Friday, March 27, 2015

Education Readings - the battle for education/ PISA/ our brain/ teacher artistry.

Creativity - the way of the 21stC 
By Allan Alach

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

This weeks homework!

The battle for education
Interesting article by Steve Wheeler examining the differences between education philosophies derived from Socrates and Aristotle. Readers of Zen and Art of Motorcycle Maintenance may notice familiar themes.
A battle of words and ideals is raging about which is the most effective, and indeed, the most appropriate approach to adopt for the needs of today's society.

Battle lines
Steve Wheelers follow up to the above article.
I have visited schools that are fully traditional in their approach and I have also been to schools where the ethos is wholly progressive. The differences are stark. Individual teachers do have a choice to determine their approach in the classroom, but realistically, these choices are limited, particularly if they are expected to tow the party line of their leadership. One of the most marked distinctions between traditional and progressive approaches - and a battle line that will play increasing importance as the debate continues - concerns the role of the teacher.

The tower of PISA is badly leaning. An argument for why it should be saved.
Pasi Salhberg:
Just think for a moment what would global education look like if PISA had never been launched? There would be, as there was in the 1990s, a number of countries that mistakenly believed their education systems are the best in the world and should set the direction for other nations. Were it not for the fact that these weaker performing countries that include the United States and England have not been successful in PISA, the worldwide pressures for more market competition between schools, less university-based training for teachers, and more standardization of the curriculum, would have had a far easier ride.

6 Myths Of Digital Technology
For the record Im a keen proponent of educational technology; however we need to be mindful of the cliche, that a teacher who can be replaced by technology should be replaced.
“… it is clear technology alone does not make a difference to learning. Rather, how well the technology is used to support teaching and learning is the key determinant of its impact. There is no doubt that technology engages and motivates young people. However, this benefit is only an advantage for learning if the activity is effectively aligned with clear learning objectives.

5 Reasons standardized testing won't slow down
Add caption
While we subject our offspring to endless measurement, what is really being tested? Its our values as parentsthe kind of kids we want to raise and the kind of society we want to have. The testing obsession is damaging our children. But our society is locked into a testing arms race.
The parents who have the most time, energy, and resources are afraid to stop playing the testing game for fear their children will be left behind.

Challenging the Cold War Pedagogy of Common Core
This article discusses the situation in the USA; however perceptive readers will be able to link this to their own country.
Common Cores creators seems hyper-focused on measurement outcomes, while showing a lack of willingness to listen to and collaborate with education professionals who point out the flaws in this approach. For them, test scores are all that matter and charters schools are the solution to all our problems.

Robert Putnam: When Did Poor Kids Stop Being 'Our Kids?
"If it takes a village to raise a child, the prognosis for America's children isn't good: In recent years, villages all over America, rich and poor, have deteriorated as we've shirked collective responsibility for our kids.

Teachers overworked and undervalued but still dedicated to education, survey suggests
This is from England but I suspect the findings would apply in many countries.
One teacher wrote: I am happy to work hard, but the current level of scrutiny in my school makes it impossible to make professional judgements about the best way to do things, which is extremely stressful. I have been happiest at times when I have had some control over my workload.””

This weeks contributions from Bruce Hammonds:

How Do Digital Portfolios Help Students?
Bruces comment: I have always liked the idea of students keeping evidence of their achievements in a folder, file, in their study books or a portfolio..  the idea of extending this digital portfolios is an obvious modern extension.
It means students can save their work in the form of a web page, CD or disk. Kids respond better when theyre able to share their work because they have a valid audience and it does not go onto the pile on the teachersdesk. Kids today can create and share their work with the world through digital portfolios; they have an authentic audience who will not only read it, but also care about it.

16 Ways Your Brain Is Sabotaging Your Effort To Learn
Bruce's comment: Another article useful for staff to read one and share with others. Read how your brain can sabotage learning and some antidotes .
The human brain is our best friend, and our worst enemy, and unless we keep one eye peeled, it can hijack our learning completely. In this article Id like to examine some of the trapsthe brain sets for us during the course of our academic careers, and what we can do to avoid them. Psychologists have already done the hard work of realising theres any hijacking going on at all; whats left for us to do is pay attention.

Six Things We Learned At South By Southwest EDU
Bruces comment: Flick thru this implications for the future?
Student data and privacy will only grow as a bone of contention.
The capture and use of student data from prekindergarten through college is increasing with the adoption of software platforms where every homework problem a student does can be recorded in bits and bytes.
The flipside of the power of analytics and prediction is concerns about privacy. Who owns this data? Who should have access to it? What can be done with it?

