Education Readings April 27th

By Allan Alach

Due to the recent sad loss of Phil Cullen, sometime in the next few weeks I will put this website into hibernation. All past articles, especially the many gems written by Phil Cullen, will still be visible but I will stop adding any more education readings. Instead these will be available on Bruce Hammonds’ LEADING AND LEARNING website.

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

Hattie’s Research is False

Here’s a three part series from Kelvin Smythe, addressed to New Zealand University Vice-Chancellors, that comprehensively deconstructs John Hattie’s so-called ‘research’. As Hattie and his acolytes have done, and are still doing, great damage to holistic education, all teachers need to be aware of the falsehoods in his findings. Other educationists have also found similar issues.

‘My concern is that none of the variables in his research are validly isolated or under control, resulting in an academic shambles that, in being left unexposed, has had devastating consequences for teachers and children around the world, and especially New Zealand.’

http://bit.ly/2Js6Fy8

http://bit.ly/2HsnRmu

http://bit.ly/2Fhvqul

Times tables – the phony, proxy war between traditionalists and progressives

‘These are tablets from Mesopotamia. They show a multiplication table and a practice tablet by a schoolchild. A practice that has been going on for millennia.And sure enough, the ‘times-tables’ wars have erupted again. This time, however, it has become a proxy, even phony, war between traditionalists and progressives, which in turn shows that both sides are often wrong-headed. It’s a litmus test for the whole debate.’

http://bit.ly/2vB1RV2

How to spot education research myths and read research properly

“I think it is useful for teachers to analyse and read articles, but more to get a sense of the enormous complexity and variables at play rather than trying to find a silver bullet that says ‘look, this works’ because science is incremental; we keep on building, one study will never be enough, there will never be a single study that shows this finally worked.”

http://bit.ly/2vHuhNo

How to Stop Killing the Love of Reading

‘But when I see what my kids do in school for “reading,” it doesn’t really look like reading. I ask them what books they are reading in school, and a lot of times they give me a blank stare. What they do in reading, they tell me, is mostly worksheets about reading. Or computer programs that ask them to read passages, not books, and answer multiple-choice questions.’

http://bit.ly/2HV1fwc

The Future of Education: How To Get Ready

‘I am not sure what education or the world for that matter will look like in 20 years, but I know that as educators we have the opportunity to shape what the future will be and the power to make it what we want it to be, which is, hopefully, a better place for our kids.  I implore you to join me in dreaming, in speculating, in being different, not only because it is so exciting, but because our kids deserve it.’

http://bit.ly/2vDtxsk

Contributed by Bruce Hammonds:

A playful approach to learning means more imagination and exploration

‘Play in education is controversial. Although it is widely accepted that very young children need to play, as they progress through the school system, the focus moves quickly to measuring learning. And despite the fact that play is beneficial throughout life, supporting creativity and happiness, it is still seen by many in education as a frivolous waste of time, and not really relevant to proper learning.’

http://bit.ly/2HlcpwY

Here’s What Happens When Every Student Gets a Personalized Learning Plan

‘All students can learn; however, not all students learn in the same way or at the same pace. Acknowledging this fact has driven the recent shift toward personalization in education.’

http://bit.ly/2qQ5oKj

Imogen Stubbs laments ‘awful treadmill’ of UK education system

‘Stubbs is a fan of the ideas of educationist Sir Ken Robinson, who gained international acclaim for his 2006 TED talk Do Schools Kill Creativity? She despairs of the “utilitarian” approach to arts subjects and hates the jargon of the modern exam system with its “texts” and “assessment objectives”.’

http://bit.ly/2K9gORA

How Small Steps Can Create Outdoors Experiences In Schools

‘It started with a school garden at Maplewood Richmond Heights Middle School. The garden did so well that students built another garden. Then they added native plants, where seventh-grade students learned lessons in data collection as they counted pollinators. The students wanted more pollinators, so they added a beehive. The bees made honey, and the kids used their sweet surplus to learn about the economics of commodities…’

http://bit.ly/2vyx37y

Curriculum wars: coming to Aotearoa?

‘To grossly simplify, it’s the argument between ‘knowledge vs skills’. To personalise it, it’s E.D Hirsch vs 21st Century Skills. Or in the New Zealand context, it’s Elizabeth Rata and Briar Lipson vs Jane Gilbert and Frances Valintine. And I think it’s mostly a good thing that we’re starting to talk about this.  Sure, polarising rhetoric can be unhelpful, but it’s a disservice to our students not to think seriously about curriculum, and part of that means expressing and teasing out differences.’

http://bit.ly/2K9hKp4

From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:

The killing of creativity by the technocrats.

