Education Readings April 21st

By Allan Alach

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

The hidden dangers of caring about your career too much

‘This is one of the most important social justice and economic issues of our time. Until teachers feel valued and supported in their pursuit of their calling, they will continue to leave the classroom—and our most vulnerable children will suffer as a result.’

http://bit.ly/2oPsekK

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.’

http://bit.ly/2ovMEeY

A Look at 6 Digital Citizenship Myths That Must Be Dispelled

When digital citizenship cemented itself into the public consciousness only a few years ago, it definitely had its critics. That remains true even today as we strive to understand what it means and how to practice it in our homes and classrooms. Many digital citizenship myths still have some of us doubting the intrinsic need for its practices.’

http://bit.ly/2p0qHsw

7 Suggestions For How To Treat Wilful Digital Illiteracy In Education

‘A teacher I know asked me last week if I could create a Word document for him so that he could type a list of dates. He has been teaching, I believe, for over 20 years, and is in a senior position in her school. Why has he been allowed to get away with such a basic lack of knowledge for so long?

In this particular instance it doesn’t have any direct effect on the children he teaches, or the staff he manages. Or does it? I am a firm believer in what has been called the “hidden curriculum”, in which what you teach and what the kids learn may be rather different. What are his children and staff learning from his behaviour? ‘

http://bit.ly/2pk3kLu

Why Kids Shouldn’t Sit Still in Class

‘Sit still. It’s the mantra of every classroom.

But that is changing as evidence builds that taking brief activity breaks during the day helps children learn and be more attentive in class, and a growing number of programs designed to promote movement are being adopted in schools.’

http://nyti.ms/2pk5WZZ

What Student Test-Takers Share with Ejected Airline Passengers

By Alfie Kohn

‘Consider the sport of ranking the U.S. against other nations on standardized exams.  Even if these tests were meaningful indicators of intellectual proficiency, which is doubtful, specifying how well one country’s students perform relative to those elsewhere tells us nothing of interest. If all countries did reasonably well in absolute terms, there would be no shame in (and, perhaps, no statistical significance to) being at the bottom.  If all countries did poorly, there would be no glory in being at the top.’

http://bit.ly/2pHZ1GK

Contributed by Bruce Hammonds:

Why Giving Effective Feedback Is Trickier Than It Seems

‘But giving effective feedback in the classroom can be trickier than it seems. It’s more of an art than a simple practice and requires the teacher to be disciplined and thoughtful about what is worthy of feedback, as well as when to give it.’

http://bit.ly/2oVltMC

More to good schools than ranked pass results

‘When choosing schools we need to prioritise much more than ranked test results. Choosing a school is infinitely more serious than scanning ranked examination percentages. We need to know the human heart of a school because design for learning is a complex thing.’

http://bit.ly/2oVuKnY

Computers in class ‘a scandalous waste’: Sydney Grammar head

Is there some truth in this?

‘A top Australian school has banned laptops in class, warning that technology “distracts’’ from old-school quality teaching.The headmaster of Sydney Grammar School, John Vallance, yesterday described the billions of dollars spent on computers in Australian schools over the past seven years as a “scandalous waste of money’’.’

http://bit.ly/2ortBn1

From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:

Learning to be ‘creatively rebellious’. The importance of the Three Ds: being Different, Disruptive and Deviant.

‘Organisations (and this includes schools if they are to be true “learning organisations”) need to become ‘courageous’ and adopt a ‘rebellious instinct’ and to discard old habits and safety nets to remake themselves as 21st C  adaptive organisations. Unfortunately all this is beyond the timid leadership of most primary schools or the industrial aged straightjackets secondary schools operate under.’

http://bit.ly/2pI6e9L

Fundamentals in education

The real fundamentals in education – the creation of a creative mind

‘In recent years education has become more and more cognitive or rational; learning that can be seen and measured so as to prove evidence of growth.

In the process real fundamentals have been overlooked.The creation of the mind is more than simply cognitive. The mind is a unified, active, constructive, self creating, and symbol making organ; it feels as well as thinks- feelings and emotions are a kind of thought. Attitudes are created from feelings and emotions.’

http://bit.ly/13b5vRO

The corporate takeover of society and education.

‘Since the early 90s society has been reshaped by a neo liberal corporate ideology. An emphasis on private enterprise and self-centred individualism has replaced an earlier concern for collective good of all members of society.   As a result of this ideological shift a wider gap has been created between the rich and poor causing a number of social concerns. Schools as part of this shift have been transformed from a community orientation to being part of a competitive cut throat ideology.’

http://bit.ly/1hARUnP

DING!!

 

Aussies will know that the septic contamination of NAPLAN is spreading in NSW through the use of Year 9 NAPLAN results attached to the HSC.  This  crazy movement by amateur educators suggests that the NAPLAN tests themselves might have to be modified to cater for this kind of thing, which, of course, contributes further to the unreliability of the tests as a useful measure of performance.  If so, our PISA results will improve and testucators will be able to hoodwink parents with their kind of statistics. This is just a rumour, of course.
The most sensible suggestion comes from Martine Beaumont….see below in this article from the SMH.

