Education Readings May 26th

By Allan Alach

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

What the Fidget Spinners Fad Reveals About Disability Discrimination

‘Autistic people (and others with developmental disabilities) have been fighting a war for decades. It’s a war against being forcibly, often brutally, conditioned to behave more like neurotypicals, no matter the cost to our own comfort, safety, and sanity. And those of us who need to stim in order to concentrate (usually by performing small, repetitive behaviors like, oh I don’t know, spinning something) have endured decades of “Quiet Hands” protocols, of being sent to the principal’s office for fidgeting, of being told “put that down/stop that and pay attention!,” when we are in fact doing the very thing that allows us to pay attention instead of being horribly distracted by a million other discomforts such as buzzing lights and scratchy clothing.’

http://bit.ly/2qYd6Bb

Arts education is vital to help foster creativity and innovation

‘I have a dream that this nation will achieve its full creative and economic potential and that Arts education will rightfully be seen as central to making this happen. It worries me that current thinking and policymaking around national innovation concentrates on increasing participation in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) subjects while the teaching of the Arts (dance, drama, music, media arts and visual arts,) is rarely even on the innovation agenda.’

http://bit.ly/2qY6baU

What Does it Mean to Be Educated?

‘Seeing all this, would a modern Rip van Winkle even send his kids to school? Or would he see school as helplessly behind the times and opt for a radically different path to give his children the education they actually needed to thrive in the modern world?’

http://bit.ly/2qlZXQ5

Reading Readiness Has To Do With The Body

‘We know that our little ones walk and talk on their own timetables. No rewards or punishments are necessary to “teach” them. Yet children are expected to read, write and spell starting at five and six years old as if they develop the same way at the same time. Academics are pushed on young children with the assumption this will make them better students. This approach is not only unnecessary, it may be contributing to problems such as learning disorders, attention deficits, and long term stress.’

http://bit.ly/2qdNz9R

Response: ‘The Toughest Part of Teaching Is…’

‘What do you think is the toughest part of teaching and how do you deal with it?

Teaching has no shortage of tough moments.  What are the most common ones, and how can we best get through them?’

http://bit.ly/2rj4qbq

Contributed by Bruce Hammonds:

How Children Naturally Learn

From Wayne Morris

‘In order for educational settings to be successful they need to be aligned with how children naturally learn. Children’s innate curiosity, enthusiasm, creativity, playfulness, individuality, imaginativeness, resourcefulness, social intelligence, and love of learning need to be respected and supported.This isn’t rocket science, it’s just basic wise parenting and effective teaching. Most of us have helped children develop skills and learn informally, before they went off to school. And all of us mastered skills on our own, so this is something we understand intuitively.’

http://bit.ly/2rBonK6

6 Traits of Life-Changing Teachers

‘In education there’s a lot of talk about standards, curriculum, and assessment—but when we ask adults what they remember about their education, decades after they’ve left school, the answers are always about their best teachers. So what is it about great educators that leaves such an indelible impression?’

http://edut.to/2qQQMLa

How People Learn: An Evidence-Based Approach

‘Teachers will always need to use their knowledge of students and content to make professional judgments about classroom practice. However, we believe the art of teaching should also be informed by a robust understanding of the learning sciences so that teachers can align their decisions with our profession’s best understanding of how students learn. Unfortunately, our education system is rife with misconceptions and confusion about learning. So let’s clear away the myths and focus on well-established cognitive principles and their implications for the classroom:’

http://edut.to/2rS1fo5

Why Handwriting Is Still Essential in the Keyboard Age

‘There is a tendency to dismiss handwriting as a nonessential skill, even though researchers have warned that learning to write may be the key to, well, learning to write.

And beyond the emotional connection adults may feel to the way we learned to write, there is a growing body of research on what the normally developing brain learns by forming letters on the page, in printed or manuscript format as well as in cursive.’

http://bit.ly/2rWjW9s

From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:

Testing our way into the 19thC!

Those with their minds firmly fixed in a patronising, mechanistic, or technocratic approach, always see measurement as the ultimate way of guaranteeing progress.Like any simple solution to a complex problem it is wrong -and has been proved so. Standard based teaching was the approach of education in Victorian times – each class was called a standard ( standard one etc) that you progressed to if you passed the test. In the early days, in the UK, teachers were paid by results their students gained in the tests. Maybe that is next on our ‘new’ governments agenda.’
http://bit.ly/2rW9kHM

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

‘In 1989 an ‘earthquake’ hit education in the form of ‘Tomorrows Schools’.Now, almost three decades later, A  NZCER  chief researcher Cathy Wylie has written a definitive and compelling story of school self-management .Cathy answers the questions: What was the real effect of ‘Tomorrows Schools’? Has the New Zealand Schools system improved as a result? And what changes are needed now to meet our expectations of schools?’

