Friday, June 29, 2012

Weekend Readings from Allan

Weekend Readings

By Allan Alach

A consistent refrain is ‘improving teacher quality.’ On the surface, this is not rocket science. However, if we step back from this meme, we see that this is essentially meaningless unless defined. What is ‘teacher quality?’ What are the criteria for a ‘quality teacher?’  At this point we hit the wall, and find that the definition of quality depends on the agenda of whatever group of people are doing the defining. In today’s technocratic world teacher quality is raising test scores (or similar), whereas in more enlightened times the definition will be much different. This reinforces that we must not use meaningless terms like this, as this just buys into the prevailing ideology.

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

This week’s homework!

The Hip-Hop Generation: Implications for Teacher Preparation

An interesting take on teacher preparation, overall, and especially for the urban environment.  Article discusses “Corporate vs Communal Teaching” - you can guess which one is which.

Beyond the Politics of the Big Lie: The Education Deficit and the New Authoritarianism

Thanks to Mary MacKay from Amsterdam for this article. The title says it all. While written about the USA, readers will very easily make the connection with their own countries. The similarity of the agenda internationally is no coincidence. Diane Ravitch has commented, ‘Believe me, the attack on public education was well planned and well messaged. Careful rhetoric about choice, excellence.’  She’s talking about the USA, however her comments are extremely apt for other countries. This is an international battle for child centred education and we must support each other.

The Education System That Pulled China Up May Now Be Holding It Back

China wants inventors and entrepreneurs, but its schools, built around the notorious gaokao exam, are still designed to produce cookie-cutter engineers and accountants.”

So, hang on a tick, does this mean to say that ‘raising literacy and numeracy achievement’ is not the answer? Does this mean that standards/high stakes tests don’t ‘raise achievement’ and don’t produce well rounded, creative and innovative learners? What a surprise, who would have thought it.

Are We Wringing the Creativity Out of Kids?

Is any comment needed?

Better Childhoods Needed

“Poor children don't need better schools. Poor children need better childhoods.”

What else needs to be said?

Gerald Coles: Why Bother Educating the Poor?

In the same vein, here is a background explanation, that is unpalatable reading, yet, in my opinion, is accurate. Shades of the 19th century, the only difference being that back then, the ‘deserving’ were children of the aristocracy, while now, the ‘deserving’ are children of the risk. Want to know more?  Read A Measure of Failure: The Political Origins of Standardized TestingBy Mark J Garrison.

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