It’s willy-nilly time for NAPLAN use.,frequently described as being “as useful as an ash-tray on a motor-bike”

HSC numeracy and literacy test will divide students, cause anxiety say principals

Principals from leading private schools have warned that a new literacy and numeracy test which year 9 students must pass to qualify for their HSC will divide students place too much emphasis on NAPLAN and cause anxiety among teenagers.

Parents have also expressed their concerns with the extra online test for all students who do not achieve three band 8s in year 9 NAPLAN this year.

Paul Teys, the head of Hunter Valley Grammar School, said a group of independent school heads was meeting with the standards authority this week to outline their complaints about the new test. He said an additional external exam was an unnecessary distraction to students and teachers.
“I would say that if a student doesn’t have a minimum standard of literacy and numeracy by the time they are in year 12, then we really should be looking at the syllabuses if there is such a problem,” Mr Teys said.

The head of girls’ school St Catherine’s, Julie Townsend, said the online test would encourage “teaching to the test”.

Dr Townsend said students would be divided into those who would qualify for the HSC and those who would not.

“What this will do is create two levels of students and and they will possibly ask themselves if they are even capable or worthy of an HSC,” Dr Townsend said.

“I think it has the potential to put enormous amounts of stress on students that will start as early as year 9.”

Dr Townsend said she feared it was a “cynical attempt” to raise the NAPLAN results so NSW would “look better nationally and internationally”.

Wendy Barel, principal of Masada College in St Ives, said the additional test would put “a huge amount of pressure” on students.

“I know that many schools will teach to the test, but we don’t do that at Masada because we are trying to teach our students to think analytically,” Ms Barel said.

But despite the opposition, other leading independent heads, including Jenny Allum from the girls’ school SCEGGS Darlinghurst, believe the online test would not be an unnecessary burden on students and would ensure students have appropriate literacy and numeracy skills by the time they reach the HSC.

Martine Beaumont, who has a son in year 9 at a public high school, is leading a campaign by concerned parents to have the online exam abolished.

Ms Beaumont said she had been seeking a meeting with the Education Minister, Rob Stokes, or NESA to raise the group’s concerns.

“We are suggesting to parents that they boycott year 9 NAPLAN this year because that would give kids another year before they are labelled a failure,” Ms Beaumont said.

“You could have kids who are brilliant at maths but miserable at writing made to feel like they cannot manage their HSC.”

The NSW opposition education spokesman, Jihad Dib, said the new exam would be easier than NAPLAN.

“There is nothing to indicate that the online test is set at a band 8 level, in fact what I am hearing is it is set at a lower level,” Mr Dib said.

“What I want to know is whether the government is going to provide any more resources to help these students who they say need to do another test.”

The fun-crazed year with HSC & NAPLAN

The Union of HSC and Naplan

An unhappy affair.


As the corporate giants [like Amplify, the Education Unit of News Corp., run by Joel Klein; and Enhanced EText owned by Pearson, previous owner of Amplify] rub their greedy hands together with happy feverishness, NAPLAN will come into its own this year, with the chance of eventually replacing the HSC in NSW,…..as one of our teacher-readers suggests.  She  was discussing the ‘merits’ of NAPLAN, describing it as robotised testicular mayhem, constructed and supported by neo-liberal scio-testucrats. She doesn’t seem to like it.

As an unwanted and unusual appendage to the HSC examinations in NSW, it will certainly provide an anxious year for Year 9 pupils culminating with a long lasting anti-subject syndrome being fostered for a further three years; set to last forever…..no second chance……despite any post-test gimmicks masked as supplementary. Check it out…..

http://www.smh.com.au/national/education/naplan-half-of-nsw-students-would-fail-first-hsc-test-20161209-gt7tix.html

SO. Machiavelli is alive and well.  Fear is  scripted as an endemic part of naplan-style schooling  for ever.   The creation of FEAR and ANXIETY is already written into the Code of Conduct for Naplanners as an essential component of the instructional process.

There is really no need to go to such lengths at the Year 9 level to ensure that children will leave school with a lasting distaste and hatred for Maths, Science and Literature.  Years 3,5,7 tests are ensuring this already , very effectively.  HATING SUBJECTS 101 starts at seven years of age. Get ’em early….and we are good at promoting it, as PISA results demonstrate.

http://www.smh.com.au/national/education/a-dire-lack-of-interest-in-students-wanting-to-pursue-maths-careers-20170330-gv9pwa.html

YES. Pupils must achieve scores at Band 8 level in NAPLAN 2017or it’s ‘OUT!” for HSC 2020….. as if they were competing in the ABC ‘s ‘Hard Quiz’.  [NAPLAN is  fast  becoming  useless junk and a pedagogical joke. It’s only achievement so far is the creation of anxiety in kids.]

Aussie kids, as bright as any on the planet, have shown their displeasure for these weird tactics by adopting a revolutionary stance. It’s the Aussie Kids’ Eureka Stockade, reacting to nasty control. They react, naturally, to the force-fed nature of preparing for the tests and the stand-over tactics of the Wallopers, by disliking  certain subjects so much that it eventually turns to hate for these subjects and, of course, they express this by doing poorly on the NAPLAN and PISA tests……those things that testucratic wallopers  pretend will reveal useful information. The kids have no other forum to express their feelings. This weird example of standardised blanket testing is certainly bruising their mental health. It  has been a monumental sham for ten years and it is time for it to finish.

