Education Readings May 26th

By Allan Alach

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

What the Fidget Spinners Fad Reveals About Disability Discrimination

‘Autistic people (and others with developmental disabilities) have been fighting a war for decades. It’s a war against being forcibly, often brutally, conditioned to behave more like neurotypicals, no matter the cost to our own comfort, safety, and sanity. And those of us who need to stim in order to concentrate (usually by performing small, repetitive behaviors like, oh I don’t know, spinning something) have endured decades of “Quiet Hands” protocols, of being sent to the principal’s office for fidgeting, of being told “put that down/stop that and pay attention!,” when we are in fact doing the very thing that allows us to pay attention instead of being horribly distracted by a million other discomforts such as buzzing lights and scratchy clothing.’

http://bit.ly/2qYd6Bb

Arts education is vital to help foster creativity and innovation

‘I have a dream that this nation will achieve its full creative and economic potential and that Arts education will rightfully be seen as central to making this happen. It worries me that current thinking and policymaking around national innovation concentrates on increasing participation in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) subjects while the teaching of the Arts (dance, drama, music, media arts and visual arts,) is rarely even on the innovation agenda.’

http://bit.ly/2qY6baU

What Does it Mean to Be Educated?

‘Seeing all this, would a modern Rip van Winkle even send his kids to school? Or would he see school as helplessly behind the times and opt for a radically different path to give his children the education they actually needed to thrive in the modern world?’

http://bit.ly/2qlZXQ5

Reading Readiness Has To Do With The Body

‘We know that our little ones walk and talk on their own timetables. No rewards or punishments are necessary to “teach” them. Yet children are expected to read, write and spell starting at five and six years old as if they develop the same way at the same time. Academics are pushed on young children with the assumption this will make them better students. This approach is not only unnecessary, it may be contributing to problems such as learning disorders, attention deficits, and long term stress.’

http://bit.ly/2qdNz9R

Response: ‘The Toughest Part of Teaching Is…’

‘What do you think is the toughest part of teaching and how do you deal with it?

Teaching has no shortage of tough moments.  What are the most common ones, and how can we best get through them?’

http://bit.ly/2rj4qbq

Contributed by Bruce Hammonds:

How Children Naturally Learn

From Wayne Morris

‘In order for educational settings to be successful they need to be aligned with how children naturally learn. Children’s innate curiosity, enthusiasm, creativity, playfulness, individuality, imaginativeness, resourcefulness, social intelligence, and love of learning need to be respected and supported.This isn’t rocket science, it’s just basic wise parenting and effective teaching. Most of us have helped children develop skills and learn informally, before they went off to school. And all of us mastered skills on our own, so this is something we understand intuitively.’

http://bit.ly/2rBonK6

6 Traits of Life-Changing Teachers

‘In education there’s a lot of talk about standards, curriculum, and assessment—but when we ask adults what they remember about their education, decades after they’ve left school, the answers are always about their best teachers. So what is it about great educators that leaves such an indelible impression?’

http://edut.to/2qQQMLa

How People Learn: An Evidence-Based Approach

‘Teachers will always need to use their knowledge of students and content to make professional judgments about classroom practice. However, we believe the art of teaching should also be informed by a robust understanding of the learning sciences so that teachers can align their decisions with our profession’s best understanding of how students learn. Unfortunately, our education system is rife with misconceptions and confusion about learning. So let’s clear away the myths and focus on well-established cognitive principles and their implications for the classroom:’

http://edut.to/2rS1fo5

Why Handwriting Is Still Essential in the Keyboard Age

‘There is a tendency to dismiss handwriting as a nonessential skill, even though researchers have warned that learning to write may be the key to, well, learning to write.

And beyond the emotional connection adults may feel to the way we learned to write, there is a growing body of research on what the normally developing brain learns by forming letters on the page, in printed or manuscript format as well as in cursive.’

http://bit.ly/2rWjW9s

From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:

Testing our way into the 19thC!

Those with their minds firmly fixed in a patronising, mechanistic, or technocratic approach, always see measurement as the ultimate way of guaranteeing progress.Like any simple solution to a complex problem it is wrong -and has been proved so. Standard based teaching was the approach of education in Victorian times – each class was called a standard ( standard one etc) that you progressed to if you passed the test. In the early days, in the UK, teachers were paid by results their students gained in the tests. Maybe that is next on our ‘new’ governments agenda.’
http://bit.ly/2rW9kHM

Cathy Wylie outlines new wave of change for New Zealand Schools!

