Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Time to create a positive learning epidemic/virus - says Andy Hargreaves

Good ideas spread like a benign virus

There are times when something beyond our comprehension emerges with the power to spread and change the world; whether we like it or not.

Central planners can plan away happily only to find all their best work undone by new ideas that simply emerge as part of stress on the environment or even in response stifling conditions imposed by the ‘central experts’ themselves.

This is happening at the present as we ‘morph’ into a post modern world of ideas and creativity leaving behind the
Are we to easliy led?
conformity of an industrial age. Few though seem to have noticed the ‘winds of change’ – too busy complying with the current top down directives!

In education the language is changing from ‘top down’ educational reform to total educational transformation affecting and arising from all levels. When this is eventfully realized it will result in dramatic changes of directionFor the innovative in any area it will a time of real excitement – for most a period of stress, confusion or the fighting of rear guard battles to preserve the past.

In education antiquated educational cultures and structures are increasingly being found wanting and becoming part of the problem.
Andy Hargreaves
And any new change can no longer rely on central educational architects with some master ideology or plan to provide roadmap into the future. The belief in top down change has reached its limit – even the much vaunted imposed UK literacy and numeracy projects, after initial success, have now plateaued and are trending down. 
The new ‘educational epidemic’ (Andy Hargreaves’ term) invites all practitioners and schools to engage in trying out new ideas and then sharing ones that work; a form of enlightened trial and error.

But to achieve these schools will need ‘permission to innovate’ – and this provides a clue for new a role for central bureaucrats. Schools will need to be helped to develop the ‘capacity’ to develop and share ideas and to be aware of others ‘best practices’

When this is realized it will result in the development of a transformed total learning system and as part of this a new relationship for schools with central government and with other schools – even within schools. No longer will centrally imposed ‘directives be of any use.

Schools will need to develop, and value, the ‘intellectual
Schools need to share their capital
capital’ within the school – teacher’s knowledge will be the new ‘invisible assets’. ‘Social capital’ will also be important – the amount of trust between staff members and between schools and with central government. Schools will need to develop new flexible collaborative structures open to ‘boosting’ their ‘intellectual capital’ from any source. For schools currently based on hierarchical power structures, competition, specialization of subjects and isolation of teachers, this will be a real challenge.

Every school and teacher will need to develop the ‘capacity’ to innovate and share; teachers will need to ‘work smarter not harder’ by sharing ‘best practices’.

Let's start sharing ideas
The key to all this depends on the transforming of central bureaucracy. They have an important role to set an example of trust and empowerment for all – and provide the resources necessary. There will be no role for bureaucrats with fixed positions – or for
anybody involved in education; the ‘new millennium will require new minds’.

The future requires everyone to continue learning – and to be a part of an organic learning community. Schools will be vital part of this transformation.

When realized it will be as if there had been a ‘learning epidemic’ – ideas will spread and mutate as if a benign virus.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Education Readings- Educational Reform?/ Alfie Kohn/ John Hattie!/ the good teacher / Carol Dweck and Elizebeth Moss Kanter.

By Allan Alach

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

This weeks homework!

Wobbly no more: Work on analogical processing helps children learn key engineering principle
Vygotsky in action?
Children love to build things. Often half the fun for them is building something and then knocking it down. But in a new study children had just as much fun learning how to keep their masterpieces upright -- they learned a key elementary engineering principle.

Education reform: Jekyll or Hyde?
This article, by Warwick Mansell, a freelance journalist and author of Education by Numbers: the tyranny of testing (Methuen, 2007), is about United Kingdom education policies in the run up to their forthcoming general election. As is usually the case, this article has relevance all over.
The question is whether it is possible to talk meaningfully about supporting teachers to do their jobs well while at the same time espousing zero tolerance of failurewhen the schools in which they work underperform. I think this is a very difficult circle to square, in the reality of how schools operate: the hunch must be that if you use zero tolerance, so making schools extremely fearful as to their next bad set of results, you probably will make them unattractive workplaces for many teachers or would-be teachers.

How Visual Thinking Improves Writing
Younger kids typically love to draw and arent too worried about the outcomes of their artwork until they get older. By the time theyve learned to read and write, art takes a back burner to academics, primarily because of what most schools prioritize. Over time it becomes harder for kids to think in pictures the way they once did. But what if students were encouraged to think in pictures alongside words?

