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

Education Readings April 7th

By Allan Alach

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

The Joy Of Opting Out Of Standardized Testing

‘Testing season is a gray period in my classroom. But it’s a joy in my house.

As a classroom teacher with a daughter in the public school system, I’m always struck by the difference. In school I have to proctor the federally mandated standardized tests. But I’ve opted my own daughter out. She doesn’t take them. So at home, I get to see all the imaginative projects she’s created in her class while the other kids had to trudge away at the exam.’

http://huff.to/2nFzqMA

Opt Out 2017: Refusing Education as a Police Power

This article is by Mark J Garrison, whose book A measure of failure: The political origins of standardized testing is well worth reading.

‘All of this harms the quality of education and does nothing to solve the real problems that concern parents, educators, students and their communities. A summation of existing research suggests that test-based accountability systems do not serve to improve the quality of education; annual testing has not been demonstrated to help educators do a better job. Yet, state and federal authorities continue to pursue a direction that the vast majority of students, parents and educators have clearly opposed.’ 

http://bit.ly/2ncI3CE

The First Two Years at School (1950)

Here’s a movie from 1950, examining the teaching practice in junior school classrooms. it’s not often that one looks at something 66 years old and sees that things have definitely gone downhill since then.

An exposition of modern methods of teaching the very young, showing the purpose behind the methods now being used, and contrasting them with past procedure.’

http://bit.ly/2oENPNF

Here’s one secret to successful schools that costs nothing

‘Most factors that help make schools successful cost lots of money — think teachers, technology and textbooks. But a new study suggests one factor that doesn’t need any cash to implement can play an important role in helping students succeed at even the most disadvantaged schools. That factor is what scientists call social capital.’

http://bit.ly/2oDzpxB

How Not To Teach Writing

Nobody teaches writing that way.

No, the entire history of human expression, human literature, human song– it’s about finding new and interesting and surprising ways to say what we have to say. It’s about finding ways to express a thought that are perfectly suited to that particular person and time and place and circumstances. We are moved, touched, excited, and enlightened by those who can string words together in completely different and yet completely appropriate ways.

http://bit.ly/2o4WWWs

What is it like living in Libya these days?

If you think your teaching job has its problems:

‘Libyan activist, Maimuna Aghliw, who has been living in Misrata since 2009, reflects on life there during wartime. Aghliw, 26, spent some time working at an NGO, focusing on psychosocial support, visiting different elementary and secondary schools. She also spent time teaching and tutoring children of various ages.

Here, she talks about her experience as a teacher in war-torn Libya.’

http://bit.ly/2nFToXf

Contributed by Bruce Hammonds:

Schools hit a wall with open-plan classrooms

When will they ever learn?

‘They knocked down walls to revolutionise learning and now they are putting them up again.  Open-plan classrooms have caused nothing but trouble for many schools, which are putting up partitions and walls to counter the deafening noise created in the barn-like spaces.’

http://bit.ly/2oYPuKd

MLEs (Marae Learning Environments) – Lessons from the Marae for Modern Learning Environments

‘Cultural responsiveness is a crucial part of all learning environments and leads to enhanced practices and learning outcomes. The Modern Learning Environment (MLE) is no exception. Modern learning practices move beyond the learning space and seek to challenge the traditional frames of learning. These practices are for the enhancement of learning experiences but need to be infused with robust cultural competencies. For Maori, open plan, communal learning spaces are not new.’

http://bit.ly/2oGUILp

A Continuum on Personalized Learning: First Draft

‘When I went into classrooms to see what “personalized learning” meant in action, I observed much variation in the lessons and units that bore the label. None of this should be surprising since “technology integration” and other reform-minded policies draw from the hyped-up world of new technologies where vendors, promoters, critics, and skeptics compete openly  for the minds (and wallets) of those who make decisions about what gets into classrooms.’

http://bit.ly/2nZlYEX

From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:

Seven myths about teaching – common sense to me!

