Education Readings October 20th

By Allan Alach

News flash:

The new government in New Zealand means that the previous government’s National Standards & associated policies (our version of GERM) will be no more. Sanity is returning to New Zealand education.

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

Why I Don’t Have Classroom Rules

A high school teacher tries a classroom management experiment thinking it will fail. Years later, he’s still at it.

‘Although I encouraged my students to think critically and challenged myself to develop new methods of instruction, the actual conduct of the class seemed at odds with all that. I wanted my students to do more than just follow rules handed down to them. I wanted them to understand why those rules exist, and be willing to interrogate ones that didn’t seem valuable, meaningful, or useful.’

http://edut.to/2x6qd5w

Ten Things Pixar Can Teach Us About Creativity

‘For the last two decades, Pixar has produced some of the most creative and epic films of this era. But this is the result of a culture of creative collaboration built on ideas of being frank, taking chances, and failing forward. So, what can educators learn from Pixar as we design collaborative projects?’

http://bit.ly/2gPPACi

The fantastic new ways to teach math that most schools aren’t even using

‘At the level of the individual teacher, we have found that preparing teachers to make small changes in status quo practices and tools can be a successful approach that is both manageable for teachers and meaningful for their students. In my work with novice teachers, the small changes I emphasize most include:’

http://bit.ly/2l3f6ZB

Schools Must Get The Basics Right Before Splashing Out On Technology

‘For years, schools and education experts have debated whether technology belongs in the classroom. Now the discussion has shifted and even schools that had thus far resisted the educational tech revolution are being swept into what’s become a multi-billion-dollar market. The question now isn’t whether technology has a place in schools, but which devices would work best: laptops, tablets, smartphones or something else entirely? However, maybe it’s not the device that schools should be preoccupied with – but rather how students use them to learn.’

http://bit.ly/2xOVn0O

How a British School Improved Its Math Scores without Teaching a Single Math Lesson More

‘“We could have gone down the route where we said we need to get results up, we’re going to do more English, more maths, more booster classes, but we didn’t.” Instead, they took a gamble: They added two hours a week of music for every student, and the results have been stunning.”’

http://bit.ly/2yAypyr

The Fisheye Syndrome – Is Every Student Really Participating?

‘Greta doesn’t realize that she is suffering from the Fisheye Syndrome. It’s a condition that impacts our perception, as if we’re looking through a fisheye lens – the kind they use in peepholes. To those afflicted with fisheye, some students appear “larger” than others. They take up more energy and grab more of our attention, making the others fade into the periphery. We have a vague sense that the others are there, and we nag ourselves to include them, but those magnified students are just too hard to resist.’

http://bit.ly/2x7jSXk

Contributed by Bruce Hammonds:

Lauren Child: ‘We should let children dawdle and dream’

‘Children are often told what’s good for them, but the advice of the new children’s laureate may take them by surprise. Lauren Child, speaking for the first time since her investiture in Hull this summer, has a simple message: just stare into space. In an age of prescriptive talk about targets and aspirations, Child, the creator of Charlie and Lola, plans to make a stand against the theorising and goal-setting during her two-year tenure.’

http://bit.ly/2imAZBX

Why Daydreaming is Critical to Effective Learning

‘Rather than trying to do everything at the same time, the most productive people prioritize and block off their schedules to focus on one task at a time. “The idea is that if you become more efficient in time management, it allows for more spontaneity and creativity in the day, every day.”’

http://bit.ly/2hOopHE

What Creativity Really Is – and Why Schools Need It

‘Although educators claim to value creativity, they don’t always prioritize it.Teachers often have biases against creative students, fearing that creativity in the classroom will be disruptive. They devalue creative personality attributes such as risk taking, impulsivity and independence. They inhibit creativity by focusing on the reproduction of knowledge and obedience in class.Why the disconnect between educators’ official stance toward creativity, and what actually happens in school?’

http://bit.ly/2xPpEMS

Why the right answer should not be the primary aim in maths

‘In maths, the journey to the answer should be just as important as the answer, in maths is really important, it should not be the most important thing that we look for from our pupils.That’s not to say that we are going to start rewarding pupils for getting everything wrong in maths, but how pupils come to obtain an answer should be a quality that we regard highly.’

http://bit.ly/2kYj1ql

From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:

Slow food movement – and teaching as well!

‘The ‘slow food’ movement was reaction against this industrialized approach to living. Followers believe one should take time over food and enjoy the subtlety of the cooking;take the time to try out new dishes and to enjoy the conversation and the wine. Or at the very least enjoy a home cooked meal around the table interacting with members of the family or friends We now need an educational equivalent of the ‘slow food movement’ so as to value the richness and relevance of any learning experience. Students need to appreciate that the act of learning is at the very heart of their identity and a high quality life and as such should not be rushed.’

http://bit.ly/2rGpc4K\

Time for some heresy?

