Education Readings September 1st

By Allan Alach

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

Transmit, regurgitate. Transmit, regurgitate. Transmit, regurgitate…

‘Why do we believe that this model is adequate for the demands of a complex, global innovation society?’

http://bit.ly/2wNgNiG

Raising an UnTrump

Alfie Kohn:

‘When the words “Trump” and “children” appear in the same sentence, it’s often because the writer is trying to figure out how to protect the latter from the former. How do we shield our offspring not only from what this man does (particularly if the youngsters in question are at risk of being harassed or deported) but from who he is? How do we explain to our kids that someone who bullies, lies, and boasts about assaulting women has made it to the White House? The news these days presents parents and educators with what might be described as a series of teachable moments that we never asked for and cannot easily avoid.’

http://bit.ly/2xsfbbj

Comics And Reluctant Learners: Dispelling The Myths

‘When I hear teachers say things like this, or that comics are only for the “kids who don’t like to read,” I feel they’re buying into a common myth: that reluctant readers are the only ones who can benefit from comics. While it’s true that comics and graphic novels do work well with reluctant readers, that’s precisely because they work well with nearly all readers.’

http://bit.ly/2wEsmbD

When Memorization Gets in the Way of Learning

‘Some things are worth memorizing–addresses, PINs, your parents’ birthdays. The sine of π/2 is not among them. It’s a fact that matters only insofar as it connects to other ideas. To learn it in isolation is like learning the sentence “Hamlet kills Claudius” without the faintest idea of who either gentleman is–or, for what matter, of what “kill” means. Memorization is a frontage road: It runs parallel to the best parts of learning, never intersecting. It’s a detour around all the action, a way of knowing without learning, of answering without understanding.’

http://theatln.tc/2xHTFhU

Personalized Learning Without People – An Education Scam from the 1980s Returns

‘Sometimes it seems that education policy is nothing but a series of scams and frauds that becomes untenable in one generation only to pop up again 10 or 20 years later with a new name. Take Personalized Learning, the latest digital product from the ed-tech industry to invade your local public school. It’s cutting edge stuff.

Except that it isn’t.’

http://bit.ly/2vCEW7g

Contributed by Bruce Hammonds:

National Standards: Are they working?

‘A new book by Waikato University’s Professor Martin Thrupp effectively warns other countries against the policy in its title, The Search for Better Educational Standards: A Cautionary Tale. Thrupp is horrified by those cards on the wall at Sylvia Park.”I don’t think it’s particularly helpful to have that kind of positioning for students who find themselves in the low group year after year,” he says.’

http://bit.ly/2wE8lBT

The Cold Truth About Personalized Learning

‘This – this twisting and standardizing of the hopes and dreams we have for our children, and the cruel and cold replacement of efficiency and linearity for the messy and impossible to measure qualities like good humor in life that make school memorable, joyful, and maybe even irresponsible every now and then – is precisely the danger we face right now.’

http://bit.ly/2gkbJeO

Using Technology Doesn’t Make You Innovative

‘If a classroom gets iPads, a question you will often hear immediately is, “What apps should I download?”  In our concern for machines taking over education, we often do things that encourage machines to take over our teaching.’

http://bit.ly/2vyPsfJ

One in five boys with behavioural problems lag behind in maths and reading

‘One in five boys in year 3 have an emotional or behavioural problem that sees them lag a year behind their peers in reading and numeracy, according to research that stresses the mental health of young people needs to be a focus in primary schools.’

http://bit.ly/2vypolb

To Develop Future-Ready Students, Project-Based Lessons Teach Real World Skills

‘Recent research indicates there is a direct and undeniable correlation between improved student outcomes and integrating SEL and life skills—like problem-solving, collaboration, and good judgment—into existing curriculum. What’s more, teachers value these skills. So do employers. They help changes lives, break the cycle of inequity, and foster economic opportunity.’

http://bit.ly/2gkH94v

Researchers: Ask ‘what’s right?’ — not ‘what’s wrong?’ — with kids from poor, stressful backgrounds

‘Over the past decade, the share of public-school students who live in poverty in Washington state has grown from about 37 percent in 2006 to 44 percent as of last year.

As that number rises, so too has the body of research showing the short- and long-term effects of living as a child in stressful environments. Studies have found, for example, that poor children achieve less, have more behavior problems and are less healthy than peers raised in wealthier families.But for Vlad Griskevicius, a professor of marketing and psychology at the Carlson School at the University of Minnesota, such studies tell only half the story.’

http://bit.ly/2vCa6M6

From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:

Industrial age systems past their ‘use by date’.

‘Charlie Chaplin was aware of the problem in the early years of the last century!  It was Thomas Kuhn who was the first to introduce us to the idea of paradigms – the idea that we all live in world that we have all ‘bought into’ unconsciously. A potential for a shift happens when we are exposed to new ideas but, all too often our mindsets are so fixed, we cannot understand new ideas let alone make the change. Kuhn was talking about the difference between traditional science theories and new revolutionary ideas.’

http://bit.ly/2gjU8nb

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Education Readings June 16th

By Allan Alach

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

Helicopter Parents Are Raising Unemployable Children

‘Helicopter parents are in the news a lot these days. These are the parents who can’t stop hovering around their kids. They practically wrap them in bubble wrap, creating a cohort of young adults who struggle to function in their jobs and in their lives. Helicopter parents think that they’re doing what’s best for their kids but actually, they’re hurting their kids’ chances at success. In particular, they’re ruining their kids’ chances of landing a job and keeping it.’

http://bit.ly/2sv2EED

The Reading Achievement Gap: Why Do Poor Students Lag Behind Rich Students in Reading Development?

