Education Readings February 17th

By Allan Alach

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

The Writing Process Isn’t Linear. So Why Do Schools Keep Pretending That It Is?

Read this!

‘If you conduct an online image search for “writing process,” you’ll find many charts that lay out the steps—brainstorming, drafting, revising, editing, publishing—in a nice linear fashion. It’s as if these visuals assert, “We brainstorm on Monday, draft on Tuesday, etc.”

However, professional writers don’t check off the steps of the writing process as they move through it. As any experienced writer will tell you, the writing process is recursive, not linear.’

http://bit.ly/2lIIxiO

Learning spaces of the third kind

First Steve Wheeler article of the year:

Students carry technology in their pockets, information floats through the air, and the they use their own devices to seek and capture it. There is a sense that learning can occur without the teacher being present in this same space, although the teacher may be there anyway, as a co-learner as much as a facilitator. Education is co-constructed, and the tools and technologies provide the scaffolding to support the learning. Students learn by creating, connecting, discovering and sharing.’

http://bit.ly/2l6os2J

Curiosity Is the Cat

Here’s a Will Richardson article that reminded me of this quote by Albert Einstein “It is a miracle that curiosity survives formal education.”

‘I’m becoming more curious about curiosity. I’m beginning to think it’s the only “C” that truly matters, and that it’s been badly disrespected in all the conversation around the 4Cs or 7Cs or howevermanyCs that people have been throwing around.I mean really, when it comes to learning, what comes before curiosity?

Critical thinking doesn’t, because if you’re not curious as to whether something is true or fake or accurate or real, you won’t really think very hard about it.’

http://bit.ly/2l6dIli

Five-Minute Montessori

Many of today’s hot topics in education were addressed by iconic educator Maria Montessori nearly a century ago. The video below (5 1/2 min) – along with this Wikipedia link – provide a quick overview of this method of schooling (the video is an adjunct to a book promotion but still works).’

http://bit.ly/2kvprYm

Why Creativity?

‘I would argue that without creativity there is the danger of not challenging what we do and why we do it. Possibly to go blindly along with what we are told without question for we have no drive, no vision of how things could be different, no need even, to do anything different. Without creativity in our lives, we risk seeing the world only as a series of things we are directed to achieve in the way we are shown to achieve them.  Should we forgo challenge and accept obedience?’

http://bit.ly/2kR3W7S

3 Ways To Encourage Creativity In Your Classroom This Year

‘As educators, when it comes to creativity in the classroom, we can take the path of least resistance and take creativity out of the learning process or we can create an environment that fosters creativity in learning and allow kids to explore their talents. Fostering creativity in learning in the classroom doesn’t have to be complex or complicated. Here are 3 ways you can encourage creativity in your classroom this year.’

http://bit.ly/2kvnwDq

Contributed by Bruce Hammonds:

Breaking the Cycle of “Baby Stuff”

Challenging the Goldilocks Rule

‘For years, teachers have been using simple benchmarks, tests, or other assessment tools to select materials that attempt to align with students’ abilities. This is often known as the Goldilocks Rule—selected books are not too difficult and not too easy but supposedly just right. Unfortunately, this was how all three boys ended up confronting baby stuff at their schools.’

http://bit.ly/2lxw6lX

How to Combine Rigor with Engagement

‘The imperatives are clear. On the one hand, we have an obligation to equip all children with a baseline level of literacy and numeracy. Rooted in concerns about equity and given teeth by recent accountability policies, this obligation has become a central goal of schooling in the United States. On the other hand, however, we know that the basics are no longer enough. To successfully negotiate modern life, adults need the capacity to tackle open-ended problems in creative ways—a capacity that requires both critical-thinking skills and the disposition to persevere.’

http://bit.ly/2lxv4q4

Right-Sized Rigor

‘At the core of our quest to increase rigor is creating a common understanding of rigor that speaks to all students. Too often, we dismiss struggling students as unable to work at rigorous levels. In fact, “Rigor is creating an environment in which each student is expected to learn at high levels; each student is supported so he or she can learn at high levels; and each student demonstrates learning at high levels” (Blackburn, 2013).’

http://bit.ly/2kXuNQM

From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:

What has really changed in our schools the past 50 years?

Reflecting on teaching beliefs – are things better now?

