Education Readings February 2nd

By Allan Alach

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

Find Your Marigold: The One Essential Rule for New Teachers

‘Surround yourself with good people.

By finding the positive, supportive, energetic teachers in your school and sticking close to them, you can improve your job satisfaction more than with any other strategy. And your chances of excelling in this field will skyrocket. Just like a young seedling growing in a garden, thriving in your first year depends largely on who you plant yourself next to.’

http://bit.ly/2noMQyo

We are born creative geniuses and the education system dumbs us down, according to NASA scientists

‘The scientists then gave the test to 1,600 children between the ages of 4 and 5. What they found shocked them. This is a test that looks at the ability to come up with new, different and innovative ideas to problems. What percentage of those children do you think fell in the genius category of imagination? A full 98 percent!’

http://bit.ly/2nnxvyT

Contributed by Bruce Hammonds:

Summer has arrived – time to go outdoors. Some ideas to consider

‘The sooner students develop an awareness of their environment , and in the process learn to love and respect it, the sooner they will see the need to sustain and protect it. As the future generation they will need to see it as the number one world problem.’

http://bit.ly/2DPEKWw

The Feynman Technique: The Best Way to Learn Anything

How can you adapt this for your classroom?

‘The famous Nobel winning physicist Richard Feynman understood the difference between knowing something and knowing the name of something and it’s one of the most important reasons for his success. In fact, he created a formula for learning that ensured he understood something better than everyone else.

It’s called the Feynman Technique and it will help you learn anything faster and with greater understanding. Best of all, it’s incredibly easy to implement.’

http://bit.ly/2FsYWO9

When Success Leads to Failure

The pressure to achieve academically is a crime against learning.

‘The truth—for this parent and so many others—is this: Her child has sacrificed her natural curiosity and love of learning at the altar of achievement, and it’s our fault. Marianna’s parents, her teachers, society at large—we are all implicated in this crime against learning. From her first day of school, we pointed her toward that altar and trained her to measure her progress by means of points, scores, and awards.’

http://theatln.tc/2DLELuJ

‘Too much control’: Pasi Sahlberg on what Finland can teach Australian schools

Pasi Sahlberg from Finland gives advice to Australia (applies to NZ as well ?)

“Maybe the key for Australia is loosening up a little bit, less top down control and a bit more professional autonomy for teachers,” he says.  Maybe the problem is that things are tied up in a system that is not able to be flexible enough for teachers. “Maybe there is not enough trust in Australia in good teachers.”

http://bit.ly/2DTgm9R

After 100 Years of the Same Teaching Model It’s Time to Throw Out the Playbook

‘The transmission model of education is still the name of the game, although in some circles there are signs of its erosion.

I would like to take you on a journey in this post, starting from the 1950s banking model (Freire, 1968) of instructional design, before comparing it to my own schooling experiences as a digital native at the turn of the century. Then, finally, I would like to share my vision for C21 learning, and propose some ways that we can move forward so that we are meeting the needs of today.’

http://bit.ly/2BBEiJy

It’s OK to Say No

For those of you starting off in a new school:

‘Because the first year in a new role is a whirlwind, it’s easy to lose track of why you decided to take on the challenging role of educator. It’s easy to get discouraged with the many tasks and the overall state of being busy. I’ve learned to take time to center myself and remember why I’m doing the work I’m doing. Some might do more formal mediation or even reflective journaling.

Sometimes teachers take on so much work that they lose their sense of purpose. Here are a few steps you can take to avoid that.’

http://edut.to/2nk2R9k

Students Share The Downside Of Being Labeled ‘Gifted’

‘When growth mindset was still a fairly new concept in the education world, many teachers of gifted children saw its potential with that population, who often feel they’ve gained a special status for being smart. It’s not uncommon for gifted students to fear failure more than other students because they feel they have more to lose.’

http://bit.ly/2DItQlb

From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:

Placing in depth inquiry learning first!

