Education Readings May 4th

By Allan Alach

Due to the recent sad loss of Phil Cullen,  I am putting this website into hibernation. All past articles, especially the many gems written by Phil Cullen, will still be visible.  

However this is the last time I will be posting education readings.

 From now on these will be available on Bruce Hammonds’ LEADING AND LEARNING website.

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

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

Here I stood Part 2: What goes around with quantitative reading professors comes around

Here’s a long but vital article by Kelvin Smythe that deconstructs the current pressure to do away with Reading Recovery and for its replacement by heavily phonics based reading instruction.

‘The whole process of a particularly shonky review office report, lack of consultation, and announcement by media storm, is an education disgrace. An inquiry should be set up by the ministry to determine if those involved should be held at fault, the motivations for what happened, and how due process and integrity of reports can be assured in the future.’

http://bit.ly/2HGG5oH

Spontaneous singing and young children’s musical agency

‘This suggests that the development of young children’s musicality can be integrated into general early childhood practice by creating an environment in which improvisational and playful singing can take place and is valued as both a legitimate form of music-making and as a means of acting in and on the world. Early childhood educators need to be aware that improvisation is a natural part of young children’s musical play and that children are able to create and adapt songs that are fit-for-purpose.’

http://bit.ly/2reSeGZ

The decline of play in preschoolers — and the rise in sensory issues

This is becoming very apparent in new entrant classes across New Zealand.

‘Preschool years are not only optimal for children to learn through play, but also a critical developmental period. If children are not given enough natural movement and play experiences, they start their academic careers with a disadvantage. They are more likely to be clumsy, have difficulty paying attention, trouble controlling their emotions, utilize poor problem-solving methods, and demonstrate difficulties with social interactions.’

https://wapo.st/2rcPUQC

The play deficit

Children today are cossetted and pressured in equal measure. Without the freedom to play they will never grow up.

‘In my book, Free to Learn (2013), I document these changes, and argue that the rise in mental disorders among children is largely the result of the decline in children’s freedom. If we love our children and want them to thrive, we must allow them more time and opportunity to play, not less.’

http://bit.ly/2HEEcIN

Down side of being dubbed ‘class clown’

‘Being dubbed the class clown by teachers and peers has negative social repercussions for third-grade boys that may portend developmental and academic consequences for them, researchers found.’

http://bit.ly/2HKO4N8

Contributed by Bruce Hammonds:

Taking the Lead – in which direction, whose direction, and how?

Every thing we believe in. Probably the best half hour development for all teachers.

Taking the lead involves setting a direction that variously connects, reconnects, and disconnects policies and practices of the past and the present, while looking to the future. The past is recalled by a diminishing few. The present is all too familiar. The future is uncertain. Taking the lead involves giving certainty to direction, but this begs questions of which direction, whose direction, and how that direction is secured. Lester Flockton touches on some of the key issues and challenges that confront those would take the lead.

http://bit.ly/2KuscaW

The Perks of a Play-in-the-Mud Educational Philosophy

When did America decide preschool should be in a classroom?

. Give young kids the opportunities to engage in hours of free, unstructured play in the natural world, and they develop just as organically as any other creature. They learn creativity as they explore and engage with complex ecological systems—and imagine new worlds of their own. Freed from playground guardrails that constrain (even as they protect), kids build strength, develop self-confidence, and learn to manage risks as they trip, stumble, fall, hurt, and right themselves. Research shows that the freedom of unstructured time in open space helps kids learn to focus. It also just feels good: Nature reduces stress.

https://theatln.tc/2I8ogxY

Finding the Beauty of Math Outside of Class

Math trails help students explore, discover, enjoy, and celebrate math concepts and problems in real-world contexts.

‘A math trail is an activity that gets students out of the classroom so they can (re)discover the math all around us. Whether out on a field trip or on school grounds, students on a math trail are asked to solve or create problems about objects and landmarks they see; name shapes and composite solids; calculate areas and volumes; recognize properties, similarity, congruence, and symmetry; use number sense and estimation to evaluate large quantities and assess assumptions; and so on.’

https://edut.to/2Kw5ZJw

The role of technology in education

‘When we think about the classrooms of the future, we have to ask what (as Marshall McLuhan has put it) technologies like radio and television can do that the present classroom can’t. That means asking: what’s futuristic about the future? And equally important, whom will it belong to?’

http://bit.ly/2KudctE

A playful approach to learning means more imagination and exploration

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

http://bit.ly/2FyOJPW

From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:

Advice from David Perkins to make learning whole

‘The problem Perkins says is there is too much problem solving (teachers’ problems) and not enough problem finding – or figuring out often ‘messy’ open ended investigations. ‘Playing the whole game’ is the solution resulting in some sort of inquiry or performance. It is not just about content but getting better at things, it requires thinking with what you know to go further, it is about finding explanations and justifications. It involves curiosity, discovery, creativity, and camaraderie. It is not just discovery learning – it needs strong guidance gradually faded back.’

http://bit.ly/12hbepd

30 Years ago – so what has changed?

‘Recently I received e-mail from a student I hadn’t heard of since she was in my class in 1978. She wrote about how great it was to experience the class and how much all that we did has stayed with her over the years. With this in mind I searched out something I wrote, at the time, for the team of teachers I was leading. I was curious to see how much my ideas had changed since then.’

http://bit.ly/1CqW0Nt

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Education Readings April 20th

By Allan Alach

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

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

Letting Students Succeed as Themselves

An American teacher shares a lesson learned during time he spent in New Zealand schools.