‘The other day I had the opportunity to visit a school I began my career visiting in 1960. During  a discussion with the principal she mentioned the classrooms had been developed into innovative (or flexible) learning environments. I couldn’t help suggesting that I bet the daily classroom programmes/timetables haven’t changed much since I first visited the school 40 plus years ago ( with exception of availability of information technology). If anything the current emphasis on literacy and numeracy had reinforced the timetables of earlier times taking up the morning time with the rest of the Learning Areas squeezed into the afternoon period. Hardly flexible teaching? Hardly progress?’

http://bit.ly/2l1USO8

Educational Quotes 5: Leadership and Teamwork

Some quotes on leadership to think about.

‘Imposed bureaucratic ‘top down’ changes have resulted in school being ‘over managed and under led.’ Now is the time for courageous leaders, at all levels, to emerge and add their ‘voices’ to the debate. There are no experts with ‘the answer’ – we will have to invent the future ourselves together as we go along.’ 

http://bit.ly/1vGrNDD

The Treaty of Waitangi – what do your students’ know?

‘A wise teacher should take advantage of important events in New Zealand history such as the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi.

As the celebration comes early in the year it is a good opportunity to introduce the students to how they will be expected to learn in the class; how to work together to develop critical thinking; how to value their own ideas; how to deepen their understandings and how to apply lessons learnt to their own class.’

http://bit.ly/2kQYVdY

Education Readings February 10th

By Allan Alach

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

Schools are supposed to help students master the dominant information landscape of their time

‘Our new information landscape is digital bits in the ether instead of ink dots on paper. There is no foreseeable future in which we go back to analog. One of schools’ primary tasks is to help students master the dominant information landscape of their time. Schools are knowledge institutions preparing students to do knowledge work. So let’s be clear about what our new information landscape looks like:’

http://bit.ly/2jVRQvx

How Playing With Math Helps Teachers Better Empathize With Students

‘Unlike other professional development opportunities, the focus of these circles is not on lesson plans or pedagogy. Most of the time is spent working on and discussing a problem that the facilitators bring, with the hope that teachers will rediscover what they love about math and how it feels to be a learner.’

http://bit.ly/2kLVdnK

Teaching kids philosophy makes them smarter in Math and English

‘Nine- and 10-year-old children in England who participated in a philosophy class once a week over the course of a year significantly boosted their math and literacy skills, with disadvantaged students showing the most significant gains, according to a large and well-designed study.’

http://bit.ly/2kB5AZE

Piaget’s Constructivism, Papert’s Constructionism: What’s the difference?

What is the difference between Piaget’s constructivism and Papert’s “constructionism”? Beyond the mere play on the words, I think the distinction holds, and that integrating both views can enrich our understanding of how people learn and grow.’

http://bit.ly/2kkSktw

Skinning Cats Alive.

Phil Cullen:

‘A toxic form of managerialism hit the fan in the mid-80s; and we lost sight of the kids. These aliens organised and started running testing factories replacing real people who’d been-there-done-that ,organising schools of learning and mentoring others on the way. These good guys were cunningly dominated by absurdists who forced fear-laden testing on kids and have now done more damage to Australia than the Japanese could ever have done. Fear-laden swotting of a kind never known before has replaced decent teaching. The load on small pupils during normal learning time, the likes of which no previous generation has had to tolerate. is enormous. Kids are still our future, but you wouldn’t think so.’

http://bit.ly/2kkLoNc

Okay campers rise and shine and don’t forget your booties

Want to be an artist? Watch Groundhog Day.

‘Here’s a popular version of “The Creative Journey”: A genius comes to the end of his trip, closes his eyes, concentrates, and then the idea comes to him, fully formed.

When I’m working on my art, I don’t feel like Don Draper. No, when I’m working, I feel more like Phil Connors from the movie Groundhog Day.’

http://bit.ly/2kkXVjL

Contributed by Bruce Hammonds:

The HeART of the Matter – the Gordon Tovey Experiment.

‘The film was about the programmes Gordon Tovey implemented, while under CE Beeby, as the head of Arts and Crafts in the Department of Education from 1946 until 1966.  You may be familiar with the work of Elwyn Richardson at the Far North school Orauti, which was part of what was known as the Far North project or experiment. Part of the essence of the experiment was to nurture the creativity of children and allow them to explore and express themselves.  It was part of the child centred driven philosophy that emerged from the First World War and the Depression in the first Labour government’s education policy to give children better opportunities.’

http://bit.ly/2bHPMS2

What Would Be a Radically Different Vision of School?

‘In his vision of this third narrative, reformers would focus on creating an education system that supports inquiry-based, student-centered learning, where students are encouraged to find entry points into the mandated curriculum in ways that are meaningful to them. Technology is an integral part of Richardson’s vision because it allows students to create and demonstrate their knowledge.’

http://bit.ly/2kGvIVq

Task Library

Great ideas for Maths

Provided by Dan Murphy (ex Winchester)

‘A school without tasks is like a school without books.Students investigate books to explore literature and develop language concepts and skills in context.