Chinese teachers bring the art of maths to English schools
Bruces comment: Well worth a read. UK politicians  are introducing a Chineseapproach to maths. Not as an art but as training. I like the Chinese ( Asian ?) idea of a belief  that all can
learn maths, that they dont believe in ability grouping  and that they do fewer things well but as for the rest! You read and make up your own mind. Ironically  the Chinese are looking towards the West to develop more creativity in their education system.

Why are we blindly following the Chinese approach to teaching maths?
Bruces comment: And for a contrary point of view and mine as well.
A one-size-fits-all approach is unlikely to improve childrens learning. Worse still, it undermines more important features of our culture and heritage, where we punch above our weight in creativity and celebrate originality and difference rather than uniformity.

From Bruces oldies but goodies file:

Learning styles
Bruces comment: I have my concerns about learning style ideas but by the use of focussed group work the various personal preferences can be catered for. Group work is used successfully
in reading programmes but, in my opinion (and considerable research) less successful because of the destructive use of ability grouping.
In traditional teaching teachers presented their ideas to the whole class Today, with an appreciation of the diversity of student learning styles, the idea of multiple intelligences, the modern emphasis on active learning, and the need for all students to gain success, such a simplistic pedagogy will no longer do.

Teachers as artists.
Bruce's comment: A real oldie but aint it the truth!! Creative teachers a lost resource.
Isnt it time that people in power realized that the real insights about teaching comes from the work of masterteachers. That teaching is more about the artistry and the craft of teaching, than following any prescribed approach.The trouble is these days no one is even bothering to look for such teachers and of course they are liable to be outsiders, mavericks and idiosyncratic. The very traits those who like to control things hate, but paradoxically, the very same traits required for progress in any field of endeavour.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Bali Haque.The failure of Education Reforms in New Zealand - with an emphasis on secondary schools. NCEA/ NZC and National Standards.

In a recent article in the Sunday Times magazine a recently resigned secondary teacher wrote  , 'teaching is not a cushy job- it's grueling. I had to do so many assessments with the students there was barely time to teach them anything....the NCEA is well intentioned- full of second chances - but the people who dreamed it up didn't consider how perpetual assessment and marking would impact on teaching...... It puts teachers, students and parents on common ground - by bewildering them all.

With this in mind it was interesting to read Bali Haque's book 'Changing Our Secondary Schools'. Bali has been a secondary principal, President of the Secondary Principal's Association and
deputy chief executive responsible for the NCEA.

His book is a critique of two decades of education reform in New Zealand and a call for future action.   (See book review)

The book is based on the premise that our secondary schools are already good but 'have the capacity to be great. An earlier book, 'Our Secondary Schools Don't Work Anymore', by David Hood,  who has a similar background to Bali, is not so positive. Guy Claxton's book 'What is the Point of School' is also relevant. It would seem that good is not good enough!
Looking towards the future

Bali's book  covers the Tomorrow's Schools Reforms , the National Certificate of Educational Achievement ( NCEA) , the revised New Zealand Curriculum ( 2007) and  the National Standards. 'None of these reforms', Bali writes, 'has been as successful as one might have hoped', and adds, 'mistakes have been made again, again , and again.'

The equity gap the real problem!
NZ scores well on international tests, he writes, but scores have fallen because of the 'gap between students from poorer , lower socioeconomic status homes' and that this equity gap 'presents any current or future  New Zealand government with its most serious and persistent .....problem'.

 The situation is made worse by the fact that many Maori families are in this category. 'Maori students perform poorly...largely because of their Socio Economic Status (SES) not their ethnicity' he writes and continues. 'we live in divided communities and our schools reflect theses divisions.'

Culture Counts!
This division provides well off students with cultural habits and dispositions inherited from their families that are critically important to school success. This is obviously not true for all students but there are those ( Pierre Bourdieu ) who believe that schools make the situation worse. There are Maori educationalists who believe that schools do not reflect  a Maori worldview.

Bali asks the question do schooling and teaching matter and answers 'it depends'?

 New Zealand has in recent decades become one of the most unequal Western societies and that this can only be overcome by political action not by blaming schools.

