Education Readings March 24th

By Allan Alach

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

Why even the world’s highest-scoring schools need to change

‘Marion Brady is a veteran educator who has long argued that public schools in the United States need a paradigm shift. The core curriculum, he says, does not meet the needs of today’s students, and schools fail to do the most important thing they should be doing. He explains in the following post.’

http://wapo.st/2mUwwq0

You Probably Believe Some Learning Myths: Take Our Quiz To Find Out

‘We all want for our kids to have optimal learning experiences and, for ourselves, to stay competitive with lifelong learning. But how well do you think you understand what good learning looks like?

Ulrich Boser says, probably not very well.’ 

http://n.pr/2noFahe

We should be cautious about classroom tech

‘However, before we blithely fall off the digital cliff face like pixelated lemmings, we do need to assess the effect of our coming bout with the big gorilla. Education has always been about freeing ourselves from the coercive effect of ideology so that we can live informed lives free from superstition or marketing. However, today we are on the cusp of hitching ourselves to big business with very little empirical research on the effect of technology in schools.’

http://bit.ly/2mVYvDf

Most people are secretly threatened by creativity

‘Creativity is highly prized in Western society—much touted by cultures that claim to value individualism and the entrepreneurial spirit. But scratch beneath the surface, and it turns out that a lot of schools and businesses aren’t actually all that excited about bold new ideas. By and large, we tend to be threatened by creativity—and eager to shut it down.’

http://bit.ly/2nDPS3I

Finger painting as fun, learning and an act of resistance.

“Looking through some old pics of student art work I am reminded that one of the things that drove teacher-hating trolls the most nuts was that I, an elementary Art teacher, was paid a full teacher’s salary for “finger painting with kids.” So I always made sure that during the school year that is exactly what I did. And post it. Kids love to finger paint and it is messy! And I was paid in full.”

http://bit.ly/2neFyhO

Contributed by Bruce Hammonds:

Personalising education by introducing the spiritual dimension – an antidote to linear standardised teaching

Bruce’s latest article:

‘I have just been looking at a book ,’Learning by Wandering: an Ancient Irish Perspective for a Digital World’  sent to me  because the Irish author Marie Martin had made use of some of my writing from an e-zine I wrote in 2009. I felt it a bit of a honour to be included in her book alongside well recognized international  educational writers she made reference to.

http://bit.ly/2noGBw0

Why high-flying Singapore wants more than grades

‘The next update of the education system will have to ensure that Singapore can create a more equitable society, build a stronger social compact among its people while at the same time develop capabilities for the new digital economy. Government policies are moving away from parents and students’ unhealthy obsession with grades and entry to top schools and want to put more emphasis on the importance of values. Schools have been encouraged, especially for the early elementary years, to scrap standardised examinations and focus on the development of the whole child.’

http://bbc.in/2mu91pf

Ignorance Might Be the Best Thing For Your Creative Mind

‘There is no right and standard prescription for creative work. Creativity requires some form of knowledge. But knowledge alone is not useful unless you can make meaningful connections. A more refined design and an efficient implementation are not absolute guarantees of success.

http://bit.ly/2nTbq9V

Educators argue creativity just as important as literacy and numeracy in national curriculum

‘The Federal Government-commissioned report released in October last year recommended Australia’s school curriculum should refocus teaching in early childhood years on literacy and numeracy. But some Sydney schools are worried if there is a shift away from fostering creative and critical thinking skills, students will not learn the skills needed when they enter the workforce.’

http://ab.co/2nKu9Yk

Is school ‘killing’ your child’s creativity? And does this matter?

‘Rote learning, controlling teachers and a “fixation” on standardised tests are crushing children’s creativity, according to a school principal who is on a mission to change things.’

http://ab.co/2noKJfH

From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:

Environmental awareness for pre-schoolers – from ‘On Looking’ by Alexandra Horowitz

‘These days learning using technology – exploring the ‘virtual’ world, seems to the latest ‘silver bullet’ and, all too often, this is at the expense of developing an awareness and appreciation of the real world.’

http://bit.ly/1xo3Ndi

The Way David Hockney Sees It.