‘In 1989 an ‘earthquake’ hit education in the form of ‘Tomorrows Schools’.Now, almost three decades later, A  NZCER  chief researcher Cathy Wylie has written a definitive and compelling story of school self-management .Cathy answers the questions: What was the real effect of ‘Tomorrows Schools’? Has the New Zealand Schools system improved as a result? And what changes are needed now to meet our expectations of schools?’

http://bit.ly/TNlnzy

A Question Based Curriculum

‘I wonder what would happen if all the expert’s curriculums disappeared; and all the standardized tests? And, with them, all the technocrats who believe that everything needs to measured and turned into data. Anyway such people never bothered to measure anything important such as, curiosity, love of learning and persistence; the very things that mark out successful innovative individuals Instead consider what would happen if we decided to create entire curriculums from student question and concerns?’

http://bit.ly/2qXPrk0

Education Readings May 5th

By Allan Alach

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

Teacher knows best? Not any longer as parents muscle in on the classroom

Feel familiar to you?

‘Abusive behaviour by parents is experienced by a third of primary teachers, either online or on the school premises, at least once a month. A fifth of secondary school teachers are exposed to such behaviour once a month, according to the study. Female teachers were more likely to report such experiences.’

http://bit.ly/2p7tooq

Projects, Passion, Peers and Play: Seymour Papert’s Vision For Learning

‘Papert had a vision of children learning with technology in ways that were revolutionary. He believed that kids learn better when they are solving problems in context. He also knew that caring passionately about the problem helps children fall in love with learning. He thought educating kids shouldn’t be about explanation, but rather should be about falling in love with ideas.’

http://bit.ly/2paokka

Can Technology Change How Teachers Teach? (Part 1)

Thanks to Tony Gurr for this one.

‘Judging whether teachers have actually altered their daily classroom practice is surprisingly hard to do. Teachers, imbued with the culture’s values, often say that they have changed their lessons from week to week, year to year due to new district curricula, tests, and programs. Yet policymakers and researchers are less certain of such changes.’

http://bit.ly/2qGKPNN

Contributed by Bruce Hammonds:

Will Computers Free Teachers to Teach More Creatively?

‘At a party of a friend recently I got into a discussion with someone about education and the use of computer technology. The person I was conversing with suggested that educational software could and should be developed to relieve teachers of the technical aspects of teaching.I argue that we do not need to focus on developing or advocating for such software what we need to do is  to focus instead on creative and critical thinking for the purpose of developing democratic citizens. There is a real lack of movement in that direction in the public schools.’

http://bit.ly/2pJv5N4

Gold Standard PBL: Essential Project Design Elements

‘If done well, PBL yields great results. But if PBL is not done well, two problems are likely to arise. First, we will see a lot of assignments and activities that are labeled as “projects” but which are not rigorous PBL, and student learning will suffer. Or, we will see projects backfire on underprepared teachers and result in wasted time, frustration, and failure to understand the possibilities of PBL. Then PBL runs the risk of becoming another one of yesterday’s educational fads – vaguely remembered and rarely practiced. To help teachers do PBL well, we created a comprehensive, research-based model for PBL – a “gold standard” to help teachers, schools, and organizations to measure, calibrate, and improve their practice.’

http://bit.ly/2pJlXrt

Bruce has put together a set of articles that provide ideas about how to make use of Flexible Learning Spaces that are now almost the norm in our schools.

Brightworks – Tinkering School

“The only way to appreciate how other schools work is to visit them. Lisa Squire  from Hobsonville Point Primary and her principal Daniel Birch are currently visiting schools in the USA featuring student centred  learning in flexible learning environment ( Modern Learning Environments/MLEs). Lisa is writing a blog to share her experiences and for teachers interested in such learning environments will find her blog enlightening. This blog is about her visit to a Brightworks a ‘Tinkering School’.”

http://bit.ly/2pH6R40

Nuevas Upper School – a flexible learning environment (FLE)

‘Another school recently visited by New Zealand educators is Nuevas Upper School which offers an educational environment in which students feel safe to be themselves, to step out of their comfort zone and to follow their passions. This is the highest rom  of both self discovery and collaboration. This will be of interest to teachers working in flexible learning environments (FLE). One of the central pillars of a Nueva School education, Design Thinking is thoroughly integrated, developing in the students a way of thinking, seeing, and doing that increases their effectiveness.’

http://bit.ly/2pH7872

Brilliant examples of project work from High Tech High Schools

‘When visiting schools the work on display indicated the range of content being studied and the depth of student thinking.  Below are examples of project work  done at  High Tech High Schools. It is their record of what they have done and how they achieved their results. Teachers can utilize ideas illustrated by the displays to get ideas for their own school. Through displays students can show their parents and friends the work that they have done, and the community can see how project based learning enables students to do and learn.’

http://bit.ly/2paaQon

Are we expecting too much too quickly of our teachers?

Interesting thoughts from New Zealand blogger about Innovative Learning Environments(ILE).

