Saturday, September 27, 2014

Educational Readings -Sitting Bull/ creativity/ and 'Modern' Learning Environments?

By Allan Alach

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

This weeks homework!

William Mathis on "Economics, Education and Sitting Bull"
Facing the extinction of Sioux culture, Sitting Bull realized that their hope their only hope was in the life they made for their children. Confronted by this reality, he saw that education was
something far more than the narrow teaching of a set of test-based, academic skills. Education must impart the knowledge of the ways of the society, of fruitful interactions, of sustaining and nurturing cultural beliefs and rituals, of language and of the economic order, if you will, of a group of independent but related nomadic tribes. (And when the Anglo forces won, they established Indian schools to stamp out this culture).

Fostering Creativity In The Learning Process
As educators, when it comes to creativity in the classroom, there are 2 things we can do. We can take the path of least resistance and take creativity out of the learning process. Or we can create an environment that fosters creativity in learning and allow kids to explore their talents.

Franz Kafka and the Metamorphosis of Teacher Evaluations
One morning, when Mr. K woke from troubled dreams, he found himself transformed in his
classroom into a horrible insect. He lay on his segmented brown belly propped against his teachers desk. He had fallen asleep trying to grade English papers again. His armor-like back ached and wiry thin antennae kept bobbing into view like stray hairs. If he lifted his head a little, he could see his many tiny legs waving about helplessly each holding a pen or pencil.
 “Whats happened to me?he thought.

Engaging students in learning, not just schooling
In any given lesson or class, some students are engaged in their own learning process because they are inherently interested in the topic.  Other students may just be attending to get it over with. These are the students we are losing, because they are only engaging in their schooling, not in their personal learning. But, how to help these students to engage in their own learning?

By Jo Nocera
Imagining Successful Schools
The main thing that works is treating teaching as a profession, and teachers as professionals. That means that teachers are as well paid as other professionals, that they have a career ladder, that they go to elite schools where they learn their craft, and that they are among the top quartile of college graduates instead of the bottom quartile.

Do girls learn differently?
Neuroscientist Lise Eliot has argued persuasively that, while small inherent differences in aptitude between males and females do exist (even as infants, for example, boys seem to have an edge in spatial cognition), society takes these small differences and makes them much biggerby supporting boys in math and science, and by discouraging girls who study these subjects.

The wasteful fraud of sorting for youth meritocracy
What if we celebrated the students who regularly try the hardest, help each other the most and lead? What if we fast tracked those students, and made it clear to anyone else willing to adopt those attitudes that they could be celebrated too? What if you got cast, tracked or made the cut because you were resilient, hard working and willing to set yourself up for a cycle of continuous improvement? Isn't that more important than rewarding the kid who never passes but still scores a lot of goals?

Pseudoscience has nested in schools
When Nick Rose worked as a parapsychologist, his job was to investigate why people believed they had been haunted by ghosts or abducted by aliens. When he became a teacher, he expected that all this would be replaced by hard facts and a rigorous curriculum but teaching is rifewith myths and pseudoscience, he believes.
At a major conference on the use of research in education, Mr Rose said schools had very little immunity to nonsense and urged teachers to have the confidence to ask impertinent questions about approaches that had no scientific basis.

This weeks contributions from

How iPads, mobility and a pedagogical mind shift can transform learning.
Bruces comment: A creative NZ teacher shares ideas about using technology in her MLE classroom.

Heres a series of links about modern learning environments.

Bruces comment: Modern Learning Environments are the in thingbut most of the material seems to relate to architectural and resource features but the link below does provide how pedagogy and modern learning spaces interact. For those with very long memories such  ‘open plan modern learning environments were all the rage in the 70s in the UK, the US and New Zealand. Take a quick look at the link below but get down to the real school examples from Australia, the US and the UK at the end. The proof of course can only be judged by the quality of the students' in depth thinking across the Learning Areas to be successful they ought to reflect the things you would see  at Science, Technology and Maths  fairs or Creative Arts performances.

Linking Pedagogy and Space.

New Zealand examples are Pegasus Bay School

and Hobsonville primary and secondary schools.

Modern Learning Environments.
MLE 1968 !
Bruces comment:I find it hard to accept that the ideas expressed about Modern Learning Environmentsare modern or new but I like the questions on page 5 in the link below. Principals of such schools would be well advised to search out Living and Learning’  book published by the Ontario Department of Education 1968! This 220 page book covers school design and pedagogy to a greater detail than is currently available.

Why Classroom Wall Displays Matter
Bruces comment: Someone I totally agree with ! A MLE teacher in a Singapore School. MLEs should produce powerful displays of in depth learning.
In the 21st century we are all very focussed on utilising digital technologies with our students as a tool to support learning. Dont get me wrong, I am a huge advocate for technology in the classroom, and this article is not an anti-technology battle post. One of the thing that I have found recently when I have been in amazing digital schools is that often classroom wall displays are lacking, I found myself asking why .

Classroom Display Inspiration
Bruces comment about this Pinterest site: Maybe there are a few ideas below  to inspire displays of student thinking?

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