‘If we want to develop 21stC education systems then we will have no choice but to re-imagine education dramatically. We need to implement some heretical alternative thoughts to transform current systems with their genesis in an industrial age an age well past its use by date. Strangely enough none of the idea being considered are new it is just that few school have put them all together. School are inherently conservative and some schools, secondary ones in particular, seem impervious to change.’

http://bit.ly/1Cozmr3

Advertisements

Education Readings October 13th

By Allan Alach

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

More than bricks and mortar: A critical examination of school property under the National-led Government

An article I posted last week referenced an article by Dr Leon Benade, School of Education, Auckland University of Technology. Here is Leon’s full article.

‘Teachers are largely unprepared for flexible learning spaces that bring together multiple teachers and students (see my earlier blog on MLE/ILE). These (enforced) changes require students to master new learning habits and routines, while parents’ most recent school memory may have been of sitting in rows or possibly in grouped desks, in so-called ‘single cell’ classrooms with one teacher and no more than 30 or 35 students. So, where has this policy come from, and what does it look like in action?’

http://bit.ly/2yZqQyg

Is Math Art? Dream or Nightmare?

‘I was blown away by this remarkable (and strangely empowering) critique about math education:  how we view it as a culture; how teachers are teaching it (or not teaching it); how and why some students struggle with it; how some students who apparently “get it” don’t; how parents perceive it; how testing may not be showing us what we want to know, and how we can change math education for the better.’

http://bit.ly/2xzU7mI

FORCE & FLUNK: Destroying a Child’s Love of Reading—and Their Life

‘A frenzy surrounding reading is caused by school reformers and the media, claiming children are not learning to read fast enough. Kindergarten is the new first grade, automatically making preschool the new kindergarten. If we aren’t careful, obstetricians will show newborns an alphabet chart immediately after babies are born! We’re told that reading is an emergency, and if it’s not addressed by reading programs produced by individuals, companies, and technology, children won’t learn to read—and they won’t be ready for the global economy.’

http://bit.ly/2zh6NMv

Most everything you need to know about creativity

‘It is about knowing what and how to observe and directing your attention accordingly: what details do you focus on? What details do you omit? And how do you take in and capture those details that you do choose to zoom in on? In other words, how do you maximize your brain attic’s potential? …Everything we choose to notice has the potential to become a future furnishing of our attics.’

http://bit.ly/2gb0jdo

Stop Forcing Introverts To Speak In Class. There Are Better Ways.

‘Class participation is often a significant portion of a student’s grade, and I have felt pressured to force myself to speak in order to meet the participation requirements, as do many introverts. But I was fortunate to have a teacher who offered an alternative, and I strongly encourage other teachers to do the same. How can a teacher recognize an introverted student and support him or her?’

http://bit.ly/2g2etd9

What If Everything You Knew About Disciplining Kids Was Wrong?

‘Negative consequences, timeouts, and punishment just make bad behavior worse. But a new approach really works.’

http://bit.ly/2xyX6vM

Contributed by Bruce Hammonds:

Malcolm Dixon: Time to discuss primary school education

‘I don’t know if anyone else noticed but primary school education was seldom mentioned throughout the election campaign and yet for everyone with children or grandchildren education plays an extremely important part in their lives. Why didn’t the Government mention it? In my opinion it was the legacy of the Parata regime and there is very little to celebrate and the current minister is completely out of touch with reality.’

http://bit.ly/2kHTQYU

This Is What Teachers Need And Aren’t Getting

‘An important category of educators: teachers with a high level of professional freedom will be extinct by 2033 if the current rate of loss continues. Like most endangered creatures, their habitat is threatened. When you were a child they were present in every city and town in the United States, but now their world has changed. They can be found only in rare, hospitable environments’

http://bit.ly/2xA7j6k

Raising the bar with flexible grouping

‘Professor Christine Rubie-Davies, a leading researcher in the field of teacher expectations, is based at the University of Auckland’s Faculty of Education and Social Work. In this blog Christine challenges the practice of grouping students by ability, arguing that it constrains learning.’

http://bit.ly/2i6fTYu

We Need to Trust Teachers to Innovate

‘If we want to see innovation happening in our schools, we need to trust, encourage, and empower teachers to transform their practice. Too often, teachers are forced to teach inside the box and it can feel frustrating. In this post, I explore why teachers are the innovators, what’s getting in the way, and what we can do about it.’

http://bit.ly/2kIbcVv

From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:

Einstein, Darwin, da Vinci & Mozart et all – lessons from the Masters. Based on the book ‘Mastery’ by Robert Greene.

An education to develop the gifts and talents of all students.