 Focusing only on schooling and teaching to address disparities is 'unhelpful and misleading'. There is more an opportunity than an achievement gap. Research (Marzano) in Bali's book states 80% of student achievement is determined by student background, the school 6.65 and the teacher 13.34.

Teaching as an art.

'Teaching,'Bali writes, ' is essentially more of an art than a science' and what works depends on the relationships between the teacher and the learner.

  Bali  believes that  power of a quality teacher depends on what he calls 'a state of mind' ; the individual teachers 'personal dispositions, attitudes  and assumptions'. This he says is reflected in the New Zealand Curriculum ( Teaching as Inquiry) which asks teachers to constantly ask questions about the effectiveness of what they are doing and be willing to change what isn't working. Such teachers believe all students can learn achieve provided the right conditions and help.

It is encouraging teachers to develop this mindset that provides the greatest opportunity to help all students achieve but real success
1 in 5 have very little
will only be fully realized by improving the socio- economic background of students. Blaming the one in five students currently failing on teaching is 'plainly nonsense' Bali writes.

Now back to the reforms.
Yeah Right!

Tomorrow's Schools.

Introduced in 1989  it was supposed to be all about devolving responsibility to 'self managing' schools to realize greater flexibility and innovation but in reality passed poor performance on to individual school many schools ( low decile schools) did not have the capability or resources.
Rather than having a school system, schools were placed  in a market place unfairly competing with each other. This was a business model that favoured the well placed and discouraged collaboration.

There has been no evidence of system wide gains in achievement or new approaches to learning or greater equality. Lower decile schools are all too often  marginalized and ghettoised and, Bali writes,  'awful for the cohesiveness and social and economic well being of New Zealand as a whole'. 'Tomorrow's Schools continues to harm many of the students  it was designed to support.

NCEA - National Certificate of  Educational Achievement

The NCEA chapter focuses on secondary education and the change from simple pass /fail exams to the provision of all students with opportunities  to succeed. 'For most teachers and parents the changes were astonishing and revolutionary'.  The aim was to unify vocational and academic pathways by shifting to standard based assessment allowing students to demonstrate learning achievements on units passed.  Students were   assigned their own personal Record of Achievement (POR). Such a dramatic change had not been attempted anywhere else in the world. The assessment requirements, Bali writes, were 'light years away from what was mainstream practice for most teachers at the time'. And there is the confusion between vocational and academic units.
Stressed students

It has been a rocky road to success  but after a troubled birth it has become reasonably successful but there are still issues due to a 'poor reform process'. Assessment now drives teaching. 'The trouble was the new standards based NCEA system', writes Bali , 'required a  fundamentally different approach to learning' which is yet to be seen widely. Until things change students and teachers remain stressed trying to implement current all but impossiblee requirements.

The 2007 New Zealand Curriculum

The 2007 New Zealand Curriculum. provided schools with a  broad enabling framework to work within  allowing plenty of flexibility for schools. It's 1993 predecessor was a technocratic and assessment  nightmare. The  intention of the 2007 curriculum was to move beyond subject content towards a greater emphasis on good teaching practice.

Bali makes the point that primary schools were encouraged by the 'front end of the curriculum' which defined the vision, principles, competencies and values. For most secondary school its implementation was complicated by the requirements of  the NCEA. Bali recommends that the 'wash-back effects of the NCEA qualification into the junior school prevented effective implementation of the new curriculum. Schools instead used the junior years ( year 9 and 10) to prepare for the 'realities of the NCEA'.

The new curriculum provided motivation to develop integrated units around common themes rather than compartmentalized and separate subjects so, while it was  satisfactory to provide broad learning objectives in the junior years and in primary schools, it was extremely problematic for teaching in the senior school. 'As well the emphasis on competencies at the front end of the curriculum provided another headache for secondary schools'. How to measure or report on these competencies was problematic and as a result, in many secondary schools, the 'key'  competencies have been sidelined.
Integrated inquiry studies

So has the 2007 NZC achieved its objectives? With regard to secondary school limited progress has been made in encouraging better teaching, particularly in years 9 and 10 but  'the requirements of the NCEA has probably outweighed the requirements of the curriculum particularly at the senior school.' This is not helped by subject specialists protecting their territories making the integration of knowledge and focus a on competencies difficult and, as a result,  'teachers have tended to continue with their current practice'.
 NZC -Opportunities for integrated inquiry studies.

'So, as far as secondary schools are concerned, the NZC has not been as successful as might have been'. Schools have not addressed the fundamental changes required. For all that 'the NZC is viewed positively by a very large number of teachers, including secondary teachers'. Secondary schools need far more help to implement the 'front end' of the curriculum.

