Saturday, November 16, 2013

Educational Readings: GERM infection, On Line Learning, The Finnish Way and Indiana Jones!!

By Allan Alach

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

This week’s homework!

When You Hear Claims That Policies Are Working, Read The Fine Print

Applicable to all GERM infected countries.

‘There’s a huge middle ground between the highest-quality research and the kind of speculation that often drives our education debate. I’m not saying we always need experiments or highly complex analyses to guide policy decisions (though, in general, these are always preferred and sometimes required). The point, rather, is that we shouldn’t draw conclusions based on evidence that doesn’t support those conclusions.’

A New Pedagogy is Emerging...And Online Learning is a Key Contributing Factor

What do you think? Looking forward to reading your observations in the comments section! This seems to be aimed at post-secondary, but, if this contention is valid, then it has implications for all levels of education.

‘Recent developments in digital technologies, especially web 2.0 tools such as blogs, wikis and social media, and mobile devices such as phones and tablets, have given the end user, the learner, much more control over access to and the creation and sharing of knowledge. This empowers learners, and innovative instructors are finding ways to leverage this learner control to increase motivation and relevance for learners.’

We need a war on poverty, not teachers (via Dianne Khan)

‘In short, if we were serious about education, then our education discussion wouldn’t be focused on demonizing teachers and coming up with radical schemes to undermine traditional public schools. It would instead be focused on mounting a new war on poverty and thus directly addressing the biggest education problem of all.’

The Finnish Miracle

Here’s a set of slides (PDF format) from Pasi Sahlberg detailing why Finnish schools are working and why GERM doesn’t work. These may be useful for your own presentations.


The Principal: The Most Misunderstood Person in All of Education:

Having spent 20 years in the hot seat, this article resonates with me.

‘The principal is both the administrative director of state educational policy and a building manager, both an advocate for school change and the protector of bureaucratic stability. Authorized to be employer, supervisor, professional figurehead, and inspirational leader, the principal’s core training and identity is as a classroom teacher.’

Why Standards-Based Teaching is a Hopeless Way to Educate Youth

‘The standards-based accountability system of schooling treats students are like androids who come to school to mechanically learn to follow a path established by adults, many of whom have no idea what it is like in a 3rd, 8th, or 12th grade classroom.  Nor do these adults have any idea about the aspirations, creativity, and inventiveness of students in these grades.  Yet, these policy makers have established a system of education that is a meticulous set of performance statements that all students should learn in mathematics, English language arts (The Common Core State Standards), and science (The Next Generation Science Standards).’

This week’s contributions from Bruce Hammonds:

New Slide: Being Responsible for Teaching the Bored

‘If we are going to demand that students learn the huge sets of isolated facts that we jam into state and district curricula, can we really be surprised when teachers struggle to create highly engaged learning spaces that are driven by passion and interest?  More importantly, if we are convinced that learners are more likely to BE engaged when they  are wrestling with concepts that move them on a deeply personal level, can we really be surprised when our students find today's schools boring?’

Wanted: 'Canny Outlaws!

Looking way back, here’s an article Bruce wrote in 2005 that is still relevant.

He was challenging us to have the courage of our convictions and not to meekly accept everything that was being imposed on schools as the gospel truth. His argument was that Indiana Jones was a good model because he was an individual who took short cuts, cut through red tape, but at all times acted morally for the cause of the greater good.’


These 11 Leaders Are Running Education But Have Never Taught

Those who can’t do, teach.

Those who can’t teach, teach others how to teach.

Those who can’t teach others how to teach are educational researchers.

Those who have no understanding of education at all are education ‘reformers.’ 

(Apologies to G.B Shaw)

The End of Education

Bruce’s comment: I came across this article and it resonated so much with my thoughts I have posted it as a blog.

‘Education as a dwelling in the human experience of reality is ending. As with the Roman Empire, it is ending with a whimper, not a bang. The root of the problem is that we have absorbed the socio-economic and intellectual values of our age, an age ruled by business and science. The pragmatic values of business and science have become the values of our educational practices.’


Pink Floyd – ‘teacher leave that child alone’. The difference between education and schooling.

Looking back two days, here’s Bruce’s latest blog posting.

My belief is that if schools focussed on education rather than schooling then we wouldn’t have the so called ‘achievement gap’ that politicians blame schools for.’


Gratitude Can Fuel School Transformation

This approach would surely beat performance pay and other ‘accountability’ measures. Daniel Pink would agree.

One of the most common complaints I hear from teachers, administrators, and staff working in public schools is something along the lines of, "I don't feel appreciated." I'd like to propose that by simply incorporating a range of practices that allow ourselves and others to express gratitude, we might transform our schools. We'd certainly retain more effective educators, build stronger relational trust, and develop a culture that focuses on the positive -- in all adults and all children.’

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