Education Readings May 19th

By Allan Alach

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

Workaholic Teachers

‘If you are a teacher then you are permanently busting a gut, not getting enough sleep, struggling to keep up and very often going to work unwell. Despite all this, you live and breathe teaching and you talk about leaving but know deep down that you won’t.’

http://bit.ly/2q16gbW

Schools told to ditch textbooks and let pupils experiment in science lessons

‘Schools are failing their pupils’ education by forcing them to regurgitate facts instead of letting them take part in practical science lessons, a leading expert has said.

Practical science can be overshadowed by factors such as a need to learn a “mountain” of information, a focus on English and maths and a lack of specialist teachers, according to Katherine Mathieson, chief executive of the British Science Association.’

http://ind.pn/2qX746B

The Saber‐tooth Curriculum

Following last week’s satire about a curriculum for teaching walking, here’s another satire:

‘New‐Fist was a doer, in spite of the fact that there was little in his environment with which to do anything very complex. You have undoubtedly heard of the pear‐ shaped, chipped‐stone tool which archeologists call the coup‐de‐point or fist

hammer.’

http://bit.ly/2qyaZFZ

Your Fidget Spinner Is (Maybe) Making You Smarter

Making use of the latest craze:

‘Why is fidgeting so hot? Because it’s an adaptation to deskbound lifestyles. Society increasingly demands mental work while enforcing unhealthy, sedentary physical habits. Fidgeting is a way to cope. It also has cognitive benefits.’

http://bit.ly/2q1714w

To Engage Students and Teachers, Treat Core Subjects Like Extracurriculars

‘Education researchers Jal Mehta and Sarah Fine have been observing different school systems over the past six years in an attempt to document the variables that contribute to deeper learning. But as they spent more time in schools, it was hard to ignore the ways in which the activity around the edges of institutions — elective courses, extracurricular activities — was where students and teachers “were most fired up,” said Fine, a postdoctoral student at Harvard Graduate School of Education. ‘

http://bit.ly/2pYvdpe

We are teaching kids how to write all wrong — and no, Mr. Miyagi’s rote lessons won’t help a bit

‘We’re teaching writing wrong.

We must be, because when I meet people and they find out that I’ve spent 20 years teaching writing at the college level, they are eager to tell me how today’s generation can’t write worth a damn.

“What they write doesn’t make sense! I can’t even understand the sentences, let alone the message!”’

http://wapo.st/2qyj5ON

Contributed by Bruce Hammonds:

The Student-Centered Math Class

‘…Peter Liljedahl, a professor at Simon Fraser University. Liljedahl proposes three strategies that you can implement in order to create what he calls the thinking classroom: Start with good problems, use visibly random groups, and work regularly on vertical nonpermanent surfaces. I started using these three strategies in my math classes, and they have been an absolute game-changer.’

http://edut.to/2q14rvq

Creativity and risk taking

‘Our vision for Hornby High School (‘A centre of creative excellence’) is pretty big. Trying to get there could be likened to trying to eat an elephant (not that I am suggesting really eating these beautiful creatures…..)

How do you do that?” Well – one bite at a time, of course. So we broke the vision down into three strategic goals, one of which is “To foster inspirational, risk taking and enterprising leadership in all members of our learning community”.’

http://bit.ly/2qBUgPS

Saws, mud, rope swings, open fires – and not an iPad in sight

‘Yet an outdoor nursery which shuns modern technology and allows toddlers to roll around in the mud and even cut wood using a huge saw has been rated outstanding by Ofsted.Set in a forest and with no running water or electricity, the Elves and Fairies Woodland Nursery in Dorset says its goal is to teach the importance of nature.’

http://dailym.ai/2rwhYgE

Pity our children – they’re being turned into grammar robots at school

‘Last week the education select committee concluded that the evidence did not show that teaching specific grammatical techniques improved writing; and it recommended that the new Spag – spelling, punctuation and grammar – tests should no longer be mandatory for older primary schoolchildren.’

http://bit.ly/2q1pSwn

From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:

Points of view from Mount Eden School

‘The NZ government’s reactionary National Standards has side lined an excellent curriculum but principal John Faire of Mount Eden School still provides  pertinent advice about how to implement it. Schools, he said, have ‘three choices’ – to ‘bolt it on’, to ‘rewire the school’, or to ‘redesign the school’.  He favours the third approach.With regard to the ‘new’ curriculum John said that for many it is a bit ‘back to the future’ and that the curriculum statements and accountability demands imposed since the early 90s had all but ‘squashed out the creativity’ that was to be seen in the 70s and 80s.’

