As we move closer to May 9 the day of attrition

Back to ‘Comments on Comments’ soon.

NOPLAN DAY IS NOT FAR AWAY
Time for the wise to withdraw their children.

As Australia moves forward to one of the most important days on its socio-political calendar – the first day of what is now called, The Noplan Tests, we need to consider the climate in which our present system exists. A drum-roll for those who are forced to head for the learning gallows on May 9 to do the tests!

The Climate

* Schooling movements in Australia are moving further away from democratic principles and it is noticeable.

*Australian politicians do not know how to prepare for the future ….the future of work, of living; a future  of doing better at anything we do.

*Australians do not have the courage to stand up to corporate lobbyists who are now determining our  children’s future.

* The obstacles to a healthy school-learning culture are political, not educational.

* The unscrupulous domination of the greedy  controls our entire schooling system.

* Our obedience to the desires of vested interests keeps us from discussing what is important.

*The elements of the devices used to control basic principles of learning, contain their own form of decadence.  [Children fail NAPLAN because of NAPLAN.]

*The greatest social and industrial handicap to Australia’s future is NOPLAN.  Naplan is a noplan. It’s a political curse for which Australia will pay dearly.

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Keeping in mind that the most esteemed educational practitioner of the 20th century, Sir Alec Clegg, said: 
there are two kinds of education: the education of the mind by imparting facts and teaching skills, and the education of the spirit … the child’s loves and hates, his hopes and fears, or in other terms, his courage, his integrity, his compassion and other great human qualities.

Australia has the capacity to have both for its pupils. We are willing and able to do things properly, if we are allowed.. Sir Alec’s little homily is appropriate….
When Michelangelo was going to Rome to see the Pope prior to his being employed to build the great dome of St Peter’s and paint the Sistine Chapel, he took a reference with him which said: The bearer of these presents is Michelangelo the sculptor. His nature is such that he requires to be drawn out by kindness and encouragement. If love be shown him and he be treated really well, he will accomplish things that will make the whole world wonder.

Every child is a  Michangelo  if we believe in the worth of our children.
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Sadly, the climate of Australian schooling is certainly not conducive to child  care, progress and welfare. Aussies prefer that their teachers exert fear and worry and anxiety so they can pass tests.

The Child

* There is good in every child no matter how slow, damaged, ill-favoured or despised by others.

* Children will work to the limit of their abilities.

* All children matter.

* Happy relationships between school administrators, parents, teachers and pupils are extremely important.

* The life of every child is enriched by the development of its creative powers.

* Love and encouragement and having fun at school are much more important than fear and anxiety.

* Children need care-based pupilling rather than fear-based hard instruction and repetitive test-prep.

* Teachers need as much support as pupils. Both thrive on recognition.

Australians, however,  prefer to believe that children go to school to pass tests and examinations; and play sport. Nothing else.

The School

* definitions are clear and meaningfully used

* all adults on the campus think about their place in the scheme of things.

* thinking time is part of each person’s timetable.

* all members concentrate total effort on the improvement of teaching and learning techniques.

* progress through school is marked by increasing joy in the acts of learning as new thresholds are crossed. Such thresholds are not  marked by school years but by growth in experiences.  Schooling is fun.

* there is plenty of shared opinions about activities and efforts. The sharing of helpful opinion represent the limit of evaluation processes, because increases in learning joy would be the aim of any learning conversations. Shared opinions would lead to positive forms of self-evaluation.

* Oracy is part of the every-day time-table.

* ways  are found to develop talents as part of the normal learning process.

Times for unique interests are found but not over-ritualised.

Pupils  exit school with a greater love for some skill or interest of a particular kind than they had when they started.

 When decisions have to be made [e.g. whether to do Noplan tests]  they are based on a simple Four Way Test, not unlike the Rotary Test:

1. Does it help children to learn better?

2. Does it help teachers to teach better ?

3. Does it economise on efforts in the teaching/learning acts ?

4. Does it provide the greatest good for the greatest number ?

When you have the pupil in the middle of your eye, you can’t miss describing an effective, quality institution.

