Education Readings May 26th

By Allan Alach

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

What the Fidget Spinners Fad Reveals About Disability Discrimination

‘Autistic people (and others with developmental disabilities) have been fighting a war for decades. It’s a war against being forcibly, often brutally, conditioned to behave more like neurotypicals, no matter the cost to our own comfort, safety, and sanity. And those of us who need to stim in order to concentrate (usually by performing small, repetitive behaviors like, oh I don’t know, spinning something) have endured decades of “Quiet Hands” protocols, of being sent to the principal’s office for fidgeting, of being told “put that down/stop that and pay attention!,” when we are in fact doing the very thing that allows us to pay attention instead of being horribly distracted by a million other discomforts such as buzzing lights and scratchy clothing.’

http://bit.ly/2qYd6Bb

Arts education is vital to help foster creativity and innovation

‘I have a dream that this nation will achieve its full creative and economic potential and that Arts education will rightfully be seen as central to making this happen. It worries me that current thinking and policymaking around national innovation concentrates on increasing participation in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) subjects while the teaching of the Arts (dance, drama, music, media arts and visual arts,) is rarely even on the innovation agenda.’

http://bit.ly/2qY6baU

What Does it Mean to Be Educated?

‘Seeing all this, would a modern Rip van Winkle even send his kids to school? Or would he see school as helplessly behind the times and opt for a radically different path to give his children the education they actually needed to thrive in the modern world?’

http://bit.ly/2qlZXQ5

Reading Readiness Has To Do With The Body

‘We know that our little ones walk and talk on their own timetables. No rewards or punishments are necessary to “teach” them. Yet children are expected to read, write and spell starting at five and six years old as if they develop the same way at the same time. Academics are pushed on young children with the assumption this will make them better students. This approach is not only unnecessary, it may be contributing to problems such as learning disorders, attention deficits, and long term stress.’

http://bit.ly/2qdNz9R

Response: ‘The Toughest Part of Teaching Is…’

‘What do you think is the toughest part of teaching and how do you deal with it?

Teaching has no shortage of tough moments.  What are the most common ones, and how can we best get through them?’

http://bit.ly/2rj4qbq

Contributed by Bruce Hammonds:

How Children Naturally Learn

From Wayne Morris

‘In order for educational settings to be successful they need to be aligned with how children naturally learn. Children’s innate curiosity, enthusiasm, creativity, playfulness, individuality, imaginativeness, resourcefulness, social intelligence, and love of learning need to be respected and supported.This isn’t rocket science, it’s just basic wise parenting and effective teaching. Most of us have helped children develop skills and learn informally, before they went off to school. And all of us mastered skills on our own, so this is something we understand intuitively.’

http://bit.ly/2rBonK6

6 Traits of Life-Changing Teachers

‘In education there’s a lot of talk about standards, curriculum, and assessment—but when we ask adults what they remember about their education, decades after they’ve left school, the answers are always about their best teachers. So what is it about great educators that leaves such an indelible impression?’

http://edut.to/2qQQMLa

How People Learn: An Evidence-Based Approach

‘Teachers will always need to use their knowledge of students and content to make professional judgments about classroom practice. However, we believe the art of teaching should also be informed by a robust understanding of the learning sciences so that teachers can align their decisions with our profession’s best understanding of how students learn. Unfortunately, our education system is rife with misconceptions and confusion about learning. So let’s clear away the myths and focus on well-established cognitive principles and their implications for the classroom:’

http://edut.to/2rS1fo5

Why Handwriting Is Still Essential in the Keyboard Age

‘There is a tendency to dismiss handwriting as a nonessential skill, even though researchers have warned that learning to write may be the key to, well, learning to write.

And beyond the emotional connection adults may feel to the way we learned to write, there is a growing body of research on what the normally developing brain learns by forming letters on the page, in printed or manuscript format as well as in cursive.’

http://bit.ly/2rWjW9s

From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:

Testing our way into the 19thC!

Those with their minds firmly fixed in a patronising, mechanistic, or technocratic approach, always see measurement as the ultimate way of guaranteeing progress.Like any simple solution to a complex problem it is wrong -and has been proved so. Standard based teaching was the approach of education in Victorian times – each class was called a standard ( standard one etc) that you progressed to if you passed the test. In the early days, in the UK, teachers were paid by results their students gained in the tests. Maybe that is next on our ‘new’ governments agenda.’
http://bit.ly/2rW9kHM

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

‘In 1989 an ‘earthquake’ hit education in the form of ‘Tomorrows Schools’.Now, almost three decades later, A  NZCER  chief researcher Cathy Wylie has written a definitive and compelling story of school self-management .Cathy answers the questions: What was the real effect of ‘Tomorrows Schools’? Has the New Zealand Schools system improved as a result? And what changes are needed now to meet our expectations of schools?’

http://bit.ly/TNlnzy

A Question Based Curriculum

‘I wonder what would happen if all the expert’s curriculums disappeared; and all the standardized tests? And, with them, all the technocrats who believe that everything needs to measured and turned into data. Anyway such people never bothered to measure anything important such as, curiosity, love of learning and persistence; the very things that mark out successful innovative individuals Instead consider what would happen if we decided to create entire curriculums from student question and concerns?’

http://bit.ly/2qXPrk0

Bye Treehorn

I love primary education.  I love primary schooling. I love primary school kids.  When I left school in 1944, I just wanted to get amongst the whole mix of teaching and go bush to teach young kids. My big brother would bring home stories about the kids at Nogo River in rural Queensland and it all sounded so fascinating.   I eventually made it to Teachers College, and by 1947 I was the Head Teacher, of all things, of a one-teacher school. I loved it. My dream achieved.  For eleven years, I did my  apprenticeship in four  different localities. All of my one-teacher schools are closed now but I still remember the names of the pupils. Many have passed on and some are in their eighties. You see,  when I first started as a Head Teacher cum Principal I was eighteen years of age.  My two or three ‘scholarship class’ members were fourteen or fifteen years of age.  I now have a lot of former pupils. Love each one of them.