National Standards.

Although  supposedly written to support the NZC  Bali writes, 'it seems clear that the new
literacy and numeracy standards are not a good fit with the philosophy of the NZC'. 

Assessment against these standards will lead to 'teaching to the tests'  and the 'narrowing of the curriculum' and the 'demise of a rich holistic and broad curriculum' as it has been demonstrated in countries that have tried to implement similar reforms.  Moderation of standards is a problem yet to be solved - National Tests and League Tables lie over the horizon.

The Minister's aim of preparing all students for level 2 NCEA according to Bali is 'nonsense'. As 80% of students already achieve Level 2 'one wonders why it is necessary for all students to be subjected to a massive accountability regime. Surely a more targeted approach would have been  more sensible?' Bali also recommend the doing away of NCEA Level One to encourage more integrated teaching in years 9 and10.

The introduction of National Standards to 'fix the system' can be seen as a means to reduce the influence of teachers and principals in schools. Imposing such a reform, so strongly opposed by practitioners, makes its success problematic at best and is , according to Bali ' unlikely to succeed because of the contradictions inherent in its development.'

The Ministry and its implementation of the reforms comes into severe criticism by Bali.  'The end result', he writes, 'is the gradual erosion of initiative, creative thinking and risk taking'. 
Education becoming risk adverse.

The Ministry  has failed in working with schools and teachers as partners in reform. This is ironic as Bali comments, prior to Tomorrow's Schools, teachers were involved in curriculum and professional development, worked collaboratively,  and were assisted by respected advisory teachers and school inspectors. Now support is provided through contested contracts open to all comers creating confusion and overload.

Teachers and Principals.

With reference to teachers Bali believes ,'there is an urgent need for some teachers to stop thinking as victims, which appears to be their current default position, and start thinking about creative solutions.'

Although he appreciates 'many secondary school principals are overwhelmed by their jobs many have  failed to ensure appropriate attention is paid to core functions of instructional leadership' and, worse still,  many 'principals behave badly in a competitive environment' and 'take the view that their primary purpose is to maximize the reputation of their school'. I might add this applies equally to primary schools.

Bali concludes his book  with some 'future pathways'.

The first for the government to face up to the impact of socio-economic effects o learning - this is a far bigger factor than whatever a teacher or school can achieve. The current mantra that it is the teachers that make the difference is misplaced. The socio- economic gap is the big issue of the future.

We have to find new tools to measure school effectiveness.

We have become transfixed with comparative data which all too often leads 'naming and shaming that hurts both educators and learning'. Encouraging the best teaching approaches, and identifying positive teacher 'mindsets', are focuses he suggests, as is the use of a sampling process to assess learning.  This approach,  used in Finland, appeals to Bali where the  government runs national sample assessments to keep track of the whole system.Teachers might remember the  Otago University NEMP sampling approach?

As far as providing teacher professional support  the focus needs to assisting 'changing the p
ractice of teachers in the classroom'. The  paying of super principals and teachers to work with other schools  The Investment in School Success scheme ( IES) does not get much approval from Bali. The money, he believes, would be better spent rewarding excellent teachers in schools.

Whatever policies  to be implemented need to be well planned, implemented, and supported. Teachers need to be well trained,  well paid and trusted as they are in Finland.

Bali controversially recommends that to  implement the NZC in years 9 and 10, and to reduce the 'wash-back effect of the NCEA', that intermediate schools be closed down and junior colleges  established for students from years 7 to 10.
Modern Learning Environments need an integrated philosophy

 Such schools need to be 'independent of the constraints of the NCEA or external qualifications. They would be built around an integrated approach to knowledge and competencies, based on learning areas/subjects that would reflect the philosophy of the current curriculum'.
New schools need new pedagogy

Bali believes it is too late to do away with Tomorrows's Schools,   nor is it necessary to return to the top down centralized system of old, instead believes in the establishment of a stronger supportive regional structure for the Ministry.

I have not made an attempt to present all of Bali's ideas. You will need to read his book for yourselves. One thing he says is clear,   'Governments must not be allowed to place all the fixing at the feet of long suffering teachers'.

'No reform', he concludes,' will be successful without a reasonable level  of teacher buy in. It is important  that teachers be encouraged and challenged to see the possibilities ... and to engage in
Schools to develop  talents  
constructive problem solving, even if this means a period of tension and disagreement.The key message to our teachers should be that they are hugely valued and critically important , and will be treated as such by government.