While this kind of reaction is not deliberate, the subliminal effects are profound.  Disliking targeted subjects is the kids’ only way to react against the pathological compulsion of testucators to assault children’s mental strength during instruction in those essential school subjects. Potential scholars may be quiet and respectful at test-prep time, but still waters can run very, very deep.  School pupils have no advocates in any political party where the buck is supposed to stop, and they are ‘treehorned’ by the general public. They’re completely on their own. Even though we adults don’t take much notice, we are being told in so many ways…and…despite the message that our schooling system is going down the gurgler accompanying  those PISA results, we prefer not to notice.  Bye, bye, future.
The Aussie Kids’ Eureka Stockade needs more adults, using their votes at the barricades. First, we need to refuse to have the kids do the Year 9 NAPLAN tests; and then make sure that the whole silly testing business is tidied up. Then, at the ballot box, we need to consider the disposition of all candidates in their attitude to and treatment of kids at school.

____________________________________________________________________________________________________

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

For 2017, there is only one recourse for the wallopers, but it is not appropriate to mention it. Even if they make tests easier, the scores might improve but the psychological damage will not go away.

NAPLAN, Mental Health and Dopamine.

NAPLAN, Mental Health and Dopamine

The psychological, sociological and now neurological effects of sytemic naplan abuse  can be very serious.

Loss of the natural, basic ‘yen to learn’ has serious consequences.

Much has been made of the abusive nature of NAPLAN testing.   News Ltd’s Guru, Joel Klein made the most of what he saw as testing’s most effective modus operandi – fear and threats – [love of subject and pupil care :OUT!] …..as did the Australian, Ms. Gillard,  whom he met at a Rockefeller booze-up near Wall st., New York in 2008, where, there and then,  she decided that the Australian education system should be based on kleinism. He openly championed FEAR in the Learning process. ….as did Ms. Gillard, her mentor Mr. Rudd,  and its later disciples Messrs Pyne and Birmingham….splendid examples of child-caring citizens. May the outcomes of government-sponsored child abuse and the destruction of the ‘yen to learn’  be on their hands.

Fear of failing and losing your job are now seen as motivators of great importance in the hunt for better scores for school children when they contest  standardised blanket tests that are  part of a scato-meme called GERM [Geopolitical Emetic Retard Meme].  Australia adopted it, without any kind of  examination and at enormous cost, and installed one of the most successful child-scare systems the world has ever seen.  Called NAPLAN, it has since failed because a neurological catastrophe was inbuilt into its nerve-system, and, for suspicious reasons, it  is being maintained.  While the financial costs are extremely burdensome, the costs to  mental health are much, much larger than any educator or testucator had ever anticipated.

Observers of the tragedy are now concerned about the dopamine effects on growing children. Neurologists, sociologists and serious educators tell us that dopamine, an organic chemical,  is a neurotransmitter that sends brain signals from one set of nerve cells to another.  This is very serious stuff. These messages can be quite dysfunctional during  anxious moments  [NAPLAN?] or periods of worry [NAPLAN test-prep?].  Outside the central nervous system, it assists in transporting some bodily operations to another.  Vomiting, sleeplessness, crying, anti-social behaviour, anti-subject and anti-school feelings and other degenerative conditions are outcomes of a lack of support and encouragement at crucial times.  The supply and maintenance of dopamine is central to positive learning; and fear-based, anxiety-promoted learning cuts off the supply. Encouragement  plays an important role in brain and body connectiveness.

Parkinsons Disease is ‘a degenerative condition …caused by a loss of dopamine-secreting neurons in the area of the mid-brain.’ … … ‘Restless legs and ADHD  – Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder are associated with decreased dopamine activity.‘ [Google : Dopamine] and there has been a startling increase in diagnosed ADHD in Australia since the introduction of NAPLAN

Suicide in GERM countries, including Australia, as an outcome of the lack of dopamine maintenance in our young learners, is amongst us

While social workers concerned by the present fixation on the use of digitised hand-held devices,  have raised serious ‘alert’ signals on the lack of dopamine in the public arena, Australian ‘educators’ have completely ignored discussion on the nasty things that NAPLAN ,the biggest monster of all, does to children…..and  we all seem to remain indifferent….cowed by political dictators and their henchmen!

Through their attitude and reactions to the NAPLAN tests, called ‘failure’, school children are pleading with Australian adults to treat them with humanity and help them to learn better and learn more.  Why do we treat them as we do?

With the shenanagans of on-line or paper tests and the movement to ‘opt-out’, we can be pretty sure that ‘adjustments’ will be made for the 2017 tests.

WON’T SOMEONE TRY TO GET RID OF IT!!!!????   WHAT MORE EVIDENCE DO YOU WANT, Mr or Ms Politician? WHERE ARE OUR ELITE SCHOOL PRACTITIONERS?

Sadly…..with Australia’s  inbuilt casual indifference to child welfare, aided and abetted by the silence of the press and the open support of so-called educators’ organisations, you can still lay ‘London to a brick’, that nothing will be done before May 9 .

