Friday, June 26, 2015

Education Readings - John Hattie's wrong research / achievement gaps/ and the 'artistry' of the teacher.

By Allan Alach

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

This weeks homework!

Kelvin is a fighter for holistic education

Hatties research: Is wrong Part 5 this should clinch it.
Education academic John Hattie has been in the news recently as part of another self promotion tour. Here's Kelvin Smythe's latest critique of his so-called research that is being used by governments as an excuse to rip apart and privatise primary education.
At some time in the future, Hatties research and his opinions will be revealed for what they are: a huge charade. But you dont need to wait all you need to do is read the postings in the Hattie series and clear-sightedly and undistractedly employ your critical faculties. Everything about Hatties research is false except for some opinions which, while true, are also false, because he claims them to be evidence-based.

Can data really define coasting?
Think things are bad in your neck of the woods? How about new legislation in England
defining and targeting coasting schools and then using this to force schools to become academy (aka charter) schools?
Are we to ruled by accountants
Coastingsuggests a lack of effort but all we have, with results data, is a statistical end product: the output numbers. Teachers could be working phenomenally hard, and yet failing to improve results as much as outsiders might wish, because schools, in reality, do not have full control over results. These are, inevitably, subject to unpredictability, from the motivation and ability of pupils to performon the big day to the vagaries of marking. And there may be a sense of a zero-sum game: below-averageschools will always be penalised, even if all schools are working very hard, if the indicators used are based on comparing one schools results to others.

1984 Arrives Thirty Years Late: Say Goodby to Privacy Forever if This Bill Passes
This article by Diane Ravitch highlights concerns in USA; however the implication for other countries is just as ominous as similar data collection systems are established and extended.
Big Brother is alive and well
What it really means is that the federal government will:
 authorize the creation of a federal database of all college students, complete with their personally identifiable information, tracking them through college and into the workforce, including their earnings, Social Security numbers, and more. The ostensible purpose of the bill? To provide better consumer information to parents and students so they can make smart higher education investments.”’

Making learning to simple!
Big Bird Can Close the Achievement Gap? Not So Fast
Heres a response to a recent news item that highlighted the benefits of Sesame Street.
Dont get me wrong: I love Big Bird as much as the next guy. But when people start talking about how Sesame Street is just as effective at closing the achievement gap as preschool, I start to worry that were becoming enamored with a seductively simple characterization of a deeply complex problem.

Beyond the Homer brain!
Deeper Learning in Practice
Across the education sector, we define what students need to know and should be able to do for succeeding in college and career. We know that they need more than just the ability read and write -- today's constantly changing workforce shows that they must be able to master academic content, communicate and collaborate effectively, think critically, and become life-long learners. Supporting students as they develop these skills, understandings, and mindsets often requires a shift in how we think about classroom learning and the competencies needed by teachers to facilitate that learning.

Debunking 10 Big Myths About Gifted Kids
Here are myths about gifted kids and some realities, based on years of classroom observation and interaction with teachers who work with them.

Teachersfightback against the destructive ideals of Germ has reached global proportions
The fight takes different forms in different countries, but there are common threads throughout. Not only are the attacks part of the same neoliberal agenda but, in each case, resistance relies on the

ability of education unions to mobilise the mass of their membership, developing their political consciousness through struggle. Teachers and their unions emerge from this process changed stronger, more democratic and with a wider vision for education.

Beliefs about innate talent may dissuade students from STEM
This is a lengthy article, which also includes a couple of videos, and is very worth reading.
We need to abandon dangerous ideas that some people just cant do math. Neuroscience and educational research flatly contradict such beliefs. As the new study suggests, valuing hard work over innate geniusmight even spur students to tackle new challenges.

This weeks contributions from Bruce Hammonds:

Lessons from Finland
Finland, as ever, offers a high trust community orientated alternative to the GERM corporate  target based model the Anglo American world is taking.
“In recent years, Finlands students have been at the top or near the top on a range of international indicators. Furthermore, Finlands commitment to social equity has led to low levels of variance in student results from school to school.However, this has not always been the case. In the early 1990s, Finnish students achieved mediocre results on international tests such as PISA and TIMMS. Yet, they turned this around. Notably, they didnt do this through introducing high-stakes testing, introducing charter schools, or enforcing superficial compliance with central mandates. Rather, they did it through placing teachers at the very heart of school reform.”

