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

Why Are Teachers Taken For Granted?

Over the past few weeks your attention would have been drawn for the umpteenth time to Finland. It’s a world away in distance and in attitude to schooling. Treehorn has outlined the major differences….
screen-shot-2016-11-04-at-10-32-21-am
 I have been asked “Why are we so different?”
A credible answer is clearly : “Because our clever politicians and corporate managers and other kinds of status-claiming ultra-crepidarians believe that teachers and principals are stupid.” There can be no other reason.
Pollies and testucratic outliers of the profession, in particular, regard the down-to-earth practitioners as easily manipulated, readily compliant, nice people who feel that standing up for kids is someone else’s job.

They will do as they told no matter what they are told by their control agents. They are very, very obedient.

Their obedience is taken for granted.

“Taken for granted” as a phrase is derived from “Taken for granite”….that inanimate, common rock. When a social contract such as making the teaching force undertake unpleasant standardised blanket tests is enacted, it assumes that the teaching force has no feelings one way or the other about the effects; too thick; too hard to comprehend the consequences; and, sadly, like Adolf Eichmann, will do as it is told for as long as the project lasts. The case in point ….when the force was not given the chance to examine the full probable outcomes of NAPLAN while Julia and Kleinie were introducing it in 2008, any unease was poo-poohed and quelled quickly. Its impact on the teaching act was not allowed to be considered nor examined. Measurement was supreme. Measurement ruled the teaching act. Constant measurement meant good teaching, our testucratic Creps opined. This was it. Why worry? Trust us. The rock face wouldn’t ‘get it’, anyhow. Conventional wisdom was out of place. Meek compliance was commanded and is now a feature of the Australian scene. It’s the sort of organisational demand that came about when this sort of testing and payment by results was first introduced; when ‘uppity teachers’ of the 1840s who had claimed a level of professional dignity, previously not tolerated, had to be kept in their place like chooks, I think the official government statement said, when Payment by Results was introduced…..that first time. You’d think that we were mature enough to learn from history, and not repeat it.

Teachers’ gumption was respected then. Two hundred years later it is on a serious decline and payment by results is back.

I know a lot of teachers in all sorts of places. I do not know one who does not love kids, nor devalues what kids do. Australian teachers can match anyone in the world for love and concern and ability. They would dearly love to work in an organisational climate as their Nordic colleagues do. They are stuck. Why? They tell you that they are working for a system that dehumanises children and mentally abuses them and only wants to use them for data gathering. Their hands are tied. They yearn to be free. What can anyone do about it ? It’s DATA DATA DATA. Must be collected.

That’s what schooling in Australia is for.

A number of quality teachers have left the service and told us why. We can’t afford the loss of one good teacher. Really. How hard did we listen to them; to their reasons for leaving? Then, what did we do? Lucy Clark has since opened the eyes of many parents who had not previously accepted the reality of how testing freaks control each one of our schools. There is no great enthusiasm amongst school graduates to become a teacher for long. NAPLAN has failed at the PISA level, if you take notice of that sort of junk. NAPLAN testing has gone completely feral. It can control obesity. It took $22m for uncertain, unpopular DI kits. Year One five year-olds’ tests are needed to set the main. School and university graduates need to do well or cop out. If the state does not do well, state funding decreases.
It has spread its nastiness across endless boundaries from its original Literacy and Numeracy demands at Year 3,5,7,9 levels. One can even anticipate that Western Bulldogs and Cronulla players will not receive their premiership awards unless that have passed a NAPLAN tests. That’s for the future. Don’t laugh. There’s money in it. That’s the rub.

It is not true that teachers have to write down ten times per day from 1 April [of course] until 11 May: “NAPLAN is a useful diagnostic thingo.” It’s just that things are heading that way.

Things have gone quite crazy during 2016. Fear 2017, kids.