‘Creative teachers have always placed developing authentic realistic and first hand experiences followed by creative expression through the arts central to their programmes .Important to such teachers was the need to provide opportunities to develop all the innate gifts and talents of their students.’

http://bit.ly/2E65DZO

What the modern world has forgotten about children and teaching, and solutions to ensure all students learn

‘Modern Western learning and teaching based on ‘collecting data on human learning of children’s behaviour in school is like collecting data on killer whales based on their behaviour at Sea World.’

http://bit.ly/2bUnAZW

The rise and fall and rise again of teacher expertise

‘To see changes sometimes you to have to stand back at a distance and look for patterns. It is the same as with the difference between the weather and a storm – when you are in the middle of a storm it is hard to work out what is the weather pattern is. The same applies in education. Many people think major educational changes started in 1986 with Tomorrow’s Schools. This of course it not true. It was more just another nail in the coffin of creative teachers.’

http://bit.ly/2zbYi8a

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Education Readings January 26th

By Allan Alach

The New Zealand school year is about to begin, so Bruce Hammonds and I are back again with our education readings. Hopefully New Zealand schools are well prepared to make the most of the opportunities provided by the dumping of national standards, although we have our concerns that too many principals and teachers will struggle to break their mindsets free from the raising achievement focused dictates of the the previous nine years.

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

Assessment too often fails to prioritise learning – let’s change that

‘By relying less on data and more on teachers’ judgment, schools can give student assessment greater meaning while also cutting workload.

Often the focus is on what tracked data tells us about student progress, but I know of no large-scale study that demonstrates the positive impact of data-tracking systems on learning. My hunch is that you could delete all this data and the students would never notice the difference in terms of the education they receive. The majority of teachers have excellent knowledge of their students, with or without the data.’

http://bit.ly/2DwI7Bt

IXL: Caveat Emptor & Personalized Misery

NZ may have been saved from this by the change of government, but …

‘As the computerized version of personalized [sic] learning continues to gather steam, we can anticipate increasingly aggressive marketing. Remember – you don’t win in a free market by having the best product, but by having the most effective marketing. Marketing for these algorithm-driven software packages of mass-produced custom education belongs to a special class of marketing – marketing that is designed to sell a product to people other than the actual end users… Education has always suffered from this problem– teachers get stuck using products that are purchased by district administrators who will never have to actually work with them.’

http://bit.ly/2DBRDaD

This is the one skill your child needs for the jobs of the future

‘Every child begins their journey through life with an incredible potential: a creative mindset that approaches the world with curiosity, with questions, and with a desire to learn about the world and themselves through play.

However, this mindset is often eroded or even erased by conventional educational practices when young children enter school.’

http://bit.ly/2E7697n

Contributed by Bruce Hammonds:

‘A World of Difference’: the philosophy of a Taranaki pioneer creative teacher – Bill Guild

‘In 2003 Bill Guild attended the Frankley Road 150th Jubilee, a school he had been principal of for 28 years from 1959 to 1986. An accomplished photographer, Bill complied a book ‘A World of Difference’ of the experiences and creativity of the students he taught to share with past students attending. Later an edited booklet was shared widely with teachers throughout New Zealand who knew of the quality of teaching he was well known for. Maybe it’s time to share his ideas again?’

http://bit.ly/2DASbgJ

Creative teaching:Learning from the past – John Cunningham teacher 1970s

Uncovering ideas worth sharing

‘The other day I was visiting my old friend John Cunningham. He had been recently sorting through old notes ( John is a bit of a hoarder) and had found some photos from his 1970 classroom and I suggested they might make an interesting blog.  In all areas of life we need to look backwards to move into the future; ‘ Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it’ (Santana).’

http://bit.ly/2DBcjLT

Starting the year right – building learning-focused relationships

‘If we want students who are confident, connected, actively involved, lifelong learners, how do we maximise the beginning of the school year to ensure this happens? We often use words such as ‘learning’ and ‘learner’ with our students, yet how often do we stop and check that they understand what these words actually mean? It seems to me that with a new year before us we have an opportune time to unpack these concepts with our students. Learning-focused relationships with and between students will not happen by accident; they need to be nurtured through careful planning and design.’

http://bit.ly/2rCzvb4

Why Are Kids Impatient, Bored, Friendless, And Entitled?

