Saturday, November 09, 2013

Educational Readings- Obama: political courage? the neglected power of interest, Dean Fink and John Dewey

By Allan Alach

I welcome suggested articles, so if you come across a gem, email it to me at
This week’s homework!

Political Cowardice Is Political Courage

Highly recommended article for all who live in GERM infected countries.

To be blunt, there isn’t a single courageous thing about the Obama education agenda and policies; in fact, the education policy of the Obama administration is built on and increases the exact commitments to standards, high-stakes testing, and punitive accountability measures begun in the early 1980s.’

The GREAT Teachers & Principals Act will (not) fix our teachers

While written for and about the USA, this article has relevance all over.

‘In this current model, there are few incentives to attract the best and brightest into the field: long hours, high stress, little pay, and no respect.  On top of this, teachers are expected to pay for supplies out of their own pockets and to pay for and attend required professional development activities on their own time.  Why would someone who is at the top of their graduating high school class and has many career options become a teacher?’

Why the best literacy approaches are not reaching the classroom (via Michael Fawcett)

‘But Australia’s scores in international literacy tests aren’t dropping because the students who sit those tests don’t know their sounds. They are performing poorly because they cannot comprehend what they are reading. They have poor vocabularies and cannot follow sentences that employ more complex language structures. They cannot read between the lines.’

Of course you don’t need qualified teachers in free schools. Or qualified brain surgeons, for that matter (via Michael Fawcett)

‘As the use of unqualified teachers in free schools has proved such a success, surely the Government must extend this method to other workplaces, such as
unqualified pilots?
operating theatres and nuclear submarines. The Royal Navy could use the same argument as
Michael Gove, insisting there are plenty of excellent candidates who could command a nuclear sub, having fired torpedoes on Modern Warfare 2, but they’re put off by the red tape of having to prove they’re “qualified”, leaving our coast unprotected.’

Hey, teacher, leave them kids alone!

Another article by Steve Wheeler, Associate Professor of learning technology in the Plymouth Institute of Education at Plymouth University. If you get a chance to attend a presentation by Steve, take it!
"We don't need your education"

‘To draw out a child from within themselves, we must first accept that the child has something within them to give. Every child has something unique to offer. Each has skills, abilities, knowledge, hopes, aspirations and individual personalities that can be nurtured, allowed to blossom, encouraged. Teachers who ignore this will not only fail to 'draw out' those individual attributes, they will also deprive children from a wonderful spectrum of opportunities to learn for themselves.’

The Power Of Interest

Another excellent article by Annie Murphy Paul.

‘In recent years researchers have begun to build a science of interest, investigating what interest is, how interest develops, what makes things interesting, and how we can cultivate interest in ourselves and others. They are finding that interest can help us think more clearly, understand more deeply, and remember more accurately. Interest has the power to transform struggling performers, and to lift high achievers to a new plane.’

Are gimmicks and trends getting in the way of teaching?

Anything that distracts teachers and school leaders from improving teaching and learning are cumbersome tools that only weigh us down, argues Alex Quigley

We can readily complicate our lessons by bunging them full of objectives, starters, potent plenaries, progress points, assessment for learning gimmicks, token literacy and numeracy – the list goes on and on.’

This week’s contributions from Bruce Hammonds:

What Is Inquiry?

‘Inquiry is a study into a worthy question, issue, problem or idea. It is the authentic, real work that that someone in the community might tackle. It is the type of work that those working in the disciplines actually undertake to create or build knowledge. Therefore, inquiry involves serious engagement and investigation and the active creation and testing of new knowledge.’

Dean Fink on Personalizing Schools.

A flashback to an article Bruce wrote in 2005.

Fink concludes that the time and the times are right for heads to focus on personalized learning because ‘it promises to do what education is supposed to do, enhance deep learning for all students.’ I wonder when our politicians will pick up the ‘personalized learning’ phrase. I prefer it to the latest ‘eduspeak’, ‘learning competencies’, which our Ministry technocrats seem to be enamored with!’

Experience and Education - John Dewey 1938

Another flashback to an article Bruce wrote in 2009.

Hey Chris Hipkins, read this.....

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.’

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