The years went on and the love for primary schooling and kids just grew and grew.  I now love nostalgia.  I love catching up with former pupils who remember me for the right reasons. It’s the sort of feeling that only schoolies enjoy but can’t explain; and is unique to those who care about kids. I thought that I shared these feelings with an endless number of others. I was sure that every primary teacher was the same way. I kept this belief for sixty years….that everyone in primary schooling loved kids and teaching them, as much as I did; and would go to the ends of the earth for them.

I was wrong.

2008-17 has revealed that many employees in the field of primary schooling in Australia don’t care much about kids. They care deeply about some kids, but not the universal kid. I had accepted, early in the piece, that Australian every-day adults, generally speaking, prefer to have as little as possible to do with kids, apart from coaching the local under-eights footy team.  Treehorn, when I found him, validated the view that all adults, including parents, teachers and principals prefer not to be bothered too much by what distresses kids.   I was disappointed [‘floored’ is a better term] to learn, in particular that Australia’s  school principals don’t have much interest in the ‘generalised’ school child, at all. They like their job and do it well and that’s it. They  meekly and  publicly approve of the extreme. heavy, burdensome NAPLAN testing device because Julia Gillard told them to do so after she returned from New York, overdosed on Klein bullshit, which, they know all very well, destroys the learning spirit of the curriculum in the interests of data-gathering – just for the sake of data-gathering.  Principal’s associations know that. APPA was blatantly ‘Stockholmed’, replaced by AGPPA and then  ‘Eichmannised’ .  They should have known that NAPLAN, under the pretence of being diagnostic and motivational, would destroy our system;  a system that once had the potential to be great. Sloppily, near tearfully,  I must say : They broke my heart by their desertion from reality.

When Julia Gillard introduced this crazy New York system of schooling based on the deliberate creation of anxiety and fear, they had a chance to say to her : “We don’t do that sort of thing to school children.” They didn’t.

I now know what disappointment is.

Then, in January 2010, the Australian Education Union that represents the chalkface operators, unanimously supported a motion at its Sydney Conference that NAPLAN be banned!   I was over the moon. I was so proud of my association with some of the attenders. Amazed that such a thing had happened and so proud that Aussie teachers collectively, it seemed, recognised the implications of naplanising school children ….that they had assured the welfare of little Aussie learners to progress in a child-centred environment, that I did something that I had never done before. It seemed to me like it was the wonder of the age….that our classroom teachers could be so wonderful, so glorious, so up-front.  I could see Cloud 9 way down below me; so I went to Mass on the following day to say thanks. [I’m a Mick. ] I am usually asking for a favour, but here I was doing something that I have reflected upon, often, since:  Going to church just to say ‘Thanks’!!  That’s not normal. Maybe I’ll get the chance to do it again sometime…maybe when politicians  start thinking about what they are doing to children  and ban the stupid thing.  You see…ouch….The motion was at the AEU Conference was withdrawn on the same day and the notion of freedom abandoned.  Never learned why.   Very little mention of NAPLAN by the AEU since. Did the big boys capture Him, or was it the AEU? The big end of town seems to believe that it is  dominant enough  to do either. I may never learn what happened to the original motion.

{By the way, did you listen to all that Budget Yak-Yak in the Federal Parliament?  “We will spend billions and billions on schools and our kids will be the best in the world! We will improve education standards by giving more money to this, that and whatever” The baloney from both sides of the house was vomitous.  NAPLAN, the extreme destroyer of schooling, introduced by Labor  and maliciously ‘fiddled’ by Liberals and Nationals, now supported by their common neo-liberal viewpoints, did not get a mention, even though it wastes billions per year.. the worst ‘bad debt’ in on the landscape……and it was budget time!}

Those who know me, know that, back in the eighties I held super-normous hope for the future of primary schooling in Australia. I could see super-dooper schooling happening and, for some reason, I always thought that by about 2010 [no good reason for picking that year], Australia would enjoy an enormous network of public schools, to which children would burst a boiler to get to each and every day BECAUSE OF THE LEARNING HAPPINESS THERE….for no other reason. Enjoying a thoroughly holistic tailor-made curriculum, each would find real joy in extending their own abilities as far as they could and enjoy every moment of learning at their local community school.  They would not need any sexy inexperienced measurement sciolist from outside the school gate to judge their capacity,  and brand them with a number. Schooling would be real schooling, real learning. School leavers would not need an HSC score or NAPLAN score. Hirers would ask the school about their applicants and be given the full picture.

Garn. No matter what you might like to say, a progressive exam-free system is possible.

Well, things didn’t live up to expectations. Once managerialism and the restructuring fad hit the fan in the eighties, one could see what was happening. We were destined to follow the path ‘back to drastics’.  The last paragraph in my “Back to Drastics” [USQ Faculty of Education, 2006. P.87] was prophetic : “Hope persists. There are some great schools around and classroom teachers still have the real power. Once the teacher and the pupils move into their room together, the educational processes begin. Nobody in any self-important holy of holies has yet thought of starting from such a premise. Structural changes are usually imposed from the politicial apex, downwards. We keep starting at the wrong end. Education 3000?   At all times, the large and dangerous changes have been initiated by sciolistic ne’er-do-wells, who have had their decisions confirmed by the kinds of political party decision-making, for whom absurdity is not a handicap.

