Friday, February 07, 2014

Educational Readings - Steve Wheeler, Deborah Meier, Marion Brady, Uncle Tom Cobley and all!

By Allan Alach

I welcome suggested articles, so if you come across a gem, email it to me at

This weeks homework!

Secret Teacher: why I've given up my dream job in teaching

A story from England that will ring bells for many teachers all over.

I have nothing but respect for those who don't find it a toxic environment to work in and manage to maintain their enthusiasm they must be far more resilient than me. The problem is that we shouldn't feel like that about a job that is so incredibly important for the future of our society. Most of all I miss the feeling that being a teacher meant something.

Inventing the future

UK academic Steve Wheeler discussing a keynote presentation by Brian Solis:

He dwelt on organisational use of technology, and presented us with some challenges. He suggested that the future will either happen to us or because of us. In other words, it is up to us to shape our own futures, but our own inability to push forwards is often what holds us back. He argued that
technology is a part of the solution but can also be a part of the problem, and unfortunately technology in organisations is usually imposed on us from above.

Setting Children Up to Hate Reading (thanks to Michael Fawcett)

Many children will not be readynot because theyre slow, not because they have learning disabilities, but because theyre normal and moving along at their own pace! The door should be opened to them in kindergarten and beyond to learn how to read in a relaxed manner. Even when a child has difficulty learning to read (dyslexia for example), you dont attack the problem by pushing the child to read beyond what is considered normal.

Deborah Meier is another US educator battling against the school reform movement. In this article
she follows the big money that is underpinning the reform movement in the USA.
Publishing companies and private tech companies saw $$$$$ everywhere. By the time we wake up to what is happening we will no longer have a public education system in reality.

School choice, Australian style
Madness in Australia.

The choice really is whether we continue to dabble in superficial solutions for our fractured and hierarchical schools, or whether we try to create a better balance and improved opportunities for our poorest students and families by boosting their schools and national achievement levels.

Why Common Core Isn't the Answer

US educator Marion Brady - while hes writing about the USA, much is applicable to other infected countries. Highly recommended.

Ill start by affirming what I believe most thoughtful educators take for granted: The main aim of schooling is to model or explain reality better. As you read, dont lose sight of that. The aim of schooling isnt to teach math, science, language arts, and other school subjects better, but to expand our understanding of reality.
Political power must be exercised, but parents, grandparents, and thoughtful, caring citizens are the only ones with enough clout to exercise it effectively. They need to recognize poor policy when they see it, organize, and act appropriately.

Control Will Be the Demise of Education

Written for USA, however relevant to New Zealand, Australia, and elsewhere.

So again our education system is in a pickle consisting of an outdated model and the pressure to prepare students for an absurd amount of testing days throughout the school year. The world does not rest on standardized tests. Success now lies in one's ability to create solutions to problems,
collaborate with peers to meet a goal, communicate effectively, and develop unique ideas that can change things for the better.

Ink on Paper: Some Notes on Note-taking

Especially relevant in light of reported schools going 100% digital, either with iPads or using Google Docs.
Apparently there is something about typing that leads to mindless processing. And there is something about ink and paper that prompts students to go beyond merely hearing and recording new information -- and instead to process and reframe information in their own words, with or without the aid of asterisks and checks and arrows.

This weeks contributions from Bruce Hammonds:

Darwin's notes
Following on from the Ink on Paper article..
Handwriting instruction has been found to contribute to success with beginning readers. Brain scan studies show that early manuscript lessons help activate and coordinate reading circuitry.

Time for an Education Reformation
(as opposed to reforming schools)

Too often the disparity between the lessons we intend to teach and the lessons we actually teach causes angst and confusion for students. While we preach the idea of systematic conformity as a route to success, virtually every example of greatness, success, genius, innovation, or profound influence that we use in our classrooms is an individual who did not conform. The current shift to the Common Core State Standards will not change this. Our diplomas will continue to signify the successful completion of a prolonged course in conformity unless we insist on something more.

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