What has become clear over the past 35 years is that low-income students learn as much during each school year as do middle-class students (Alexander, Entwisle & Olson, 2007: Hayes & Grether, 1983; Heyns, 1978). But every summer, when school is not in session, kids from low-income families lose two or three months of reading growth, and middle-class kids add a month of reading growth.’
http://bit.ly/2sCZSwR

Play Misunderstood: The Divide Between Primary Classroom Teachers And Senior Managers

‘Teachers of children in years 1–3 are now recognising the need to respond to their students in a more developmentally appropriate manner at a time when more and more children are struggling to fit the mould that once was the traditional classroom. Yet many of these teachers report a key barrier to effectively implementing a learning-through-play approach in their classroom to be that of their school management team and colleagues.’

http://bit.ly/2s3WOZD

Rock On! How I Taught Focus to a Class That Wouldn’t Sit Still

‘As a teacher, every now and then we come across a class with an abundance of energy. Sometimes so much energy that teaching seems like an impossible mission. Students fidget with their hands, feet, dance in their stools and engage in constant side conversations with their classmates.’

http://edut.to/2ryKGfw

Your Pedagogy Might be More Aligned with Colonialism than You Realize

‘What if I told you that prevailing attitudes toward the language practices that students bring into the classroom are rooted in colonial, often racist, logic? What if I told you that by not disrupting these kinds of attitudes in your classroom, your pedagogy might be more aligned with colonialism than you realize?’

http://bit.ly/2ryG74V

Paperwork

‘There is something childishly naive about the bureaucratic belief in the power of paperwork to bend reality. This is not a new feature in education. You may recall that Race To The Top and RttT Lite (More waivers, less money) both featured a required plan for moving high-quality teachers around to districts in need. Nobody ever figured out how such a thing could possibly be achieved– but everybody had a plan about how to achieve it. The grandaddy of modern useless paperwork would have to be all the district plans for “aligning” curriculum…’

http://bit.ly/2t4L730

Contributed by Bruce Hammonds:

National Standards and the Damage Done, by Martin Thrupp

‘We will all have our views on the pros and cons of the National Standards policy and there’s likely to be some truth in even highly divergent points of view because education is complex and contextualised and so much depends, doesn’t it – it depends on the school, the classroom, the teacher, even the individual child. But my argument will be that on balance the National Standards are taking us down a data-driven path that will be very damaging for the culture of our schools and classrooms and for the education of individual children.’

http://bit.ly/2rtNkbt

Schools don’t prepare children for life. Here’s the education they really need

‘It’s only after you have left school and, in adulthood, gained a bit of distance, that you can be fully aware of the gaps in your education. History is a prime example. A group of British people together around a pub table and can probably weave together some kind of cohesive narrative across the centuries. In isolation, however, what you discover is that one person did the Romans, another the second world war, and a third spent two years on medieval crop rotation. Meaning that as a school leaver, you’ll have a vague idea about how it all fits together, but whole epochs remain shrouded in mystery.’

http://bit.ly/2srp6xt

Finland’s new, weird school ‘courses’ say a lot about how we teach our kids.

I don’t know if you’ve noticed this, but there is no such job as “math.”

‘Rather than teach subjects as dry, separate ingredients, from now on, it’s all cooking together.Finland’s concept is called “phenomenon-based learning.” Here’s how it works:Rather than focus on one subject like math, students and teachers sit down and pick a real-world topic that interests them — climate change, for example — which is then dissected from different angles. What’s the science behind it? How are nations planning on dealing with it? What literature is there about it?’

http://u.pw/2suQGea

Back to the Future: How has economic policy influenced the development of education policy and how the educational achievement of children in New Zealand primary schools is measured?

‘My final assignment for my Masters of Education paper, Education Policy traces the history of Standards in primary education and how we have come full circle from our original Standards based education, when compulsory education was established in New Zealand in the late 19th century, to the disestablishment of the Standards in the 1950s, through the development of a variety of assessment tools from the 1960s through into the 2000s and then the reintroduction of Standards in 2009’

http://bit.ly/2sv27m8

From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:

Creative Leadership lessons from Stoll and Temperley

‘Creative schools depend on creative leadership. The trouble these days is that the pressures on principals to: be seen by parents as doing what is expected, from analysing endless tests ( all too often in a narrow range of capabilities); coping with the imposition of National Standards; and most of all pressure to comply with Ministry and the  Education Review Office requirements,  being creative is the last thing on principals minds. And of course creativity was never something one thought of when thinking about school principals!’

http://bit.ly/2sru7Gn

Bring back the Jesters!

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.The idea is worth spreading throughout all organizations to combat the blindness created by past success. It is one way to counteract the conformity which pervades top down management.

http://bit.ly/1PbtD8g

In which Piglet looks for a 21st Century Education Part 1

By Kelvin Smythe

(Originally published in Networkonnet)

One day, when Christopher Robin and Winnie-the-Pooh and Piglet were all talking together, Christopher Robin finished the mouthful he was eating and said carelessly: ‘I saw a 21st Century Education to-day, Piglet.’

‘What was it doing?’ asked Piglet.

‘Just lumping along,’ said Christopher Robin. ‘I don’t think it saw me.’

‘I saw one once,’ said Piglet. ‘At least I think I did,’ he said. ‘Only perhaps it wasn’t.’