You end up describing joy in the processes of learning, growth in the quest for learning how to learn, and high satisfaction in achievement.

HOW DOES THE 4-WAY TEST APPLY TO NOPLAN? WHAT DO YOU THINK? Comments?                                                                                                                                                  _______________________________________________________________________________________________                                                                                                                                                                              Phil Cullen 41 Cominan Avenue Banora Point Australia 2486  07 5524 6443  0407865999  cphilcullen@bigpond.com  REFER: Who’s Who in Australia

The politics of testing.

Oh, what a tangled web we weave

When first we practise to deceive.
         [Sir Walter Scott]

It’s NAPLAN season

The longer Australia persists with the notion that we send children to school to pass tests and public examinations, the worse things will get.

The result of using the NAPLAN system of testing within the Klein system of execrable schooling, imported from the United States in a most deceitful manner, has resulted  in a structured climate of threats to the mental health of Australian children and has exposed the dangerous prejudices and misologies of our political masters, notably Gillard, Rudd, Pyne and Birmingham.  It has failed.  The killer DNA within the tests themselves that forces children to dislike school learning,  has proved to be  degrading to our beautiful children and unworthy of its proponents and users. It has retarded the progress of Australian schooling very seriously.

Since such a system threatens the health and well-being of Australian citizens, shouldn’t it be incumbent on a federal minister who initiates such changes,  and on those who, following a change of government, continue with the unwarranted crudity, to demonstrate unequivocally to colleague ministers in the states, from whom the right to conduct such tests has been captured, that the new system is superior to any other? What hard evidence or indisputable empirical evidence do testucators have that would convince normal concerned citizens to support the continuation of this toxic device?  Forget the boganaire view that children will learn after teachers ‘Diagnose’ and “Remediate.” That went out with slate pencils. We’re talking about teaching and learning, about being happy and determined and confident while at school.  Diagnosis is part of the teaching/learning component…not something that is done to children some months later.

It is incumbent on our politicians occupying education portfolios to prove, beyond doubt, that this mode of schooling to which they expose  our children is far superior to any other kind……that NAPLAN works and how it does…..if it does. The patriachal control of education by the Institute of Public Affairs and the Australian Bankers Association is not helpful. The public must be told why our schooling relies so heavily on NAPLAN tests. The serious crushing results in the international PISA results and the TIMSS international  tests last year confirmed children’s and teachers’ extreme animus with anything Naplannish. Pupils flat- lined these local results, having already flopped the international ones, because the tests themselves contain HATE and DESPAIR and UNNECESSARY TENSION .  So, what do adults do? With casual disregard for children’s rights and with Treehorn-type negligence, they,  just as casually, dismiss all interest and allow the torturers to turn up the heat and keep trying old ways .. fiddling with test processes and modes of testing…not better learning habits….to get better scores. It’s not fair to kids. You know what, honourable members of IPA and ABA….and your political flunkies?  Kids hate having  to test swot and to sit tests. THEY PREFERLEARNING.

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“When the affective is secure, the cognitive is inevitable”  was the way that John Settledge described this basic teaching/learning dilemma.

Here’s a certainty. Drop NAPLAN. Just drop it, encourage school-based evaluation techniques; and watch PISA & TIMSS test results increase.

An alternatuve is to dumb-down the tests themselves – as is being widely predicted – so that public confidence is restored. That can work, but it will not remove the tension and fear of that testing moment and the damage that it does .

Message received, Mr. B ?  When will we ever get to talk about learning?……about schooling?….about pupilling?

No. You will keep subjecting our kids to the terrors of NAPLAN  again this year…….9 -11May……unless someone does somethings about it.

We know that NAPLAN is nasty, cruel, unnecessary, immoral, expensive, abusive, mentally crippling operation and a big waste of time.  It’s genesis is in the search for someone to blame for children’s lack of enthusiasm for being pushed around by your mob.

Most Australian parents and almost all Australian teachers dislike, even  hate the whole business, but feel that they have to ‘go with the flow’.  No political party is brave enough to mention it.  School principals dislike it, except for those who see a quid in it or believe that better scores provide better promotional opportunities.  If there was a public rally arranged to march on federal parliament to “STOP NAPLAN”, Canberra would not be big enough to contain the numbers.  Of course this wont happen while our indifference to the way kids learn remains at such a high level; and while greedy corporations maintain their control over the politics of testing.

