Education Readings December 9th

By Allan Alach

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

Taking the PISA

New Zealand teacher Mike Boon (aka Boonman)

‘Well, friends, today was PISA day. The day when all media outlets around the world breathlessly pronounce their education system is either “plummeting” down the tables, or, through some miraculous miracle, soaring to new educational heights.

Three years ago I ranted about this nonsensical test, run by the OECD, which tests hundreds of thousands of 15 year olds around the world on reading, maths and science. I’m listening to Garbage on the Spotify at the moment and that is an incredibly apt word.’

http://bit.ly/2gbXPKP

Academics Worldwide call for the end to PISA tests

‘In education policy, Pisa, with its three-year assessment cycle, has caused a shift of attention to short-term fixes designed to help a country quickly climb the rankings, despite research showing that enduring changes in education practice take decades, not a few years, to come to fruition. For example, we know that the status of teachers and the prestige of teaching as a profession have a strong influence on the quality of instruction, but that status varies strongly across cultures and is not easily influenced by short-term policy.’

http://bit.ly/2gWrJlr

Why Americans should not panic about international test results

Applicable to other countries as well.

‘Unlike elections, one cannot definitively prove PISA predictions to be wrong since student success later in life cannot be conclusively reported like final vote counts. But if we think of a student’s success as winning the election, and the skills and knowledge PISA assesses as voters, what the polls missed during Brexit and the 2016 U.S. presidential election provides some interesting cautionary parallels.’

http://wapo.st/2hl2ohU

“Data is the wrong driver”

Thanks to Phil Cullen for this article about Queensland, Australia, which can be adapted for other similar educationally afflicted countries.

‘To comply with the current curriculum benchmarks, you cannot do justice to children or their learning. It is not practical to run a play-based curriculum AND meet the standards. If a child finds a caterpillar outside, it if far more engaging and meaningful to talk about butterflies and write and explore that, than to read a proscribed book and ask children about how a character can change or what we could do differently.’

http://bit.ly/2gcmSZg

Contributed by Bruce Hammonds:

End of Year Student Survey: Student feedback to implement next year.

Bruce’s latest article.

‘At the end of the school year it is a good idea to gather information from the students you are passing on. Not only is this a chance for you to get some insight about your teaching but it is also a great way to value the ‘voice’ of your students. You might also like to think about developing a similar survey for the beginning of next year to give some insight into student’s attitudes that they bring with them to your class. You could include the various learning areas, what they are expecting to gain from the year with you, and what questions they would like to find out more about. You might be able to work the later into a negotiated curriculum?’

http://bit.ly/2gWjgP1

Responding to Defiance in the Moment: Why Do Children Defy Authority?

‘Children who defy us often get to the core of our fears as teachers. They make us question our abilities and provoke feelings of insignificance. But when we rise above our own feelings and find developmentally appropriate ways to respond to these students, we offer them a path to success and a model of how to get along in the world.’

http://bit.ly/2gc0q7t

Teaching Without Rewards

‘Children build on their strengths, and to do that building—to grow academically and socially—they need us to recognize and encourage their positive efforts. But what’s the best way to offer that recognition and encouragement?’

http://bit.ly/2h4soi9

When Students Need More: Taking the Long View

‘A reality of teaching that all teachers know well is that no matter how effectively we teach, no matter how hard students try, and no matter how many good days the class has together, students will sometimes need more—more direction, more support, more teaching, more time.’

http://bit.ly/2gDGdDy

From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:

Why schools don’t educate.