Well worth the read.

Time for some out of the box thinking

Friday, March 20, 2015

Education Readings memory/ testing!/play/charter schools/ and the past revisited

By Allan Alach

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

This weeks homework!

How teachers are taught to discipline a classroom might not be the best way
Research clearly shows that students learn best in engaging environments that are orderly. However, all children are different; they respond to discipline in different ways. So how do we teach our teachers to manage all types of behaviour?

Put Working Memory to Work in Learning
“…working memory is a key cognitive skill for students and their teachers. As an educator, you know well how you must to be able to maintain the mental skillfulness and agility to process many variables in everyday teaching practice, such as students' prior knowledge, the primary purpose and goal of a lesson, sequence of learning activities, time constraints, interruptions throughout the school day, and on and on.

The Triumvirate of Upheaval in Our Classrooms
It is not about learning it's about testing
Teachers are being asked to scrap what they know about teaching and children and start from scratch with really bad materials. This means throwing out volumes of craft knowledge that these teacher collectively hold and doing so for no good reason.
Why would you make teachers who are doing amazing work completely change what happens in their classrooms? This is the short answer tests and money.

Secret Teacher: don't let spineless school managers drag you down
Teachers- grow a spine!
I dont believe these invertebrates started life without their spines. They were probably born with them and maybe even showed a bit of it in their early careers. Back then they had vision, drive and the desire to make the world of education a better place. They planned lessons, did playground duty and even gritted their teeth through the next tome of paperwork to land on the doorstep from the DfE. Yes, my friends, they were like us. They may have spoken out against the machine, railed against it even.

The 47% Solution: Playing Musical Chairs With Our Childrens Futures
Is this the unspoken intent behind current education policies in USA and elsewhere?
Educational musical chairs
We are adding one twist to the game of musical chairs we are imagining as our childrens future, where a seat represents a job. Before our young graduates can begin their hunt for a chair, they have to prove they are college and career readyby passing a Common Core test. And those tests have been designed so that only about 30% of our students will pass.

 What neuromyths do you believe in?
Neuro bonkers!
“…people do not perform any better in their preferred learning style, rather they perform better in the learning style that best matches the material being taught. People are in fact poor judges of what form of learning will be best for them, in reality often a mixture of learning styles is the best solution…”

Reconnecting Adults With Playful Learning
Adults playing with learners
Following on from previous articles about the importance of play for children and teenagers, heres one for adults.
“… incorporating playful learning into their trainings with educators is a very practical approach. It has helped them achieve major turnarounds in the quality of education, making the learning process more engaging to help young people pick up the life skills they'll need to succeed in the classroom and beyond.

What Makes Great Teaching and the Role of Technology
Most teachers have agreed wholeheartedly with its findings, but other teachers and academics have cautioned that reports such as this may be simply propounding strategies for which it is easier to find evidence while eschewing others, which may be equally beneficial to learning, but for which the evidence base is not yet strong enough. Trying to measure the relationship between teaching and learning is notoriously difficult, chiefly because nobody actually knows how learning takes place in the brain.

This weeks contributions from Bruce Hammonds:

#26 - Without Government Schools, Most People Wouldn't Get an Education
Bruces comment: An interesting read. I think it comes from a libertarian source but it criticizes the one size fits all American system obsessed with standardised testing and suggests more variety is needed. 
Todays schools have become standardized, homogenized and regimented. The unhealthy obsession with testing (coming from remote politicians and bureaucrats) drives the incentives of teachers and administrators alike. The result is a perverse factory model governed by one-size-fits-all curricula and five-year plans reminiscent of the failed central planning of now-defunct socialist regimes. Of course, such plans are at odds with local experimentation and innovation.

What Charter Schools Can Teach Us About Teacher Voice
Bruces comment: Interesting!
Who chooses?
Charter schools were originally proposed as vehicles to give teachers more leadership opportunities; however, the sector has evolved to focus on empowering management over teachers, and today just 7% of charter schools are unionized. This commentary piece explores what lessons can be drawn from the experiences of charter schools, both positive and negative, and how to run schools and structure the teaching profession to build and retain strong teachers.

In An Ideal World, How Would You Measure School Quality?