The 4 biggest mistakes that teachers make when integrating technology
Being a passionate educator, leader, and coach, I hope for a classroom where everyone (including
the educators) are willing to take risks, make mistakes and learn from them; where technology is used as a tool to enhance learning and pedagogy..
Pedagogy before technology! Get integrating, be willing to take risks and immerse your students in the wonderful learning opportunities that technology provides.

To Advance Education, We Must First Reimagine Society
The formal school system needs to be turned upside down and inside out.It should be based on the biological system of weaning i.e., gradually reducing childrens dependence on teachers. Teacher-student ratios should be high in the early years, then decrease dramatically in adolescence, when the whole community has to become a place of learning,with mentorships, apprenticeships and other hands-on learning experiences complementing highly self-directed classroom learning.

Ten obvious truths about educating kids that keep getting ignored
This list, by Alfie Kohn, has been around for some time, but its well worth revisiting.
If we all agree that a given principle is true, then why in the world do our schools still function as if it werent?
Here are 10 examples.

Story Hui: Bringing Data To Life Visually
(Thanks to Liz Stevenson)
This downloadable booklet from Story Hui is targeted at a New Zealand audience, but theres a wealth of useful suggestions for teachers all over. Note -  hui is a Maori word for a gathering, a meeting. Another Maori word used in the booklet is whanau which is an extended family group. Also, 'koha' means 'precious gift.
From Lizs email:
It is a tool for evaluating learning and is not standards based. Its about using story, drawing & questioning to show clear evidence of engagement, wellbeing and interpersonal capabilities. The feedback from teachers who have trialled it has been overwhelmingly positive and in many cases it seems to have removed a lot of stress. People feel that at last they can really show the whole childs learning - and if a literacy judgement is not great - then that is only a small part of the bigger story.

Hatties research is wrong: Part 1 and Part 2
Distinguished New Zealand educator Kelvin Smythe has major concerns about John Hatties researchand as a result is writing a series of articles outlining his concerns. Here are the first two parts:
What! Me wrong?
So influential has Hatties research become and Hattie along with it, that to critically examine it, whatever the outcome, if integrity and validity of policy information is valued, should be welcomed by all in school education, in academia, in government bureaucracies, by governments, and by Hattie himself. If readers take a stand (as I have) that the egregious errors are just that, the only path remaining is that Hattie has been astonishingly careless and ignorant in the maths, statistics, research design, understanding of curriculum, and presentation.

This weeks contributions from Bruce Hammonds:

Have we lost sight of the purpose of education - to create the conditions to ensure all students develop their creativity or is it about testing and accountability?
If only New Zealand schools would take the current Zealand Curriculum (2007) seriously. Imagine if every student left our school system as a 'confident life long learner' ,  all with a  positive  'learning identity',  and all  able to 'seek, use and create their own knowledge'.
I live in hope.

National Stigma two teachers speak out
This is a letter from two teachers, posted on the Save Our Schools New Zealand website, that expresses their angst at the impact of New Zealands National Standards on children in their classes. National Standards are not too far removed from the Common Core Standards in USA  (of course thats a coincidence) but instead of a testing regime teachers are required to use their
judgement to rate childrens achievement against relevant standards.
We are two teachers who have been teaching for about 21 years each but we have never had to deal with anything as heart-breaking as reporting to parents about their childs achievement in relation to national standards. We feel we have been bulliedinto implementing these standards, have not been consulted during any part of the process and labelled as uncaring and unprofessional when sharing our concerns. Here is the reality of National Standards for us.

Build an Innovation Culture With the Right Leaders
Bruces comment: A short but powerful suggestion about the need for leaders to develop a creative culture. As they say – ‘culture counts.
But building a culture of innovation is not easy. Any change initiative is challenging building a culture of innovation is one in which many organizations fail. At the center of it all is the leader.

Evolution of the goodteacher
Bruces comment:
A great read for the thinking teacher! What is good teaching? Does any body really know? The below link struggles with some possible answers. What is clear is that no approach fits all students.Teaching is in the middle of a change, an evolution, a revolution the intensity of the description depends on whom you ask. One could argue that this change is natural and part of an ebb and flow cycle, but this change feels faster, and possibly more frenetic likely due to technologys role in the change. Is good teaching now for the 21st-century markedly different than it was previously?