Students investigate tasks to explore mathematics and develop mathematical concepts and skills in context.’

http://bit.ly/2lihLKY

From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:

Slow learning needed for fast times!

‘Slow learning they believe is essential for our lives and learning by giving depth to our experiences and providing insight for creativity and ingenuity. All too often, in contrast, students are rushed through learning to cover curriculum material. First finished is best seems to be the order of the day. As a result ‘slow learning’ is neglected in schools.’

http://bit.ly/1GWw6E2

A future Vision for Education

Ideas for  schools developing modern or innovative learning environments

 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 .Although every child would have a personalized learning plan, most learning would be practiced in groups but these would not be organized into rigid year groups, class membership would be in part determined by aptitude and appetite’.

http://bit.ly/1pHqBCy

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

Is our ‘modern’ education system harmful to students?

‘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

Education Readings February 3rd

By Allan Alach

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

8 digital skills we must teach our children

‘Moreover, there is the digital age gap. The way children use technology is very different from adults. This gap makes it difficult for parents and educators to fully understand the risks and threats that children could face online. As a result, adults may feel unable to advise children on the safe and responsible use of digital technologies. Likewise, this gap gives rise to different perspectives of what is considered acceptable behaviour.

So how can we, as parents, educators and leaders, prepare our children for the digital age? Without a doubt, it is critical for us to equip them with digital intelligence.’

http://bit.ly/2kiAMg4

Information Literacy and Document Learning

‘Information literacy consists in the ability to identify, search effectively for information, locate, filter, discern the quality of information, evaluate, analyze, tag,  categorize, re-mix, create new types of information and effectively use and communicate the findings well for an issue or problem at hand.’ 

http://bit.ly/2krSH6s

The Critical Thinking Skills Cheatsheet

‘Critical thinking skills truly matter in learning. Why? Because they are life skills we use every day of our lives. Everything from our work to our recreational pursuits, and all that’s in between, employs these unique and valuable abilities. Consciously developing them takes thought-provoking discussion and equally thought-provoking questions to get it going.’

http://bit.ly/2jWHOGb

Can Constructionism prevent our children turning into Stormtroopers?

‘Seymour Papert, who I had the opportunity to spend time with in those years, had developed a learning theory he called “Constructionism”. Papert had been a student of Piaget and Vygotsky who had developed philosophies about the nature of knowledge called Constructivism and Social Constructivism respectively.’

http://bit.ly/2kini48

Eight Big Ideas Behind the Constructionist Learning Lab

Following on, here’s more about Seymour Papert’s constructionism.

‘The first big idea is learning by doing. We all learn better when learning is part of doing something we find really interesting. We learn best of all when we use what we learn to make something we really want.’

http://bit.ly/2kTIRYm

Why Spatial Reasoning Is Crucial For Early Math Education

‘There’s a well-known rift between those who believe the only type of developmentally appropriate early childhood education is a play-based one, and those concerned that relying solely on any learning that comes out of play could put students coming from impoverished backgrounds at a disadvantage. Research has shown that students from lower socioeconomic groups enter school with significantly less mathematical knowledge, and it is difficult to overcome that gap without intentional mathematics programming. But, at the same time, traditional teacher-led instruction often isn’t developmentally appropriate for five-year-olds.’

http://bit.ly/2jWQJHR

Contributed by Bruce Hammonds:

What Do We Really Mean When We Say ‘Personalized Learning’?

‘The idea of personalized learning is seductive — it implies moving away from the industrialized form of education that pumps out cookie-cutter students with the same knowledge and skills. After decades of this approach, it is clear that all children don’t learn the same way and personalization seems to honor those differences. However, that term has taken on several different meanings.’

http://bit.ly/2ks90jB

Die in the Ditch – Non-negotiable Principles for Learning Design

‘An important and very rewarding part of our development journey has been sharing our thinking with the hundreds of visitors that we have hosted. This has reminded me of the passion and openness that so many teachers have to make schooling as engaging and relevant as possible for learners. Almost all have agreed that students are struggling to engage and find learning stressful. They also recognise that teaching has become a hard slog with reduced rewards. Many also acknowledge that schools are becoming more like centres of assessment rather than centres of learning.All of the visiting schools want answers to the question of what can be done at their school and, in some cases, believe that after a visit they will discover a model they can transplant into their own environment. Of course, they soon realise this is unlikely.’

