Education Readings May 4th

By Allan Alach

Due to the recent sad loss of Phil Cullen,  I am putting this website into hibernation. All past articles, especially the many gems written by Phil Cullen, will still be visible.  

However this is the last time I will be posting education readings.

 From now on these will be available on Bruce Hammonds’ LEADING AND LEARNING website.

http://leading-learning.blogspot.co.nz

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

Here I stood Part 2: What goes around with quantitative reading professors comes around

Here’s a long but vital article by Kelvin Smythe that deconstructs the current pressure to do away with Reading Recovery and for its replacement by heavily phonics based reading instruction.

‘The whole process of a particularly shonky review office report, lack of consultation, and announcement by media storm, is an education disgrace. An inquiry should be set up by the ministry to determine if those involved should be held at fault, the motivations for what happened, and how due process and integrity of reports can be assured in the future.’

http://bit.ly/2HGG5oH

Spontaneous singing and young children’s musical agency

‘This suggests that the development of young children’s musicality can be integrated into general early childhood practice by creating an environment in which improvisational and playful singing can take place and is valued as both a legitimate form of music-making and as a means of acting in and on the world. Early childhood educators need to be aware that improvisation is a natural part of young children’s musical play and that children are able to create and adapt songs that are fit-for-purpose.’

http://bit.ly/2reSeGZ

The decline of play in preschoolers — and the rise in sensory issues

This is becoming very apparent in new entrant classes across New Zealand.

‘Preschool years are not only optimal for children to learn through play, but also a critical developmental period. If children are not given enough natural movement and play experiences, they start their academic careers with a disadvantage. They are more likely to be clumsy, have difficulty paying attention, trouble controlling their emotions, utilize poor problem-solving methods, and demonstrate difficulties with social interactions.’

https://wapo.st/2rcPUQC

The play deficit

Children today are cossetted and pressured in equal measure. Without the freedom to play they will never grow up.

‘In my book, Free to Learn (2013), I document these changes, and argue that the rise in mental disorders among children is largely the result of the decline in children’s freedom. If we love our children and want them to thrive, we must allow them more time and opportunity to play, not less.’

http://bit.ly/2HEEcIN

Down side of being dubbed ‘class clown’

‘Being dubbed the class clown by teachers and peers has negative social repercussions for third-grade boys that may portend developmental and academic consequences for them, researchers found.’

http://bit.ly/2HKO4N8

Contributed by Bruce Hammonds:

Taking the Lead – in which direction, whose direction, and how?

Every thing we believe in. Probably the best half hour development for all teachers.

Taking the lead involves setting a direction that variously connects, reconnects, and disconnects policies and practices of the past and the present, while looking to the future. The past is recalled by a diminishing few. The present is all too familiar. The future is uncertain. Taking the lead involves giving certainty to direction, but this begs questions of which direction, whose direction, and how that direction is secured. Lester Flockton touches on some of the key issues and challenges that confront those would take the lead.

http://bit.ly/2KuscaW

The Perks of a Play-in-the-Mud Educational Philosophy

When did America decide preschool should be in a classroom?

. Give young kids the opportunities to engage in hours of free, unstructured play in the natural world, and they develop just as organically as any other creature. They learn creativity as they explore and engage with complex ecological systems—and imagine new worlds of their own. Freed from playground guardrails that constrain (even as they protect), kids build strength, develop self-confidence, and learn to manage risks as they trip, stumble, fall, hurt, and right themselves. Research shows that the freedom of unstructured time in open space helps kids learn to focus. It also just feels good: Nature reduces stress.

https://theatln.tc/2I8ogxY

Finding the Beauty of Math Outside of Class

Math trails help students explore, discover, enjoy, and celebrate math concepts and problems in real-world contexts.

‘A math trail is an activity that gets students out of the classroom so they can (re)discover the math all around us. Whether out on a field trip or on school grounds, students on a math trail are asked to solve or create problems about objects and landmarks they see; name shapes and composite solids; calculate areas and volumes; recognize properties, similarity, congruence, and symmetry; use number sense and estimation to evaluate large quantities and assess assumptions; and so on.’

https://edut.to/2Kw5ZJw

The role of technology in education

‘When we think about the classrooms of the future, we have to ask what (as Marshall McLuhan has put it) technologies like radio and television can do that the present classroom can’t. That means asking: what’s futuristic about the future? And equally important, whom will it belong to?’

http://bit.ly/2KudctE

A playful approach to learning means more imagination and exploration

‘Play in education is controversial. Although it is widely accepted that very young children need to play, as they progress through the school system, the focus moves quickly to measuring learning. And despite the fact that play is beneficial throughout life, supporting creativity and happiness, it is still seen by many in education as a frivolous waste of time, and not really relevant to proper learning.’

