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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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.’
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.’
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.’
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.’
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.’
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.’
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?’
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.’
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.’
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.’
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.’
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’.