‘I sense that there is a deep exhaustion across the sector at all levels of the teaching profession. I think much of this exhaustion has come from under-estimating the enormity of the changes we are currently demanding of the sector. Moving to shared teaching spaces, or Innovative Learning Environments (ILEs) is one example of expecting too much too quickly.’

http://bit.ly/2qAJp8E

Transforming Secondary Education – the most difficult challenge of all.

‘One of the educationalists working towards a new conception of secondary education working in what we now call Flexible Learning Spaces (MLE) was Charity James of Goldsmiths College and in 1968 she published her book ‘Young Lives at Stake’. I think I must have one of the few copies available and it remains at the top of my favourite educational books. Charity James believed it was important to get secondary education right if all students were to leave able to take advantage of the exciting opportunities the future might offer. Her book provides ideas about how to organise learning in flexible spaces relevant to today’s challenges.’

http://bit.ly/1k3YTMR

New Zealand’s Minister of Education Hekia Parata has just stepped down – here are a couple of not particularly flattering tributes to her performance over the the last five years. Overseas readers may want to compare her to whatever flavour of educational politician they are stuck with.

A Report Card for Hekia Parata as the Minister of Education

http://bit.ly/2qGzGg2

Interpreting Hekia Parata’s legacy

‘As Hekia Parata steps down as Minister of Education, trying to assess the legacy she leaves behind is difficult. That she was the most passionate, most controversial and most polarising Minister is probably not debatable. But what did she achieve? Parata never gained the full trust of teachers. She continued to pursue an agenda that was completely out of step with school leaders, education academics and the teacher unions. So what is the Minister’s legacy?’

http://bit.ly/2qtdKc0

From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:

Autumn – a chance to develop inquiry skills

Northern hemisphere readers will have to park this one for 6 months!

‘Autumn is too good not to take advantage of.All too often the results of Autumn studies seen in many classes ( usually Junior rooms) are superficial, to say the least, but this need not be the case.If there are deciduous trees in, or near, the school grounds what a brilliant opportunity to develop a small integrated study.The study could be prefaced with the provocation, ‘Why do some trees lose their leaves?’ Such questions introduce an inquiry approach to the students.’

http://bit.ly/2qGx2a3

NAPLAN. It’s all systems go!

NAPLAN – 9 May

IT’S ALL SYSTEMS GO!

The intensity of preparation for the tests is evident in the extreme measures that schools are taking to confront the evil in a few days. [See The Treehorn Express 19 April]. School administration teams will be busy arranging for the rooms, the invigilators aka security guards appointed, what to do with the rest of the school during the three days, sorting out those who have requested not to do the tests and the endless tasks that NAPLAN brings with it. The normal curriculum teaching will have been adjusted in classrooms some time ago and there will be heavy concentration on the examinable bits expected in the tests; plenty of test practice and homework.  Teaching and learning will have been suspended until Friday, 12 May when celebrations for the conclusion of the sweat swot will be joyous.

Australian Schooling – the teaching and learning part – commences on Monday, 15 May.

The holistic curriculum that aims at high achievements in all learning matters will be commenced for the year  on Monday, 15  May.

IN THE MEANTIME…..

Parents will be taking their children to tutoring shops, purchasing those “NAPLAN for Dummies” kind of books from the newsagents, supervising homework with serious concern,  planning the rewards for ‘jobs well done’ and, maybe singing songs like “It’s Not on the Test”

to their own ‘little third graders’ The wise parents will be writing their notes to the teacher or the principal or the school indicating that they do not want their child to be subjected to the traumas of NAPLAN testing.

The teachers will be using up their supplies of vallium and tears and ‘kicking the cat’ that frustrations bring when they want their pupils to succeed in something that they did not ask for, can do without, doesn’t work, and is abusive to children’s mental health.

Principals will be doing as they are told as well as helping their teachers to ‘feel good’ under difficult circumstances

At the top tiers of government, Simon will have, by now consulted with his war cabinet [The Australian Government Primary Principals’ Association [ http://www.agppa.asn.au/ ], as they caste their ‘unified and authoritative’ eye over ACARA’s management of NAPLAN 2017, especially following the messages from the 2016 disappointment. This think-tank’s contribution to the maintenance of mediocre standards in our schools is pivitol.  One cannot expect much higher than mediocre, of course. It’s in-built. It is, indeed crucial for 2017, since the most recent PISA results, where the effects of NAPLAN were evident, and Australian scores were worse than some third-world obscure authorities that Australia gets back to the middle or better in world terms. The very nature of NAPLAN assures the world that Australia is heading the wrong way in PISA terms. Our kids and their teachers do not seem to like doing NAPLAN nor PISA [for 15 year-olds]; that’s for sure.  PISA is THE litmus test for how well NAPLAN works; and the evidence to date clearly shows that our kids are ‘turned off’ to learning maths, science and literature; and the stress and anxiety that they cause to individuals, parents and homes is much too high.  This government think-tank, AGPPA, would have discussed, in some depth as to the 2016 calamity and whether it is worthwhile pursuing this kleinist mode of mass evaluation, called NAPLAN. We would expect no less, even though the discussions have not been made public.