http://bit.ly/2FyOJPW

From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:

Advice from David Perkins to make learning whole

‘The problem Perkins says is there is too much problem solving (teachers’ problems) and not enough problem finding – or figuring out often ‘messy’ open ended investigations. ‘Playing the whole game’ is the solution resulting in some sort of inquiry or performance. It is not just about content but getting better at things, it requires thinking with what you know to go further, it is about finding explanations and justifications. It involves curiosity, discovery, creativity, and camaraderie. It is not just discovery learning – it needs strong guidance gradually faded back.’

http://bit.ly/12hbepd

30 Years ago – so what has changed?

‘Recently I received e-mail from a student I hadn’t heard of since she was in my class in 1978. She wrote about how great it was to experience the class and how much all that we did has stayed with her over the years. With this in mind I searched out something I wrote, at the time, for the team of teachers I was leading. I was curious to see how much my ideas had changed since then.’

http://bit.ly/1CqW0Nt

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Education Readings April 13th

By Allan Alach

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

Individual Testing is Killing Teaching

‘And it lead to each individual child in every class being tested individually. Each child’s strengths can be identified, and the gaps they have can then be specifically targeted. Teachers knew what each child needed, and could pass comment on this first hand to their parents or caregivers, through the wonderful National Standard reports that were sent home twice a year. Great.

Except that it is unmanageable.’

http://bit.ly/2qlwzM4

Stop Relying on Teachers to Teach Our Kids to be Good People!

‘I’m a big fan of teachers. Trust me. I am one. So is my wife.

But speaking as a parent, we are asking our teachers to do things we should be doing ourselves. While teachers are glad to help with the development of students, it is not their job to teach our kids to be good citizens. Teachers should be the BENEFICIARIES of us teaching our kids to be good kids.’

http://bit.ly/2GNUN8B

‘Kids are born scientists’ – Siouxsie Wiles talks STEM and sexism

‘Kids are born scientists.

What differs between individual kids is whether they see themselves as able to have a career in science, and part of that comes down to whether they have seen people that look like them as scientists.’

http://bit.ly/2IIQMmy

What Happens to Student Behavior When Schools Prioritize Art

More wisdom from Sir Ken.

‘The arts classes gave the students fresh enthusiasm for learning, and the walls and corridors were soon covered with displays of their work, which itself created a more stimulating environment and sense of ownership by the children. “Kids do well,” Bott said, “when you design and build a school that they want to be in. Having great arts programs and athletics programs makes school an enjoyable place to be and that’s when you see success.”’

http://bit.ly/2HptOBB

“Another nail in the coffin for learning styles” – students did not benefit from studying according to their supposed learning style

The evidence that debunks learning styles is clear, so why do I keep reading teacher comments that reference learning styles?

‘Their findings, they write – especially when considered in the context of past research – “provide strong evidence that instructors and students should not be promoting the concept of learning styles for studying and/or for teaching interventions. Thus, the adage of ‘I can’t learn subject X because I am a visual learner’ should be put to rest once and for all.”’

http://bit.ly/2EDnWlh

Contributed by Bruce Hammonds:

The idea that we each have a ‘learning style’ is bogus — here’s why

Yet another article debunking learning styles. Got the message?

‘When I was at school, a fair amount of time was put into determining our “learning styles.” Teachers told us that some people learn better visually with pictures, whereas others retained information by reading or making notes. To be honest, I never worked out what mine was.

In a survey, 96% of teachers were found to believe in learning styles. But it turns out this theory is nonsense.’

http://bit.ly/2GFsvBv

How can we ignite the STEM spark at primary school

‘With the right approach, a teacher can have a positive and lifelong impact on how students think about science.

That’s why Dr Maeve Liston is on a mission to help teachers and parents to ensure that young students engage with science and technology at primary school, and develop problem-solving skills and scientific literacy that will stand to them no matter what they go on to study later.’

http://bit.ly/2uWvVua

Why ‘Follow Your Passion’ Is Bad Advice

‘In other words, follow your passion. There’s just one problem: “‘Follow your passion’ is dangerous advice.” That’s a troubling claim, but it comes straight from Cal Newport’s investigation into “the details of how passionate people like Steve Jobs really got started”, as well as what scientists say predict happiness and fuel great accomplishment.