‘Developing an education system premised on developing the talents and gifts of all students has always been my vision. Unfortunately schooling has been more about standardisation and conformity – sorting and grading of students. National Standards with its emphasis on literacy and numeracy at the expense of other areas of endeavour, is the most recent iteration of this standardised approach.’

http://bit.ly/1ru4wpP

Does your classroom have the ‘wow’ factor?

The first sign of ‘wow’ is the overall first impression the room gives you. The feeling you get is that you are indeed in special place. There is a feeling of positive relationships between teacher and learners and often parents are to be seen quietly helping students. Other students seem to be working without supervision. A quick look around the walls, covered with students creativity gives an impression that this is a room dedicated to the students themselves.’

http://bit.ly/1FxlCvx

Education Readings October 6th

By Allan Alach

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

How to improve the school results: not extra maths but music, loads of it

Thanks to Al Ingham for this article.

‘But at Feversham, the headteacher, Naveed Idrees, has embedded music, drama and art into every part of the school day, with up to six hours of music a week for every child, and with remarkable results. Seven years ago Feversham was in special measures and making headlines for all the wrong reasons. Today it is rated “good” by Ofsted and is in the top 10% nationally for pupil progress in reading, writing and maths, according to the most recent data.’

http://bit.ly/2klQVoC

Helicopter Parents Need To Let Teachers Do Their Jobs

‘Ms. Streeter realized that “one of the greatest challenges for teachers and principals is dealing with stressed, over-reaching parents who, like me, can’t see the bigger picture. What ostensibly counts as supportive parenting can sometimes inadvertently disadvantage a child.”’

http://bit.ly/2kqWNx8

Education “Reform” Is a Right-Wing Movement

‘Support for charter proliferation goes hand-in-hand with a lack of support for adequate and equitable public school funding. No wonder the political right, which has set the accumulation of wealth for a small elite as its highest priority, loves the charter movement. Second, the ties between SA and the political right highlight a clear reality: The charter school movement is, at its core, an anti-teachers union movement. Unions have been the backbone of the Democratic Party for years — especially public sector unions. And the teachers unions have been pretty much the last vestige of professional unionism.’

http://bit.ly/2yHUkk4

How modern are ‘modern’ or ‘innovative’ learning environments in NZ?

Not very …

‘As Benade argues, a school is not a school until/unless it is about the quality of the learning that goes on inside it. Examples like Strachan’s and Somerset’s show us that these conceptions of modern learning had their roots firmly planted a long time ago in the educational soil of New Zealand. When educators dare to innovate, then conceptions of modern and innovative learning can flourish and thrive.’

http://bit.ly/2yHUo3i

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

Caution: Chromebooks

This article by Gary Stager has sure got people talking.

‘The Chromebook might be sufficient if you believe that the primary purpose of school to be taking notes, looking stuff up, completing forms, and communication. I find this to be an impoverished view of both learning and computing. Children need and deserve more. If you find such uses compelling, kids already own cellphones capable of performing such tasks.’

http://bit.ly/2gcKU98

Education Isn’t the Key to a Good Income

A growing body of research debunks the idea that school quality is the main determinant of economic mobility.  Another neoliberal tenet bites the dust.

‘This “rags to riches” tale embodies one of America’s most sacred narratives: that no matter who you are, what your parents do, or where you grow up, with enough education and hard work, you too can rise the economic ladder. A body of research has since emerged to challenge this national story, casting the United States not as a meritocracy but as a country where castes are reinforced by factors like the race of one’s childhood neighbors and how unequally income is distributed throughout society.’

http://theatln.tc/2xi0mXo

Contributed by Bruce Hammonds:

National Standards Plus

Current negotiations to establish the next government in New Zealand have a good likelihood of bringing about the end of national standards. However, if this fails to happen, then this is what we will be seeing.

‘The government would have parents being updated in real time every and any progress their child is making in National Standards throughout the school day. They’re calling this ‘National Standards Plus’, largely because of the additional time and energy that is going to be chewing into teachers already busy schedule. The additional testing, the additional data gathering, the additional reporting and notifying and uploading to the app’s system. All this PLUS actually teaching the children.’

http://bit.ly/2xixnma

Consider yourself a ‘visual’ or ‘auditory’ learner? Turns out, there’s not much science behind learning styles.