‘Notes taken from John Taylor Gatto’s acceptance speech as New York Teacher of the Year 1990. Gatto was recognized in Tom Peter’s (the business ‘guru’) in his book ‘Re-Imagine’ published 2003 as an important future orientated educator.‘We live in a time of great school crises, Gatto began his presentation, ‘and we need to define and redefine endlessly what the word education should mean. Something is wrong. Our school crisis is a reflection of a wider social crisis – a society that lives in the constant present, based on narcotic consumption’ 

http://bit.ly/2bWvrc6

A future Vision for Education

‘We need to move beyond, ‘correcting past mistakes and attempting to improve the quality and productivity of a quasi industrial form of production in which children come in one end, are worked on by professionals and then exit at the other end with the requisite skills and qualifications’.If it only worked for all students there would not be any urgency to change but it is becoming obvious that too many students fail –and even those that ‘succeed’ leave without all their talents appreciated.’

http://bit.ly/1pHqBCy

Robert Fried on Seymour Sarason

‘One of Sarason’s forty odd books has a name that reflects his lifetime theme ‘The Predictable Failure of School Reform’. He retired in 1989 as professor of clinical psychology at Yale University.Fried calls Sarason  a ‘cautious radical’ and a pragmatic idealist who staunchly defends classroom teachers in one breathe and scolds them (and policy makers) in another for their failure to make schools interesting places for teachers and children.’

http://bit.ly/14rjn5y

Does your classroom have the ‘wow’ factor?

‘The first sign of ‘wow’ is the overall first impression the room gives you. The feeling you get is that you are indeed in special place. There is a feeling of positive relationships between teacher and learners and often parents are to be seen quietly helping students. Other students seem to be working without supervision. A quick look around the walls, covered with students creativity gives an impression that this is a room dedicated to the students themselves.’ 

http://bit.ly/1FxlCvx

Education Readings April 29th

By Allan Alach

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

Not Every Kid Wants to Learn How to Code

The latest educational bandwagon is that all children should be taught how to code computers, although exactly what this is supposed to achieve isn’t clearly spelled out.

“But here’s the thing; not every kid wants to be a computer scientist.  Not every kid wants to work with a computer.  Not every kid wants to stare at a screen, nor do something with technology.  Did we forget that in our eagerness to jump on the coding wagon?”

http://bit.ly/1QDF9Jn

Learning to Code vs. Coding to Learn

Along much the same lines:

“For what it’s worth, and in case it might be of any interest to others, here are, in no particular order, some of the most common arguments I hear made both in support of, and against, educational coding initiatives.”

http://bit.ly/1YVXh7l

Does our ‘edtech’ obsession get in the way of education?

“Instead of proclaiming the virtue that apparently derives from forswearing technology – as if academic rigour and using computers were somehow antithetical – wouldn’t we be better off by remaining open to the notion that using technology, in certain circumstances, may actually contribute to improved teaching and learning? Wouldn’t it be a good idea to develop teachers’ expertise so that they are able to make discerning use of whatever technology may be most helpful at any given time for any given purpose?”

http://bit.ly/1rlTKEU

PISA-envy, Pearson and Starbucks-style schools

“The focus on test scores is vital to the neoliberal vision of education. It is what enables standardization and hence accountability across the system. If outcomes in the form of test scores are what counts, then it becomes easy to compare one student with another, one class with another, one school with another and one state with another. And test-based accountability has now become a truly global phenomenon, shaping local and national educational priorities and policies.”

http://bit.ly/1TzaPUW

Why Lots of Love (or Motivation) Isn’t Enough

Latest article by Alfie Kohn.

“True, these students no longer require carrots or sticks. They don’t need discipline because they’re self-disciplined. . . in a way that’s disturbing. Their motivation is internal, but it sure as hell isn’t intrinsic. And that key distinction would go unnoticed if we had just asked whether they had internalized certain values rather than inquired about the nature of that internalization.”

http://bit.ly/1WVAM3K

Better teachers? Better at what, exactly?

A lament from an Australian teacher.

“Until we are capable of putting our children’s needs in front of anything else, we will continue to slip down the educational league table. It has nothing to do with better teachers. It’s got everything to do with protecting our children from politicians.”

http://bit.ly/1Tzbfun

Contributed by Bruce Hammonds:

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

Bruce has written another article about this current development.

“By the late sixties, in England, flexible school buildings were being specifically designed to allow a varied combination of individual and group work as well as for class and inter-class activities. And in the 70s ( inspired by American school critics such as John Holt) an open education movement started which culminated in the development of open plan schools.”

http://bit.ly/1NUH50e

Sir Ken Robinson Changes the Paradigm

This is an oldie but well worth watching again.