http://bit.ly/2kXj1lL

Sir Ken Robinson: How to Create a Culture For Valuable Learning

“If you design a system to do something, don’t be surprised if it does it,” Robinson said at the annual Big Picture Learning conference called Big Bang. He went on to describe the two pillars of the current system — conformity and compliance — which undermine the sincere efforts of educators and parents to equip children with the confidence to enter the world on their own terms.”

http://bit.ly/2jEkts6

How One Teacher Let Go of Control To Focus On Student-Centered Approaches

‘When Kristine Riley saw a colleague she admired and teachers she followed on social media extol the learning advantages of letting go of control in the classroom, she decided to give it a try. “I started out small,” said Riley, who teaches in Edison, New Jersey public schools. It took about a year, maybe a year and a half, to abandon her top-down approach to teaching and replace it with what she calls “structured chaos.”’

http://bit.ly/2kTSeHE

From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:

Creative Schools – an impossible dream?

‘Educators who believe that education is more of a process of creating stimulating environments to allow students to begin the process of helping the young explore what it is that they are best suited for have always been in the minority. Most teachers have little choice to put programmes into place that have been defined by their school, by those distant ‘experts’ that determine the curriculum and, most invasive of all, by those who determine the means of assessing students learning. When the latter is in the hands of the politicians supported by compliant principals then the possibility of creativity is all but lost.’

http://bit.ly/2dlEXWL

The artistry of teaching and future learning attributes

The future of learning depends on the artistry of the teacher

‘The future of education will be substantially determined by the shared perception of the purpose of learning, and that this is best expressed in terms of the needs of the learner. A focus on deep and profound learning would determine the qualities of a learner of the future. This in turn has implications for the quality of the teaching provided.’

http://bit.ly/1PsoX3j

Education Readings January 27th

By Allan Alach

Well, here we are at the start of another year, which in New Zealand and Australia is also the start of the school year. I wonder what 2017 will bring as far as education is concerned. I fear that little that is good will happen, especially in the USA, given the suggested Secretary of Education. The possible exception could be a change of government in New Zealand when the elections are held later this year. Such a change should mean the end of the current standards based nonsense, but we will have to wait and see.

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

Burnout’s devastating impact on teachers who can’t switch off

Burnout sneaks up on you, as I found to my cost. Beware.

‘Defined as the process of collapse attributed to excessive and continuous demands on energy, strength and other physical, psychological and emotional resources, burnout develops across time and can be viewed through a lens of ever reducing levels of passion and compassion, self-efficacy and effectiveness.’

http://bit.ly/2k1PbiL

Sometimes Misbehavior Is Not What It Seems

‘The following are examples of seeing misbehavior from a new perspective. In each of these cases, diagnosis is very difficult — as are the remedies. For chronic misbehaving students, pay close attention to their home situations, the type of misbehavior, when it occurs, and whether they behave differently with other adults. Be advised that the best responses to these situations sound easier than they are to put into practice.’

http://edut.to/2kuuGvY

To Encourage Creativity in Kids, Ask Them: ‘What if’?

‘I explained to them that these two words are a kind of secret tunnel into the world of new ideas. In fact, I told them, I only came up with the booger story after asking myself: What if a family picked their noses so much that they create a monstrous booger? And what if the snot rocket rolled out the window and gained so much steam it threatened to roll over the town? And what if the whole story rhymed?’

http://nyti.ms/2kuD5iS

21st Century Skills Don’t Exist. So Why Do We Need Them?

‘This is a very good point and even if you don’t agree at first, we encourage you to chew, swallow, and then slowly digest it. Listen up (confession: all examples here are stolen from Rotherham and Willingham). Do you really think that in the ‘old days’ – whenever they were – we didn’t need to think critically and solve problems? What about the development of tools, agricultural advancements, discovery of vaccines, or land and sea explorations? And don’t you think the lads and gals back in the old days would have to communicate and collaborate to progress?’

http://bit.ly/2kusOiN

How to Teach a Middle School Class in 49 Easy Steps

Funny…

http://bit.ly/2kuqBYD

Why Schools Should NOT Be Run Like Businesses

‘It’s absurd. Not everything benefits from being sold for a profit. Imagine if your spouse suggested running your marriage that way. It would turn you both into prostitutes selling yourselves at ever cheaper rates while any self respect, dignity and love disappeared.’

http://bit.ly/2j6miTl

Contributed by Bruce Hammonds:

Why A More Creative School System Might Be The Solution We’ve Been Looking For

Let’s start the 2017 year with Sir Ken Robinson:

‘If you think of it, children starting school this year will be retiring in 2065,” he tells an enrapt audience in a video captured at the Monterey, California event. “Nobody has a clue, despite all the expertise that’s been on parade for the past four days, what the world will look like in five years’ time. And yet we’re meant to be educating them for it. So the unpredictability, I think, is extraordinary.”In his talk, Robinson describes the unpredictability of the market and the jobs it creates as an opportunity. But insofar as it is seen as a challenge, a problem, he says he’s identified the solution: build an educational system that celebrates and encourages creative thinkers and out-of-the-box problem-solvers.Making our job a little easier, he suggests, is that kids are ready-made to come up with weird and wonderful ideas. We’re just currently teaching them not to.’

http://bit.ly/2jSTef0

The Beauty and Chaos of Free Play

‘I love the joyful learning that I see when children are engaged in free play, exploration and creative thought with materials, using them in their own innovative ways as loose parts. I often find any carefully presented centres I try to create are soon used in novel and other-than-intended ways and I have to resist (not always with success) the urge to say, ‘but wait…”. And while resisting the urge often results in a gigantic tidying time, it also results in unexpected and joyful learning.I often have to ask myself, is it more important for children to engage in this exploratory free play or to engage with the lovely provocation I have so carefully laid out?’

http://bit.ly/2kudNxz

Finnish-ing touches on education

New Zealand needs to learn from Finland.

‘Education is also a national priority, funded well, with more than 55 percent in federal dollars, and catering to working families. Free meals, health care and outside-of-class child care are available to all students, who start formal schooling at age 7 after state-sponsored compulsory kindergarten that features outdoor play and exploration.School is mandatory through grade 9, or age 16, with two tracks in high school—general academic and vocational. Nearly 40 percent of students choose the vocational side, which is geared toward what the country expects to need in the next decade in terms of skilled workers, such as computer coding and engineering.’

http://bit.ly/2k56AY1

3 Types of Unintentional Learning (And How to Make Them Intentional)

‘We are all aware of the teachable moment, and most of you reading this have experienced it firsthand. We know that one of the best opportunities for students to learn is when they are asking questions, so we make time for this in each lesson. Some questions can be off topic, and just like unwanted weeds, we pull them out and redirect the students’ attention to continue our planned and deliberate teaching (gardening). But most questions bring forth deeper clarity for the learners in the room, and sometimes there’s the ripe question that elicits deeper questions and understanding. There’s nothing like that moment when a revelation happens for multiple students in the room.’

http://edut.to/2k1NMsr

From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:

Creative Schools – an impossible dream?

‘Educators who believe that education is more of a process of creating stimulating environments to allow students to begin the process of helping the young explore what it is that they are best suited for have always been in the minority. Most teachers have little choice to put programmes into place that have been defined by their school, by those distant ‘experts’ that determine the curriculum and, most invasive of all, by those who determine the means of assessing students learning. When the latter is in the hands of the politicians supported by compliant principals then the possibility of creativity is all but lost.’

http://bit.ly/2dlEXWL

Checking out your class, or school, for quality learning.

Something to think about for the year ahead.

‘Is your classroom a quality learning environment where students are able to ‘seek, use and create their own knowledge’ as it states in the ‘new’ New Zealand Curriculum?

Here are some questions to focus on.’

http://bit.ly/2kupgRQ

Education Readings December 16th

By Allan Alach

Another year is ending, which means in New Zealand and Australia, it’s also the end of the school year, and time for teachers and children to have a long summer break away from the trials of teaching and learning. Make the most of the break – it’s the only real chance teachers get to have a ‘normal’ life. I will be taking my own advice and also having a break from sourcing education articles for these reading lists, until the end of January 2017. However I’m not letting you off that easy, so this week’s list is a bit longer than usual.

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

Brain-Based Learning: Pushing Children to Learn Faster—Why?

‘Brain-based learning promotes the idea that children learn faster if they are taught differently. But why push children to learn faster than ever before? Why turn children into adults before they are ready? What’s the purpose?

What right do educators and parents under the spell of indiscriminate brain-based learning hucksters have to destroy childhood?’

http://bit.ly/2hxrwTt

CRITICAL THINKING versus CRITICISM: Helping students know the difference

Recent world events suggest critical thinking is a skill that is sadly lacking.