‘The idea that people have different styles of learning — that the visually inclined do best by seeing new information, for example, or others by hearing it — has been around since the 1950s, and recent research suggests it’s still widely believed by teachers and laypeople alike. But is there scientific evidence that learning styles exist?’

http://bit.ly/2yHTK5S

Children considered ‘average’ miss out as teachers focus elsewhere, report warns

‘Children labelled “average” by teachers are missing out because more focus goes on those at the bottom of the class, a report has found.Experts say children who are classified in the middle range risk having late-blooming ability ignored as teachers assume they are neither struggling nor overachieving.’

http://bit.ly/2xTQ9SQ

Bigger classrooms, bigger problems

‘ILE designs are flexible, allowing for multiple learning areas and activities within the one large space. Generally they are open-plan and can encompass several year groups within the one space.The Ministry’s intention is that by 2021 all classrooms will be modernised according to its prescribed ILE standards.Support for this policy is far from universal among education academics and teachers, with many highly critical of ILEs and how they are being implemented.’

http://bit.ly/2xgD1Ky

From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:

Signs of a creative classroom

‘One thing seems obvious to me, after several decades visiting primary classrooms, is that real innovation only comes from creative teachers and not from imposed programmes. Unfortunately,  all too often, creative teachers are the last ones to be listened to in this era of school consistency and formulaic ‘best practices’. It seem we are moving towards a standardised approach to learning at the very time when we need to value (and protect) our creative teachers and their creative students.’

http://bit.ly/2gMUlNg

Teaching in Modern Learning Environments (MLEs)/ Innovative Learning Environments (ILEs)

‘A number of trends have influenced the way schools and classrooms have been organised over the decades; trends moving from traditional classroom teaching to  a more student centred learning – from ‘the sage on the stage to the guide on the side’ .Today we now have the concept of ‘innovative learning environments’  linked with the development of ‘modern learning environments’.’

http://bit.ly/1VKweOv

Education Readings September 29th

By Allan Alach

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

Preschool teachers need better training in science

Not just preschool teachers …

‘Gerde said preschool teachers may struggle with science due to lack of quality training, preparation or an aversion to science. Teachers may also feel pressure from policymakers and school administrators to focus on literacy — to the possible exclusion of science.’

http://bit.ly/2fAmqd6

Another Example of Less Teaching Leading to More Learning

Delinquent boys made huge academic gains when freed from classroom lessons.

‘The experiment was started in January, 1924, and lasted until the beginning of June that year. During that period the boys were excused from regular school classes and, instead, were assigned to a special room created for them in a technical school. The room was equipped with desks, blackboards, a large table, and a collection of books, including storybooks, nonfiction works, and textbooks for the various grades. The boys were given standard academic achievement tests in January and again, four months later, in May.’

http://bit.ly/2xyclnP

Could You Teach Naked?

Don’t panic – its not what you think!

‘Every September it seems like there’s a new Whole School Initiative hitting the fan. As the Headteacher takes the podium on that first inset day, you hold your breath, waiting to find out what new, quirky trend will permeate your staff meetings for the year ahead…

But what if your headteacher stood up and told you that this month is all about #NakedTeaching?…

Are you game for it?’

http://bit.ly/2yIoqEY

11 Research-Based Classroom Management Strategies

‘Do unresolved behavior issues keep you awake at night thinking about what strategies might enhance responsible decision making and increase academic learning time? It’s natural to feel personally and professionally challenged—as I have, too many times to count.

The good news is that there are some research-based strategies called kernels that you can add to your classroom management toolkit.’

http://edut.to/2y9V9pC

Those Who Can’t

Variation of the original, supposedly written by George Bernard Shaw.

T’hose who can’t,

Teach.

For example,

Those who can’t sit alone at a desk all day,

Whose energy demands movement and interaction,

Teach ….’

http://bit.ly/2xMb7Fl

Tech’s push to teach coding isn’t about kids’ success – it’s about cutting wages

Just in case you were wondering why coding has jumped on the bandwagon:

‘Yet it rests on a fundamentally flawed premise. Contrary to public perception, the economy doesn’t actually need that many more programmers. As a result, teaching millions of kids to code won’t make them all middle-class. Rather, it will proletarianize the profession by flooding the market and forcing wages down – and that’s precisely the point.’

http://bit.ly/2xyps8B

Contributed by Bruce Hammonds:

Does Mindfulness Actually Work in Schools?

‘A research team in Chicago has spent a year studying whether students who are taught to be in touch with their emotions do better academically. And they say the initial results are promising.Perhaps counterintuitively, when kids take a break from a classroom lesson on the solar system to spend a quiet moment alone watching a three-minute nature video, or participate in a teacher-guided breathing exercise with their class after lunch, they seem to become better overall students. That’s likely because the children have a renewed sense of focus.’

http://theatln.tc/2yaAH7W

The Curious Incident of the Choice-Based Classroom

‘Don’t touch things without permission. Only ask questions when it’s appropriate. Generally, by the middle of 2nd grade, our students have internalized these messages regarding respect and orderliness in the classroom. As a K–8 visual arts teacher, I’ve noticed how students’ innate curiosity about their surroundings diminishes as the years go by, often at the prompting of well-intentioned teachers reminding students to “wait and see” what materials they’ll need before touching anything. Although I do appreciate the lesson in respect, I sympathize with my students, knowing that feeling that paint brush on their hand or squishing the clay with their fingers would pique their curiosity for learning.’

