Saturday, June 28, 2014

Educational Readings- for the critical educator

By Allan Alach
I welcome suggested articles, so if you come across a gem, email it to me at
Do we want more of the same in Education?
This weeks homework!

Education Reform: A National Delusion
An article from USA, but then again, since we unquestionably follow USA education policy, its relevant all over.
As I watch the education "debate" in America I wonder if we have simply lost our minds. In the cacophony of reform chatter -- online programs, charter schools, vouchers, testing, more testing, accountability, Common Core, value-added assessments, blaming teachers, blaming tenure, blaming unions, blaming parents -- one can barely hear the children crying out: "Pay attention to us!”’

How To Get Great Teachers
US blogger Peter Greene:
If you really want to put a great teacher in front of every child, then you need to preserve and enhance a vision of teaching that gives teachers control over their fate, their teaching environment,
and the education they provide their students. You need to preserve and enhance a vision of the profession that allows teachers to grow and excel (on their own terms). You need to preserve and enhance a vision of education's greater purposes, which are so much more than "college and career ready" and "do well on that bubble test." And you need to offer career pay that means they're not always wondering how they'll ever be able to raise a family or buy a home.

Ineffective Forever
Another blog by Peter Greene, sounding off at the ineffective teacher refrain that is being used to attack the profession around the world and particularly in the so-called Anglo-Saxon countries of England, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and USA.
 Is this a coincidence? What do you think?
In other words, by focusing on a bogus definition of effectiveness, you actually have no idea of which teachers are great for a particular classroom. It's not just that the reformster definition of effective is unjust and unfair; its innate wrongness will actively thwart any attempts to make anything better. It's almost-- almost-- as if reformsters actually want public schools to fail.

On teaching and learning of literacy
Excellent article by reading expert Ken Goodman, contrasting the way children actually learn to read, with the commonly held notion of the technocrats.
While young children are remarkably able to learn language, they are notably much less able to deal with abstraction. No wonder then they do not succeed well in learning sets of abstractions which not only are what they are taught but which are reified as reading in their tests.

Teaching can be stressful -- children's lives are at stake
Yes, teaching can be that stressful. Childrens lives are at stake.
I am not making this up. Psychotherapist Carl Jung might well have had teachers in mind when he proposed the archetype of the wounded healer. Jung believed that, in relating to patients, an analyst can take on their pain, a phenomenon that can be both positive and negative. I know that this experience is part of the psyche of teachers. Teachers take on studentswounds to gain the blessing: student learning.

Creativity and education

Teaching creatively and for creativity entails taking students on a creative journey where their responses are not predetermined. Teaching for creativity means that students will be producing ideas that may well involve novelty and possibly, experimentation. Teachers and students involved in teaching for creativity will be engaged with processes and although products may well be important it is in the process of creation where the true focus lies.

This weeks contributions from 

What I've Learned During 10 Years In The Classroom
After all, some things stick with us, becoming our sacred tenets about teaching and learning, shaping our personal and professional lives in profound ways.
Whether youve finished your first year, tenth, or fifteenth year in the classroom, the summer weeks (or months, if you are lucky) provide us educators a great opportunity to reflect upon and catalog those ideas, ideals, and insights we carry forward from year to year.

The Right to Learn - an agenda for the 21stC; challenging the status quo.
Another from Bruces oldies but goodies file, looking at the role of technology in education.
What is required is to dramatically change the way in which teachers teach and children learn - technology will be the key to this transformation.Technology makes personalisation of learning, and child-centred learning, ideals of earlier days, possible.

The art of making learning fun with drama, music and visual arts
The program pairs local artists with classroom teachers to develop creative ways to teach some of the drier or more confusing parts of the core curriculum. The teachers identify the concepts that their students struggle with most, and the artists help develop new ways to visualize or act out those ideas.

Employers Challenge to Educators: Make School Relevant to Students Lives
Bruce comments: An excellent insight into 21stC education schools as dream realizers. (Also suggested by Phil Cullen.)
‘“Students are the power tools of change in education,Miller
Young Einstein?
They are the most ignored and they have the most at stake.But, as Olin has found, when they are given free range to design, make and innovate they can be very powerful examples of what a great education can produce.