It’s so out-of-hand, the public needs to play silly-buggers with it to relieve the tension..Julia cracked the first joke: ‘5 by 25’.
NAPLAN is a sick joke.
Who will demand that it be sin-binned?
Malcolm? Tanya? Simon? Adrian? Daniel? Annastacia? Bob K.? or someone from the real world….
Perhaps some…

Parents? Lucy Clark provides plenty of reasons for a large scale cop-out crusade.*
Graduating pupils ? [Call them ‘students’ if you haven’t got the gist of it.] who might join Lucy’s daughter: “I will NOT be judged by the Board of Studies.” [P.280]

Academics have tried but, like teachers, they are also just taken for granite.
Politicians have too much to do, they say. What are kids? Forget them. Expect us to do something?! Huh!
We Geriatics have tried, but, too well conditioned over the years, are just no good at crusading; only cursading.

Any branch or affiliate of the APPA or the ASPA or the ACPA or the AEU or the AIU or the IEU or the ISCA could sin-bin NAPLAN on purely professional and ethical grounds, on their respect for kids, on their own turf if they wanted to, which would bring it all to a halt; and advance schooling in Australia. Their support too was taken for granted, wasn’t it?

PARENTS. You know the reality. You’ve read the book. The kids do need someone! HELP!

WANTED
ONE HIGH PROFILE CRUSADER

or group thereof.

Oh dear.

_________________________________________________________________
Phil Cullen, 41 Cominan Avenue, Banora Point, Australia 2486 o7 5524 6443 0407865999 cphilculen@bigpond.com
Refer: ‘Who’s Who in Australia’

* When you write your note to your teacher about your child dropping out of all NAPLAN testing please be clear. At the present time, with KGB/SS kind of intensity, the government is checking out those schools and classes that claim large numbers of opt-outs last May. Can’t trust schools, of course. Be warned.. Some unfortunate folk in ACARA are lumbered with checking out a few million notes, probably checking them for grammar errors, spelling mistakes, errors of syntax.

If Australian schooling followed democratic principles and used some down-to-earth democratic smarts, all parents would be asked to give their permission before the test. If a parents did not respond to the request, the child would not be tested. Simpliciter. NAPLAN is a health risk and its operations carry heavy legal responsibility and culpability for the government . The federal minister [or one of his operators like the school principal or teacher] can be sued for damage to children’s mental health. Yes. Our intelligent pollies and their Creps may regret that they took school parents for granted too!

Might I suggest, by the way, Parents, that you write your note to your teacher NOW? Get away from it as quick as you can. It’s growing and morphing and morphing and morphing.

“NO to my kids doing NAPLAN” is enough to write. Don’t forget to sign or they’ll get your teacher….or the principal….or the school funding…or the state department….or the state treasury.
Play safe and get as far away from NAPLAN testing as you can.

They are not nice people. Anyone who treats children the way that testucators do, can be a threat to society’s welfare.

Education Readings October 28th

By Allan Alach

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

So who says competition in the classroom is inevitable?

Thanks to Phil Cullen for this link about what appears to be an excellent book.

‘In this extract from her new book Beautiful Failures, the Guardian’s Lucy Clark tackles the culture of contests and rankings at school, arguing that for children – indeed all of us – it is unnecessary and damaging.’

‘In personally questioning the role of competition in education I have lost count of the number of people who have said to me, yes, but life is competitive and school is just a training ground for the sort of competition our kids will face as adults in the real world.

Is that what school should be? A warm-up for the main game? A simulation of grown-up life, where we wake up in the morning, put on our armour and go out to compete in a dog-eat-dog world?’

http://bit.ly/2ewEhP4

Teaching is among the ‘top three most stressed occupations’

I doubt that this is news to teachers, and it’s getting worse.