‘Hockney’s skill has been his ability to make fresh pictures many based on real technical skill. While I was in England I picked up on an newspaper interview with Hockney and feel some of his ideas are worth sharing  with educators.’

http://bit.ly/2chHAYM

Education Readings March 3rd

By Allan Alach

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

What Australia can learn from Finland’s forested classrooms

‘Children’s brains work better when they are moving, the master teacher explains. Not only do they concentrate better in class, but they are more successful at “negotiating, socialising, building teams and friendships together”.

Finland leads the world in its discovery that play is the most fundamental engine and efficiency-booster of children’s learning.’

http://bit.ly/2lYaq3U

Mainstream schools need to take back responsibility for educating disengaged students

Thanks to Phil Cullen for this article.

‘Exclusion from school places makes vulnerable young people at greater risk of long term unemployment, dependence on welfare, mental health issues and social isolation.

Young people unable to attend mainstream education then need to look for an educational alternative that addresses the complexity of their lives and needs.’

http://bit.ly/2lXBsbp

Our crisis of democracy is a crisis of education

‘I think the challenge is that we have an education system, globally, and very much so in the western world, which is geared towards things that we can measure: particularly ‘academic subjects’ – maths, science, and English. Because these are taught and tested in a way that is eminently measurable. The problem with standardisation is that you end up narrowing the curriculum and narrowing the tuition, so that we can measure success through a quite restrictive testing regime.’

http://bit.ly/2mfIbQG

Rescuing Education Reform from Decades of Post-Truth

‘For those of us involved in education and the education reform movement, however, the negative consequences of post-truth discourse have been around for more than a century—and during the past three decades, a harbinger of what the Trump phenomenon has brought to the U.S.’

http://bit.ly/2mfCzpr

A High School Math Teacher’s First Experience Teaching Elementary School

‘At a workshop in Alameda County last month, I made my standard request for classroom teachers to help me make good on my New Year’s resolution. I assumed all the teachers there taught middle- or high-school so I said yes to every teacher who invited me. Later, I’d find out that one of them taught fourth grade.

As a former high school math teacher, this was NIGHTMARE MATERIAL, Y’ALL.’

http://bit.ly/2mMwRID

Contributed by Bruce Hammonds:

The way we teach our children is truly crazy

Education in Australia is crazy – a parent’s view

‘Now I can say it.  With my youngest child having safely fled the school system, I can finally say, without fear of jinx or reprisal, that how we educate our kids is insane. It’s not the teachers, who show the normal human range from fine to feeble. Not the particular schools, which included public and private, selective and non-selective. What’s insane is the system and – feeding it, as fear feeds war – an intensifying cultural madness. Not theirs. Ours.’

http://bit.ly/2lUMyzy

Want to be a great parent? Let your children be bored

‘From books, arts and sports classes to iPads and television, many parents do everything in their power to entertain and educate their children. But what would happen if children were just left to be bored from time to time? How would it affect their development?’

http://bit.ly/2lAjsTx

‘An education in the arts is limited to the economically privileged. It is an unjust waste of national talent’

‘A good education should be a preparation for life. It requires the development of the whole child, not merely their intellect. It necessitates students becoming intrinsic learners with self-discipline and a genuine thirst for knowledge, rather than being goaded or corralled, which is what students may become with a single-minded focus on exam results.’

http://bit.ly/1GHLhwE

Stress Literally Shrinks Your Brain (7 Ways To Reverse The Damage)

Here’s an article for teachers:

‘It’s not impossible to reduce your stress levels; you just need to make managing stress a higher priority if you want to reverse this effect. The sooner you start managing your stress effectively, the easier it will be to keep unexpected stress from causing damage in the future.’

http://bit.ly/2lUFbZc

Teacher: A one-size-fits-all approach to instruction is stifling our classrooms

‘Everyone has an opinion about what’s wrong with American education. Classrooms are overcrowded. Funding is misallocated. Segregation persists. Politicians, principals, and academics have rancorous debates over how to best fix our schools. On at least one issue, however, everyone agrees: Students deserve great teachers. But how can we attract — let alone retain — them?’

http://wapo.st/2ldBRtq

From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:

Don’t touch the bananas!!!!