This weeks contributions from Phil Cullen:

Why can't schools focus on the whole child again?
Also suggested by Bruce!
What has happened to us in our country that we have forgotten that education can be such a joy? How did it all become such a deadly grind? I am inspired by the Green School in a way that I
Green School Bali
have rarely been inspired by any institution
so much so that I am already making concrete inquiries about getting my kids into the place.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Lessons learnt over the decades.

'If you are going to bow your head  bow it to a mighty mountain'

Yesterday I travelled to present ideas to a group of teachers in South Taranaki.

It has been a few years since I gave such a presentation and wasn't really that keen to do it. It would have been easy to dust off an old PowerPoint but instead , but since the invitation had made me think of my education career, I thought I would simply share the 'lessons' I had learnt when working with teachers over the years.

I have previously written a longer blog  ( with useful links for further reading)with the same theme but below are just the main ideas I shared:

1 The best ideas come from practicing teachers - the problem in our devolved system is to know where teachers with particular gifts are.

Pet Bantam - mini study
2 It is important to take advantage of the 'teachable moment' - an unplanned experience that has caught the attention of the class. Some might evolve into longer studies.

3 Room environments are the teachers main 'message' system to students and visitors. When visiting classrooms  look for the 'C/C rating' - on one hand inter-class consistency and equally important  individual teacher creativity.

Room Environment
4 It is important to 'slow the pace' of students work to allow time for teachers to assist  so as to get quality thinking- too many students think 'first finished is best'. It is important to help each student achieve their 'personal best' -particularly something they can see. In this process students learn the importance of 'stick-ability' or effort needed to achieve anything of quality.

5 Observation is a vital skill ( great to slow the pace) and if done well students can develop thoughts and questions during the
Dead bird - art//lang/science
process and later can use the ideas creatively.

6 In an increasingly virtual world it is important to develop awareness through the senses - through such experiences students language develops and questions emerge.

7 Inquiry studies ought to be central to the school day. An excellent inquiry model is the Learning In Science Project research ( LISP) based on valuing students prior ideas to
Where does our voice come from?
their questions and then for them research to clarify.

8 Not knowing is a vital attribute - it provides motivation to learn ( basis of all science)

9 It is important to do fewer things well - in depth.

11 Ensure student 'voice' is to be seen in the research students complete - all too often 'cut and paste'.

12 Need to 'reframe' , as much as possible, literacy and numeracy so they provide skills to be used during student research studies. Try to see the as important 'foundation skills'.

13 Although I am against ability grouping because of negative attitudes created  - rotational group work is an important way to teach in literacy, numeracy and during study time.

Bush study art
14 Art provides another inquiry model from idea generation to realisation - and the results should exhibits the individuality/uniqueness of each learner.

15 Digital technology, used appropriately, can amplify student learning but in itself is no 'silver bullet'. It's not the technology it is the pedagogy that counts. Digital cameras are great for gathering data on field trips.

Group tasks defined
16 Change is a slow process - in one school that successfully introduced many of the 'lessons' outlined it took five terms ( and often gets worse before it gets better). In business they talk of a journey of a 1000 days ( 3 years!).

17 It is a good idea for teachers/schools to define five or so teaching learning beliefs as a basis of their teaching - such beliefs provide consistency and integrity.

18 Take Sir Ken Robinson's advice 'creativity is as important as literacy and numeracy' and also Guy Claxton 'learnacy is as
important as literacy and numeracy'.

19 I believe that the role of schools in the 21stC is ensure the innate desire to learn is kept alive ( Claxton's 'learnacy') and that students gifts, talents and passions are identified, amplified and valued.

20 Best advice comes from educationalist Jerome Bruner ' teaching is the canny art of intellectual temptation'.  How do you tempt students to love maths? He also said ' people get good at what they get good at'. Use it or lose it is good advice. Positive emotions/attitudes are the basis of all learning - this is achieved when students can, as mentioned earlier, see the improvement in their 'personal best' through practice.

Howard Gardner
21 When it comes to talents , according to Howard Gardner there are eight ways of being intelligent - encourage them all ( not just literacy and numeracy).