Only passionate individuals and groups that worry about the way kids are treated, are prepared to stick up for them. “Nuggets’ was a once famous nickname for the meek, but that’s unkind. There are very few  groups of game, knowledgeable nitty-gritty teachers and parents in Australia who are prepared to stand up and keep pushing.  Too few,   Members of so-called learned groups like the Australia Primary Principals which was captured early in the piece,  enwrapped now in an impenetrable bozone layer that prevents individual members from speaking out or organising the parents of their school to refuse en bloc to do the tests or even to tell them of their rights. It’s understandable. It’s what Dan Kahan calls the Identity Protective Cognition : “As a way of avoiding dissonance and estrangement from valued groups, individuals subconsciously resist information that threatens their defining values.”  It then becomes easier to parrot the words of the controllers than to espouse ethical principles out loud.

While NAPLAN may not be a top issue on the usual election calendar because things are arranged to keep it so, it still remains a significant part of  each electorate’s disenchantment with the major parties. As quiet as it remains, any party that calls for its abandonment is on a winner.

Far too many Australians believe that we send children to school to pass tests and examinations in Maths, Science, Grammar and anything that is measurable.  What would happen, do you think, if authorities insisted that our kids be taught to like learning Maths and Science and  anything else that their school does for them…..presuming that the school knows what it is doing, of course; and that our authorities remain in that totalitarian neo-Fascist frame of mind to demand it. That Finnish Maths teacher, whom you saw on the Michael Moore clip, said that his pupils have to be “happy with Maths”.  Australian pollies don’t like that sort of thing.

Our schooling system is arse-about-face. Totally arse-about-face. Predicated on the belief that school kids will do better in life when they are threatened with failure and tested and tutored and ‘homeworked’ as much as possible, the system is just not working. There is no evidence anywhere in the history of the world that any fear-based system has ever worked for too long. Stagnation is the best outcome that fear can promote. Sure we all try harder when we are scared but the end-point varies.This descriptive crudity [a-about-f] of it clearly expresses our rear-vision predilection [‘worked for me’ sort of thing] that can only assure us of mediocrity and further failure. It is soooo arse-about-face. Amen. A more moderate description might be: ‘a dog’s breakfast’.

Put even more gently, it is at the wrong end of the effective-teaching-strategy continuum that ranges from pedantry to maieutic. 

Although many of our most efficient and dedicated teachers have left the profession because of the crudities of NAPLAN, there are sufficient left who make sure that children enjoy the curriculum left-overs – those aspects that can’t be measured.  We cannot rely on this state of affairs forever. Besides, the unknown future keeps reminding us that we need citizens who are adventurous in their learning habits, inquisitive, forward-thinking, innovative, zestful, excited by learning , compassionate, electronically charged,  tolerant, but we Australians are unconcerned about the future nor what is imperative for our schools to do.   How can Naplannic test-freaks help children to prepare for these essential requirements?   Teachers can, and oft-times do teach these developmental enhancers and produce true scholars, as part of their natural teaching genius,  but the system presently prohibits any emphasis on them.  Measurers focus on robotic test responses and do not see the yen to learn  as being of any use. The ‘yen to learn’ compnents of schooing have to be  caught not taught. Our masters believe that as much time as possible must be spent on test preparation for NAPLAN, HSCs and other learning inhibitors. Practice. Practice. Practice. It’s all so robotic and nasty and mediocre and negligent….and wasteful.

The Frankenstein monster has had its head inserted back to front.

YES! It’s all so back-to-front. so S-A-F.  The trend must be stopped. Progress in Australia’s ability to think laterally and innovatively is absolutely essential for its survival and progress. We need to pupil pupils so that they will like learning forever.

Why don’t we try?

