Saturday, December 20, 2014

Education Readings - Reflections/last reading for 2014

By Allan Alach

This will be last list of readings for this year. Ill be taking a break until the end of January, but then will return, fully refreshed, to the fray.

I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Forget about education, schooling, GERM, etc and focus on what really matters - on yourself and those near and dear to you.

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

This weeks homework!

Whats Lost as Handwriting Fades
A couple of weeks back I posted a link to an article about Finlands intention to downplay the teaching of handwriting. Heres another perspective.
But psychologists and neuroscientists say it is far too soon to declare handwriting a relic of the past. New evidence suggests that the links between handwriting and broader educational development run deep.

This weeks contributions from

Dan Pink: How Teachers Can Sell Love of Learning to Students
Bruces comment: An interesting look at education from Daniel Pink. Selling the love of learning. Since learning is the inborn default mode you have to wonder where it went!
In his new book To Sell is Human, author Daniel Pink reports that education is one of the fastest growing job categories in the country. And with this growth comes the opportunity to change the way educators envision their roles and their classrooms. Guided by findings in educational research and neuroscience, the emphasis on cognitive skills like computation and memorization is evolving to include less tangible, non-cognitive skills, like collaboration and improvisation.

Igniting Student Writer Voice With Writing Process Strategies
Bruces comment: Help students discover the power of writing.
Learning how to write can be further challenging when a student lacks confidence in his or her skills as a writer. How we mediate student perception of writing is as important as teaching the skills. Using diverse strategies via the writing process, any teacher can ensure that when a student struggles to write, a different approach is readily available.

7 Ways to Use Technology With Purpose
Bruces comment: Using technology with purpose is technology still oversold and underused?
In order to make sure you are using technology the right way, you must first start with why. If your students understand the whybehind your technology use, then the class will have a purpose and technological glitches and issues can be worked through. If they dont understand the whythen any small issue could turn into a major problem.

Outlook on instruction: Class around the clock
Bruces comment: An interesting overview of educational trends for 2015. Worth reading to see how things might unfold in the US.
Some exciting advancements are on the horizon for classrooms in 2015. While they sound technical, the biggest changes arent going to be driven by an app, a computer program or a new kind of tabletthey will come from new theories about how to engage both students and teachers in the classroom.

Provocations for Early Childhood Education
Bruces comment: Just read a few of the postings on this blog to remind us of the kind of childhood we used to have and what the young need today an exploratory childhood  based on play - that some characterise as benign neglect.
 Just today I really started to piece more things together, to see the connections to who I was as a child and who I am now as an early childhood education practitioner.  My passion for envisioning, creating and enhancing spaces for children is most definitely genetic first, then fueled by my studies and work with children, and set ablaze by 16+ years of exploring/applying lessons from the Reggio Approach - that whole nature versus nurture thing.

Declaring your incompetence
Bruces comment: Some good advice if you really want to be a learner.
What I find time and time again in my work with people is that the hardest part of the learning journey or of making changes is the admission of the inability to do something or of the struggle. Once that step has been taken the process is usually simple, if not easy. Surrendering to the learning journey by declaring ones incompetence is the doorway to beginning to change.

Tinkering Is Serious Play
Bruces comment: Making things is very serious play back to the real basics of learning.
The maker movement celebrates creativity, innovation, and entrepreneurship through the design and construction of physical objects. Maker activities may come across as playful, even slightly wacky, explosions of inventiveness. But in education contexts like schools, museums, libraries, and after-school programs, research shows that if the invitation to creativity is accompanied by intentional structure and guidance, maker activities can be channeled to support deep student learning.

Passion-based learning in the 21st century: An interview with Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach
Bruces comment: This article/interview with Sheryl Nussbaum- Beach really resonates with me.  Really good advice for teachers who want to equip their students for the future.
In this interview, Sheryl describes the shiftshe believes must take place in teaching and learning practices if elementary and secondary schools expect to remain relevant in an era when information and communication technologies will continue to expand exponentially.