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

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

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In which Piglet looks for a 21st Century Education Part 1

By Kelvin Smythe

(Originally published in Networkonnet)

One day, when Christopher Robin and Winnie-the-Pooh and Piglet were all talking together, Christopher Robin finished the mouthful he was eating and said carelessly: ‘I saw a 21st Century Education to-day, Piglet.’

‘What was it doing?’ asked Piglet.

‘Just lumping along,’ said Christopher Robin. ‘I don’t think it saw me.’

‘I saw one once,’ said Piglet. ‘At least I think I did,’ he said. ‘Only perhaps it wasn’t.’

‘So did I,’ said Pooh wondering what a 21st Century Education was like.

‘You don’t often see them,’ said Christopher Robin matter-of-factly.

‘Not now,’ said Piglet.

‘Not at this time of year,’ said Pooh.

Just as they came to the Six Pine Trees, Pooh looked around to see that nobody else was listening, and said in a very solemn voice: ‘Piglet, I have decided something.’

‘What have you decided Pooh?’

‘I have decided to catch a 21st Century Education.’

Piglet asked, ‘But what does a 21st Century Education look like? Then continued thoughtfully: ‘Before looking for something, it is wise to ask someone what you are looking for before you begin looking for it.’

What follows is something I look at as a kind of written doodle thus subject to continual revision (contributed to by what you have to say). In such a matter it is difficult to be comprehensive or fair; if I tried strenuously to be so, I would probably never get going.

We are, it seems, getting ourselves tied in knots about something called 21st century education – before looking for it, as Piglet suggests, it might be wise to find out what we are looking for.

This could be done in respect to how it might differ from what went before, how it might be the same as what went before, how it might be worse than went before, who is supposed to benefit from it, who is calling for it, does it exist, should it exist, what are its aims and, being education, how much is career- or self-serving bollocks.

I intend this posting to be a search for something called a 21st century education.

As part of that I declare my prior understandings about the concept – a concept because there has never been any discussion about something called 20th century education, it was never conceptualised in that way, so why for 21st century education? The formation and high usage of the concept label suggests powerful forces at work – forces, I suggest, taking control of the present to control the future. Those active in promoting the concept of 21stcentury education are mostly from political, technology, and business groupings, also some academics: the immediate future they envisage as an extension and intensification of their perception of society and education as they see it now. And in the immediate future, as well as the longer term one, they see computers at the heart of 21st century education, which is fair enough as long as the role of computers is kept in proportion as befits a tool, a gargantuanly important one, but still a tool.

Neoliberalism is dominant in current economic, political, and education thought so to understand what 21st century advocacy is about, there is a need to recognise the nature of that philosophy. But because it is neoliberalism we are dealing with a complex of abstract and polysyllabic words that need to be uncovered to reveal their true reality, a control, market-oriented, and anti-democratic one. But it is a Russian doll. Those words do more than cover anti-democratic, control ends; they also express a colossal ignorance of our best education understandings about how children learn, which, however, is not irrational, because that ignorance is partly a self-serving slipped-into ignorance.  And the reference to our ‘best education understandings’ is a highly qualified one, because neoliberalism has been hard at work under Tomorrow’s Schools undermining our best understandings and replacing them with their own, meaning the number of people ‘our’ refers to is a dwindling one.

Children have no choice as to what century they reside in, 21 carries no more significance to how one should approach the education of children than 20. I believe that people in education, or around education, should stop looking over the top of children to look at those before them: the best way to prepare children for the future, no matter the century, is to meet their needs now. Those needs would be along the lines of empathy [of which reading should be seen as a key contributor], fairness, independence, collaboration, creativity and imagination, problem-solving, commitment to democratic principles, critical thinking, ways of thinking [for instance, for science, arts, drama, history, mathematics], key knowledge [everything in education or life is by definition value-laden but that doesn’t mean children should be denied access to culturally important and cohesive knowledge – computer advocates are for skills and spasmodic knowledge based on children’s often passing superficial interest which is paraded as some kind of 21stcentury transcendental insight].

School education is being pressured to inappropriate purposes by groups who claim a hold on the future and from that hold generate techno-panic to gain advantage in the present.

Another prior understanding is that the inappropriate use of computers for learning has contributed to the decline in primary school education (though well behind the contribution of national standards and the terrible education autocracy of the education review office). For all the talk of personalising learning, of building learning around the child, of individualising learning, the mandating question for 21st century education seems to be: how can we build the digital into learning instead of how can we best do the learning? And even further: how can we build schools for digital learning instead of what is best for children’s learning environment? Large open spaces are not the best environment for children’s learning, meaning that in combination with the heavy use of computers to make large open spaces ‘work’, a distinct problem is developing. Computers and large open spaces are being promoted by 21st century advocates as the two key ideas to carry us forward to the education for the 21st century.

In respect to computers, learning about them and using them is both necessary and inevitable, how could it be otherwise, but from that necessity and inevitability comes the responsibility to protect schools from their disassociating effects. The neoliberal advocates of a computer-laden future are putting at risk the potential of human thought, behaviour, and imagination. Their judgement, based on what computers can do, remains undisturbed, it seems, by any understanding of what the best of learning can be. Computers are going to be everywhere, beyond the imaginations of most of us; all the more important to appreciate the decisive contribution of learning beyond and apart from the computer and the need to challenge the social control that pervasive computer use brings to bear on school and beyond.