‘So did I,’ said Pooh wondering what a 21st Century Education was like.

‘You don’t often see them,’ said Christopher Robin matter-of-factly.

‘Not now,’ said Piglet.

‘Not at this time of year,’ said Pooh.

Just as they came to the Six Pine Trees, Pooh looked around to see that nobody else was listening, and said in a very solemn voice: ‘Piglet, I have decided something.’

‘What have you decided Pooh?’

‘I have decided to catch a 21st Century Education.’

Piglet asked, ‘But what does a 21st Century Education look like? Then continued thoughtfully: ‘Before looking for something, it is wise to ask someone what you are looking for before you begin looking for it.’

What follows is something I look at as a kind of written doodle thus subject to continual revision (contributed to by what you have to say). In such a matter it is difficult to be comprehensive or fair; if I tried strenuously to be so, I would probably never get going.

We are, it seems, getting ourselves tied in knots about something called 21st century education – before looking for it, as Piglet suggests, it might be wise to find out what we are looking for.

This could be done in respect to how it might differ from what went before, how it might be the same as what went before, how it might be worse than went before, who is supposed to benefit from it, who is calling for it, does it exist, should it exist, what are its aims and, being education, how much is career- or self-serving bollocks.

I intend this posting to be a search for something called a 21st century education.

As part of that I declare my prior understandings about the concept – a concept because there has never been any discussion about something called 20th century education, it was never conceptualised in that way, so why for 21st century education? The formation and high usage of the concept label suggests powerful forces at work – forces, I suggest, taking control of the present to control the future. Those active in promoting the concept of 21stcentury education are mostly from political, technology, and business groupings, also some academics: the immediate future they envisage as an extension and intensification of their perception of society and education as they see it now. And in the immediate future, as well as the longer term one, they see computers at the heart of 21st century education, which is fair enough as long as the role of computers is kept in proportion as befits a tool, a gargantuanly important one, but still a tool.

Neoliberalism is dominant in current economic, political, and education thought so to understand what 21st century advocacy is about, there is a need to recognise the nature of that philosophy. But because it is neoliberalism we are dealing with a complex of abstract and polysyllabic words that need to be uncovered to reveal their true reality, a control, market-oriented, and anti-democratic one. But it is a Russian doll. Those words do more than cover anti-democratic, control ends; they also express a colossal ignorance of our best education understandings about how children learn, which, however, is not irrational, because that ignorance is partly a self-serving slipped-into ignorance.  And the reference to our ‘best education understandings’ is a highly qualified one, because neoliberalism has been hard at work under Tomorrow’s Schools undermining our best understandings and replacing them with their own, meaning the number of people ‘our’ refers to is a dwindling one.

Children have no choice as to what century they reside in, 21 carries no more significance to how one should approach the education of children than 20. I believe that people in education, or around education, should stop looking over the top of children to look at those before them: the best way to prepare children for the future, no matter the century, is to meet their needs now. Those needs would be along the lines of empathy [of which reading should be seen as a key contributor], fairness, independence, collaboration, creativity and imagination, problem-solving, commitment to democratic principles, critical thinking, ways of thinking [for instance, for science, arts, drama, history, mathematics], key knowledge [everything in education or life is by definition value-laden but that doesn’t mean children should be denied access to culturally important and cohesive knowledge – computer advocates are for skills and spasmodic knowledge based on children’s often passing superficial interest which is paraded as some kind of 21stcentury transcendental insight].

School education is being pressured to inappropriate purposes by groups who claim a hold on the future and from that hold generate techno-panic to gain advantage in the present.

Another prior understanding is that the inappropriate use of computers for learning has contributed to the decline in primary school education (though well behind the contribution of national standards and the terrible education autocracy of the education review office). For all the talk of personalising learning, of building learning around the child, of individualising learning, the mandating question for 21st century education seems to be: how can we build the digital into learning instead of how can we best do the learning? And even further: how can we build schools for digital learning instead of what is best for children’s learning environment? Large open spaces are not the best environment for children’s learning, meaning that in combination with the heavy use of computers to make large open spaces ‘work’, a distinct problem is developing. Computers and large open spaces are being promoted by 21st century advocates as the two key ideas to carry us forward to the education for the 21st century.

In respect to computers, learning about them and using them is both necessary and inevitable, how could it be otherwise, but from that necessity and inevitability comes the responsibility to protect schools from their disassociating effects. The neoliberal advocates of a computer-laden future are putting at risk the potential of human thought, behaviour, and imagination. Their judgement, based on what computers can do, remains undisturbed, it seems, by any understanding of what the best of learning can be. Computers are going to be everywhere, beyond the imaginations of most of us; all the more important to appreciate the decisive contribution of learning beyond and apart from the computer and the need to challenge the social control that pervasive computer use brings to bear on school and beyond.

The use of computers should not become the defining characteristic of what is called 21stcentury education but it has, and an education and social tragedy is unfolding.  The defining characteristics of 21st century education should be the same as the defining characteristics of 20th century education (expressed above) before the neoliberal philosophy took hold.

In the following paragraphs I will refer to trends deriving from the greatly increased use of computers, also the effects of the neoliberal changes to the education system such as national standards, the narrowing of the curriculum, the fear-laden functioning of the education review office, and the government control of education knowledge.

The particular form of learning most associated with computers is inquiry learning. For all the talk of discovery, creativity, and thinking claimed for that approach precious little seems to be forthcoming. Inquiry learning is the main curriculum practice developed to suit computers and neoliberal education. No matter what a teacher does, if it is called inquiry learning, the teacher is safe; the use of any other name puts the teacher at risk – the system likes conformity, even more obedience, and throughout a teacher’s practice and records the authorities are looking for those little signs of deference that communicate the teacher has got in behind.