To Advance Education, We Must First Reimagine Society
Contributed by Bruces colleague Wayne Morris.
Because disaffection with the education system reflects a much deeper societal malaise, its imperative that we first figure out what kind of world we really want: a world populated by responsible adults who thrive on interdependence and community, or a world of customerswho feel dependent on products, services, and authority figures, and dont take full responsibility for their actions?

Practices to Engage All Learners
Bruces comment: How to engage learners a more important issue than  current obsession testing and a narrow orientated accountability.
Teaching students who are at risk requires energy, dedication, talent, and commitment. These exemplary educators consistently and continuously remain connected and engaged with their students. By keeping their students' needs, interests, talents, and learning styles in the forefront, these teachers successfully reach and educate the students who need them most.

From Bruces oldies but goodiesfile:

Environmental awareness for pre-schoolers - from 'On Looking' by Alexandra Horowitz
Bruces comment: The above article made me think of this excellent book about exploring your environment through a range of perspectives.
For many of us our experience walking is un-remembered because we  fail to pay attention and we miss the possibility of seeing what is in plain sight of us.

Learning from outdoor play
Water play
Following on, Bruce draws attention to this oldy but goodyblog about creating in early education an environment for the young to learn through play.
Young children are programmed by evolution to learn from their experiences. By the time they arrive at school they have already developed the ability to walk, talk, draw, ask questions and develop theories about everything.Teachers need to build on such achievements and do nothing to blunt the amazing curiosity young children bring with them. Classroom environments, at all levels, should celebrate studentsinterests, questions, and their theories.

We have lost so much over the past 50 years. We need to return leadership back to creative teachers.
In recent years the myth of the principal as the key to school transformation became persuasive and as result the principal's status has gone up commensurably. Crowther questions this myth, believing that the reality has not lived up to the rhetoric. The so called 'heroic leader' may effect short term change but all too often this is a temporary transformation.

Reflection on my teaching beliefs
Bruces comment: unfortunately we still havent escaped the surveillance and audit culture!
Recently I read an article by educationalist Andy Hargreaves who wrote about 'Four Ways' of educational change since the 1960s. His thoughts reflected many of the thoughts about educational changes that have concerned me over the years. It is obvious that what 'officially counts' in education is driven by forces beyond the classroom. The creativity of the 60s that 'emerged' out of the decade of security following the Second World War, is a good example and was when my education journey, or story, began.

Criteria for a quality Classroom.
Bruces comment: Its a bit late for Southern Hemisphere teachers to do much about the ideas in the blog as most schools have closed for the year but it might be worthwhile reflecting about the ideas about criteria for a quality classroom and maybe keep in mind for the new year? The only things I would add to the list of quality learning criteria is that
Artwork represents endpoint of student research - year 5/6
quality classrooms have moved away from the use of demeaning ability grouping and have
reframedliteracy and numeracy as an integral component of class inquiry studies.

Fundamentals in education
Bruces comment: 
 On re-reading this I  was struck by how little my basic beliefs have remained unchanged over the decades –  at the core of my beliefs is the simple idea of the importance of the creative mind continually responding to experience - continually reshaping itself as it goes. It is strange how ideas re-emerge as today I wrote a blog which had the same message that how the brain ( ones
1970s booklet
identity) is unconsciously shaped by the culture it is exposed to
and that we ought to be focussing on the culture we create as teachers rather than being side-tracked by accountability demands. Earlier today
  I re-discovered a booklet I put together  in 1970 about the kind of creative teaching of a group of teachers I worked  had developed. Once again  this booklet still reflects my current beliefs.  It is almost that, over the decades, in the process of coping with imposed compliance demands, I have been forced to dance to others tunes and in the process compromised my beliefs.  I have the feeling I have come full circle. Let the others comply if they wish lets stick to what we really believe in.


Global Learning Systems said...

As progressive as technology becomes, I still think handwriting needs to be taught to young students. I can't imagine a world where we would not be able to jot down a quick idea or sign our names.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Bruce and Alan for your good work in providing educational readings - a great antidote for the conformist pressure being placed on schools.