http://bit.ly/1RbfgSj

The artistry of teaching and future learning attributes

‘The future of education will be substantially determined by the shared perception of the purpose of learning, and that this is best expressed in terms of the needs of the learner. A focus on deep and profound learning would determine the qualities of a learner of the future This in turn has implications for the quality of the teaching provided.’

http://bit.ly/1PsoX3j

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 12th

By Allan Alach

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

A Provisional Curriculum For When Walking Is Taught At School

Kelvin Smythe wrote a similar satire over 25 years ago – coincidence?  Good read all the same.

‘To secure the quality and consistency of walking skills in forthcoming generations, it is anticipated that walking will soon be taught by professional teachers in properly equipped educational facilities. The following curriculum has been designed to achieve optimum results.’

http://bit.ly/2r3Kwho

Discipline, Punishment and Mental Health

‘In the past 25 years rates of depression and anxiety among teenagers in the UK have increased by 70 per cent. How has society managed to produce a generation of teenagers in which mental-health problems are so prevalent?

Has the depersonalisation of learning and migration to a teacher-centred and curriculum-focused approach to education been a factor in this increase?’

http://bit.ly/2r1NmCs

Kids Don’t Fail, Schools Fail Kids: Sir Ken Robinson on the ‘Learning Revolution’

‘Robinson delivered a keynote address in which he spoke to the “learning revolution,” arguing that the shift to personalized learning is a non-negotiable in the United States if education is prepared students for the future, instead of simply the “now.”

So, why then is personalized learning a non-negotiable?’

http://bit.ly/2r3oE5q

Dear Friend About to Leave Teaching…

‘As another school year comes to a close, I am once again surrounded by teachers who are ready to give up or change careers. There are always complaints about testing, administration, other teachers, students … the list goes on and on. Each year, it feels like you’re at your wit’s end.’

‘Before you give up and leave teaching, please consider these three things …’

http://bit.ly/2qtdCcO

Children need art and stories and poems and music as much as they need love and food and fresh air and play.

‘But if you don’t give a child art and stories and poems and music, the damage is not so easy to see. It’s there, though. Their bodies are healthy enough; they can run and jump and swim and eat hungrily and make lots of noise, as children have always done, but something is missing.’

http://bit.ly/2r1R539

Contributed by Bruce Hammonds:

Responsibility and Inner Discipline

We hear so much about children’s behaviour in schools . This short PDF  based on the work of Barbara Coloroso would make a good basis for a staff meeting.

‘A major goal of education is to teach students to conduct themselves in an acceptable manner. To do so, students mush acquire an inner sense of responsibility and self-control.’

http://bit.ly/2q4BgLq

The problem with tests that are not standardized

Alfie Kohn.

‘Many of us rail against standardized tests not only because of the harmful uses to which they’re put but because they’re imposed on us. It’s more unsettling to acknowledge that the tests we come up with ourselves can also be damaging. The good news is that far superior alternatives are available.’

http://wapo.st/2qUMtiZ

Why dividing us by age in school doesn’t make sense

‘Dividing children by age in schools doesn’t make sense. After few seconds of skepticism, I took his argument seriously and I realized that the idea of grouping students by age was an assumption I had never challenged before.What we take for granted and see as “how things are“, is often just “how things have been done lately“. The fact that we grow up doing things in a certain way tend to install in us the assumption that that’s the unique way to do them, and that humans have always been doing them that way.’

http://bit.ly/2pyKqMC

Be The Change You Want to See By Shifting Traditional High School

‘Great ideas and extraordinary teaching happen in public school classrooms all over the country, but these pockets of innovation often don’t get the attention they deserve. More often the schools held up as models for the future of learning started with a carefully articulated vision around change, a hand-picked staff, and even some startup capital. Changing the traditional approaches to teaching and learning that have been in place for decades within an existing school is extremely difficult work.But passionate teachers and leaders are doing just that.’

http://bit.ly/2q743gL

From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:

Integrated learning at its best!