Developing a Growth Mindset in Teachers and Staff
Bruces comment: I still run across teachers who have not heard about Prof Carol Dweck and her notions of fixed or growth mind-sets here is a link from Australia  for those who want to catch up or just refresh themselves.
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.

From Bruces goldie oldiesfile:

Teachers' key role in fostering creativity.
Bruces comment: So what is the teachers role in a creative classroom?
Essential characteristics of creative teachers, according to one US researcher, are a commitment to: deepen the understandings of the world of each learner; believe in the creative ability of all students; encourage empathy in students; value creative expression in learners; teach in ways that facilitate it; adapt the curriculum to meet students individual needs.

Slowing the pace of work
Slow learning needed for fast times!
Bruces comment: In this fast paced world maybe its time to slow down, enjoy the experience, and and do fewer things well?
Slow learning they believe is essential for our lives and learning by giving depth to our experiences and providing insight for creativity and ingenuity. All too often, in contrast, students are rushed through learning to cover curriculum material. First finished is best seems to be the order of the day! As a result slow learningis neglected in schools.

We need leaders not accountants.
It was interesting to read an article by Elizabeth Moss Kanter saying, number, numbers, numbers - is that what preoccupies the school system today tests and school performance statistics? It is not that she doesnt believe in measures but if school systems focus too much on complying with such demands they are in danger of being taken over by accountants not leaders.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Have we lost sight of the purpose of education - to create the conditions to ensure all students develop their creativity or is it about testing and accountablity?

I have been doing my best to clear my shelves of books and articles I have collected over the decades as I try to focus on other things. The trouble is every time I start I get trapped into wondering why I have kept them  and after reading put them back on the shelf for another day.

It has got me thinking about how things have changed ( or stayed the same) since the heady days of the 1960s when I began my career.

In my early days ( and for most of my life ) I was an educational adviser - first in nature study, then science, then art and, in later years ( after a time as a  teacher and school principal ), in leadership and management. Now I restrict myself to contributing to this blog - which recently received its millionth visitor.

Sadly today education seems more about accountability than creativity. Not that creativity was ever widespread. In earlier days it was conservative tradition that presented the challenge to creative teachers.

 As a member of a team of ten or so advisers  in a small New Zealand region it  was easy to gain, from the various advisers, where the innovative teachers were and, in turn,to support them.  Today in our fragmented 'stand alone' schools, it is not so easy. Interestingly in earlier days creative teachers were easily identified but few creative principals. The same situation can be said about today as principals  are forced to comply to accountability demands.
Sir Ken - go to this link

'Creativity', writes Robert Sternberg  a well respected American educationalist and expert in creativity,' is a habit'. 

The problem is', he says, 'that schools sometimes treat it as a bad habit.' He is particularly concerned with the world of standardised tests that are now a feature of schools. And that such tests do not encourage the development of creativity.

My own experience  in New Zealand schools echoes Sternberg's views. Developing creativity is, and always has been,  difficult but it is a creative mindset , Sternberg believes,that we most need to develop in our students (and in our teachers.)

'Creativity'  Sternberg writes, ' is a habit, a routine response . 'People are creative  ...because of an attitude towards their work and even towards life. They habitually respond to problems n fresh and novel ways, rather than allowing themselves to respond in conventional and sometimes automatic ways.'

He continues,' Like any habit creativity can be encouraged or discouraged'.

 The main things that promotes the habit are:

(a) opportunities to engage in it, and
(b) encouragement when people avail of these opportunities, and
(c)  reward when people respond to such encouragement and think and behave creatively.

'You need all this respect, creativity is no different from any other habit, good or bad.'

Developing a positive habit it not as simple as it sounds as it all too often confronts the status quo.

'Creative people routinely approach problems in a novel ways. ......( they) look for ways to see problems that other people don't look for; take risks that other people are afraid to take; have the courage to defy the crowd and to stand up for their own beliefs; believe in their own ability to be creative; seek to overcome obstacles and challenges to their views rather people give in to; and are willing to work hard to achieve creative solutions'.

Sounds like a principals nightmare!