Newport’s not alone. In recent years, a host of leaders, academics, and entrepreneurs have all come to the same startling conclusion: nearly everything you’ve been told about following your passion is wrong.’

http://bit.ly/2H2y7ox

An Expert’s View: Sir Ken Robinson

‘Your new book offers wide-ranging advice for parents as they try to manage their children’s education. If you had to choose one takeaway, what would it be?’

https://nyti.ms/2qdkng7

Personalized Learning Isn’t About Tech

‘The key is giving students the decision-making tools they need to shape their own learning experiences Personalizing learning doesn’t necessitate investing hundreds of dollars per child in expensive hardware or applications—but it does require an investment in people and in fostering relationships between them. This investment can be as minimal as a few simple changes in mindset and practice, ones that move away from personalizing for students and toward personalizing with them.’

https://edut.to/2ErgWHU

From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:

Together principals can do it

‘It is time they added their collective voices to the debate and this is easiest done by groups of courageous principals, defining what is important, and sharing it with others. And what they decide ought to focus on the needs of their students and communities and not the whims of politicians. Principals are in an ideal position to see the pressures that parents and the wider community have to face up to. They know well that, “it takes a whole village to raise a child.”’

http://bit.ly/1fitsx8

The history of New Zealand’s TOMORROWS SCHOOLS and time for fresh thinking?

A major and well overdue review of the current provision of education in New Zealand has been announced. Cathy Wylie, one of the review team, researched the so-called “Tomorrow’s Schools’ back in 2012, and Bruce summarises her findings in the article. Prepare for change!

‘Cathy answers the questions: What was the real effect of ‘Tomorrows Schools’? Has the New Zealand Schools system improved as a result? And what changes are needed now to meet our expectations of schools?’

http://bit.ly/2vbrWKm

Education Readings March 30th

Sad news – the founder of Treehorn Express, Phil Cullen, passed away earlier this week. Phil was one of the foremost educators of our times, especially in his home state of Queensland, Australia, where he served as Director of Primary Education (i.e., the top dog) for 13 years. Phil’s educational vision and pedagogical knowledge was immense. He was aghast at the introduction of the Australian national testing programme, known as NAPLAN, about 10 years ago. He started his crusade against NAPLAN at that time, and his battle continued to the very day he died – his last email was sent only hours before his fatal heart attack. I consider myself very privileged to have been able to do my bit to support Phil in his endeavours, by running this website for him.

Should you wish to send condolences to his family, his email address cphilcullen@bigpond.com is being monitored by his family.

In true Phil fashion, he told his family to please celebrate his life, and not to be sad about his death.

Allan Alach


Education Readings

By Allan Alach

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

Mathematics Part 1: The mathematics pendulum

Here’s a two part series by Kelvin Smythe on the teaching of mathematics.

‘I have long wanted to have Charlotte Wilkinson, an independent mathematics consultant, set out her ideas on mathematics but, in the previous education environment, any association with me would have been dangerous for her work. With that changed, I am delighted to present two writings from her which are an overview of nearly everything in mathematics.’ 

http://bit.ly/2ugOmcy

Mathematics Part 2: Producing literate and numerate children

‘An increasing amount of information is shared in a digital format, therefore there is an ever increasing need for people to be numerate, not just able to carry out set procedures. Being numerate requires an understanding of basic arithmetic, the properties and manipulation of whole numbers, and rational numbers. It requires using number sense to reason whether answers are correct. When a point is reached in solving a problem, knowing which operation or formula is required is still essential, but completing the procedure has been superseded in reality by technology.’

http://bit.ly/2I2f6j7

Authentic Learning Begins With Student-Designed Curriculum

Thanks to Bruce Jones (via Phil Cullen) for this link.

‘But then I fought my obsessive need for control and took a giant step closer to my ultimate end goal of a fully authentic learning environment by empowering my students to generate our curriculum.’

http://bit.ly/2umnM1Q

Constructivism vs. Constructivism vs. Constructionism

‘I’d like to offer my take on the meaning of these words. I hear them used in so many ways that I often get confused what others mean by them.’

http://bit.ly/2pB7PzQ

Contributed by Bruce Hammonds:

We are at the beginning of a new educational era. The challenge now is to reimagining the school day to ensue all students’ gifts and talents are identified, amplified and valued.

Another gem from Bruce:

‘Lester wrote that 30 years later we have wasted excessive amounts of time and resources replacing approaches of the past that weren’t broken and didn’t need fixing. It’s time, says Lester “to put the shine back on teaching’ to create a nurturing environment for both teachers and students. For too long our system has suffered from those who mistakenly think they know better.”’

So what is the ‘end in mind’ for teachers in the 21stC?

http://bit.ly/2E0sKRj

Yes, Project-Based Learning Gets Kids Ready for the Test (and so much more)

‘I was worried the first time I tried a project-based learning unit with my students. As a young teacher, I had prided myself on running a challenging class and had focused much of my attention on getting my students prepared for what we were both going to be assessed on: the test.