22 Another educator, Eliot Eisner, talks about seeing every experience through different eyes  - as an artist, poet, mathematician, scientist, historian etc.

23 The future demands we personalise learning and move away from current standardisation. Every student has the right to leave school with a positive learning identity.

24 The 2007,  all but side-lined New Zealand Curriculum , is a great document with its emphasis on students as 'lifelong learner' - best phrase  is for every students to be  a 'seeker, user and creator of their own knowledge'. Consider what this really means.

25 A suggestion for groups of schools. Develop a sharing website with each school involved listing current teachers strengths ( offerings) and current needs. Schools could then visit to observe  or arrange to teachers from other schools to share ideas with staff.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Educational Readings- for critical educators: education under attack!

Coming soon to NZ
Readings by Allan Alach - sent to us from the UK.

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

This weeks homework!

The Problem Isn't Just Common Core, but the Entire Reform Agenda
New Zealand readers, substitute national standards for common core but otherwise this article is relevant all over.
A call for national standards ensures that we continue doing what is most wrong with our bureaucratic schools (establish-prescribe-measure) and that we persist in looking away from the largest cause of low student achievement: childhood poverty.

Just ask the teachers
One of the central features of corporate school reform is that those driving it havent bothered to seriously ask teachers to offer their solutions to improving public education.

I'm a teacher. I never saw this coming.
A story from Canada that will resonate with teachers all over.
The only people I can talk to these days are my colleagues. Were all like dogs that have been beaten too much. Were skittish and reactive around the public. We dont trust the motives of the
parents of the students we teach, lest they believe the narrative that our own government has created about us. We are afraid to put a bad mark on a paper, or discipline a child lest we be called to the carpet. We have been violated, and demoralized. And we seem to be alone. I never saw this coming.

Why Pearson Tests Our Kids
A must read article about Pearson Group, possibly the biggest threat to education around the world.
Edu business
"Pearson Personalized Learning" is not about supporting schools; it is about replacing them. And it is about replacing them without any evidence that their products work or any concern for the impact of their products on schools and student learning.

How the PISA Tests Mislead the World
Yet another academic shooting holes in PISA - reformers, please take note!
The international test-score rankings are almost universally interpreted by countries as an indication of the quality of their schools, despite the extensive methodological problems that make it virtually impossible to draw causal relationships between test scores and school quality. We are taking tenuous results and applying them in a questionable way.

What You See in Today's Public School Classroom Is A Mirage
A variation of this is found all over - teachers spending their own money on classroom materials. This is totally ignored by teacher bashers, probably because they have no idea this happens.
It's the first day of September. You bring your child to her new classroom, and as you say goodbye, you poke your head in the room. Everything looks great! You see neatly arranged desks. There's a SMARTboard at the front of the room. The walls are covered with beautiful
paper or fabric and colourful borders. But it's all a mirage. What you do not see is the room's bare bones before your child's teacher came in over the summer and transformed it.

Markets are Ineffective in Education and Create Social Inequalities
Surprise, surprise, not that our corporate influenced politicians will take any notice.
A new study has found that competition between schools and greater school autonomy do not increase student achievement. It also found that competition tends to increase social inequalities in school results. The study is published in the latest issue of the Journal of Education Policy.

Tony Abbott backs US-style corporate schools for Australia
Poor Australia, what did they do to deserve this?
True to form, it is no surprise that he would come out with an announcement, during his visit to New York, that the federal government will unveil plans next month for an Americanised education system in which schools are run in partnership with big companies and children educated to work specifically for those companies or others in the same field
This weeks contributions from

Democratic Education And Unschooling
Find John Holt's video
Bruces comment: Explore this site lots of good reads/views/links
Democratic education is a educational philosophy towards greater decision-making power for students in the running of their own schools. It brings democratic values to education and can include self-determination within a community of equals, as well as such values as justice, respect and trust. There are a growing number of democratic schools in the world. Unschooling is type of homeschooling that doesn't use a fixed curriculum, allowing children as much freedom to learn in the world, as their parents can comfortably bear.