‘Seven myths about learning  from an American source – common sense to insightful New Zealand teachers?Many people — educators included — still cling to some of these misconceptions about learning because they base what they think on their own experiences in school, ignoring what 21st century science and experience are revealing. Here are seven of the biggest myths about learning that, unfortunately, guide the way that many schools are organized in this era of standardized test-based public school reform.’

http://bit.ly/2oYLBox

Back to the future

Tapping into the wisdom of the past

‘Twenty five years after retiring Bill Guild has been invited back to his old school to share his ideas about quality teaching and learning. It is a half a century since Bill took up his appointment at the school.As well, it turns out, Bill taught the aunt of the current principal who wants to learn about, from Bill, the ideas that first gained the school it’s creative reputation. Tapping into the wisdom of the past is a powerful idea – and it turns out Bill’s wisdom is very current.’

http://bit.ly/1KzIEUx

Transforming schools through Project Based Learning (PBL)

‘American educationalist Thom Markham is an enthusiast for Project Based Learning (PBL) and believes that the most important innovation schools can implement is high quality project based learning. He provides seven important design principles for teachers to ensure project based learning is of the highest quality.’

http://bit.ly/18lBlLJ

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

Education Readings March 17th

By Allan Alach

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

Writing is more beneficial for learning than typing, according to these scientists

‘”When the students were drawing the word we saw that the brain was active in larger areas and also in a very particular way that is indicative of being beneficial for learning,” said van der Weel. The researchers found that when your motor skills are involved, the way nerve cells communicated with each other was found to be better for processing information, he explained. Van der Meer added that using a pen in the process of writing or drawing is often slower than typing — forcing people to process what they’re hearing or seeing, compared with passively typing.’

http://on.mash.to/2nGsRd8

Flogging Dead Horses

‘Our model of schooling is more than 100 years old and has barely changed in that time

The rest of society – our industrial practices, technology, the media we use, our leisure activities, the global scope of our world, communication systems – has undergone a revolution.’

‘The original purpose of school – designed to sort and sift; to separate sheep and goats – is now redundant.  We need 100% of students to be skilled and capable citizens able to contribute positive agency to both their economic and social world.’

http://bit.ly/2nph6vd

Teacher Quality: A Reader in 2017

‘“The continual dumbing-down of the preparation of teachers is not without consequences.”

I would argue that the “dumbing-down” is about the false attack on “bad” teachers as the primary or even single cause of low student achievement among, specifically, vulnerable students. And the ugly consequence of that assault has been increasing accountability over teacher certification and teacher evaluation (such as using value-added methods) and thus demonizing teachers without improving teaching or learning.’

http://bit.ly/2npdHgf

Busting the attention span myth

‘You probably won’t get to the end of this article. Everyone knows our attention spans are getting shorter. It’s just obvious. Or is it?’

http://bbc.in/2mQmOVw

12 ways to really make Genius Hour work in your class

‘It’s a class unlike anything you’d see at almost any school. But at heart, it’s driven by the same thing that drives Genius Hour: helping kids pursue what’s important to them and what’s important to the people they serve. Genius Hour is the idea of giving students 20 percent of their class time to pursue projects related to their passions. The concept is broad and intentionally open-ended, and the results can be phenomenal.’

http://bit.ly/2mQjzxB

The changing skill set of the learning professional

‘It comes as a surprise to no-one that learning professionals are operating in a very different world to those of a generation ago. I’d like to highlight four changes in particular that impact heavily on the skill set of the learning professional.’

http://bit.ly/2nGsbV9

Contributed by Bruce Hammonds:

How Integrating Arts Into Other Subjects Makes Learning Come Alive

‘Art has long been recognized as an important part of a well-rounded education — but when it comes down to setting budget priorities, the arts rarely rise to the top. Many public schools saw their visual, performing and musical arts programs cut completely during the last recession. A few schools are taking the research to heart, weaving the arts into everything they do and finding that the approach not only boosts academic achievement but also promotes creativity, self-confidence and school pride.’

http://bit.ly/2npf1PX

Brava Art Press, Visual Art for Children, Teachers and Parents

An Art site schools might like to join?