Despite a lot of cute tricks and manoeuvres, inquiry learning is simply swept up old-style projects using google and computers. It is considerably an empty shell – yes, children are often interested, but what is missing is the development of the vital ways of thinking particular to a curriculum area. An empty learning shell is a prime characteristic of 21stcentury education.

Another 21st century prime education characteristic is the priority of skills over knowledge – meaning for ends any knowledge will do.  As stated above ‘everything in education or life is by definition value-laden but that doesn’t mean children should be denied access to culturally important and cohesive knowledge – computer advocates are for skills and spasmodic knowledge based on children’s often passing superficial interest which is paraded as some kind of 21st century transcendental insight.’

Because the neoliberal education system puts a low value on the arts, drama, and dance there has been a diminution in their quality and quantity, also contributing to that diminution is the cramping effect of national standards which, admittedly, is just another expression of that lack of valuing. In open space schools, which in some respects one would think ideal for the arts, drama, and dance a further diminution derives from the pressure to avoid the noise and activity that typically comes from children’s participation in those activities. The shush factor of the newer open space schools is not as noticeable and inhibiting as in the older ones, but it is still there.  And I miss the independent advisers throughout the curriculum but in the arts their absence is particularly painful. It was a team of art advisers dropping in at odd times that was the crucial stimulus to Elwyn Richardson – oh that they could come knocking again.

Open space schools lack the spontaneity available in conventional classrooms, for instance, allowing the varying of the timetable and being able to carry on with a programme, say for most of a day – a cherished part of the primary school tradition.

A heavy use of paper templates is common in schools today, with iPads providing digital ones, and exerting a decidedly deadening effect on learning. Another deadening effect is derived from an idea imported from America for use in open space classrooms in association with computers, but is also being used in some conventional classrooms as well. It is called ‘the wall’. Its purpose is to have children work independently on activities from a range of curriculum areas but especially the basics. Activities are displayed on ‘the wall’ and a place for the children to sign off when completed. In New Zealand, a direct duplication of the practice has largely been avoided but many classrooms especially open space ones, employ something like it. The crucial pedagogical point is that to avoid organisational confusion and a lot of demands on teachers, the activities provided are routine and a little below the level of challenge for children. If the activities are ability grouped, the activities for the top group are closer to being OK than the lower groups. The practice is unstimulating and limiting in all curriculum areas but especially in mathematics.

Twenty-first century education has also become associated with two harmful language practices – in reading, a trend to more phonics and words in isolation – oh champion; and in writing, on the basis, it seems, that primary children should be prepared for university from early juniors, the emphasis in writing has shifted to the expository and argument and away from children writing imaginatively and expressively. This combined with the use of templates and the asTTle emphasis on using adjectives and adverbs willy-nilly, is resulting in writing in New Zealand schools being smashed.

Another prime characteristic is the way the role of the teacher is defined. The role of the teacher as carried out in the past is first belittled, pouring water into bottles apparently while standing at the front holding forth (which seems quite a trick). And having established that, the 21st century teacher is then defined as being a facilitator (my hunch is that if that facilitator worked out from what to where and how, the facilitator would, in fact, be a teacher).

One of the substantial problems with computer use and learning is the way it encourages or allows teacher to forgo their responsibilities (as I see it) to deepen and extend children’s learning before they go out on their own (so to speak). Learning experiences need an introduction (with all sorts of open questions and activities), gaining of knowledge (interestingly and pertinently), use of that knowledge (with investigation or activities), and a conclusion (presentation and discussion). But the 21st century way is to quickly hand it over to computers and inquiry learning, with the teacher congratulating him or herself on the independence being encouraged.

The reason why the Treaty of Waitangi is hardly touched is because teachers are unwilling or unable to take children into such a topic, to build up the knowledge, to develop a feeling for what happened, and to identify the issues for the children to investigate from there. And a reason why teachers are so fixed on inquiry learning (leaving aside hierarchical insistence) is a lack of knowledge of alternatives. It is important for teachers to know, even if they don’t feel able to change, there are.

Where is the social studies thinking? that is, the comparative thinking based on the interaction of knowledge with the affective.

Twenty-first century social studies is children choosing their own topics or being asked to investigate large, abstract impersonal topics like communication. There is very rarely a true social studies challenge in a topic like that, or a source of empathetic development.

The social studies thinking will be absent.

Where is the science thinking? that is, thinking based on science investigation.

The question: The question that guides the investigation.

 

What I know now: The child records all he or she knows about the question. If the child already knows the answer, then there is no point in investigating it further. The teacher can also at this stage make a judgement as to whether it is possible for the child to investigate it in the time available. Many topics like volcanoes and dinosaurs lend themselves to study-skills rather than investigation processes.

What I did: This is the vital stage and what differentiates science from point-of-view? It is a step-by-step record of what actually happened; it can be in diary or note-taking form. It records the observing, testing, and trying out of the question. The failures as well as the successes are recorded. Others can read what went on and may suggest ways to revisit the investigation by another route. It may help show others not to go along that path. The child also includes references about those who helped and testing methods used.

And so on.

The science thinking will be revealed.

Where is the language way of thinking? that is, sincerity expressed in writing.