Bruces comment: How to measure an ideal school ideally! A short but insightful read. Few current schools would measure up.
Together, we the educators can and must be unwavering in our attempts to turn the discussion of school quality back to the Whole Child. Then and only then can we be sure that school quality is being measured by what matters mosthow well studentsneeds are being met every day.

6 Awesome Blogs for Project Based Learning
ICT and Project Based Learning
Bruces comment: Seems like a set of useful blogs to integrate ICT with project based learning including one of my favourites Edutopia.
When you feel like youre too bogged down (we know how busy teachers can be), its easy to feel alone in your quest for affording your students the best 21st century learning opportunities. To save you the trouble of searching on Google for websites to help you with implementing project based learning, weve listed some of our favorites and what they have offer.

Creating Innovators - Tony Wagner, Sir Ken Robinson and Kirston Olsen's plea for change.
Bruces comment about this article that he wrote last year: Not so old but a goody’ – Wagners book is well worth acquiring if you want a classroom or school facing a future requiring innovative creative thinkers. How to extend the innate curiosity of the very young through passion, play and purpose.
Wagner identifies patterns that educators could emulate in their classrooms. The innovative individuals all had a childhood that involved creative play and the fostering of deep-seated interests which eventually blossomed into deeper purpose for career and life goals. Play, passion and purpose are the forces that drive such innovators.

From Bruces oldies but goodies file

The Interactive Teaching Model
This is a MUST READ.
Bruces comment: My impression is that todays NZ teachers  do not feature in depth inquiry studies as central to their classroom programme . With the imposition of the Literacy and Numeracy National Standards,  and the time they require, such inquiry topics are limited. The answer is to reframeliteracy to introduce the appropriate information research skills to allow students to work independently  on inquiry learning. Thirty years ago teachers were making use of the below, all but lost,  excellent NZ research.
What theories do students hold?
Learners from birth do their best to make sense of any learning situation that attracts their attention but all too often develop misconceptions. At school they 'learn' to provide the 'right' answers while at the same time still holding on to their hidden personal views. If this process of a mismatch between teacher and students' knowledge goes unchallenged then students gain, what some call, 'fragile' learning.
My letter writer right front

30 Years ago - so what has changed?
My teaching philosophy from the mid 70s and a link to a brilliant letter written by a past student. Nothing much I would change in my beliefs except to make use of modern information technology.
Education is a means of helping all students achieve their full potential...this includes the development of interests that might lead into personal fulfilment or a career. As well we need to broaden each child's awareness of their immediate environment and the wider world.The key to any success will be seen in the attitudes of each learner to their own education.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Education Readings - technology/ boys educ/ 'growth mindsets' and creative teaching.

By Allan Alach

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

How Technology is Changing the Way Children Think and Focus
There is also little doubt that all of the new technologies, led by the Internet, are shaping the way we think in ways obvious and subtle, deliberate and unintentional, and advantageous and
detrimental The uncertain reality is that, with this new technological frontier in its infancy and developments emerging at a rapid pace, we have neither the benefit of historical hindsight nor the time to ponder or examine the value and cost of these advancements in terms of how it influences our childrens ability to think.

Thomas Markham
Redefining Teachers with a 21st Century Education Story
At a time of great transformation in the world, there are no shortages of themes to pick from. But teachers have special opportunities to tell a magnificent story about themselves and their profession:” Thomas Markham

Schools of the future must adjust to technology needs
Professor Stephen Heppell - if you ever get the chance to attend one of his presentations, take it!
Teachers – and increasingly students – are realising that schools need to be places in which difficult, exciting, challenging, engaging, complex learning happens, rather than being where
Big challenge for schools to adapt to!
uniform education is delivered.
And they need spaces that encourage that learning and help develop the sorts of skills demanded by employers. Spaces for concentration and collaboration, spaces to make and to mash-up, spaces to celebrate and exhibit, spaces to excel and spaces to share.

Noam Chomsky on the Dangers of Standardized Testing
The assessment itself is completely artificial. Its not ranking teachers in accordance with their ability to help develop children who will reach their potential, explore their creative interests. Those things youre not testing.. its a rank thats mostly meaningless. And the very ranking itself is harmful. Its turning us into individuals who devote our lives to achieving a rank. Not into doing things that are valuable and important.

Children Educate Themselves IV: Lessons from Sudbury Valley
The Sudbury Valley model of education is not a variation of standard education. It is not a progressive version of traditional schooling. It is not a Montessori school or a Dewey school or a Piagetian constructivist school. It is something entirely different.