Will NAPLAN be different this year and did AGPPA approve of the differences?  Simon’s group will be au fait with the difficulties of the change-over to mechanised testing and satisfied itself that all is okay, except for the difficulties in Queensland, but ACARA will surely be required to assure the Government’s group that all is fair and square before it makes any public statements.  How good are the keyboard skills of the victims? Anyone know?

The effects of this sort of testing program on the mental health of children must be of serious concern  to AGPPA, if Simon’s loyal group  cares for the government’s welfare.  The governments drive for ‘Values’ seems to be a serious one, even though Australia does not have a serious stance in the way it treats its children. The tales of PTSD and versions of it, the suicide rate, the unhappiness in families at this time of the year must surely have been on the agenda of this government think-tank.

All will be well if sufficient parents are prepared to say ‘NO to NAPLAN’.  It’s not too late.

By the way, does the government have its own  Australian Government Council of State School Organisations that it has captured? If so, watch out kids. You’ve been  well and truly treehorned.

________________________________________________________________________________________________

Phil Cullen   http://primaryschoolng.net/    http:treehornexpress.wordpress.com

Education Readings April 28th

By Allan Alach

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

What Are the Proper Purposes of a System of Schooling?

‘I’m raising this as a question.  Suppose you, magically, were part of a committee charged with developing, completely from scratch, a school system for our modern times.  You and the other committee members realize that before designing the structure, you need a clear idea of the purpose of schools.   And let’s suppose you are idealists enough to believe that the purpose should have something to do with education (as opposed, for example, to such purposes as providing employment for teachers or supporting the textbook and testing industries).  You are asked to come to the next meeting with a brief, written statement of what you think that purpose (or those purposes) should be.

Now, here’s what I’m asking you to do in this little survey.’

http://bit.ly/2pjGbWU

Relationships and the Company We Keep.

‘If we start with these, relationships and the company we keep as our basic principles of learning, then the design of our school, classroom, learning environment need to reflect that. In other words, do the designs of the above, hinder or support strong relationships and creating a context for students to be surrounded by the kinds of people that we hope they become?’

http://bit.ly/2oy9J5T

50 Tips, Tricks and Ideas for Teaching Gifted Students

‘Gifted kids can be a joy to teach when you know how to identify what engages them. These 50 tips and tricks come from my own experience and from around the Web. They’re good to have in your bag of tricks whether you’re a newbie or an old hand at teaching these high-level thinkers.’

http://bit.ly/2p601Gl

Secret Teacher: I’m tired of justifying the value of vocational subjects

‘One consultation evening, a parent told me that their child was no longer considering health and social care as an option. They had been informed by one of my colleagues that there was no point in doing it and to take a “real subject”. While I was shocked, I shouldn’t have been surprised: my subjects were always included at the back of the options booklet, with English, maths and science at the front.’

http://bit.ly/2oL9zmL

How to make mixed ability work: Let children take control of the lesson

‘Grouping children by presumed ability rests on the assumption that teachers know exactly what each child will achieve in a lesson. In reality this is rare, as completing tasks does not always equate with achievement. In fact, the idea of the ‘omnipotent teacher’ has led to an approach to lesson design defined by passive pupils waiting to be moved on. This ignores the pupil as a rational, self-regulating agent who has the potential, if given the chance, to understand their own cognitive capacity better than anyone else; it also belies the ability for pupils to act as resources for one another.’

http://bit.ly/2p5LMBw

Contributed by Bruce Hammonds:

Here’s How British and American Spelling Parted Ways

A short video explains the differences.

‘Why do Brits and Americans spell certain words differently? A colourful tale of dictionaries, politics, and national identity ensues here.’

http://stumble.it/2q88442

‘To retain our best teachers we need to stop killing them with planning, marking and meetings’

‘Just about every teacher will recognise the sad truth: they are working longer and longer hours week after week. (It would appear that this is now recognised by the Department for Education, too). The most profound question to address is whether these extra hours spent in the school are actually improving the quality of teaching and learning. Sadly, it would seem, this is not the case. It is rather more likely that we are spending endless hours perfuming menial tasks because that’s just what is expected of us…’

http://bit.ly/2mkaEEc

The Heart of Teaching: What It Means to Be a Great Teacher

‘What does it mean to be a great teacher? Of course credentials, knowledge, critical thinking, and all other faculties of intelligence are important. However, a great teacher should be much more than credentials, experience and intelligence.What lies in the heart of a great teacher?’

http://edut.to/2q8cSGP

Learning Objectives: a waste of time.