 Most school procedures suppress creativity. One of the most destructive aspect,  Sternberg writes,  is 'the emphasis on standardised testing'. And I would add the current narrow focus on achieving achievement targets. and imposed  conformist  'best practices'.

Valuing creativity requires valuing diversity or personalised responses. All a bit hard to measure and compare.It is all too easy for schools to say they believe in creativity but to stop short of actually encouraging it.

Accountability is discouraging creativity ..... except perhaps in the ways schools 'rort' the system to show how they have improved narrow achievement.

Creativity is important because the world is changing faster than ever. Sternberg writes, 'people need to constantly cope with new and unusual kinds of tasks and situations'. 'Learning in this era must be lifelong...We need to think creatively to thrive, and, at times, even to survive.'

Schools may talk about lifelong learning but, in reality, creative thinking is discouraged for both students and teachers.

Imagine a school based on fostering creativity - keeping alive the innate desire to learn that is the default way the very young learn before they enter formal schooling!

  Sternberg believes, we need to promote the kind of accountability in which students must show they have mastered subject matter, but also can think analytically, creatively, and practically with it.'

Sternberg's advice is backed up by another reading I discovered in my sorting out.

Howard Gardner, in his article I found,  defines the minds we truly need in the future if we are to go 'beyond the herd mentality'.

 Gardner is equally concerned with the subversion of the purpose of education by  the need to compare schools and countries on quantitative educational comparisons..

This need to get to the top of international comparisons is , in his opinion ( and mine)  'a fool's errand' because in the process it 'ignores deeper and more important purpose of education.'

Gardner writes , 'the peril of making tests all important and of teaching to the tests have been well documented'. And he, like Sternberg, mentions the problem of schools 'cheating' to protect their reputations.

Gardner's biggest concern is the need to, 'avoid the herd mentality. Instead we should be 'considering the kinds of minds that we want to cultivate in our system' 

Those minds include;

A disciplined mind, that can think well and appropriately in the major disciplines

A synthesising mind, that can sift through a large amount of information, decide what is important , and put it together in ways that make sense for oneself and for others.

A creative mind, that can raise new questions, come up with novel solutions, think outside the box.

A respectful mind, that honours the differences among individuals and groups, and tries to understand them and work productively with them.

An ethical mind, that thinks, beyond selfish interests, about the kind of worker one aspires to be, and the kind of citizen that one should be.

In New Zealand we ought to be having discussions about the kinds of people we would like to have in the future.

At present , trapped in a herd mentality created by the current audit and surveillance culture, we are, Gardner writes, 'like lemmings - marching confidently, but proudly and disastrously, into a sea of ignorance'.

If only New Zealand schools would take the current Zealand Curriculum  (2007)seriously.

Imagine if every student left our school system as a 'confident life long learner' ,  all with a  positive  'learning identity',  and all  able to 'seek, use and create their own knowledge'.

I live in hope.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Education Readings: Modern Learning Environments/ Privatization of Education/ICT Report/ creativity and lots more!

By Allan Alach

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

This weeks homework!

Report debunks earlier is betteracademic instruction for young children
Are you surprised? New Zealand has a wonderful early childhood curriculum (Te Whāriki ) but how long will it survive under the present government?
‘Rather, she says, the research suggests that preschool programs are best when they focus onsocial, emotional and intellectual goals rather than narrow academic goals” and provide early experiences that provoke self-regulation, initiative and sustained synchronous interaction in which the child is interactive with others in some continuous process, rather than a mere passive recipient of isolated bits of information for stimulation.

For Pearson, Common Core is private profit
While this article discusses the USA, Pearson Group is a major threat to education all over. Do you want your country’s education to be defined by a multinational corporation? A definition that just happens to include both their testing and instructional products?
“Taking inspiration from Margaret Thatchers motto “Dont tell me what, tell me how,Barber rarely discusses what schools should teach or cites scholarship on pedagogy. Instead, the book emphasizes again and again that leaders need metrics e.g., standardized test scores to measure whether reforms are helping children become literate and numerate. Of course, Pearson just happens to be one of the worlds largest vendors of the products Barber recommends for building education systems.”

In the Digital Age, How to Get Students Excited About Going Outdoors
Thanks to Innes Kennard for this.

