Friday, June 05, 2015

Technology in education/ Sir Ken Robinson ( again), and Dean Fink says 'be wary of "weasel" words such as "research says", " best practice" and "data driven"

A blog to encourage out of the box thinking
Educational Readings
By Allan Alach

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

This weeks homework!

Why Technology Will Never Fix Education
This article is about higher education but the points made are transferable.

Good teaching matters more than good technology
So what is to be done? Unfortunately, there is no technological fix, and that is perhaps the hardest lesson of amplification. More technology only magnifies socioeconomic disparities, and the only way to avoid that is nontechnological: Either resolve the underlying inequities first, or create policies that favor the less advantaged.
The question becomes when will we get to the point where EVERYONE is ready to realize that good teaching matters WAY more than good technology?

Excellence is not the only point of education
An 'excellent' definition

The meaning of words like excellence can quickly become culturally ingrained common sense. Yet we often fail to question how such taken-for-granted meaning is symptomatic of our changing education system. Rather than embracing it, children, teachers, students and academics should revolt against the current construction of excellence.

Here's What We Have to Stop Pretending.
Thoughtful post by Bill Ferriter, in response to Scott McLeods Scott McLeod's We Have to Stop Pretending project
If we are going to make schools different, we have to stop pretending that "engaging learners" and "empowering learners" are the same thing.

Q&A With Sir Ken Robinson: Education Has to Be a Human Business
Thanks to Australian reader Bruce Jones for this link. He comments: A little gem from Sir Ken, up to his very best.  The audio with the article is great listening and I think his book would be worth the purchase price.
I think the key to this is that education has to be recognized as a human business. Its a personal
Education is a human business
process. We
re dealing with living human beings in the middle of all of this. They
re not statistics or data points. Theyre not data sets from a test schedule. These are living people with feelings and aspirations and hopes and ambitions and fears and talents, like you and me and everybody else. As soon as you recognize that education is not a processing plant, its about people, then the whole equation starts to shift around. My argument, really, is that we should be personalizing education, not standardizing it.

Gifted and Talented
I recommend you all read this article by Nicholas Meier .

My problems with the gifted education label are several fold. One is that it assumes a fixedbelief in intelligence. These students are, by this term giftedin the sense that they are born superior intellectually in some waysthese gifts and talents are in some way innate. I find this
problematic from both a scientific standpoint and from a moral standpoint.
I believe virtually all students can be gifted and talented if given the opportunity, and more importantly, there is no way to sort ahead of time those who can be and those who cannot.

Necessity may be the mother of invention, but discovery has another mother
Are you surprised that schools destroy a childs innate curiosity?

The research in my lab shows that far from nurturing curiosity, schools seem to repress it.  The pressures to deliver information, hone skills, stick to the plan, and avoid the unknown work against a childs natural curiosity. However, it neednt be so. Classrooms could be greenhouses for curiosity. Questions could be encouraged and guided, exploration could be at the center of the curriculum, and rather than being pushed to the side, childrens specific interests could be fostered. Given how central curiosity is to learning and to human progress, why not cultivate it?

Standardized Tests: Symptoms, Not Causes
Interesting article by Jersey Jazzman that unpicks the use of bell curves as a measure of success.
Maybe we'd allow children to become themselves and realize their full potentials, free of the fear
that their "failure" will inevitably banish them to a life of toil and misery. Maybe we'd start to see schooling not as preparation for a life of stepping on our fellow citizens, and instead as a process by which we become a people who balance our own self-interest with caring for our fellow citizens. And then maybe we wouldn't feel the need to make these bell curves at all.

Meet Learner 2.0
Another Steve Wheeler article:

Teachers have long been advised to become 'guides on the side' so that learners can take responsibility. From Socrates through to Dewey, far sighted and progressive philosophers and theorists have consistently argued that students learn better when they lead their own discovery. But very few educators ever took up this challenge, preferring instead to remain 'in control' of the process of education, the expert sage taking centre stage. The advent of digital technology challenges this traditional model of education.

This weeks contributions from Bruce Hammonds:

Business 'guru' Peter Drucker wrote, 'the first country to develop a 21st century education system will win the future'.. Could be New Zealand if only
Bruces latest article:
“I guess what is missing is the courage to take the lead. Principals seem to prefer focus on their own school ( compiling the best achievement data they can -' shonky' at best) and no one seems to have the courage to take the lead to  encourage schools to  to work together towards realizing a creative education. And of course  many think that is what they already do, or that all is well. To me it all shows the power of the status quo  at best or self deception at worst. But surely there are principal groups who see that what they are currently doing is not the full answer?

Why Do We Separate the Teacher From the Tech?
Excellent article by US educator Tom Whitby:
“We are often bombarded with many posts and articles about the successes and failures of technology in education. Too often these assessments are based upon the technology as if it were the
only factor having any effect on the students in the classroom. Of course this overlooks somethingthat has been pounded into educatorsheads for years: The greatest influence on students in the classroom is the teacher. That holds true with or without technology in the classroom.”

How to Transform Teaching with Tablets
A lengthy and very worthwhile article:
“Tablet computers alone won't shift our thinking about teaching and learning, but technology adoptions can be powerful opportunities for school communities to engage in answering important questions. We're hopeful that educators will take advantage of this chance to reboot and use new technology adoptions, not as a chance to hand out devices, but as an opportunity to rethink the purposes of schooling in the 21st century.”

Unexpected Tools That are Influencing the Future of Education

While some schools are finding ways to let students take up the reins of their education too many are  beholden to a system that includes lots of standardized teaching/ testing  and intrusive accountability demands. Schools need to consider ideas that can transform teaching and learning before it is too late.

Probing Question: Is art an essential school subject?
Bruce’s comment: For creative teachers stating the obvious the arts are an essential part of education. From STEM to Steam.
"Eliminating the arts from the curriculum is short-sighted on a number of levels," she says. "Seeing art as expendable indicates a deep misunderstanding of the role it plays at the center of learning. The visual arts are a powerful language for communicating concepts and theories in any field, both during the process of being developed and once they are finished 'products' to be shared with others.”

From Bruce’s “goldie oldie” file:

Be wary of 'research says', 'best practice' and 'data driven' 'buzz words' writes Dean Fink
Dean Fink
“'Let me outline', writes Canadian Dean Fink ( well known to many in New Zealand), 'three words or phrases that agitate my crap detector – “the research says”, “best practiceand data driveninstruction, leadership or whatever.Whether you agree or disagree with my analysis, I would like to hear from you about any words or phrases that have hidden meanings or at least attempt to distort the real meaning.”

Aesthetics: Where Thinking Originates
Wise words from Art Costa.
“Developing aesthetics through sensory experiences is vital to all learning and the basis of developing all sorts of language and creative expression. Children who do not experience such rich sensory experience will come to learning with restricted language acquisition facilities.”

The World Is Flat!!!!
What might education look like in a new flat world?

Ooops the world is flat!!
“In his book, 'The World is Flat' , Thomas Friedman shares how the convergence and explosion of new communication technologies and globalisation has 'flattened' the world allowing anybody, anywhere, to be connected anytime, with growing efficiency and speed. Others have called this convergence the beginning of the 'Second Renaissance' while others call it the 'Age Of Creativity or Talent’.

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