http://bit.ly/TNlnzy

A Question Based Curriculum

‘I wonder what would happen if all the expert’s curriculums disappeared; and all the standardized tests? And, with them, all the technocrats who believe that everything needs to measured and turned into data. Anyway such people never bothered to measure anything important such as, curiosity, love of learning and persistence; the very things that mark out successful innovative individuals Instead consider what would happen if we decided to create entire curriculums from student question and concerns?’

http://bit.ly/2qXPrk0

Bye Treehorn

I love primary education.  I love primary schooling. I love primary school kids.  When I left school in 1944, I just wanted to get amongst the whole mix of teaching and go bush to teach young kids. My big brother would bring home stories about the kids at Nogo River in rural Queensland and it all sounded so fascinating.   I eventually made it to Teachers College, and by 1947 I was the Head Teacher, of all things, of a one-teacher school. I loved it. My dream achieved.  For eleven years, I did my  apprenticeship in four  different localities. All of my one-teacher schools are closed now but I still remember the names of the pupils. Many have passed on and some are in their eighties. You see,  when I first started as a Head Teacher cum Principal I was eighteen years of age.  My two or three ‘scholarship class’ members were fourteen or fifteen years of age.  I now have a lot of former pupils. Love each one of them.

The years went on and the love for primary schooling and kids just grew and grew.  I now love nostalgia.  I love catching up with former pupils who remember me for the right reasons. It’s the sort of feeling that only schoolies enjoy but can’t explain; and is unique to those who care about kids. I thought that I shared these feelings with an endless number of others. I was sure that every primary teacher was the same way. I kept this belief for sixty years….that everyone in primary schooling loved kids and teaching them, as much as I did; and would go to the ends of the earth for them.

I was wrong.

2008-17 has revealed that many employees in the field of primary schooling in Australia don’t care much about kids. They care deeply about some kids, but not the universal kid. I had accepted, early in the piece, that Australian every-day adults, generally speaking, prefer to have as little as possible to do with kids, apart from coaching the local under-eights footy team.  Treehorn, when I found him, validated the view that all adults, including parents, teachers and principals prefer not to be bothered too much by what distresses kids.   I was disappointed [‘floored’ is a better term] to learn, in particular that Australia’s  school principals don’t have much interest in the ‘generalised’ school child, at all. They like their job and do it well and that’s it. They  meekly and  publicly approve of the extreme. heavy, burdensome NAPLAN testing device because Julia Gillard told them to do so after she returned from New York, overdosed on Klein bullshit, which, they know all very well, destroys the learning spirit of the curriculum in the interests of data-gathering – just for the sake of data-gathering.  Principal’s associations know that. APPA was blatantly ‘Stockholmed’, replaced by AGPPA and then  ‘Eichmannised’ .  They should have known that NAPLAN, under the pretence of being diagnostic and motivational, would destroy our system;  a system that once had the potential to be great. Sloppily, near tearfully,  I must say : They broke my heart by their desertion from reality.

When Julia Gillard introduced this crazy New York system of schooling based on the deliberate creation of anxiety and fear, they had a chance to say to her : “We don’t do that sort of thing to school children.” They didn’t.

I now know what disappointment is.

Then, in January 2010, the Australian Education Union that represents the chalkface operators, unanimously supported a motion at its Sydney Conference that NAPLAN be banned!   I was over the moon. I was so proud of my association with some of the attenders. Amazed that such a thing had happened and so proud that Aussie teachers collectively, it seemed, recognised the implications of naplanising school children ….that they had assured the welfare of little Aussie learners to progress in a child-centred environment, that I did something that I had never done before. It seemed to me like it was the wonder of the age….that our classroom teachers could be so wonderful, so glorious, so up-front.  I could see Cloud 9 way down below me; so I went to Mass on the following day to say thanks. [I’m a Mick. ] I am usually asking for a favour, but here I was doing something that I have reflected upon, often, since:  Going to church just to say ‘Thanks’!!  That’s not normal. Maybe I’ll get the chance to do it again sometime…maybe when politicians  start thinking about what they are doing to children  and ban the stupid thing.  You see…ouch….The motion was at the AEU Conference was withdrawn on the same day and the notion of freedom abandoned.  Never learned why.   Very little mention of NAPLAN by the AEU since. Did the big boys capture Him, or was it the AEU? The big end of town seems to believe that it is  dominant enough  to do either. I may never learn what happened to the original motion.