“Of all the occupations I’ve studied, and that’s about 80, teachers are in the top three most stressed occupations,” he said. “The hours are long and antisocial, the workload is heavy and there is change for change’s sake from various governments.”   

http://bit.ly/2f8ybqg

The Ticking Clock of Teacher Burnout

‘Initially, I believed that Finland was an outlier with the amount of time it offers teachers to plan, assess, and collaborate on a daily basis. But, later, I’d discover that this kind of arrangement is fairly typical among countries that excel on international standardized assessments, such as the PISA. Take Singapore, for example.’

http://theatln.tc/2eHyX9i

Technology reform full of good ideas, poorly executed

Politicians, seduced by computers and online instruction, could do well to read this.

‘And perhaps the most disappointing finding is that technology seems of little help in bridging the skills divide between advantaged and disadvantaged students. Put simply, ensuring that every child attains a baseline level of proficiency in mathematics seems to do more to create equal opportunities in a digital world than subsidising access to high-tech devices and services.’

http://bit.ly/2eH6XWg

Teaching With Your Mouth Shut

‘The alternative to teaching through telling is what Finkel calls “teaching with your mouth shut.” In this model, teachers step back and become silent observers, rather than putting on a performance like an actor in a play. Instead of being “carriers of knowledge,” we become humble enough to say “I don’t know.” Instead of tightly controlling the learning process, we allow students to find their own solutions, thus “creating circumstances that lead to significant learning in others.” Refusing to teach through telling is also refusing to accept the traditional view of what being an educator means.’

http://bit.ly/2eNs9rF

The importance of creativity and shaking things up

‘So, circling back to the classroom, are we giving our pupils the chance to practice the skills required to become part of this creative class and reap the economic and personal rewards that come with it? My experience is that, on average, we are still preparing children and young adults for jobs based on outdated processes, subservience and narrow, short term thinking. To be fair, it is still the perfect system for anyone looking to become a university academic.’

http://bit.ly/2eSqtwH

Contributed by Bruce Hammonds:

Quality learning: William Glasser – ‘Schools without Failure’ ; and Jerome Bruner – solving ‘learning blocks’.

Bruce’s latest article:

‘A number of years ago many schools implemented the ideas of Dr William Glasser. Glasser had written a number of books  all with a focus on achieving quality work for all students without teachers using coercion. Glasser’s belief is that, with the appropriate conditions, all students can do quality work but, it would be fair to say, many teachers find this hard to believe.’

http://bit.ly/2eH4oDw

Why Education, Not Punishment, Is The Solution To Reducing Crime

A brilliant and touching TED talk illustrating how poverty is linked to prison rates.

http://bit.ly/2dXZuAN

How Can Schools Prioritize For The Best Ways Kids Learn?

‘The education world is full of incremental change — the slow process of individuals learning about new strategies and approaches, trying them out, improving on their skills, and hopefully sharing their learning with colleagues to continue growth. While that process is necessary and good, if the changes to education are all in the service of doing the same thing better, they may be missing the point. The world has changed since education became compulsory and the current moment necessitates an education system that isn’t just better, but different.’

http://bit.ly/2eccmBb

From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:

Developing a democratic curriculum.

Relating back to the ideas of John Dewey James Beane  believes that if people are to live democratic lives they must have the opportunity to learn what that way of life means. His ideas are based on the ability of students to participate in their own education. Democratic schools share a child centred approach but their larger goal is to change the undemocratic conditions of school themselves and in turn to reach out to the wider community.’

http://bit.ly/1JglCA9

Pride through personal excellence

‘It seems these days teachers rush through tasks to ‘deliver’ or ‘cover’ the curriculum. The idea of doing things well has been lost in this rush yet we all know that pride of achievement comes from succeeding so well at a task we even surprise ourselves. As a result students produce little of real substance. Teachers are too busy proving what they have done to focus on the more important need to see each student does the very best work they can. All the criteria and feedback formative assessment means little if the teachers have no idea of excellence.’

http://bit.ly/2eSotEs

Experience and Education -John Dewey 1938

‘Such a lot of the ideas expressed today have their genesis in the ideas of John Dewey.That Dewey’s ideas have yet to be fully realised says something for the power of conservatism in education. ‘Experience in Education’ is Dewey’s most concise statement of his ideas written after criticism his theories received. In this book Dewey argues that neither ‘traditional ‘ nor ‘progressive ‘ ideas are adequate and he outlines a deeper point of view building on the best of both. The following are ideas he expresses in his book.’