‘If you still have learning objectives written up at the start of every lesson, you’re in 2012. Hope you’re enjoying Gangnam Style.

A few people have been asking the reasoning behind my scorn for learning objectives, and I felt it prudent to outline my thinking here, in a blog. So here’s why I think learning objectives are ridiculous:’

http://bit.ly/2q7YwpP

From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:

Education is about playing the whole game

‘David Perkins is professor of Education at Harvard University Graduate School of Education. A highly respected authority in his field he is well known for his research and insight into the deep understanding of teaching and learning. His latest highly creative and easy to read book ( published 2009) summarizes years of observations, reflections and research. He ‘makes visible’ what creative and insightful teachers do. He also provides a framework of seven practical principles for all teachers to transform their teaching.’

http://bit.ly/1PxqsZB

What’s the Point of School?

“Guy Claxton, University of Winchester,is one of the UK’s foremost thinkers on developing students ‘learning power’. His most recent book is called ‘What’s the Point of School’ and ought to be compulsory reading for anyone involved in education. His book is all about ‘rediscovering the heart in education’.”

http://bit.ly/2p5BukY

The Big Picture Company

“The Big Picture Company believes that every students learning should grow out of his or her unique needs, interests and passions. They also believe that the system must ensure that the students and their families are active participants in the design and assessment of the student’s education. The goal of education should be to connect students to the world ‘one student at a time.’”

http://bit.ly/2oyeYCs

February 2016 -Things Looked Good for a While

FEBRUARY 2016 saw the continuation of heavy NAPLAN-test-prep in those schools that have to rely on test results for their reputation. Holistic learning requirements , shared evaluation and real teaching were discussed and operated behind closed doors during this period, while regional officers in some states heavied [aka ‘mentored’] their teachers to be more naplanish and deliberately encouraged didactic modes of instruction among the unsure. Some even tried to ‘sell’ the ubiquitous direct de/instruction packages.These data-collectors can claim success. They have the naplan-based system firmly in their clutches.

The NAPLAN testing’s paranoia for the collection of scores was being properly defined : “ A NAPLAN score represents an inadequate judgement by a biased and variable testucator of the content to which an undefined level of mastery of unknown proportions of an inadequate amount of peculiar material has been completed on time. It is a device controlled by the New Mafia in the upper reaches of the banking and big corporate businesses, more engrossed in the accumulation of dollars and cents than in any concern. for child welfare or learning processes. It has the Frankenstein Effects of monstering as many learning abilities as it can, of abusing children’s mental health; and its control over decent curriculum and Australia’s intellectual future is extremely dangerous. As a mode of accountability and encouragement and system improvement, NAPLAN is pure crap.”

The importation of NAPLAN’s form of fear-based kleinism was, and remains an insult to the Aussie ‘way of life’. Instead of focusing on the basics of teaching, the importers’ fascist-inspired modes of teaching and learning turned our democratic options to a new low. The usual Aussie fair-play attitude to life actually contains the seeds of unrivaled achievement through a fair-play credo. We have neglected this attitude as it applies to school children for eight long years. It will have to be re-installed if we want to secure our future and a positive Aussie ‘way of life.’

The impact on political parties was varied at this time of 2016. An election year was coming up. Although the interest in schooling was minimal, each party hastily made up some quick policies. The Greens wanted the tests run at the beginning of the year. The LNP wanted better results within 12 weeks…forced, if necessary…May, of course! The ALP, it lay low. It, as usual, ignored the plight of kids under NAPLAN conditions and allowed their neo-con colleagues to have their way. The education policies of all parties and independent candidates demonstrated a clear disinterest in the guts of schooling. Independents and minor parties didn’t give two hoots. No political party or group indicated any interest in re-installing the high achieving, have-a-go, fair-dinkum, Aussie fair-crack-of-the-whip kind of education system we can have…if we want it. We seem to have lost the plot on the natural connection between fair-dinkum aussieness and productivity of school achievements. Our fixation with testing and data-collection, of New York origin, obscures the vision of Australia.s ability to becomeamongst the world’s most progressive countries. …depending on how well it treats its children.

OUR CANE-TOAD MENTALITY
Political parties’ attitude seemed to be based on a ‘cane toad’ mentality. THAT IS: Release an untested foreign ‘solution’ , without too much thought, to solve an invented problem and our school system will improve.{You will recall that the non-thinking scientists at the time of the cane-toad, overlooked the fact that toads could only leap so high and cane beetles flew higher.] .

Also… The New Mess, as the proposed use of computers for persuasive writing tests was called, hit the fan. The cane toad mentality was in full leap.