The use of computers should not become the defining characteristic of what is called 21stcentury education but it has, and an education and social tragedy is unfolding.  The defining characteristics of 21st century education should be the same as the defining characteristics of 20th century education (expressed above) before the neoliberal philosophy took hold.

In the following paragraphs I will refer to trends deriving from the greatly increased use of computers, also the effects of the neoliberal changes to the education system such as national standards, the narrowing of the curriculum, the fear-laden functioning of the education review office, and the government control of education knowledge.

The particular form of learning most associated with computers is inquiry learning. For all the talk of discovery, creativity, and thinking claimed for that approach precious little seems to be forthcoming. Inquiry learning is the main curriculum practice developed to suit computers and neoliberal education. No matter what a teacher does, if it is called inquiry learning, the teacher is safe; the use of any other name puts the teacher at risk – the system likes conformity, even more obedience, and throughout a teacher’s practice and records the authorities are looking for those little signs of deference that communicate the teacher has got in behind.

Despite a lot of cute tricks and manoeuvres, inquiry learning is simply swept up old-style projects using google and computers. It is considerably an empty shell – yes, children are often interested, but what is missing is the development of the vital ways of thinking particular to a curriculum area. An empty learning shell is a prime characteristic of 21stcentury education.

Another 21st century prime education characteristic is the priority of skills over knowledge – meaning for ends any knowledge will do.  As stated above ‘everything in education or life is by definition value-laden but that doesn’t mean children should be denied access to culturally important and cohesive knowledge – computer advocates are for skills and spasmodic knowledge based on children’s often passing superficial interest which is paraded as some kind of 21st century transcendental insight.’

Because the neoliberal education system puts a low value on the arts, drama, and dance there has been a diminution in their quality and quantity, also contributing to that diminution is the cramping effect of national standards which, admittedly, is just another expression of that lack of valuing. In open space schools, which in some respects one would think ideal for the arts, drama, and dance a further diminution derives from the pressure to avoid the noise and activity that typically comes from children’s participation in those activities. The shush factor of the newer open space schools is not as noticeable and inhibiting as in the older ones, but it is still there.  And I miss the independent advisers throughout the curriculum but in the arts their absence is particularly painful. It was a team of art advisers dropping in at odd times that was the crucial stimulus to Elwyn Richardson – oh that they could come knocking again.

Open space schools lack the spontaneity available in conventional classrooms, for instance, allowing the varying of the timetable and being able to carry on with a programme, say for most of a day – a cherished part of the primary school tradition.

A heavy use of paper templates is common in schools today, with iPads providing digital ones, and exerting a decidedly deadening effect on learning. Another deadening effect is derived from an idea imported from America for use in open space classrooms in association with computers, but is also being used in some conventional classrooms as well. It is called ‘the wall’. Its purpose is to have children work independently on activities from a range of curriculum areas but especially the basics. Activities are displayed on ‘the wall’ and a place for the children to sign off when completed. In New Zealand, a direct duplication of the practice has largely been avoided but many classrooms especially open space ones, employ something like it. The crucial pedagogical point is that to avoid organisational confusion and a lot of demands on teachers, the activities provided are routine and a little below the level of challenge for children. If the activities are ability grouped, the activities for the top group are closer to being OK than the lower groups. The practice is unstimulating and limiting in all curriculum areas but especially in mathematics.

Twenty-first century education has also become associated with two harmful language practices – in reading, a trend to more phonics and words in isolation – oh champion; and in writing, on the basis, it seems, that primary children should be prepared for university from early juniors, the emphasis in writing has shifted to the expository and argument and away from children writing imaginatively and expressively. This combined with the use of templates and the asTTle emphasis on using adjectives and adverbs willy-nilly, is resulting in writing in New Zealand schools being smashed.

Another prime characteristic is the way the role of the teacher is defined. The role of the teacher as carried out in the past is first belittled, pouring water into bottles apparently while standing at the front holding forth (which seems quite a trick). And having established that, the 21st century teacher is then defined as being a facilitator (my hunch is that if that facilitator worked out from what to where and how, the facilitator would, in fact, be a teacher).

One of the substantial problems with computer use and learning is the way it encourages or allows teacher to forgo their responsibilities (as I see it) to deepen and extend children’s learning before they go out on their own (so to speak). Learning experiences need an introduction (with all sorts of open questions and activities), gaining of knowledge (interestingly and pertinently), use of that knowledge (with investigation or activities), and a conclusion (presentation and discussion). But the 21st century way is to quickly hand it over to computers and inquiry learning, with the teacher congratulating him or herself on the independence being encouraged.

The reason why the Treaty of Waitangi is hardly touched is because teachers are unwilling or unable to take children into such a topic, to build up the knowledge, to develop a feeling for what happened, and to identify the issues for the children to investigate from there. And a reason why teachers are so fixed on inquiry learning (leaving aside hierarchical insistence) is a lack of knowledge of alternatives. It is important for teachers to know, even if they don’t feel able to change, there are.

Where is the social studies thinking? that is, the comparative thinking based on the interaction of knowledge with the affective.

Twenty-first century social studies is children choosing their own topics or being asked to investigate large, abstract impersonal topics like communication. There is very rarely a true social studies challenge in a topic like that, or a source of empathetic development.