Imagine: the discussion, encouraging but not obtrusive to the child’s thinking; the child knowing how previous writing had been used and that imagination was valued; the art that had occurred or might follow; the urging to intensive observation and accurate expression that preceded the writing by the nine-year-old girl who decided to view the world through the grass not toward the grass:

Small balls of rain fall down and spit up in tiny streaks of white.

Leaves knotted by strings of weeds.

Leaves like cups hold blobs of water.

Drops of water trail down leaves and peak at the top.

Bird’s wings doubles as it flies.

Twigs uneven like a fork.

The dripping tap splits into tracks.

‘Did you find what you were looking for? asked Piglet.

‘Yes,’ said Pooh in muffled tones.

‘But I have decided something.’

‘What have you decided Pooh?’

‘This honey pot is a lot more interesting.’

Continued in Part 2

Treehorn is back.

Treehorn: What’s wrong with child-centred, achievement-focussed, holistic primary schooling ? Why can’t we have it?
Tesucator  [Pyne, Gillard, Klein etc.] :- What’s wrong with fear-based, tension-building, teacher-squirming, subject-hate schooling?  We’ve got it.  We like it.

The Treehorn Express
Treehorn is the hero of a children’s book called The Shrinking of Treehorn by Florence Parry Heidi. It’s about a small boy with enormous problems, who remained totally ignored by all adults, including his parents, teachers and principal during an important period in his life. Like all young school pupils, he came to learn that adults don’t take much notice of school kids, no matter how dire the circumstances. Children are left on their own to survive, despite the stress that  some very cruel adults impose on them – like the operators and users of NAPLAN the Wombat tests. The Shrinking of Treehorn is a powerful story with a morally-stunning conclusion.
Treehorn Everychild is Back
Although some would think that we anti-Naplanners, anti-N.Z. ‘Standards’ and anti-NCLB would be black and blue in parts from the battering by those adult psycho-metricating DRBs who, apparently, despise kids and who believe that inhumane, rigorous, high stakes testing makes children learn things when they try to pass their peculiar tightly-scripted,  number-based tests, and, as well, even more stupidly, also believe that their kind of testing is the only way of diagnosing kids’ problems……
but note …This ‘Care-For-Kids’ Treehorn group does not give in easily. Every child abused, like Treehorn, can now be heartened by the news that  increasing numbers of parents, well and truly mushroomed until now,  are becoming more and more disgusted by the stories of abuse and mental cruelty that children must tolerate, and  are saying “NO to NAPLAN”; and statistics are showing that the NAPLAN experiment, based on really cock-eyed principles of learning,  has been a waste of money, brains and time.   Yes!
This is the year of saying NO by those mums who genuinely care about the learning welfare of their children. 
Of course, there are three other kinds:-  1.the tiger-mums whose self-esteem is determined by their children’s scores [and try coaching, stimulants, rewards, anything];  2. parents who are ‘sucked into the fear factor’ [‘didn’t do me any harm’] and 3. those who just ‘go with the flow’.  They’re all a worry.
Really. Australian children don’t have to do the NAPLAN tests if they [through their parents] don’t want to.
The Kleinist pollies and flunkies  have come a gutsa….a big gutsa. Their tests are proving destructive as is being shown by their effects on the curriculum, the sickness of children, the Am I failing... or is it the test?concern, disgust  and anguish of teachers, the questioning by parents and by reliable research, the most recent comprehensive study supplied by Trevor Cobbold in January…. extremely revealing. This research has been ignored by our psycho-metric leadership. Too hot to handle! Those state and federal pollies with their own school age children should be ashamed that they have done nothing through their party rooms to rid Australia of the pestilence.  They need to be held to account at every opportunity.
The real ‘care for kids’ mums are reacting.
The ‘Wake-up-Australia’ Cobbold study should have front-paged every single newspaper in Australia last week. It’s explosive! What happened to it, do you think?  Beheaded by the metricated curriculum terrorists…for sure!
You know how such important information is usually closed down and hidden, don’t you? As is generally known……for the worst of reasons, profit-based reasons, big-business-flunkies and sick politicians want the tests to continue, even though the continuance is totally irrational, destructive and dangerous to child health…and is just plain crazy and useless as well. We all know it. The research shows it  BUT. They plan to  spend millions more…. in times of financial crisis indeed …. on its extension only because they can’t admit to making a big mistake in starting the chaos in the first place and continuing with it.  Pollies in power believe that they are always right…. Gillard, Pyne, and their ilk.
NAPLAN is truly a Wombat : A Waste OMoney, Brains And Time for ordinary Aussie taxpayers…….but…….. a monumentally successful business venture for others.
The power to decide whether to continue with NAPLAN the Wombat,  relies more than ever  on  parents. IF they say ‘NO’, i’s gone. School Principals with ethical principles, could have terminated it early in the piece, but they were captured, then corralled, then controlled; and now just do as they are told. Maybe they’ll return to the real world of learning this year.  Eichmannism has certainly become a pandemic condition for testucators in schools over the past few years, but the times are now changing.  With revived professional confidence,  they are sure to  join, now,  with their parents and feel enriched by their combined efforts. The Treehorns of Australia certainly hope that this happens.
Its been a long haul for Treehorn and his friends in various good-guy organisations around the countryside, who have tried to fight the good fight since 2008. Each must feel something like the old Jew in the story that Fitz told [SMH, 20/12/14]about Barbara Walters, a journalist who visited Jerusalem in 1991. She interviewed an old man who visited the Wailing Wall three times a day to pray,. He had done so for the previous 85 years.
“At Dawn”, he told her, “I pray for world peace. At Noon, I pray for peace in the Middle East. At Dusk, I pray for all the people in all the world to be nice to each other, and stop hating.
“And what does that feel like,” Walters asked, “having done all that for all those decades?”
The old man looked her straight in the eye and said, “ Like I’m talking to a f___ing wall.”
Yep. Sometimes, it does.
Never mind. We kid-lovers are back, praying, pleading, begging, sticking to the belief that ‘kids like learning’ and are not made of tin or wind-up machinery.  We’ll hang in there.
[ Remember Treehorn’s mum- Type 3 – who  just said, “That’s nice, dear” and then ignored him? Too many of them, right?]
Parents have a great deal more school-based gumption and less fear than Treehorn’s mum and her friends. We’ll  do it all together, for sure..
______________________________________________________________________________
Parents, who value their children’s education, will not allow their children to contest NAPLAN
Principals, who value their pupils’ cognitive schooling, will offer the choice to parents…..clearly and sincerely.
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The Treehorn Express is dedicated to the cessation of high-stakes testing everywhere. Such fear-based testing is kleinist.  Kleinism is a New York version of fear-driven schooling which uses wide-spread blanket-testing to destroy the  reputation of teachers and schools. This weapon was forced on schools in Australia in 2009 and euphemistically called NAPLAN – an assessment!  It only  opens a door for mega-bank-rolling by known curriculum vandals for the control of school-based learning….nothing else.   It disrespects school pupils, devalues teachers’ professionalism, threatens Australia’s developmental future and is just no good.  
Phil Cullen  41 Cominan Avenue   Banora Point  Australia  2486    07 5524 6443    cphilcullen@bigpond.com [Refer: “Who’s Who in Australia’]
Read about what  some Principals have done in their own time:   http://qldprimaryprincipals.wordpress.com  If you have seen the movie “Unbroken’ you’ll be fascinated by the story of Bill Belford, a friend to Weary Dunlop and Tom Uren, and a proud primary principal., 
Read some random thoughts on primary schooling:  http://primaryschooling.net
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QUOTES FOR YOUR POSTINGS
.       Childs’ Rights are Human Rights        It’s time for democratic humanity in school education
NAPLAN….. the cash-based ideological front  of  Libs and Labs…… a contest for unnatural selection.
Kids are human being.   Kids love learning.    Kids don’t need to be forced to learn.  Kids want to achieve.
Bang-crash-wallop schooling went out with hanging and beheading and other nasty adult threat-based beliefs about learning to do as one is told.
NAPLAN – introduced by LABOR, continued by LIBS. on behalf of Rupert Murdoch….both apparently acting as neo-conservative cum neo-fascist parties, it seems, supported in silence by the Greens and PUPs……all doing as HE expects.  When did ‘Care for Kids’ change to “Let’s Make Money out of Kids”?
NAPLAN – A counter-cognitive, maverick scoring device, applicable only to small pieces of the curriculum, unexamined by serious educators, introduced to Australia in 2008.
NAPLAN Testing – The frenzy event of the year.
If you love children ,the depravity of high stakes anti-learning testing and its continuance by shameless testucators. will hurt.
NoteWhen will they ever learn?Note