http://bit.ly/2xGYpHt

Increased stress pushing principals away, departing school leader says

‘The principal of a top Taranaki school has resigned after 12 years in the role – and says other school leaders have congratulated him for getting out of an increasingly stressful profession. Charles Gibson is one of five Taranaki principals and deputy principals leaving their posts this year.While Gibson said he was mostly leaving Lepperton Primary School because it is “the right time to do something a little different”, he warned the stresses of the job, national standards, and a lack of respect for teachers from the Ministry of Education had all been contributing factors and were putting others off taking up top positions.’

http://bit.ly/2yaX25l

Facts Don’t Change People’s Minds. Here’s What Does

Something to consider when debating education with others:

‘Drowning the other person with facts, I assumed, was the best way to prove that global warming is real, the war on drugs has failed, or the current business strategy adopted by your risk-averse boss with zero imagination is not working.

Since then, I’ve discovered a significant problem with this approach.

It doesn’t work.’

http://bit.ly/2x001by

From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:

A living world – the end of industrial aged thinking.

‘It is time we appreciated that the ‘machine age’ is over. The idea that ‘man’ can control and dominate everything has had terrible environmental and social consequences. It is far better to see the world, and all our organizations, as living systems and to see our role as part of a range of integrated systems than underpin all life. This ‘systems thinking’ is the new ‘world view’ that we all need to learn to appreciate. Strangely enough the concept has direct links with earlier indigenous wisdom that everything is interrelated, often in ways we can’t at first recognize.’

http://bit.ly/2fRJlNJ

Educational failure – it is all about poverty

‘In recent years, though, we have gained considerable insights into the pre-requisites for human fulfilment. Health and security may be at the top of the list, but we also thrive on community, fairness, bonding, altruism, playfulness and celebration. Politicians would do well to look to these biological principals.’

http://bit.ly/1GBnzV9

Education Readings September 8th

By Allan Alach

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

Why I Teach

‘Every action, every thought spent on these children is holy. The tiniest gesture is magnified through infinite time and space. When I help a child gain confidence in her reading, I help not just her. I help everyone she will ever come into contact with –her co-workers, her friends, family, even her own children if she someday has some.’

http://bit.ly/2wDDODx

How can teachers encourage more girls to study mathematics?

‘As a maths teacher at a large sixth form college, I’m concerned by the disproportion of female students in the department. I spoke to three groups of girls in year 12 about their experiences; one not studying maths, those studying single maths, and those studying double maths. Based on their feedback, I have the following suggestions for encouraging more girls to take the subject at A-level.’

http://bit.ly/2wDZcIO

Imagined futures 5: Robot teachers?

Steve Wheeler:

‘In a conversation with Sugata Mitra several years ago, the novelist Arthur C. Clarke stated: ‘Any teacher who can be replaced by a computer … should be.’ 

Clarke was right of course. Teachers cannot be compared to machines, and should certainly never function as such. If they do, then they aren’t teaching.’

http://bit.ly/2w4JKlo

Spinning Plates

‘Workload is the issue that won’t go away, perhaps quite rightly so, it is not sorted. As teachers, and leaders, we are plate spinners. However, we sometimes need to work out what plates we can afford to drop. This is perhaps the single most important question that all of us should be asking – if I don’t do this, what will happen?’

http://bit.ly/2f1WFih

Why Teaching Kindness in Schools Is Essential to Reduce Bullying

‘Kindness changes the brain by the experience of kindness. Children and adolescents do not learn kindness by only thinking about it and talking about it. Kindness is best learned by feeling it so that they can reproduce it.’

http://edut.to/2w4ShVl

If I was teaching Social Studies today…

‘Some folks know that I started my education career as a middle school Social Studies teacher in Charlotte, North Carolina. If I was still doing that now, I would be incredibly excited because so many wonderful resources would be available to my classroom. For instance, if I was teaching Social Studies today…’

http://bit.ly/2wFcSDl

Contributed by Bruce Hammonds:

Nine reasons National Standards aren’t working (and other issues with our education system)

‘Sometime during the 1970s, jet engines superseded propeller driven planes for most domestic air travel in New Zealand, as it had for pretty much all international flights. The same should now happen to an archaic back-to-basics system like National Standards, which a modern understanding of effective teaching and learning had rendered out of date before they were even introduced.’

