Sunday, October 30, 2011
Wednesday, October 26, 2011
Take look at Phil Cullen's site Phil printed the below on his site.
The NZ government’s response to schools’ failure and poor teaching is to implementNational Standards aka Naplan in Australia and NCLB in the US, strategies that look back to the past for inspiration. This ‘rear-vision thinking’ is too simple and diverts attention.
Time for a public conversation. The biggest concern is that there seems to be “…no urgency for change…in schools…where disengaged students are reaching frightening proportions”. The standards agenda is “… rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic to get a better view. The confusion around national standards actually makes ensuring all students achieve success difficult by distorting teacher energy, narrowing their teaching and making it difficult for teachers to focus on developing inquiry based learning.”
A Vision for New Zealand. ”We could do worse than follow the lead of Singapore with its ‘Thinking Schools, Thinking Nation’ motto. According to the Ministry of Education ‘thinking schools will be learning organisations in every sense, constantly challenging assumptions, and seeking better ways of doing things through participation, creativity and innovation…the spirit of learning should accompany our students even after they leave school… A Learning Nation envisions a national culture and social environment that promotes lifelong learning in our people.’ Singapore’s Education Minister explains that the big adjustment for teachers is the way we educate our young to develop a willingness to keep learning, and an ability to experiment, innovate, and take risks.” [If only Australia’s Minister for Education had visited Singapore in 2008, instead of New York!!]
Our schools could achieve such a vision if all their energies were focussed on implementing the current New Zealand Curriculum rather the standards. The same is true for Australia. Schools need to focus their collective energies on developing environments in which students and teachers’ creativity, in-depth understanding and thinking can flourish.”
Personalised learning. “We need teachers with the in-depth understanding able to help children to learn on their own, or as our currently side-lined NZ Curriculum says, to be their ‘own seekers, users and creators.’
Daniel Pink, in his latest book Drive: the Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us”,writes “the drive to do something because it is interesting, challenging, and absorbing – is essential for high levels of creativity. And, quoting research by Deci and Ryan on the self-determination theory, he writes, “We have three psychological needs – competence, autonomy, and relatedness. When these are satisfied, we’re motivated, productive and happy… [and] if there is anything fundamental about our nature, it’s the capacity for interest. Some things facilitate it. Some things undermine it.” [ Australia’s passion for a blanket testing regime certainly ‘undermines’ it]
Pink’s three conditions for success. The three conditions required for the motivation of all learners are : Autonomy – the provision of authentic choice; Mastery – the desire to get better; and Purpose – which provides the context for the next two. … The most powerful energiser of all is purpose – as seen through the eyes of learners.”
Having a winning mind-set. According to Carol Dweck [Stanford Uni.]: “People hold one of two views of their own intelligence. There are those who believe they are born talented [or dumb] and others believe in effort and practice. Those with a ‘fixed mindset’ give up and …those with a ‘growth mindset’ do not interpret mistakes as failing but merely as a means of improving.
The School As The Home of the Mind. “Art Costa’s powerful metaphor is well known to New Zealand schools and are similar to Guy Claxton’s ideas of ‘learning power’ and his reference to ‘the mind as a muscle’ which grows with exercise… ideas which underpin the key assumptions of the NZ curriculum…The intentions of Costa, Claxton and the Key Competencies of the New Zealand Curriculum are all about cultivating thinking dispositions. Costa calls them ‘habits of the mind’; and Claxton ‘learning power’. Guy Claxton of England visits NZ occasionally. He has visited Australia, but Joel Klein with his hard-data system, became Ms Gillard’s favourite.
Inquiry learning. Student thinking and purposeful teacher interaction cannot develop in a vacuum. Learning needs meaningful contexts…Gardner’s multiple intelligence theory encourages teachers to explore chosen content through a variety of ways – through the arts, the sciences, mathematics, language, music, and physical activity. Integrated learning is natural to the very young [who are not aware of subject divisions] and teenagers today explore the world through technological media crossing subject boundaries with casual disregard. Secondary schools remain locked into compartmentalised and fragmented learning with their genesis is a past industrial era while their students experience and interconnected evolutionary real world.
The Big Picture. Schooling ought to be seen as central to the development of New Zealand as a ‘cutting edge’ society. Enough is now known about teaching and learning that no student need fail. The current NZ Minister’s emphasis on compliance [Hello, Julia] through national standards is characteristic of yesterday’s assembly-line thinking rather than looking towards the unknown challenges of the future. The real literacies of tomorrow entails the ability for students to be their own navigators able to thrive in unpredictable situations supported and guided by the positive dispositions they have hopefully gained through their educational experience
Monday, October 24, 2011
I have just returned from a few short weeks experiencing hospitality in the United Kingdom. Other than the wonderful hospitality I have had a wonderful opportunity to intimately explore the forests,country lanes and fields of Kent. Not to mention a number old country pubs but that another story.
