Michael Moore: Where do we invade next?

“Where to Invade Next?”

You know Michael Moore, that sloppy looking bloke whose fond of stirring the possum.

On Monday, 26 February 2017 he presented a documentary on SBS, which can be found of your TV’s “SBS on Demand”, called  Where to Invade Next? in which he ‘invades’ countries on the continent that have the most outstanding  ways of combating social issues and conducting some of society’s most successful social institutions.

His ‘invasion’ of Finland’s education system is outstanding. He queries some of their more preciously held beliefs on the nature of schooling The looks on the faces of those Finns amazed at the ways we treat our school children, is worth the effort of watching.

It’s a pity that a video clip of this section of his documentary cannot be sent to every schools in Australia. It says so much.  The reference below is not as easy to follow [poor sound] as that available on TV’s  ‘SBS on demand’.

But, no matter how you access it, please make sure you do.

You will note…
Schooling starts at 7 years of age.
No ‘rich’ [aka ‘private’] schools.  Rich kids must mix with lower class kids. No distinctions are noted nor made between neighbourhood schools.  Each one is proficient.
“Less is More’.  Allow time for kids to be happy, to be ‘hands on’, to be problem solving learners.
[You will note the surprise on Moore’s face when the Maths teacher said that his pupils have to be happy with learning Maths. Please consider the NAPLAN view of how the teaching of Maths ought to be handled!]

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qRJ1hgN7uAU

If you should like to find more, another handy video clip that gives 5 reasons for Finland’s supremacy, is useful. Any authority can copy them….or….at least….talk about them.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UfmFIEh2QjU

1. No standardised tests during schooling …only one at end of schooling.
2. More time for play and socialising. School week is only 20 hours at school.  No homework.
3. Teaching is the highest and most respected profession in the country. A Masters Degree is required for entry.
4. Post-schooling college and university education is free.
5. Pre-schooling is universal.

Treehorn insists : Australian schooling, now near the bottom of the international scale of effective schooling, has the potential and the intellectual power to leave Finland and other top-rated systems way behind in schooling achievements. It only lacks drive and initiative and thought..
  1. It needs to get rid of NAPLAN
  2. It needs to consider whether there is any social merit in Public Examinations generally. After all, they contain the elements of serious threat to teen-age well-being; suicide being only one of them.
  3. It needs to consider whether the creation of fear and anxiety in young children is preferable to the creation of play and being happy.
  4. It needs to think about the reasons for schooling.
  5. It needs to wonder why the kind of Finnish élan for learning works comprehensively better than the Australian macabre disposition for driving learning by fear.

    ________________________________________________________________________________
    Thanks Gavin.

    Phil Cullen  41 Cominan Avenue  Banora Point Australia 2486   07 5524 6443   0407865999   cphilcullen@bigpond.com  REFER: Who’s Who in Australia.

    Which do you think is more important for Australia’s future……  Its Schooling or its Defence by submarines?

    [It’s a trick question.]


Education Readings February 24th

By Allan Alach

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

A new phonics test for Australian six year olds is a BAD idea

As renowned English author Michael Rosen explains, the difference between a phonics test and learning to read is that a phonics test merely requires children to pronounce a list of words, while learning to read is about making meaning of a text.  Phonics is only one part of the literacy story. And there is no evidence that phonics training should precede meaning making in literacy learning. It is much more productive to address decoding skills in meaningful contexts.’

http://bit.ly/2m5KnKM

Should Traditional Teachers Join the Revolution?

‘However my experience is that very few of colleagues make pedagogical choices on the basis of ideology or efficacy, they do what they do to get through the day. Effectively each teacher presents a personal mishmash of entrenched pedagogical styles. It is immensely difficult to persuade colleagues to break their particular pattern because the pattern is a coping strategy.’

http://bit.ly/2mnagSB

Give teaching back to teachers

‘We need to give back to teachers control of the learning agenda. They also need to be supported with high-quality professional experiences. I want to make clear that I am not advocating an ‘anything goes’ approach. Good teachers are prepared to be accountable and responsible for their work and the work of their colleagues. But making them jump through hoop after hoop to justify their existence is draining and disheartening.’

http://bit.ly/2la868t

What Works Can Hurt: Side Effects in Education

Yong Zhao:

‘Educational research has typically focused exclusively on the benefits, intended effects of products, programs, policies, and practices, as if there were no adverse side effects. But side effects exist the same way in education as in medicine. For many reasons, studying and reporting side effects simultaneously as has been mandated for medical products is not common in education.’

http://bit.ly/2lMWNXm

Contributed by Bruce Hammonds:

Designing New Learning Environments to Support 21st Century Skills

A serious read about modern learning environments by Bob Pearlman

This chapter from a recent book outlines the development of creating 21stC learning environments. For schools moving in such directions it is worth the read. a key element of such schools is project base learning with students working collaboratively on authentic tasks to produce of quality. One message is not to put ‘old wine into new bottles’. Obviously purpose built buildings feature but it is the pedagogy that is most important.

http://bit.ly/2ma440X

How can the learning sciences inform the design of 21st century learning environments?

A short and valuable report about the teaching beliefs required to teach in a Innovative Learning Space.

‘Over recent years, learning has moved increasingly centre stage and for a range of powerful reasons. A primary driver has been the scale of change in our world the rapid advances in ICT, the shift to economies based on knowledge, and the emphasis on the skills required to thrive in them. Schools and education systems around the world are having to reconsider their design and approach to teaching and learning. What should schooling, teaching and, most especially, learning look like in this rapidly changing world?’

http://bit.ly/2kXa8YP

Rethinking classroom design to promote creativity and collaboration

‘Modern Learning Environments are the in thing but it’s what happens in them that counts!“The physical design of the space absolutely helps, especially when it comes to promoting collaboration. “It shouldn’t matter whether it’s for high school or college students,” he said. “We have to prepare students for a future that they can’t imagine, and how to succeed in the 21st century, using adaptability, creativity and empathy, along with ethics and problem-solving.”’

http://bit.ly/2m9drkK

Are Teachers Becoming Obsolete?

‘Leaving my school building the other day, I had an unexpected realization: Perhaps a computer was a more effective teacher than I currently was. The thought unnerved me, and still does as I’m writing this. I’m a nearly 13-year veteran educator dedicated to reflecting upon and refining my teaching craft. But I’m now considering the real possibility that, for at least part of a class period or school day, a computer could—and maybe should—replace me.’

http://bit.ly/2lJS7S4

Students Learn from Inquiry, Not Interrogation

‘Almost all students view follow-up questions as attempts to keep them on the “hot seat” and embarrass them for not knowing. And most perceive classroom questioning to be a competition that pits students against one another – Whose hand goes up first? Who answers most frequently? Very few students understand questioning as a process for collaborative exploration of ideas and a means by which teachers and students alike are able to find out where they are in their learning and decide on next step.’

http://bit.ly/2kX3NN5

Always Think Like a Student

‘There are many paths to success, but there is a common thread among them all: learning.The value of being a lifelong learner is immeasurable. We tend to forget this outside of the most obvious situations: at work or in school. What we all need to understand is that there is knowledge to be uncovered everywhere.’

http://bit.ly/2lJTDDP

From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:

Modern Learning Environments (MLEs) are they so new?

‘My impressions of the schools I have visited are that they remind me of  technological futuristic factories and, in some ways, not really relating to real flesh and blood

children. Even the landscaping has been planned by ‘experts’ who like mass planting of natives that are forced to conform to their futuristic roles – amenity planting. Not really gardens – or even natural native gardens.’

http://bit.ly/1Dxahay

Teaching /learning in flexible spaces – Modern Learning Environments MLEs – New Tech High

A bit of history about modern learning environments – a NZ perspective.

“Modern School Environment are the latest iteration of 1970s open plan schools.I am not sure how they will be developed by teachers other than  by those who already have  an open approach to education. Time will tell but the flexibility of such buildings are a  great improvement on the limitations of self contained classrooms – sometimes disparagingly described as ‘single cell classrooms’.”

http://bit.ly/1NUH50e

Rollicking Politics

Rollicking Politics

Australia is enduring a peculiar period of political chicanery, wastage of enormous amounts of money  and indifference to social welfare, this year.