http://bit.ly/2wDhbij

Embracing Failure: Building a Growth Mindset Through the Arts

“Students have to take risks,” says Cristina Gonzalez, the former chair of NMSA’s visual arts department. “That’s something that is so unique to learning in the arts. Great art comes from risk taking, from being willing to fail. Maybe it will work. Maybe I’ll discover something about myself, something about my capacity that I wasn’t even aware of, and that’s so exciting for a student.”

http://edut.to/2eD8jQ0

How To Weave Growth Mindset Into School Culture

‘The Academy of Health and Medicine, a small learning community within Arroyo High School in California, has been pioneering a focused approach to teaching growth mindset that starts with Strong Start, a summer institute that incoming ninth-graders are highly encouraged to attend.”We’ll purposefully try to put them in situations where they’ll be uncomfortable, and yet not feel vulnerable — it’s a kinda fine line we walk — and then provide opportunities for them to work their way through it and find some success,” said Jim Clark, who helped start the program.’

http://bit.ly/2eMBdAO

From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:

The teacher’s role in the creative process.

‘Authentic problems are not hard to find if you listen to your students and enter into dialogue with them. Perhaps some favourite dog or cat has died. An older brother or sister is getting married. A new baby has been born. A grandparent is very sick. Dad has bought a new car. A tree has burst into bloom. There has been a flood.They mightn’t sound like a curriculum but they are things that really matter, they cause anxiety or delight, and need a resolution. This is the reality of the children in your classroom but how often do you see this world celebrated?’

http://bit.ly/2f4Vizo

Learning is about constructing meaning.

‘Marie Clay was ‘constructivist’ or more accurately a ‘co-constructivist’ believing, like such researchers as Jerome Bruner, Piaget and Vygotsky that students create their own meanings and that this is best achieved by sensitive teacher interaction, always leaving the responsibility of learning in the child’s hands. Holdaway(79)calls this need to make meaning a ‘semantic drive’ – one that it put at risk by insensitive teachers who do not value student creativity as the source for all learning.’

http://bit.ly/1kV5g08

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

‘In the 1980s a new political ideology swept through Anglo American countries. It was a time of dramatic change as the democratic welfare state was replaced by  what has come to be known as a ‘Market Forces business oriented’ approach based on small government, valuing self-interest, privatisation, competition, choice and accountability. This neo liberal approach was believed to be the only way to cope with dramatic worsening worldwide economic circumstances. A common phrase at the time was TINA (there is no alternative).New Zealand was not immune.’

http://bit.ly/TNlnzy

Education Readings August 25th

By Allan Alach

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

Sir Ken Robinson’s education revolution

A refresher course for you about Sir Ken. Interesting little anecdote here – a Liverpool music teacher had two of the Beatles in his class yet failed to recognise their musical talents. That’s a lesson that shows how unreliable assessment and teacher judgement is, so why does the system persist in trying to prove otherwise?

‘Robinson believes that the current systems of mass education are outmoded, too standardised, and stifle true learning.

“My view of it is that in many respects they are modelled on principles of factory production, like, for example, we educate our kids in batches by age – all the three-year-olds, all the four-year-olds, shunting through the system. There’s no educational reason to do that – it’s an efficiency ideal.”’

http://bit.ly/2xdzIQN

When Schools Forgo Grades: An Experiment In Internal Motivation

‘Because grades are often required, and easy to understand, they have become the focus for many parents, teachers and students. The problem is that grades are often subjective, arbitrary and can be demotivating to students. They are also gatekeepers for advanced classes and college admissions, so grades can’t be ignored. This complicated dynamic means that grading policies are at the center of discussions around how to change teaching and learning.’

http://bit.ly/2is9ZAM

This is exactly how our society kills creativity, in a breathtaking short film.

“Do yourself a favor and take some time out of your daily grind to be charmed by this beautifully crafted animation into reflecting on the woeful values of our society.’

http://bit.ly/2vq3TSD

How To Engage In Pseudoscience With Real Data: A Criticism Of John Hattie’s Arguments In Visible Learning 

A long and technical article; however a skim read will give the gist of it, so henceforth you will treat Hattie’s pronouncements with a healthy dose of skepticism.

‘When taking the necessary in-depth look at Visible Learning with the eye of an expert, we find not a mighty castle but a fragile house of cards that quickly falls apart. This article offers a critical analysis of the methodology used by Hattie from the point of view of a statistician. We can spin stories from real data in an effort to communicate results to a wider audience, but these stories should not fall into the realm of fiction. We must therefore absolutely qualify Hattie’s methodology as pseudoscience.’

http://bit.ly/2v7HXk1

Kids Are Losing Playtime to Achievement. That’s a Problem.