‘What if this idea were applied to other contexts? What if we in the U.S. worked to provide all of our students with knowledge to succeed and be proud in knowing who they are? School would be a different experience for these young people if they felt a connection to learning. School would be less about fulfilling external requirements and more about investing in a process that would be central to one’s current and future identity.’

https://edut.to/2JUskQq

Seven reasons people no longer want to be teachers

How many of these ring bells for you?

‘It’s not surprising, then, that numbers of applicants for teacher education programs have slumped. The programs are long and intense, the creativity and relationships aspect of the vocation has been eroded, there is pervasive negativity in the media, and comparatively poor salary and working conditions.’

http://bit.ly/2Ja9Zh1

How Can We Begin Developing Imagination in Our Older Learners?

‘As younger children, play and imagination are at the core of learning. Nevertheless, the truth is that as we get older we imagine less and less. Since we know a creative imagination is more important to learning today than ever, it’s time to reclaim it. How do we make developing imagination a worthwhile goal for all grade levels?’

http://bit.ly/2vqLL0b

Why playtime is key to raising successful children

‘One approach to redesigning education systems and equipping children with the right skills is often overlooked. We need to provide opportunities for children to learn in the way most natural and engaging to them: through play. We also need to erase the false dichotomy often drawn between children’s play and their learning of academic content.’

http://bit.ly/2HdyZU4

How Kids Learn Better By Taking Frequent Breaks Throughout The Day

‘Once I incorporated these short recesses into our timetable, I no longer saw feet-dragging, zombie-like kids in my classroom. Throughout the school year, my Finnish students would, without fail, enter the classroom with a bounce in their steps after a fifteen-minute break. And most important, they were more focused during lessons.’

http://bit.ly/2Hg0M6g

Contributed by Bruce Hammonds:

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?’

http://bit.ly/2qJT11p

PC pedagogy: How much technology should be used in Kiwi classrooms?

‘But news that tech-executives in Silicon Valley are choosing to send their children to Waldorf Schools, where there’s not a computer in sight, has also got people thinking. These parents are choosing the low-tech or no-tech education that teaches students the innovative thinking skills needed in the workplace. They develop the ability to think independently from a device, without a reliance on it.’

http://bit.ly/2qIoRwp

5 Strategies to Demystify the Learning Process for Struggling Students

‘Oakley recognizes that “many educators are not at all comfortable with or trained in neuroscience,” so she breaks down a few key principles that teachers can use in the classroom and share with students to help them demystify the learning process.’ 

http://bit.ly/2HL222F

Don’t Stress About Coding: Focus Shifts To Teaching Problem Solving Not Computer Skills

‘But many now recognize it’s not enough for students simply to know how to write code. The capacity to build a product or solve a problem requires an entirely different literacy. With this in mind, the focus of coding education is shifting from teaching the specific skill of coding to teaching computational thinking—or the ability to follow a step-by-step process to solve a problem.’

http://bit.ly/2HJABGr

Dawn Picken: Quit the school caste system

‘What once was an egalitarian system, where brainiacs sat beside average and struggling children, has developed into a more rigid hierarchy for students at around age 11. Children who pass a rigorous test are separated into one or more gifted and talented classes per school, leaving less-gifted and talented peers in “regular” classrooms.’

http://bit.ly/2EYxxmF

From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:

Bali Haque.The failure of Education Reforms in New Zealand – with an emphasis on secondary schools. NCEA/ NZC and National Standards

‘Bali  believes that  power of a quality teacher depends on what he calls ‘a state of mind’ ; the individual teachers ‘personal dispositions, attitudes  and assumptions’. This he says is reflected in the New Zealand Curriculum ( Teaching as Inquiry) which asks teachers to constantly ask questions about the effectiveness of what they are doing and be willing to change what isn’t working. Such teachers believe all students can learn achieve provided the right conditions and help.’

http://bit.ly/2vqJDp9

Educational Books for Creative Teaching – to develop the gifts and talents of all students

‘So if you have time explore some of the links to some of my favourite books below. After reading my ‘review’ you might want to get the book for yourself – or share the blog with other teachers. How many are you aware of?’

http://bit.ly/1kxTTvt

Education Readings April 6th

By Allan Alach

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

Why Do Some Educators Burn Out While Others Seem to Grow More Passionate?