Clearly, the managerialism era was the start of Australia’s demise as a world power and of the standards of schooling that were once on the up and up. They are related; so, when Managerialsim and Restructurism made an easy path for the rabid Standardised Blanket Testing routine called NAPLAN because the wrong decision-makers were in the wrong positions, our system went haywire and has been that way for a decade. We cannot claim any growth in world stature in financial, industrial or political terms nor is there any indication of improvement in overall intellectual performance of any kind. We are waiting for the big boys to sort things out.  We maintain a mediocre ranking in world affairs, even though we have the ability [now being crushed] of fighting above our weight.

The forces that keep us in this mid-to-low-level position are powerful, extremely powerful. WE NEED THEM TO GET OFF OUR BACKS. We need them to talk with Rupert and tell their mates, Malcolm Turnbull and Bill Shorten that they are allowed to discuss schooling  openly, and not deliberately hide the mention of NAPLAN. Bring it out in the open! Schooling is not about money. The 37 kids from my railway-fettlers’ one-teacher school at Baking Board have contributed significantly to Australia’s welfare as has every other school. Schooling is about the promotion of learning and that banking corporation called UBS, needs to let go of the hooks on our institutions that they use to control our schooling system, our politicians and our media. The cone of controlled silence is too thick, as well.

NAPLAN is now discussed as a generality, a part of schooling, a thing that happens at school, a thing to be feared or wondered about. Rupert and UBS have had their way.  UBS, controlling our top end of town might care to think more seriously about the real meaning of the word SCHOOL.  What is it? What is it supposed to do? Is it doing it? Do kids like learning? Do they do  well at all parts of the curriculum? Why blanket test them when they progress faster and better when teachers share the evaluation of their efforts with them at the time of learning?  If you want to know how well they are doing, why not have a system of mentoring and reporting by highly qualified, experienced experts with a yen for excellence and with pollen on their wings? Why not just give the profession back to teachers?

The Australian education system, without any fear or doubt, is controlled by UBS and Rupert Murdoch [the schooling industry, in testucation mode, is worth $300 billion per year to him…at his last count].  UBS [this  banking corporation that paid the fares of bull-shipper Joel Klein down-under to show us what to do] seems motivated by a lack of appreciation for the ethics of the education profession. Big Bankers don’t like us teachers. [We shouldn’t have given up doing  school banking for them] It does not seem to understand that  a profession can be based on altruistic principles.  UBS, a respected organisation within thee money-making professions, could do so much good for children if it was able to adopt a moralistic view of the treatment of children and a responsible view of the work of the caring professions.

In any case, I’ve tried for quite a few years with the help of little Treehorn and a remarkable Kiwi educator, Allan Alach, to try to help restore normal conditions for Aussie school children through the columns of The Treehorn Express. We didn’t do any good. Treehorn is still that vivid green colour, because no one with any wit, has noticed him.

The two superordinate forces [UBS, Murdoch] are just so enormously powerful and our decision-makers are so very easily persuaded and so very well controlled……

They do not allow ANY political party to discuss NAPLAN.  The party doors are closed to reasoned discourse.

The mainstream press and the ABC aren’t brave enough to investigate the history or worthiness of NAPLAN.  [Kids. You can rely on shock-jock Alan Jones for support, however. He’s just got going.]

Shaky state governments [e.g NSW] believe that, by adding to the ferocity of the NAPLAN notion by screwing around with a relationship to the HSC, something or other will be improve.  Fat chance.

OMG. The place has really gone crazy and the standard of the whole gamut of learnings at school is fading – not just the naplan subjects. Kids just don’t like school much…..for good reasons.

We could end all the anguish in our schooling system if primary and secondary principals’ associations flexed their ethical muscles and told the feds that their members will return to their professional code OR if ACSSO (Australian Council of State School Organsations)  suggested to their members that they say NO to ‘NAPLAN’ OR  more mums and dads at home, thinking seriously about their child’s future, would  refuse to allow their children to participate……. like the parents of those 337 out of 343 pupils at Kimberley College, Brisbane have done OR some political party members would just sit down and talk about the meaning of school.

We all know our test-crazed system  stinks, but who am I [with some aligned colleagues and friends ] to test the might of UBS, Rupert and Co. and tolerate sloppy politicising. We don’t make the slightest impression,  it seems. They’re too powerful. Little Treehorn looks like staying a vivid green colour for a long, long time. We live in an era when there is a serious disinterest in childhood.

I can’t stand it any more. I quit. Thanks Allan and friends. Bye.

Phil Cullen

https://treehornexpress.wordpress.com

http://primaryschooling.net

Finally to those who don’t mind or don’t care how much NAPLAN is used to bash young children : “May the fleas of a thousand camels……”

Education Readings May 12th

By Allan Alach

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

A Provisional Curriculum For When Walking Is Taught At School

Kelvin Smythe wrote a similar satire over 25 years ago – coincidence?  Good read all the same.

‘To secure the quality and consistency of walking skills in forthcoming generations, it is anticipated that walking will soon be taught by professional teachers in properly equipped educational facilities. The following curriculum has been designed to achieve optimum results.’

http://bit.ly/2r3Kwho

Discipline, Punishment and Mental Health

‘In the past 25 years rates of depression and anxiety among teenagers in the UK have increased by 70 per cent. How has society managed to produce a generation of teenagers in which mental-health problems are so prevalent?

