Friday, October 05, 2012

Educational Readings by Allan Alach: Howard Gardner, Alfie Kohn

Educational Readings- By Allan Alach

Last week I commented on the international connectiveness of our educational network. This was proved in short order, when Diane Ravitch, in USA, posted a blog referencing the article about Mike Feinberg and KIPP schools that was in last week’s readings. Not long later, US academic Scott McLeod tweeted the same link! Great!

It’s been an interesting couple of weeks in New Zealand that gives us hope that the GERMs may be meeting their doom.  A number of things have happened - firstly the Ministry of Education, following a dictate from the minister, published each school’s national standards dataset on a website.  This followed on from newspapers publishing league tables based on this ‘ropey’ data (Prime Minister’s description). The fact that the previous minister had promised that league tables would not result from national standards was conveniently ignored, and shown for the mistruth it was all along. The publication of the data immediately resulted in a wide of range of articles debunking virtually every aspect of national standards as applied in New Zealand.  The ‘general public’ have not fallen for the league tables bait, as was hoped, nor bought into the accompanying teacher and school bashing. Given New Zealand public’s long history of supporting primary schools, this isn’t surprising, as previous National Party Ministers of Education have discovered.

At the same time the Minister of Education, accompanied by the Secretary of Education (CEO of the Ministry) held a meeting in the earthquake damaged city of Christchurch to explain the ‘necessary reorganisation’ of schooling in the area. There were so many errors and problems with this meeting that it would take a long article to explain. The outcome has been nationwide awareness of the whole process and its underlying agenda of school closures and charter schools, acerbated by a farcical interview on a current events TV show where the incompetence of the Secretary for Education was laid out for all to see. We need to feel some sympathy for her, as her minister dropped her in the hot seat by refusing to front up herself - not surprisingly given her inability to answer questions.

Coincidentally, and very fortuitously, Finnish educator Pasi Sahlberg has been here to speak to both primary and secondary teacher union conferences, and this has really served to highlight the void between Finland’s success and the GERM (Salhberg’s phrase) infected approach of the government.  Sahlberg described his meeting with the minister as ‘interesting.’ The education spokespeople of the opposition parties, on the other hand, attended both union meetings, heard Pasi’s presentations, and engaged in panel discussions with him. These politicians have clearly got the message about the way New Zealand needs to go - returning to the model that attracted Finland in the first place!

Other events in New Zealand over recent weeks are making it increasingly likely that the next election in 2014 (maybe earlier given how fast the wheels are falling off this government) will see a change of government. This would result in a rapid disinfection of education to make it GERM free. This will then provide hope to other countries that the GERMs can be eliminated.

We live in hope.

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

This week’s homework!

Contextual Accountability

This is a powerful article that needs no introduction.

I believe fervently that Michelle Rhee and an army of like-minded bad-schools philosophizers will one day look around and see piles where their painstakingly-built sandcastles of reform once stood, and they will know the tragic fame of Ozymandias. Billion-dollar data-sorting systems will be mothballed. Value-added algorithms will be tossed in a bin marked History’s Big Dumb Ideas.”

Evidence: The Case of the Common Core Standards

This excellent ‘must read’ article was written about the USA. However you will note that it wouldn't take much adapting to fit New Zealand. I wonder why?

Why Kids Need Schools to Change

The current structure of the school day is obsolete, most would agree. Created during the Industrial Age, the assembly line system we have in place now has little relevance to what we know kids actually need to thrive.”

Sorry, kids, GERM minded deformers have decreed that the 19th century had the ideal education system. Tough.

The Global Search for Education: The Education Debate 2012 -- Howard Gardner

Let’s appoint Gardner as minister of education wherever he is needed…


What education reformers did with student surveys

They want to reduce everything to quantitative data regardless of its invalidity that comes from trying to fit square pegs into round holes.

On "Reform" and the "Public" in Education

Think school deform is a 21st century phenomenon? Ever wondered how and why are our schooling system is structured this way? Is anything new under the sun?

Do kids really learn from failure? Why conventional wisdom may be wrong

Another excellent article by Alfie Kohn. Read to find out the difference between ‘good’ failure and ‘bad’ failure.


melulater said...

I'll write a critique of Lesley Longstone's performance - it's nearly finished!!

Bruce Hammonds said...

Love to see it - e-mail it to me Google Kelvin Smythe to read what he has to say about Lesley Longstone