{By the way, did you listen to all that Budget Yak-Yak in the Federal Parliament?  “We will spend billions and billions on schools and our kids will be the best in the world! We will improve education standards by giving more money to this, that and whatever” The baloney from both sides of the house was vomitous.  NAPLAN, the extreme destroyer of schooling, introduced by Labor  and maliciously ‘fiddled’ by Liberals and Nationals, now supported by their common neo-liberal viewpoints, did not get a mention, even though it wastes billions per year.. the worst ‘bad debt’ in on the landscape……and it was budget time!}

Those who know me, know that, back in the eighties I held super-normous hope for the future of primary schooling in Australia. I could see super-dooper schooling happening and, for some reason, I always thought that by about 2010 [no good reason for picking that year], Australia would enjoy an enormous network of public schools, to which children would burst a boiler to get to each and every day BECAUSE OF THE LEARNING HAPPINESS THERE….for no other reason. Enjoying a thoroughly holistic tailor-made curriculum, each would find real joy in extending their own abilities as far as they could and enjoy every moment of learning at their local community school.  They would not need any sexy inexperienced measurement sciolist from outside the school gate to judge their capacity,  and brand them with a number. Schooling would be real schooling, real learning. School leavers would not need an HSC score or NAPLAN score. Hirers would ask the school about their applicants and be given the full picture.

Garn. No matter what you might like to say, a progressive exam-free system is possible.

Well, things didn’t live up to expectations. Once managerialism and the restructuring fad hit the fan in the eighties, one could see what was happening. We were destined to follow the path ‘back to drastics’.  The last paragraph in my “Back to Drastics” [USQ Faculty of Education, 2006. P.87] was prophetic : “Hope persists. There are some great schools around and classroom teachers still have the real power. Once the teacher and the pupils move into their room together, the educational processes begin. Nobody in any self-important holy of holies has yet thought of starting from such a premise. Structural changes are usually imposed from the politicial apex, downwards. We keep starting at the wrong end. Education 3000?   At all times, the large and dangerous changes have been initiated by sciolistic ne’er-do-wells, who have had their decisions confirmed by the kinds of political party decision-making, for whom absurdity is not a handicap.

Clearly, the managerialism era was the start of Australia’s demise as a world power and of the standards of schooling that were once on the up and up. They are related; so, when Managerialsim and Restructurism made an easy path for the rabid Standardised Blanket Testing routine called NAPLAN because the wrong decision-makers were in the wrong positions, our system went haywire and has been that way for a decade. We cannot claim any growth in world stature in financial, industrial or political terms nor is there any indication of improvement in overall intellectual performance of any kind. We are waiting for the big boys to sort things out.  We maintain a mediocre ranking in world affairs, even though we have the ability [now being crushed] of fighting above our weight.

The forces that keep us in this mid-to-low-level position are powerful, extremely powerful. WE NEED THEM TO GET OFF OUR BACKS. We need them to talk with Rupert and tell their mates, Malcolm Turnbull and Bill Shorten that they are allowed to discuss schooling  openly, and not deliberately hide the mention of NAPLAN. Bring it out in the open! Schooling is not about money. The 37 kids from my railway-fettlers’ one-teacher school at Baking Board have contributed significantly to Australia’s welfare as has every other school. Schooling is about the promotion of learning and that banking corporation called UBS, needs to let go of the hooks on our institutions that they use to control our schooling system, our politicians and our media. The cone of controlled silence is too thick, as well.

NAPLAN is now discussed as a generality, a part of schooling, a thing that happens at school, a thing to be feared or wondered about. Rupert and UBS have had their way.  UBS, controlling our top end of town might care to think more seriously about the real meaning of the word SCHOOL.  What is it? What is it supposed to do? Is it doing it? Do kids like learning? Do they do  well at all parts of the curriculum? Why blanket test them when they progress faster and better when teachers share the evaluation of their efforts with them at the time of learning?  If you want to know how well they are doing, why not have a system of mentoring and reporting by highly qualified, experienced experts with a yen for excellence and with pollen on their wings? Why not just give the profession back to teachers?

The Australian education system, without any fear or doubt, is controlled by UBS and Rupert Murdoch [the schooling industry, in testucation mode, is worth $300 billion per year to him…at his last count].  UBS [this  banking corporation that paid the fares of bull-shipper Joel Klein down-under to show us what to do] seems motivated by a lack of appreciation for the ethics of the education profession. Big Bankers don’t like us teachers. [We shouldn’t have given up doing  school banking for them] It does not seem to understand that  a profession can be based on altruistic principles.  UBS, a respected organisation within thee money-making professions, could do so much good for children if it was able to adopt a moralistic view of the treatment of children and a responsible view of the work of the caring professions.

In any case, I’ve tried for quite a few years with the help of little Treehorn and a remarkable Kiwi educator, Allan Alach, to try to help restore normal conditions for Aussie school children through the columns of The Treehorn Express. We didn’t do any good. Treehorn is still that vivid green colour, because no one with any wit, has noticed him.