The concierge factions of each political party [the lobbyists, facilitators and door-openers] were busy , especially in the LNP, making sure that the candidates for the forthcoming elections were of the ‘right’ frame of mind. As it turned out, the electorate was starting to get sick of our pollies being controlled by the Gordon Gekkos of this world and turned to Pauline. She was chuffed and the longer neo-con un-seen operators control our politicians and systems, the happier she’ll be; the longer she’ll remain. The big Lib-Lab boys, probably paying for their sins of ignoring children, only have a slender lead over each other., now….and the more their indolence neglects the mental health of school children, the more slender any lead should become for the both parties.

During February, 2016

Concern was expressed by elite media commentators as to why states did not reclaim their control over schooling and treat children as human beings. Nothing happened.

The ALP started a peculiar petition for more resources in schools!!! It went flat.

THEN THINGS STARTED TO LOOK GOOD…..

A letter from Gabriel Stroud received resounding applause from real professionals and from the local media for a little while...” For many years I was privileged to be a teacher in primary schools. I knew I was a good teacher and my classroom was a place where pupils felt happy, confident, challenged and valued……But after 15 years of primary education in Australia I’ve had to admit defeat.” What a loss to the teaching profession. Nothing happened….except one other significant letter to the Courier Mail hit the fan.

Kathy Margolis wrote a letter that went viral. Kathy, who was a dedicated teacher for over 30 years was forced to seek another job. “Never have I experienced a time in my professional life where teachers are this stressed and in real fear for the mental health not only themselves, but the children that they teach…..I have never seen so many children suffering from stress and anxiety. It saddens me greatly. Teaching at the moment is data driven……I write this in the hope that we can spark a public discussion. We need the support of parents, who I know, agree with us. I love children and can’t bear to see what we are doing to them.”

A street march was held in Brisbane, and an interview with the state minister….then…zero activity.

The letters from Gabriel and Kathy …and Lucy Clark’s wonderful book….gave great heart to thousands of frustrated teachers wanting to teach their pupils to learn. For the first time since the measurement vandals started trespassing in classrooms of learning in 2008, someone was speaking out from where the action is! Enthusiasm was quickly quelled. Silence returned.

Treehorn wrote to Minister Birmingham suggesting that he initiate a study by a group of teachers such as Gabriel Stroud and Kathy Margolis of the effects of NAPLAN testing on the classroom atmosphere in Australian schools. He replied in April and referred to the fact that the new version of the Australian Curriculum “should assist teachers, thereby, improving morale.” !!! ‘Scuse me…..

He repeated what his dutiful officers had already told me as if I was a rookie or an impatient parent who needed reminding, that “….the purpose of NAPLAN tests is to help determine whether the students have the literacy and numeracy skills that provide the critical foundation for their learning.’

(“Ties and slurs It all sounds like…” ) Later in the year, the tests proved to the world that NAPLAN was not working…in fact, things were getting worse. The only conclusion to be reached was that the tests themselves were destroying the yen to do better. Kids how how they are being treated. It might have been a good idea to talk to the likes of Gabriel and Kathy, after all, to find out why this was so, instead of his making a unilateral decision to intimidate the states with threats of funding ‘arrangements’. if they didn’t exert more pressure on kids with more of the same. That’s what the poor fellow did! Too busy to think about schooling! He could even have checked how the original model was going in the USA [It has since collapsed] as any prudent assessor would do. He won’t believe that the fault is in the tests themselves. He doesn’t seem to like the Treehorn suggestion that children should be treated with dignity and care and develop a personal belief that they can achieve at the highest of levels, if they are taught to like Maths. Science, Literacy. He much prefers the state-threatened, fear-based, parent-deceited, press-silenced, teacher-timidified original Klein model. So, things remain the same. States were conned and still do as they are told. Teachers tolerate it. Kids suffer. Since our system’s aim is to pursue the mediocre through the continued use of fault-ridden tests, we will certainly continue as a flat-lined system on the way to nowhere.

It was in February that I had an accidental crew cut by the local hairdresser. She is still there, if you would like a crew cut. Just say: “NAPLAN.”

I was having a haircut and happened to mention ‘NAPLAN’ to the lady with the clippers.

The clipping speed increased rapidly. “That bloody thing! When my lad was in Grade 3, he didn’t sleep for weeks. He hated school and did not want to go. On the day, he threw up and I had to make him go.”

The clippers went into another gear, and hair flew off in my many shades of gray. “In Grade 5, same bloody thing.happened. He hated it and was really worried.”

Now, clip, clip. clip at breakneck speed. “He’s in Grade 7 now and I don’t know what’s going to happen. It’s on again now. Everyone is getting ready.”