Born in 2014

The Treehorn Express

(Unable to be read in schools in Queensland, Australia)

Born in 2014

Children born this year will be my age at the end of this century*. I do hope that their teachers and principals [the real classroom curriculators] understand what will be going on in the years up to 3000 [and up to 2020, 2030, 2040….], so that we can help the children in a better way than we do now, during the schooling part of their preparation for the unknown. If teachers don’t understand how to prepare for the unknown, Australia and the rest of the world have a super-problem. School-and-child-oriented folk in authority will have think very seriously, very soon, about better ways to handle schooling….if the concept of schooling lasts much longer. The time to think is NOW – for serious reasons.

If, anyone in the general teaching fraternity in 2014 believes that politically controlled standardised blanket testing is, in any way, appropriate for the school children of the remainder of the 2000s, they should quit right now. Get out of the way. A test-based attitude is a serious menace to society.

If the future is unknown, shouldn’t we think about what we teach and how we do it? Isn’t this an important issue? Should Australian schools persist in teaching NAPLAN first and then other things from a left-over centrally-controlled, categorised curriculum list OR should we teach Learnacy wrapped around the things that the local and larger society require? Think about your own schooling.

I wish that I had been pupilled in Learnacy…how to handle learning. It’s an essential for all circumstances, for every bit of living….right through to old age….like 86.

I went to school to pass exams. There was no other purpose. The exams were paper and pencil type. If I didn’t write down what my teachers required of me on a piece of paper on one particular day of the year, I would not get a proper job. That was what life was about. I had to learn what to write down.

Things have changed. Children now go to school to learn how to tick the right bubble.

I had to learn things that I didn’t want to learn about; and some teachers were not too good at persuading me to show any enthusiasm; and their persuaders stung.

Things have changed. It’s more difficult to create the fear of failing; but caning the intellect instead of the hands creates more stress.

I had to pass exams in a limited number of subjects, whose relevance I did not understand.

Things have changed. Only NAPLAN in Australia; NCLB in the USA; ‘National Standards’ in NZ and UK are relevant…..says Gestapo head quarters.

Has anything else changed much in the world of learning? Don’t we still indulge in the hardening of the categories, as Weingartner called it….the way in which we compartmentalise knowledge. Art is not maths, and history is not music and language is not history; and maths and literature are important and art and music are unimportant? Years and years of Latin used to be important because everybody at ‘good’ schools should prepare for an Arts degree at a university in accord with some crazed linguist who had persuaded the intellectual body politic that Latin was an essential requirement for all human beings.