‘Children who participate in the Brava Art Visual Art Program express their thoughts, ideas, and feelings, and at the same time, they develop their own symbols and techniques to create their art works.As artists, children are encouraged to rely on the concept of personal freedom and expression – utilizing a variety of both new and old materials – to transform this Visual Art Program into a very creative adventure.’

http://bit.ly/2ntQqGr

Seeing Struggling Math Learners as ‘Sense Makers,’ Not ‘Mistake Makers’

The need to develop an activity based maths programme.

’In discussions of progressive and constructivist teaching practices, math is often the odd subject out. Teachers and schools that are capable of creating real-world, contextualized, project-based learning activities in every other area of school often struggle to do the same for mathematics, even as prospective employers and universities put more emphasis on its importance.’

http://bit.ly/28LOvo8

Want to Raise Successful Boys? Science Says Do This (but their schools probably won’t)

‘This is a story about successful kids (especially boys), common sense, and research.

Most of us spend hours each day sitting at work. Science says it’s killing us, and we have developed all kinds of fads to combat it–from standing desks to smartphone alerts to get us up and moving. Armed with that knowledge, however, what do we force our kids to do each day at school? Sit still, for six or eight hours. Now researchers say that mistake leads us into a three-pronged, perfect storm of problems:’

http://on.inc.com/2muwwdS

From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:

Mathematics in education and ability grouping

Bruce Hammonds  recently complied a recent blog with developing active maths programmes with links to practical resources for those interested.

‘Recently I had a discussion with some young teachers about the teaching of mathematics in schools – the teachers taught in the middle school area. It didn’t go to well! They have to do what’s expected of them – and that this was  sadly influenced by what the secondary school maths teachers wanted students to have covered! Change requires leadership and a whole school approach.’

http://bit.ly/2mQnaeZ

What do the learners think?

‘The people who know best about what attracts student’s curiosity, or things that worry them, are the students themselves. A visit to even the most child-centred classrooms will find very little reference to students’ questions, views and theories. All too often students are required to respond to what their teachers feel is important for them to learn.’

http://bit.ly/2m22JwW

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.

000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000

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.
0000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000

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

Education Readings November 4th

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 our students doing 400 minutes a day?

‘If you are a parent you may wonder every now and then what your kids are doing all day in school. But, as an educator, teacher, and administrator (oh yeah, and I’m a parent), I’ve wondered out loud what a typical day-in-the-life of our students looks like.

In an effort to make this as visually appropriate as possible, I’m sharing with you the 100 block theory of learning.’

http://bit.ly/2ffO2jD

Children should be starting preschool at 3, Victoria University study says

Another link from Phil Cullen, who comments:

Paul Wildman describes this as the ‘end of childhood’. It also  gives testucators the opportunity to condition the very young to NAPLAN preparation as a cultural imperative. Its feral nature makes it easy.  Sandal-makers should welcome this move with open arms. Down the gurgler we continue to go………

“We think it could be manageable and we think that the long-term benefits of that investment mean that the returns absolutely outweigh the costs.

“It means children are much more ready when they start school, they start school on a much more equal footing, it has flow on impacts to their NAPLAN scores, to their rates of Year 12 graduation.”

http://ab.co/2e3qOiC

Report debunks ‘earlier is better’ academic instruction for young children

On the other hand …

‘Katz writes that longitudinal studies of the effects of different kinds of preschool curriculum models debunk the seemingly common-sense notion that “earlier is better” in terms of academic instruction. While “formal instruction produces good test results in the short term,” she says,  preschool curriculum and teaching methods that emphasize children’s interactive roles and initiative may be “not so impressive in the short run” but “yield better school achievement in the long term.”’