‘When you listen to someone who is burned out, they often point to circumstances as the reason for their malaise. There is lack of support, lack of resources, problems with students, parents, administrators, other teachers, lawmakers, the department of education, society, you name it. And all of those things might be true. But others faced with exactly the same circumstances seem to tell themselves a different story.’

http://bit.ly/2E7QgMl

What creativity really is – and why schools need it

‘Teachers often have biases against creative students, fearing that creativity in the classroom will be disruptive. They devalue creative personality attributes such as risk taking, impulsivity and independence. They inhibit creativity by focusing on the reproduction of knowledge and obedience in class. Why the disconnect between educators’ official stance toward creativity, and what actually happens in school?’

http://bit.ly/2GZbkHX

Are you over-scaffolding?

‘There are so many experiences and opportunities to learn that are not only happening in your classroom or professional development because you have taught it.  When we limit people to what we know or what we teach, we are limiting countless possibilities of what they know and can do without us.’

http://bit.ly/2GUx2iB

Ownership Through Inquiry

‘Are kids learning because they are intrinsically empowered to or are they compelled to through compliance and conformity?  The former results when learners have a real sense of ownership.  There are many ways to empower kids to own their learning. All the rage as of late is how technology can be such a catalyst. In many cases this is true, but ownership can result if the conditions are established where kids inquire by way of their own observations and questions.’

http://bit.ly/2EkbDtK

Who is for teaching?

‘That is, why can’t we firstly attract to, and then retain enough high calibre teachers in the profession? It’s a long stretch to argue that it is because we have made it too difficult for people in other professions and trades to transition into teaching. It is a theme too common – to seek solutions to teacher shortages and questions of skill levels by dressing up time worn strategies of luring other workers to the teaching profession as something more than quick-fix answers.’

http://bit.ly/2EksiNQ

Contributed by Bruce Hammonds:

21st-Century Learning Starting in Elementary School

A group of Georgia schools work together to emphasize project-based learning and STEM courses from the elementary years through 12th grade.

‘At White Oak Elementary, teachers build a strong foundation by alternating between PBL and more traditional units, typically doing at least one major project within each nine-week period. Even when teachers are not leading a project, they emphasize inquiry and use the workshop model for reading, math, and writing.’

https://edut.to/2JamElc

Sparrows And Penguins

Powerful. Any penguins are in your class?

‘This is why I think labels are important. This is why I think “we’re all birds, let’s focus on our similarities instead of our differences” is harmful. This is how my autism diagnosis was like breathing, after holding my breath for 26 years.’

http://bit.ly/2IePD68

‘We need to admit that the job of the classroom teacher has simply become too big’

New Zealand has the opportunity to escape all this stressful nonsense.

‘If this doesn’t unite the profession in a concerted effort to find the right work-life balance, to hold on to our longer-serving teachers and entice new ones into the fold, then we will continue to see even more classes taught by non-specialists or a chain of supply teachers, with all the adverse outcomes for equality of provision entailed.’

http://bit.ly/2Il2Vhw

Stop the CRAPTIVITIES

‘For children to be CURIOUS about the world around them, following their own unique style of learning and to be engaged in the joy of DOING rather than the end result. Too often at this festive time of year, we feel under pressure to create products for the children to take home, cards, gifts & artwork. If WE feel this PRESSURE to get these products complete, spare a moment for the little ones who are sadly on a conveyer belt of activities of handprints and paper plates or as I like to call them “craptivaties”.’

http://bit.ly/2Glvr5W

Scrap age-based classes to boost school achievement

‘Underachievement in schools is commonly attributed to ineffective teaching methods, low expectations, poor student attitudes and behaviour, inadequate school resourcing and a culture that undervalues education. These may all be contributors. But could the explanation also lie in the way schooling itself is organised and delivered?’

http://bit.ly/2pUArEn

From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:

Learning to be ‘creatively rebellious’. The importance of the Three Ds: being Different, Disruptive and Deviant.

‘Many people were labelled at school as ‘students who challenged teachers or their learning processes as being” disruptive’ and “rebellious”. As a result such students developed ‘compliant behaviours that effectively kept them out of trouble. Others who rebelled often missed out on the chance to benefit from a traditional education.’

http://bit.ly/2pI6e9L

Educational change and leadership – bottom up!