I hated it. Also, because I couldn’t see the intelligence behind crippling beautiful English sentences with Parsing and Complex Analysis, I hated Grammar and suffered great stress for the first hour after lunch every day. It was hell. Because I went to a non-state school, I did have not much experience with Art or Music [Choir, yes] or Dance or those categories that did not matter much at exam time. I know. The school’s reputation depended on the number of exam successes, not on how it taught children..

Aren’t you mystified by the way we organise schooling?

Sir Ken Robinson asks educators if they know what the world will look like in five years time. Listen to him for a few minutes.

Postman & Weingartner suggested, many years ago, that people at school should be issued with ‘crap detectors’. I hope that they are handed out at the door of all ‘conversations’ and Accord meetings, fast becoming the new way of entrenching the embedded.

oooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

Meanwhile, back at the ranch….

reputation

Naplan test today

First%20day%20at%20Kindy.[2]

Last%20Act%20of%20Defiance[2]

weigh elephant

*I have a g-grandchild to be born this year. I am truly concerned that, in five or more years’ time, the poor little bugger might go to a school that still ‘runs’ NAPLAN. I appreciate that the local neighbourhood school, the best kind of school, might still be forced by the government to use this learning-destructive device. It’s scary to think that what NAPLAN does to young children and the collateral damage that it does to every pupil at a school, will affect one of mine. Since private schools copy state schools, there’s nowhere to go. I’ll recommend home-learning if the malady is still around.

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Phil Cullen […..looking for concerned adults with crap detectors] 41 Cominan Avenue Banora Point Australian 2486 07 5524 6443 0407865999 cphilcullen@bigpond.com

New Zealand’s national standards in education are not national or standard.

By Allan Alach

Reposted from The Daily Blog

At the end of this month the New Zealand government will release the national standards data that will a) ‘prove’ that their education policies are ‘raising achievement’ and b) ‘prove’ that there is a wide variation of school effectiveness and that teachers’ performance is therefore deficient.

All this, of course, is derived from the school ‘reform’ handbook that has been imported from overseas.

Waikato University Professor of Education Martin Thrupp, a long time campaigner against the Global Education Reform Movement (GERM), for example in his book ‘Schools Making A Difference’, has written an article in The New Zealand Herald that critiques this data release.  Martin’s analysis makes very similar points to those that I’ve expressed previously, albeit in much more authoritative and better expressed way!

“The published data appears straight-forward enough – percentages of children “above”, “at” “below” or “well below” the standard for their year group in each school. But there is nothing standard about what underlies the tidy rows of figures. Schools’ approaches to making judgments against the National Standards are so idiosyncratic and wide-ranging that it is impossible to accurately compare achievement between any two schools, let alone “apples with apples” comparisons across more than 2000 New Zealand primary and intermediate schools.”

Thrupp’s findings are based on a sample of six schools and one can only imagine what the nationwide figure would be like. He has found that the variations in each school’s methods of making their Overall Teacher Judgements (OTJs), such as the differing mixes of judgements and use of the standardised tests such as e-assTTle and STAR, throws doubt on the validity and reliability of any conclusions.

“The numerous sources of variation that underlie schools’ judgments also mean that any claim of overall improvement or decline in the achievement of New Zealand children against the National Standards will be quite spurious.”

Interestingly the government has chosen to produce their own nationwide analysis of results, having accepted the inevitability of the media doing likewise. One wonders if this is a precursor to the release of school based results in a month or so – will the government produce their own league tables to preempt media versions?

Thrupp’s long and well expressed opposition to GERM has naturally seen him denigrated by the government ( e.g previous Minister of Education Anne Tolley), using their well trodden personal attack path. This however, in no way diminishes his authority and so his findings add to the increasing weight of evidence against national standards.

His article also discusses issues with the Progress and Consistency Tool (PaCT) which I have also described in an earlier article. The government, having conceded (off the record) that national standards rankings based on teacher judgements is a very flawed beast indeed, is developing PaCT in an attempt to obtain more objective outcomes from subjective teacher judgements. Thrupp also raises concerns about this, including the possibility (probability?) that we could be looking at yet another government IT failure, to go with Novopay (a very problematic teacher payroll system)  and many others (remember INCIS?).

“But if the PaCT is intended mainly as a form of national moderation (ie informing other assessment processes rather than itself becoming the assessment tool for making judgments), then it can be expected to be an expensive failure.”

Further, the design concept behind PaCT still suffers from the problems of using sampling assessments to determine overall achievement. Sampling like this only measures the very areas that are deemed to be significant, as if learning can be digitised into discreet segments. Different sampling can and does result in different results, and thus the outcomes are likely to be as variable as the teacher judgements. This is especially so when the very conditions leading to variability are ignored – the biggest of these being family poverty, which, as we know, is the ‘ elephant’ that the government doesn’t want to acknowledge.

“By failing to recognise the underlying causes of variation, it is likely to allow the Government to ignore the impact of contextual inequalities between schools, for instance, the effects of diverse and unequal intakes and communities, school locations, staffing and other resources.”

The whole process is a crock. It can’t work, and won’t work. There is a basic similarity with Novopay, where the basic concept and design is so flawed that achieving any kind of reliability is going to be very expensive, if at all possible. The government’s ‘raising achievement through national standards’ policies have similar concept and design errors.

