Friday, July 17, 2015

Creative teaching - educational readings

By Allan Alach

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

Please pass on readings to other creative teachers

Go to the most recent blog

This weeks homework!

No Escape: A Brief Examination into the No Excuses Philosophy of Education
Read this nightmarish description of life in a US charter school. Can things get any worse than this?
Teachers handed out paychecks every Wednesday. The school designed these paychecks to resemble actual pay stubs, making sure every child understood that the end goal of every class was to maximize individual profit. The idea was to familiarize children with the trappings of a capitalist society. Different paycheck totals resulted in various privileges or punishments. Students who struggled to follow rules had to attend Wednesday Extension, a three-hour block of detention spent copying down the schools code of conduct by hand.

John Dewey on the True Purpose of Education and How to Harness the Power of Our Natural Curiosity
This article is a complete contrast to the previous nightmare. Where are the John Deweys of today? Where are the educational visionaries?
John Dewey, one of the most influential minds of the twentieth century, distills the purpose and ideals of education with remarkable clarity and conviction. The enactment of these ideals today would produce nothing less than a radical, sorely needed transformation of our broken education system.

Is the American School System Damaging Our Kids?
Peter Gray
An article by Peter Gray that is applicable in many countries.
Schools as we know them today are a product of history, not of research. The blueprint for them was developed during the Protestant Reformation, when schools were created to teach children to read the Bible, to believe Scripture without questioning it, and to obey authority figures without questioning them. When schools were taken over by the state, made compulsory, and directed toward secular ends, the basic structure and methods of teaching remained unchanged. Subsequent attempts at reform have failed because they havent altered the basic blueprint.

Whats the Real Purpose of Classroom Management?
Another Alfie Kohn gem:
Thus, control, and the disproportionate focus on managingclassrooms, should be understood as an issue in its own right rather than just as something intended to facilitate academic instruction. That recognition, in turn, makes it possible to consider that the ideal isnt just less control but an affirmative promotion of studentsautonomy a concerted commitment to support their status as deciders, active learners, and members of a democratic community.

What are You Doing to Encourage Curiosity in Your TEACHERS?
Bill Ferriter:
Why would teachers who are rarely encouraged to take intellectual risks make intellectual risk-taking a priority in their classrooms?  How can we expect teachers who spend their careers learning to follow paths created by others to design learning experiences that facilitate multiple paths to mastery?

What Stealing Cookies Teaches Us About Young Children and Empathy
This is an interesting article.
Toddlers can throw their fair share of tantrums, especially when you dont yield to their will. But by age 3, it turns out, the little rug rats actually have a burgeoning sense of fairness and are inclined to right a wrong.

How to thank teachers in tough schools? Government answer: punish themThe teacher/school bashing in England gathers pace coasting schools’…
Were voting with our feet, and schools are struggling to recruit staff as a result. With fewer people chasing positions as the number of teachers entering the profession falls rapidly, coasting schoolswill find it even harder to fill posts.

True pedagogy
Another Steve Wheeler article:
In its absolute form, pedagogy is not just about teaching. It does not simply concern itself with the 'delivery' of education or content. In the truest sense, teaching is just one element of pedagogy and not the entire story. Pedagogy focuses on the learner and what they are capable of achieving.

This weeks contributions from Bruce Hammonds:

15 Characteristics of a 21st-Century Teacher
‘Recent technological advances have affected many areas of our lives: the way we communicate,
collaborate, learn, and, of course, teach. Along with that, those advances necessitated an expansion of our vocabulary, producing definitions such as digital natives, digital immigrants, and, the topic of this post -- "21st-century teacher.”’

Creativity in the Classroom
“One of the things that I hear teachers worrying about is the disappearance of creativity in the curriculum. More and more districts are ramping up the standardized exams to prepare students for the bigger standardized exams they will take later in the year. The beauty of creativity is slowly being phased out and replaced by worksheets. Standardized tests are a reality where I teach, but I still find creativity time for my students. I feel that it helps strengthen their other skills and is needed to develop well-rounded people. Here are some things that can add a creative spark into your class and still prepare them for those exams.”

7 Tenets of Creative Thinking
“In school, we learn about geniuses and their ideas, but how did they get those ideas? What are the mental processes, attitudes, work habits, behaviours, and beliefs that enable creative geniuses to view the same things as the rest of us, yet see something different? The following are seven principles that creativity expert Michael Michalko has learnt during his lifetime of work in the field of creative thinking -- things that I wish I'd been taught as a student.”

National testing of primary school students is political not educational
A distressed mother writes a letter to UK Prime Minister David Cameron:
“Theres a part of me that barely has the energy to write this. To ask you why you insist on putting 10 and 11 year olds through a system that takes nothing of child development or good pedagogy in to account, or why you put relentless pressure on schools to up their expectations, so what was once seen as good progress is suddenly a failure. But why bother? Why bore you with analogies of weighing pigs that nobody fed? You wont listen to highly qualified education experts, or even people who, you know, actually teach. So Im under no illusion that you will listen to me.”

From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:

Reclaiming the lost art of pedagogy
Back to John Dewey.
“The conservative nature of schools makes changing teaching practice difficult. New ideas are also opposed by even more conservative parents and the media. The impossible curriculum and accountability demands, that have been placed on teachers the past decades, have diverted teachers from placing an emphasis on pedagogy.”

Creative teaching
The creative mindset of pioneer NZ creative teacher Elwyn Richardson
 'Normal' teaching, Elwyn believes, results in a loose commitment to teacher tasks and, as a result, many students develop a low level of achievement and personal satisfaction. A 'good' classroom should develop in students a personal commitment to their learning.”

What's your 'mental model' about teaching?
The battle of educational mindsets! Where you stand?
“It is important for teachers and schools to be able to articulate what they believe so that they can provide consistent learning for their students. There are two basic mindsetsto consider, each with extreme versions, and all too often they are either seen to be in conflict with each other, or teachers unconsciously pick and mix.”

Tapping the wisdom of people.“Change is often imposed pushed on an organisation by 'leaders' who either haven't the time to involve everyone, or believe that such an involvement isn't worth the time and effort, or, worse still,because those in charge know best.James Surowiecki in his book 'Wisdom of Crowds' writes that it is only by tapping the 'wisdom of crowds' that real change is possible.”

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