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.
I welcome suggested articles, so if you come across a gem, email it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org
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.’
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.’
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.’
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.’
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.’
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.
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.
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.’
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?’
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.’
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.’
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.’