“Sir Ken Robinson’s inspirational talk at the RSA Conference called “Changing Paradigms” has made its way around the education circles through different media. This animated version of the speech, taking us through the speaker’s colorful prose with illustrations, has made even more of an impact.”

http://bit.ly/1rj1esf

From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:

We have lost so much over the past 50 years. We need to return leadership back to creative teachers.

“It was in the sixties when creative classroom teachers working within a shared educational philosophy were the real leaders. In contrast to all the structural changes that have happened since the advent of Tomorrow’s Schools the role of the teacher has been neglected. There are some, such as Professor Frank Crowther, University of Queensland, who says that, since the 1970s, the professional respect for teachers has diminished.”

http://bit.ly/14oaM8E

A future Vision for Education

Modern Learning Environment / Innovative Teaching Practice – or just good learner centred teaching?

Imagine a school where every child would see themselves as an investor in their own learning. Older children would frequently coach and mentor younger children. Those who were more advanced in a subject would help those lagging behind. Children would help teachers design learning programmes, their parents would be parties to these discussions .The children would see it as their responsibility to learn in their own time, often using online tools provided by the school.”

http://bit.ly/1pHqBCy

What do we steal from our students?

“Dr John Edwards based his presentation, the final one for the conference, on a question his wife had asked him when he returned after teaching his graduate students.

She asked him, ‘What have you stolen from your students today?’’

And..

“The poem is worth a read because it clearly makes the distinction between an antiquated transmission style of teaching (which is still all too common) and what is now required if we are to develop all students as ‘confident life long learners’, the ‘seekers, users,and creators of their own knowledge’, that our revised curriculum asks of us.”

http://bit.ly/1pHrj2P

Contributed by Phil Cullen:

Test-score inflation can boost graduation rates but comes with consequences, Stanford study finds

“Six years ago, a team of educational researchers shocked New York state with clear statistical evidence of widespread manipulation of test scores on the high school exit exams, or Regents Examinations. The analysis, which formed the basis for an investigative report in the Wall Street Journal and sparked major reforms by New York state, showed that test graders were artificially lifting the scores for 40 percent of the students who had fallen just short of passing.”

http://stanford.io/1VVVi4Q

Aussie Treehorners: Hold the Phone!

HOLD THE PHONE

Aussie Friends of Treehorn

Guiding Our Nation’s School Kids Intelligently 

Trying to prevent PNSD – Pre-Naplan-Stress-Disorder

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Californian Teachers comment on GERM in NZ

 What Happens in Finland?

 Leading Kiwi educator, Allan Alach, has provided a very recent article [9/03/14] by David B. Cohen on the impact of GERM’s standardised testing regime [called ‘National Standards’] on New Zealand schooling, usually amongst the very highest quality in the world. Just click the above.

You will notice the comments by Mr. Chris Hipkins, NZ’s outstanding alternative Minister for Education. One can be quite sure that, if he becomes the next Minister, the NZ tourism industry will increase manifold….more attractive than Cadbury chocolate! Its schools will be more earth-shaking than any other natural phenomenon. NZ has always had such a better, sounder, more progressive attitude to schooling than most other countries and its natural features are more attractive than Finland’s! [Sorry Pasi]

However, if you wish to learn what happens in Finland, spend 28 minutes listening to Pasi Sahlberg [click above]. Every Australian, children included, should watch this clip. If a viewer is not impressed by the background to Finnish education……!!!!….don’t let him or her near a school….for the sake of our children.

The first article’s focus is on cheating. GERM countries’ modes of managing standardised blanket tests encourage cheating at all levels. China, as you know , manipulates PISA tests as some other countries do, illustrating the stupidity of relying on PISA results to describe a country’s education system. The confrontational GERM ideology of blaming teachers, mystifying parents, encouraging excessive test-practice, adapting tests on-line issues a challenge to motivated teachers and districts and states to ‘beat the system’. One has to ask, however, “Who are the biggest cheats?”