What monkeys and bananas can teach us

“It is always amazing to see how exposure to an environment, or culture, can change how we think without us even knowing – I guess this is called conditioning. New ideas always rely on those individuals who can see reality without the blinkers.The truth however is not always welcome and it is always easier to go along. As Oscar Wilde once said, ‘The truth makes you very unpopular at the club.’”

http://bit.ly/1hLoV7C

Tapping into the student’s world

‘Every student brings with them memories and ideas gained from the experiences they have had. All too often this personal form of motivation is overlooked by teachers who seem to think they have better ideas to use – their own. It is as if students come to school as blank slates (tabula rosa) when instead they come with a wealth of ideas to share but to do their ideas need to be valued.’

http://bit.ly/1LwCrc8

Teachers’ key role in fostering creativity.

It is is worth thinking about the dispositions and pedagogical skills that make a creative teacher.The key attitude is a desire to help every individual student develop his ,or her, own particular set of interests and talents rather than simply ‘delivering’ the curriculum in an innovative way. The curriculum need to ’emerge’ from the students’ felt concerns.’

http://bit.ly/1EUJFm2

Education Readings February 17th

By Allan Alach

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

The Writing Process Isn’t Linear. So Why Do Schools Keep Pretending That It Is?

Read this!

‘If you conduct an online image search for “writing process,” you’ll find many charts that lay out the steps—brainstorming, drafting, revising, editing, publishing—in a nice linear fashion. It’s as if these visuals assert, “We brainstorm on Monday, draft on Tuesday, etc.”

However, professional writers don’t check off the steps of the writing process as they move through it. As any experienced writer will tell you, the writing process is recursive, not linear.’

http://bit.ly/2lIIxiO

Learning spaces of the third kind

First Steve Wheeler article of the year:

Students carry technology in their pockets, information floats through the air, and the they use their own devices to seek and capture it. There is a sense that learning can occur without the teacher being present in this same space, although the teacher may be there anyway, as a co-learner as much as a facilitator. Education is co-constructed, and the tools and technologies provide the scaffolding to support the learning. Students learn by creating, connecting, discovering and sharing.’

http://bit.ly/2l6os2J

Curiosity Is the Cat

Here’s a Will Richardson article that reminded me of this quote by Albert Einstein “It is a miracle that curiosity survives formal education.”

‘I’m becoming more curious about curiosity. I’m beginning to think it’s the only “C” that truly matters, and that it’s been badly disrespected in all the conversation around the 4Cs or 7Cs or howevermanyCs that people have been throwing around.I mean really, when it comes to learning, what comes before curiosity?

Critical thinking doesn’t, because if you’re not curious as to whether something is true or fake or accurate or real, you won’t really think very hard about it.’

http://bit.ly/2l6dIli

Five-Minute Montessori

Many of today’s hot topics in education were addressed by iconic educator Maria Montessori nearly a century ago. The video below (5 1/2 min) – along with this Wikipedia link – provide a quick overview of this method of schooling (the video is an adjunct to a book promotion but still works).’

http://bit.ly/2kvprYm

Why Creativity?

‘I would argue that without creativity there is the danger of not challenging what we do and why we do it. Possibly to go blindly along with what we are told without question for we have no drive, no vision of how things could be different, no need even, to do anything different. Without creativity in our lives, we risk seeing the world only as a series of things we are directed to achieve in the way we are shown to achieve them.  Should we forgo challenge and accept obedience?’

http://bit.ly/2kR3W7S

3 Ways To Encourage Creativity In Your Classroom This Year

‘As educators, when it comes to creativity in the classroom, we can take the path of least resistance and take creativity out of the learning process or we can create an environment that fosters creativity in learning and allow kids to explore their talents. Fostering creativity in learning in the classroom doesn’t have to be complex or complicated. Here are 3 ways you can encourage creativity in your classroom this year.’

http://bit.ly/2kvnwDq

Contributed by Bruce Hammonds:

Breaking the Cycle of “Baby Stuff”

Challenging the Goldilocks Rule

‘For years, teachers have been using simple benchmarks, tests, or other assessment tools to select materials that attempt to align with students’ abilities. This is often known as the Goldilocks Rule—selected books are not too difficult and not too easy but supposedly just right. Unfortunately, this was how all three boys ended up confronting baby stuff at their schools.’