The two superordinate forces [UBS, Murdoch] are just so enormously powerful and our decision-makers are so very easily persuaded and so very well controlled……

They do not allow ANY political party to discuss NAPLAN.  The party doors are closed to reasoned discourse.

The mainstream press and the ABC aren’t brave enough to investigate the history or worthiness of NAPLAN.  [Kids. You can rely on shock-jock Alan Jones for support, however. He’s just got going.]

Shaky state governments [e.g NSW] believe that, by adding to the ferocity of the NAPLAN notion by screwing around with a relationship to the HSC, something or other will be improve.  Fat chance.

OMG. The place has really gone crazy and the standard of the whole gamut of learnings at school is fading – not just the naplan subjects. Kids just don’t like school much…..for good reasons.

We could end all the anguish in our schooling system if primary and secondary principals’ associations flexed their ethical muscles and told the feds that their members will return to their professional code OR if ACSSO (Australian Council of State School Organsations)  suggested to their members that they say NO to ‘NAPLAN’ OR  more mums and dads at home, thinking seriously about their child’s future, would  refuse to allow their children to participate……. like the parents of those 337 out of 343 pupils at Kimberley College, Brisbane have done OR some political party members would just sit down and talk about the meaning of school.

We all know our test-crazed system  stinks, but who am I [with some aligned colleagues and friends ] to test the might of UBS, Rupert and Co. and tolerate sloppy politicising. We don’t make the slightest impression,  it seems. They’re too powerful. Little Treehorn looks like staying a vivid green colour for a long, long time. We live in an era when there is a serious disinterest in childhood.

I can’t stand it any more. I quit. Thanks Allan and friends. Bye.

Phil Cullen

https://treehornexpress.wordpress.com

http://primaryschooling.net

Finally to those who don’t mind or don’t care how much NAPLAN is used to bash young children : “May the fleas of a thousand camels……”

Education Readings May 5th

By Allan Alach

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

Teacher knows best? Not any longer as parents muscle in on the classroom

Feel familiar to you?

‘Abusive behaviour by parents is experienced by a third of primary teachers, either online or on the school premises, at least once a month. A fifth of secondary school teachers are exposed to such behaviour once a month, according to the study. Female teachers were more likely to report such experiences.’

http://bit.ly/2p7tooq

Projects, Passion, Peers and Play: Seymour Papert’s Vision For Learning

‘Papert had a vision of children learning with technology in ways that were revolutionary. He believed that kids learn better when they are solving problems in context. He also knew that caring passionately about the problem helps children fall in love with learning. He thought educating kids shouldn’t be about explanation, but rather should be about falling in love with ideas.’

http://bit.ly/2paokka

Can Technology Change How Teachers Teach? (Part 1)

Thanks to Tony Gurr for this one.

‘Judging whether teachers have actually altered their daily classroom practice is surprisingly hard to do. Teachers, imbued with the culture’s values, often say that they have changed their lessons from week to week, year to year due to new district curricula, tests, and programs. Yet policymakers and researchers are less certain of such changes.’

http://bit.ly/2qGKPNN

Contributed by Bruce Hammonds:

Will Computers Free Teachers to Teach More Creatively?

‘At a party of a friend recently I got into a discussion with someone about education and the use of computer technology. The person I was conversing with suggested that educational software could and should be developed to relieve teachers of the technical aspects of teaching.I argue that we do not need to focus on developing or advocating for such software what we need to do is  to focus instead on creative and critical thinking for the purpose of developing democratic citizens. There is a real lack of movement in that direction in the public schools.’

http://bit.ly/2pJv5N4

Gold Standard PBL: Essential Project Design Elements

‘If done well, PBL yields great results. But if PBL is not done well, two problems are likely to arise. First, we will see a lot of assignments and activities that are labeled as “projects” but which are not rigorous PBL, and student learning will suffer. Or, we will see projects backfire on underprepared teachers and result in wasted time, frustration, and failure to understand the possibilities of PBL. Then PBL runs the risk of becoming another one of yesterday’s educational fads – vaguely remembered and rarely practiced. To help teachers do PBL well, we created a comprehensive, research-based model for PBL – a “gold standard” to help teachers, schools, and organizations to measure, calibrate, and improve their practice.’

http://bit.ly/2pJlXrt

Bruce has put together a set of articles that provide ideas about how to make use of Flexible Learning Spaces that are now almost the norm in our schools.