No wonder Dean Ashenden calls NAPLAN a ‘self-fulfilling, rolling disaster.

NAPLAN and “these GERM approaches will fail in the long run.” [David B. Cohen- above] Let’s hurry it along for the sake of present-day kids.

_____________________________________________________

Phil Cullen [Lobbyist for Kids at School] 42 Cominan Avenue Banora Point 2486 07 5524 6443 cphilcullen@bigpond.com

Australia is in the Top League of All-rounders

Reposted from Save Our Schools Australia.

Monday September 2, 2013

The Labor Government’s Better Schools Plan aims to put Australian schools into the top 5 in the world by 2025. A new OECD report shows that Australia is already in the top 5 in one respect – producing high all-round results.

Australia is ranked equal fourth in the world in terms of the proportion of students who are top performers in reading, mathematics and science (all-rounders). It has 8.1 per cent of students at the top proficiency levels in all three subjects.

The Australian proportion is similar to Finland (8.5 per cent), Hong Kong (8.4 per cent) and Japan (8.4 per cent). Only Shanghai (14.6 per cent), Singapore (12.3 per cent) and New Zealand (9.9 per cent) have higher proportions. Across the OECD, only 4.1 per cent of students are all-rounders.

The results are from the OECD’s 2009 Programme for International Assessments (PISA) for 15 year-old students.

The new figures effectively rebut claims that high achieving students are being ignored by increased focus on lifting the results of low achieving students.

In Australia, 22 per cent of students are top performers in at least one of the subject areas of science, mathematics or reading compared with an average of 16 per cent across OECD countries. However, just because a student is a top performer in one subject does not necessarily mean that the student excels in all subjects. Switzerland, for example, has one of the highest shares of top performers in mathematics (24.1%), but only an average share of top performers in reading (8.1%) and science (10.7%).

The same is true for many Southeast Asian countries and economies, notably Hong Kong-China, Korea, Macao-China, Shanghai-China, Singapore and Taiwan, where the likelihood of finding top performers in mathematics is considerably higher than in reading or science.

It is notable that some countries with higher mean test scores than Australia have lower proportions of all-rounders. For example, Korea has significantly higher test scores in reading, mathematics and science than Australia but a lower proportion of high achieving all-rounders (7.2 per cent). Canada also has higher reading and mathematics scores than Australia and about the same in science but has a lower percentage of all-rounders (6.8 per cent) than Australia.

Australia also does well in comparison with other high achieving countries. Australia has a similar proportion of all-rounders as Finland, Hong-Kong and Japan even though their mean reading, mathematics and science scores are significantly higher than Australia’s.

The OECD figures show that all-round success is relatively rare. Australia’s school system is one of very few that is capable of producing top performing students in all subjects. Australia’s high all-round ranking is indicative of a system that is giving strong support to high achieving students. To suggest otherwise, as some do, is to belie the facts.

Trevor Cobbold

Scores, Scores, Scores

The Treehorn Express

Treehorn’s story : Open attachment.

[Maintained by NZ educator Allan Alach]

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Scores, Scores, Scores

The delusional, paranoiac obsession with scores and numbers in educational dialogue, and their use by educators who should know better, constantly diverts attention from the real issues. We have all been guilty of using statements like:- “Finland has the best system in the world, because it topped the PISA tests in 2009.” “USA has a poor system of schooling. It ran 27th on the PISA tests.”  “Australia and New Zealand are in the top ten of the best school systems in the world.” “Asia’s cram schools are raising the stakes.”  What is this system of ranking that has led us to the use of such inanities?

PISA is a Programme for International Student Assessment, operating under the auspices of OECD. It tests only 15 year-olds [considered to be school leavers] in a number of countries to see how well-equipped they might be to face the world at large. Although the PISA is only able to test the testables in reading, mathematics and problem solving, it has no link to any school curriculum and provides great fun for the measurement nerds at OECD, Paris. It is claimed to be “…a powerful tool to shape government’s policy making.”   Heaven knows why. Thus far, it has created chaos and panic amongst those in countries who don’t understand what it is.  It tested reading in 2000; mathematics in 2003; science in 2006; reading again in 2009. For 2012 some 15 year-olds are being randomly selected from about 30 countries to test mathematics and try an optional computer-based assessment of mathematics and reading. PISA carries more punch than it deserves. For curriculum use and for comparative standards, its punch would not explode a paper bag.