http://bit.ly/2lxw6lX

How to Combine Rigor with Engagement

‘The imperatives are clear. On the one hand, we have an obligation to equip all children with a baseline level of literacy and numeracy. Rooted in concerns about equity and given teeth by recent accountability policies, this obligation has become a central goal of schooling in the United States. On the other hand, however, we know that the basics are no longer enough. To successfully negotiate modern life, adults need the capacity to tackle open-ended problems in creative ways—a capacity that requires both critical-thinking skills and the disposition to persevere.’

http://bit.ly/2lxv4q4

Right-Sized Rigor

‘At the core of our quest to increase rigor is creating a common understanding of rigor that speaks to all students. Too often, we dismiss struggling students as unable to work at rigorous levels. In fact, “Rigor is creating an environment in which each student is expected to learn at high levels; each student is supported so he or she can learn at high levels; and each student demonstrates learning at high levels” (Blackburn, 2013).’

http://bit.ly/2kXuNQM

From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:

What has really changed in our schools the past 50 years?

Reflecting on teaching beliefs – are things better now?

‘The other day I had the opportunity to visit a school I began my career visiting in 1960. During  a discussion with the principal she mentioned the classrooms had been developed into innovative (or flexible) learning environments. I couldn’t help suggesting that I bet the daily classroom programmes/timetables haven’t changed much since I first visited the school 40 plus years ago ( with exception of availability of information technology). If anything the current emphasis on literacy and numeracy had reinforced the timetables of earlier times taking up the morning time with the rest of the Learning Areas squeezed into the afternoon period. Hardly flexible teaching? Hardly progress?’

http://bit.ly/2l1USO8

Educational Quotes 5: Leadership and Teamwork

Some quotes on leadership to think about.

‘Imposed bureaucratic ‘top down’ changes have resulted in school being ‘over managed and under led.’ Now is the time for courageous leaders, at all levels, to emerge and add their ‘voices’ to the debate. There are no experts with ‘the answer’ – we will have to invent the future ourselves together as we go along.’ 

http://bit.ly/1vGrNDD

The Treaty of Waitangi – what do your students’ know?

‘A wise teacher should take advantage of important events in New Zealand history such as the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi.

As the celebration comes early in the year it is a good opportunity to introduce the students to how they will be expected to learn in the class; how to work together to develop critical thinking; how to value their own ideas; how to deepen their understandings and how to apply lessons learnt to their own class.’

http://bit.ly/2kQYVdY

Education Readings February 3rd

By Allan Alach

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

8 digital skills we must teach our children

‘Moreover, there is the digital age gap. The way children use technology is very different from adults. This gap makes it difficult for parents and educators to fully understand the risks and threats that children could face online. As a result, adults may feel unable to advise children on the safe and responsible use of digital technologies. Likewise, this gap gives rise to different perspectives of what is considered acceptable behaviour.

So how can we, as parents, educators and leaders, prepare our children for the digital age? Without a doubt, it is critical for us to equip them with digital intelligence.’

http://bit.ly/2kiAMg4

Information Literacy and Document Learning

‘Information literacy consists in the ability to identify, search effectively for information, locate, filter, discern the quality of information, evaluate, analyze, tag,  categorize, re-mix, create new types of information and effectively use and communicate the findings well for an issue or problem at hand.’ 

http://bit.ly/2krSH6s

The Critical Thinking Skills Cheatsheet

‘Critical thinking skills truly matter in learning. Why? Because they are life skills we use every day of our lives. Everything from our work to our recreational pursuits, and all that’s in between, employs these unique and valuable abilities. Consciously developing them takes thought-provoking discussion and equally thought-provoking questions to get it going.’

http://bit.ly/2jWHOGb

Can Constructionism prevent our children turning into Stormtroopers?

‘Seymour Papert, who I had the opportunity to spend time with in those years, had developed a learning theory he called “Constructionism”. Papert had been a student of Piaget and Vygotsky who had developed philosophies about the nature of knowledge called Constructivism and Social Constructivism respectively.’

http://bit.ly/2kini48

Eight Big Ideas Behind the Constructionist Learning Lab

Following on, here’s more about Seymour Papert’s constructionism.