12 Timeless Project-Based Learning Resources
Project-based learning is based on the idea that students learn best by tackling and solving real world problems. Students are much more engaged with the subject matter and look to the teacher as more of a coach who guides them through their own reflections and ideas. Project-based learning often involves students working in pairs or groups, thus facilitating a deeper understanding of cooperation and communication in solving problems.
Ready to try project-based learning in your classroom? These tried-and-true resources are sure to get you on the right track.

Downhills loses the fight as academies move in

Parents lose fight for their school.
A warning for New Zealand schools and, most likely, for Australian schools.
The four primaries - Downhills, Coleraine Park, Noel Park and Nightingale - were told by the Department for Education last year that they were potential academies after years of low results and recent Ofsted reports labelling them inadequate. Six other schools in the borough are also firmly in ministers' sights.These changes form part of an official policy backed by Michael Gove, the education secretary, of enforced conversion of the country's 200 worst-performing primaries into academies.

In New Orleans, traditional public schools close for good
There are now NO public schools in New Orleans - a text book case of disaster capitalism.
But in New Orleans, under the Recovery School District, the Louisiana state agency that seized
control of almost all public schools after Hurricane Katrina ravaged the city in 2005, the traditional system has been swept away.

3 Super-Simple Summer Science Activities
Bruce comments A bit of science fun.
Here are my top three super-simple science demonstrations that mix the wow factor of any good science demo with some nice science exploration.

From Bruces oldies but goodies file:
Culture counts!
Creating a culture of Creativity for New Zealand
Could New Zealand become such an innovative culture equivalent to Shakespeares England?  Was Shakespeare an isolated genius or the result of cultural conditions or both? Elizabethan England,Lehrer writes, provided the ideal place for a young dramatist to develop. It was an age obsessed with theatre aided by a massive increase in literacy. The result was a dramatic democratisation of knowledge.Shakespeare is a reminderthat culture largely determines creative output.

This weeks contributions from Phil Cullen:

Frequently Asked Questions
Pretend that you are an Education Minister or shadow minister in one of Australian States or
Imagine Chris Hipkins
at the federal level; and that your colleague, Mr. Chris Hipkins, the child-oriented shadow minister for education in New Zealand, has
your intellect. You respond as truthfully as he usually does to the sort of questions that Aussie ministers are likely to receive.

Teacher Proofing
An excellent article by former Queensland Director of Primary Education (i.e top dog) Phil Cullen, that is applicable all over.
"There is a new list on the way from instruction,  blended learning, differential learning, closing the achievement and talent gap, student-centric instruction, yap, yap. Makes one ever wonder what ever  happened to classroom teaching as a descriptor?

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

. Modern Learning Environments ( MLEs ) are they so new? John Key seems to think so!

I recently watched on TV the Prime Minister John Key, the Mistress of Education Hekia Parata and their entourage  open the new Modern Learning Environment School ( a MLE) .

The New Zealand Herald headlined the visit as ‘Ultra-modern school way of the future’ and the Prime Minister was quoted as saying the school was a ‘window into the future’ and ‘what all New Zealand schools will eventually look like’.
‘It’s probably vastly different from what many people will have experienced in their own education but it is the modern face of the future, and it’s what will the hallmark of Christchurch as we build 21 of these schools as a result of the rebuild of Christchurch’, Key continued.  
Bubbling with enthusiasm Key continued ‘It’s a brilliant school. While not learning at desks, children work hard at work on cushions, small pods of chairs, or lying on the floor.’
Working in teams is ‘best evidence’ teaching Key was heard to say.
It would be fair to say both Key and Parata were falling over themselves to share such good news in Christchurch and about primary education.  And  the principal, was equally excited, as he should be because he has waited for a number of years for the government get behind the school. Earthquakes change environments in more way than the obvious.
Who wouldn't be excited?
Solar panels on roof - zero energy
The Herald article and the news video seem to be more impressed with children working on cushions, or lying on the floor and such wonderful things as solar panels on the roof, making it the first zero-energy school in New Zealand, ultra-fast broadband, its own radio station, and large open classrooms – without any desks, rather than the exciting pedagogy I know the school has developed.
I haven’t seen the new school but have had the opportunity to visit ultra-modern schools in the Auckland area. My impressions of the schools I have visited are that they remind me of  technological futuristic factories and, in some ways, not really relating to real flesh and blood
A UK open plan school
children. Even the landscaping has been planned by ‘experts’ who like mass planting of natives that are forced to conform to their futuristic roles - amenity planting. Not really gardens – or even natural native gardens.
When entering such schools the office/admin area is more like a command centre. When being shown around the principals (maybe we need a new name) talk endlessly about how the architect has provided areas with colours to match activities, how teams of teachers work with students (maybe we need a new name for them), all about the imbedded ICT and the lack of desks.  

