout among the young teachers’ closest circle of colleagues.’

http://bit.ly/2uPihF1

Making Cyberschool Creepier

Looking forward to the ‘digital curriculum’? Maybe you should read this.

‘Do you think that cyber-education is just kind of creepy, with students sitting alone in the glow of a computer screen, navigating hundreds of little standardized quizlets and activities, their every keystroke and answer compiled in an undying data file that will follow those students around forever. Do you find it hard to imagine how it could be worse? Well, a company called LCA Learning has found a way.’

http://bit.ly/2tHkT9h

Reading With Your Children: Proper Books Vs Tablets

‘Increasing screen use is a reality, but does it contribute to a loss of interest in reading, and does reading from a screen provide the same experience as the feel of reading on paper?

We looked at this in our research on shared reading. This has been a neglected topic even though it is clearly a common context for children when they read at home. It might be their regular homework reading of a book from school, or a parent reading them a favourite bedtime story.’

http://bit.ly/2ufWdp5

Being Busy Is Killing Our Ability to Think Creatively

This article is targeted at adults but is easily adapted to the classroom situation.

‘Little good comes from being distracted yet we seem incapable of focusing our attention. Among many qualities that suffer, recent research shows creativity takes a hit when you’re constantly busy. Being able to switch between focus and daydreaming is an important skill that’s reduced by insufferable business.’ 

http://bit.ly/2tcPDvk

Some unpopular thoughts on teacher evaluation

‘I’ve been working on teacher evaluation for most of my career as a teacher, administrator, and teacher educator; first being evaluated, then doing the evaluation as an assistant principal and subject area coordinator, then helping design a state-wide beginning teacher evaluation initiative. After nearly 40 years in education, all I can say is that the current system is the worst I’ve ever seen.’

http://bit.ly/2uaV0Qd

Contributed by Bruce Hammonds:

Here’s Einstein’s Advice to His Son on How to Accelerate Learning

‘Geniuses might be distinguished by their ability to grasp incredible complexity, but that doesn’t mean if you somehow managed to corner one the greatest minds in history for a chat you’d be perplexed by what they had to say. According to Nobel Laureate Richard Feynman, the true hallmark of genius is the ability to explain things simply.’

http://bit.ly/2t2zzRw

Why ‘Unlearning’ Old Habits Is An Essential Step For Innovation

‘Teachers are increasingly being asked to embrace new ideas and styles of teaching, but schools don’t always give their educators time or the mental space to absorb and apply those concepts. That’s why the idea of “unlearning” was worth exploring for Beaver Country Day School, a private 6-12 school in Massachusetts, which serves as something of a lab for unlearning in practice.’

http://bit.ly/2ugAbDr

No classrooms, lessons or homework: New Zealand school where children are free to roam

‘Deep among the streams and Kauri trees of rural south Auckland, New Zealand’s newest and most alternative school is in session. The weather is fine so a bout of fishing is in order, followed by lunch cooked on an open fire. Homework and classes? Indefinitely dismissed.“We are called a school but we look nothing like any school out there,” says Joey Moncarz, co-founder and head teacher at Deep Green Bush School, which is in term two of its inaugural year.“We don’t do things like telling kids it is time to write or learn maths. When they are interested in doing it, they do it.”’

http://bit.ly/2t2haoe

From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:

Messages about education.

What messages are students getting from their schooling?

‘I have been reading an article on the web about the pressures being placed on young children and their teachers in the United States to achieve expectations set by standardized tests. In the process teachers have had to narrow their curriculum to ensure their school does well when results are published.  Another article described a young student who has been held back twice and now is three years older than her classmates because she obviously hadn’t passed appropriate tests. This is what happens when politicians impose simplistic solutions to complex problems.What ‘messages’ about learning, and American culture, are being given by such an education?’