My visit included a couple of days exploring the 'new' Tate, the 'old Tate' and the National Gallery experiencing, close up, painting I have only ever seen in art books.
|looking at art with friend Marion Keeble|
One of my favourite artist is David Hockney one of Britain's greatest living artist. Hockney came into public notice in a Young Contemporaries Exhibition in 1961.
Hockney's skill has been his ability to make fresh pictures many based on real technical skill. While I was in England I picked up on an newspaper interview with Hockney and feel some of his ideas are worth sharing with educators.
Hockney began his interest in art playing around with drawing exploring a range of media when really young as do most young people. Young people, Hockney says, all want to draw something that's in front of them which he suggests they have a deep desire to depict what they see. Children and artists gain great pleasure making and looking at pictures and this desire to capture images goes as far back as the cave artists.
It is a shame in our literacy orientated schools that all forms of art are not taken seriously as they might except by those teachers who retain a more creative approach to learning.
As with all artists Hockney faced the challenge of developing his own style. In the arts, as in every other human endeavor, it all too easy to fall in line with whatever is the current school of painting. In his early days Abstract Expressionism was all the rage but Hockney developed his own approach. There is a message here for teachers who also can too easily fall in line with current expectations and in the process lose their own individuality.
Photography seems to have put paid to realistic paintings.Hockney set about searching for ways of depicting the world in ways different to the way the camera sees things. His aim was to paint the things that camera couldn't capture. He has called his approach " obsessive naturalism".For a while he used photographs assist him in developing his art but eventually he believes photography has deeply affected the way we see things, making us take for granted the exciting things we see; images are all too easily produced.For example all art movements do the same thing - Impressionist painting made us appreciate the ephemeral play of light in the environment.
Artists see things personally- they are able to paint what cannot be seen. Picasso could paint the human figure in ways beyond any camera.
One of the basic motivations of Hockney is enjoying the act of seeing and in this area his ideas are relevant to those who help young people 'seek, use and create their own knowledge'as the New Zealand Curriculum states. And in this respect every child's art should reflect the personal style of the young artist.
Drawing makes you, Hockney says, 'look and ask questions about what you are seeing all the time. Drawing makes you see things clearer and clearer and clearer still.' The image, he says, passes into your brain , into your memory until it is recreated by your hands ( or through poetry, movement music or dance).
Artists like Hockney ,and young people gain intense pleasure from looking and creating. Hockney talks about the joy of noticing and believes not everyone get the same satisfaction. Maybe more children would also experience this joy if schools valued education through looking and creating - it is important to appreciate that such intense experiences lead to enriched vocabularies. Looking he believes is a positive act and has to be done deliberately - too many young children look but do not see.
As Hockney creates each action provides motivation for further actions and models the very way humans think - creating understanding as they go along and not having the finished product all set in the mind. We understand the present by comparing it with the past adding to ideas as we go along. And of course things change with different perspectives and at different times. This is in contrast to photographs which captures an instant in time. Painting, in contrast, can take several hours to complete -changing all the time as the art work evolves. Hockney has experimented with making art through collages of photographs in an attempt to fuse photography and art.
In classrooms children can capture images and ideas through digital photography to assist their memories but back in school these images can be re-interpreted in a range of ways from the real to the imaginary. And as part of the process of creation involve words and other forms of creativity.
Art is a valuable way of interpreting the world and ought to be seen as important as traditional literacy.
Before the word must come the experience.
Too many children have restricted vocabularies which limits their literacy growth - perhaps digging deeply into experiences might provide the very thing such children are lacking?
An article by Martin Hawes in the Sunday Times caught my attention.
Martin usually writes articles giving financial advice but in his latest contribution he reflects on the success of the World Rugby Cup and how its success might be applied to the wider picture of the New Zealand economy.
The point he makes is that 'New Zealnders can do anything when we set our minds to it'. When we have determined and agreed somethings important nothing can stop us'. He then goes on to say 'it is a pity we don't get similarity determined about our economy. Wouldn't it be great', he continues, ' if we had consensus about future economic direction and went all out to become world betters at wealth as well as rugby? The result would be better education, better health and a better future'.
But, 'he says, 'we don't'.
I would prefer that we widen the debate wider than the economy and wealth but the point is well made. The next major even on the calendar are the elections but there has little debate about what it is we want New Zealand to be seen as in the future.
Hawes writes that 'there is no feeling that we are all in this together.At best we argue a bit about how we will spend the wealth we have, but little common resolve to create more of it.' As a result we 'continue our long term slide against other countries'.