‘Critical thinking is about thinking for yourself rather than accepting, without questioning, the thinking someone else presents to you. Critical thinking identifies and examines underlying assumptions and biases about a concept, a discourse, a work of art or written expression, or some other abstract idea. It involves judgement – your judgement, which is justified with reasons and evidence.’

http://bit.ly/2h2caFT

Why schools should not teach general critical-thinking skills

However …

‘Of course, critical thinking is an essential part of a student’s mental equipment. However, it cannot be detached from context. Teaching students generic ‘thinking skills’ separate from the rest of their curriculum is meaningless and ineffective.’ 

http://bit.ly/2gKZN5e

Play: The Four Letter Word in Primary School

‘Decades of research provides evidence that play is the most valuable and successful way in which children engage in learning.  Through play, children can build all the necessary skills and knowledge required of them in readiness for adulthood.  Social-learning theory, constructivism, cognitive development theories, socio-emotional theories and physical development theories all uphold the power play has in the holistic development of children.’

http://bit.ly/2gMNxiQ

What does the post-truth world hold for teachers and educational researchers?

‘I wonder about the correlation between increasing systems of surveillance and control over curriculum and pedagogy and the growing number of high stakes testing regimes, audit and accountability technologies, and the narrative of slipping standards, declining outcomes and an education system in crisis.’

http://bit.ly/2hH5Uar

The most important thing schools don’t do

By Marion Brady

‘On my list, one aim is paramount: “Maximize learner ability to make sense.” Not only does it enable every other legitimate aim of educating, it gives schooling its proper focus—maximizing human potential. No one needs to be taught how to make sense—to think. We’re born equipped to do it. The challenge is to do it better, to radically improve what are sometimes called “higher order” thinking skills, particularly those involved in tracing complex causal sequences and anticipating possible unintended consequences of well-intended policies and actions.’

http://bit.ly/2hy7RmQ

21st century challenges

Let’s face it “21st century skills” are a bit meh! Especially when they have no context.

‘So frequently is this phrase used in the discourse on education today that when uttered it generates involuntary winces amongst those listening. On the education conference circuit “21st century skills” is the certainty on the buzzword bingo card. Never mind that we’re almost at the end of the second decade of a century that is the only one that every child in school has ever known. To be fair, it’s a well-intentioned phrase used by well-intentioned people. I’m sure it’s a phrase that’s passed my lips on more than one occasion even before I saw the foolishness of it.’

http://bit.ly/2gL3QhQ

My Dream Job Destroyed My Dream: An Unoriginal Statement About Education

A sad story from USA which will ring true to teachers all over.

‘Five years ago, I got my first job as a teacher. My dream job. My dream school. I could not have been happier: life was good. Then, five months ago, despite my passion and idealism, I broke down and accepted that my dream for an education focused on divergent thinking, individuality, and genuine learning was horribly unrealistic, hindered by bureaucratic disconnect and systemic devaluation. It became clear that the job which originally brought me so much excitement, wasn’t at all as I thought. In fact, genuine creation and effective collaboration would be forever secondary to administrative agendas, systemic mandates, and a tireless effort to maintain the status quo.’

http://huff.to/2gL24NN

How useful are standards in helping teachers’ professional development?

Not very…

‘Governing texts such as national professional standards and a national curriculum can have the unintended effect of constraining opportunities for teachers to learn about their work. This occurs when they are interpreted in ways that encourage coverage of individual standards. However, I believe, when teachers are supported to engage in authentic, contextually appropriate professional learning that is focused on their learning needs in relation to the learning of their students, they can transform their practice.’

http://bit.ly/2hPyMJE

Contributed by Bruce Hammonds:

How to Integrate Growth Mindset Messages Into Every Part of Math Class

‘Catherine Good has experienced stereotype threat herself, although she didn’t know it at the time. She started her academic career in pure math, expecting to get a Ph.D. But somewhere along the way she started to feel like it just wasn’t for her, even though she was doing well in all her classes. Thinking that she’d just chosen the wrong application for her love of math, Good switched to math education, where she first encountered the idea of stereotype threat from a guest psychology speaker.’

http://bit.ly/2h28fsE

Learning Goals… Success Criteria… and Creativity?

While I am aware that setting clear standards are important, making sure we communicate our learning goals with students, co-creating success criteria… and that these have been shown to increase student achievement, I can’t help but wonder how often we take away our students’ thinking and decision making when we do this before students have had time to explore their own thoughts first.’
http://bit.ly/29WT7tf

If there’s a magic bullet to fix education outcomes, it starts with equity

Things aren’t good in Australia either.

‘Kids are disengaged, results are declining, school only works for a third of students. And in fortuitous timing, education ministers are meeting this week. With the end of the school education year comes the ritual release of end-of-school exam results. Once again we’ll parade the names of the top 100 schools and marvel at those that seem to do so well.