Has the depersonalisation of learning and migration to a teacher-centred and curriculum-focused approach to education been a factor in this increase?’

http://bit.ly/2r1NmCs

Kids Don’t Fail, Schools Fail Kids: Sir Ken Robinson on the ‘Learning Revolution’

‘Robinson delivered a keynote address in which he spoke to the “learning revolution,” arguing that the shift to personalized learning is a non-negotiable in the United States if education is prepared students for the future, instead of simply the “now.”

So, why then is personalized learning a non-negotiable?’

http://bit.ly/2r3oE5q

Dear Friend About to Leave Teaching…

‘As another school year comes to a close, I am once again surrounded by teachers who are ready to give up or change careers. There are always complaints about testing, administration, other teachers, students … the list goes on and on. Each year, it feels like you’re at your wit’s end.’

‘Before you give up and leave teaching, please consider these three things …’

http://bit.ly/2qtdCcO

Children need art and stories and poems and music as much as they need love and food and fresh air and play.

‘But if you don’t give a child art and stories and poems and music, the damage is not so easy to see. It’s there, though. Their bodies are healthy enough; they can run and jump and swim and eat hungrily and make lots of noise, as children have always done, but something is missing.’

http://bit.ly/2r1R539

Contributed by Bruce Hammonds:

Responsibility and Inner Discipline

We hear so much about children’s behaviour in schools . This short PDF  based on the work of Barbara Coloroso would make a good basis for a staff meeting.

‘A major goal of education is to teach students to conduct themselves in an acceptable manner. To do so, students mush acquire an inner sense of responsibility and self-control.’

http://bit.ly/2q4BgLq

The problem with tests that are not standardized

Alfie Kohn.

‘Many of us rail against standardized tests not only because of the harmful uses to which they’re put but because they’re imposed on us. It’s more unsettling to acknowledge that the tests we come up with ourselves can also be damaging. The good news is that far superior alternatives are available.’

http://wapo.st/2qUMtiZ

Why dividing us by age in school doesn’t make sense

‘Dividing children by age in schools doesn’t make sense. After few seconds of skepticism, I took his argument seriously and I realized that the idea of grouping students by age was an assumption I had never challenged before.What we take for granted and see as “how things are“, is often just “how things have been done lately“. The fact that we grow up doing things in a certain way tend to install in us the assumption that that’s the unique way to do them, and that humans have always been doing them that way.’

http://bit.ly/2pyKqMC

Be The Change You Want to See By Shifting Traditional High School

‘Great ideas and extraordinary teaching happen in public school classrooms all over the country, but these pockets of innovation often don’t get the attention they deserve. More often the schools held up as models for the future of learning started with a carefully articulated vision around change, a hand-picked staff, and even some startup capital. Changing the traditional approaches to teaching and learning that have been in place for decades within an existing school is extremely difficult work.But passionate teachers and leaders are doing just that.’

http://bit.ly/2q743gL

From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:

Integrated learning at its best!

Flexible thinking in a traditional school – you don’t need flexible learning environments

‘It seems that modern schools require Flexible Learning Environments (FLEs) when what is more important is flexible or innovative thinking. Opunake Primary is one such innovative school which makes use of James Beane’s democratic ideas to empower kids  linked with  a powerful inquiry learning model and mixed age teaching. Add to this their emphasis on presenting student findings through displays, exhibitions, models’ demonstrations and a range of modern media and you have a school worth emulating.’

http://bit.ly/2q4vhWE

Creativity – its place in education

An oldie written by Wayne Morris

‘Is it important to our futures that creativity be taught?What place should creativity have in our education systems?Should we teach creatively or teach for creativity?“By providing rich and varied contexts for pupils to acquire, develop and apply a broad range of knowledge, understanding and skills, the curriculum should enable pupils to think creatively and critically, to solve problems and to make a difference for the better. It should give them the opportunity to become creative, innovative, enterprising and capable of leadership to equip them for their future lives as workers and citizens. It should enable pupils to respond positively to opportunities, challenges and responsibilities, to manage risk and cope with change and adversity.”Source: UK National Curriculum Handbook [p 11-12]:’

http://bit.ly/129fP7s

Superkids; the hurried generation!

‘This hurrying is understandable in an age of increasing speed and insecurity and there is a growing industry ready to provide whatever any parents requires to give their child an academic advantage, non the least the computer industry! Parents often feel guilty if they aren’t providing all they can.Unfortunately most of what is being provided goes against what we know as age appropriate learning.’

http://bit.ly/1qKnlqv

Marion asks some questions. Please share them.

PLEASE SEND A COPY TO YOUR LOCAL SCHOOL [s] AND YOUR LOCAL POLITICIANS.

The Purpose of Schooling

The Place of NAPLAN

Three important questions

In a recent cover article of Kappan, the professional publication for Phi Delta Kappan, Marion Brady asks three questions of those who are interested in schooling and what it means for our  kids.  He’s refers, also, to standardised blanket testing which is what NAPLAN is.    Why don’t you discuss your response to the questions with a friend?….with a teacher?…..with a politician?

      ooo000ooo000ooo-000oo000ooo000ooo000ooo000ooo

Public schooling’s overarching purpose is improving learner ability to think. Thinking means categorizing, inferring, hypothesizing, generalizing, extrapolating, relating, contrasting, predicting, synthesizing, imagining, intuiting, and dozens of other thought processes. To the near-total neglect of those thought processes, standardized tests reward learner mastery of just two—recalling, and to a lesser extent, applying a learned concept or skill. 