Maverick Pauline Hanson is taking over the airways and gaining ground every day on issues that befound and befuddle the population as our two major neo-con parties try to throttle each other. If she promises to ban NAPLAN, she’s the next PM. The major parties are losing their good manners,their ideological base and looking more like each other in their pursuits of neo-conservatism. The greens poke their noses at the others and nothing else. They seem to tolerate too easily their title of ‘tree-huggers’ and have become indifferent to things like schooling and caring for kids. In all, the Libs and Labs are antagonistic to children’s well-being, Greens are indifferent and the remainder just don’t care. Our education system is in a mess and no political party cares. Our future is dicey.

Sadly, there is no ‘star’ amongst the great number of state and federal politicians, no stalwart, no crusader who will stand up for the rights of children in their party room, in their state or federal legislature or in their star chambers. ‘Gutless wonders’, so-called, they don’t know how to talk about kids and their learning; nor to discuss why we force them to go to school…..and it’s not too difficult. Here’s a summary.

Kids go to school to learn things from a teacher. Each child is a pupil who is expected to work with his or her teacher; and each teacher is expected to provide the learning experiences that matter for the healthy, whole-hearted development of each child. Authorities believe that it takes about 12 or 13 years and a variety of teachers to do the job properly.

Let me repeat the key phrase : “WITH A TEACHER”….not controlled by some distant measurement freak

Kids do not go to school to pass tests. They go to school to learn;  and a major part of the learning process is for the teacher and the pupil to evaluate the progress of each child’s learning as they learn [not some time later] ; and so, each child grows in confidence and gets better. It ain’t easy and distractions from the teaching-learning-evaluating curriculum process are a nuisance; major distractions like external standardised blanket testing can be quite toxic. NAPLAN has shown that it is.  Such tests contain a lethal gene that destroys a love of the subject and of schooling and of learning. It’s extremely dangerous.

Effective evaluation does not need written tests nor high stakes nonsense. Children progress best with a pat on the back or a ‘word in season’ at the particular point in the learning process…not months away. Every person who bothers to read this page will recall a point in time when they were told by someone they respected that they were good at something  and they lived up to that prediction. Ask your favourite sports person or singer or artist how they came to be so good. Mr. Ghirladaiu told young Michael Angelo that he was good at drawing.

Business corporations who, once employed the cream of the school graduates became unable to understand, after the cream graduates went on to higher education,that they were left with the strugglers ….better value, but no more Einsteins amongst them. They blamed the school fraternity for producing lower level workers and when they had to pay through the nose for uni. graduates, they blamed the system.

Very , very ignorant politicians listened to the whinges of the high and mighty corporate bodies and felt obliged to do as they were told by their sponsors and lobbyists. Besides, a toxic meme that referred to standards of schooling was receiving controlled encouragement by the George Bush intelligentsia in New York where billion-dollar enterprises, connected to publishing tests and test-prep computer programs had got going.  The links to Australia were very, very strong.

All in all, the big boys decided that there was big money in school activities, once you had control of the activities. Money-making and blanket testing are a perfect couple….a perfect storm. Since then, others have found that schooling can be a very profitable racket in a number of ways.

So, when pumped-up Kevin Rudd, as PM decided that bullying tactics worked best when one dealt with schooling, he sent a bully to meet a bully who had an enormous reputation for bullying and was despised for the way he did it. So…we copied it. We must love the notion of kids trembling in a test room to confirm the big-business opinion of slovenliness.  The story of how Fair-Dinkum pupilling – consensual arrangements for learning – in Australia, became girt and choked by a toxic testing program in Australia – unfolds in Chapter 3…  

Fair-dinkum pupilling. Chapter 2

Attached is the next chapter of FAIR-DINKUM PUPILLING GIRT BY NAPLAN.

WHY?

Chapter  1 talked about kids, those little testucated robots that are forced to attend school to do NAPLAN tests.

Very few people bother to query why we do what we do to children.

Australian adults don’t take much notice of them nor of their plight nor want to discuss why our education system has imported peculiar curricular intrusions to take up a lot of school time! We have replaced items of the school curriculum that are of immense value, with soul-destroying test preparation that doesn’t work. Our system has gone quite crazy, but we don’t want to talk about it.

Children’s pleas for rescue and the system’s need for improvement through the use of reliable pupilling interactions, have fallen on deaf ears.

While adults tend to applaud high achievements and scores,  Australian adults have failed to notice the diminishing scores on PISA tests ….nothing to applaud….which ridicules our NAPLAN efforts, tells the world that we are getting worse at scoring well,  flattens our learners’ egos, attacks their mental health and threatens Australia’s industrial future.