Appeals to political candidates through The Treehorn Express to scrap NAPLAN based on UNESCO’s Rights of the Child, or on its inherent nastiness, and further pleas for them to think about their personal attitude to the purposes of schooling, and on the uselessness of the results, continued through February. The simple question was :”Why do we send children to school?” The unfortunate neo-con political robots were deaf or dyslexic. The month concluded with a clear expose from political science that countries get what they deserve from their attitude to the treatment of all human beings by their pollies. The neo-con attitude to getting what they want is to demand it. That’s the prevailing Australian attitude. The leaders of the Lib-Lab parties in particular, prefer to use coercion and reward power to get their way. I’m angry. Of course, I’m angry. I’m angry that no [political party in Australia cares enough about children to think about what they should be doing. I hate to see kids treated in the manner that our parliamentarians endorse.

Ideologies based on the yen for big money begets the use of reward and/or coercive powers to try to get people to do what they want. Such anxiety-driven, fear-based operations generally result in lower-level responses from the operatives at the work-face or chalk-face, ranging from rejection of the operation to enthusiasm for the enterprise. Australian schools are close to the rejection end, but not close enough. The problem is that the caring professions are more sensitive than others, trying to ride out the oppression but failing to stand up for the ideals and ethics of their work [which are shelved] because coercive activities are built into their chain of command…..as they are these days in Australian schooling. Fear and intimidation prevail.

NAPLAN testing can never rely on any enthusiasm from any dignified teaching service, for the task of blanket testing. It is bound to fail. Serious caring teachers can only take so much. The arrogant toxicity of the testing industry, in which love and care are denied to the humanity of the task, ignores the colleagueship between a teacher and a learner. Both teacher and learner know that NAPLAN is a very dangerous operation that should be dropped as soon as possible. Before the testing factories swing into action in February 2017, some wise politicians might anticipate parental and teacher revolt before reality hits and they might have to do something about it. People don’t like the suggestion that their schools are operated by fascist-oriented people, but it’s the truth. Schools can do without FEAR, ANXIETY, DECEIT and GREED. All four factors are too firmly embedded in the Australian system of schooling at present. ….and…..they can so easily be replaced by zest, enthusiasm, accomplishment and achievement. Just get rid of the menace that is holding Australia back.

That’s how we left February, 2016…..confused, battered, hopeful for a while thanks to Kathy and Gabriel, busily preparing for the May tests, imposing extra homework, enrolling at after-school NAPLAN-focused back-yard shops, not giving a tinkers about the mental health of our kids, knowing full-well that the emphasis on getting good test scores actually inhibits learning, hiding parental rights, infringing the Code of Moral Conduct https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Code_of_conduct , with our tongue in our cheek; and learning to say dutifully, with louder ‘test-speak’ that “we don’t like NAPLAN, but…..what can we do?”……

Why do some people and caring institutions, bother to write definitive Moral Codes, Rights of the Child, Freedom to Learn kind of documents?

As Aussie pollies and administrators we cannot be too proud of our timidity . Why can’t we do the job properly? Why don’t we CARE FOR KIDS ?


____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Disbobedient Teaching

Disbobedient Teaching

Surviving and creating change in education

Welby Ings

This book is about disobedience. Positive disobedience. Disobedience as a kind of professional behaviour. It shows how teachers can survive and even influence an education system that does staggering damage to potential. More importantly it is an arm around the shoulder of disobedient teachers who transform people’s lives, not by climbing promotion ladders but by operating at the grassroots. Disobedient Teaching tells stories from the chalk face. Some are funny and some are heartbreaking, but they all happen in New Zealand schools. This book says you can reform things in a system that has become obsessed with assessment and tick-box reporting. It shows how the essence of what makes a great teacher is the ability to change educational practices that have been shaped by anxiety, ritual and convention. Disobedient Teaching argues the transformative power of teachers who think and act.

Author Welby Ings is a professor in design at Auckland University of Technology. He is an elected Fellow of the British Royal Society of Arts and a consultant to many international organisations on issues of creativity and learning. He is also an award-winning academic, designer, filmmaker and playwright. But until the age of 15 Welby could neither read nor write. He was considered ‘slow’ at school and he was eventually expelled. Later he was suspended from teachers’ college. Welby has taught at all levels of the New Zealand education system and remains an outspoken critic of the education system’s ‘obsession’ with assessing performance. In 2001 he was awarded the Prime Minister’s inaugural Supreme Award for Tertiary Teaching Excellence.

Otago University Press

Paperback
ISBN 978-1-927322-66-6
RRP $35.00

Education Readings April 7th

By Allan Alach

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

The Joy Of Opting Out Of Standardized Testing

‘Testing season is a gray period in my classroom. But it’s a joy in my house.