Question One: Given the fact that human survival, functioning, and progress require the routine use of all thought processes, how can standardized testing’s extremely narrow emphasis on only one or two of those processes be justified?
Scores produced by high-stakes standardized tests have life-altering, often destructive consequences for learners, teachers, administrators, schools, school systems, and the institution itself.

Question Two: Why is it not morally reprehensible and ethically indefensible to continue the use of standardized tests incapable of evaluating the relative merit of thought processes essential to human functioning, problem solving, and civilized life?
Using scores on standardized tests to monitor learner and teacher performance blocks adoption of innovations and practices the merits of which cannot be quantified and contribute to a score.

Question Three: Should not the use of all commercially manufactured, machine-scored standardized tests of learners and teachers be discontinued until test manufacturers demonstrate an ability to evaluate the relative quality of the thought processes public schools were created to improve?

__________________________________________________________________________________________

Phil Cullen  http://primaryschooling.net    https://treehornexpress.wordpress.com

Marion Brady quotes from H.G.Wells: “Civilisation is a contest between catastrophe and education.”

 

The Liberals’ War on Learning

In the early days of his prime ministership,John Howard shared with some a private view about universities: don’t spend money on them, the people there don’t vote for us.

It is hardly novel to suggest that conservatives have always been troubled about the consequences of allowing the masses to be educated.

Ignorance advantages the hard right.

Book learning is a real danger for right wing politics. Numerous studies show that the more educated a person is – the more developed their analytical faculties – the less likely they are to vote for a party of the right. The uneducated vote right because they can easily be indoctrinated, scared by slogans and believe anything they are told. Not so those with any education. They easily see through political tricks and slogans. They use their advanced thinking skills and higher order learning. They also read much more widely on all issues before they form an opinion.

Conservative leaders are well aware of this, which is why they have historically sought, by one means or another, to limit the provision of education to the masses. They also are aware, though, that in a modern, knowledge-based economy, education is the key to growth. And so they face a dilemma: how to harness the brainpower of the masses without losing their political support.

NUMEROUS STUDIES SHOW THAT THE MORE EDUCATED A PERSON IS – THE MORE DEVELOPED THEIR ANALYTICAL FACULTIES – THE LESS LIKELY THEY ARE TO VOTE FOR A PARTY OF THE RIGHT.

Popular political wisdom holds that economic division led to the election of Donald Trump as United States president last year. Wrong, according to the analysis of America’s leading psephologist, Nate Silver.

He studied the county-by-county shifts in voting between the election of the rational progressive Barack Obama in 2012 and the populist right-winger Donald Trump in 2016. He found that in 48 of the 50 best-educated counties, more people voted for Hilary Clinton than had voted for Obama four years previously. Conversely, she got fewer votes in 47 of the 50 least-educated counties.

It was not economic disadvantage that drove them to move their votes to Trump; it was intellectual disadvantage. Education, not income, concluded Silver, was “the critical factor in predicting shifts in the vote between 2012 and 2016”.

The uneducated had their world view reflected back at them by Trump, and voted for it.

The same thing is happening  with Pauline Hanson.Those who vote for her are mainly the over 60’s and those who have not had much education.

The standout demographic characteristic of One Nation voters was their lack of education. The typical One Nation voter didn’t finish school, much less “set foot in a university”.

Following this week’s announcement that the government planned to save $2.8 billion through cuts to university funding and increases to student payments, Researcher McAllister was asked crunch the numbers again, this time not on the voting patterns of the uneducated, but of the tertiary educated.

Sure enough, they showed that the more education people received, the more progressive their politics became. These were thinking people who did not take up what was served to them without questioning it.

At the 2016 election, the Liberal and National parties got 39.2 per cent of the vote overall, but less – 38.5 per cent – among those who held bachelor’s degrees, and less again – 36.1 per cent – among those with postgraduate qualifications.

The big beneficiaries of the educated vote, however, were the Greens. Some 13.2 per cent of those with an undergraduate degree and 16.1 per cent of those with postgraduate qualifications voted for them.

“The total Green vote was just under 10 per cent, so they’re getting about half as many again among the tertiary-educated,” McAllister says.

Those figures include voters of all ages. When one refines the data further, to look at younger voters, the progressive skew is far more dramatic.

For those under 30 with bachelor’s degrees, just 22.6 per cent preferred the Coalition, compared with 28 per cent for the Greens and 39.8 per cent for Labor.

More startling yet is the voting pattern of those in that age group with postgraduate degrees. In that cohort, the Greens were by far the preferred party. Almost 40 per cent of people – 39.8, to be precise – voted for them. Labor got 31.5 per cent and the Coalition parties a miserable 22.2.

No doubt some of these people will change their votes as they get older and richer. Nonetheless, the trend is ominous for conservatives.

No wonder the political right is concerned about the consequences of having an informed and educated electorate, and that many Liberals yearn for a dumbed-down society.

In May 2013 the then-opinion editor for The Australian newspaper, Nick Cater, launched his book The Lucky Culture at a Melbourne function sponsored by the Institute of Public Affairs, the hard right-wing think tank with great influence in conservative political circles.

The biggest response to Cater’s speech came when he noted that the number of people with university educations was climbing ever upward in Australia. The IPA crowd booed loudly. Those boos tell the truth: underlying it is the desire to restrict education to a wealthy and conservative elite.

Indeed, the IPA’s executive director, John Roskam, a former senior adviser to John Howard’s hard-right education minister David Kemp, also an IPA alumnus, argued in a piece for Fairfax in 2006 thatstudents who did not qualify on merit for a university place should be able to buy their way in.

He advocated full deregulation of fees, writing: “The fact that some students might have their fees paid for by their wealthy parents while others will be forced to take out a loan is irrelevant.” How cruel is this argument?