It is influential, however. Countries, states and authorities around the world have gone numbers-mad to copy its impetuous ardour:- giving tests invented by local non-school measurers, assigning numbers as scores to each participant, averaging the numbers to declare some ridiculously impossible assessments of teachers, principals, schools and systems; publishing results as if they carried some sort of evaluation of what was going on in regard to teacher competencies, school performance, principals’ curriculum leadership and systems’ organisation.

In Australia, these unreliable, comparative number-scores are used as the basis for serious but totally inaccurate descriptions of pupils, schools, of teachers, of principals; have given rise to an amazing array of gimmickry; enhanced the coffers of private schooling; and enriched the coffers of publishers. Nothing much else. They have been used to describe ‘best’ schools and ‘worst’ schools, ‘good’ teachers and ‘bad’ teachers. Some newspapers have been cruel, with commentators pontificating on standards of schooling. the needs for this and that, They have even been used to describe countries as providing outstanding educational services because of success in this test, that is unfamiliar to most commentators and has yet to be extensively examined as a reliable device for what it says it does.  The Australian Gratten Institute, founded in the same year as NAPLAN, established to advise governments on policy matters, contributes to the heresy by its reliance on numbers to make judgements. It’s report: “Catching Up: Learning from the Best School Systems in East Asia” where after-school tutoring to raise test scores is rife, bases it’s contents on numbers scored. [ http://www.saveourschools.com.au ] “The report is seriously deficient and one-sided.” says Trevor Cobbald.   One hopes that policy-makers will consult with humanity-biased commentators and the education community before any serious decisions are taken as a consequence of this report.

And all this malarchy costs over $540million with more to come to prop-up the [officially] failed NAPLAN testing scheme!

The reliance and over-use of Arabic numerals for educational purposes is catastrophic. Measurers are people who dwell on the outskirts of educational activities and who  greatly exaggerate the power of number scores. They should get back in their box with their childish toys.  Number is number. When its hieroglyphics are used for descriptive purposes, scores and marks and numbers are inappropriate. Used for serious evaluation of education’s human effort as they are during the present testing pandemic, the use is satanic.

saynotonaplansaynotonaplansaynotonaplansaynotonaplansaynotonaplan

THIS TUESDAY’S FEATURE : http://www.networkonnet.co.nz/index.php?section=latest&id=325

[Kelvin Smythe’s criticism of a NZ Shadow Minister’s statement contains some brilliant summaries of the effects of ‘national standards. The Minister then responds.]

IMPORTANT READING:     http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/post/eight-problems-with-common-core-standards/2012/08/12/821b300a-e4e7-11e1-8f62-58260e3940_blog.html#pagebreak

[Marion Brady comments: “Future historians…are going to shake their heads in disbelief. They’ll wonder how, in a single generation…democracy has dismantled its engine.”]

LINKS                           http://www.dianeravitch.net    www.literacyeducators.com.au

http://leading-learning.blogspot.co.nz    www.networkonnet.co.nz

http://saveourschools.com.au http://primaryschooling.net

http://www.marionbrady.com   http://susanohanian.org

http://alfiekohn.org    http://www.essential.org

http://optoutofstandardizedtests.wikispaces

http://www.essential.schools.org     http://www.joebower.org

https://treehornexpress.wordpress.com/bridging-the-ditch/

 http://allthingslearning.wordpress.com

Phil Cullen AM, FACEL,FACE,FQIEL

41 Cominan Avenue

Banora Point 2486

Australia

07 5524 6443

cphilcullen@bigpond.com

http://primaryschooling.net

Questions for Political Candidates

The Treehorn Express

Treehorn story? http://www.onlineopinion.com.au/print.asp?article=11697

The Treehorn Express Theme song: ‘Care for Kids’

Questions for all Political Candidates

There will be federal elections next year.  Why don’t we help to make NAPLAN blanket testing and its consequences the major issue?  It’s important enough; far more important than most issues that persist as being important, but aren’t. Decent schooling establishes and maintains our country’s future.  Our future resides in the children presently at school….and, for sure, things do not look good for Australia’s future if we pursue our present course of fear-driven, numbers-based, over-competitive, gimmick-ridden,  blanket-testing policies that devalue the teaching profession and debase its professional ethics.