As a classroom teacher with a daughter in the public school system, I’m always struck by the difference. In school I have to proctor the federally mandated standardized tests. But I’ve opted my own daughter out. She doesn’t take them. So at home, I get to see all the imaginative projects she’s created in her class while the other kids had to trudge away at the exam.’

http://huff.to/2nFzqMA

Opt Out 2017: Refusing Education as a Police Power

This article is by Mark J Garrison, whose book A measure of failure: The political origins of standardized testing is well worth reading.

‘All of this harms the quality of education and does nothing to solve the real problems that concern parents, educators, students and their communities. A summation of existing research suggests that test-based accountability systems do not serve to improve the quality of education; annual testing has not been demonstrated to help educators do a better job. Yet, state and federal authorities continue to pursue a direction that the vast majority of students, parents and educators have clearly opposed.’ 

http://bit.ly/2ncI3CE

The First Two Years at School (1950)

Here’s a movie from 1950, examining the teaching practice in junior school classrooms. it’s not often that one looks at something 66 years old and sees that things have definitely gone downhill since then.

An exposition of modern methods of teaching the very young, showing the purpose behind the methods now being used, and contrasting them with past procedure.’

http://bit.ly/2oENPNF

Here’s one secret to successful schools that costs nothing

‘Most factors that help make schools successful cost lots of money — think teachers, technology and textbooks. But a new study suggests one factor that doesn’t need any cash to implement can play an important role in helping students succeed at even the most disadvantaged schools. That factor is what scientists call social capital.’

http://bit.ly/2oDzpxB

How Not To Teach Writing

Nobody teaches writing that way.

No, the entire history of human expression, human literature, human song– it’s about finding new and interesting and surprising ways to say what we have to say. It’s about finding ways to express a thought that are perfectly suited to that particular person and time and place and circumstances. We are moved, touched, excited, and enlightened by those who can string words together in completely different and yet completely appropriate ways.

http://bit.ly/2o4WWWs

What is it like living in Libya these days?

If you think your teaching job has its problems:

‘Libyan activist, Maimuna Aghliw, who has been living in Misrata since 2009, reflects on life there during wartime. Aghliw, 26, spent some time working at an NGO, focusing on psychosocial support, visiting different elementary and secondary schools. She also spent time teaching and tutoring children of various ages.

Here, she talks about her experience as a teacher in war-torn Libya.’

http://bit.ly/2nFToXf

Contributed by Bruce Hammonds:

Schools hit a wall with open-plan classrooms

When will they ever learn?

‘They knocked down walls to revolutionise learning and now they are putting them up again.  Open-plan classrooms have caused nothing but trouble for many schools, which are putting up partitions and walls to counter the deafening noise created in the barn-like spaces.’

http://bit.ly/2oYPuKd

MLEs (Marae Learning Environments) – Lessons from the Marae for Modern Learning Environments

‘Cultural responsiveness is a crucial part of all learning environments and leads to enhanced practices and learning outcomes. The Modern Learning Environment (MLE) is no exception. Modern learning practices move beyond the learning space and seek to challenge the traditional frames of learning. These practices are for the enhancement of learning experiences but need to be infused with robust cultural competencies. For Maori, open plan, communal learning spaces are not new.’

http://bit.ly/2oGUILp

A Continuum on Personalized Learning: First Draft

‘When I went into classrooms to see what “personalized learning” meant in action, I observed much variation in the lessons and units that bore the label. None of this should be surprising since “technology integration” and other reform-minded policies draw from the hyped-up world of new technologies where vendors, promoters, critics, and skeptics compete openly  for the minds (and wallets) of those who make decisions about what gets into classrooms.’

http://bit.ly/2nZlYEX

From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:

Seven myths about teaching – common sense to me!

‘Seven myths about learning  from an American source – common sense to insightful New Zealand teachers?Many people — educators included — still cling to some of these misconceptions about learning because they base what they think on their own experiences in school, ignoring what 21st century science and experience are revealing. Here are seven of the biggest myths about learning that, unfortunately, guide the way that many schools are organized in this era of standardized test-based public school reform.’

http://bit.ly/2oYLBox

Back to the future

Tapping into the wisdom of the past

‘Twenty five years after retiring Bill Guild has been invited back to his old school to share his ideas about quality teaching and learning. It is a half a century since Bill took up his appointment at the school.As well, it turns out, Bill taught the aunt of the current principal who wants to learn about, from Bill, the ideas that first gained the school it’s creative reputation. Tapping into the wisdom of the past is a powerful idea – and it turns out Bill’s wisdom is very current.’

http://bit.ly/1KzIEUx

Transforming schools through Project Based Learning (PBL)

‘American educationalist Thom Markham is an enthusiast for Project Based Learning (PBL) and believes that the most important innovation schools can implement is high quality project based learning. He provides seven important design principles for teachers to ensure project based learning is of the highest quality.’

http://bit.ly/18lBlLJ