http://bit.ly/1KWBtml

On Knowing – Jerome Bruner 

“The themes Jerome Bruner covers in his book concern the process of knowing, how knowing is shaped and how it in turn gives form to language science, literature and art. The symbolism of the left hand is that of the dreamer – the right that of the practical doer.The areas of hunches and intuition, Bruner writes, has been all too often overwhelmed by an ‘imposed fetish of objectivity’…’The lock step of learning theory in this country has been broken, though it is still the standard village dance’. Today we still have those ( usually politicians) who wish to test for learning ignoring, according to Bruner, that ‘it is difficult to catch and record, no less understand, the swift flight of man’s mind operating at its best.’”

http://bit.ly/Vn6Str

Fundamentals in education 

‘If we are concerned with the education the full potential of all students then how we ‘see’ the mind, how we imagine we learn, is important. We are, hopefully, well past the ‘blank slate’ or the ‘filling the jug’ metaphors, long the basis of traditional ‘one size fits all’ schooling.’

http://bit.ly/13b5vRO

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

By Duane Swacker

About Duane

Chapter 1

The Purpose of Public Education

‘Honesty is the first chapter in wisdom’ Jefferson

Ask any teacher or administrator “What is the purpose of public education?” and more likely than not they will recite their district’s mission statement, perhaps one as succinct as the Nebo School District’s in Utah We engage, empower, and collaborate to ensure student success.”  Or perhaps it more typically reads like this one from a rural Missouri district “The mission of the Warren County R-III School District is to empower each child to fully reach his or her potential as a life-long learner, a responsible adult and a contributing member of a diverse society.”  Or it may even come with a disclaimer as this long mission statement from a Pennsylvania district:

Mission Statement

The Mission Statement, Beliefs, and Goals presented below are the result of work completed by Cumberland Valley School District’s Strategic Planning Steering Committee. These philosophy statements are not an attempt to state how things are, but rather are intended to give impetus and direction toward meeting the needs of all children who attend the schools of this district now and in the future.

Our Mission

The Cumberland Valley School District, in collaboration with students, educators, parents and the community, is committed to developing 21st century learning and thinking skills through a rigorous, relevant, and comprehensive curriculum, while preparing students to be innovative, productive citizens in an interconnected world. (italics in original)

Does each mission statement, being used as a proxy for the fundamental purpose of public education, help fulfill the fundamental purpose of public education?  What is that fundamental purpose and where can it usually be found?  Is there even a fundamental purpose?  To answer the last question first, it depends!  Well, what does it depend on then? In answering that question we also answer the where question—the constitution of each state.

But there’s a catch, not every state constitution gives a purpose for its authorization of public education.  It’s a 50/50 split with 25 states not giving any purpose such as West Virginia’s authorization “The Legislature shall provide, by general law, for a thorough and efficient system of free schools.” (Article XII, Sec. 12-1) and 25 states providing a rationale.

Those 25 rationales can be divided into three types.  Those that declare that the purpose of public education is to ensure that the state’s form of government will continue, such as South Dakota’s “The stability of a republican form of government depending on the morality and intelligence of the people, it shall be the duty of the Legislature to establish and maintain a general and uniform system of public schools. . . .” (Article VIII  § 1).  Those whose fundamental purpose focuses on the individual and his/her rights such as Missouri’s “A general diffusion of knowledge and intelligence being essential to the preservation of the rights and liberties of the people, the general assembly shall establish and maintain free public schools . . . .” (Article IX Sec. 1a)  And those that are a combination of both.  As it is, fifteen mainly focus on the benefits of public education to the individual citizen and the preservation of his/her rights, five on the benefit to the state and five that state both citizen and government benefits.

All together then, there are 25 states with no stated fundamental purpose, five with a purpose that extol the benefits of public education to the state, fifteen commending the benefits to the individual and five a combination of benefit to both state and individual, resulting in 80% of those with a stated purpose of having the benefits for the individual as the primary rationale.  Is it possible, then, to discern a fundamental purpose of public education?  Yes, I believe it can be ascertained, by starting with the fundamental purpose of government in this country as stated in each state’s constitution (sometimes as troublesome to recognize a stated purpose as that of public education).  Since public education is a function of each state and not the federal government we must begin at the state level to determine what the fundamental purpose of the state is.  In examining the constitutions one finds that there many and varied exhortations.