‘The first big idea is learning by doing. We all learn better when learning is part of doing something we find really interesting. We learn best of all when we use what we learn to make something we really want.’

http://bit.ly/2kTIRYm

Why Spatial Reasoning Is Crucial For Early Math Education

‘There’s a well-known rift between those who believe the only type of developmentally appropriate early childhood education is a play-based one, and those concerned that relying solely on any learning that comes out of play could put students coming from impoverished backgrounds at a disadvantage. Research has shown that students from lower socioeconomic groups enter school with significantly less mathematical knowledge, and it is difficult to overcome that gap without intentional mathematics programming. But, at the same time, traditional teacher-led instruction often isn’t developmentally appropriate for five-year-olds.’

http://bit.ly/2jWQJHR

Contributed by Bruce Hammonds:

What Do We Really Mean When We Say ‘Personalized Learning’?

‘The idea of personalized learning is seductive — it implies moving away from the industrialized form of education that pumps out cookie-cutter students with the same knowledge and skills. After decades of this approach, it is clear that all children don’t learn the same way and personalization seems to honor those differences. However, that term has taken on several different meanings.’

http://bit.ly/2ks90jB

Die in the Ditch – Non-negotiable Principles for Learning Design

‘An important and very rewarding part of our development journey has been sharing our thinking with the hundreds of visitors that we have hosted. This has reminded me of the passion and openness that so many teachers have to make schooling as engaging and relevant as possible for learners. Almost all have agreed that students are struggling to engage and find learning stressful. They also recognise that teaching has become a hard slog with reduced rewards. Many also acknowledge that schools are becoming more like centres of assessment rather than centres of learning.All of the visiting schools want answers to the question of what can be done at their school and, in some cases, believe that after a visit they will discover a model they can transplant into their own environment. Of course, they soon realise this is unlikely.’

http://bit.ly/2kXj1lL

Sir Ken Robinson: How to Create a Culture For Valuable Learning

“If you design a system to do something, don’t be surprised if it does it,” Robinson said at the annual Big Picture Learning conference called Big Bang. He went on to describe the two pillars of the current system — conformity and compliance — which undermine the sincere efforts of educators and parents to equip children with the confidence to enter the world on their own terms.”

http://bit.ly/2jEkts6

How One Teacher Let Go of Control To Focus On Student-Centered Approaches

‘When Kristine Riley saw a colleague she admired and teachers she followed on social media extol the learning advantages of letting go of control in the classroom, she decided to give it a try. “I started out small,” said Riley, who teaches in Edison, New Jersey public schools. It took about a year, maybe a year and a half, to abandon her top-down approach to teaching and replace it with what she calls “structured chaos.”’

http://bit.ly/2kTSeHE

From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:

Creative Schools – an impossible dream?

‘Educators who believe that education is more of a process of creating stimulating environments to allow students to begin the process of helping the young explore what it is that they are best suited for have always been in the minority. Most teachers have little choice to put programmes into place that have been defined by their school, by those distant ‘experts’ that determine the curriculum and, most invasive of all, by those who determine the means of assessing students learning. When the latter is in the hands of the politicians supported by compliant principals then the possibility of creativity is all but lost.’

http://bit.ly/2dlEXWL

The artistry of teaching and future learning attributes

The future of learning depends on the artistry of the teacher

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

http://bit.ly/1PsoX3j

Education Readings January 27th

By Allan Alach

Well, here we are at the start of another year, which in New Zealand and Australia is also the start of the school year. I wonder what 2017 will bring as far as education is concerned. I fear that little that is good will happen, especially in the USA, given the suggested Secretary of Education. The possible exception could be a change of government in New Zealand when the elections are held later this year. Such a change should mean the end of the current standards based nonsense, but we will have to wait and see.

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

Burnout’s devastating impact on teachers who can’t switch off

Burnout sneaks up on you, as I found to my cost. Beware.

‘Defined as the process of collapse attributed to excessive and continuous demands on energy, strength and other physical, psychological and emotional resources, burnout develops across time and can be viewed through a lens of ever reducing levels of passion and compassion, self-efficacy and effectiveness.’

http://bit.ly/2k1PbiL

Sometimes Misbehavior Is Not What It Seems

‘The following are examples of seeing misbehavior from a new perspective. In each of these cases, diagnosis is very difficult — as are the remedies. For chronic misbehaving students, pay close attention to their home situations, the type of misbehavior, when it occurs, and whether they behave differently with other adults. Be advised that the best responses to these situations sound easier than they are to put into practice.’

http://edut.to/2kuuGvY

To Encourage Creativity in Kids, Ask Them: ‘What if’?