______________________________________________________________________

Phil Cullen  41 Comnan Avenue  Banora Point 2486 Australia  07 5524 6443   07865999  cphilcullen@bigpond.com 

Education Readings March 3rd

By Allan Alach

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

What Australia can learn from Finland’s forested classrooms

‘Children’s brains work better when they are moving, the master teacher explains. Not only do they concentrate better in class, but they are more successful at “negotiating, socialising, building teams and friendships together”.

Finland leads the world in its discovery that play is the most fundamental engine and efficiency-booster of children’s learning.’

http://bit.ly/2lYaq3U

Mainstream schools need to take back responsibility for educating disengaged students

Thanks to Phil Cullen for this article.

‘Exclusion from school places makes vulnerable young people at greater risk of long term unemployment, dependence on welfare, mental health issues and social isolation.

Young people unable to attend mainstream education then need to look for an educational alternative that addresses the complexity of their lives and needs.’

http://bit.ly/2lXBsbp

Our crisis of democracy is a crisis of education

‘I think the challenge is that we have an education system, globally, and very much so in the western world, which is geared towards things that we can measure: particularly ‘academic subjects’ – maths, science, and English. Because these are taught and tested in a way that is eminently measurable. The problem with standardisation is that you end up narrowing the curriculum and narrowing the tuition, so that we can measure success through a quite restrictive testing regime.’

http://bit.ly/2mfIbQG

Rescuing Education Reform from Decades of Post-Truth

‘For those of us involved in education and the education reform movement, however, the negative consequences of post-truth discourse have been around for more than a century—and during the past three decades, a harbinger of what the Trump phenomenon has brought to the U.S.’

http://bit.ly/2mfCzpr

A High School Math Teacher’s First Experience Teaching Elementary School

‘At a workshop in Alameda County last month, I made my standard request for classroom teachers to help me make good on my New Year’s resolution. I assumed all the teachers there taught middle- or high-school so I said yes to every teacher who invited me. Later, I’d find out that one of them taught fourth grade.

As a former high school math teacher, this was NIGHTMARE MATERIAL, Y’ALL.’

http://bit.ly/2mMwRID

Contributed by Bruce Hammonds:

The way we teach our children is truly crazy

Education in Australia is crazy – a parent’s view

‘Now I can say it.  With my youngest child having safely fled the school system, I can finally say, without fear of jinx or reprisal, that how we educate our kids is insane. It’s not the teachers, who show the normal human range from fine to feeble. Not the particular schools, which included public and private, selective and non-selective. What’s insane is the system and – feeding it, as fear feeds war – an intensifying cultural madness. Not theirs. Ours.’

http://bit.ly/2lUMyzy

Want to be a great parent? Let your children be bored

‘From books, arts and sports classes to iPads and television, many parents do everything in their power to entertain and educate their children. But what would happen if children were just left to be bored from time to time? How would it affect their development?’

http://bit.ly/2lAjsTx

‘An education in the arts is limited to the economically privileged. It is an unjust waste of national talent’

‘A good education should be a preparation for life. It requires the development of the whole child, not merely their intellect. It necessitates students becoming intrinsic learners with self-discipline and a genuine thirst for knowledge, rather than being goaded or corralled, which is what students may become with a single-minded focus on exam results.’

http://bit.ly/1GHLhwE

Stress Literally Shrinks Your Brain (7 Ways To Reverse The Damage)

Here’s an article for teachers:

‘It’s not impossible to reduce your stress levels; you just need to make managing stress a higher priority if you want to reverse this effect. The sooner you start managing your stress effectively, the easier it will be to keep unexpected stress from causing damage in the future.’

http://bit.ly/2lUFbZc

Teacher: A one-size-fits-all approach to instruction is stifling our classrooms

‘Everyone has an opinion about what’s wrong with American education. Classrooms are overcrowded. Funding is misallocated. Segregation persists. Politicians, principals, and academics have rancorous debates over how to best fix our schools. On at least one issue, however, everyone agrees: Students deserve great teachers. But how can we attract — let alone retain — them?’

http://wapo.st/2ldBRtq

From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:

Don’t touch the bananas!!!!