Why reading and writing on paper can be better for your brain
Add to this the help that the physical geography of a printed page or the heft of a book can provide to memory, and youve got a conclusion neatly matching our embodied natures: the varied, demanding, motor-skill-activating physicality of objects tends to light up our brains brighter than the placeless, weightless scrolling of words on screens.

No wonder boys struggle!
Why schools are failing our boys
Boys today arent fundamentally different than the boys of 150 years ago. Yet today, theyre confined to classrooms, expected to remain still for the majority of the day, and barely allowed to tackle meaningful labor or the real world until they reach the magical age of 18. Is it any wonder our boys are struggling?

Why Preschool Shouldnt Be Like School
Schools should be like pre-school.
Adults often assume that most learning is the result of teaching and that exploratory, spontaneous learning is unusual. But actually, spontaneous learning is more fundamental. It's this kind of learning, in fact, that allows kids to learn from teachers in the first place.

How to spot if you or colleagues are stressed: tell-tale signs for teachers
It goes without saying that there is a direct correlation between teacher workload and stress levels, and both are currently unprecedentedly high. Its also no coincidence that over the past few years hundreds of good teachers have been signed off with long-term sickness or quit altogether.

This weeks contributions from Bruce Hammonds:

Back to basics - quality creative learning
The power of art
Bruces latest article is a must read for all creative and innovative child centred teachers.
All the above ideas point out the vital role of a teacher to assist all students work towards their potential - to ensure that all students have the ability to 'seek, use and create their own knowledge' as it wisely says in the 2007 New Zealand Curriculum.

8 Signs You Should Become a Teacher
Whats your take on this list? What changes would you make?
Are you thinking about becoming an elementary school teacher? If you possess all or most of these personal qualities, I think you could contribute a lot to children, the community, and the field of Education. While there is no static formula for what makes an excellent educator, these personality traits form the essential foundation for succeeding in the classroom as an instructor and as a leader.

Developing a Growth Mindset in Teachers and Staff
However, in my work, I have found that the notion of developing a growth mindset is as equally applicable to staff and teacher performance as it is to students. This article begins with a brief discussion about the difference between the two mindsets, what that means for education, and concludes with some ideas for how school leaders might seek to develop a growth mindset amongst their staff.

Playtime Isnt Just for PreschoolersTeenagers Need It, Too
Bruces comment: The importance of play at all levels of learning seems blindingly obvious.
Giving students occasions to learn through play not only fosters creative thinking, problem solving, independence, and perseverance, but also addresses teenagersdevelopmental needs for greater independence and ownership in their learning, opportunities for physical activity and creative expression, and the ability to demonstrate competence.

Project-based program innovates at Springs' Parkside Elementary
Maybe someone gets it!
Bruces comment: And to continue the obvious the power of integrated project based learning. Some day someone in the USA will discover John Dewey!!!
"What we teach fits into the curriculum, but we try to make it as interesting as possible for the kids. The focus is on helping them acquire real-world skills and become problem solvers. Nobody works in isolation these days. You need to learn how to work with others.

A New Approach to Designing Educational Technology: Is the biggest learning disability an emotional one? 
Bruces comment: Valuing the emotions in learning well it seems obvious to me. Engaging students who no longer engage in learning by using ICT wisely.
And now, Rose and his team have concluded that the most pervasive learning disability in schools, and the No. 1 challenge for UDL, isnt physical or cognitive, its emotionalturning around kids
Positive attitudes or' mindsets' are everything!
who are turned off by school.
Weve seen that technology can do a lot of stuff to support students, but the real driver is: Do they actually want to learn something?says Rose. If they do, kids will go through a lot of barriers to learn it. Creating the conditions that turn on that drive has become the major function of our work.”’

From Bruces oldies but goodies file

Back to the future.
Bruces comment: An oldie but goodie.
 The very with it views of a long retired  innovative principal teacher. Good reading to learn about quality creative teaching might be useful even for those in a modern learning environment (MLE). The teacher taught before the introduction of computers now in his 80s
Bill - a very creative teachers from the 70s - now in his 80s.
he is a whizz on his Apple (computer). One wonders what wisdom we have lost.
As a group we were disillusioned with the traditional pre-packaged approach ...largely adult conceived....including ability grouping. Attributes such as co-operation, understanding and sharing were largely given lip service. We believed that learning should stem from the natural but vital curiosity of children and it should centre around real experiences.