I was not doing test prep. I didn’t believe that giving students sample test questions would make them do any better on our state standardized scores (and still don’t).’

http://bit.ly/2pD3cFy

Occupying Their Brains With Our Stupid Questions

‘They say there’s no such thing as a stupid question, but I beg to differ. We hear stupid questions almost every time adults and young children are together.’

http://bit.ly/2ulSzeO

44 Practices That Are “Fixing” Education Today

‘Here is a list of at least 44 different positive practices (in no specific order – just the way they flowed out of my head) unfolding in education today that I have seen with my very own eyes…’

http://bit.ly/2pCK1e2

‘We must stop trying to apply a sticking plaster to the gaping wound that is teacher workload’

We need a root-and-branch review of the professionalism, accountability and expectations placed upon the teacher workforce. Anything less is a waste of time. A UK article but applicable to NZ?

‘But it is not just teacher recruitment that is the government’s problem. Teacher retention is even more serious as wastage rates (teachers putting down their whiteboard markers and leaving the profession) are rising at every career stage – and most worryingly right at the start of teachers’ careers, after three to five years.’

http://bit.ly/2pGxHcH

Embracing the Whole Child

Fully engaging students can include using their interests in lessons, checking in on them emotionally, and being ourselves.

‘In embracing a more whole-child, humanizing approach to teaching and learning, Salazar proposes specific ways educators can express care and engage students in a more humanizing pedagogy. Among her suggestions, I’d like to explore the following four, offering suggestions for each, as I have found them particularly useful to establishing a harmonious community of learners in the classroom.’

http://edut.to/2Dz5v0w

When “Big Data” Goes to School

Alfie Kohn:

‘The data in question typically are just standardized test scores — even though that’s not the only reason to be disturbed by this datamongering. But here’s today’s question: If collecting and sorting through data about students makes us uneasy, how should we feel about the growing role of Big Data?’

http://bit.ly/2pGyL0b

From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:

The corporate takeover of society and education.

Time to ditch the corporate influence

‘Since the early 90s society has been reshaped by a neo liberal corporate ideology. An emphasis on private enterprise and self-centered 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

Educational Books for Creative Teaching – to develop the gifts and talents of all students

‘Over the years I have a lot of feedback from teachers thanking me for drawing their attention to books that I have written about on my blog. With this in mind I have searched through my postings for some of the best books that provide courage for teachers to make stand against the current anti educational approaches of a market forces competitive ideology.’

http://bit.ly/1kxTTvt

Education Readings March 23rd

By Allan Alach

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

Why is online learning ‘all fur coat and no knickers’? We design to forget.

‘Online learning has gone down the ‘all fur coat and no knickers’ route. It’s more presentation than pedagogy, more look and feel than learning. Rather than focus on what makes learning a success in terms of retention and recall, it allows the learner to skate across the surface of a thin layer of nicely designed but thin ice. It often creates the illusion of learning by illustrative graphics/animation that, as Mayer often showed, actually inhibit rather than help retention.’

http://bit.ly/2tlN5jK

3 Ways to Combat Recipe Learning

‘Rubrics were all the rage so I thought that by giving all the same project and using the rubric I was differentiating for my students because they got to decide where they fit on the rubric. What I didn’t know at the time was I was expecting all the same level of work. I hadn’t designed an effective summative assessment.

I had assigned a recipe.’

http://bit.ly/2FrPq2j

What Are The Benefits Of Learning To Code As A Child?

What are your thoughts about this? I’m not convinced.

‘So instead of watching people jump on the coding bandwagon because we said so, we decided to write an article that discusses the benefits of learning how to code as a child. That way parents and schools can make an informed decision. Believe it or not, some of the advantages that we are about to share may shock you. Well, without further ado, here is our list of the benefits of learning to code as a child.’

http://bit.ly/2tTq8Vv

Creativity is a distinct mental state that you can train

“Our results suggest that creativity can be characterized as a distinct mental state—one that can be nurtured through training, and that can reflect the quality of the finished product.”

http://bit.ly/2DyU9JY

Contributed by Bruce Hammonds:

Teach Kids When They’re Ready

A new book for parents on developing their kids’ sense of autonomy has some useful insights for teachers as well.

‘The measuring stick is out, comparing one kid to another, before they even start formal schooling. Academic benchmarks are being pushed earlier and earlier, based on the mistaken assumption that starting earlier means that kids will do better later.