We know that it is happening.  We tolerate it.  The school system is not allowed t change it.

WHY CAN’T WE JUST BANN NAPLAN AND GET ON WITH THE TASK OF TEACHING AND LEARNING?

Chapter 1 finished by asking “WHY?”.  Chapter 2 attempts an answer. See below.

o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o

A THOUGHT BUBBLE…. So many of the silent majority hate NAPLAN so much, that, although they won’t talk about it in public,…… If Pauline’s Party was the first to include “Bann NAPLAN” in their electioneering policy…… the Hon. Pauline Hanson would be our next P.M.

Garn!   You agree, don’t you?

If not, Which Party or candidate will be first?              =-O           It’s got to be worth a few million votes over  all.  Disaffected mums and dads, all teachers, the boys at the local or at the club.                                    

_________________________________________________________________________________________

Phil Cullen, 41 Cominan Avenue  Banora Point Australia 2486      07 5524 6443      0407865999     cphilcullen@bigpond.com   Refer: Who’s Who in Australia


CHAPTER 2

WHY?

Back to 2007. A possible scenario…

It must have been after a business lunch, enjoyed by Kevin 07 Rudd and his many big-time corporate friends, that Kevin ran into an unhappy banker, or a business man who acted like an unhappy banker, who gave Kevin a spray…..as they do.

I don’t know what they teach kids at school these days. This morning I dictated a letter to my secretary and said that we operated under the auspices of the Liberal-National Party and, back came the printed letter which said, ‘acting under the ‘orse pisses’ ….”

Kevin grinned. 

You know that that story is a make-up but you also know that such lunches, cocktail parties and barbies are an essential part of running a country. For one, politicians do not have to use tax-payers’ money to eat as well as they do if they are guests of ‘business friends’; and no record is kept of the instructions given by the big-boys to the polly….which they do….the reason for the lunch, of course.

Kevin, however, knew everything. He was hardly a lover of the teaching fraternity and he was looking for something to show his great strength to the electorate. Going “Back to basics” and bashing teachers in the big, bad world is like Marilyn Munroe’s seven-year itch. It’s sure to happen every now and then. When it happens, peculiar memes comes out of left field for all sorts of reasons, receiving unkind media attention, making politicians panic and causing gross disturbance in various communities. Professional groups duck for cover and the issues slowly dissipate due to lack of interest. Kevin reckoned that he could generate a panic. He sure did and it has lasted.

The really big ‘standards debate, prior to this NAPLAN debacle was in the seventies when some ‘Black Papers’, written in England, criticised school standards and this false meme kick-started a crusade for better standards around the world. Led by The Bulletin in Australia, there was an enormous quantity of unwarranted criticism dumped on schools. It led to nation-wide TV debates, special documentaries, large public meetings, special conferences, the whole box and dice. It proved to be a big-time media hoax. Sales of The Bulletins skyrocketed.

You can be sure that, after NAPLAN has been seen for what it is; and has disappeared from the landscape. [“gone, dead, buried, cremated” to quote our once great leader]..and schooling has returned to pupilling…..things will get itchy again after a few more years. It happens

Schooling, in the late 70s and early 80s, was left vulnerable by this gigantic illegitimate meme and the gate was left open for the attacks of unhappy do-gooders. The moral crusaders got on the warpath. They caused an itch that became a rash. The League of Rights, the John Birch Society, Jerry Falwell’s Moral Majority, the Australian Council for Education Standards, The Committee to Restore Educational Standards, The Campaign for Responsible Education and other alphabetical groups had a field day for about a decade under the leadership of educational priestess, Rona Joyner, head of STOP-CARE [Society to Outlaw Pornography-Committee Against Regressive Education] who believed that she and her troops had the right to condemn school programs [no need for a test] that they didn’t like; and to punish the wrong-doers. They had the ‘ear’ of the most powerful and her ladyship was often seen around the foyer of Parliament House looking for an unused ear. She had a unique talent for effective politicking. [Methinks Pauline took lessons] Perhaps, because human relationships are not performed according to numbers, like NAPLAN is, she and her storm-troopers faded away after a while.