The Howard government was notable for its attacks on the standards of public schooling as well as universities. It responded by vastly increasing the funds allocated to elite private schools that their sons and daughters attended. Under the Kemp–Howard funding model, the money allocated to private schools increased six times as much as that for public schools between 1999 and 2006.

Allocating more school resources to kids who already have the advantages of well-educated, supportive, well-off parents is like providing food aid to the well fed. It’s superfluous. Meanwhile, disadvantaged kids, increasingly concentrated in disadvantaged schools, are left intellectually hungry.

Coincident with Howard’s funding changes, Australia began to slide down the global rankings for school education. Why? Because most of the funding was going to the rich private schools. A comprehensive OECD survey of 76 countries in late 2015 ranked Australia 14th, behind places such as Poland, Estonia and Vietnam.

The top Australian school students, both public and private, compare well with the best internationally, but the gap between them and those at the bottom of the educational heap has widened to be among the biggest in the developed world.

GONSKI:- Abbott opposition’s response to Gonski was deceptive. He was deeply suspicious of it from the start as he was the NBN. First the Liberals opposed it, and encouraged conservative state leaders not to sign up. Then, just before the 2013 election, Abbott declared the Coalition to be “on a unity ticket” with Labor on school funding. Immediately after winning, he abandoned the unity ticket and committed to drastically reduced funding. His cuts represented about $29 billion less according to the government’s own figures.

The first budget under Abbott and his treasurer, Joe Hockey, also proposed a 20 per cent cut to base funding for universities.

The government could not get its changes through the senate, despite many tweaks, threats and finessing of the policy by then education minister Christopher Pyne – the famous “fixer”. And so we have had several years of funding uncertainty for both school and tertiary education.

The bottom line associated with Gonski 2.0 is that the government is shifting some $2.8 billion of the cost of higher education from its budget and onto universities and ultimately to students and their poorer parents.

How you feel about this cost-shifting depends on whether you consider a university education to be a private or a public benefit. Deloitte Access Economics valued the contribution of tertiary education to Australia’s productive capacity at $140 billion in 2014, of which $24 billion accrued to the tertiary educated themselves. The “spillover effects”, it found, meant that for every one percentage point increase in the number of workers with a university degree, the wages of those without tertiary qualifications rose 1.6 to 1.9 per cent. That is good for families and good for the country.

So much for the claim by conservatives that it is not cause for concern if university fees deter people from studying. It is a concern not only in terms of equity, but in terms of the broader economy.

Now to schools. Labor went to the last election promising what it called “full Gonski”: $30 billion more in extra funding than the Coalition.

Turnbull’s announcement this week cuts that differential to $22 billion. But the new policy does at least make a start on tackling the huge elephant in the room – reducing the taxpayer subsidy to overfunded non-government schools. If Labor did this there would be cries of “class warfare”.

Education Minister Birmingham announced that initially just 24 of the richest schools would see “negative growth”. But he also confirmed that 353 other schools would also lose money-many of them Catholic schools. The protests of the non-government schools were predictable. They have always argued that they should get government money because they take pressure off public schools. It’s akin to arguing that if you drive your Mercedes-Benz to work instead of taking the bus, you should be subsidised for taking the pressure off public transport.

The Australian system of giving public money to private schools is unique in the developed world. Everywhere else, if you choose an elite education for your child, you pay for that choice.

The Greens, who oppose funding for private schools, welcomed the change and offered tentative support – in advance of consideration of its detail – for the government’s funding package, on the pragmatic basis that it was better than what was previously proposed. Weren’t we always told the Liberals would never do deals with the Greens? Well they have on many occasions. The backpacker tax,changes to superannuation which have cost pensioners thousands of dollars.

The Labor deputy leader and shadow education minister, Tanya Plibersek, argued that by directing attention to the changes in funding for elite schools, the government was playing a “smoke and mirrors, pea and thimble” trick. “I mean, truly, we’re talking about a couple of dozen schools, out of more than 9000 across Australia, and some pretence that this will actually make a difference to $22 billion of cuts across the system,” she said. “It’s laughable, it’s absolutely laughable.” She has a good point.

We’ll see if the conservatives in the government think it laughable. Tony Abbott already has warned it will be “pretty vigorously debated in the party room next week”. He further said that it was “almost an article of faith in our party since Menzies that we were the party that promoted parental choice in education”. Which, of course, is code for supporting funding for elite education.The education of the sons and daughters of the very rich by poorly paid taxpayers.

Aislinn Stein-Magee, president of the Student Representative Council at the University of New South Wales, sees the funding cuts as part of a broader budgetary attack on low-income earners and young people. She cites the cuts to penalty rates, the tightening of Centrelink compliance and the robo-debt fiasco as other examples.

Faced with a budgetary problem on the one hand and the electoral problem on the other, the easiest targets are people who are less inclined to vote conservative anyway. Ian McAllister’s election analysis supports that view. He notes there were “big age effects” at the last election, “driven by older people moving away from the Coalition because of the superannuation changes and pension cuts” passed by the Liberals and the Greens.

The government cannot afford to further alienate its most reliable supporters, wealthy and over the age of 55. So it’s looking down the age and income scale for cuts.

The trouble is about 50 per cent of people under the age of 40 now have tertiary qualifications. They value education and it’s very dangerous to alienate them. McAllister notes that it is now Labor Party policy to reduce the voting age to 16. “If Labor gets in at the next election, you’ll suddenly have a much bigger cohort of people aged 16 to 22 or 23, all in school education or higher education,” he says. “That’s a much bigger education voting bloc than you have now. And much more inclined to vote for leftish parties.” Book learning is a real danger to conservative politics.