‘I explained to them that these two words are a kind of secret tunnel into the world of new ideas. In fact, I told them, I only came up with the booger story after asking myself: What if a family picked their noses so much that they create a monstrous booger? And what if the snot rocket rolled out the window and gained so much steam it threatened to roll over the town? And what if the whole story rhymed?’

http://nyti.ms/2kuD5iS

21st Century Skills Don’t Exist. So Why Do We Need Them?

‘This is a very good point and even if you don’t agree at first, we encourage you to chew, swallow, and then slowly digest it. Listen up (confession: all examples here are stolen from Rotherham and Willingham). Do you really think that in the ‘old days’ – whenever they were – we didn’t need to think critically and solve problems? What about the development of tools, agricultural advancements, discovery of vaccines, or land and sea explorations? And don’t you think the lads and gals back in the old days would have to communicate and collaborate to progress?’

http://bit.ly/2kusOiN

How to Teach a Middle School Class in 49 Easy Steps

Funny…

http://bit.ly/2kuqBYD

Why Schools Should NOT Be Run Like Businesses

‘It’s absurd. Not everything benefits from being sold for a profit. Imagine if your spouse suggested running your marriage that way. It would turn you both into prostitutes selling yourselves at ever cheaper rates while any self respect, dignity and love disappeared.’

http://bit.ly/2j6miTl

Contributed by Bruce Hammonds:

Why A More Creative School System Might Be The Solution We’ve Been Looking For

Let’s start the 2017 year with Sir Ken Robinson:

‘If you think of it, children starting school this year will be retiring in 2065,” he tells an enrapt audience in a video captured at the Monterey, California event. “Nobody has a clue, despite all the expertise that’s been on parade for the past four days, what the world will look like in five years’ time. And yet we’re meant to be educating them for it. So the unpredictability, I think, is extraordinary.”In his talk, Robinson describes the unpredictability of the market and the jobs it creates as an opportunity. But insofar as it is seen as a challenge, a problem, he says he’s identified the solution: build an educational system that celebrates and encourages creative thinkers and out-of-the-box problem-solvers.Making our job a little easier, he suggests, is that kids are ready-made to come up with weird and wonderful ideas. We’re just currently teaching them not to.’

http://bit.ly/2jSTef0

The Beauty and Chaos of Free Play

‘I love the joyful learning that I see when children are engaged in free play, exploration and creative thought with materials, using them in their own innovative ways as loose parts. I often find any carefully presented centres I try to create are soon used in novel and other-than-intended ways and I have to resist (not always with success) the urge to say, ‘but wait…”. And while resisting the urge often results in a gigantic tidying time, it also results in unexpected and joyful learning.I often have to ask myself, is it more important for children to engage in this exploratory free play or to engage with the lovely provocation I have so carefully laid out?’

http://bit.ly/2kudNxz

Finnish-ing touches on education

New Zealand needs to learn from Finland.

‘Education is also a national priority, funded well, with more than 55 percent in federal dollars, and catering to working families. Free meals, health care and outside-of-class child care are available to all students, who start formal schooling at age 7 after state-sponsored compulsory kindergarten that features outdoor play and exploration.School is mandatory through grade 9, or age 16, with two tracks in high school—general academic and vocational. Nearly 40 percent of students choose the vocational side, which is geared toward what the country expects to need in the next decade in terms of skilled workers, such as computer coding and engineering.’

http://bit.ly/2k56AY1

3 Types of Unintentional Learning (And How to Make Them Intentional)

‘We are all aware of the teachable moment, and most of you reading this have experienced it firsthand. We know that one of the best opportunities for students to learn is when they are asking questions, so we make time for this in each lesson. Some questions can be off topic, and just like unwanted weeds, we pull them out and redirect the students’ attention to continue our planned and deliberate teaching (gardening). But most questions bring forth deeper clarity for the learners in the room, and sometimes there’s the ripe question that elicits deeper questions and understanding. There’s nothing like that moment when a revelation happens for multiple students in the room.’

http://edut.to/2k1NMsr

From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:

Creative Schools – an impossible dream?