“Louv has since become famous for coining the term Nature-Deficit Disorder not as a medicaldiagnosis, but as shorthand for whats happening to kids who stay, for the most part, inside, away from nature, for the majority of their young lives. He uses strong research to support his claims that rising rates of obesity, depression and anxiety, and ADHD symptoms could well be linked to kidsdisconnection from trees, fields and streams.

Demystifying the Muse: Five Creativity Myths You Should Stop Believing
Another one from Innes - I may have posted this before …
“We've built up an image of what creativity is that is completely wrong. If you don't believe me, here are a few of the biggest myths about creativity that most of us still believe:”

How Bad Journalism Is Driving the Collapse of Our Once-Great Public Education System
This USA story is easy to transfer to other countries.
Be afraid, be very afraid, any time you see a reporter in the business media turn his or her attention to education and public schools. What will likely follow is a string of truisms used to prop up a specious argument, steeped in biased notions that were themselves picked up from ill-informed conversations promoted by other clueless business news outlets.

Modern Learning Environments the underlying philosophy to success
A modern learning environment!
Modern Learning Environments (MLE) are all the talk in educational circles right now. Schools, around the world, are knocking out walls and creating bright stimulating classrooms with multi purpose furniture and giving students access to technology. On the surface it looks fantastic, however I am concerned that without a big pedagogy shift, students will be simply just learning the same way many teachers have been teaching just in bigger classrooms with new furniture.

MLE and MLP- a returning fad, or something that could be truly transformative?
In a similar vein:
Has to more than architecture and WFI
If nothing else changes except collaborative spaces and collaborative teaching then the end result will not change. You are just repeating the open plan experiments of the 70s and 80s and it will fallover sooner or later. If you are still taking reading groups and writing groups and math groups in thesame way, just on a bigger scale with more thatchers and with several classes, then you are just streaming and making more work for everyone, because of the communication and organisation required. You are teaching traditionally in a shared space. You are using a MLE, but not practising MLP.  There is a huge difference.

Go Team: Why Teacher Teams Struggle To Work Effectively Together And How Schools Can Create The Conditions For Success
Following on, teacher teamwork will be vital if any modern learning environment is to have any chance of working.
“Even when schools recognize the potential of teacher teams to have a measurable impact onimproving teaching and learning, many teams fail to achieve the results they seek. Is it simply a case of good or bad chemistry, or are there concrete steps schools can take to cultivate collaboration that works?”

This weeks contributions from Bruce Hammonds:

Why Talking About the Brain Can Empower Learners
Bruce's comment: Every teacher should know about Carol Dweck
Stanford University professor of psychology Carol Dweck, who has been leading the research in this field, discusses The power of believing that you can improvein this TED talk.

The NMC Horizon Report: 2014 K-12 Edition examines emerging technologies for their potential impact on and use in teaching, learning, and creative inquiry in schools
Bruce’s comment: An easily read but challenging document about technology and its
transformational implication for education. My advice set aside a wet afternoon to read and think about the implications. The diagram on page three is a good summary.The report is  all about in-depth learning; technology enhanced learning; authentic learning; user friendly technology ; user friendly technology, the changes  (for some) of the role of the teacher; new modern learning environments  and personalised learning;  and other considerations.

A Brave New World for "Personalized Learning”?
Bill Ferriter:
‘"Relax, Bill!" I'll say in the middle of my incoherent ramblings and cold sweats.  "SURELY there are good people at big corporations who are developing products with PURE intentions.  It's NOT about capitalizing on fears and making a fast buck. It's about improving schools FOR THE CHILDREN!”’

Effective Communication Needs Common Language and Goals
Bruce’s comment:
To develop a quality learning across a school you need agreement on common goals/ teaching beliefs a common language to align all teaching behind and to evaluate teachers progress and to provide appropriate feedback and help. A great idea as long as it encourages individual teacher creativity as well. To greater enforcement of consistency (of Common Cores or National Standards)  can be counter productive.
“So, how can schools ensure that all leaders are communicating effectively and keeping the school on the right path? By making sure that everyoneteachers, administrators, and support staffuses a common language to work toward common goals.”