I usually note how little space there is to display students’ work but am usually informed such work will be kept in student electronic portfolios.  It sound petty but I am not usually very impressed with the children’s work I usually see although I note displays of De Bono’s thinking hats, Gardner’s multipleintelligence,  a range of inquiry learning models and ‘best practice’  WALTS ( we are learning to) and success criteria. To be honest these later observations apply to most schools I visit – or I used to visit. Conformist, clone like, formulaic – the result of so called ‘best practice’ teaching.
When visiting these ‘new’ schools I always ask for information about school vision, values and most importantly the teaching beliefs that underpin the schools learning.  One newly appointed
Modern school UK
principal handed me out a document that had no alignment with the potential of the high tech environment she was to lead.
When I used to visit schools as an independent adviser I focused on the quality of the thinking behind the work on display (or selected downloads from the computers). I looked hard to recognise the individuality or ‘voice’ of the students and increasingly found it hard to find.

 Even the art, once the height of individual creativity, has suffered from an overdose of ‘success criteria’ and associated feedback. The same applies to students’ language. As for inquiry learning, which ought to be central in any 21stC learning, it is all too often more process than real in depth understanding. 

Two areas that do stand out during visits are literacy and numeracy. With their genesis in the 19thC this emphasis is further distorted by the reactionary imposition of National Standards. I obviously am not against literacy and numeracy but believe they need to be reframed as foundation skills in the service of inquiry learning. In some schools they seem to have captured the whole day; ‘ the evil twins’ (one UK commentator has said) ‘that have all but gobbled up the entire curriculum.’
Recent decades have seen an increasing emphasis on standardisation of student learning,  as seen through an unhealthy focus on National Standards, the use of ability grouping and an importance of comparative assessment– all left overs from a past age.

 I am left wondering real understanding of the enthusiastic politicians who talk about such open schools being the way of the future? 

 It seems they know nothing about the open education movement of the 70s when schools were designed as open plans with teams of teachers sharing large numbers of students? In such schools teachers were encouraged to throw out their desks and replace them with geometric
Open plan school 1960s UK
shaped tables and cushions. The big innovation of the time were listening posts and overhead projectors
So what is so new?
It is important to appreciate that it is not the technology, or even the buildings, but the pedagogy that counts.
With learner centred pedagogy (which is hardly new) the new digital tools have the potential to make learning more efficient and effective. Pedagogy used by pioneer creative teachers fit well with new technology but without pedagogy it is all ‘bells and whistles’ and shallow learning. 