Bruce Hammonds has also found fault with John Hattie:

‘Somehow, just because Hattie has amalgamated every piece of ‘school effectiveness’ research available ( mainly it seems from the USA) his findings, it seems, ought to be taken for read. The opposite ought to be the case – we need to be very wary of such so called ‘meta research.’. More worrying however is that the approaches he is peddling is pushing into the background the home grown innovative creative learning centred philosophy that was once an important element in many classrooms. Overseas experts always seem to know best – or those that return with their carpet bag full of snake oil.’

http://bit.ly/WeTrMo

The forgotten genesis of progressive early education

An example of the pedagogical knowledge that is totally foreign to the Hatties of this world.

‘Since ‘Tomorrows Schools’ ( 1986) teachers would be excused if they thought all ideas about teaching and learning came from those distant from the classroom – and more recently imposed by technocrats and politicians. This was not always the case. Progressive ideas that helped New Zealand lead the world in education, particularly in reading, were developed by creative early education teachers who were well aware of the modern educational ideas of the time.’

http://bit.ly/2cBOYvp

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Education Readings February 9th

By Allan Alach

If you’re still a John Hattie fan I suggest you carefully read the article “The Politics of Education Policy: Even More Beware the Technocrats.

The first reference listed at the foot of the article attempts to link to an article by Kelvin Smythe. This link no longer works and has been replaced by this one: Horizons, whirlpools, Sartrean secrets, John Hattie and other symptoms of the continuing education tragedy

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

Why I Want to Karate-Chop the SmartBoard and 19 Other Rants

‘I worked for a district who had the nicest SmartBoards and projectors around. I liked them, they were easy to use, and they were only there a few years. But, the darndest thing happened: the same year we took a forced pay freeze, the district purchased new equipment – because if they didn’t they’d lose the money. Socrates, one of the world’s greatest teachers, stood at a stone podium and gave his students one question to discuss for the entire day. Just give me the $5,000 it cost for that new tech equipment and let me be Socrates.’

http://bit.ly/2ErNLsw

Piles of paperwork stopping teachers doing what they’re good at

‘At the top of the list of the roadblocks are the piles of paperwork that increasingly stand in the way of good teaching. The teachers starting out this week didn’t become teachers to fill in endless forms; they became teachers to change lives.’

http://bit.ly/2C1BENg

What Do Schools Fostering A Teacher “Growth Mindset” Look Like?

‘Yet, school leaders and teachers scarcely talk about how to adopt a growth mindset for themselves—one that assumes that educators, not only the students they teach, can improve with support and practice. Many teachers find it hard to imagine working in a school with a professional culture designed to cultivate their development, rather than one in which their effectiveness is judged and addressed with rewards and sanctions.’

http://bit.ly/2skMMFJ

A Recipe for Inspiring Lifelong Learning

A veteran teacher reflects on his quest to inspire intrinsic motivation and curiosity in his students.

‘It made me reflect over my career as an educator, and what kinds of impressions I have left in the hearts and minds of the many students I have taught. I would like to hope that the impressions I left were favorable, even memorable. One of the impressions I hope to have left is that students had success in their learning when they were in my class.’ 

http://edut.to/2ENQief

The Politics of Education Policy: Even More Beware the Technocrats

‘Coleman and Hattie work to control what counts and what matters—the ultimate in politics—and thus are welcomed resources for those benefitting from inequity and wishing to keep everyone’s gaze on anything except that inequity.’

http://bit.ly/2E7vrRT

Contributed by Bruce Hammonds:

8 Ways to Help Older Kids Develop a Sense of Imagination

‘Because imaginative thinking hones creativity and improves students’ social and emotional skills, it’s something that teachers and schools should fold into their planning. Ostroff identified several strategies teachers can adopt to encourage older students to activate their dormant imaginations.’

http://bit.ly/2E25Qha

Blue Sky High – five things every secondary school should implement…now

‘I believe that implementing the following five things would be a relatively easy way for any school to evolve so as to ensure students are gaining the skills needed now (not 100 years ago) and in the future. Whether you refer to them as the infuriatingly named “21st century skills” such as collaboration, problem solving and critical thinking, or simply as a way of genuinely fostering what the New Zealand Curriculum (NZC) refer to as key competencies, particularly relating to others, managing self and participating and contributing.’

http://bit.ly/2FLf91v

Real Learning is a Creative Process

‘Real and meaningful learning is a creative process. Skills and knowledge cannot be downloaded like computer software, they must be acquired, constructed and mastered– through long-term application and effort.