For example Alabama’s constitution states:  “Objective of government. That the sole object and only legitimate end of government is to protect the citizen in the enjoyment of life, liberty, and property, and when the government assumes other functions it is usurpation and oppression.” (Section 35)  Or this from Nebraska “All persons are by nature free and independent, and have certain inherent and inalienable rights; among these are life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness, and the right to keep and bear arms for security or defense of self, family, home, and others, and for lawful common defense, hunting, recreational use, and all other lawful purposes, and such rights shall not be denied or infringed by the state or any subdivision thereof. To secure these rights, and the protection of property, governments are instituted among people, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.” (Art. I, sec. 1)

All well and good, eh!  Quite compelling is the Missouri constitution’s wording on the purpose of government:  “That all constitutional government is intended to promote the general welfare of the people; that all persons have a natural right to life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness and the enjoyment of the gains of their own industry; that all persons are created equal and are entitled to equal rights and opportunity under the law; that to give security to these things is the principal office of government, and that when government does not confer this security, it fails in its chief design.” (Article. II, Sec. 4. § 3.)

Tying together the aims of our constitutional government with the purpose of public education as stated in some of the state’s constitution allows us to propose a common fundamental statement of purpose. Since 20 of the 25 state constitutions give a reason attending to the rights and liberties of the individual through public education combined with the mandate of state constitutional government as reflected in Missouri’s constitutional language of “That all constitutional government is intended to promote the general welfare of the people; that all persons have a natural right to life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness and the enjoyment of the gains of their own industry. . .” it follows that the rights and liberties of the individual in being educated as each sees fit supersede those of supporting and maintaining the government.  And that one can logically conclude that if the educational wants and needs of the citizens obtain then those of the state will follow.  But without an educated citizenry who can promote their own interests, and who can understand and tolerate others thoughts, opinions and desires, the state would surely be subject to tyranny by those whose knowledge and wants exceeds most.

I propose, then, the following statement of the purpose of public education with which, hopefully, most in the United States could agree:

“The purpose of public education is 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.”

Any educational practice that is shown to hinder, block and/or otherwise cause an individual to not be able to indulge in any of aspect of his/her rights as stated has to be considered as harmful and unjust not only to the individual but also to society and therefore must rightly be condemned as educational malpractice and ought to be immediately discontinued.  Trampled rights are rights that are non-existent and the educational malpractice that tramples any right is unjust and as noted in Alabama’s constitution “is usurpation and oppression” and as Missouri’s declares “. . . when government does not confer this security, it fails in its chief design.

I contend that many of today’s federal and state mandates and even long standing educational practices are, indeed, malpractices that trample the rights of the most innocent in society, the children, the students of all ages attending public schools, in essence “it [public education] fails in its chief design.”  Should the government through the public schools be sorting, separating, ranking, and/or grading students through logically bankrupt invalid practices discriminating against some while rewarding others?  I contend it should not!  Where is the justice in discriminatory practices?  By evaluating those malpractices against the aforementioned purpose we will be able to ascertain whether or not they are just.

In what follows concepts of truth and Sponville’s “fidelity to truth” will be illuminated, justice concerns will be discussed, professional ethical issues delineated, and the error and falsehood filled conceptual bases of standards and measurement and grading as now used in public education will be elaborated.  It will be shown how using the epistemologically and ontologically bankrupt schemes of grading, educational standards and standardized testing come together in causing untold psychological harm to the students, discriminating against some students while rewarding others and begetting structural injustice causing public schools to “fail in their chief design.