The social studies thinking will be absent.

Where is the science thinking? that is, thinking based on science investigation.

The question: The question that guides the investigation.

 

What I know now: The child records all he or she knows about the question. If the child already knows the answer, then there is no point in investigating it further. The teacher can also at this stage make a judgement as to whether it is possible for the child to investigate it in the time available. Many topics like volcanoes and dinosaurs lend themselves to study-skills rather than investigation processes.

What I did: This is the vital stage and what differentiates science from point-of-view? It is a step-by-step record of what actually happened; it can be in diary or note-taking form. It records the observing, testing, and trying out of the question. The failures as well as the successes are recorded. Others can read what went on and may suggest ways to revisit the investigation by another route. It may help show others not to go along that path. The child also includes references about those who helped and testing methods used.

And so on.

The science thinking will be revealed.

Where is the language way of thinking? that is, sincerity expressed in writing.

Imagine: the discussion, encouraging but not obtrusive to the child’s thinking; the child knowing how previous writing had been used and that imagination was valued; the art that had occurred or might follow; the urging to intensive observation and accurate expression that preceded the writing by the nine-year-old girl who decided to view the world through the grass not toward the grass:

Small balls of rain fall down and spit up in tiny streaks of white.

Leaves knotted by strings of weeds.

Leaves like cups hold blobs of water.

Drops of water trail down leaves and peak at the top.

Bird’s wings doubles as it flies.

Twigs uneven like a fork.

The dripping tap splits into tracks.

‘Did you find what you were looking for? asked Piglet.

‘Yes,’ said Pooh in muffled tones.

‘But I have decided something.’

‘What have you decided Pooh?’

‘This honey pot is a lot more interesting.’

Continued in Part 2

The battering of schools by a mega-meme.

“The Plowden Report was an official study, not a brain-fart exchange by two testucating child-mind-bashers at a booze-up in New York.”

“Joel Klein and Julia Gillard would have been tarred and feathered and rail-roaded out of town if they had tried their fear-based stunts then.

Mega Meme-Storm Continues

Devastating Damage

A meme is a vogue-word that covers the description of  an idea or a movement or a behaviour or a style that seems to have come from nowhere, but establishes itself in a culture, then self-perpetuates or mutates or adjusts. Some are strange. Some last longer than others. Think of torn jeans, tattoes, rock music, rap, bad language, school examinations, standardised testing’.  Someone starts something somewhere and it spreads.

Education systems get more than their fair share of memes that are sometimes called ‘fads’. Their origins can be traced and their upkeep can be followed but, in the worst cases, their obliteration can be slow. Others, like zest for learning, mini-skirts, good manners and child-centred learning disappear too fast!

A time line of useful and destructive educational memes can be drawn by any enthusiastic historian, which I am not. I have lived through some extreme ones and they were devastating. Within the limits of my experience – the post-war period to this point  in time-  a little over 70 years – this latest destructive Meme – NAPLANISING – for want of a better term,  has been the worst and most destructive, by a long shot. Why?  Because it aims directly at the mental health of children in a very deliberate way to try to force them to engage in robotic swotting behaviour of the most damaging kind.  It’s also a serious threat to responsible government, because it is killing the magic of learning and potential leadership of international negotiations.

The best meme in this  70 year period was described as ‘child-centred schooling’ or ‘open learning’ or ‘freedom to learn”.   It’s disappeared now, but when it was in vogue, the times were just wonderful and the school atmosphere was magic.

MEME-STORMS,

This is a short personal story about welcomed and unwelcome memes that would be of little interest to present day testucators. The oldies, the has-been educators,  might find something of interest. Let me start at the beginning. I was the most test-focussed primary school principal the world had ever known, and I would never have taken much notice of the crack-pots of the time who were talking about ‘freedom to learn’, ‘integrated days’, ‘alternative schools’, ‘subversive teaching’, allowing children to talk to each other in class, to think beyond the set syllabus, to enjoy learning, even to enjoy school…and all that nonsense of the post-war fifties.  Apart from monthly and terms tests I held tests of Arithmetic [Tables, Mental, Notation, Sums and Problems – as they were called] every Friday and I was working on some Grammar tests when I joined ‘them’.  I ‘heard’ spelling of every child in the school each day, over the intercom.  I was ‘test crazy’….until a little girl cried in front of me, when her main academic rival beat her on one of my monthly tests. I woke up there and then.  I hadn’t joined the teaching profession to make children cry; and I  realised that I must have been upsetting the real learning of hundreds of others in the scramble for better test scores.   Even though my inspectors liked what I was doing and I kept getting promoted, I knew that there was something better that I should be doing, but, despite duodinal ulcers, Bells Palsy and the rest, I couldn’t figure it all out.

I was born at the right time, as it turned out.  It was, almost suddenly,  the sixties; and I was right age to sort myself out. I was in the mood; and the books of the era were the most thought provoking ever. I read voraciously as did my divergent mentor and neighbour, principal Oscar Bell.  Miss Walker, owner of the largest bookstore in Cairns said that we were her best customers,  Cuisennaire was in vogue as was ‘individualisation’, structured reading using S.R.A. packaged reading kits [Shhh!], Reading in Colours, Reading for Understanding [a divergent thought at the time]. Piaget’s theory of social development was No.1 on the charts and  was even discussed at those inservice gatherings at the pub each Friday. He was a hero. Classrooms started to become ‘child-centred’ rather than ‘subject-centred’.  It was the sexy sixties.  Things were changing.  Joel Klein and Julia Gillard would have been tarred and feathered and rail-roaded  out of town if they had tried their fear-based stunts then.