Please don’t tell our naplanners that Rona did very well at her job; and had Joh’s Queensland cabinet wrapped in her moral fibre for quite a while. And one might note with caution that the son of her claimed mentor, Jerry Falwell Jnr. has now been invited to join President Trump as an adviser. 

Back to the present itch.

When a pollie uses the taxpayer’s generous ATM on himself or herself, the sky is the limit for a lunch. That’s another trick. No, it’s not always political largesse for help rendered. Sometimes it’s plain party business. ….maybe to dissuade a recalcitrant from behaving sensibly. In any case, many, maybe most decisions that effect the lives of all of us are made at lunches and parties shared by the big boys and our pollies…..and later ratified at the big house. It’s called ‘politics’. 

That’s how our education system got girted. 

Kevin 07, always on the side of big-business as is our present-day day neo-liberal Labor Party, agreed with that old business fart and a friend pf his wifei, we think, had also complained about a check-out girl at the supermarket, who had trouble calculating the total cost when Therese’s friend suggested the machine wasn’t working properly. 

From such earth-shattering major incidents, new nation-building schooling systems are born.

That kind of robust research was enough! The system needed reform! The evidence was clear; and he was the lad to smarten things up. He had just been appointed Prime Minister and had had enough experience as offsider to Premier Goss during the crazed restructure of the Public Service in Queensland, when it went ‘back to drastics’, organised according to Harvardian Business Management principles and some added academic foibles, to know how to go about it. He thought. Keeping the underdog in check is the secret and hanging on to the coat-tails of hired help from academia can help one ‘get ahead’.

Kevin, who always had trouble distinguishing knowledge from wisdom, started to harbour impure thoughts. If he gave this reform task to dear colleague Julia, Minister for Education, and she buggered it up, he’d still come out clean. Smart move 07. She obliged. She will now, for ever be blamed for introducing fear- based kleinism into Australia.

Of course, in his haste to be known as a master reformer and teacher-basher Ruddy, ally Julia and mentor Joel, overlooked the fact that profit-based business operations were ‘wild societies’, that had to forage like wild cats for their continued existence. They were very different from schools: humane, ‘domesticated’ operations, pussy-cat type caring institutions that perform moderating operations for the country’s welfare. The better the schooling, the more prosperous the country. But then, BCA types and the Ruddy/Gilly coalition believed that schools could and should be run like any old business enterprise; or like a prison or insane institution. Once the inmates are confined, the high authorities can do what they please with the inmates. In his business studies off the coast of China somewhere, Kev and his cronies did not have access, it seems, to the definitive work of one Richard Carlson who based his business studies on the nature of the client, the users of the institution….the customers, the kids. Carlson made it clear that schools and businesses are very different kinds of circuses, and require very different forms of administration……depending on the status of the client and the control over their admission to the firm or institution. 

Ironically, Richard Carlson died during a trip to promote his final book; “Don’t Get Screwed. How to thrive in a world full of Obnoxious, Incompetent, Arrogant and Down-right Mean-spirited People.” A telling treatise, one doubts if the book will be found on either of the Education shelves behind the door of the Federal Parliament Library. 

Also, schools are constructed for kids, a form of human being who sometimes survive childhood despite the thoughtless things that politicians and testucratic educators want to do to them. Things would run much better for such adults if kids were true robots. The notion that kids are really human and have deep feelings has escaped every single Australian politician, every testucator and most of the adult population.

Fair-dinkum Pupilling – Girt by NAPLAN

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 December 16th

By Allan Alach

Another year is ending, which means in New Zealand and Australia, it’s also the end of the school year, and time for teachers and children to have a long summer break away from the trials of teaching and learning. Make the most of the break – it’s the only real chance teachers get to have a ‘normal’ life. I will be taking my own advice and also having a break from sourcing education articles for these reading lists, until the end of January 2017. However I’m not letting you off that easy, so this week’s list is a bit longer than usual.

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

Brain-Based Learning: Pushing Children to Learn Faster—Why?

‘Brain-based learning promotes the idea that children learn faster if they are taught differently. But why push children to learn faster than ever before? Why turn children into adults before they are ready? What’s the purpose?

What right do educators and parents under the spell of indiscriminate brain-based learning hucksters have to destroy childhood?’

http://bit.ly/2hxrwTt

CRITICAL THINKING versus CRITICISM: Helping students know the difference

Recent world events suggest critical thinking is a skill that is sadly lacking.