We now teach reading to 5-year-olds even though evidence shows it’s more efficient to teach them to read at age 7, and that any advantage gained by kids who learn to read early washes out later in childhood.’

http://edut.to/2p6fjcS

How To Ease Students Into Independent Inquiry Projects

‘Too often teachers enter the inquiry pool in the deep end, heading straight to Free Inquiry, as I had done with Chris. We can’t blame them; the essential questions students ask and the demonstrations of learning students create are incredibly meaningful and resonate with their audience. But beginning your adoption of inquiry by diving right into Free Inquiry could result in overwhelmed and underprepared inquiry students. In our experience, without flipping control in the classroom, empowering student learning, and scaffolding with the Types of Student Inquiry, students will not feel as confident, supported, or empowered through our inquiry journey.’

http://bit.ly/2oIGA5O

The 5th ‘C’ of 21st Century Skills? Try Computational Thinking (Not Coding)

‘There is growing recognition in the education systems around the globe that being able to problem-solve computationally—that is, to think logically and algorithmically, and use computational tools for creating artifacts including models and data visualizations—is rapidly becoming a prerequisite competency for all fields.’

http://bit.ly/2Fkh9kz

Creative thinking and the new Digital Technologies curriculum

‘In this book, Resnick states that kindergarten (where students are free to follow their own interests and direct their own learning) nurtures creative thinking because it allows students to naturally iterate through a creative learning spiral: learning how to start with an idea, build prototypes, share them with others, run experiments, and revise these based on feedback. In contrast, the current education model (which was made in—and for—the industrial era) restricts teachers’ ability to create lifelong kindergarten type environments.’

http://bit.ly/2Iwwg9l

Embracing the Whole Child

Fully engaging students can include using their interests in lessons, checking in on them emotionally, and being ourselves.

‘According to education researcher Maria del Carmen Salazar, an overuse of such things as scripted and mandated instructional curricula can hinder educators and students from developing meaningful relationships. And that rigid, standardized approach to teaching contradicts so much of what we know from whole-child education research. It can sabotage the humanness of all those beings growing and exploring daily together in one room.’

http://edut.to/2Dz5v0w

From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:

Linda-Darling Hammond: Lessons for New Zealand from America

‘“The Flat World and Education’,  a book by Linda Darling-Hammond is a must read for educationalists and politicians who want to develop an alternative to the technocratic style of education that has been slowly destroying the creativity of students and teachers  in New Zealand and, in turn, the social fabric of our increasingly troubled society.”

http://bit.ly/UlVnBr

Are we brave enough to live for the future?

‘The past seems a simpler place to think about – the future is so messy and unpredictable. Years ago educational philosopher John Dewey wrote that the best preparation for the future is to live well today. Good advice. Hindsight bias, it seems, drains the uncertainty from the past while looking into the future is just so unpredictable. This uncertainly interferes with our judgment and provides us with a bias to conservatism.’

http://bit.ly/2FpnnAx

Re-imaging education; lessons from Galileo and Brazil.

‘Education stands at a crossroad caught in the lights of market forces ideology which blinds all but a few to beginnings of a new era some call the Second Renaissance – a new creative era.’

http://bit.ly/1cMz8h8

Education Readings March 9th

By Allan Alach

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

6 Techniques for Building Reading Skills—in Any Subject

Students need good reading skills not just in English but in all classes. Here are some ways you can help them develop those skills.

‘Without a repertoire of reading strategies that can be applied to any text, students are being shortchanged in their education. In order to teach students to read effectively, teachers must be sure that they are not simply suppliers of information on a particular text but also instructors of techniques to build reading skills. Here are some ideas on how to incorporate reading skills lessons into a curriculum.’

http://edut.to/2t6JTZr

Academic Sponge Activities

A sponge activity is a lesson that soaks up precious time that would otherwise be lost. Hint: It should be fun as well as educational.

‘When failing lessons need to be abandoned, it’s time to implement a sponge. Madeline Hunter originated the term sponge activities to describe “learning activities that soak up precious time that would otherwise be.” The best sponges are academically rich and provoke laughter. Nicholas Ferroni, an education writer for The Huffington Post, says that laughter activates dopamine and the learning centers of the brain.’

http://edut.to/2ox7IER

Managing the Oppositional-Defiant Child in the Classroom

‘Some of the most challenging students I’ve had to teach have been those with Oppositional-Defiant Disorder. These are the students who challenge the behavioral norms in the classroom, often show low academic achievement, and lack motivation. Thankfully, there is plenty of research behind teaching these tough nuts to crack and lots of resources out there to help you figure out interventions to support them in the classroom.’

http://bit.ly/2GTTtAV

Scaffolding Student Thinking in Projects

‘In order to skillfully embrace the challenges and opportunities they will encounter in life, our students need to develop sophisticated thinking skills that extend far beyond disciplinary boundaries. From understanding and unpacking problems, constraints, and possibilities, to identifying patterns and addressing biases, the types of thinking we should be nurturing in students are many and complex.’

http://bit.ly/2GQDseS

STEM may be the future—but liberal arts are timeless

‘Society has therefore devalued the study of literature, history, politics, philosophy, and sociology as wasteful or pointless. Many suggest we all just should learn skills such as coding, digital marketing, and web development instead. But this is not the direction the world is heading in. Professional requirements are changing so quickly in the real world that lessons deemed relevant in the first year of college are barely relevant upon graduation—and much less early into one’s career.’

http://bit.ly/2I1t9pC

Contributed by Bruce Hammonds:

Teaching in a Modern Learning Environment – with a twist!