At the risk of raining on their parade it is all very predictable: two thirds of the top 100 are still there when the schools are ranked by the socio-educational level of the parents. Even the public/private school comparisons are largely spurious: results coming out of schools enrolling similar students don’t vary much between the school sectors.’

http://bit.ly/2h2i7CG

From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:

John Dewey – New thinking 1897!

‘John Dewey’s famous declaration concerning education was first published 1897 and is still as pertinent now as it was then. All school communities ought to declare their beliefs about education and then work towards aligning all their teaching to achieving what they believe in. If they do not determine their own destiny someone else will. Having clear beliefs provides both security and the basis of making all choices – or simply saying no as appropriate. The following are excerpts from Dewey’s declaration.’

http://bit.ly/1EeQDlT

The corporate takeover of society and education.

‘Since the early 90s society has been reshaped by a neo liberal corporate ideology. An emphasis on private enterprise and self-centred individualism has replaced an earlier concern for collective good of all members of society.   As a result of this ideological shift a wider gap has been created between the rich and poor causing a number of social concerns. Schools as part of this shift have been transformed from a community orientation to being part of a competitive cut throat ideology.’

http://bit.ly/1hARUnP

The surprising truth about what motivates us.

‘Daniel Pink’s latest book, ‘A whole New Mind: Drive’, subtitled ‘the surprising truth about what motivates us’, is truly exciting. He writes that for too long school have relied on an extrinsic ‘carrot and stick approach’ (or ‘name and blame’).The three things, he writes, that motivate us all are: autonomy, mastery and purpose. Real learning is achieved when the joy of learning is its own reward.’

http://bit.ly/2gMq29u

Signs of a creative classroom

‘One thing seems obvious to me, after several decades visiting primary classrooms, is that real innovation only comes from creative teachers and not from imposed programmes. Unfortunately,  all too often, creative teachers are the last ones to be listened to in this era of school consistency and formulaic ‘best practices’. It seem we are moving towards a standardised approach to learning at the very time when we need to value (and protect) our creative teachers and their creative students.’

http://bit.ly/2gMUlNg

For New Zealand readers (but may be of interest elsewhere):

Given the changes in New Zealand politics recently, such as the sudden resignation of prime minister John Key (my pet theory, which I’ve been espousing for many months, is that he timed this to ensure he would get a knighthood before the election next year), as well as a stampede of government ministers for the exit door, here are few articles from a few years back about the government’s national standards based education agenda.

A teacher’s response to National’s ‘Education in Schools’ policy

Those of us who spoke out against national standards (and in some cases losing their careers as a result) in 2010 and 2011 are being proved correct. There is an increasing amount of evidence that is demonstrating that the main outcomes has been harming children’s educational and therefore life opportunities. How immoral is that?

‘I am saddened that this is the direction National want to take with our education system. We have a world-leading curriculum and (as National agree) excellent performance from our top students. However, we also have a long tail of underachievement, primarily from our Maori and Pasifika students and those from poorer backgrounds. Teacher input is only one aspect of learning – it is difficult to learn if you are hungry, tired or worried.’

http://bit.ly/2hPb14E

John Key and Mrs Tolley turn education into a McDonalds – principals will now become managers complying to franchise regulations.

‘Time will show John Key and Mrs Tolley to be the simplistic wreckers they are. In the meantime creative teachers will have to cope by going underground  and if the remainder can’t see the problem then they will be seen as complying with the destruction of an education system once held in high esteem  by educators (if not politicians and technocrats) around the world.’

http://bit.ly/2hGMBhw

National’s ‘brighter future’ doesn’t include the students or their teachers!

‘The current National Government has ignored educators worldwide and opted for an accountants view of education turning students into products and schools into factories so as to give consumers a choice – but what a choice!What many feared has come to pass. Populist political simplicity has won the day!If you repeat a half truth (one in 5 students are failing) without also factoring in the effects of poverty and poor health of  unknown in other civilised countries. One fifth of our students live in distressing poverty (that is, of course, 1 in 5).’

http://bit.ly/2gMR3cT

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 December 2nd

By Allan Alach

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

Teacher Stress & Anxiety in New Zealand Schools

‘The results clearly illustrate the extent of the problem of stress and anxiety in NZ schools today: the majority, 54% of respondents (365) answered Yes.  44% (296) answered No, and understandably, due to the sensitivity of the subject, a small number 1% (11 respondents) declined to answer. These results are extremely concerning because no matter how subjective, for a majority of teachers to feel it is necessary to take time off in order to recover from workplace stress and anxiety, there will inevitably be consequences for the health and well-being of staff and potentially for the quality of teaching and learning in NZ.’

http://bit.ly/2fMUtJa

The Problem with Choice

‘I know too many people who are not educators (and some who are) that are in favor of the choice movement in education. The biggest reason people want choice is to improve the education for their own children and then create competition so that other schools will be forced to improve or shut down. Unfortunately, both reasons are based in misconceptions about education.’

http://bit.ly/2gWOqqw

Russell Stannard: Why are digital literacies so important?