We have to ask our possible politicians cum decision-makers if they prefer this sort of  system –  run by banking interests, corporate managers, gullible politicians, test publishers, military personnel, academic measurers …the underbelly of effective schooling … or would they prefer to have a system that seeks to be the best in the world.

It so happens that, in 2008,  we copied one of the worst in the world as we all know.  We could have copied the best. Our politicians at the time  made a monumental mistake. Why don’t we change now?

Finland is the highest performing school system in the world.  Our candidates have to ask themselves and their own party leaders why we didn’t copy its system and structure. It was available. It is based on the very opposite of  New York schooling that features fear.  Finland rejects blanket testing, merit pay, intense competition, over-practice of pre-determined essentials, gimmickry, devaluing the contribution of teaches and mistrusting their professional abilities. It boasts a system based on equity and high respect for teachers. It achieves the highest scores in the world on all PISA {Programme for International Assessment} tests…… even though it dislikes blanket testing, and contested PISA tests just to show the world that GERM destroys useful learning.

GERM is a popular term for Global Education Reform Movement, undertaken by many countries which, like Australia, fell for the quack medicine peddled by  the USA.

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 Let’s ask all political candidates……today! 

Queensland first. This is the week to ask Queensland candidates the following questions, since their state election is being held in a few days. Those of us who are Queenslanders are earnestly asked to either send this copy of The Treehorn Express  to or ask each candidate to provide you with an answer to each. They can post them to me at the address below or email them. Don’t expect them to do so, of course; but Treehorn and his school colleagues will be pleased to learn that some adults care. The rest of us can ask our present incumbents now and all candidates for federal seats next year. PLEASE DO SO. YOU COULD REALLY HELP SCHOOL CHILDREN….even if we are a bit late for Queensland. Sorry to be so late, Q kids, but you do have some great schoolies who should be looking after you. They’ll make up for it.

____________________________________________________________

1. Do you take an active interest in local school activities?   P&C member?

2. Do you talk to many teachers about NAPLAN?

3. Do you think that NAPLAN is useful for helping with normal classroom activities?

4. Can you explain what the terms NAPLAN and GERM mean and what influence they have on schooling?

5. Can you explain why GERM is so detested by the world’s most outstanding child-centred educators –e.g. Goodlad, Ravitch, Robinson, Smythe, Alexander, Brady, Ohanian, Sahlberg ?

6. Do you [or would you] tell your constituents in public that parents only have to write a note to their principal [public or private] to make sure their children do not do the May tests? 

7. What do you know of Finland’s education system and its future focus?

8. What do you know of the New York system run by lawyer Joel Klein…the one Australia copied?

9. What do you know of the Australian system and its future focus?

10. Did you see the Lateline interview of Pasi Sahlberg, Finland’s Director-General of Education on 28 Feb.? What did you think?

Comments from any candidate would be most welcome. All 159 Treehorn Express readers and their friends would enjoy reading them, I‘m sure. Treehorn himself believes that there will not be any.

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If you have 4 minutes 17 seconds to spare from your busy schedule, click on the theme song “Care for Kids” above, relax and ‘take in’ the words. Meditate on the plight of today’s generation of Aussie kids.

OtherTreehorns ? :   Check Recent Posts and Archives in the sidebar.

Maintained by outstanding NZ educator, Allan Alach

Phil Cullen

41 Cominan Avenue

Banora Point

Australia 2486

07 5524 6443

cphilcullen@bigpond.com

http://primaryschooling.net