Just imagine if some of the money and publicity of the World Cup were to have been spent on providing New Zealanders with some ideas of future alternatives to consider.It would have been possible to establish a range of conversations, using modern technology, to involve as many people consider alterntives and , better still, to add their ideas to the mix.
Hawes writes that 'we have no unified dream or vision of better futures.' A vision he writes is an 'image of what you want'. Although Hawes's argument is centred on ensuring households have financial security his ideas apply to the wider scene.
Having such a vision drives our behaviour and if we are not clear on what maters then our actions will not result in positive outcomes. 'If you cannot decide what you want', he writes, ' then no amount of strategizing, planning or detail will help.' It is like planning a journey when you don't know if you if you're going to New York or Napier'.
'Having a vision is not only about having a mental vision of what success looks like but also what we want the wealth for'. Although he is referring to household financial success once again it applies to the wider picture.
'A vision of a future life gives the motivation' and he adds it always ' means giving something up today so you can have more tomorrow.That giving up needs a good reason and the vision is that reason....it gives it a purpose'.
It is important he writes 'to decide on what you want to achieve. This means taking time to think about about the life you want.' Once again this applies to New Zealand as a country. And it is important for everyone to be aligned behind what is decided. The trouble is in our combative political system too much time is spent running the other part down and it all becomes a either /or situation with many people not appreciating what it is we want as a country.
Hawes concludes his article by saying: ' If New Zealand displayed the same togetherness and sense of purpose we have put into the WRC party, we would have the best economy in the world.
As good as winning the world cup was the future of our country is more important.
Tuesday, October 18, 2011
- If the government are prepared to use this secretive process to develop tests, what else is being developed in secret, whether in education, or in other areas of policy?
- Why has the government deemed it necessary to develop this testing regime in this way?
- Will the National Party lay this out before the election, so that the voters of New Zealand are well informed?
- If not, why would this be?
- Why the hurry to have all this signed and sealed before the election?
- How ethical is it for the National Party, as the current government, to use the Ministry of Education as a tool to implement policies like this so close to an election, and which have not been put out to voters? Especially when Parliament sittings have ended, so there is no opportunity for this to be questioned?
- We know that the Ministry are training people for limited statutory manager roles.
- We know that these people will be appointed to schools whose charters are deemed ‘non-compliant.’
- We know that the deadline for schools to submit a compliant charter is very tight, with October 21 being mentioned in at least one case.
- We know that the statutory managers will be appointed on Monday 21 November.
- We know that this is 5 days before the general election.
- We know that the position of Senior Project Manager for the development of an empirical system of measuring achievement has been advertised.
- We know that this appointment will be made before the election.
- We know that the implementation date for this project is January 2014.
- We know that tenders are being sought for the development of rubrics against each national standard.
- We know that the contract for this will be signed before the election.
- We know that the asTTle tests for writing for year 1 and 2 children are being developed.
Wednesday, October 12, 2011
- The Consistency Framework will establish a nationally consistent approach to forming overall teacher judgments in relation to National Standards, and aims at reducing teacher’s workloads.
- The Project has two main components:
- The educational component (Framework) will involve the necessary research and analyses to develop empirically-calibrated scales and exemplars.
- The systems development component (Architecture) will involve the development of the necessary software for teachers to have reliable and easy access to data and reports to enable them to make judgements in relation to the empirically-calibrated scales.
- Advisory groups have been established
- Three advisory groups have been established to provide advice on the development of the NSCF.
- The NSCF Project needs to implement the solution ready for the 2014 academic year.
- Progression definition
- Sample data analysis (based upon a collection of an evidence base and judgements on each progression from a sample of students). Note: The scale for each sequence of standards will be constructed from the data using Rasch analysis.
- Standard setting
- Software development.
- The professional judgment of teachers, about their students’ progress and achievement, is at the centre of the National Standards. The NSCF will support teachers to make consistent judgments and support accurate measurement of students’ progress against the standards. The NSCF will support, not supplant, the professional judgment of teachers.
- There is a need for a system to ensure consistency in the way in which teachers integrate diverse evidence to form judgments, and measure student progress, against the standards.
- The professional judgment of teachers in interpreting evidence of students educational achievement, including classroom observation, cannot and will not be replaced by a machine.
Sunday, October 02, 2011
What is a Teacher?
A guide, not a guard.
What is learning?
A journey, not a destination.
What is discovery?
Questioning the answers, not answering the questions.
What is the process?
Discovering ideas, not covering content.
What is the goal?
Open minds, not closed issues.
What is the test?
Being and becoming, not remembering and reviewing.
What is learning?
Not just doing things differently, but doing different things.
What is teaching?
Not showing them what to learn, but showing them how to learn
What is school?
Whatever we choose to make it.