What monkeys and bananas can teach us

“It is always amazing to see how exposure to an environment, or culture, can change how we think without us even knowing – I guess this is called conditioning. New ideas always rely on those individuals who can see reality without the blinkers.The truth however is not always welcome and it is always easier to go along. As Oscar Wilde once said, ‘The truth makes you very unpopular at the club.’”

http://bit.ly/1hLoV7C

Tapping into the student’s world

‘Every student brings with them memories and ideas gained from the experiences they have had. All too often this personal form of motivation is overlooked by teachers who seem to think they have better ideas to use – their own. It is as if students come to school as blank slates (tabula rosa) when instead they come with a wealth of ideas to share but to do their ideas need to be valued.’

http://bit.ly/1LwCrc8

Teachers’ key role in fostering creativity.

It is is worth thinking about the dispositions and pedagogical skills that make a creative teacher.The key attitude is a desire to help every individual student develop his ,or her, own particular set of interests and talents rather than simply ‘delivering’ the curriculum in an innovative way. The curriculum need to ’emerge’ from the students’ felt concerns.’

http://bit.ly/1EUJFm2

It is difficult

It is Difficult

It is difficult

to comprehend

the political mentality

of a country,

that relies on its schooling system

for its future;

then

copies a dud system

from somewhere else,

compounds its toxicity

and continues to spend billions of dollars

to maintain it.

It’s called Kleinism. It’s called NAPLAN. It’s called ‘child abuse’. It’s called ‘failure’ or ‘flop’. It’s called by thousands of ‘unrepeatable phrases’. It’s a real SNAFU.

Beloved only by a business institute and its whelp-force, it’s the kind of assault on our Aussie future with which only an inhumane testucator can comply.

Despite our Aussie casual indifference to crucial matters, there were some folk around a few years ago who sensed the danger in this alteration to sound schooling practices; and a couple of well-meaning senators initiated an inquiry or two. Forgotten now. Nothing happened.

Fair-dinkum Pupilling Girt by Naplan continues the story….

_____________________________________________________________________________
Phil Cullen 41 Cominan Avenue Banora Point Australia 2486 07 5536 8443 0407865999 cphilcullen@bigpond.com Refer: Who’s Who in Australia

Chapter 5

GO FORTH SENATORS
The Senate is sometimes called a House of Review or a State House or something pleasant that justifies its existence. Senators never appear to be very busy people unless their party boss has given them a jersey in Cabinet or something. Senator Simon Birmingham is our Minister for Educaton, a South Australian and a lawyer as were Cristopher Pyne and Julia Gillard, all previous ministers. The appointment of so many South Ausralian legal eagles to a task that has proved to be quite beyond them has been a special feature of Australian schooling. It must say something, but I’m not sure what it is, because none of their changes has been a credit to the legacy of South Australian schooling of the era of Alby Jones, John Steinle, Jim Giles and other SA schoolies of distinction, when SA was clearly a great schooling society.  S.A. was aptly called the ‘Jekyll and Hyde of Australia‘ by David Hunt in his “True Girt” [P.179].  It must be the eagality side of the schizoid Adelaide kleinsmen that makes them different and do some quite peculiar things. S.A. legal eagles have been in control, or, more directly, ‘ out-of-control’  for a long, long time.

A dominant species, these predatory birds of prey – Klein, Gillard, Pyne, Birmingham – reckon they know more about schooling than anybody else, and, being of their species, keep picking at the bones of the under-nourished. With total disregard for the opinions of more honourable professions within the caring community, they have became the judge,  jury  and executioner of how educational renewables should be organised. A  big blackout. …2008.. left  Australians groping in the dark. We are still groping  in the dark for a schooling system based on learning; on pupilling.

There was enough concern back in 2010 and 2013 for the Senate to appoint a committee of inquiry into aspects of NAPLAN. It has to do something like this every now and then to justify its existence. So, there have been two that concern NAPLAN, both now forgotten, both fizzers. The terms of reference were wide on both occasions, but, as the issues were dealt with, a  generalised feeling started to pervade the deliberations so much so  that the committee only dealt with how the government can tidy up the delivery of the tests and how to make the My School site more palatable for parents.  The age-old hardies: national curriculum, school funding, disadvantaged schools all got plenty of attention; very little on the effects of child abuse and the use of fear as a motivator for better test results. Neither the keeping of administrative secrets from parents nor the ethical dimensions of  improper testing got any air time despite the efforts of some committee members. I got the impression that there was no sense of urgency; no sense of seriousness; not great concern for kids – lots of concern for the processes. It was a snafu situation. You tried, Senators.