“National Standards may be a government aspiration but they are not national and they never will be while there is so much potential for local variation. It is almost comical – if it weren’t so serious – that data representing such variation is being put into the public domain for comparative purposes when there are so many differences between schools in what it actually represents.”

The whole national standards and raising achievement rhetoric is a farce, a con job being perpetrated on the parents of New Zealand children in order to gain votes and has nothing to do with education.

Leading the way in education – instead of following the failing neo liberal agenda

by Bruce Hammonds

Reposted from Leading-Learning.

Yong-Zhao‘Education in America  is at a crossroads’, writes American educator Yong-Zhao

Ironically while China is busy trying to transform its test orientated education into a talent orientated system, writes Chinese born but now a respected American educator Yong- Zhao, America ( and now New Zealand) is moving towards a standardized test driven culture.

Why right wing politicians in New Zealand would want to follow the failing neo-liberal agenda of the USA is more to do with politics than education.

In America they have the No Child Left Behind testing programmes based around literacy and numeracy and in New Zealand we have National Standards.

Why we follow the failing approaches of the USA, the UK and Australia when we could be leading the world into developing a system that focuses on developing the talents and gifts of all students shows a lack of direction by those who profess to lead our schools. Schools cannot just be simply against such standards, which increasingly sound like whinging, they need to be leading by articulating a creative alternative.

To thrive inrapidly changing world countries like New Zealand needs to cultivate adiversity of talents of all citizens if we really want to be seen as an innovative country. Cultivating this student creativity and imagination is one thing our New Zealand schools have never done with the exception of a few creative teachers.

Yong- Zhao, in his book  ‘Catching up by Leading’, points out the damage being created by the American NCLB, and even more strongly, writes that schools that comply ‘are actually undermining their strengths by overemphasizing high-stakes testing and standardisation’.

There are lessons we can learn from America (and the UK and Australia) – of what not to do! Particularly as we rate higher in international testing than such countries. We need to lead rather than follow.

In America the NCLB has resulted in school teaching to the test and the reduction of time for subjects not tested. As well teachers, to score well, have changed their instructional focus and teaching styles. Some American schools have even resorted to cheating.

Schools in America (and other Western countries who follow the same neo- liberal agenda) spend valuable teaching time on test preparation (another form of cheating?). Already schools in New Zealand are, disturbingly, ensuring their teaching focuses on their ensuring test results are impressive – and this self- interest can only get worse. And if you read KelvinSmythe the Ministry is ensuring the ‘shonky’ National Standards results show improvements to ‘prove’ their value.

If schools do not make a collective stand and present an alternative beyond objecting to National Standards it will be too late.

The reasoning behind the NCLB in America resonates to what is happening in New Zealand under this government.

According to Zong Zhao it goes like this:

  • American education is in a crisis.
  • This crisis is proved by the ‘achievement gap’ (ignoring, of course, poverty issues).
  • The ‘achievement gap’ results from poor teaching; teachers who hold low expectations of their students. (John Key said as much as this prior to the elections). This is not helped by self-interested teacher unions.
  • Teachers are to be seen as complacent or lazy.

The solution is hold educators accountable for producing measurable outcomes including publishing of school performance data thus providing information for parent school choice and the possibility using performance-based teacher pay.

Standardisation and centralisation of curriculum and assessment are essential ingredients for obvious reasons.

All students have to be held to the same standards and need to be assessed by the same tests otherwise it is impossible to compare how much students have learnt or to distinguish good teachers and schools from poor ones. Until tests are standardised as in the UK and Australia results will remain ‘shonky’.

The consequence of such standardised teaching leads to the homogenisation of student outcomes and a diminishing of student talents in areas not being tested.

National Standards practically define what ‘good ‘education is; they become the default curriculum. A ‘good’ education is defined as a school being able to show good scores in a literacy and numeracy. Such a ‘good education’ deprives students the opportunity to develop talents in other areas. In addition children who do not perform well will be shamed and seen ‘at risk’ doomed to get more of what they cannot do while their unique gifts are ignored.

Theoretically schools can teach more than defined by the Standards but in reality schools will ensure they do well in areas that affect their reputation by focusing on areas that ‘count’.

As a result of such a narrow agenda schools will produce students with a narrow range of measurable outcomes. Yong- Zhao writes that this approach in America will limit the production of creative and imaginative individual with a wide range of talents the very people China is determined to produce!

New Zealand educators need to confront such a narrow interpretation of education and present an alternative based on an education that develops the talents and gifts of all students.

It is morally wrong, Yong-Zhao writes, ‘to place all responsibilities on schools and teachers. While schools can definitely do a lot to help children overcome certain difficulties, their influence has limits.’

Worse still, Zhao writes, the NCLB is ‘putting America in danger’….into a deeper crisis ‘because it is likely to lead increasing distrust of educators, disregard of students’ individual interests, destruction of local autonomy and capacity for innovation, and disrespect for human values’.

We are well on the way  in New Zealand to follow America into such a depressing scenario.

Martha-Graham-quote

Now is the time for schools to see the big picture and to collectively present an alternative vision; a vision implicit in the all but side-lined 2007 New Zealand Curriculum which sees students as ‘seeking using and creating their own knowledge.’ All it needs is a greater emphasis on developing the gifts and talents of all students.

Yong-Zhao believes ‘American education is at a crossroads’ and ‘we need to change course’. ‘We need to move away from focusing on the past and move towards focusing on the future’  We need to leave the test driven road and move towards the road to innovation and creativity.

New Zealand should be a leader in developing this new discourse not a follower..