http://bit.ly/17J12HR

Education Readings October 21st

By Allan Alach

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

Noam Chomsky on the Dangers of Standardized Testing

“The assessment itself is completely artificial. It’s not ranking teachers in accordance with their ability to help develop children who will reach their potential, explore their creative interests. Those things you’re not testing.. it’s a rank that’s mostly meaningless. And the very ranking itself is harmful. It’s turning us into individuals who devote our lives to achieving a rank. Not into doing things that are valuable and important.”

http://bit.ly/1waGc0j

‘Schools must appoint teacher coaches to keep staff up to speed with rapid changes in technology’

‘Probably the biggest problem teachers have is the rapid rate of change that occurs in our computer-driven culture. Things change so fast, that we are now faced with “data obsolescence”. That which we believe to be true today, may not be true, or might be replaced by another fact or improvement in the upcoming year. Unless the very system that educates our population keeps up with these changes in a timely fashion it will itself in time become irrelevant. The model of professional development that the system relies on most heavily is the same system that has been in place for at least century.’

http://bit.ly/2ekaU1r

How to Become and Remain a Transformational Teacher

‘However talented, no one is a natural-born teacher. Honing the craft takes significant care and effort, not just by the individual, but also by the school at large. Though experience does matter, it matters only to the extent that a teacher — regardless of how long he or she has been in the classroom — commits to continued professional development to refresh his or her status as a transformational teacher.’

http://edut.to/2b2HWyS

This viral video perfectly sums up what’s wrong with education today, and how we can change it

‘Here, he’s pointing to the lack of freedom that teachers often have to adapt classes in the most effective way for their individual students. Teachers, he says, “have the most important job on the planet” and “should earn just as much as doctors”. But far from appreciating their expertise and efforts, politicians force them into restrictive boxes.’

http://bit.ly/2entVQR

The dark side of classroom behavior management charts

‘With each new school year come shiny new behavior management systems decorating the walls of elementary classrooms. From sticker charts to clip charts to color cards, teachers choose bright and engaging systems with the hope that a little incentive might lead to improved student behavior. The thing is, these systems rarely work for any extended period of time.’

http://wapo.st/2eyukPe

Contributed by Bruce Hammonds:

#DSXOAK: A prototype school comes to life

‘If you could completely re-design the school experience, giving students the greatest possible creative agency, how would you do it?That’s what d.school edu fellow David Clifford is prototyping in West Oakland this weekend during his design sprint. David is a self-described “agitator” who “love[s] to mess with old ideas.”“The thing that we’re trying to do is redesign high school for the 21st century kid to help them navigate and affect change in the 21st century,” said David.“The current school model is still building kids to navigate the 19th and 20th century.” That model is meant to “manage humanity instead of inspire it.”’

http://stanford.io/2eluUDX

Arts-Infused Project-Based Learning: Crafting Beautiful Work

“I would argue that the arts is project-based learning,” says Emily Crowhurst, a music teacher. “In every music lesson, whether it’s a project lesson or what you might deem a typical lesson, there are project-based learning techniques going on naturally in the way that students are constantly critiquing and rehearsing what they’re creating; and they’re always working towards an end project that will have an authentic audience.”

http://edut.to/2dBbqsg

Embracing Failure: Building a Growth Mindset Through the Arts

Teach your students the recipe for success: taking risks, making mistakes, and integrating critical feedback.

‘At New Mexico School for the Arts (NMSA) — a dual arts and academic curriculum — failure is taught as an important part of the journey toward success. Understanding that mistakes are indicators for areas of growth, freshmen learn to give and receive feedback. By senior year, students welcome tough, critical feedback — and even insist on it.’

http://edut.to/2dBa8NG

Rainstorms and Symphonies: Performing Arts Bring Abstract Concepts to Life

‘When early elementary teachers integrate music and theater, student learning improves in reading, math, and science as they become better critical thinkers and problem solvers.’

http://edut.to/2eiunRH

From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:

Power through reading!