Children as children, the effects of the testing on their mental health and humanity,  useful evaluation and accountability alternatives to the American variety, were sidelined. A reading of the submissions only  helped readers to sort the wheat from the chaff about the professional attitude of those who made submissions.

While proud of the submission that I had made, my participation in the events were an embarrassment. There seemed to be no seriousness of intent. I joined with some wonderful Australian educators, especially David Hornsby and Lorraine Wilson, members  of the Australian Literacy Educators Association; but it was hopeless.
[By the way, check out  http://www.alea.edu.au/documents/item/773/ for an insight into The Place of Phonics in Learning to Read and Write.]

On reading the submissions to the first inquiry, I was blasted out of my cockpit when I saw that APPA, the Australian Primary Principals Association, approved of the use of NAPLAN as a diagnostic and evaluative device. I have had some bitter disappointments over the past eighty years, but, as a former primary principal, this was the biggest ever. Since APPA claims to represent all primary school principals’ associations and a one-off Queensland association of principals as well, I did not see how this could have happened. No mention in their submission or too many other submissions of the impact on children’s mental health or anything like that.  I never ever thought that I would see the day.

At the time, all the APPA had to say to her ladyship was: “Primary principals don’t do those sorts of things to children.”….and NAPLAN was ‘dead, buried and cremated.’ When I mentioned this to the President at the time, his non-verbal reaction seemed to say it all. Trapped.

The statement still applies, but it would take more courage than is currently available to tell the authorities where to get off….and leave our kids alone….to let them learn….to be pupilled instead of badgered. Fighting casual indifference, a silent well-controlled media, disinterested political parties and an overbearing, inhumane government makes things difficult for once-ethical, usually placid, lonely classroom teachers and parents to express their wishes. As Forrest Gump says: ‘It happens.” 

I repeat what I said: “We shouldn’t do such nasty things to children and Australian primary principals should have had no part in it.”

I was absolutely amazed and crushed. If there was any group of educators in Australia that would call for the complete banning of NAPLAN because of its toxic effects on the curriculum and on children’s learning and mental health, I was sure that it would be a group of primary principals. I just could not believe what I saw and hear. They approved of this devilish dilution of ethics and standards and said so. I thought of the primary school kids attending schools for the following few years, where NAPLAN was jollied and enacted by its leaders; and felt devastated.

Poor kids.

It seems as if the holding of a senate inquiry provided a counterfeit closure on debate about important issues…… and none comes more important than the welfare of our children.
Is there anybody around to stand up for the kids?

Is there anybody around to stand up for the kids?                                                                                                                                             oooo0000oooo

Fair Dinkum Pupilling Girt by NAPLAN

Do you remember the old story of the beautiful maiden and the frog? She had been told that if she kissed this frog, it would turn into a handsome prince.  But what kind of stunning beauty goes around kissing frogs? Yuk. She did! Crash!  Bang! Wallop!   There, before her, stood the most handsome prince.  You know the rest of the story.

That’s the job of teachers, isn’t it?……to kiss frogs?    and never stop looking for frogs to kiss?

 

Education Readings February 24th

By Allan Alach

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

A new phonics test for Australian six year olds is a BAD idea

As renowned English author Michael Rosen explains, the difference between a phonics test and learning to read is that a phonics test merely requires children to pronounce a list of words, while learning to read is about making meaning of a text.  Phonics is only one part of the literacy story. And there is no evidence that phonics training should precede meaning making in literacy learning. It is much more productive to address decoding skills in meaningful contexts.’

http://bit.ly/2m5KnKM

Should Traditional Teachers Join the Revolution?