Education Readings June 16th

By Allan Alach

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

Helicopter Parents Are Raising Unemployable Children

‘Helicopter parents are in the news a lot these days. These are the parents who can’t stop hovering around their kids. They practically wrap them in bubble wrap, creating a cohort of young adults who struggle to function in their jobs and in their lives. Helicopter parents think that they’re doing what’s best for their kids but actually, they’re hurting their kids’ chances at success. In particular, they’re ruining their kids’ chances of landing a job and keeping it.’

http://bit.ly/2sv2EED

The Reading Achievement Gap: Why Do Poor Students Lag Behind Rich Students in Reading Development?

What has become clear over the past 35 years is that low-income students learn as much during each school year as do middle-class students (Alexander, Entwisle & Olson, 2007: Hayes & Grether, 1983; Heyns, 1978). But every summer, when school is not in session, kids from low-income families lose two or three months of reading growth, and middle-class kids add a month of reading growth.’
http://bit.ly/2sCZSwR

Play Misunderstood: The Divide Between Primary Classroom Teachers And Senior Managers

‘Teachers of children in years 1–3 are now recognising the need to respond to their students in a more developmentally appropriate manner at a time when more and more children are struggling to fit the mould that once was the traditional classroom. Yet many of these teachers report a key barrier to effectively implementing a learning-through-play approach in their classroom to be that of their school management team and colleagues.’

http://bit.ly/2s3WOZD

Rock On! How I Taught Focus to a Class That Wouldn’t Sit Still

‘As a teacher, every now and then we come across a class with an abundance of energy. Sometimes so much energy that teaching seems like an impossible mission. Students fidget with their hands, feet, dance in their stools and engage in constant side conversations with their classmates.’

http://edut.to/2ryKGfw

Your Pedagogy Might be More Aligned with Colonialism than You Realize

‘What if I told you that prevailing attitudes toward the language practices that students bring into the classroom are rooted in colonial, often racist, logic? What if I told you that by not disrupting these kinds of attitudes in your classroom, your pedagogy might be more aligned with colonialism than you realize?’

http://bit.ly/2ryG74V

Paperwork

‘There is something childishly naive about the bureaucratic belief in the power of paperwork to bend reality. This is not a new feature in education. You may recall that Race To The Top and RttT Lite (More waivers, less money) both featured a required plan for moving high-quality teachers around to districts in need. Nobody ever figured out how such a thing could possibly be achieved– but everybody had a plan about how to achieve it. The grandaddy of modern useless paperwork would have to be all the district plans for “aligning” curriculum…’

http://bit.ly/2t4L730

Contributed by Bruce Hammonds:

National Standards and the Damage Done, by Martin Thrupp

‘We will all have our views on the pros and cons of the National Standards policy and there’s likely to be some truth in even highly divergent points of view because education is complex and contextualised and so much depends, doesn’t it – it depends on the school, the classroom, the teacher, even the individual child. But my argument will be that on balance the National Standards are taking us down a data-driven path that will be very damaging for the culture of our schools and classrooms and for the education of individual children.’

http://bit.ly/2rtNkbt

Schools don’t prepare children for life. Here’s the education they really need

‘It’s only after you have left school and, in adulthood, gained a bit of distance, that you can be fully aware of the gaps in your education. History is a prime example. A group of British people together around a pub table and can probably weave together some kind of cohesive narrative across the centuries. In isolation, however, what you discover is that one person did the Romans, another the second world war, and a third spent two years on medieval crop rotation. Meaning that as a school leaver, you’ll have a vague idea about how it all fits together, but whole epochs remain shrouded in mystery.’

http://bit.ly/2srp6xt

Finland’s new, weird school ‘courses’ say a lot about how we teach our kids.

I don’t know if you’ve noticed this, but there is no such job as “math.”

‘Rather than teach subjects as dry, separate ingredients, from now on, it’s all cooking together.Finland’s concept is called “phenomenon-based learning.” Here’s how it works:Rather than focus on one subject like math, students and teachers sit down and pick a real-world topic that interests them — climate change, for example — which is then dissected from different angles. What’s the science behind it? How are nations planning on dealing with it? What literature is there about it?’

http://u.pw/2suQGea

Back to the Future: How has economic policy influenced the development of education policy and how the educational achievement of children in New Zealand primary schools is measured?