‘Reading, and writing, are not just processes to be ‘achieved’ but are all about power – power of the imagination, power of gaining messages through literature, and power to gain and share ideas that can change how you think. Unless students, particularly those from from families who lack ‘cultural capital’, appreciate this power why would they bother to read or write?.Arguments about literacy never seem to go away. Phonics or whole language arguments occupy literacy critics. Like the nature/ nurture argument the answer is both. Either or arguments only force proponents into corners; the future is always the best of both.’

http://bit.ly/1BYhkEN

Developing a democratic curriculum

‘Relating back to the ideas of John Dewey he believes that if people are to live democratic lives they must have the opportunity to learn what that way of life means. His ideas are based on the ability of students to participate in their own education. Democratic schools share a child centred approach but their larger goal is to change the undemocratic conditions of school themselves and in turn to reach out to the wider community.’

http://bit.ly/1JglCA9

Five Minds for the Future

‘Howard Gardner, renowned worldwide for for his theory of multiple intelligences, shares his latest ideas in his new new book ‘Five Minds for the Future’.Based on the premise that students are entering an accelerating world of change in every area of life Gardner believes that such changes call for new ways of learning and thinking in schools if students are to thrive in the world during the eras to come. The directions our society is taking and the future of our planet demands such ‘new minds’ able to explore creative alternatives for problems that cannot be anticipated.’

http://bit.ly/1Oxmmnt

Education Readings October 7th

By Allan Alach

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

If I Were Secretary of Education – A Classroom Teacher’s Fantasy

If only teachers were given the chance to run education.

Steven Singer:

‘I’m only a classroom teacher. The powers that be don’t trust someone like me with that kind of responsibility. It’s okay to give me a roomful of impressionable children everyday, but there’s no confidence I can make sound policy decisions. For that we need someone with experience in management – not schools, pedagogy, children or psychology.’

http://bit.ly/2dTnW4R

Creativity and Academics: The Power of an Arts Education

‘The arts are as important as academics, and they should be treated that way in school curriculum. This is what we believe and practice at New Mexico School for the Arts (NMSA). While the positive impact of the arts on academic achievement is worthwhile in itself, it’s also the tip of the iceberg when looking at the whole child. Learning art goes beyond creating more successful students. We believe that it creates more successful human beings.’

http://edut.to/2dyPKeZ

Government hell-bent on dismantling public education, says Auckland professor

New Zealand education is also under attack, as the government follows the overseas rule book.

‘Make no mistake, Minister of Education Hekia Parata is on a mission to systematically dismantle public education. Changes already in place and those planned will radically alter the education landscape in New Zealand. Public education serves many purposes. It prepares young people for a life of work, teaching basic skills in literacy and numeracy. This is seen as its primary purpose by the minister.’

http://bit.ly/2dyozkN

Why I Threw Away My Rubrics

‘It was only when I was on the receiving end of a rubric, while taking a graduate-level education class, that I had my first critical thought about rubrics. After looking at the rubric the professor had completed for me, I wondered, where is the human response in all of this?’

http://bit.ly/2dwcVs2

The Problem with Exemplars

‘While I believe showing examples of quality work can be useful, many students immediately shut down when they perceive too great a gap between their current ability and what is deemed exemplary. I’m certainly not against the use of high quality exemplars but caution against too few examples as well as a lack of scaffolding to see where incremental success can be found. In addition, the power comes when the student decides what they want their work to be.’

http://bit.ly/2e6Bj4u

Charters and Choice: Research Shows Negative Impact

So much for the ‘school choice’ ideology:

‘The press continually gets eye-fulls of graphics indicating that accountability and charter schools can increase student performance. Rarely are these studies peer reviewed and almost none ask the questions that policy researchers should investigate. Few ask what will be the most likely results of reforms.  These papers shout out the supposed benefits of favored policies while ignoring their inherent costs.’

http://bit.ly/2dyoTA8

Contributed by Bruce Hammonds:

Modern Learning Environments (MLEs) – pedagogy from Jerome Bruner

Bruce’s latest blog posting:

‘Bruner’s ideas are in opposition to the standardized direction being imposed on our schools but are surely the essence of what a modern learning environment is all about? ‘Towards a Theory of Instruction’  is the book, first published 1969, I want to share today..’

http://bit.ly/2dt7igI

Finnish education: a system based on equity, trust & responsibility

Yet another article on Finland for the reformers to ignore. Why is this? Maybe this is the answer:

‘Teaching is a respected profession In Finland, and teachers have a great deal of autonomy in the delivery of the curriculum and caring for their students’ welfare and learning.’

http://bit.ly/2duRCGq

Getting Restless At The Head Of The Class

‘They read a book quietly under their desks, pester the teacher for extra credit, or, perhaps, they simply check out and act up. Every classroom has a few overachievers who perform above their grade level and don’t feel challenged by the status quo. A new report suggests they are surprisingly common — in some cases, nearly half of all students in a given grade.’

http://n.pr/2cMvSrE

From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:

Why are teachers so reluctant to change?

‘Changing entrenched mindsets is a difficult task even for those in charge. Leaders are more conditioned that those lesser mortal working at the fringes. The idea of getting to the top to change things is a myth. Creative ideas are always watered down by what is possible – the art of compromise.’

http://bit.ly/1Pfwbnk

An amoeba – a model for future change!

‘It seems strange to think of one of natures most simplistic animals as metaphor for an organizational model for the future but the amoeba is a good choice, as it has survived almost as long as life has been on the planet. It is able to sense environmental threats through its semi permeable membrane and move away from threats – it is also able to equally sense the opportunity to move to a better environment or to seek out food which it simply engulfs. The intelligence of the organism is centred in its nucleus and a deeper look indicates it is not as simple as it first looks.’

http://bit.ly/1hRC8eF

The killing of creativity by the technocrats.

The killing of creativity by John Hattie

As I visit classrooms I have become increasingly concerned about the use of a number of strategies as defined by John Hattie and promulgated by the contracted advisers spreading the word about his ‘best practices’.Somehow, just because Hattie has amalgamated every piece of ‘school effectiveness’ research available ( mainly it seems from the USA) his findings, it seems, ought to be taken for read. The opposite ought to be the case – we need to be very wary of such so called ‘meta research.’. More worrying however is that the approaches he is peddling is pushing into the background the home grown innovative creative learning centred philosophy that was once an important element in many classrooms. Overseas experts always seem to know best – or those that return with their carpet bag full of snake oil.’

http://bit.ly/WeTrMo

Dirty Tricks. Gonski & NAPLAN

AUSSIE FRIENDS OF TREEHORN

The Gonski-NAPLAN Threat

Dirty Tricks

 It seems as if the government is ready-ing to play dirty tricks in order to dodge the implementation of the Gonski recommendations.  It has linked Gonski to  Standardised Blanket Testing and is threatening to limit the amount of money a state receives if it doesn’t get higher scores on its NAPLAN tests.  As it is now, the results of the tests are used by educationally  incompetent testucrats to judge the general welfare of schooling systems, school districts, schools, classes, principals and individuals.  Reaching conclusions that influence finance allocation, based on blanket testing of this mega-unreliable kind for this sort of purpose is a fanciful and system-crippling exercise.  Educational management, unconcerned about child welfare and progress,  is becoming a nasty business

 Testing begets pressure. Pressure begets disinterest and disengagement. Disengagement begets mental injury and depression. Kids fail. The  system fails.

