Saturday, December 13, 2014

Educational Readings - student centred inquiry learning and the importance of making things

By Allan Alach

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

This weeks homework!

Jamie McKenzie
Just say no! Questioning the value of topical research

Jamie McKenzie is always worth reading.
Schools should outlaw topical research as being mind-numbing and substandard.
Around the globe goals have been raised to focus on imagination, invention, synthesis and problem-solving. Topical research is an ancient, outmoded practice that should join many other unworthy rituals in the dustbin of history.
The Need to Address Noncognitive Skills in the Education Policy Agenda

This paper contends that noncognitive skills should be an explicit pillar of education policy. It contributes to the growing interest in these skills by reviewing what we know about noncognitive skills, including what they are, why they matter, and how they enter into the education process.

For some students art is everything
Arts Education Matters: We Know, We Measured It

"Arts experiences boost critical thinking, teaching students to take the time to be more careful and thorough in how they observe the world.

This Will Revolutionize Education

Set aside 7.22 minutes to watch this powerful video - is technology going to be the holy grail of education? Khan Academy?
I think it is instructive that each new technology has appeared to be so transformative. You can imagine, for example, that motion pictures must have seemed like a revolutionary learning technology. After all they did revolutionize entertainment, yet failed to make significant inroads into the classroom. TV and video seem like a cheaper, scaled back film, but they too failed to live up to expectations. Now there is a glut of information and video on the internet so should we expect it to revolutionize education?

What Aristotle Knew

The distinction between those who can solve a problem and work their way out of a situation is in the ability to ask the right, critical questions to identify the problem, and then ask what it takes to solve it.
Even in our digital age, early parental writing support is key to children's literacy

"We have found that scaffolding is a particularly beneficial activity, because the parent guides the child. And, if that parent guides the child and also demands precision in a sensitive and thoughtful way -- i.e. 'what did you mean to write here? Let me help you' -- this definitely develops the child's literary skill set.

This weeks contributions from Bruce Hammonds:

Tanith Carey: Tiger Parents - and Tiger Schools! Relax and have more fun!
Don't   push - find what your kids love
It is obviously important, Tanith writes, that we must help children reach their potential but that this ought to be based on their individual strengths and not be set by 'the standards of schools intent on boosting their reputations on league tables - or the economic goals of governments.

Are we on the verge of an end to test-based accountability?

Learning how to take tests is not learning
Bruces comment: All this test based accountability is under attack but what is the alternative?
In short, weve seen dissatisfaction with the status quo of education reform, and weve seen acknowledgement of that dissatisfaction. But what weve not seen is a widespread, deeper rethinking of school improvement or an embrace of an alternative and theres the rub. Its highly unlikely that the nation will move away from the status quo until it has a different pathway forward.

Project-Based Learning Through a Maker's Lens

Bruces comment: The importance of makingin project based learning. This ought to be the emphasis in our schools not judging achievement on things many students are not interested in. Its what the progressive teachers of the past believed in.

A 'maker' is true learner
A Maker is an individual who communicates, collaborates, tinkers, fixes, breaks, rebuilds, and constructs projects for the world around him or her. A Maker, re-cast into a classroom, has a namethat we all love: a learner. A Maker, just like a true learner, values the process of making as much as the product. In the classroom, the act of Making is an avenue for a teacher to unlock the learning potential of her or his students in a way that represents many of the best practices of educational pedagogy. A Makerspace classroom has the potential to create life-long learners through exciting, real-world projects.

Both process and product important
Makers in the Classroom: A How-To Guide
Following on

We all construct our own meaning of the world around us; Making just gives us a context to construct our understanding in. It engages studentshands in the work of their minds in order to help them construct deep conceptual understandings.

Design Thinking: A Lesson That Connects Classmates
Bruces comment: Teaching design thinking and the dispositions encouraged in the process.
Pride of achievement

Design thinking is a creative problem-solving process that calls for thoughtful solutions to real-world situations. Design thinking in the classroom provides a motivating and engaging learning experience for students. Within the design thinking model, individual learning styles can be validated through a project based learning experience.

New Teachers: Creating a Shiny, Happy Classroom
Bruces comment: The real oilon classroom management well worth the read.
Engaged kids don't misbehave

What I prefer instead is to develop a classroom that does not require a system to handle misbehavior because it so rarely occurs. No checkmarks on the board, no list of consequences, no rewards. Just engaged, productive, friendly students.

Five Fun Ways to Spark Self-Discovery in Youth
Art display of portraits
Bruces comment: The power of the teacher to spark learning some practical ideas.
A sparkis the inner light that gives us energy, motivation, purpose and focus. It makes us feel alive when were doing what we love. Sparks are expressed as talents, qualities or passions. And when we operate from our sparks, we shine and offer something good, beautiful and useful to the world.

Art 'sparks' many students!

From Bruces oldies but goodiesfile:

Who am I ?
Do we focus enough on developing in every learner a positive sense of self?
From NZ film 'Boy'

A positive sense of self provides a role in making future decisions, and positive memories allow us to imagine possible futures. The past and our memories are the making of who we are. Our classrooms ought to reflect such students' stories past and present. It helps students answer the question 'How do I know who I am?’”

Inquiry Learning; an educational agenda for a future era.
Prof Brian Cox
Inquiry learning the default way students learn except at school?

Inquiry education has a long history going back to John Dewey (learning through experience) and was, and still is, in conflict with traditional content transmission teaching which still underpins much of current practice. Until this dilemma is faced inquiry education will not be successful.

Prof Brian Cox - 'science is being comfortable with the unknown' This is contrast to teachers who pre-determine students learning!

Driving into an exciting future!
Bruces comment: the future demands new organisations and this includes schools.

Set our schools free from the past!
In a future that will demand collaborative teamwork, networking, individual initiative and creativity and to prove such qualities we need to urgently re-imagine our schools. We will need a new 'educational vehicle, new driving skills' and a whole new sense of direction. The key will be for schools to see future discontinuity as opportunity and to develop new flexible educational organizations to thrive in such times.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

What a great collection of readings - all teachers should have access to such challenging articles.