Brightworks – Tinkering School

“The only way to appreciate how other schools work is to visit them. Lisa Squire  from Hobsonville Point Primary and her principal Daniel Birch are currently visiting schools in the USA featuring student centred  learning in flexible learning environment ( Modern Learning Environments/MLEs). Lisa is writing a blog to share her experiences and for teachers interested in such learning environments will find her blog enlightening. This blog is about her visit to a Brightworks a ‘Tinkering School’.”

http://bit.ly/2pH6R40

Nuevas Upper School – a flexible learning environment (FLE)

‘Another school recently visited by New Zealand educators is Nuevas Upper School which offers an educational environment in which students feel safe to be themselves, to step out of their comfort zone and to follow their passions. This is the highest rom  of both self discovery and collaboration. This will be of interest to teachers working in flexible learning environments (FLE). One of the central pillars of a Nueva School education, Design Thinking is thoroughly integrated, developing in the students a way of thinking, seeing, and doing that increases their effectiveness.’

http://bit.ly/2pH7872

Brilliant examples of project work from High Tech High Schools

‘When visiting schools the work on display indicated the range of content being studied and the depth of student thinking.  Below are examples of project work  done at  High Tech High Schools. It is their record of what they have done and how they achieved their results. Teachers can utilize ideas illustrated by the displays to get ideas for their own school. Through displays students can show their parents and friends the work that they have done, and the community can see how project based learning enables students to do and learn.’

http://bit.ly/2paaQon

Are we expecting too much too quickly of our teachers?

Interesting thoughts from New Zealand blogger about Innovative Learning Environments(ILE).

‘I sense that there is a deep exhaustion across the sector at all levels of the teaching profession. I think much of this exhaustion has come from under-estimating the enormity of the changes we are currently demanding of the sector. Moving to shared teaching spaces, or Innovative Learning Environments (ILEs) is one example of expecting too much too quickly.’

http://bit.ly/2qAJp8E

Transforming Secondary Education – the most difficult challenge of all.

‘One of the educationalists working towards a new conception of secondary education working in what we now call Flexible Learning Spaces (MLE) was Charity James of Goldsmiths College and in 1968 she published her book ‘Young Lives at Stake’. I think I must have one of the few copies available and it remains at the top of my favourite educational books. Charity James believed it was important to get secondary education right if all students were to leave able to take advantage of the exciting opportunities the future might offer. Her book provides ideas about how to organise learning in flexible spaces relevant to today’s challenges.’

http://bit.ly/1k3YTMR

New Zealand’s Minister of Education Hekia Parata has just stepped down – here are a couple of not particularly flattering tributes to her performance over the the last five years. Overseas readers may want to compare her to whatever flavour of educational politician they are stuck with.

A Report Card for Hekia Parata as the Minister of Education

http://bit.ly/2qGzGg2

Interpreting Hekia Parata’s legacy

‘As Hekia Parata steps down as Minister of Education, trying to assess the legacy she leaves behind is difficult. That she was the most passionate, most controversial and most polarising Minister is probably not debatable. But what did she achieve? Parata never gained the full trust of teachers. She continued to pursue an agenda that was completely out of step with school leaders, education academics and the teacher unions. So what is the Minister’s legacy?’

http://bit.ly/2qtdKc0

From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:

Autumn – a chance to develop inquiry skills

Northern hemisphere readers will have to park this one for 6 months!

‘Autumn is too good not to take advantage of.All too often the results of Autumn studies seen in many classes ( usually Junior rooms) are superficial, to say the least, but this need not be the case.If there are deciduous trees in, or near, the school grounds what a brilliant opportunity to develop a small integrated study.The study could be prefaced with the provocation, ‘Why do some trees lose their leaves?’ Such questions introduce an inquiry approach to the students.’

http://bit.ly/2qGx2a3

Education Readings April 28th

By Allan Alach

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

What Are the Proper Purposes of a System of Schooling?

‘I’m raising this as a question.  Suppose you, magically, were part of a committee charged with developing, completely from scratch, a school system for our modern times.  You and the other committee members realize that before designing the structure, you need a clear idea of the purpose of schools.   And let’s suppose you are idealists enough to believe that the purpose should have something to do with education (as opposed, for example, to such purposes as providing employment for teachers or supporting the textbook and testing industries).  You are asked to come to the next meeting with a brief, written statement of what you think that purpose (or those purposes) should be.

Now, here’s what I’m asking you to do in this little survey.’

http://bit.ly/2pjGbWU

Relationships and the Company We Keep.