‘Educators who believe that education is more of a process of creating stimulating environments to allow students to begin the process of helping the young explore what it is that they are best suited for have always been in the minority. Most teachers have little choice to put programmes into place that have been defined by their school, by those distant ‘experts’ that determine the curriculum and, most invasive of all, by those who determine the means of assessing students learning. When the latter is in the hands of the politicians supported by compliant principals then the possibility of creativity is all but lost.’

http://bit.ly/2dlEXWL

Checking out your class, or school, for quality learning.

Something to think about for the year ahead.

‘Is your classroom a quality learning environment where students are able to ‘seek, use and create their own knowledge’ as it states in the ‘new’ New Zealand Curriculum?

Here are some questions to focus on.’

http://bit.ly/2kupgRQ

Education Readings November 9th

By Allan Alach

The more observant ones amongst you will have noticed that this week’s readings are published earlier than usual. We are heading off to the north of New Zealand tomorrow for a 10 day break – neither of us have been there before, so it’s a new adventure for us. For those of you in the USA, these readings may distract you from the politics!

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

How Intrinsic Motivation in Education is Undermined by Extrinsic Motivation

‘I have heard many people talk about intrinsic motivation and how we need to get more of it – especially in schools. But what exactly is intrinsic motivation and why should we nurture it? This is a 2-part blog post. In part 1 (this one) I explore what intrinsic motivation is and why it matters. In part two (follow the blog to get informed when it’s online)  I will explore how intrinsic motivation can be implemented in the classroom.’

http://bit.ly/2fV9Bsd

Teacher research and why it is more important than ever for our schools

‘For some time now we have seen suspicion of any form of educational research not fitting into the ‘gold standard’ of randomized controlled trials. Qualitative and context-sensitive research has been excluded from the evidence base and teachers have been compelled to implement ‘evidence-based’ practices. It has seemed in some quarters that there is no longer any need for teachers to ask questions; they are all being answered by science. Indeed, teachers’ questions are seen as obstacles to their faithfully following pedagogic scripts. Currently, however, education systems are starting to see the limits of top-down reform and particularly of attempting to impose single solutions on teachers. It turns out that ‘what works’ does not always work for all students in all classrooms.’

http://bit.ly/2fyShF9

The Reading Rules We Would Never Follow as Adult Readers

Food for thought.

‘The number one thing all the students I have polled through the years want the most when it comes to reading.  No matter how I phrase the question, this answer in all of its versions is always at the top.  Sometimes pleading, sometimes demanding, sometimes just stated as a matter of fact; please let us choose the books we want to read. Yet, how often is this a reality for the students we teach?  How often, in our eagerness to be great teachers, do we remove or disallow the very things students yearn for to have meaningful literacy experiences?  How many of the things we do to students would we never put up with ourselves?  In our quest to create lifelong readers, we seem to be missing some very basic truths about what makes a reader.  So what are the rules we would probably not always follow ourselves?’

http://bit.ly/2fVmUsY

‘The devastating decline of the arts in schools will hit the poorest children the hardest’

A sad and almost inevitable outcome of the standards based education agenda:

‘I would like to see vice-chancellors of universities, employers and educators speaking up for the value of creativity in schools, for all learners. It is not a fanciful exaggeration to reflect that otherwise we may head back to class-based culture wars where arts are for certain classes only, and the others can make do. In other words, social immobility for all.’

http://bit.ly/2ftHOMI

Why Teaching to the Test is Educational Malpractice

‘… as a teacher, you can be singled out, written up or even fired for refusing to engage in malpractice. You are bullied, cajoled and threatened into going along with practices that have been debunked by decades of research and innumerable case studies. Take the all-too-common practice of teaching to the test. Not only do students and teachers hate it, but the practice has been shown to actually harm student learning. Yet it is the number one prescription handed down from administrators and policymakers to bring up failing scores on high stakes standardized tests.’

http://bit.ly/2fxCbNW

Contributed by Bruce Hammonds:

Multiple Creativity Studies Suggest: Creating Our Reality Requires Detaching From It

‘I pore over studies on creativity, and recently I noticed a consistency across these many creativity studies that took me years to notice, let alone articulate. A consistency that most authors of these studies allude to in some way, and in different ways. I’d like to share a unified way of thinking about creativity, supported directly by these many studies, that helped me to better understand this important skill, but, more importantly, could help us all be more creative in business, marketing, and in life.’