‘All too often in recent decades schools are dictated to by the political whim of politicians with their eyes firmly fixed on popular approval – this is certainly the case with the imposition of National Standards. What is required is for schools to begin to share their beliefs about teaching and learning by building on the innate strengths of their students, their teachers, the school principal and finally groups of schools to develop a vision that all can work with in diverse ways.’

http://bit.ly/1baSNPr

Education Readings March 30th

Sad news – the founder of Treehorn Express, Phil Cullen, passed away earlier this week. Phil was one of the foremost educators of our times, especially in his home state of Queensland, Australia, where he served as Director of Primary Education (i.e., the top dog) for 13 years. Phil’s educational vision and pedagogical knowledge was immense. He was aghast at the introduction of the Australian national testing programme, known as NAPLAN, about 10 years ago. He started his crusade against NAPLAN at that time, and his battle continued to the very day he died – his last email was sent only hours before his fatal heart attack. I consider myself very privileged to have been able to do my bit to support Phil in his endeavours, by running this website for him.

Should you wish to send condolences to his family, his email address cphilcullen@bigpond.com is being monitored by his family.

In true Phil fashion, he told his family to please celebrate his life, and not to be sad about his death.

Allan Alach


Education Readings

By Allan Alach

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

Mathematics Part 1: The mathematics pendulum

Here’s a two part series by Kelvin Smythe on the teaching of mathematics.

‘I have long wanted to have Charlotte Wilkinson, an independent mathematics consultant, set out her ideas on mathematics but, in the previous education environment, any association with me would have been dangerous for her work. With that changed, I am delighted to present two writings from her which are an overview of nearly everything in mathematics.’ 

http://bit.ly/2ugOmcy

Mathematics Part 2: Producing literate and numerate children

‘An increasing amount of information is shared in a digital format, therefore there is an ever increasing need for people to be numerate, not just able to carry out set procedures. Being numerate requires an understanding of basic arithmetic, the properties and manipulation of whole numbers, and rational numbers. It requires using number sense to reason whether answers are correct. When a point is reached in solving a problem, knowing which operation or formula is required is still essential, but completing the procedure has been superseded in reality by technology.’

http://bit.ly/2I2f6j7

Authentic Learning Begins With Student-Designed Curriculum

Thanks to Bruce Jones (via Phil Cullen) for this link.

‘But then I fought my obsessive need for control and took a giant step closer to my ultimate end goal of a fully authentic learning environment by empowering my students to generate our curriculum.’

http://bit.ly/2umnM1Q

Constructivism vs. Constructivism vs. Constructionism

‘I’d like to offer my take on the meaning of these words. I hear them used in so many ways that I often get confused what others mean by them.’

http://bit.ly/2pB7PzQ

Contributed by Bruce Hammonds:

We are at the beginning of a new educational era. The challenge now is to reimagining the school day to ensue all students’ gifts and talents are identified, amplified and valued.

Another gem from Bruce:

‘Lester wrote that 30 years later we have wasted excessive amounts of time and resources replacing approaches of the past that weren’t broken and didn’t need fixing. It’s time, says Lester “to put the shine back on teaching’ to create a nurturing environment for both teachers and students. For too long our system has suffered from those who mistakenly think they know better.”’

So what is the ‘end in mind’ for teachers in the 21stC?

http://bit.ly/2E0sKRj

Yes, Project-Based Learning Gets Kids Ready for the Test (and so much more)

‘I was worried the first time I tried a project-based learning unit with my students. As a young teacher, I had prided myself on running a challenging class and had focused much of my attention on getting my students prepared for what we were both going to be assessed on: the test.

I was not doing test prep. I didn’t believe that giving students sample test questions would make them do any better on our state standardized scores (and still don’t).’

http://bit.ly/2pD3cFy

Occupying Their Brains With Our Stupid Questions

‘They say there’s no such thing as a stupid question, but I beg to differ. We hear stupid questions almost every time adults and young children are together.’

http://bit.ly/2ulSzeO

44 Practices That Are “Fixing” Education Today

‘Here is a list of at least 44 different positive practices (in no specific order – just the way they flowed out of my head) unfolding in education today that I have seen with my very own eyes…’

http://bit.ly/2pCK1e2

‘We must stop trying to apply a sticking plaster to the gaping wound that is teacher workload’

We need a root-and-branch review of the professionalism, accountability and expectations placed upon the teacher workforce. Anything less is a waste of time. A UK article but applicable to NZ?

‘But it is not just teacher recruitment that is the government’s problem. Teacher retention is even more serious as wastage rates (teachers putting down their whiteboard markers and leaving the profession) are rising at every career stage – and most worryingly right at the start of teachers’ careers, after three to five years.’

http://bit.ly/2pGxHcH

Embracing the Whole Child

Fully engaging students can include using their interests in lessons, checking in on them emotionally, and being ourselves.