‘However my experience is that very few of colleagues make pedagogical choices on the basis of ideology or efficacy, they do what they do to get through the day. Effectively each teacher presents a personal mishmash of entrenched pedagogical styles. It is immensely difficult to persuade colleagues to break their particular pattern because the pattern is a coping strategy.’

http://bit.ly/2mnagSB

Give teaching back to teachers

‘We need to give back to teachers control of the learning agenda. They also need to be supported with high-quality professional experiences. I want to make clear that I am not advocating an ‘anything goes’ approach. Good teachers are prepared to be accountable and responsible for their work and the work of their colleagues. But making them jump through hoop after hoop to justify their existence is draining and disheartening.’

http://bit.ly/2la868t

What Works Can Hurt: Side Effects in Education

Yong Zhao:

‘Educational research has typically focused exclusively on the benefits, intended effects of products, programs, policies, and practices, as if there were no adverse side effects. But side effects exist the same way in education as in medicine. For many reasons, studying and reporting side effects simultaneously as has been mandated for medical products is not common in education.’

http://bit.ly/2lMWNXm

Contributed by Bruce Hammonds:

Designing New Learning Environments to Support 21st Century Skills

A serious read about modern learning environments by Bob Pearlman

This chapter from a recent book outlines the development of creating 21stC learning environments. For schools moving in such directions it is worth the read. a key element of such schools is project base learning with students working collaboratively on authentic tasks to produce of quality. One message is not to put ‘old wine into new bottles’. Obviously purpose built buildings feature but it is the pedagogy that is most important.

http://bit.ly/2ma440X

How can the learning sciences inform the design of 21st century learning environments?

A short and valuable report about the teaching beliefs required to teach in a Innovative Learning Space.

‘Over recent years, learning has moved increasingly centre stage and for a range of powerful reasons. A primary driver has been the scale of change in our world the rapid advances in ICT, the shift to economies based on knowledge, and the emphasis on the skills required to thrive in them. Schools and education systems around the world are having to reconsider their design and approach to teaching and learning. What should schooling, teaching and, most especially, learning look like in this rapidly changing world?’

http://bit.ly/2kXa8YP

Rethinking classroom design to promote creativity and collaboration

‘Modern Learning Environments are the in thing but it’s what happens in them that counts!“The physical design of the space absolutely helps, especially when it comes to promoting collaboration. “It shouldn’t matter whether it’s for high school or college students,” he said. “We have to prepare students for a future that they can’t imagine, and how to succeed in the 21st century, using adaptability, creativity and empathy, along with ethics and problem-solving.”’

http://bit.ly/2m9drkK

Are Teachers Becoming Obsolete?

‘Leaving my school building the other day, I had an unexpected realization: Perhaps a computer was a more effective teacher than I currently was. The thought unnerved me, and still does as I’m writing this. I’m a nearly 13-year veteran educator dedicated to reflecting upon and refining my teaching craft. But I’m now considering the real possibility that, for at least part of a class period or school day, a computer could—and maybe should—replace me.’

http://bit.ly/2lJS7S4

Students Learn from Inquiry, Not Interrogation

‘Almost all students view follow-up questions as attempts to keep them on the “hot seat” and embarrass them for not knowing. And most perceive classroom questioning to be a competition that pits students against one another – Whose hand goes up first? Who answers most frequently? Very few students understand questioning as a process for collaborative exploration of ideas and a means by which teachers and students alike are able to find out where they are in their learning and decide on next step.’

http://bit.ly/2kX3NN5

Always Think Like a Student

‘There are many paths to success, but there is a common thread among them all: learning.The value of being a lifelong learner is immeasurable. We tend to forget this outside of the most obvious situations: at work or in school. What we all need to understand is that there is knowledge to be uncovered everywhere.’

http://bit.ly/2lJTDDP

From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:

Modern Learning Environments (MLEs) are they so new?

‘My impressions of the schools I have visited are that they remind me of  technological futuristic factories and, in some ways, not really relating to real flesh and blood

children. Even the landscaping has been planned by ‘experts’ who like mass planting of natives that are forced to conform to their futuristic roles – amenity planting. Not really gardens – or even natural native gardens.’

http://bit.ly/1Dxahay

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

A bit of history about modern learning environments – a NZ perspective.