‘If we start with these, relationships and the company we keep as our basic principles of learning, then the design of our school, classroom, learning environment need to reflect that. In other words, do the designs of the above, hinder or support strong relationships and creating a context for students to be surrounded by the kinds of people that we hope they become?’

http://bit.ly/2oy9J5T

50 Tips, Tricks and Ideas for Teaching Gifted Students

‘Gifted kids can be a joy to teach when you know how to identify what engages them. These 50 tips and tricks come from my own experience and from around the Web. They’re good to have in your bag of tricks whether you’re a newbie or an old hand at teaching these high-level thinkers.’

http://bit.ly/2p601Gl

Secret Teacher: I’m tired of justifying the value of vocational subjects

‘One consultation evening, a parent told me that their child was no longer considering health and social care as an option. They had been informed by one of my colleagues that there was no point in doing it and to take a “real subject”. While I was shocked, I shouldn’t have been surprised: my subjects were always included at the back of the options booklet, with English, maths and science at the front.’

http://bit.ly/2oL9zmL

How to make mixed ability work: Let children take control of the lesson

‘Grouping children by presumed ability rests on the assumption that teachers know exactly what each child will achieve in a lesson. In reality this is rare, as completing tasks does not always equate with achievement. In fact, the idea of the ‘omnipotent teacher’ has led to an approach to lesson design defined by passive pupils waiting to be moved on. This ignores the pupil as a rational, self-regulating agent who has the potential, if given the chance, to understand their own cognitive capacity better than anyone else; it also belies the ability for pupils to act as resources for one another.’

http://bit.ly/2p5LMBw

Contributed by Bruce Hammonds:

Here’s How British and American Spelling Parted Ways

A short video explains the differences.

‘Why do Brits and Americans spell certain words differently? A colourful tale of dictionaries, politics, and national identity ensues here.’

http://stumble.it/2q88442

‘To retain our best teachers we need to stop killing them with planning, marking and meetings’

‘Just about every teacher will recognise the sad truth: they are working longer and longer hours week after week. (It would appear that this is now recognised by the Department for Education, too). The most profound question to address is whether these extra hours spent in the school are actually improving the quality of teaching and learning. Sadly, it would seem, this is not the case. It is rather more likely that we are spending endless hours perfuming menial tasks because that’s just what is expected of us…’

http://bit.ly/2mkaEEc

The Heart of Teaching: What It Means to Be a Great Teacher

‘What does it mean to be a great teacher? Of course credentials, knowledge, critical thinking, and all other faculties of intelligence are important. However, a great teacher should be much more than credentials, experience and intelligence.What lies in the heart of a great teacher?’

http://edut.to/2q8cSGP

Learning Objectives: a waste of time.

‘If you still have learning objectives written up at the start of every lesson, you’re in 2012. Hope you’re enjoying Gangnam Style.

A few people have been asking the reasoning behind my scorn for learning objectives, and I felt it prudent to outline my thinking here, in a blog. So here’s why I think learning objectives are ridiculous:’

http://bit.ly/2q7YwpP

From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:

Education is about playing the whole game

‘David Perkins is professor of Education at Harvard University Graduate School of Education. A highly respected authority in his field he is well known for his research and insight into the deep understanding of teaching and learning. His latest highly creative and easy to read book ( published 2009) summarizes years of observations, reflections and research. He ‘makes visible’ what creative and insightful teachers do. He also provides a framework of seven practical principles for all teachers to transform their teaching.’

http://bit.ly/1PxqsZB

What’s the Point of School?

“Guy Claxton, University of Winchester,is one of the UK’s foremost thinkers on developing students ‘learning power’. His most recent book is called ‘What’s the Point of School’ and ought to be compulsory reading for anyone involved in education. His book is all about ‘rediscovering the heart in education’.”

http://bit.ly/2p5BukY

The Big Picture Company

“The Big Picture Company believes that every students learning should grow out of his or her unique needs, interests and passions. They also believe that the system must ensure that the students and their families are active participants in the design and assessment of the student’s education. The goal of education should be to connect students to the world ‘one student at a time.’”

http://bit.ly/2oyeYCs

Follow-up to ‘Why School Makes Us Stupid”.

A TREEHORN FOLLOW-UP

If you missed the clip of the young man’s rant, here is a transcript. Yes. We call it TESTUCATION. He calls it REGURGITATION. Would you really call it EDUCATION?

NAPLAN soon for Australia! That fixes everything!

We flopped last year because the kids don’t like it.

What do we do now?

We could try pupilling in our schooling!

———————————

Below is a transcript for my latest rant video called “Why School Makes Us Stupid” which can be viewed on my YouTube channel Freshtastical here: https://youtu.be/qba-EOaq3NM

Why School Makes Us Stupid
By Spencer Cathcart

Does anyone else find it insane how much of our childhood we spend in a classroom?
As soon as you’re old enough to be in a room without shitting your pants…bam! You’re thrown into kindergarten! And from that day until you’re 18 school becomes your full time job. 5 days a week, 10 months a year, for 14 years. And even then it’s still not over! Because if you want a job other than serving fries, well lucky you, you get to spend 4 more years in college or university!