‘My final assignment for my Masters of Education paper, Education Policy traces the history of Standards in primary education and how we have come full circle from our original Standards based education, when compulsory education was established in New Zealand in the late 19th century, to the disestablishment of the Standards in the 1950s, through the development of a variety of assessment tools from the 1960s through into the 2000s and then the reintroduction of Standards in 2009’

http://bit.ly/2sv27m8

From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:

Creative Leadership lessons from Stoll and Temperley

‘Creative schools depend on creative leadership. The trouble these days is that the pressures on principals to: be seen by parents as doing what is expected, from analysing endless tests ( all too often in a narrow range of capabilities); coping with the imposition of National Standards; and most of all pressure to comply with Ministry and the  Education Review Office requirements,  being creative is the last thing on principals minds. And of course creativity was never something one thought of when thinking about school principals!’

http://bit.ly/2sru7Gn

Bring back the Jesters!

Modern boards of directors are a bit like mediaeval courts where no one questions the king or the senior courtiers because they have become far too important to challenge. And as long as they can’t possibly be wrong, they can continue doing the wrong things all the time and never know it.The idea is worth spreading throughout all organizations to combat the blindness created by past success. It is one way to counteract the conformity which pervades top down management.

http://bit.ly/1PbtD8g

Education Readings June 9th

By Allan Alach

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

Finland Will Become The First Country In The World To Get Rid Of All School Subjects

Thanks to Phil Cullen:

‘How many times have you wondered if you were going to need subjects you were made to learn because the curriculum said so? Finland has decided to change this in their educational system and introduce something which is suitable for the 21st century.

By 2020, instead of classes in physics, math, literature, history or geography, Finland is going to introduce a different approach to life through education. Welcome to the phenomenon based learning!’

http://bit.ly/2qVv8mt

Persistent bullies: why some children can’t stop bullying

‘Persistent bullies continue bullying in spite of interventions and sanctions employed by schools. Why they persist remains unclear. These students were the focus of our research. We believe understanding their behaviour and why they may be resistant to change will be gained by accessing their lived experiences.’

http://bit.ly/2s2DGfx

Data Walls: Why you will never see one in my class.

New Zealand teacher Melanie Dorian:

‘While I acknowledge that children will always know if they are bottom of the class or not, we can give them the dignity of some privacy.  To display their next learning step or what they have achieved on some reading rocket is garish in my opinion and unneccessary.  There are other ways of informing students of their achievements, next steps and goals that do not make them despondent about learning.  As one of the first photos I published at the top of this post says, “How would you like to be Norissa?”’

http://bit.ly/2sReZiO

On the Wildness of Children

THE REVOLUTION WILL NOT TAKE PLACE IN A CLASSROOM

‘We have forgotten that these were the original purposes of the factory-like institutions that most of us grew up in; we speak of our familiar school experience almost as though it were an integral part of nature itself, a natural and essential part of human childhood, rather than the vast and extremely recent experiment in social engineering that it actually is.’

http://bit.ly/2r08Rbc

Research Finds The Effects Of Homework On Elementary School Students, And The Results Are Surprising

‘After over 25 years of studying and analyzing homework, Harris Coopers’ research demonstrates a clear conclusion: homework wrecks elementary school students.’ 

http://bit.ly/2bpQuFj

Contributed by Bruce Hammonds:

Black and brown boys don’t need to learn “grit,” they need schools to stop being racist

‘Everyone seems to think that a lack of “soft skills” is the reason why students of color aren’t ready for college and careers. More schools and after-school programs are teaching students how to have “grit,” compassion and a “growth mindset.” Rubbish! Soft skill training is disguised bootstrapping, which insidiously blames youth for failing in racist systems designed to block their success, and it abdicates the middle class from any responsibility to uproot inequality.’

http://bit.ly/2rzHZNS

Inside a Multiage Classroom

‘Dividing students by arbitrary birthdate ranges doesn’t make sense, advocates say.