Teacher plus ICT

Such things as integrated projects based on authentic problems/projects, the need to dig deeply into learning by doing fewer things well, interest based learning, powerful celebratory displays, integrating learning with the local community and environment, valuing the creative arts, learning from/through failure and performance assessments are not new ( nor all that common).
Such pedagogy can equally be applied in self-contained classrooms with minimum technology – but by adding purpose built schools and digital technology so much more can be achieved.
One area missed in the above list is the importance of positive relationships between the learners and their teacher and, in an open plan environment, learners and their teachers and, vitally, between the teachers themselves.
This last point was downfall of the open plan movement of the 70s – along with schools that didn’t have a clear set of teaching beliefs to align practice. Successful units usually were led by a strong educational team leader.
Interestingly in the 70s there were two schools of thought about open plan education. The Department of Education (now the Ministry of Education) and their architects’ favoured large
Modern school 
purpose built spaces influenced by North American design
s. Critics often called this model ‘open prairies’. A  more successful teacher leddesign, with links to developments in the UK, featured a more human scale a ‘nookand cranny’ model. I favoured the later model. One brilliant example I was aware of was created from five relocatable classrooms. Todays modern schools  buildings continue to reflect a techno-factory metaphor while teachers try to implement a more intimate family /whanau teaching/learning one.
So while the Prime Minister might see  such schools as the future, the essence of their design is not new and the seeds of their success still lie with the pedagogical skills of the teachers, the strength of teacher relationships, and strong educational leadership.
 It is necessary for politicians to understand how important it is that teachers work well together sharing their individual strengths. In an open environment it is the human capital provided by a strong professional community that is the most important element. This should not be side-tracked by an unhealthy competitive emphasis on national standards in the process sacrificing other important learning dispositions.
Open education 1926 USA
The unsuccessful open plan schools of the 70s replaced the walls, closed the dividers, returned the desks and retreated to the type of education they were planned to replace..
Ms Parata and Mr Key – if they are   really enthusiastic about 21stC education, ought to ensure teachers get the professional development to implement the 2007 New Zealand
sidelined curriculum
. This curriculum is premised on the belief all students leave school as ‘lifelong learners’ able to ‘seek, use and create their own knowledge’. We need a personalised talent based education system in contrast to the government’s standardisation policy which assesses and sorts the worth of students on limiting criteria.
And, in this excitement about new schools, the real cause of student lack of achievement lays outside the doors of the school – in the growing inequality and poverty - sadly one of the real growth areas in New Zealand.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Educational Readings - 99 days to the New Zealand Elections: A turning point or more of the same?

99 day to vote for the future of creative teaching
By Bruce Hammonds

Allan Alach, the regular complier of Educational Readings, is away holidaying in the UK and Europe for a few weeks but plans to take up compiling the weekly Educational Readings from next week Geography is no barrier in the age of the internet. In the meantime I have put together this set of readings with the NZ elections in mind.
The Global Education Reform Movement ( GERM)
Corporate control of teaching

This blog/reading is deliberately biased towards critiquing the current neo- liberal ideology that has infected Anglo/American Education.  The Global Educational Reform Movement as it is known - often referred to as 'GERM'.

It is important for educators to appreciate that the business/private enterprise approach is not restricted to education it applies to all aspects of public service organizations. Behind it all is the power of the big corporations and the business elite and, at risk, is a  true participatory democracy that focuses  on protecting the common good for all citizens.

It is well to remember that it was the business elite that created the Global Financial Crisis  (GFC) of 2008  And  also, as a result of decades of  the market forces’ ideology,  Anglo-American societies have developed  very unequal  winner/loser societies that weaken the social fabric of their communities. Inequality in these countries is a growing issue; the 'rich have got richer and the poor poorer!'

The upcoming New Zealand Elections a possible turning point?.

It is vitally important that opposition political parties present an alternative to this neo-liberal business ideology but so far any sense of a viable alternative has yet to capture the public's imagination. The public needs to face up to the realisation there is no level playing field and that wealth does not trickle down and that the growing inequality will increasingly cause social breakdown

There is an alternative.

The market forces model is not the answer, it is the problem. We need a new vision based on creating the appropriate opportunities or conditions to ensure all people benefit. A vision that values the common good not one biased towards private greed; an approach based on economic and environmental sustainability; one that values collaboration as much as competition; a vision that does not lend itself to measuring only the easy targets.

Transforming education is central to the development this more equitable and innovative society.

Voices such as educationalists like Sir Ken Robinson and Howard Gardner are calling for a transformation of education (not reform which is more of the same at best); an education system that creates the conditions to develop the talents and passions of all students.

In this respect schools (as with society) are facing an opportunity gap rather than an achievement gap.

The coming elections will either cement in and amplify the neo-liberal ideology or be the beginning of a fairer society, providing opportunities for all; one valuing individual creativity and respect for sustaining the environment.

Alan welcomes suggested articles, so if you come across a gem, email it to him at

This week’s homework!

This week it has been hard to ignore the debate around the governments Investing in Educational Success (IES) proposals involving the establishment of 'super'  principals and teachers to help schools deemed as at risk. 
Straight shooter

If want to clarify your thoughts read Pat Newmans opinion piece against the proposals in the May Education Review and make sure you read the contrary comment by Tom Parsons from the Secondary point of view.