Flexible thinking in a traditional school – you don’t need flexible learning environments

‘It seems that modern schools require Flexible Learning Environments (FLEs) when what is more important is flexible or innovative thinking. Opunake Primary is one such innovative school which makes use of James Beane’s democratic ideas to empower kids  linked with  a powerful inquiry learning model and mixed age teaching. Add to this their emphasis on presenting student findings through displays, exhibitions, models’ demonstrations and a range of modern media and you have a school worth emulating.’

http://bit.ly/2q4vhWE

Creativity – its place in education

An oldie written by Wayne Morris

‘Is it important to our futures that creativity be taught?What place should creativity have in our education systems?Should we teach creatively or teach for creativity?“By providing rich and varied contexts for pupils to acquire, develop and apply a broad range of knowledge, understanding and skills, the curriculum should enable pupils to think creatively and critically, to solve problems and to make a difference for the better. It should give them the opportunity to become creative, innovative, enterprising and capable of leadership to equip them for their future lives as workers and citizens. It should enable pupils to respond positively to opportunities, challenges and responsibilities, to manage risk and cope with change and adversity.”Source: UK National Curriculum Handbook [p 11-12]:’

http://bit.ly/129fP7s

Superkids; the hurried generation!

‘This hurrying is understandable in an age of increasing speed and insecurity and there is a growing industry ready to provide whatever any parents requires to give their child an academic advantage, non the least the computer industry! Parents often feel guilty if they aren’t providing all they can.Unfortunately most of what is being provided goes against what we know as age appropriate learning.’

http://bit.ly/1qKnlqv

NAPLAN. It’s all systems go!

NAPLAN – 9 May

IT’S ALL SYSTEMS GO!

The intensity of preparation for the tests is evident in the extreme measures that schools are taking to confront the evil in a few days. [See The Treehorn Express 19 April]. School administration teams will be busy arranging for the rooms, the invigilators aka security guards appointed, what to do with the rest of the school during the three days, sorting out those who have requested not to do the tests and the endless tasks that NAPLAN brings with it. The normal curriculum teaching will have been adjusted in classrooms some time ago and there will be heavy concentration on the examinable bits expected in the tests; plenty of test practice and homework.  Teaching and learning will have been suspended until Friday, 12 May when celebrations for the conclusion of the sweat swot will be joyous.

Australian Schooling – the teaching and learning part – commences on Monday, 15 May.

The holistic curriculum that aims at high achievements in all learning matters will be commenced for the year  on Monday, 15  May.

IN THE MEANTIME…..

Parents will be taking their children to tutoring shops, purchasing those “NAPLAN for Dummies” kind of books from the newsagents, supervising homework with serious concern,  planning the rewards for ‘jobs well done’ and, maybe singing songs like “It’s Not on the Test”

to their own ‘little third graders’ The wise parents will be writing their notes to the teacher or the principal or the school indicating that they do not want their child to be subjected to the traumas of NAPLAN testing.

The teachers will be using up their supplies of vallium and tears and ‘kicking the cat’ that frustrations bring when they want their pupils to succeed in something that they did not ask for, can do without, doesn’t work, and is abusive to children’s mental health.

Principals will be doing as they are told as well as helping their teachers to ‘feel good’ under difficult circumstances

At the top tiers of government, Simon will have, by now consulted with his war cabinet [The Australian Government Primary Principals’ Association [ http://www.agppa.asn.au/ ], as they caste their ‘unified and authoritative’ eye over ACARA’s management of NAPLAN 2017, especially following the messages from the 2016 disappointment. This think-tank’s contribution to the maintenance of mediocre standards in our schools is pivitol.  One cannot expect much higher than mediocre, of course. It’s in-built. It is, indeed crucial for 2017, since the most recent PISA results, where the effects of NAPLAN were evident, and Australian scores were worse than some third-world obscure authorities that Australia gets back to the middle or better in world terms. The very nature of NAPLAN assures the world that Australia is heading the wrong way in PISA terms. Our kids and their teachers do not seem to like doing NAPLAN nor PISA [for 15 year-olds]; that’s for sure.  PISA is THE litmus test for how well NAPLAN works; and the evidence to date clearly shows that our kids are ‘turned off’ to learning maths, science and literature; and the stress and anxiety that they cause to individuals, parents and homes is much too high.  This government think-tank, AGPPA, would have discussed, in some depth as to the 2016 calamity and whether it is worthwhile pursuing this kleinist mode of mass evaluation, called NAPLAN. We would expect no less, even though the discussions have not been made public.