Multiage education is not a return to the one-room schoolhouse of yore, in which students of all ages learned different subjects in one space. Instead, students from (typically) two grades learn together in an environment that, advocates say, encourages cooperation and mentoring while allowing struggling students enough time to master material.’

http://theatln.tc/2rGeBG7

Finland is famous for its education system. What makes it different?

‘For as small and homogeneous as Finland may be, its repeated success in national education rankings means there are at least a few lessons the US can learn.For one, the tiny Nordic country places considerable weight on early education. Before Finnish kids learn their times tables, they learn simply how to be kids — how to play with one another, how to mend emotional wounds.’

http://bit.ly/2s10Dz5

How Design Thinking Became a Buzzword at School

‘At a recent teaching conference in Richmond, Virginia, a session on “design thinking” in education drew a capacity crowd. Two middle-school teachers demonstrated how they had used the concept to plan and execute an urban-design project in which students were asked to develop a hypothetical city or town given factors such as population, geography, the environment, and financial resources.’

http://theatln.tc/2r6MAZF

Mindful in Middle School

One teacher’s experience incorporating mindfulness into her middle school curriculum.

‘Mindfulness is emerging as a technique adopted in education to address student anxiety and stress, increase focus and creativity, and foster stable behavior and patience. In this essay, I briefly discuss my journey in implementing mindfulness with my sixth and eighth grade students, implications for teaching practice, and lessons learned along the way.’

http://edut.to/2s16owL

From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:

Negotiating the Curriculum

‘Learning is a process to deepen personal understanding or skill. This is best achieved with the assistance of a learning ‘mentor’. Such a ‘mentor’ negotiates learning with the learner, always leaving the ‘power’ to learn with the learner.In the book ‘Negotiating the Curriculum’, edited by Garth Boomer, four steps are suggested to negotiate a study with students applicable for any level of schooling. Essentially it is an inquiry model that emphasizes valuing the ‘voice’ of students in the their own learning. It is very much in line with the ‘co- constructivist’ teaching philosophy.’

http://bit.ly/1Kc8Kd3

Experience and Education -John Dewey 1938

‘Such a lot of the ideas expressed today have their genesis in the ideas of John Dewey.That Dewey’s ideas have yet to be fully realised says something for the power of conservatism in education. ‘Experience in Education’ is Dewey’s most concise statement of his ideas written after criticism his theories received. In this book Dewey argues that neither ‘traditional ‘ nor ‘progressive ‘ ideas are adequate and he outlines a deeper point of view building on the best of both.’

http://bit.ly/17J12HR

Education Readings June 2nd

By Allan Alach

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

Fidget spinner fad may point to deeper problem in the classroom

‘We need to look at making the curriculum more engaging so that fewer kids need fidgeting toys. Fidget spinners are the hottest new gadget among school children, and while they’re billed as useful tools to help kids focus, a University of Ottawa professor believes schools need to better accommodate students who get fidgety and need to move.’

http://bit.ly/2qHZ1Wp

Arts-Based Research: Surprise and Self-Motivation

‘A sense of delight in learning comes as much from encountering what you hadn’t expected as it does from seeing a project shake out the way you intended it. I love project-based learning for the sense of accomplishment it engenders in students, but I miss the sense of surprise — the notion that anything can happen. While it’s important to help kids see the path that will enable them to succeed, I also want them to get lost from time to time — not to take the road less traveled, but to leave roads altogether in favor of the forest.’

http://edut.to/2qI4VHg

Education Technology as ‘The New Normal’

I’m well known, I think, for fierce criticisms and cautions about education technology, and what I’ve prepared today is perhaps even darker and more polemical than I’d like, strikingly so on this beautiful campus. I confess: I am feeling incredibly concerned about the direction the world is taking – politically, environmentally, economically, intellectually, institutionally, technologically. Trump. Digital technologies, even education technologies, are implicated in all of this, and if we are not careful, we are going to make things worse.’