 

Education Readings May 5th

By Allan Alach

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

Teacher knows best? Not any longer as parents muscle in on the classroom

Feel familiar to you?

‘Abusive behaviour by parents is experienced by a third of primary teachers, either online or on the school premises, at least once a month. A fifth of secondary school teachers are exposed to such behaviour once a month, according to the study. Female teachers were more likely to report such experiences.’

http://bit.ly/2p7tooq

Projects, Passion, Peers and Play: Seymour Papert’s Vision For Learning

‘Papert had a vision of children learning with technology in ways that were revolutionary. He believed that kids learn better when they are solving problems in context. He also knew that caring passionately about the problem helps children fall in love with learning. He thought educating kids shouldn’t be about explanation, but rather should be about falling in love with ideas.’

http://bit.ly/2paokka

Can Technology Change How Teachers Teach? (Part 1)

Thanks to Tony Gurr for this one.

‘Judging whether teachers have actually altered their daily classroom practice is surprisingly hard to do. Teachers, imbued with the culture’s values, often say that they have changed their lessons from week to week, year to year due to new district curricula, tests, and programs. Yet policymakers and researchers are less certain of such changes.’

http://bit.ly/2qGKPNN

Contributed by Bruce Hammonds:

Will Computers Free Teachers to Teach More Creatively?

‘At a party of a friend recently I got into a discussion with someone about education and the use of computer technology. The person I was conversing with suggested that educational software could and should be developed to relieve teachers of the technical aspects of teaching.I argue that we do not need to focus on developing or advocating for such software what we need to do is  to focus instead on creative and critical thinking for the purpose of developing democratic citizens. There is a real lack of movement in that direction in the public schools.’

http://bit.ly/2pJv5N4

Gold Standard PBL: Essential Project Design Elements

‘If done well, PBL yields great results. But if PBL is not done well, two problems are likely to arise. First, we will see a lot of assignments and activities that are labeled as “projects” but which are not rigorous PBL, and student learning will suffer. Or, we will see projects backfire on underprepared teachers and result in wasted time, frustration, and failure to understand the possibilities of PBL. Then PBL runs the risk of becoming another one of yesterday’s educational fads – vaguely remembered and rarely practiced. To help teachers do PBL well, we created a comprehensive, research-based model for PBL – a “gold standard” to help teachers, schools, and organizations to measure, calibrate, and improve their practice.’

http://bit.ly/2pJlXrt

Bruce has put together a set of articles that provide ideas about how to make use of Flexible Learning Spaces that are now almost the norm in our schools.

Brightworks – Tinkering School

“The only way to appreciate how other schools work is to visit them. Lisa Squire  from Hobsonville Point Primary and her principal Daniel Birch are currently visiting schools in the USA featuring student centred  learning in flexible learning environment ( Modern Learning Environments/MLEs). Lisa is writing a blog to share her experiences and for teachers interested in such learning environments will find her blog enlightening. This blog is about her visit to a Brightworks a ‘Tinkering School’.”

http://bit.ly/2pH6R40

Nuevas Upper School – a flexible learning environment (FLE)

‘Another school recently visited by New Zealand educators is Nuevas Upper School which offers an educational environment in which students feel safe to be themselves, to step out of their comfort zone and to follow their passions. This is the highest rom  of both self discovery and collaboration. This will be of interest to teachers working in flexible learning environments (FLE). One of the central pillars of a Nueva School education, Design Thinking is thoroughly integrated, developing in the students a way of thinking, seeing, and doing that increases their effectiveness.’

http://bit.ly/2pH7872

Brilliant examples of project work from High Tech High Schools

‘When visiting schools the work on display indicated the range of content being studied and the depth of student thinking.  Below are examples of project work  done at  High Tech High Schools. It is their record of what they have done and how they achieved their results. Teachers can utilize ideas illustrated by the displays to get ideas for their own school. Through displays students can show their parents and friends the work that they have done, and the community can see how project based learning enables students to do and learn.’

http://bit.ly/2paaQon

Are we expecting too much too quickly of our teachers?

Interesting thoughts from New Zealand blogger about Innovative Learning Environments(ILE).

‘I sense that there is a deep exhaustion across the sector at all levels of the teaching profession. I think much of this exhaustion has come from under-estimating the enormity of the changes we are currently demanding of the sector. Moving to shared teaching spaces, or Innovative Learning Environments (ILEs) is one example of expecting too much too quickly.’

http://bit.ly/2qAJp8E

Transforming Secondary Education – the most difficult challenge of all.

‘One of the educationalists working towards a new conception of secondary education working in what we now call Flexible Learning Spaces (MLE) was Charity James of Goldsmiths College and in 1968 she published her book ‘Young Lives at Stake’. I think I must have one of the few copies available and it remains at the top of my favourite educational books. Charity James believed it was important to get secondary education right if all students were to leave able to take advantage of the exciting opportunities the future might offer. Her book provides ideas about how to organise learning in flexible spaces relevant to today’s challenges.’

http://bit.ly/1k3YTMR

New Zealand’s Minister of Education Hekia Parata has just stepped down – here are a couple of not particularly flattering tributes to her performance over the the last five years. Overseas readers may want to compare her to whatever flavour of educational politician they are stuck with.