Evolution of the goodteacher
Bruce’s comment: A great read for the thinking teacher!
“What is good teaching? Does any body really know? The below link struggles with some possible answers. What is clear is that no approach fits all students.Teaching is in the middle of a change, anevolution, a revolution the intensity of the description depends on whom you ask. One could argue that this change is natural and part of an ebb and flow cycle, but this change feels faster, and possibly more frenetic likely due to technologys role in the change. Is good teaching now for the 21st-century markedly different than it was previously?”

From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:

Creative teaching
Bruce’s comment: Elwyn Richardsons thoughtS are more relevant than ever. We have standardised teaching (or in Elwyns words normalised) and as a result creativity has been all but lost. Even art, the most creative of learning areas, is now clone like - the result of zealous over teaching of criteria and oppressive feedback. Poor old Vincent van G wouldnt last 5 minutes. Its now a paint by numbers education system and no colouring outside the lines.
“A 'good' classroom should develop in students a personal commitment to their learning. Teachers can do this through: talking, discussion, focusing students' attention, helping them look closely at things,by taking trips into the immediate environment, and by tapping their personal experiences. From such activities students develop ideas to research and share and emotional feeling to express through words, poems, paintings and other art media.”

Education for a Creative Age
Bruce’s comment: Teacher the Geranium on the Windowsill just Died and you kept on Talking’ – more on the death of creative education.
“At the very least schools talk about the Information Agebut, according to perceptive commentators, this ‘agehas already passed its use bydate. According to Juan Enriquez, in his book, As the Future Catches You, the future belongs to countries who build empires of the mind.

Importance of Observation.
Bruce’s comment: And an antidote might be to return to encouraging focused observation
interesting that some of schools where Silicon Valley parents sent their students to are computer free!
“Drawing is an ideal way to break through habitual ways of thinking. All too often our students see but they do not look. Observational drawing has long been an important means for some teachers to develop deeper consciousness in students - to assist students see through their habitual ways of seeing and to develop new awareness.”

Friday, April 10, 2015

Education Readings Sir Ken Robinson /paradigm shifts/ art education/Robots /STEM or STEAM and Bruce's 'oldies'.

By Allan Alach

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

This weeks homework!

Sir Ken Robinson: Creativewith the truth?
This article by Donald Clark may rattle a few cages out there:
It is difficult to go to any educational conference without being assaulted by the accusation that Creativityhas been sacrificed on the altar of traditional education and schooling. Robinsons main thrust is that all children are born creativeand that school knocks it out of them. I'm not so sure.

A World at Risk: An Imperative for a Paradigm Shift to Cultivate 21st Century Learners
A lengthy and detailed article by Yong Zhao but dont let that put you off reading it - this is very good.
America is not the only nation that has been committing an act of unthinking, unilateral educational disarmamentin the world. Over the past few decades, many Western democratic and
developed nations have engaged in such suicidal educational reforms. Led by the same mistaken assumptions that gave birth to A Nation at Risk, Australia, the United Kingdom, New Zealand and others have made or are about to make similar changes in their education systems. These changes, just like the changes the U.S. has made, are simply trying to do the wrong thing more right. They are putting the world at risk.

Why the conventional wisdom on schooling is all wrong
A very good article by Marion Brady.
Educators can solve this problem, but theres no point in their even trying as long as the rich and/or powerful are on their stumps peddling the myth that what ails Americas schools are educators clinging to the status quo and kids with insufficient grit to do what theyre told to do.

Telling Time with a Broken Clock
What if standardized test scores arent telling us what we think they are telling us? What if the scores are illusions that are giving us false confidence? What if our reliance on standardized testing to judge our schools is like relying on a broken clock for time?

What If Education Reform Got It All Wrong in the First Place?
Wrong reform
A very good question .
Thats the conclusion of a growing number of researchers who argue that 30 years of test scores have not measured a decline in public schools, but are rather a metric of the countrys child poverty and the broadening divide of income inequality.

The Importance of Art in Child Development
A topic close to Bruces heart
When kids are encouraged to express themselves and take risks in creating art, they develop a sense of innovation that will be important in their adult lives. The kind of people society needs to make it move forward are thinking, inventive people who seek new ways and improvements, not people who can only follow directions,says Kohl. Art is a way to encourage the process and the experience of thinking and making things better!