‘I am an occupational therapist with years of experience working with children, parents, and teachers. I completely agree with this teacher’s message that our children are getting worse and worse in many aspects. I hear the same consistent message from every teacher I meet. Clearly, throughout my time as an Occupational Therapist, I have seen and continue to see a decline in children’s social, emotional, and academic functioning, as well as a sharp increase in learning disabilities and other diagnoses.’

http://bit.ly/2GdfZFf

Teachers celebrate the end of National Standards

‘Primary teachers sound excited after the sudden announcement of the dropping of National Standards, and their New Year’s resolutions for teaching in 2018 are about re-discovering the New Zealand Curriculum, and locally relevant learning. They’re talking about passion-based projects, vision, and innovation; about drones and gardens, marine reserves and whakapapa. The romance has been re-ignited.’

http://bit.ly/2FbzLzM

Ken Robinson – How Schools Kill Creativity

Now that national standards have been dumped in the rubbish bin of history, it’s timely to bring back Sir Ken Robinson.

‘And the third part of this is that we’ve all agreed, nonetheless, on the really extraordinary capacities that children have — their capacities for innovation… And my contention is, all kids have tremendous talents. And we squander them, pretty ruthlessly. So I want to talk about education and I want to talk about creativity. My contention is that creativity now is as important in education as literacy, and we should treat it with the same status… ‘

http://bit.ly/2GfruvK

Who should learn most about White Privilege—Māori children or Pākehā children?

Ann Milne:

‘Although, internationally, there is a significant body of research on Whiteness and White privilege (for example, see here, here, and here), in Aotearoa New Zealand we have been largely silent about White spaces in our “Whitestream” schools. The racist backdrop that is pervasive in our education system creates and perpetuates the White spaces that marginalise and alienate our Māori learners, yet it is a backdrop that we rarely name as being a problem.’

http://bit.ly/2rBpDy6

Secret Teacher: why can’t my school just trust us to do our job?

‘When I started my career in teaching, I was encouraged to be creative and experiment. I loved that freedom and I think it helped to make me a good teacher. I got used to reading around my subject and trying out different ideas. I made some mistakes, but I was always thinking, always learning, always trying to do better with my students. I got good results. I enjoyed my work. Contrast that with the situation I and many of my colleagues face today. My job and so much of what happens in my classroom is being controlled and my teaching hindered by excessive micromanagement.’

http://bit.ly/2n8FQ9E

From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:

What messages does your school pass on to students?

‘It is important if students are to become active learners for them to tell their own stories, to pose their own questions and to make their own interpretations of what they experience. If their ‘voices’ are not recognised there will be many who will continue to disengage from their learning.’

http://bit.ly/2n9NRLn

Education Readings November 3rd

By Allan Alach

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

Now What: Recovering from the Standards Era

‘The damage caused by the National Standards policy of the previous government will not be easily undone.  The side effects have had somewhat of a cancerous impact on our education system, and a careful approach will be needed in order to support teachers through this next transition.’

http://bit.ly/2gMk6wl

The end of National Standards and the role of researchers and academics

Article by Professor Martin Thrupp, one of the loudest academic voices who battled against national standards.

‘It’s great, though, that New Zealand primary schools will now be able to spend less time shoring up judgements about children – judgements that have often been pointless or harmful – and instead spend more time making learning relevant and interesting for each child. Removing National Standards should also allow teachers to be less burdened, contributing to making teaching a more attractive career again.’

http://bit.ly/2lnvSmj

Longworth Forest selected as part of Finnish “HundrED’s 100 Global Education Innovations Project”

‘Longworth Forest was established in Poraiti, Napier, in 2014 by Linda and Bruce Cheer, and seeks to provide children 5 – 7 years of age with safe and semi structured opportunities to experience risk and challenge, to problem solve and enterprise, all at the child’s own pace. It is a child led approach which gives children the power to initiate and drive their own learning, to make meaningful choices and to discover and develop their interests. Through regular outdoor play, children learn to develop positive relationships with themselves and others as well as a bond with nature and an understanding of their place in the natural world.’