‘The decline of play and rise of the overscheduled child has become a national concern. Peter Gray, author of Free to Learn, says that kids learn from observation, practice, and support. Most of this is done through play. But what happens when we limit the time kids spend playing, and what does our obsession with “high achievement” say about our culture as a whole?’

http://bit.ly/2xualJH

Why no one wants to teach in New Zealand

‘Recent analysis also shows that teachers only tend to stay in the job for about five years. They often leave because they are burnt out by the demands of teaching, an increasingly narrow and prescriptive curriculum, and by policy initiatives that promise much, deliver very little, and are quickly replaced by some “new” policy that is equally ineffective and short term. No wonder it feels like ground zero out there for so many teachers.’

http://bit.ly/2wzwD07

Contributed by Bruce Hammonds:

Three minutes to appreciate Finnish Schools

Michael Moore documentary clip on Finland’s school system.

http://bit.ly/2wGca9j

On the Wildness of Children: The Revolution Will Not Take Place in the Classroom

‘The truth is, we don’t know how to teach our children about nature because we ourselves were raised in the cinderblock world. We are, in the parlance of wildlife rehabilitators, unreleasable. I used to do wildlife rescue and rehabilitation, and the one thing we all knew was that a young animal kept too long in a cage would not be able to survive in the wild. Often, when you open the door to the cage, it will be afraid to go out; if it does go out, it won’t know what to do.  The world has become unfamiliar, an alien place. This is what we have done to our children.’

http://bit.ly/2vpHvc8

Noam Chomsky on the Dangers of Standardized Testing

‘The assessment itself is completely artificial. It’s not ranking teachers in accordance with their ability to help develop children who will reach their potential, explore their creative interests. Those things you’re not testing.. it’s a rank that’s mostly meaningless. And the very ranking itself is harmful. It’s turning us into individuals who devote our lives to achieving a rank. Not into doing things that are valuable and important.’

http://bit.ly/1waGc0j

Kids’ Creativity: Two Important Questions for Parents to Consider

‘Parents typically want to encourage their children’s creative expression. However, uncertainties and misconceptions about creativity abound. Here are two questions that merit thought and discussion—along with ideas so parents can foster kids’ creativity to the fullest.’

http://bit.ly/2vh1Ktb

From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:

An amoeba – a model for future change!

‘If we want to thrive, in what is being called the ‘Age of Creativity’, we need to see our organisations as living complex organisms able to create all sorts of wonderous things as we work in concert with each other. That’s more impressive than the simple amoeba. Schools as living communities – now that is a powerful metaphor.’

http://bit.ly/1hRC8eF

Educational change and leadership – bottom up!

‘The principal’s role is to ensure such gifts are affirmed and shared with other teachers. The principal’s role is to create the conditions for the expertise of teachers to be shared and to develop an overarching vision and agreed teaching beliefs for all to hold themselves accountable.’

http://bit.ly/1baSNPr

Beautiful minds – ‘in a world of their own’.

‘The capacity of the brain is infinite. Lucky for most of us so called ‘normal’ people our brains suppress, or filter out, most of the information coming our way but for the savants their brains take in everything in their particular sphere of interest without interference. It is as if they have no ‘delete’ button; their mind, like a ‘Google’ search, recalls everything! And as a result they miss out on capacities such as social and practical skills that we all take for granted.’

http://bit.ly/1AP1qD1

Education Readings August 18th

By Allan Alach

Apologies for the absence of readings last week. I was hit by a double whammy – our internet connection went down for 48 hours, and then, as soon as that was restored, my computer decided to go on strike. In the end I had to erase the hard drive and reinstall everything. Being a wise person, I had good back ups so it was only an inconvenience rather than a disaster.

Do you have good backups in place, including some off site? Remember that there are two kinds of computers in the world – those that have had a major hard drive issue, and those that are going to have one… and once you’ve lost your data, that’s it.  Goodbye to all those precious photographs …

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

Digital Natives Do Not Exist, Claims New Paper

But taken as a whole, digital natives might be a myth, argues a paper published in Teaching and Teacher Education. Students who grew up in the digital world are no better at information skills simply because they were born into such an era. The study also presents evidence that these supposed “digital natives” are no better at multitasking either. In fact, assuming that they do may harm their education.’

http://bit.ly/2v3oHPz

Fire pits and power tools good for preschoolers

‘While fire pits and real tools aren’t things you’d normally expect to find in an early childhood centre, new Australian research suggests that perhaps they should be.

Exposure to different “risks” within their preschool, including open flames hammers and saws, (yes, you read that correctly!) resulted in preschoolers developing more confidence, safety awareness and better risk assessment skills, according to a new study.

The findings, set to be published later this year, highlight the importance of risky play in a world where helicopter parenting is increasingly common.’

http://bit.ly/2w3igR7

Literate, Numerate or Curious?

‘Here’s an interesting question for your next workshop, faculty meeting, or maybe even a dinner party?