Bruce’s latest article:

‘Modern Learning Environments must be more than an architectural innovation. Modern Learning Environments provides the means to devise learning situations which open up the potential for extending the learning of the students. It means attempting to develop within the individual learner all the skills and attitudes of a competent independent learner.’

http://bit.ly/2oX8xWZ

Primary pupils’ maths skills ‘dropping alarmingly’, report finds

After seven years of national standards, on top of 27 years of a neoliberal education philosophy, the damage to NZ education is starting to become very clear. Fortunately the new government may have seen the light and so things may start to turn around. Time will tell.

‘A new report has found schools that improve maths teaching and remove streaming were more successful in reversing a “worrying” downward trend in children’s maths abilities.Schools that abolish classes specifically for talented pupils have a better chance of addressing declining achievement in maths, a new report has found.’

http://bit.ly/2FegVLQ

Critical thinking in an age of fake news

‘In a post-truth era of alternative facts and fake news, the ability to discern what is true is an increasingly important skill.

Learning the skills to apply reason to claims is something built into New Zealand’s school curriculum as one of five key competencies required for living and lifelong learning. Critical thinking involves questioning evidence, the validity of sources of information and reaching conclusions based on evidence.’

http://bit.ly/2FdhSUU

This Yale Psychiatrist Knows How to Shut Down the School to Prison Pipeline: So Why is He Ignored?

‘What Dr. Comer has demonstrated, is that the academic success of children (especially those from poor neighborhoods) depends on educators building good relationships with their parents and truly caring about the students. It begins by first focusing on transforming the social environment of a school community.

Successful change does not begin with national standards or standardized testing (though test scores will also rise significantly, as an outcome of the cultural changes).’

http://bit.ly/2FEoAkv

Study: Too Many Structured Activities May Hinder Children’s Executive Functioning

So much for WALTs, success criteria, teacher intentions, worksheets, phonics, heavy teacher feedback /forward ~ formulaic standardised education….

‘When children spend more time in structured activities, they get worse at working toward goals, making decisions, and regulating their behavior, according to a study.

Instead, kids might learn more when they have the responsibility to decide for themselves what they’re going to do with their time. Psychologists at the University of Colorado and the University of Denver studied the schedules of 70 six-year olds, and they found that the kids who spent more time in less-structured activities had more highly-developed self-directed executive function.’

http://bit.ly/2CVLQre

If Only We Could Find A Way To Not Un-Learn It

‘It’s a truth that I feel in my own heart, even if I often struggle to live it, but the more time I’ve spent with young children, the more I stay out of their way, the more I see that they are the ones who truly understand it, not intellectually of course, but by simply living in the “Now,” regarding their fellow humans in their toils or trails, and making a decision to help them. This is why I can never consider adults as more intelligent than children.’

http://bit.ly/2I2VbRG

From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:

Why schools don’t educate.

‘We live in a time of great school crises, Gatto began his presentation, ‘and we need to define and redefine endlessly what the word education should mean. Something is wrong. Our school crisis is a reflection of a wider social crisis – a society that lives in the constant present, based on narcotic consumption’

http://bit.ly/2bWvrc6

What’s the Point of School?

‘The purpose of education’ Claxton writes, is to prepare young people for the future. Schools should be helping Young people to develop the capacities they will need to thrive. What they need and want, is the confidence to talk to strangers, to try things out, to handle tricky situations, to stand up for themselves, to ask for help, to think new thoughts’ .’This is not to much to ask’, says Claxton, ‘but they are not getting it’.

http://bit.ly/2p5BukY

Education Readings March 2nd

By Allan Alach

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

Better together

‘Social learning is one of the vital components of contemporary learning and development. None of us lives in a vacuum, and we are better, stronger and wiser when we learn and work together. Russian psychologist Lev Vygotsky (1978) argued that we learn best when we are immersed in a socially rich, culturally relevant environment.’

http://bit.ly/2FnxJO3

Secret Teacher: social media makes it impossible to switch off from work

‘Social media and messaging apps are a blessing and a curse for teachers. While it has broadened our horizons and inspired new ideas (thank you, Pinterest), it has also increased the intrusion of work into our personal lives. We are always contactable, and in many different ways. What starts off as a message containing a funny aside or lighthearted remark can quickly become a virtual planning meeting.’

http://bit.ly/2BTbdgy

What students know that experts don’t: School is all about signaling, not skill-building

‘There is a massive gap between school and work, between learning and earning. While the labor market rewards good grades and fancy degrees, most of the subjects schools require simply aren’t relevant on the job. Literacy and numeracy are vital, but few of us use history, poetry, higher mathematics or foreign languages after graduation. The main reason firms reward education is because it certifies (or “signals”) brains, work ethic and conformity.’

http://lat.ms/2oufQGg

Storytelling – A way into writing

‘I have taught writing both ways…formally through modelling and experience, and informally through play and storytelling.  The marked difference between the two environments is the amount and type of writing and the level of engagement.  You know those reluctant boy writers everyone goes on about?  Well they don’t exist in this environment.  They access writing at their own developmental stage, they do what they can and feel successful….even better after the initial teacher directed time (which feels more like a narrative) they are free to finish and move back to play.’

http://bit.ly/2CpKVTV

What Is a ‘Quality’ Curriculum?