‘Critical thinking is about thinking for yourself rather than accepting, without questioning, the thinking someone else presents to you. Critical thinking identifies and examines underlying assumptions and biases about a concept, a discourse, a work of art or written expression, or some other abstract idea. It involves judgement – your judgement, which is justified with reasons and evidence.’

http://bit.ly/2h2caFT

Why schools should not teach general critical-thinking skills

However …

‘Of course, critical thinking is an essential part of a student’s mental equipment. However, it cannot be detached from context. Teaching students generic ‘thinking skills’ separate from the rest of their curriculum is meaningless and ineffective.’ 

http://bit.ly/2gKZN5e

Play: The Four Letter Word in Primary School

‘Decades of research provides evidence that play is the most valuable and successful way in which children engage in learning.  Through play, children can build all the necessary skills and knowledge required of them in readiness for adulthood.  Social-learning theory, constructivism, cognitive development theories, socio-emotional theories and physical development theories all uphold the power play has in the holistic development of children.’

http://bit.ly/2gMNxiQ

What does the post-truth world hold for teachers and educational researchers?

‘I wonder about the correlation between increasing systems of surveillance and control over curriculum and pedagogy and the growing number of high stakes testing regimes, audit and accountability technologies, and the narrative of slipping standards, declining outcomes and an education system in crisis.’

http://bit.ly/2hH5Uar

The most important thing schools don’t do

By Marion Brady

‘On my list, one aim is paramount: “Maximize learner ability to make sense.” Not only does it enable every other legitimate aim of educating, it gives schooling its proper focus—maximizing human potential. No one needs to be taught how to make sense—to think. We’re born equipped to do it. The challenge is to do it better, to radically improve what are sometimes called “higher order” thinking skills, particularly those involved in tracing complex causal sequences and anticipating possible unintended consequences of well-intended policies and actions.’

http://bit.ly/2hy7RmQ

21st century challenges

Let’s face it “21st century skills” are a bit meh! Especially when they have no context.

‘So frequently is this phrase used in the discourse on education today that when uttered it generates involuntary winces amongst those listening. On the education conference circuit “21st century skills” is the certainty on the buzzword bingo card. Never mind that we’re almost at the end of the second decade of a century that is the only one that every child in school has ever known. To be fair, it’s a well-intentioned phrase used by well-intentioned people. I’m sure it’s a phrase that’s passed my lips on more than one occasion even before I saw the foolishness of it.’

http://bit.ly/2gL3QhQ

My Dream Job Destroyed My Dream: An Unoriginal Statement About Education

A sad story from USA which will ring true to teachers all over.

‘Five years ago, I got my first job as a teacher. My dream job. My dream school. I could not have been happier: life was good. Then, five months ago, despite my passion and idealism, I broke down and accepted that my dream for an education focused on divergent thinking, individuality, and genuine learning was horribly unrealistic, hindered by bureaucratic disconnect and systemic devaluation. It became clear that the job which originally brought me so much excitement, wasn’t at all as I thought. In fact, genuine creation and effective collaboration would be forever secondary to administrative agendas, systemic mandates, and a tireless effort to maintain the status quo.’

http://huff.to/2gL24NN

How useful are standards in helping teachers’ professional development?

Not very…

‘Governing texts such as national professional standards and a national curriculum can have the unintended effect of constraining opportunities for teachers to learn about their work. This occurs when they are interpreted in ways that encourage coverage of individual standards. However, I believe, when teachers are supported to engage in authentic, contextually appropriate professional learning that is focused on their learning needs in relation to the learning of their students, they can transform their practice.’

http://bit.ly/2hPyMJE

Contributed by Bruce Hammonds:

How to Integrate Growth Mindset Messages Into Every Part of Math Class

‘Catherine Good has experienced stereotype threat herself, although she didn’t know it at the time. She started her academic career in pure math, expecting to get a Ph.D. But somewhere along the way she started to feel like it just wasn’t for her, even though she was doing well in all her classes. Thinking that she’d just chosen the wrong application for her love of math, Good switched to math education, where she first encountered the idea of stereotype threat from a guest psychology speaker.’

http://bit.ly/2h28fsE

Learning Goals… Success Criteria… and Creativity?