Robots as teachers?
“…the concept of am instructionally oriented teacher being replaced by a robot like this doesn't exactly excite me it's rather like replacing the traditional paper based exam with an online equivalent and calling it an advance in assessment.
Standards Based Education is Bad Education Theory
This is a must read article. 
Say no to standardization
What is the root of the persistent and two millennial old tendency for politicians with minimal knowledge of education creating education standards and mandating testing accountability? It
 originates in a deep rooted innate and evil desire in humans to control other humans. If we do not fight this tendency, we are doomed to live in an authoritarian society where political elites ensure subservience by controlling education standards enforced by standardized testing.

This weeks contributions from Bruce Hammonds:

Pivot Point: At the Crossroads of STEM, STEAM and Arts Integration
Bruces comment: A move from STEM to STEAM  a positive shift towards integration. A way of teaching that creative NZ teachers used and hopeful still do . Maybe the key to unlock the all too often unrealised potential of Modern Learning Environments (MLEs)?
In addition, there has been a movement over the last few years to change STEM to STEAM -- adding the arts to the mix -- as a way of further integrating creativity and artistic skills and processes across content areas. But there is also the arts integration approach to education, which teaches the selected content in and through the arts. With so many choices for integrated learning, it can paralyze us with fear of taking the next step.

Leonardo da Vinci: Scientist; Inventor; Artist.
Bruces comment: Anyone want to learn about Leonardo the original STEAM learner mind you Leonardo didn't go to school? He home schooled himself through curiosity, observation , drawing and note taking.

4 Tips to Transform Your Learning Space
Bruces comment: Some good ideas for transforming libraries.
Recently, I wrote about the transformation of libraries from archives of resources to active learning commons that encourage exploration, creation, and collaboration. However, in that post, I profiled a number of locations that made significant financial investments in their redesign. Million-dollar learning spaces are often not a reality for most schools. However, that is no reason to abandon the concept of transformation.
Don't Become a Teacher, Advises Award-Winner Nancie Atwell
'Don't become  a teacher'
Bruces comment: Scary stuff who would want to be a creative teacher in America.
An influential language arts teacher who recently won a $1 million international teaching prize has some surprising advice for young people considering joining the profession: Dont.

Why Americas obsession with STEM education is dangerous
Bruces comment: So much for this STEM education agenda
read what they have to say!!
A broad general education helps foster critical thinking and creativity. Exposure to a variety of fields produces synergy and cross fertilization. Yes, science and technology are crucial components of this education, but so are English and philosophy. When unveiling a new edition of the iPad, Steve Jobs explained that its in Apples DNA that technology alone is not enough that its technology married with liberal arts, married with the humanities, that yields us the result that makes our hearts sing.”’

From Bruces goldie oldiefile:

Educational change and leadership - bottom up!
Bruces comment: The principals role in creating conditions for teacher creativity rather than conformity.
Like the class teacher the principals role is to ensure such gifts are affirmed and shared with other t
Yours or everyones?
eachers. The principal
s role is to create the conditions for the expertise of teachers to be shared and to develop an overarching vision and agreed teaching beliefs for all to hold themselves accountable. A with a creative class teacher the principals job is to ensure all teachers do not move away from what they have agreed to that is unless new ideas are developed that need to be included.

What do good learners do?
Bruces comment: What do good learners do ( and this includes principals and teachers). Some attributes of good learners from a book Teaching as a Subversive Activityin the 60s. Are your students realising such powerful learning habits?
Good learners seem to know what is relevant to their survival and what is not. They are apt to resent being told that something is 'good for them to know, unless, of course, their 'crap detector' advises them it is good to know in which case, they resent being told anyway.
An idea whose time has come; schools and teachers working together
Bruces comment:  The government is proposing an expensive scheme to superprincipals and teachers to work with other schools. A bit ironic because the original intention of Tomorrow's School was to compete not collaborate . The idea of empowering teachers to share ideas has long been part of educational thinking. The link below has a few suggestions and an idea suggested just before the introduction of self- managing schools.
As the focus is increasingly on student learning then developing the capacity of teachers as leaders is an imperative. Teacher creativity, not imposed standardisation, is central. Teacher creativity needs to be celebrated, recognised and shared. Principals who can share leadership with their teachers and then with other schools will be seen as the real future leaders.