‘Curriculum is a special case, however. Designing and delivering lessons—a.k.a. curriculum and instruction—are what teachers do. Nothing is more central to being an effective teacher (and by that, I mean a teacher whose students are paying attention and learning) than control over the what and how of the work.

Once we’ve totally lost those, there is no profession left. Teachers will be technicians, dispensing pre-selected knowledge using pre-determined methods and materials. Autonomy, creativity and purpose? Gone.’

http://bit.ly/2EYozGV

Contributed by Bruce Hammonds:

The New Zealand Curriculum (2007) – was lost but now is found.

With the end of national standards, it’s time to dig out those dusty copies of the New Zealand curriculum, as Bruce has done in this article.

‘I envisage classrooms as true learning communities of scientists and artists exploring their concerns, the local environment and the wider world past and present. Such classrooms I see as mini Te Papas ( or perpetual science, art, maths technology fair  type exhibits) with every available space covered with displays/exhibitions of quality research, art and language based on the themes, studies, topics and investigations.’

http://bit.ly/2BScWmh

Personalized Learning: What It Really Is and Why It Really Matters

‘Let’s be honest: as an academic term of art, personalized learning is horrible. It has almost no descriptive value. What does it mean to “personalize” learning? Isn’t learning, which is done by individual learners, inherently personal? What would it mean to personalize learning? And who would want unpersonalized learning?’

http://bit.ly/2sWtsyF

The Six Must-Have Elements Of High Quality Project-Based Learning

‘The framework is built around six basic elements that the framers believe must be present: intellectual challenge and accomplishment, authenticity, public product, collaboration, project management and reflection.’

http://bit.ly/2HKCF0h

The Best Ways to Shift Learning Responsibilities to Our Students

‘Teachers are in the position to foster engagement and develop necessary skills and self-

motivation. Alongside this they can model persistence in the face of challenges to achieve a desired goal. Let’s talk about how teachers can shift learning responsibilities from them selves to their learners.’

http://bit.ly/2oA6N5K

Setting pupils ‘incompatible with social justice’

‘Research by the UCL Institute of Education finds that setting by ‘ability’ is a ‘pernicious tool’ that reinforces social hierarchies

Grouping pupils into sets is “incompatible with social justice” as it entrenches the dominance of the middle classes at the expense of disadvantaged children, according to the latest findings from a major research project.’

http://bit.ly/2ouBLx4

From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:

Kids from Chaos – our achievement tail?

‘I have always thought that it is the lack of authenticity about our programmes that all too often create the various categories of failing students in our society. Such students do not fit into ‘our’ preplanned programmes – success being assessed as students going along with what is offered. ‘One size fits most of the students’ – the rest are sacrificed; standardization only suits standard kids!’

http://bit.ly/2BV6wTh

‘Superkids’; the hurried generation!

‘Two basic metaphors have underpinned learning but now we have third. The first (and oldest) is the idea of the blank slate, or tabular rosa.   Much of the current school curriculum developments, imposed on schools, continues this metaphor with its obsession on educational measurement and the need to demonstrate the ‘added value’ the students have gained from their teachers. The second metaphor is that of a growing plant. This is seen best in junior schools. This metaphor is based on providing a stimulating and supportive environment to encourage the learner to grow and to develop their gifts and talents appropriately .The latest metaphor, and one with unhealthy consequences, is that of the ‘super kid’. This has resulted in what Elkind calls the ‘hurried child’. Arising out of an ideology of individualism and competition, this metaphor puts pressure on parents to hurry their children through childhood to give them an advantage in the future.’

http://bit.ly/1qKnlqv

Education Readings February 23rd

By Allan Alach

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

How Children Learn Bravery in an Age of Overprotection

Peter Gray:

‘I doubt if there has ever been any human culture, anywhere, at any time, that underestimates children’s abilities more than we North Americans do today.  Our underestimation becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy, because, by depriving children of freedom, we deprive them of the opportunities they need to learn how to take control of their own behavior and emotions.”

http://bit.ly/2sBgXIL

Reasons Today’s Kids Are Bored At School, Feel Entitled, Have Little Patience & Few Real Friends