In that amount of time getting “educated” you’d think we’d all be geniuses walking around contemplating Shakespeare’s use of metaphors, while simultaneously calculating the parabola of the sun’s descent in order to figure out the time we should head home to our wife who’s waiting with a protractor to see if tonight we can achieve an obtuse angle in the bedroom, rather than acute.

Well obviously something went wrong because last time I checked our world is littered with dumb people. Like, I constantly find myself being blown away reading emails by how many people lack basic writing skills. Or the amount of people in line at a store who can’t do the simplest math to calculate their change. Yet all these people spent years in school learning all this, so what happened?

Well the problem is that in school we’re not “learning” we’re just regurgitating. We’re only taught what we need to know to pass a test, not pass at life. So for years we repeat this cycle of constantly memorizing useless facts for a grade. And then forgetting it all a few days later since by then we’ve gone and “secure empty trash” that shit from our minds to make room for the next batch of useless information.

Information that today you’d just Google if you really needed to know.

Also, now that I’m an adult I can officially confirm what we all knew as kids. And that’s nearly everything we’re taught has never applied once in my everyday life. And believe it or not I was actually an A student . Yet now when I look back now at my tests and assignments I have no clue what any of this crap is. So if what we’re being taught has no use in our adult lives, then what use does a kid have learning it? I mean there I am, my balls haven’t even dropped yet I’m learning equations to calculate the density of my balls and the speed of the drop.

A big reason why I believe our world is full of so many uneducated people is because school kills our desire to want to learn. Education becomes something we all quickly learn to hate. Which is really sad because you’d think education is something kids should enjoy. When you’re a kid you’re new to the planet and you have a million questions about everything. It’s why we bug our parents all day asking “why this mommy” and “why” that. But once school begins that curiosity quickly fades and we stop asking “why” and start asking “whyyyy”

It also doesn’t help that school doesn’t take consideration into what we want to learn about. Even subjects you didn’t care about if they were taught in a more engaging way you might realized a whole passion you never thought you had, changing your entire direction in life.

To this day I’ll often come across a random subject from elementary school again, like say ancient Egypt and I’ll think “holy shit, how did they build the pyramids? This is mind blowing!”. But back then you didn’t care because it wasn’t taught in an interesting way. And you were so busy memorizing the spelling of people’s names, the years of birth and other random useless facts that you had no time to actually be interested in what you were learning about.

By the way, fuck Shakespeare. Every single year from grade 6 until my second year of university I had a class where we spent some time studying Shakespeare. Why? The writing is over 400 years old! Back then English was almost a different language. It still makes no sense to me to this day. If you want kids to get something out of English class, maybe give them something that’s written in English! Also I am convinced if Shakespeare wrote in modern day English teachers would find the stories disgusting. It would be like reading prequels to 50 Shades of Grey in class. But I guess the lesson here is if you write anything in old-fashioned English then thou can say anything and thee who come hither to question thy writing skills shall be banished from whence thee came.

And that’s a big problem with school. So much of what we’re taught is about the world of our past and so little has anything to do with our present world. And isn’t that the whole point of school, to prepare us for the world ahead of us, not behind us?

Look I’m not against school. I think the idea of school is great. In fact some of my best memories are being around all random weird people you’d meet through the years at school. My issue with school is with the system of how we’re taught. Because how much can you truly learn being surrounded by four walls all day? And then you get home and you can’t even relax because you have hours of homework to do. And it leaves us with no time to clear our minds and think or explore the world firsthand. And isn’t that what education should really be about?

Instead school teaches us not to question what we’re taught, to abide by the textbook, think within the box of a rubric, and do what the teacher says like they are some almighty authority figure! It’s no wonder when we graduate we wear a square on our head, just to make sure everyone knows how great we are at thinking inside the box. It feels like the goal is to raise us to be suitable employees, not suitable people. When you think about it school kind of feels like a giant practice run of waking up at unhealthy hours every morning 5 days a week so we can get used to that 9-5 lifestyle. And then to ensure we transition into that 9-5 life we have to pay tens of thousands of dollars just to go to college or university which puts many people in debt and forces many to start working jobs they hate right away.

Education is the most important part of our lives because it builds the foundation of who we are as people. And I think a lot of the problems with today’s world are a result of our poor education system. Because when your education system creates uninformed people, with no curiosity to learn, who are forced to work jobs they hate to pay debt from school, well it’s no wonder our world is a mess.
– Written by Spencer Cathcart

Being treehorned. School sucks.

School Sucks. It Makes Kids Stupid.

