Friday, August 29, 2014

Educational Readings - ADHD/ John Dewey/ McDonaldisation of education and the NZ elections

By Allan Alach

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

This weeks homework!

 Equipped for the Future

As good as riding with no hands!
Continuing down the Common Core road with ELA standards that focus primarily on selective and specialized literacy skills instead of broad-based, applicable, and transferable literacy skills, make as much sense as the US Education Department announcing a new initiative to improve U.S. bike riding skills by mandating that all children learn to ride a bike without the use of training wheels, and declaring the new National Standard for being a proficient and globally competitive bike rider isNO HANDS.

Deskfree strategy turns classrooms into creative learning hubs that see student engagement soar
Another article on Stephen Heppell inspired developments in Australia.
Teachers, parents and students across the state have been briefed by Professor Heppell, a global expert in learning spaces who claims students learn more effectively and behave better within borderless learningdesigns; when they have freedom to work in smaller groups and even learn standing up.

( It is not often I comment on Allan's selections but I am concerned that people are too easily impressed with the superficiality of these 'modern learning environments' (MLE) . When I visit such schools I like to see the in.depth thinking that has resulted from working in such environments - all too often missing. It is all a bit like the open plan environments of the 70s with computers replacing listening posts and OHPs! Bruce)

Teaching Is Not a Business
While technology can be put to good use by talented teachers, they, and not the futurists, must take the lead. The process of teaching and learning is an intimate act that neither computers nor markets can hope to replicate. Small wonder, then, that the business model hasnt worked in reforming the schools there is simply no substitute for the personal element.

How We Think: John Dewey on the Art of Reflection and Fruitful Curiosity in an Age of Instant Opinions and Information Overload
Dewey examines what separates thinking, a basic human faculty we take for granted, from thinking well, what it takes to train ourselves into mastering the art of thinking, and how we can channel our natural curiosity in a productive way when confronted with an overflow of information.

The Rise of the Helicopter Teacher
The risk that helicopter parents run is that they will raise children so coddled that they have a hard time functioning on their own in the larger world. So too with the way we have infantilized our students. Afraid or unwilling to challenge them, we pass them through with perfectly good grades but without much of a sense of how to work on their own or think for themselves.

How A Popular TV Doc Has Learned To Explain ADHD Simply
Implications for teachers?
ADHD is like having a Ferrari engine for a brain with bicycle brakes. Strengthen the brakes and you have a champion.  People with ADHD are the inventors and the innovators, the movers and the doers, the dreamers who built America.

The McDonaldization of Education: the rise of slow

In regards to education, McDonaldization attempts to wipe out any of the messiness or inefficiencies of learning. Instead, it attempts to reduce it to a commodity that can be packaged,
marketed and sold. Rather than cultivating a deep, holistic love of learning that touches every aspect of a students life, learning has been reduced to an assembly line. In reality, weve imposed a mechanistic view of life onto how people learn, which is largely an organic process, and at a great cost.

Teaching Critical Thinking in Age of Digital Credulity
Dewey would agree

Now, the enormity, ubiquity and dubious credibility of the information available to most of the worlds population is requiring each of us to become something of an expert on figuring out when were being misled or lied to. Perhaps, unfortunately, for the future of life online, few teachers or parents impart to young people the always useful but now essential skills of how to question, investigate, analyze and judge that link they just got in email or the factual claim they just found through a search engine.

This weeks contributions from
Bruce Hammonds:

The New Zealand Election coming soon!!

 If you were to listen to some politicians you would think the sky is falling in but New Zealand education is in good heart. I was particularly impressed with his positive experience of secondary education. Well worth a read.

T.he Labour Manifesto’s education policy of the time made it clear what was expected in education and when elected Peter Fraser, Minister Of Education, asked the Director of 
Peter Fraser and Michael Savage
Education Dr Beeby
 to rewrite the then Ministry of Education report to the new government to capture his ideas. Overnight Beeby wrote the following principle:

‘…that every person whatever his level of academic ability, whether rich or poor, whether he lives in the town or the country, has a right as a citizen to a free education of the kind best fitted and to the fullest extent of his power……(and that this ) will involve the reorientation of the education system.’

Important choice coming soon!

It’s time for all people share in the apparent growing wealth of the few – the disparity between the rich and the poor is still growing. In schools the government talks about an ‘achievement gap’ , ignoring the effects of growing poverty and sees the solution as developing ‘super’ principals, cluster principals and lead teachers as the answer – such people obviously chosen because of their adherence to National’s policies – National Standards



Anonymous said...

I think your comment about the glitziness of the so called 'modern learning environments' ( MLE)is so right.

It seems architects are determining the pedagogy rather than vice versa.

The proof is to be seen in the quality of the learning experiences and outcomes. The illustrations in the article didn't show examples of any in deth learning to me.

Anonymous said...

With reference to my earlier comment the answer to my concern is to found in posting about John Dewey and thinking and the posting on critical thinking. If applied in the MLEs it would result in quality learning.

Bruce Hammonds said...

Greetings anon
It seems we are in agreement. It is all too easy to be impressed with the modern structures( which are not so modern) and digital technology and not notice if students are actually achieving quality thinking ( John Dewey)

Darren Sudlow said...

Yes some schools with open environments have not really adopted matching open approaches to learning. For some it seems to be about efficiency, which is missing the point entirely.

I think you both should visit Hobsonville Point Secondary though. There is a school that has a vision for really pushing the boundaries. Integrated learning, inquiry learning, projects, authentic learning. It is radically different to so many secondary schools.

It is using the environment the way it should be.

Darren Sudlow said...

And architects are hardly determining pedagogy. It is only a space after all. The pedagogy is determined by the SLT and staff.

Although I agree, not much evidence of in depth learning, but that is not determined by the environment. Technology and the internet can be a powerful enabler of connected and collaborative learning, but it is far too often used in ways that are superficial and nothing more than worksheets on steroids.

Bruce Hammonds said...

Thanks for your thoughts Darren. I think we are more or less in agreement.

I have arranged with Maurie to visit your school some time in the future. Please pass on my regards to him.

All the 'boundary pushing ' pedagogy you mention , as you say, are so different from traditional subject based secondary schools.

Liked your 'worksheets on steroids' line.

The two articles on thinking - one by John Dewey - were relevant in regard to the use of modern digital technology.