While I am aware that setting clear standards are important, making sure we communicate our learning goals with students, co-creating success criteria… and that these have been shown to increase student achievement, I can’t help but wonder how often we take away our students’ thinking and decision making when we do this before students have had time to explore their own thoughts first.’
http://bit.ly/29WT7tf

If there’s a magic bullet to fix education outcomes, it starts with equity

Things aren’t good in Australia either.

‘Kids are disengaged, results are declining, school only works for a third of students. And in fortuitous timing, education ministers are meeting this week. With the end of the school education year comes the ritual release of end-of-school exam results. Once again we’ll parade the names of the top 100 schools and marvel at those that seem to do so well.

At the risk of raining on their parade it is all very predictable: two thirds of the top 100 are still there when the schools are ranked by the socio-educational level of the parents. Even the public/private school comparisons are largely spurious: results coming out of schools enrolling similar students don’t vary much between the school sectors.’

http://bit.ly/2h2i7CG

From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:

John Dewey – New thinking 1897!

‘John Dewey’s famous declaration concerning education was first published 1897 and is still as pertinent now as it was then. All school communities ought to declare their beliefs about education and then work towards aligning all their teaching to achieving what they believe in. If they do not determine their own destiny someone else will. Having clear beliefs provides both security and the basis of making all choices – or simply saying no as appropriate. The following are excerpts from Dewey’s declaration.’

http://bit.ly/1EeQDlT

The corporate takeover of society and education.

‘Since the early 90s society has been reshaped by a neo liberal corporate ideology. An emphasis on private enterprise and self-centred individualism has replaced an earlier concern for collective good of all members of society.   As a result of this ideological shift a wider gap has been created between the rich and poor causing a number of social concerns. Schools as part of this shift have been transformed from a community orientation to being part of a competitive cut throat ideology.’

http://bit.ly/1hARUnP

The surprising truth about what motivates us.

‘Daniel Pink’s latest book, ‘A whole New Mind: Drive’, subtitled ‘the surprising truth about what motivates us’, is truly exciting. He writes that for too long school have relied on an extrinsic ‘carrot and stick approach’ (or ‘name and blame’).The three things, he writes, that motivate us all are: autonomy, mastery and purpose. Real learning is achieved when the joy of learning is its own reward.’

http://bit.ly/2gMq29u

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

For New Zealand readers (but may be of interest elsewhere):

Given the changes in New Zealand politics recently, such as the sudden resignation of prime minister John Key (my pet theory, which I’ve been espousing for many months, is that he timed this to ensure he would get a knighthood before the election next year), as well as a stampede of government ministers for the exit door, here are few articles from a few years back about the government’s national standards based education agenda.

A teacher’s response to National’s ‘Education in Schools’ policy

Those of us who spoke out against national standards (and in some cases losing their careers as a result) in 2010 and 2011 are being proved correct. There is an increasing amount of evidence that is demonstrating that the main outcomes has been harming children’s educational and therefore life opportunities. How immoral is that?

‘I am saddened that this is the direction National want to take with our education system. We have a world-leading curriculum and (as National agree) excellent performance from our top students. However, we also have a long tail of underachievement, primarily from our Maori and Pasifika students and those from poorer backgrounds. Teacher input is only one aspect of learning – it is difficult to learn if you are hungry, tired or worried.’

http://bit.ly/2hPb14E

John Key and Mrs Tolley turn education into a McDonalds – principals will now become managers complying to franchise regulations.

‘Time will show John Key and Mrs Tolley to be the simplistic wreckers they are. In the meantime creative teachers will have to cope by going underground  and if the remainder can’t see the problem then they will be seen as complying with the destruction of an education system once held in high esteem  by educators (if not politicians and technocrats) around the world.’

http://bit.ly/2hGMBhw

National’s ‘brighter future’ doesn’t include the students or their teachers!

‘The current National Government has ignored educators worldwide and opted for an accountants view of education turning students into products and schools into factories so as to give consumers a choice – but what a choice!What many feared has come to pass. Populist political simplicity has won the day!If you repeat a half truth (one in 5 students are failing) without also factoring in the effects of poverty and poor health of  unknown in other civilised countries. One fifth of our students live in distressing poverty (that is, of course, 1 in 5).’

http://bit.ly/2gMR3cT