http://bit.ly/2exxalN

To improve quality in education, reconsider true definition of ‘good teacher’

‘It is assumed, therefore, that teachers and the actions they take in the classroom fundamentally impact students and what they learn. Often we, as a community of education stakeholders, take this assumed relationship so far as to assert that educational systems are only as good as the quality of their teachers.However, this nearly universal valuation of both teaching and teachers glosses over the sober realization that individual teachers have differential effects on student learning.’

http://bit.ly/2bWcH8S

5 things we should teach in school but don’t

‘Let’s be honest: our education system is screwed.I mean, almost all of the important history I learned between grades 5 and 12 I could probably find on Wikipedia and understand within a few weeks now.And pretty much any scientific knowledge you could ever want to learn is explained with pretty videos on YouTube.’

http://read.bi/2ftsXBU

The Future of Learning

What is the purpose of school & the role of EdTech?

‘There’s a constant tension within the education system. This is a tension that isn’t a new one. It’s been going on hundreds of years in fact. John Dewey in 1902 wrote a book called The Child and The Curriculum that had the same tension, the same argument about whether education about subject knowledge and content knowledge or is it about self-realisation of the child, learning for the fun of learning and opposed to learning because you had to get through some tests? That’s been a constant tension, as it is today, and more so in a way because we’re beginning to use technology in a way that reinforces the format, the idea that education is about mastery of content, of subject knowledge, and then regurgitating it at an examination.’

http://bit.ly/2fxGzwp

From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:

The NZC curriculum nautilus

The nautilus – a metaphor for the New Zealand Curriculum

‘The shell of the nautilus is a symbol, or metaphor, for beauty and proportional perfection. First used on a New Zealand Curriculum in 1993 it has become a familiar symbol for New Zealand teachers. Or has it? The ‘new’ New Zealand Curriculum introduced to schools in 2007 comes with a redesigned nautilus shell.To introduce the ideas of the curriculum to students (and teachers) it might be worth giving thought to the reason for the selection of the image. If it were possible to show students a nautilus shell (or a series of pictures) this might inspire some insightful thinking. We all seem to have a fascination for sea shells, most homes have a shell or two on display, and capitalizing on this fascination would result in an equally fascinating study at any level of learning.’

http://bit.ly/2exwIE0

What should a parent expect from a teacher in the 21stC?

Apart from the surge in technology use, and the new skills teachers need to adopt, implement and harness new digital media and tools (a subject for another blogpost), I would argue that little has changed in our expectations of good educators.’

http://bit.ly/1QwPHy6

School Reform: more political than educational

‘I would think that if we had focused on recognising, and sharing, the ideas of creative teachers and innovative schools in the first place, and if the various governments had seen their role as creating the conditions and providing resources, we would be in a far better position than we are in now. And, as well, we would have teachers who have faith in their ability to develop new approaches to teaching and learning without distorting and disabling the total system. The politicians have had their day – time to put the trust back to those who have the practical experience to develop new ideas school by school, community by community.’

http://bit.ly/2bB04Cv

Education Readings November 4th

By Allan Alach

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

What are our students doing 400 minutes a day?

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

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

http://bit.ly/2ffO2jD

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

Another link from Phil Cullen, who comments:

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

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

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

http://ab.co/2e3qOiC

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

On the other hand …

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

http://wapo.st/2eBicfu

Why Daydreaming is Critical to Effective Learning

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

http://bit.ly/2ep22Iy

The Culture of Childhood: We’ve Almost Destroyed It

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

http://bit.ly/2e3pEE6

The Role of Metacognition in Learning and Achievement

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

http://bit.ly/2fwQDsF

Contributed by Bruce Hammonds:

Great expectations: how to help your students fulfil their potential

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

http://bit.ly/2fe2hFc

Getting Restless At The Head Of The Class

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

http://n.pr/2cMvSrE

From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:

Who dares wins!

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

http://bit.ly/2e3pDzY

The source of school failure

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

http://bit.ly/2fe3DQj

Looking back

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

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

http://bit.ly/1sPo0SY

The rebirth of education – a real Renaissance

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

http://bit.ly/2eWbNyB