‘In embracing a more whole-child, humanizing approach to teaching and learning, Salazar proposes specific ways educators can express care and engage students in a more humanizing pedagogy. Among her suggestions, I’d like to explore the following four, offering suggestions for each, as I have found them particularly useful to establishing a harmonious community of learners in the classroom.’

http://edut.to/2Dz5v0w

When “Big Data” Goes to School

Alfie Kohn:

‘The data in question typically are just standardized test scores — even though that’s not the only reason to be disturbed by this datamongering. But here’s today’s question: If collecting and sorting through data about students makes us uneasy, how should we feel about the growing role of Big Data?’

http://bit.ly/2pGyL0b

From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:

The corporate takeover of society and education.

Time to ditch the corporate influence

‘Since the early 90s society has been reshaped by a neo liberal corporate ideology. An emphasis on private enterprise and self-centered 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

Educational Books for Creative Teaching – to develop the gifts and talents of all students

‘Over the years I have a lot of feedback from teachers thanking me for drawing their attention to books that I have written about on my blog. With this in mind I have searched through my postings for some of the best books that provide courage for teachers to make stand against the current anti educational approaches of a market forces competitive ideology.’

http://bit.ly/1kxTTvt

Education Readings March 23rd

By Allan Alach

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

Why is online learning ‘all fur coat and no knickers’? We design to forget.

‘Online learning has gone down the ‘all fur coat and no knickers’ route. It’s more presentation than pedagogy, more look and feel than learning. Rather than focus on what makes learning a success in terms of retention and recall, it allows the learner to skate across the surface of a thin layer of nicely designed but thin ice. It often creates the illusion of learning by illustrative graphics/animation that, as Mayer often showed, actually inhibit rather than help retention.’

http://bit.ly/2tlN5jK

3 Ways to Combat Recipe Learning

‘Rubrics were all the rage so I thought that by giving all the same project and using the rubric I was differentiating for my students because they got to decide where they fit on the rubric. What I didn’t know at the time was I was expecting all the same level of work. I hadn’t designed an effective summative assessment.

I had assigned a recipe.’

http://bit.ly/2FrPq2j

What Are The Benefits Of Learning To Code As A Child?

What are your thoughts about this? I’m not convinced.

‘So instead of watching people jump on the coding bandwagon because we said so, we decided to write an article that discusses the benefits of learning how to code as a child. That way parents and schools can make an informed decision. Believe it or not, some of the advantages that we are about to share may shock you. Well, without further ado, here is our list of the benefits of learning to code as a child.’

http://bit.ly/2tTq8Vv

Creativity is a distinct mental state that you can train

“Our results suggest that creativity can be characterized as a distinct mental state—one that can be nurtured through training, and that can reflect the quality of the finished product.”

http://bit.ly/2DyU9JY

Contributed by Bruce Hammonds:

Teach Kids When They’re Ready

A new book for parents on developing their kids’ sense of autonomy has some useful insights for teachers as well.

‘The measuring stick is out, comparing one kid to another, before they even start formal schooling. Academic benchmarks are being pushed earlier and earlier, based on the mistaken assumption that starting earlier means that kids will do better later.

We now teach reading to 5-year-olds even though evidence shows it’s more efficient to teach them to read at age 7, and that any advantage gained by kids who learn to read early washes out later in childhood.’

http://edut.to/2p6fjcS

How To Ease Students Into Independent Inquiry Projects

‘Too often teachers enter the inquiry pool in the deep end, heading straight to Free Inquiry, as I had done with Chris. We can’t blame them; the essential questions students ask and the demonstrations of learning students create are incredibly meaningful and resonate with their audience. But beginning your adoption of inquiry by diving right into Free Inquiry could result in overwhelmed and underprepared inquiry students. In our experience, without flipping control in the classroom, empowering student learning, and scaffolding with the Types of Student Inquiry, students will not feel as confident, supported, or empowered through our inquiry journey.’

http://bit.ly/2oIGA5O

The 5th ‘C’ of 21st Century Skills? Try Computational Thinking (Not Coding)

‘There is growing recognition in the education systems around the globe that being able to problem-solve computationally—that is, to think logically and algorithmically, and use computational tools for creating artifacts including models and data visualizations—is rapidly becoming a prerequisite competency for all fields.’

http://bit.ly/2Fkh9kz

Creative thinking and the new Digital Technologies curriculum

‘In this book, Resnick states that kindergarten (where students are free to follow their own interests and direct their own learning) nurtures creative thinking because it allows students to naturally iterate through a creative learning spiral: learning how to start with an idea, build prototypes, share them with others, run experiments, and revise these based on feedback. In contrast, the current education model (which was made in—and for—the industrial era) restricts teachers’ ability to create lifelong kindergarten type environments.’

http://bit.ly/2Iwwg9l

Embracing the Whole Child

Fully engaging students can include using their interests in lessons, checking in on them emotionally, and being ourselves.