Will NAPLAN be different this year and did AGPPA approve of the differences?  Simon’s group will be au fait with the difficulties of the change-over to mechanised testing and satisfied itself that all is okay, except for the difficulties in Queensland, but ACARA will surely be required to assure the Government’s group that all is fair and square before it makes any public statements.  How good are the keyboard skills of the victims? Anyone know?

The effects of this sort of testing program on the mental health of children must be of serious concern  to AGPPA, if Simon’s loyal group  cares for the government’s welfare.  The governments drive for ‘Values’ seems to be a serious one, even though Australia does not have a serious stance in the way it treats its children. The tales of PTSD and versions of it, the suicide rate, the unhappiness in families at this time of the year must surely have been on the agenda of this government think-tank.

All will be well if sufficient parents are prepared to say ‘NO to NAPLAN’.  It’s not too late.

By the way, does the government have its own  Australian Government Council of State School Organisations that it has captured? If so, watch out kids. You’ve been  well and truly treehorned.

________________________________________________________________________________________________

Phil Cullen   http://primaryschoolng.net/    http:treehornexpress.wordpress.com

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

What is Naplanitis?

NAPLANITIS is a psycho-socio-politico-neurological condition, spread by corporatised murdochean politicians in a vain attempt to increase scores of Australian school children in the biennial international PISA tests of a few selected fundamental parts of a normal school curriculum. It is sure to be listed, one day, on the ‘danger list’ of mental health conditions.

The cold administrative forms of mass-measurement, designed for Australian conditions for the use of high-stakes NAPLAN testing…as part of the PISA plot… manifests itself in a genuine dislike even hatred by pupils for the subjects selected  and for schooling itself.   All school children in Australia suffer from some measure of it; and its results in measurement terms have seen its PISA results diminish spectacularly; and its NAPLAN scores stagnate. .

Now endemic to Australian schooling systems, its eradication can be started only by serious public discussion and focused parliamentary attention to the worth of such externally imposed, politically based, extra-curricular forms of schooling. Who will stand up first?

Based on the black pedagogy of fear and the creation of anxiety at crucial learning stages in a child’s development, it attempts to dispel the notion that learning can be a pleasurable and worthy  undertaking. NAPLAN adherents believe that  high achievements are created only in an atmosphere of neurological discomfort.

The logic of NAPLAN is centered in the belief that intense testing of children between the ages of seven years and fourteen years, and occasional high-stakes side tests, spiced with a surfeit of practice testing,  will produce scholars who will depart from the regular schooling system with  previously unknown levels of competency.  Didactic jug-to-mug forms of instruction, that do not require profound nor esoteric forms of professional preparation at tertiary level of education, have precedence in financial governmental support and encouragement;  while developmental, child-centred maieutic styles that produce higher quality outcomes, including higher levels of achievement,  are ignored.

Discussion on whether the teaching profession can be allowed to exercise its own kind of professionalism and its own setting of  ethical behaviour or whether Australia continues to conduct its schooling according to instructions from political ghettos, based on lawyers’ lore and unethical political pollution…… using totalitarian modes of control, is an urgent imperative.

NAPLANITIS has  replaced the Australian ‘CARE FOR KIDS’ attitude with a vengeance.

  Despite its historical penchant for examination and testing routines, Australia just cannot continue with a schooling system in the manner that it does, using a curriculum so explicitly controlled by an unreliable , immoral, ineffective, heavy piles of tests dumped on schools and their kids for three days every year ,as well as seriously interrupting carefully considered school routines that the school considers to be important, in terms of an holistic curriculum.

NAPLANITIS as a medical term is not used. Lacking dopamine, child despair and stress and anxiety morphs into a serious mentally abused attitude that stays with them for the rest of their lives. It is serious mental health  stuff, usually lasting a life-time.

,At the same time, the increasing numbers of children being sent to school counsellors and psychologists with various disorders at Naplan time, is of concern; and the literature on ‘test stress’ is growing rapidly.  The use of TEST STRESS in the teaching of NAPLAN-passing is actually counter productive. Each tests contains its own flop-gene.  Check this :

http://brainconnection.brainhq.com/2000/07/12/tests-stress-problems-for-students/]  and

https://thepsychologist.bps.org.uk/volume-21/edition-12/examination-stress-and-test-anxiety

We tolerate all this nonsense.  We’re a pretty silly lot of people, aren’t we?

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Phil Cullen  41 Cominan Avenue banora Point Australia 2486 07 5524 6443  0407865999 cphilcullen@bigpond.com

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