http://bit.ly/2rGnzUT

Boxing Creativity

‘There is a major difference between telling someone they can be creative and telling someone how to be creative. I’m firmly in the Everyone Is Creative camp. I don’t even mean that with the qualifier, “Until it’s beaten out of them by school/work/life/the Trunchbull.” I mean every single person on Earth, and everyone living in the secret moon base established by NASA in the ’70s, has the innate ability to be creative. And every one of us uses that ability on a regular basis.’

http://bit.ly/2qCzPlj

OPINION: It’s time to stop the clock on math anxiety. Here’s the latest research on how

Jo Boaler:

‘Unfortunately math continues to be taught in ways that are far removed from the research evidence on ways to teach well, and many ineffective classroom practices – timed tests, speed pressure, procedural teaching – are the reasons for the vast numbers of children and adults with math anxiety. They are also the reason that so many high-achieving students leave not only mathematics but the numerous STEM courses that require mathematics.’

http://bit.ly/2qCGLTh

Contributed by Bruce Hammonds:

Personalized Learning Pathways & the Gig Economy

‘Students need to be prepared for short-term jobs and not expect full-time employment. How empowering is that?  Sounds like the goal of this radical re-imagining of education is to produce workers willing to eek out a precarious existence in the gig economy.’

http://bit.ly/2qCaxHI

The Loose Parts Movement: Bringing Adventure, Nature and Imagination Back to Children’s Play Time

From Wayne Morris:

‘It is a disappointing thing to see new playgrounds developed in city spaces sit there empty each day, or to walk in the park and hear no laughter. What is missing here is not the children per se, but materials and environments that create challenge, imagination, and creativity that make children want to play outdoors. The absence of such play environments is not only influencing the quantity and quality of children’s play, but also affecting children’s health and well-being.’

http://bit.ly/2soJts3

Sight Words Are So 2016: New Study Finds the Real Key to Early Literacy

This article relates to what creative teachers in NZ  believe. Simply put, children who used invented spelling developed stronger reading skills over time, regardless of their existing vocabulary, alphabetic knowledge, or word reading skills.So, what exactly is invented spelling? Invented spelling refers to a young child’s beginning attempts to spell words. Using what they know and understand about letters and writing, children who use invented spelling are encouraged to create their own spellings based on their own phonetic knowledge.

http://bit.ly/2rGmo87

Efficiency Can Cost Education

There are very good reasons to resist (or at least be skeptical of) efforts to drive “efficiency” in public education.

‘One of the biggest reasons is that any attempt to maximize efficiency automatically elevates – some might say inflates – the role of performance metrics. Once we decide which indicators are going to define success and then set people off to find the swiftest and cheapest way to get those outcomes, we can begin to distort complex enterprises. Other outcomes become expendable, even if those outcomes are important.’

http://bit.ly/2rqInyJ

From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:

Written in 76 – so what is new?

‘Making use of students own experiences, question and concerns as the basis for learning is still an important issue, as is making full use of the immediate environment. This is all the more important these days as far too many children spent too much time receiving a second hand edited world through TV and computer screens.From their own questions and concerns, and through environmental explorations, ’emerge’ real reasons to write , read, to count and measure, and to make art. All students need are teachers with the ‘artistry’ and confidence to take advantage and amplify such learning opportunities.’

http://bit.ly/2qC4dA8

Slow food movement – and teaching as well!

We need an educational equivalent of the ‘slow food’ movement

‘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.The standardized ‘fast education’, as exemplified by the curriculum statements of the past decades, has resulted in a loss of appetite for real learning. There is just no time.’

http://bit.ly/2rGpc4K

Putting the heart back into teaching.

‘Learning is about relationships. Relationships with content and with people who help us acquire it. It is about having mind changing experiences that tap into our desire to make meaning and express what we know.To be attracted to an area of learning relates to what attracts our attention and whether or not we want to put in the energy in to learn more. Curiosity is at the basis of all learning.’

http://bit.ly/1JT6S8O