‘According to education researcher Maria del Carmen Salazar, an overuse of such things as scripted and mandated instructional curricula can hinder educators and students from developing meaningful relationships. And that rigid, standardized approach to teaching contradicts so much of what we know from whole-child education research. It can sabotage the humanness of all those beings growing and exploring daily together in one room.’

http://edut.to/2Dz5v0w

From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:

Linda-Darling Hammond: Lessons for New Zealand from America

‘“The Flat World and Education’,  a book by Linda Darling-Hammond is a must read for educationalists and politicians who want to develop an alternative to the technocratic style of education that has been slowly destroying the creativity of students and teachers  in New Zealand and, in turn, the social fabric of our increasingly troubled society.”

http://bit.ly/UlVnBr

Are we brave enough to live for the future?

‘The past seems a simpler place to think about – the future is so messy and unpredictable. Years ago educational philosopher John Dewey wrote that the best preparation for the future is to live well today. Good advice. Hindsight bias, it seems, drains the uncertainty from the past while looking into the future is just so unpredictable. This uncertainly interferes with our judgment and provides us with a bias to conservatism.’

http://bit.ly/2FpnnAx

Re-imaging education; lessons from Galileo and Brazil.

‘Education stands at a crossroad caught in the lights of market forces ideology which blinds all but a few to beginnings of a new era some call the Second Renaissance – a new creative era.’

http://bit.ly/1cMz8h8

Education Readings March 16th

By Allan Alach

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

Here are some links to acknowledge Sir Ken Robinson who is currently in New Zealand.

Sir Ken Robinson: creative thought leader in education

Interview on Radio New Zealand on Sunday 4th March.

http://bit.ly/2tCwJmY

Summerhill School: learning as students choose

Sir Ken referenced this school in his interview, so here is an interview with Zoe Readhead, daughter of A.S. Neill – a must listen.

‘Summerhill is an alternative free school in Suffolk, England, started by educational leader A.S. Neill in 1921. The pupils are free to come to lessons as they choose, and students and teachers have an equal voice in decision making.’

http://bit.ly/2tGrcfh

Ken Robinson: Government “Standardization” Blocks Innovative Education Reform

“I never blame teachers or schools… But there is this deadly culture of standardizing, that’s being pushed on them, politically. My core message here is that we have to personalize education, not standardize it. That all children are different, and we have to find their talents and cultivate them.”

http://bit.ly/2DmPLh4

Do Schools Kill Creativity?

If you’ve never watching Sir Ken Robinson’s Ted Talk from 2006, or if you’ve not seen it for  a while, here it is. Either way, it is a must watch.

http://bit.ly/2FDSOmT

Sir Ken Robinson – Can Creativity Be Taught?

Links to many other Sir Ken videos can also be found here.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vlBpDggX3iE

“Modern ADHD Epidemic is Fiction” – Ken Robinson

‘Our children are living in the most intensive stimulating period in the history of the earth. They’re being besieged with information and coerced for attention from every platform: computers, from iPhones, from advertising hoardings, from hundreds of television channels. And we’re penalizing them now for getting distracted. From what? Boring stuff. At school, for the most part. It seems to me not a coincidence, totally, that the instance of ADHD has risen in parallel with the growth of the standardized testing. Now these kids are being given Ritalin and Aderol and all manner of things, often quite dangerous drugs, to get them focused and calm them down… It’s a fictitious epidemic.’

http://bit.ly/2HZNdsy

Moving on :

Does writing by hand still matter in the digital age?

Technology is having an impact on children’s handwriting ability. But what does this mean for learning and development?

‘But what of the role that handwriting plays in learning and development? And with technology changing how we live and work, what place does handwriting have in the modern classroom? These were the questions put to the teachers, academics and specialists in education and technology at the Guardian’s roundtable event on 27 February.’

http://bit.ly/2D8zY5h

But is there even a correct way to hold a pen?

‘It’s true that handwriting employs our hand muscles differently from the swiping and tapping motions we use to navigate the online world of today.

But when it comes to scrawling words on the page, the idea of ‘correct’ pencil grasp is actually way older than the iPhone – and science shows that there appears to be more than one way to correctly hold a pen.’

http://bit.ly/2IiCtWy

Arts integration: Turning teaching on its head

‘Sometimes the arts are used alongside a lesson being taught – for example, students might turn their writing into a performance and ‘act it out’ or perhaps draw a picture of what they have learned. We consider that in these instances, arts are simply being used alongside other subject areas, and while we like this idea, it is not what we mean by arts integration.  In our view, arts integration is a method of teaching, a pedagogical approach that focuses on the [non-arts] subject being taught, and not necessarily on the art form.’

http://bit.ly/2DapbaE

Contributed by Bruce Hammonds:

Learning from one of New Zealand’s pioneer teacher – Elwyn Richardson

(Author of ‘In The Early World ‘ possibly the best book written about education anywhere. ..)

Bruce’s article here is the perfect follow-on from the Sir Ken Robinson links and shows a way to achieve Sir Ken’s vision. Long before Sir Ken’s rise to fame, Elwyn Richardson took creative primary education to a new and, I suspect, still unsurpassed level.