“Modern School Environment are the latest iteration of 1970s open plan schools.I am not sure how they will be developed by teachers other than  by those who already have  an open approach to education. Time will tell but the flexibility of such buildings are a  great improvement on the limitations of self contained classrooms – sometimes disparagingly described as ‘single cell classrooms’.”

http://bit.ly/1NUH50e

Rollicking Politics

Rollicking Politics

Australia is enduring a peculiar period of political chicanery, wastage of enormous amounts of money  and indifference to social welfare, this year.

Maverick Pauline Hanson is taking over the airways and gaining ground every day on issues that befound and befuddle the population as our two major neo-con parties try to throttle each other. If she promises to ban NAPLAN, she’s the next PM. The major parties are losing their good manners,their ideological base and looking more like each other in their pursuits of neo-conservatism. The greens poke their noses at the others and nothing else. They seem to tolerate too easily their title of ‘tree-huggers’ and have become indifferent to things like schooling and caring for kids. In all, the Libs and Labs are antagonistic to children’s well-being, Greens are indifferent and the remainder just don’t care. Our education system is in a mess and no political party cares. Our future is dicey.

Sadly, there is no ‘star’ amongst the great number of state and federal politicians, no stalwart, no crusader who will stand up for the rights of children in their party room, in their state or federal legislature or in their star chambers. ‘Gutless wonders’, so-called, they don’t know how to talk about kids and their learning; nor to discuss why we force them to go to school…..and it’s not too difficult. Here’s a summary.

Kids go to school to learn things from a teacher. Each child is a pupil who is expected to work with his or her teacher; and each teacher is expected to provide the learning experiences that matter for the healthy, whole-hearted development of each child. Authorities believe that it takes about 12 or 13 years and a variety of teachers to do the job properly.

Let me repeat the key phrase : “WITH A TEACHER”….not controlled by some distant measurement freak

Kids do not go to school to pass tests. They go to school to learn;  and a major part of the learning process is for the teacher and the pupil to evaluate the progress of each child’s learning as they learn [not some time later] ; and so, each child grows in confidence and gets better. It ain’t easy and distractions from the teaching-learning-evaluating curriculum process are a nuisance; major distractions like external standardised blanket testing can be quite toxic. NAPLAN has shown that it is.  Such tests contain a lethal gene that destroys a love of the subject and of schooling and of learning. It’s extremely dangerous.

Effective evaluation does not need written tests nor high stakes nonsense. Children progress best with a pat on the back or a ‘word in season’ at the particular point in the learning process…not months away. Every person who bothers to read this page will recall a point in time when they were told by someone they respected that they were good at something  and they lived up to that prediction. Ask your favourite sports person or singer or artist how they came to be so good. Mr. Ghirladaiu told young Michael Angelo that he was good at drawing.

Business corporations who, once employed the cream of the school graduates became unable to understand, after the cream graduates went on to higher education,that they were left with the strugglers ….better value, but no more Einsteins amongst them. They blamed the school fraternity for producing lower level workers and when they had to pay through the nose for uni. graduates, they blamed the system.

Very , very ignorant politicians listened to the whinges of the high and mighty corporate bodies and felt obliged to do as they were told by their sponsors and lobbyists. Besides, a toxic meme that referred to standards of schooling was receiving controlled encouragement by the George Bush intelligentsia in New York where billion-dollar enterprises, connected to publishing tests and test-prep computer programs had got going.  The links to Australia were very, very strong.

All in all, the big boys decided that there was big money in school activities, once you had control of the activities. Money-making and blanket testing are a perfect couple….a perfect storm. Since then, others have found that schooling can be a very profitable racket in a number of ways.

So, when pumped-up Kevin Rudd, as PM decided that bullying tactics worked best when one dealt with schooling, he sent a bully to meet a bully who had an enormous reputation for bullying and was despised for the way he did it. So…we copied it. We must love the notion of kids trembling in a test room to confirm the big-business opinion of slovenliness.  The story of how Fair-Dinkum pupilling – consensual arrangements for learning – in Australia, became girt and choked by a toxic testing program in Australia – unfolds in Chapter 3…  

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