Then came 1967 – The Plowden Report. It’s Golden Jubilee year this year.  50 years. Things started looking up. It was the time when “the hot knowledge of the practitioner and the practical administrator were put into practice”. Its messages are still ignored by testucators even though it was the best thing to hit England since the railway.  It was an official study, led by Lady Plowden, not the outcome of a brain-fart exchange by two testucating child-mind-bashers at a booze-up in New York. Child-centred education looked like being here to stay, putting into  practice what the war and  post-war experiences had taught those at the chalk-face.    I managed to visit the more notable LEAs in England…Bristol, Hertsfordshire and the West Riding of Yorkshire. Oh, what a feeling! The zest for learning was incredible. Sir Alec Clegg [https://alecclegg.com/plowden/and Eric Hake were absolute masters of the craft, sharing their experiences with a former test-freak from down under!  Magic.  It was 1970 and Australia was already opening its doors to welcome better ways of doing things in the classroom.  South Australia, the A.C.T. and W.A.  were quick off the mark and went so far as to completely alter the architecture of their classrooms to allow for more activity, more cooperative teaching, more opportunities to use the full range of strategies between the didactic to the maieutic that teachers used, to suit the subject and the pupils.

Children were treated as pupils not students.  Openness started to become a state of mind and not just an architectural term. Teaching and learning hugged each other in meaningful progress. What a wonderful period for a teacher to have lived. Wonderful. Wonderful to be a teacher in such times, under such circumstances.

Then came a severe questioning of what was going on in schools in ‘back to basic ‘terms, led by the fake press [especially The Bully in Australia], in the late 70s. It was mischief-making by casual observers of classrooms where children could wander around, talk to each other and share.  The uninitiated thought that it was chaos, because the children were not spending the day, sitting in their seats looking towards the chalkboard and reciting things. This meme-storm, originating  from a low-level series of  academic ‘Black Papers’ [1]in England that hit our shores with the intensity of a Category 5 cyclone. The press made the most of it with special magazine issues, nation-wide TV debates, public meetings, government inquiries and the like. Queensland was a special hot-spot because of its maverick style of governance. The unease was tactile until a special government committee [Ahern 1978-80] tidied up the mess and substantiated the kind of progress being made in teaching and learning terms.  Teachers , in those days, stuck to their guns when their professional ethics were threatened. Despite the appearance of classrooms, they knew what real learning was.

If school leaders of 2008 had remembered any part of this Back-to-Basics Super-Meme, they would never had allowed NAPLAN anywhere near the front gate of their school when it was proposed. .

The ease of influencing political decision, however,  as crazy as they were in the pre-Ahern period, gave heart to groups of moral crusaders who had been hanging around on the sidelines, waiting to clean out the teaching profession  of social justice adherents,  child-centred advocates, readers of subversive books and viewers of doubtful films. All of these atrocities were caused by state school teachers. Schools were promoting immorality. This gross meme had its origins in the U.S. in a large numbers of ‘Southern Baptist’ type institutions but especially the John Birch Society, a bulwark of conservatism and the the Moral Morality, run by Jerry Falwell[whose son is now an advisor to Donald T], a moneyed-up,  extreme right wing group that had established clones in Australia {Committee Against Regressive Education, Society to Outlaw Pornography, Council for Community Standards, Community Morals in Education, Campaign for Responsible Education, Conservative Club, Evolution Protest Committee  were some]. In Queensland, moral crusader Rona Joyner took command of schooling and of the cabinet and managed to ban M:ACOS, a social science program for primary schools and a commonwealth-sponsored social education project,  SEMP, in secondary schools. The teaching profession was a close-knit ethical unit in Australia at the time and the agitation disappeared…as did the Queensland dystopic government.

Then the smarties from the emerging discipline of business administration thought that they knew more about the various kinds of administration, even schooling, than those who’d practised it for ever and had excelled at the academic pursuit of the specialty. These managerialists were allowed to take over the band-wagon.  While it is said that everyone has the right to be stupid, but politicians abuse the privilege. Ours got it all a-about-f and played havoc with the basic principles of organisational structure. They tried to stick square pegs in round holes. Didn’t work, but, as usual, they kept it up. They appointed sciolists and pretenders into important positions and they  buggered things up, big time. The managerialists thought that the possession of a degree meant that the possessor knew more about everything than anybody without one. They thought that a well-prepared CV was a form guide and that the thespian skills demonstrated at interview time meant that he applicant could do anything.  Plumbers were put in charge of nurseries and, worst of all, testucating measurement freaks were put in charge of schooling. The managerial movement of the 80s and 90s was a calamity for Australian education. It was a meme-storm  of hurricane proportions. ‘Debbie’ would be a puff of wind by comparison. We have yet to recover. Maybe never. But. One day, after the cyclonic damage is being tidied up,  in the long distant future ,there is a slight chance that we will have education departments run by the teaching fraternity with curriculums and curricula  knowledge based on children’s needs. One day.