Those who have studied successful skill mastery describe a common process that is followed, one that requires practice, effort, patience, experimentation and deep concentration.’

http://bit.ly/2siBUIq

7 Reasons Why Differentiated Instruction Works

‘Differentiated instruction (DI) begins with an accurate understanding of what DI is—and is not.   You may be surprised how easy it is to incorporate into your classrooms.’

http://bit.ly/2BKXHfx

The Man Who Will Save Math

Dan Meyer, the most famous math teacher in America, wants to radically change the way we learn math.

‘Imagine aliens have abducted you. They’re kind enough creatures, however: Theirs is the slow-motion torture of trying to make you understand them. They flash their strange alphabet at you and prompt you with esoteric questions: Are you allowed to put this symbol here? To rearrange this into that? At first you struggle. Soon enough, though, you start to see patterns; eventually you begin to answer correctly.

This, Dan Meyer says, is how too many students experience mathematics.’

http://edut.to/2AeYYtU

From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:

Living at the Creative Edge: School transformation

An Australian school that caters for ‘disadvantaged students’

‘Education is difficult in disadvantaged situations where it is pretty obvious that the old ways are not working so it was great to read about a school that seems to be beating the odds. The approaches they have developed provide guidance for all schools but particularly middle and secondary schools. And it is not that the ideas are even claimed to be new – the school involved just had both the leadership and the courage to put them into practice. Their approach is in opposition to the market driven imposed reforms of the past decades.’

http://bit.ly/2GTdlVH

The Power of Biography!

‘Too often personalized learning is missing; lost in all the teacher imposed curriculum and assessment requirements; too much teacher ‘delivery’ of curriculums and not enough ‘designing’ personalised studies. One idea to remedy this situation is to study the significant and personal greatness of our student’s lives through biography. This could lead into, or emerge out of, a study of the biography of famous people, or the recording of the oral history of their parents, or of local people of interest.’

http://bit.ly/2sdosVZ

Education Readings May 1st

By Allan Alach

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

This week’s homework!

Hattie’s research: Is wrong Part 3 – meta-meta analysis a monster

The latest instalment in Kelvin Smythe’s deconstruct of john Hattie’s ‘visible learning research’:

“While what follows points out fundamental statistical and mathematical errors in Hattie’s research, I want to emphasise that the central error in Hattie’s research is not in his mathematics and statistics but in his lack of control over the variables. All other errors, such as the mathematical ones that follow, are symptoms. In a bizarre sense, the errors were ‘necessary’ – necessary to cope with the massive lack of control of variables.”

http://bit.ly/1FB6NX3

Great teacher = great results? Wrong

“Does that mean that teachers don’t matter? Of course it doesn’t. We need teachers who help children to get the most from their time in school. It does, however, mean that the common assumptions about what schools can achieve are based on a fallacy. Because learning is done by the child, and not by the teacher, and no education system can exceed the desire and capabilities of its children.”

http://bit.ly/1I0hZLB

After learning new words, brain sees them as pictures

Implications for the way children are taught to read:

“The visual word form area does not care how the word sounds, just how the letters of the word look together,” he says. “The fact that this kind of learning only happens in one very small part of the brain is a nice example of selective plasticity in the brain.”

http://bit.ly/1HBACIj

Judgement Day: The Double Standard of Teacher Evaluation

‘The plangent perversity of this process is, perhaps, best summed up by Michael Fullan in a recent interview in which he remarked: “A huge apparatus is in place to identify the five to seven percent of teachers who shouldn’t be teaching. One hundred percent of teachers are involved in a superficial system in order to catch five percent. If you reverse that and say you want to catch the 95 percent in the collaborative culture, then you can do appraisal on teachers who are struggling.’

http://bit.ly/1GU3KsG

8 Characteristics of the Innovator’s Mindset

“Building upon Carol Dweck’s work, I have been looking at the traits of the “Innovator’s Mindset”, which would be summarized as follows:

Belief that abilities, intelligence, and talents are developed leading to the creation of new and better ideas.”

http://bit.ly/1I0mXHG

10 very real teacher ailments and diseases

Such as:

Endoftermitis: This disease normally occurs at the end of term but sometimes afflicts teachers at half-term breaks too. Symptoms vary but usually include exhaustion, shattered nerves and a common cold. 

http://bit.ly/1ygRFw8

Britain should be wary of borrowing education ideas from abroad

Pasi Sahlberg:

“One thing is true. No country should aim to replicate the educational models of others. Finland is no exception. What governments need to get right is the big picture for the educational landscape of their nation. The road to a better education for all our children is not to return to the past but to build schools where curiosity, engagement and talent can be discovered and nurtured. That calls for integrating research-informed international lessons into local needs and capacities.”

http://bit.ly/1Kp3FgJ

Misconceptions about Mindset, Rigor, and Grit

Beware of bandwagons…

“Among the educational ideas that have gained momentum in recent years are the concepts of Mindset, Rigor, and Grit. While all of these ideas may have merit, as with all shiny new objects that attract our attention we need to proceed with caution and think about whether and why these concepts fit into our personal pedagogy. Being willing to implement the hot new thing is admirable, but not if it is done feet first with our eyes closed.”

http://bit.ly/1KyeQE0

This week’s contributions from Bruce Hammonds:

The Problem With Math Problems: We’re Solving Them Wrong

Bruce’s comment: Confused about maths then is worth a read. Getting ‘stuck’ on a maths problem is real maths – or the essence of problem solving or creativity. Not knowing  drives knowing and not giving up.

“There really ought to be problem solving and imaginative thinking all the way through while kids master the basics. If you’ve never been asked to struggle with open-ended, non-cookbook problems, your command of math will always be shaky and shallow.”

http://nyti.ms/1JdDVmi

Why on Earth Do We Need Teacher Training? 

“Much of the teacher training I’ve encountered has been fundamentally top-down in approach; follow the example of the trainer (like the mentor educator), and you too can learn how to work in class.  I’d favor a flipped approach, in which educators tried to listen to their learners and reshaped their classroom strategies accordingly.” 

http://bit.ly/1Ftf3bB

Time to create a positive learning epidemic/virus – says Andy Hargreaves

“In education antiquated educational cultures and structures are increasingly being found wanting and becoming part of the problem. And any new change can no longer rely on central educational architects with some master ideology or plan to provide roadmap into the future.”

http://bit.ly/1I1Nqbu

Shifting Mental Models in Educators

Bruce’s comment: An excellent read – our mental models (often unconscious) determine how we treat students.

‘If we’re intent on transforming classrooms and schools, if we are truly committed to seeing equitable outcomes for children, we’ll need to take a long and hard look at our mental models. This is hard and scary work, because we need to poke around in the beliefs that we hold about education and children and their ability to learn’

http://bit.ly/1Q48rU4

From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:

Creative Leadership: A Challenge of our Times

Bruce’s comment: Schools need creative leadership – are there any around? If schools are to break out the crushing conformity that has resulted since technocrats and politicians captured the education agenda creative leaders will have to emerge.Creative leadership is the challenge of our times. Can you think of any leaders you know of?

“This means principals being brave enough to take sensible risks so as to help teachers open up possibilities for thinking about things in different ways. This represents a new form of leadership, one that ‘isn’t top down: leading a team in such a way that it’s not dictating and yet still scaffolding and supporting’.”

http://bit.ly/1EwOH6h

Bring back the Jesters!

Bruce’s comment: We need modern Jesters to tell us the truth. Time to bring back the role of the jester – the only person in a medieval court to tell the truth.

“Modern boards of directors are a bit like mediaeval courts where no one questions the king or the senior courtiers because they have become far too important to challenge. And as long as they can’t possibly be wrong, they can continue doing the wrong things all the time and never know it.”

http://bit.ly/1PbtD8g

The dark side of Literacy and Numeracy

“It would seem heretical to suggest the current obsession with Literacy and Numeracy is limiting the learning of our students. Every classroom you visit is full of the current approaches as introduced by ‘contracted’ advisers following their written scripts; all passing on the John Hattie message of intentional teaching, feedback and the dogma of ‘evidence based teaching’. Not that it isn’t a good message but to restrict it to literacy and numeracy is to limit the potential power to develop students’ talents in equally, or more important, areas. Literacy and numeracy are ‘foundation’ skills. They do not ‘drive’ learning – learning is driven by students’ interests and talents and their deep desire to make sense of their lives.”

http://bit.ly/1OK40AF