I’m so pleased that I chose the name TREEHORN as the title to the occasional papers that I used to send to like-minded friends. It’s been so prophetic.  He started life as the hero of The Shrinking of Treehorn  by Florence Parry Heide. No adult, even his closest relatives took notice of our young hero when he had a serious problem. He learned, over time, that adults are quite indifferent to the  mental, psychological and neurological welfare of kids[and no-one has taken much notice of The Treehorn Express either!…a dismal failure]. Treehorn himself learned from an early age that the oldies are quite indifferent to children and what happens to them. We can certainly confirm this! Our power leaders don’t care, our operators are timid, our politicians prefer to be nasty to children;  and so,  the population doesn’t care.

Being treehorned comes from the disrespect for children that we all show…some more than others.

A few Aussie teacher-has-beens have now spent quite a few years and tears advocating for a better deal for him and his school friends through The Treehorn Express. It hasn’t worked. A dumb idea. Caring for kids is not part of the Australian Value System.  Treehorned kids have had  no chance against the tide of corporate power, the cult of testucation, the discarding of professional ethics  and the lowdown political game that is played with Aussie children’s lives.  A few of us have tried for almost a decade now to get a fair  go for kids.  It’s been tough combating the notion that our schools should try to kill the desire to learn deliberately, through our present day system of testucation and to do whatever incompetent politicians and their reps want schools to do.  Our schools are places where the concept of child learning is unknown or ignored. Imagine it! We now send our children to politically carnked-up institutions that do not respect what teaching and learning really means and which don’t care much about the proper application of either.  These institutions now exist purely to help the greedy to profit from the mental stress of children who are being taught to dislike learning and hate particular subjects.

Our sad PM, Malcolm Turnbull can plead all he likes for the electorate to value our ‘education system’. We Aussies just don’t give a stuff about it and our adults join with him and his comrades in not caring two hoots what the long-term values of a progressive, intelligent, innovative population can be. We are way off the radar of caring about kids and their schooling and about our national future….and, according to international information, we are moving off the screen completely whereas, once, we were up there with the best. We don’t even bother to ask ourselves what happened last year. Experienced, professional practitioners will tell you in one word : NAPLAN. That’s what happened! Irrepressible, learning-lethal NAPLAN.  It KILLS LEARNING.

The Spencer Cathcart presentation ‘Why School Makes Us Stupid’  below, asks, “If schools don’t know how children learn, why do we have to send our children to them?”  and queries, “Why do adults disrespect childhood so much?”  The presentation, forwarded  by arch-crusader and former super-practitioner Bruce Jones, is provocative. It’s worth giving an hour of critical thought to….  to think about schooling and what it really means….and if Australia is getting it right.

If our education system was a learning one, we wouldn’t have to read articles like this. How did Australia get this way? What’s the solution?  Can we afford to carry on the way we do?

Malcolm should listen to the video; if he is really concerned with the education of our children.   If you should check out the larger Cathcart blog, you will find some other interesting topics in the side-band….

How school makes kids less intelligent.

Success at School vs Success in life

Kids can’t answer basic questions .

You don’t legally have to go to school.

5 reasons why Finland is Global Education Leader.

The Factory of Success – Why school is a waste of time.

A factory Education.

School Myths Exposed.

Are you bad at school because you got an ‘F’?

The Dark Intentions of Public School.

What’s Education for?

10 things students did to pass exams.

Why School Makes Us Stupid

‘If you’ve ever thought school sucks, is a waste of time, or the education system is stupid, then this video is for you.’


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Phil Cullen   The Treehorn Express

Disbobedient Teaching

Disbobedient Teaching

Surviving and creating change in education

Welby Ings

This book is about disobedience. Positive disobedience. Disobedience as a kind of professional behaviour. It shows how teachers can survive and even influence an education system that does staggering damage to potential. More importantly it is an arm around the shoulder of disobedient teachers who transform people’s lives, not by climbing promotion ladders but by operating at the grassroots. Disobedient Teaching tells stories from the chalk face. Some are funny and some are heartbreaking, but they all happen in New Zealand schools. This book says you can reform things in a system that has become obsessed with assessment and tick-box reporting. It shows how the essence of what makes a great teacher is the ability to change educational practices that have been shaped by anxiety, ritual and convention. Disobedient Teaching argues the transformative power of teachers who think and act.

Author Welby Ings is a professor in design at Auckland University of Technology. He is an elected Fellow of the British Royal Society of Arts and a consultant to many international organisations on issues of creativity and learning. He is also an award-winning academic, designer, filmmaker and playwright. But until the age of 15 Welby could neither read nor write. He was considered ‘slow’ at school and he was eventually expelled. Later he was suspended from teachers’ college. Welby has taught at all levels of the New Zealand education system and remains an outspoken critic of the education system’s ‘obsession’ with assessing performance. In 2001 he was awarded the Prime Minister’s inaugural Supreme Award for Tertiary Teaching Excellence.

Otago University Press

Paperback
ISBN 978-1-927322-66-6
RRP $35.00