MEME-STORM. CAT.5

We couldn’t stop the Cat.5 meme-storm of 2008. It’s still raging.  Its destructiveness is legendary.

In political terms, what sort of government spends millions of dollars on an abject failure and then spends millions more to continue it?  Our political representatives surely test the standards of stupidity with casual indifference.

  

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1. All five Black Papers – supported by the right-wing press – attacked the concepts of comprehensive education, egalitarianism and progressive teaching methods. They deplored the lack of discipline in schools and blamed comprehensivisation for preventing ‘academic’ students from obtaining good examination results. ‘Education in England: a brief history‘ by Derek Gillard.

As we move closer to May 9 the day of attrition

Back to ‘Comments on Comments’ soon.

NOPLAN DAY IS NOT FAR AWAY
Time for the wise to withdraw their children.

As Australia moves forward to one of the most important days on its socio-political calendar – the first day of what is now called, The Noplan Tests, we need to consider the climate in which our present system exists. A drum-roll for those who are forced to head for the learning gallows on May 9 to do the tests!

The Climate

* Schooling movements in Australia are moving further away from democratic principles and it is noticeable.

*Australian politicians do not know how to prepare for the future ….the future of work, of living; a future  of doing better at anything we do.

*Australians do not have the courage to stand up to corporate lobbyists who are now determining our  children’s future.

* The obstacles to a healthy school-learning culture are political, not educational.

* The unscrupulous domination of the greedy  controls our entire schooling system.

* Our obedience to the desires of vested interests keeps us from discussing what is important.

*The elements of the devices used to control basic principles of learning, contain their own form of decadence.  [Children fail NAPLAN because of NAPLAN.]

*The greatest social and industrial handicap to Australia’s future is NOPLAN.  Naplan is a noplan. It’s a political curse for which Australia will pay dearly.

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Keeping in mind that the most esteemed educational practitioner of the 20th century, Sir Alec Clegg, said: 
there are two kinds of education: the education of the mind by imparting facts and teaching skills, and the education of the spirit … the child’s loves and hates, his hopes and fears, or in other terms, his courage, his integrity, his compassion and other great human qualities.

Australia has the capacity to have both for its pupils. We are willing and able to do things properly, if we are allowed.. Sir Alec’s little homily is appropriate….
When Michelangelo was going to Rome to see the Pope prior to his being employed to build the great dome of St Peter’s and paint the Sistine Chapel, he took a reference with him which said: The bearer of these presents is Michelangelo the sculptor. His nature is such that he requires to be drawn out by kindness and encouragement. If love be shown him and he be treated really well, he will accomplish things that will make the whole world wonder.

Every child is a  Michangelo  if we believe in the worth of our children.
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Sadly, the climate of Australian schooling is certainly not conducive to child  care, progress and welfare. Aussies prefer that their teachers exert fear and worry and anxiety so they can pass tests.

The Child

* There is good in every child no matter how slow, damaged, ill-favoured or despised by others.

* Children will work to the limit of their abilities.

* All children matter.

* Happy relationships between school administrators, parents, teachers and pupils are extremely important.

* The life of every child is enriched by the development of its creative powers.

* Love and encouragement and having fun at school are much more important than fear and anxiety.

* Children need care-based pupilling rather than fear-based hard instruction and repetitive test-prep.

* Teachers need as much support as pupils. Both thrive on recognition.

Australians, however,  prefer to believe that children go to school to pass tests and examinations; and play sport. Nothing else.

The School

* definitions are clear and meaningfully used

* all adults on the campus think about their place in the scheme of things.

* thinking time is part of each person’s timetable.

* all members concentrate total effort on the improvement of teaching and learning techniques.

* progress through school is marked by increasing joy in the acts of learning as new thresholds are crossed. Such thresholds are not  marked by school years but by growth in experiences.  Schooling is fun.

* there is plenty of shared opinions about activities and efforts. The sharing of helpful opinion represent the limit of evaluation processes, because increases in learning joy would be the aim of any learning conversations. Shared opinions would lead to positive forms of self-evaluation.

* Oracy is part of the every-day time-table.

* ways  are found to develop talents as part of the normal learning process.

Times for unique interests are found but not over-ritualised.

Pupils  exit school with a greater love for some skill or interest of a particular kind than they had when they started.

 When decisions have to be made [e.g. whether to do Noplan tests]  they are based on a simple Four Way Test, not unlike the Rotary Test:

1. Does it help children to learn better?

2. Does it help teachers to teach better ?

3. Does it economise on efforts in the teaching/learning acts ?

4. Does it provide the greatest good for the greatest number ?

When you have the pupil in the middle of your eye, you can’t miss describing an effective, quality institution.

You end up describing joy in the processes of learning, growth in the quest for learning how to learn, and high satisfaction in achievement.

HOW DOES THE 4-WAY TEST APPLY TO NOPLAN? WHAT DO YOU THINK? Comments?                                                                                                                                                  _______________________________________________________________________________________________                                                                                                                                                                              Phil Cullen 41 Cominan Avenue Banora Point Australia 2486  07 5524 6443  0407865999  cphilcullen@bigpond.com  REFER: Who’s Who in Australia