‘I completely agree with this teacher’s message that our children are getting worse and worse in many aspects. I hear the same consistent message from every teacher I meet. Clearly, throughout my time as an Occupational Therapist, I have seen and continue to see a decline in kids’ social, emotional, and academic functioning, as well as a sharp increase in learning disabilities and other diagnoses.’

http://bit.ly/2vV7Kbc

My Pedagogic Creed (1897)

by John Dewey

‘I believe that much of present education fails because it neglects this fundamental principle of the school as a form of community life. It conceives the school as a place where certain information is to be given, where certain lessons are to be learned, or where certain habits are to be formed. The value of these is conceived as lying largely in the remote future; the child must do these things for the sake of something else he is to do; they are mere preparation. As a result they do not become a part of the life experience of the child and so are not truly educative.’

http://bit.ly/2BzoCKs

‘It’s given the children a love of wildlife’: the schools letting nature in

‘But the children have been taking an active interest in the wildlife at their school for a while. Since creating a garden in an unused corner of their field more than two years ago, the pupils have attracted a variety of birds. They’ve planted wildflower seeds, created a vegetable plot, made bird nests, and learned about biodiversity. The school has a wicker bird hide and has bought binoculars to encourage bird spotting all year round.’

http://bit.ly/2BDIz2y

To foster a love of art in children, we must teach it at primary school

If we want children to value art, we must give them access to it early on in life. Here’s how primary schools can make space for creativity.

‘Robust art curricula should cover a range of artists, styles, genres, websites, books and galleries. Look to design lessons that build on prior learning, can be connected to a wider context (historical or geographical, for example) and provide opportunities to further develop visual literacy. Teachers can be encouraged to help children to think critically about images by asking open and closed questions, and giving them sentence starters as a way to talk about art. For example, “I like the way the artist has … ” or “In this artwork I can see … ”’

http://bit.ly/2FjWWsX

Contributed by Bruce Hammonds:

Great Pedagogy Trumps Ideology

‘Political ideologies may have indirect impacts on schools by the social and economic policies they enact and the impacts these have on learners’ lives, but the pedagogical approaches of teachers have so much more of an influence in schools. Teachers and schools have always looked at the constraints placed upon us by governments and then continued to design curriculum and learning in the best way they see fit.’

http://bit.ly/2o6hT34

The Real Agenda of “So-Called” Education Reform

‘What if I told you that the hidden agenda of those controlling public education policy has actually been to crush innovation, make children more obedient, force teachers to “dull & dumb down” their instruction, and do whatever else is needed in order to snuff out young people’s natural creativity, curiosity, independence, freedom of thinking and love of learning?’

http://bit.ly/2Hp16QP

The Pedagogy Of John Dewey: A Summary

‘John Dewey is one of the giants in the history of educational theory, and it’s difficult to isolate one of his specific theories to discuss here. He was influential in so many areas of educational reform, that to choose one theme would do him a disservice, so I will highlight several of the areas in which he was ahead of his time.’

http://bit.ly/2ypQ9x3

How should we group students in primary maths classrooms?

Grouping students in maths classrooms based on their ability or prior attainment is a notion that is increasingly being challenged by research (see also here and here). When we have engaged in so-called ‘ability grouping’ practices for so long, why should we think about changing? And what would the change involve? These are big questions that are concerning many teachers at the moment,  spurred by a nagging concern that traditional ability grouping may be missing the mark for a large group of students, along with wider conversations about equity issues in our school system.’

http://bit.ly/2BHakaF

On the Edge of Chaos: Where Creativity Flourishes

‘If it’s true, in Sir Ken Robinson’s words, that “Creativity is not an option, it’s an absolute necessity,” then it’s that much more imperative to find ways to bring creativity to learning.But first, we have to understand what conditions foster true creativity. One definition that scientists have agreed upon for creativity is the ability to create something that’s both novel as compared to what came before, and has value. “It’s this intersection of novelty and value, a combination of those two features that’s particularly important,”’

http://bit.ly/2HCESe2

From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:

The forgotten genesis of progressive early education

‘My own experience has taught me that all the best idea have come from those who teach the very young children rather than with those working at the ‘higher’ levels  but this seems to have been forgotten. As children move up through the school system their experiences, their sense of agency and voice are replaced by subject requirements and teacher intentions. At the secondary little has changed in hundred years.’

http://bit.ly/2cBOYvp

Seymour Papert : The obsolete ‘Three Rs’ – blocking real change in education

All this Victorian emphasis on the ‘three Rs’  according to people like Professor Seymour Papert, a highly respected MIT expert in learning and computers, ‘expresses the most obstinate block to change in education’.’ The role of the basics’, he writes, ‘is never discussed; it is considered obvious’. As a result other important educational developments are being ignored.

http://bit.ly/1i5mRQ2