http://wapo.st/2eBicfu

Why Daydreaming is Critical to Effective Learning

‘Most kids have cellphones, use social media, play games, watch TV and are generally more “plugged in” than ever before. This cultural shift means that in addition to helping students gain the transferable skills and knowledge they’ll need later in life, teachers may have to start helping them tune out the constant buzz in order to get their message across. It’s never too early to learn smart strategies to focus in on priorities and tune out what’s not immediately necessary. Many people believe they are skilled multitaskers, but they’re wrong. Neuroscience has shown that multitasking — the process of doing more than one thing at the same time — doesn’t exist.’

http://bit.ly/2ep22Iy

The Culture of Childhood: We’ve Almost Destroyed It

‘Children are biologically designed to pay attention to the other children in their lives, to try to fit in with them, to be able to do what they do, to know what they know.  Through most of human history, that’s how children became educated, and that’s still largely how children become educated today, despite our misguided attempts to stop it and turn the educating job over to adults.’

http://bit.ly/2e3pEE6

The Role of Metacognition in Learning and Achievement

‘Metacognition, simply put, is the process of thinking about thinking. It is important in every aspect of school and life, since it involves self-reflection on one’s current position, future goals, potential actions and strategies, and results. At its core, it is a basic survival strategy, and has been shown to be present even in rats. Perhaps the most important reason for developing metacognition is that it can improve the application of knowledge, skills, and character qualities in realms beyond the immediate context in which they were learned.’

http://bit.ly/2fwQDsF

Contributed by Bruce Hammonds:

Great expectations: how to help your students fulfil their potential

‘When you believe in your pupils, they will believe in themselves. Here’s how to create a culture of positivity in your classes. In the 1960s, a pair of researchers ran an experiment that changed the way the world thinks about expectations. Robert Rosenthal and Lenore Jacobson told a group of teachers that some of their students had been identified as having the potential to become very high achievers and that these students would bloom over the course of the year. These pupils were, in fact, chosen completely at random. But when the researchers returned at the end of the year, they found that the chosen students had, on average, made significantly more progress than their peers.’

http://bit.ly/2fe2hFc

Getting Restless At The Head Of The Class

‘They read a book quietly under their desks, pester the teacher for extra credit, or, perhaps, they simply check out and act up. Every classroom has a few overachievers who perform above their grade level and don’t feel challenged by the status quo. A new report suggests they are surprisingly common — in some cases, nearly half of all students in a given grade.’

http://n.pr/2cMvSrE

From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:

Who dares wins!

‘Are you an innovative thinker?  If you fire off ad hoc answers, hate timetables and resent authority you are a potential winner according to research on potential innovative thinkers by Dr Fiona Patterson, an occupational psychologist at Nottingham University.’

http://bit.ly/2e3pDzY

The source of school failure

‘One in five Melbourne four-year-olds have difficulty using or understanding language, a new study has found, putting them at risk of long-term learning difficulties. The study of 1900 children, published today in the journal Pediatrics, found that social disadvantage played a major role in the language outcomes of four-year-olds – despite having little effect at age two.’

http://bit.ly/2fe3DQj

Looking back

A look back to the days when New Zealand had a real visionary in charge of education.

‘Dr Beeby believed in a creative role for education. He reminded those present in 1983 that the most important thing realized about education in the previous decades had been the discovery of the individual child. It is not that individuality wasn’t appreciated earlier but that the school system was based on a mass education vision which made realizing such an idea impossible. A system, developed in the 1870s, couldn’t conceive of individualising learning.’

http://bit.ly/1sPo0SY

The rebirth of education – a real Renaissance

‘There are some who say we are now entering a new age -‘A Creative Age’, or a ‘Second Renaissance’.  Our current institutions, shaped by Industrial Age thinking, are no longer able to cope – they are all well past their ‘use by date’. We now need new minds for the new millennium. New minds will be shaped by the new communication mediums – where ideas can from anyone, anywhere, any time. An age of inter connectivity and creativity – a new Renaissance.If we are to revitalize our schools so as to engage all our students, and ultimately save our planet, it will require the death of education and its rebirth.’

http://bit.ly/2eWbNyB