“Would you rather that your children were literate, numerate, or curious?” Pick one, and why?

For many, it’s a tough choice; for most, you want all three. But if you had to choose one, which one would it be? In case you’re wondering, yes this is a leading question, which I’ll get to in a moment. But I for one would want to start my response by first asking exactly what you mean by each of those three words.’

http://bit.ly/2uK7eAA

Talking about Creativity Is Fun, But How Do You Teach It?

‘Nothing in education engenders as many bumper sticker slogans as creativity. We want our kids to develop creative minds. But creativity is difficult to measure and so research in this area is scant, leaving us to our own devices. 

One common notion is that allowing students more freedom to express themselves fosters creativity. Along the same lines, many argue that strict educational systems dampen creativity.’

http://bit.ly/2wgGLds

I’ve got something to say by Gail Loane with Sally Muir

‘This book review encompasses just about everything that needs to be known about children’s writing and makes a mockery of the grotesque Wow! national standards-Hattie culture of today. As I go through the review, readers will come across small matters of difference between me and the authors; my preference being slightly less structure and even more emphasis on expressive writing. But if you based your writing programme on the tenets set out you would be doing famously.’

http://bit.ly/2uKbujk

The Squishiness of Writing Instruction

‘The problem with writing is that it’s squishy, probably squishier than anything else we teach. There is no solid metric for measuring how “good” a writer. Can you quantify how Hemmingway, Steinbeck, Chaucer, Kate Chopin, Carl Sagan, P.J.O’Rourke, Mark Twain, James Thurber, and S. E. Hinton stack up each other by measuring how “good” they are? Of course not– even the attempt would be absurd. Ditto for trying to give students a cold hard solid empirical writing rating.’

http://bit.ly/2wRAEKw

Contributed by Bruce Hammonds:

Dear Justine Greening: your primary school reading reforms aren’t making the grade

‘How do you dress up the great Tory reading reforms as a stunning success if 29% aren’t at the expected level? Might there be a little bit of a problem that too much emphasis has been put on “decoding” and not enough on “meaning”? After all, the ultimate purpose of reading is to understand what it is you’re reading, isn’t it?’

http://bit.ly/2w2Q4hq

The idea you can put a number against a child’s ability is flawed and dangerous

Head teacher Alison Peacock sees the demise of levels as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to change how children are assessed nationally. But instead of simply replacing the old structure with a new one, she’d like to focus on enabling children to learn in a meaningful way so that assessment becomes “a tool for improvement rather than judgment”.The assumption that you can reliably put a number against what a child is capable of is flawed and dangerous.’

http://bit.ly/2x60wRQ

Teaching and Purpose: A Response to Bill Gates and his Purpose Problem

‘I recently ran across Bill Gates’s blog. Gates ironically reflects on what it means to have purpose in one’s life.I say ironically, because many blame Bill Gates for the current push to replace teachers in our public schools with technology—calling it personalized or competency-based learning.Not only will teachers lose their profession and their purpose, a whole segment of society will be displaced—careers shattered.This will drastically affect how and what students learn. Even our youngest children will obtain their knowledge on machines.’

http://bit.ly/2w3fhIp

Schools Are Not A Business: Making Them Compete Is Insane

‘The real issue here is having schools compete for students. With this system in place, we will always see people abandoning schools in poor areas and heading for richer areas.

We need to abandon this idea that having schools compete somehow improves education. Looking at the international evidence, it simply doesn’t bear out in reality.

Schools and teachers should collaborate, learning from each other, and work to ensure that every local school is the school of choice.’

http://bit.ly/2wQW6PN

From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:

Nigel Latta: The new ‘Haves and Have Nots’ – time for Moral Leadership in New Zealand

‘As we begin to focus on the upcoming elections Nigel Latta’s TV programme is timely. It is surely time to move away from on the personalities of leaders and to focus on the real issues facing our country. The programme was a serious attempt to get to the core of inequality in NZ and its consequences for us all.Once NZ had one of the highest home ownership figures in the world and we didn’t see examples of extreme wealth.’

http://bit.ly/1slX9hB

David Perkin’s Smart Schools

 Dreams are where the dilemma starts ’, Perkins writes – dreams about great schools. ‘We want our schools to deliver a great deal of knowledge and understanding to a great many people of differing talents with a great range of interests and a great variety of cultural and family backgrounds. Quite a challenge – and why aren’t we better at it.’ Some, he would say, is because ‘We don’t know enough. ’Perkins, though, thinks they’re wrong, ‘We know enough now to do a much better job’. The problem comes down to this, ‘we are not putting to work what we know.’ ‘We do not have a knowledge gap – we have a monumental use – of – knowledge gap’. Schools that use what we know he calls ‘smart schools’.

http://bit.ly/1ZGuzro