‘Elwyn expressed concern that due to learning becoming over intellectualized ( and therefore available to be assessed), that intuitive thought was in danger of being neglected. There was, he felt, a danger of learning becoming too conceptualized and that this would result in damaging students’ intuition and creativity. That it would result in the neglect or downplaying of the creative arts.’

http://bit.ly/2FViCOL

Bill Gates Admits His Common Core Experiment Is A Failure

This comes on the heels of New Zealand abandoning their rather similar national standards. Maybe non-educators should stick to their knitting…

‘After spending $400 million on forcing schools around the country to adopt Common Core, Bill Gates has finally admitted that the controversial teaching method is a failure, and significantly less effective than traditional teaching methods. 

Parents and teachers across the nation have been urging schools to dump the toxic Common Core curriculum, arguing that it deliberately dumbs down children and creates unnecessary and complicated methods for working out relatively simple problems.’

http://bit.ly/2G4zjoB

Assessment in the early years…

‘A recent story I heard talked about a display that pitted children against each other in a race to be reading at a certain level.  This kind of practice breaks my heart.  I don’t for a moment think that these teachers are doing this to hurt children, but I don’t think they have taken time to think about how the children feel.  How does this shape their view of what reading is or even learning is?   How does it promote a culture of shared learning and journey?  How does it speak to these children about failure and mistakes?’

http://bit.ly/2FPECIi

From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:

Here’s a collection of all Bruce’s articles about Sir Ken Robinson.

Out of Our Minds

‘A book to read for all who believe in creative education. ‘Out of Our Minds’ by Sir Ken Robinson. Introductory keynote speaker at the 07 NZPPF Conference to be held in Auckland.’

http://leading-learning.blogspot.co.nz/2007/02/out-of-our-minds.html

Importance of Creativity

‘Sir Ken talks about the importance of nurturing innovative solutions in the classrooms – indeed in every aspect of life. Sir Ken is now senior adviser to the Paul Getty Trust and was knighted in 2003 for his commitment to the creative arts and education in the UK.  is set to become the ‘buzz’ word of the future. Sir Ken sees creativity as essential for students as they seek jobs in the future.’

http://leading-learning.blogspot.co.nz/2007/02/importance-of-creativity.html

‘Creative Schools’ a book by Sir Ken Robinson

‘A must read for anyone who believes in an education system that aims at developing the gifts and talents of all students. Read this article about Sir Ken’s latest book My plea is for creative teachers, particularly those in New Zealand, to share this with as many teachers and schools as they can because the message is so important.’

http://leading-learning.blogspot.co.nz/2015/05/sir-ken-robinsons-new-bookcreative.html

The need to transform schools – Sir Ken Robinson

‘One writer school leaders could get behind to give support is Sir Ken Robinson who is well known to many schools. And there are many others. It is also ironic that while Western countries follow neo liberal ideology leading to testing, standardization and privatization Asian counties are working hard to break out of high stake testing and introduce more creativity into their systems!’

http://leading-learning.blogspot.co.nz/2013/05/transform-education-yes-we-must.html

National Standards gone – now it’s time for creativity says Sir Ken

‘The previous Nationals  Government was right in believing schools should do a lot better. No student should leave school feeling a failure. The trouble is their approach is wrong, and ironically, with its desire for all students to be assessed against National Standards, is creating ‘winners and losers’ environment and in the process narrowing the curriculum and encourages teaching to the tests. Sir Ken Robinson call this standardization a fast food approach; an  approach that has its genesis in the past industrial age.’

http://leading-learning.blogspot.co.nz/2012/07/creative-teaching-only-alternative-to.html

Sir Ken Robinson and Tony Wagner

‘While schools are distracted by ensuring they are seen to do well in achieving / improving their National Standards and NCEA data they are creating the very hyper-accountability conditions that make it difficult for creative teachers.’

http://leading-learning.blogspot.co.nz/2014/11/creating-conditions-for-creative.html

Education Readings March 9th

By Allan Alach

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

6 Techniques for Building Reading Skills—in Any Subject

Students need good reading skills not just in English but in all classes. Here are some ways you can help them develop those skills.

‘Without a repertoire of reading strategies that can be applied to any text, students are being shortchanged in their education. In order to teach students to read effectively, teachers must be sure that they are not simply suppliers of information on a particular text but also instructors of techniques to build reading skills. Here are some ideas on how to incorporate reading skills lessons into a curriculum.’

http://edut.to/2t6JTZr

Academic Sponge Activities

A sponge activity is a lesson that soaks up precious time that would otherwise be lost. Hint: It should be fun as well as educational.