http://bit.ly/2llL7Mf

My Students Are Addicted to Screens

‘In my kids’ everyday lives, this type of constant technology reliance doesn’t make them better students. It doesn’t give them access to more information. It makes them dependent on instant gratification and sensory overload. Their minds are submerged in a soup of constant noise and conflicting demands for their attention. Stringing together thoughts and coming to reasoned opinions becomes increasingly difficult. This isn’t to say that technology has no place in the classroom.’

http://bit.ly/2h59bSu

Teaching kids real maths

‘I’ve been doing some research about teaching mathematics, and decided to start by reading and listening to the thoughts of the British technologist Conrad Wolfram, who for a number of years has been arguing that we need to rebuild a maths curriculum for the computer age and that students should be calculating “just like everyone does in the real world”.  His argument is that school maths is very disconnected from the maths used to solve problems in the real world, and that it needs to be more practical, more conceptual and less mechanical.’

http://bit.ly/2z4qTtH

A Troubling Side Effect of Praise

‘Teachers often use praise to reward good behavior or correct answers. But there’s a potential downside to this common choice: Praising young children for being smart can increase the likelihood that they’ll cheat, according to a new study in Psychological Science by an international team of researchers.’

http://edut.to/2iR18ci

Contributed by Bruce Hammonds:

Are We Innovating, or Just Digitizing Traditional Teaching?

‘A few months ago, I noticed an increased amount of discussion around the notion of blended learning. Many of these conversations started on a similar note: “We’re blended—all of our teachers use Google Classroom” (or Edmodo, Schoology, Canvas, Moodle, etc.). However, in probing further, I often discovered that these tools had merely digitized existing content and classroom procedures.’

http://edut.to/2z4RmHB

10 Tips for Creating a Fertile Environment for Kids’ Creativity and Growth

‘There’s a common misconception that the best way to encourage children’s creativity is simply to get out of the way and let them be creative. Although it’s certainly true that children are naturally curious and inquisitive, they need support to develop their creative capacities and reach their full creative potential.Supporting children’s development is always a balancing act: how much structure, how much freedom; when to step in, when to step back; when to show, when to tell, when to ask, when to listen.’

http://bit.ly/2z6JQi0

Why Learning and People Should Come First

‘My primary objective for all multiday workshops is to illustrate the vital role that technology can play in improving teaching, learning, and leadership.  Most of the first day is spent on emphasizing the importance of a pedagogy first, technology second mindset. The bottom line is that if we don’t get the instructional design right first, then the chances of technology improving learning outcomes is slim to none.’

http://bit.ly/2zXMbIT

From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:

The transformative Power of Interest : Annie Murphy Paul – Dan Pink and Carol Dweck

‘If there is just one message I could share with parents, educators, and managers, it would be about the transformative power of interest.’ Annie Murphy Paul. The development of every student’s unique set of talents and gifts is the challenge for a 21stC of education and so far few schools have yet to appreciate this challenge.’

http://bit.ly/1eUbjRf

The rise and fall and rise again of teacher expertise

‘Schools need to be seen as ‘professional learning communities’ that respect creative teachers as true co-leaders with ‘principals who can develop such learning communities can create creative schools with extraordinary teachers, and make learning stretching, creative, fun and successful.’ A new sense of excitement could well be on the horizon. Only those who have been around long enough will know this sense of possibility is not new – but this time perhaps the time is right?’

http://bit.ly/2zbYi8a

Back to the future.

‘Twenty five years after retiring Bill Guild (currently  91 and still an enthusiast) has been invited back to his old school to share his ideas about quality teaching and learning. It is a half a century since Bill took up his appointment at the school.. Tapping into the wisdom of the past is a powerful idea – and it turns out Bill’s wisdom is very current .Bill was part of a small group of Taranaki teachers who worked hard to develop creative classrooms in the 1970s.’

http://bit.ly/1KzIEUx

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

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..
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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