A Report Card for Hekia Parata as the Minister of Education

http://bit.ly/2qGzGg2

Interpreting Hekia Parata’s legacy

‘As Hekia Parata steps down as Minister of Education, trying to assess the legacy she leaves behind is difficult. That she was the most passionate, most controversial and most polarising Minister is probably not debatable. But what did she achieve? Parata never gained the full trust of teachers. She continued to pursue an agenda that was completely out of step with school leaders, education academics and the teacher unions. So what is the Minister’s legacy?’

http://bit.ly/2qtdKc0

From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:

Autumn – a chance to develop inquiry skills

Northern hemisphere readers will have to park this one for 6 months!

‘Autumn is too good not to take advantage of.All too often the results of Autumn studies seen in many classes ( usually Junior rooms) are superficial, to say the least, but this need not be the case.If there are deciduous trees in, or near, the school grounds what a brilliant opportunity to develop a small integrated study.The study could be prefaced with the provocation, ‘Why do some trees lose their leaves?’ Such questions introduce an inquiry approach to the students.’

http://bit.ly/2qGx2a3

Education Readings April 28th

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 the Proper Purposes of a System of Schooling?

‘I’m raising this as a question.  Suppose you, magically, were part of a committee charged with developing, completely from scratch, a school system for our modern times.  You and the other committee members realize that before designing the structure, you need a clear idea of the purpose of schools.   And let’s suppose you are idealists enough to believe that the purpose should have something to do with education (as opposed, for example, to such purposes as providing employment for teachers or supporting the textbook and testing industries).  You are asked to come to the next meeting with a brief, written statement of what you think that purpose (or those purposes) should be.

Now, here’s what I’m asking you to do in this little survey.’

http://bit.ly/2pjGbWU

Relationships and the Company We Keep.

‘If we start with these, relationships and the company we keep as our basic principles of learning, then the design of our school, classroom, learning environment need to reflect that. In other words, do the designs of the above, hinder or support strong relationships and creating a context for students to be surrounded by the kinds of people that we hope they become?’

http://bit.ly/2oy9J5T

50 Tips, Tricks and Ideas for Teaching Gifted Students

‘Gifted kids can be a joy to teach when you know how to identify what engages them. These 50 tips and tricks come from my own experience and from around the Web. They’re good to have in your bag of tricks whether you’re a newbie or an old hand at teaching these high-level thinkers.’

http://bit.ly/2p601Gl

Secret Teacher: I’m tired of justifying the value of vocational subjects

‘One consultation evening, a parent told me that their child was no longer considering health and social care as an option. They had been informed by one of my colleagues that there was no point in doing it and to take a “real subject”. While I was shocked, I shouldn’t have been surprised: my subjects were always included at the back of the options booklet, with English, maths and science at the front.’

http://bit.ly/2oL9zmL

How to make mixed ability work: Let children take control of the lesson

‘Grouping children by presumed ability rests on the assumption that teachers know exactly what each child will achieve in a lesson. In reality this is rare, as completing tasks does not always equate with achievement. In fact, the idea of the ‘omnipotent teacher’ has led to an approach to lesson design defined by passive pupils waiting to be moved on. This ignores the pupil as a rational, self-regulating agent who has the potential, if given the chance, to understand their own cognitive capacity better than anyone else; it also belies the ability for pupils to act as resources for one another.’

http://bit.ly/2p5LMBw

Contributed by Bruce Hammonds:

Here’s How British and American Spelling Parted Ways

A short video explains the differences.

‘Why do Brits and Americans spell certain words differently? A colourful tale of dictionaries, politics, and national identity ensues here.’

http://stumble.it/2q88442

‘To retain our best teachers we need to stop killing them with planning, marking and meetings’

‘Just about every teacher will recognise the sad truth: they are working longer and longer hours week after week. (It would appear that this is now recognised by the Department for Education, too). The most profound question to address is whether these extra hours spent in the school are actually improving the quality of teaching and learning. Sadly, it would seem, this is not the case. It is rather more likely that we are spending endless hours perfuming menial tasks because that’s just what is expected of us…’

http://bit.ly/2mkaEEc

The Heart of Teaching: What It Means to Be a Great Teacher

‘What does it mean to be a great teacher? Of course credentials, knowledge, critical thinking, and all other faculties of intelligence are important. However, a great teacher should be much more than credentials, experience and intelligence.What lies in the heart of a great teacher?’

http://edut.to/2q8cSGP

Learning Objectives: a waste of time.

‘If you still have learning objectives written up at the start of every lesson, you’re in 2012. Hope you’re enjoying Gangnam Style.

A few people have been asking the reasoning behind my scorn for learning objectives, and I felt it prudent to outline my thinking here, in a blog. So here’s why I think learning objectives are ridiculous:’

http://bit.ly/2q7YwpP

From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:

Education is about playing the whole game

‘David Perkins is professor of Education at Harvard University Graduate School of Education. A highly respected authority in his field he is well known for his research and insight into the deep understanding of teaching and learning. His latest highly creative and easy to read book ( published 2009) summarizes years of observations, reflections and research. He ‘makes visible’ what creative and insightful teachers do. He also provides a framework of seven practical principles for all teachers to transform their teaching.’

http://bit.ly/1PxqsZB

What’s the Point of School?

“Guy Claxton, University of Winchester,is one of the UK’s foremost thinkers on developing students ‘learning power’. His most recent book is called ‘What’s the Point of School’ and ought to be compulsory reading for anyone involved in education. His book is all about ‘rediscovering the heart in education’.”

http://bit.ly/2p5BukY

The Big Picture Company

“The Big Picture Company believes that every students learning should grow out of his or her unique needs, interests and passions. They also believe that the system must ensure that the students and their families are active participants in the design and assessment of the student’s education. The goal of education should be to connect students to the world ‘one student at a time.’”

http://bit.ly/2oyeYCs