And if you havent read Kelvin Smythes response visit the links below. The NZEI is against the IES proposal but where does the NZPPF stand? Tom Parsons make the secondary principals approval clear.

Be Afraid
And if you arent certain about the desire to capture schools by private corporations read Be Afraid; the Privatisation of Public Education in the latest Education Aotearoa by Michelle Nixon.

Some thoughtful videos sharing the big ideas from the Jan 2014 NZEI   Taking Stock. Moving Forward Conference.

From England : Meg Maquire- and coming soon to NZ!!
Meg's presentation was based on how teachers  face up to the challenges of
Meg Maquire
holding on to their teaching beliefs while accommodating the corrosive effects of
league tables

 The emotional and intellectual demands of teaching, she says, are compounded by the politically inspired crisis in literacy and numeracy, a public nostalgia for rote learning and accelerated calls for accountability.

She also talks about growth of private school academies (charter schools). In England, she says,  is all business jargon raising standards, drowning out the ethos of caring and doing your best for children -  and the notion of public educations role preserving democracy .

From The United States: David Berliner the vital  ( and ignored) issue of poverty.

David Berliner
Berliner says that recent research in the US shows that only 10% of variation between schools is down to teachers and we do miracles with our 10% of a kids time.

The crisis in education is being manufactured by people like Bill Gates. Mean scores in International Tests are about cohorts .. not to do with the quality of teaching. There is a lot of lot of inequality in countries with remnants of British Capitalism and class system; in contrast in high scoring  Finland only 4% of children are living in poverty.

Not quite the real truth!!
Berliner calls Prime Minister John Key a liar when he said  announcing the Investing in Education Success ( IES) proposal,that a mountain of research shows that the quality of teaching inside the classroom is the biggest influence on kids achievement. Every researcher, Berliner says, in the Western world know that is not true.

From Australia Bob Lingard  says that testing technologies are taking over from ideas in education.
Lingard criticises the OECDs  slogan you cant improve what you dont measure and that its Programme for International  Student Assessment (PISA) is increasingly
Bob Lingard
influencing local policy and that many of its tests are funded by huge US corporate interests

Lingard talks about the negative effects of the National Australian Assessment Programme Literacy and Numeracy Tests ( NAPLAN) in Australia. If the National  Government returns this could well be the model to extend the power of National Standards.

Now for something positive : Education is about building character.

"he punitive cloud hanging over teachers is darker today than it's been in a long time," writes Nancy Flanagan. "Let's not make it worse by taking the human element out of teacher evaluation, in favour of numbers."

From Bruce Hammonds Oldies but Goodies

There are well over a thousand postings on my blog and the blog data show which ones are being read each hour, day, week,month , year and all time. One that is popular at the moment relates to the theme of these readings is;

The Corporate takeover of Society

New bureaucratic practices are now well in place in all public organisations and increasingly in education. Corporate jargon is now common in this new educational environment  inputs, outputs, targets, key performance indicators, performance
The 1% knows best!
management, efficiency, accountability, bench marking and quality assurance.

Corporate domination, to be put in place,  needs an acquiescent and a disciplined workforce.

The corporate model is pushed on schools by policy makers  who have little or no experience of the reality of the classroom ignoring  the voice of educationalists.


 Valuing creative teachers.

Value creative teachers
With the election drawing near the choices are sharpening or ought to be.  The survival of a creative education. valuing diversity over standardisation. will depend on who is the government post-election..

 Super teachers; Not the answer
Time for courageous school leadership.We dont need travelling 'super principals and teachers' to act as enforcers of government edicts, we need to share the ideas of creative teachers.

Inequality in New Zealand – Max Rashbrooke

There are those who  suggest that the inequality gap will become a key election issue in 2014. The divide between the richest and poorest New Zealander has widened alarmingly over recent decades- faster than in most other developed countries.

God’s own country –  once supposedly the best place to bring up kids in the world, seems no longer to be the case. A country originally founded to escape the worst of the class structure of England seems to have given up on the idea of giving a fair
go to all citizens. The view of many well off people now is that the poor are the authors of their own misfortune and only need to set about and pull up their socks and all will be well; there seems little empathy for those in difficult situations.

Is this divided  disconnected world of rich and poor to be our future? Is there an alternative