Lucy Clark Beautiful Failures    [P.19] summarises our system succinctly : “Disengaged kids. Stressed out kids. Parents anxious about their kids’ achievements. Broken education system unchanged while the pressure continues unabated and unquestioned. And children in pain.”  Can it be mended? Yes! We need to dump NAPLAN and institute Gonski. It’s so clear. ASAP!

 A suggestion. If finances are distributed on the basis of need and you wish to learn which schools deserve first attention and how much….you start by allocating the annual amount available to state governments for Gonski Reform, let’s say.  We concentrate on the years of compulsory schooling. Since every state operates for administrative purposes by dividing itself into districts, in some way or other, we only need to ask a senior officer in each district to list, in priority order. the kind of attention that each school needs to ‘bring it up to scratch’. You then concentrate of the recognised neediest district.  Within it, you then concentrate on the highest need schools first and allocate the amount required before allocating money to the second tier district. When they are ‘up to scratch’ in perceived terms, you start using the next amount of funds available and so on. When all are up to scratch, an annual maintenance grant should be easily determined by those who work at the work-face.

 Let me give you an example. During my time as Inspector/Regional Director of North West Queensland, I visited and inspected every school, both church and public, between the Gulf of Carpentaria and the South Australian border. [Mornington Island to Birdsville].  I knew each of them pretty well and would have had no trouble in listing them, either individually or in groups of 6 or 10 or 20, whatever, for special attention. It would not have been very difficult to list them in order of need and to indicate the needs themselves.  [Indeed, during my first few years pursuing this kind  of management, I was obliged to write a report on every school [including church schools]  in the region, and assess each and every teacher [except those in church schools]. 

It would have been an easier task  when I was Regional Director for North Queensland, a district that extended from the Whitsunday area [Proserpine] to the Papua-New Guinea border [Badu and Boigu Islands] because the District Inspectors who cared for the six or seven districts within the region were expert practitioners who knew their districts well. While they did not visit private schools, in any official capacity, they could for needs analysis.

Such lists could and should be published for the general public to see and for folk to challenge, if need be.

 Of course, we don’t have school inspectors of the mentoring kind that were the “last of their tribe” just before cocky managerial experts got rid of them round about 1990.

 Yes, of course, I am going back to an era when Australian states’ accountability for educational progress depended on the thorough mentoring of schools by these dependable, expert former school principals who had ‘been there, done that’ in the worthiest, intellectual and rigorous [bush service] traditions. The were called District Inspectors. They formed a remarkable cohort of expertise whose responsibility for school improvement was a serious matter. Closely connected to subject syllabus committees, they guided and assessed schools,  using a level of ‘clout’ when it was needed; and flew with pollen on their wings from school to school within a defined geographic area.  It’s worth considering the re-introduction of such an accountability system [as Finland did recently], isn’t it…..that’s if we want the Australian system to be the best in the world [instead of our present fascination with maintaining a depressing, mediocre system]?

 All schools……private, church and public.

 As the scheme proceeds and lessons are learned, judgements will have to be made on economic evidence as to which districts or which schools within certain require any further assistance.

 The damage that is being done to children at present, at school under the NAPLAN scheme is enormous. Most Australian know this.  However, while the big end of town and its federal politicians are in control, things can only  get worse.  The egoism and greed of the former , has turned our education system into a money-making racket, pure and simple;  and the fake altruism of the latter has given them all the  confidence to exploit our children further.

 The teaching profession itself, once admired for its ethical behaviour, needs to refuse to have anything to do with the kind of naplanic child abuse that Australian testucators want to maintain.

 Australia sadly needs a child-focused, teaching [not test] dominant, happy system of compulsory schooling based in quality neighbourhood schools where parents can feel confident that they share their child’s future with the best education services available.  All that is needed at this stage, is some collective thinking by classroom experts aka teachers.

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Phil Cullen  41 Cominan Avenue  Banora Point  Australia 2486  07 5524 6443    cphilcullen@bigpond.com             http://primaryschooling.net/                     http://qldprimaryprincipals.wordpress.com/