‘I have just returned from Finland where if you can’t use the internet you are massively hindered in your day to day activities as almost all government/ municipal contact is done online. They have huge problems for example with older people, immigrants and refugees, who cannot interact with the system. It is becoming harder and harder to survive in society without having the basic digital literacies.’

http://bit.ly/2fMXkBG

Instead of “Job Creation,” How About Less Work?

Increased automation has not reduced our workload. Why not? What if it did?

So, I say, down with the work ethic, up with the play ethic!  We are designed to play, not to work.  We are at our shining best when playing. Let’s get our economists thinking about how to create a world that maximizes play and minimizes work.  It seems like a solvable problem.  We’d all be better off if people doing useless or harmful jobs were playing, instead, and we all shared equally the necessary work and the benefits that accrue from it.’

http://bit.ly/2gzLIDF

What Kills Creativity in Kids?

‘Creativity is a choice—and if children are going to choose to be creative then parents (and teachers) have to be careful not to stifle it. What kills kids’ creativity? Here’s what to avoid.’

http://bit.ly/2g8FkCY

Standardizing Whiteness: the Essential Racism of Standardized Testing

‘But when you define a standard, an ideal, you make certain choices – you privilege some attributes and denigrate others. Since the people creating the tests are almost exclusively upper middle class white people, it should come as no surprise that that is the measure by which they assess success. Is it any wonder then that poor kids and children of color don’t score as well on these tests? Is it any wonder that upper middle class white kids score so well?’

http://bit.ly/2gmqz2h

Contributed by Bruce Hammonds:

The Big Picture Learning School’s story

‘In the schools that Big Picture Learning envisioned, students would be at the center their own education. They would spend considerable time in the community under the tutelage of mentors and they would not be evaluated solely on the basis of standardized tests. Instead, students would be assessed on exhibitions and demonstrations of achievement, on motivation, and on the habits of mind, hand, and heart  – reflecting the real world evaluations and assessments that all of us face in our everyday lives.’

http://bit.ly/2fFwRLd

The school of the future has opened in Finland

‘Child psychologists have long argued that changing the approach we take to education would help many children learn to love school rather than hate it. We’ve all heard pre-schoolers talk about how they can’t wait to sit at their school desk and run to their next lesson with their rucksack over their shoulder. In fact, we probably remember that feeling of excitement ourselves the first time we went. But right from the first days of school, many children feel a huge sense of disappointment with what they encounter.At the Saunalahti school in the city of Espoo, Finland, they’ve found a brilliant way to overcome this problem. Starting just with the school building itself, you’d look at it and never think it was a school. Instead, it’s more a like modern art museum – wonderfully light and airy.’

http://bit.ly/2fFG3zb

To Advance Education, We Must First Reimagine Society

‘Because disaffection with the education system reflects a much deeper societal malaise, it’s imperative that we first figure out what kind of world we really want: a world populated by responsible adults who thrive on interdependence and community, or a world of “customers” who feel dependent on products, services, and authority figures, and don’t take full responsibility for their actions? The answer, he says, will point to the changes needed in all three pillars of education — schools, families, and communities.’

http://bit.ly/2gmthVs

From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:

Quotes from Frank Smith and John Taylor Gatto

Both of these authors should be on your reading list.

John Taylor Gatto is the author of ‘A Different Kind Of Teacher’. Frank Smith’s book is called ‘An Insult To Intelligence’.  As well, Smith’s book “Reading” is a must read.

http://bit.ly/2gzeLHJ

Teaching for thinking

‘There is a lot of talk about teaching thinking in schools and all sorts of thinking processes are often seen on classroom walls. The trouble is that more than talk and processes are required – there ought to be some real evidence of students thinking to be seen. All too often was is seen is ‘higher order thinking for thin learning!’.’

http://bit.ly/2gLTAkK

Importance of School Values

‘A vision gives an organization a sense of direction, a purpose, but only if it is ‘owned’ and translated into action by all involved. But vision is not enough in itself. The values that any organization has are just as important or even more so because they determine the behaviors that people agree to live within. Alignment of people behind values is vital but too often both vision and values are just words hidden in folders are rarely referred to. What you do must reflect what you believe if there is to be integrity. And any alignment needs to include students and parents as well.’

http://bit.ly/1WQKvVA