‘When failing lessons need to be abandoned, it’s time to implement a sponge. Madeline Hunter originated the term sponge activities to describe “learning activities that soak up precious time that would otherwise be.” The best sponges are academically rich and provoke laughter. Nicholas Ferroni, an education writer for The Huffington Post, says that laughter activates dopamine and the learning centers of the brain.’

http://edut.to/2ox7IER

Managing the Oppositional-Defiant Child in the Classroom

‘Some of the most challenging students I’ve had to teach have been those with Oppositional-Defiant Disorder. These are the students who challenge the behavioral norms in the classroom, often show low academic achievement, and lack motivation. Thankfully, there is plenty of research behind teaching these tough nuts to crack and lots of resources out there to help you figure out interventions to support them in the classroom.’

http://bit.ly/2GTTtAV

Scaffolding Student Thinking in Projects

‘In order to skillfully embrace the challenges and opportunities they will encounter in life, our students need to develop sophisticated thinking skills that extend far beyond disciplinary boundaries. From understanding and unpacking problems, constraints, and possibilities, to identifying patterns and addressing biases, the types of thinking we should be nurturing in students are many and complex.’

http://bit.ly/2GQDseS

STEM may be the future—but liberal arts are timeless

‘Society has therefore devalued the study of literature, history, politics, philosophy, and sociology as wasteful or pointless. Many suggest we all just should learn skills such as coding, digital marketing, and web development instead. But this is not the direction the world is heading in. Professional requirements are changing so quickly in the real world that lessons deemed relevant in the first year of college are barely relevant upon graduation—and much less early into one’s career.’

http://bit.ly/2I1t9pC

Contributed by Bruce Hammonds:

Teaching in a Modern Learning Environment – with a twist!

Bruce’s latest article:

‘Modern Learning Environments must be more than an architectural innovation. Modern Learning Environments provides the means to devise learning situations which open up the potential for extending the learning of the students. It means attempting to develop within the individual learner all the skills and attitudes of a competent independent learner.’

http://bit.ly/2oX8xWZ

Primary pupils’ maths skills ‘dropping alarmingly’, report finds

After seven years of national standards, on top of 27 years of a neoliberal education philosophy, the damage to NZ education is starting to become very clear. Fortunately the new government may have seen the light and so things may start to turn around. Time will tell.

‘A new report has found schools that improve maths teaching and remove streaming were more successful in reversing a “worrying” downward trend in children’s maths abilities.Schools that abolish classes specifically for talented pupils have a better chance of addressing declining achievement in maths, a new report has found.’

http://bit.ly/2FegVLQ

Critical thinking in an age of fake news

‘In a post-truth era of alternative facts and fake news, the ability to discern what is true is an increasingly important skill.

Learning the skills to apply reason to claims is something built into New Zealand’s school curriculum as one of five key competencies required for living and lifelong learning. Critical thinking involves questioning evidence, the validity of sources of information and reaching conclusions based on evidence.’

http://bit.ly/2FdhSUU

This Yale Psychiatrist Knows How to Shut Down the School to Prison Pipeline: So Why is He Ignored?

‘What Dr. Comer has demonstrated, is that the academic success of children (especially those from poor neighborhoods) depends on educators building good relationships with their parents and truly caring about the students. It begins by first focusing on transforming the social environment of a school community.

Successful change does not begin with national standards or standardized testing (though test scores will also rise significantly, as an outcome of the cultural changes).’

http://bit.ly/2FEoAkv

Study: Too Many Structured Activities May Hinder Children’s Executive Functioning

So much for WALTs, success criteria, teacher intentions, worksheets, phonics, heavy teacher feedback /forward ~ formulaic standardised education….

‘When children spend more time in structured activities, they get worse at working toward goals, making decisions, and regulating their behavior, according to a study.

Instead, kids might learn more when they have the responsibility to decide for themselves what they’re going to do with their time. Psychologists at the University of Colorado and the University of Denver studied the schedules of 70 six-year olds, and they found that the kids who spent more time in less-structured activities had more highly-developed self-directed executive function.’

http://bit.ly/2CVLQre

If Only We Could Find A Way To Not Un-Learn It

‘It’s a truth that I feel in my own heart, even if I often struggle to live it, but the more time I’ve spent with young children, the more I stay out of their way, the more I see that they are the ones who truly understand it, not intellectually of course, but by simply living in the “Now,” regarding their fellow humans in their toils or trails, and making a decision to help them. This is why I can never consider adults as more intelligent than children.’

http://bit.ly/2I2VbRG

From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:

Why schools don’t educate.

‘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

What’s the Point of School?

‘The purpose of education’ Claxton writes, is to prepare young people for the future. Schools should be helping Young people to develop the capacities they will need to thrive. What they need and want, is the confidence to talk to strangers, to try things out, to handle tricky situations, to stand up for themselves, to ask for help, to think new thoughts’ .’This is not to much to ask’, says Claxton, ‘but they are not getting it’.

http://bit.ly/2p5BukY