Carol Dweck
How Can Teachers Develop Students' Motivation -- and Success?
Most teachers will have heard of Carol Dweck but how many implement her ideas in their rooms?
“What can teachers do to help develop students who will face challenges rather than be overwhelmed by them? Why is it that many students seem to fall apart when they get to junior high or middle school? Can the "gifted" label do more harm than good? Do early lessons set girls up for failure? Is self-esteem something that teachers can or should "give" to students? Those are some of the questions Carol Dweck, professor of psychology at Columbia University, answers. Some of her responses will surprise you.”

Why Glorify Failure to Enhance Success?
Failure is beyond making mistakes
The difference between mistakes and failure and the teachers role in helping their students.
“Teachers must help  students understand that the conditions for success are within their control and that thry will help them remedy their learning errors when they occur. Teachers, must have a growth orientation to learning, and help their students develop the same orientation. As Dweck reminds us, a growth orientation creates motivation and enhances productivity. When shared by both teachers and students, it also builds positive relationships.”

Creative thinking.
Academic subjects alone won't 'set every child up for life'
Beyond the basics! The importance of innovation and creativity
What successful employers, big and small, hi-tech and no-tech, are crying out for are recruits who are innovative and creative, who can think laterally, communicate clearly and work as part of a team. These are all abilities that are most effectively developed for children through the arts and music.”

From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:

Putting critical information literacy skills into action - use them or lose them
To study the Land Wars requires embedded literacy skills
To make good use of exciting learning experiences students need a full range of literacy, numeracy observation , inquiry, and expressive skills to be in place. Real literacy requires a context, or need, so that students can see the point of acquiring such vital skills. Literacy and numeracy are all about gaining meaning and power. Exciting studies provides the context for such learning.”
The artistry of the teacher
The killing of a Vikings' chieftain’s horse – and the artistry of a creative teacher
A student helped through tchr artisty
“Teacher artistry and sensitivity is required to enter into dialogue with the individual learners to help them develop in-depth thought. Lack of depth and understanding is all too commonly seen today in students' observational or scientific writing as well. How do you help a student get the most out of an experience? Read on.”

Write Now Read Later
Why have we forgotten about Marie Clay?
These days reading, or better still the language arts ( now called by a more technocratic title 'literacy') seems to have been taken over by academics who are pushing a phonemic approach onto schools - 'P' Pushers! This is an approach that distorts the organic relationship between experience, oral language, writing and reading - all premised on a need to make meaning and to communicate. The traditional language arts programme has also been distorted by those who are peddling an meta-cognitive approach that sees acquiring reading skills as an end in themselves.”

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

New Zealand politics: 'Ruth , Roger and Me'. After three decades of market forces ‘trickle down’ economics it is time for a new story/direction.

New Zealand - the way you want it?

Do we need a new flag or a new vision? Both!

I recently listened to an interview with Andrew Dean and was impressed with both his ideas and his ability to handle the interviewer’s questions with respect and ease.

So impressed that I bought his book ‘Ruth Roger and Me: Debts and Legacies’ and I recommend it highly. Andrew grew up in the shadow of Roger Douglas and Ruth Richardson’s reforms – now
referred to as 'Market Forces' ideology or 'Neo Liberalism'.

An excellent read
The reforms moved New Zealand (along with other Western countries) from a regulated economy that was unable to cope with a changing world. At the time, the saying went, ‘there was no alternative’ (TINA).Ironically the changes from a more state controlled economy to the ‘free market’ was introduced by a Labour Government.

After three decades all the promises from the ‘hard medicine’ of deregulation have not benefited all as the term ‘trickle down’ wealth promised. A lot has been lost. It is now time for new ideas.
Andrew Dean

Andrew’s book is an attempt to ‘come to terms with the recent past’. It is his thesis that as a result of the changes has resulted in many people feeling ‘discomfort’ as a result of policies that have left people less certain, less protected and more stressful about their future. As well people are feeling ‘disconnected’ from their communities. It is all about self-responsibility.

Margaret Thatcher 'There  is no such thing as society'.
Andrew reminds readers of Margaret Thatcher’s infamous comment that ‘there is no such thing as society’ and that now young people see themselves as solely, or almost solely responsible for their economic success or failure. This replaces previous idea that the state’s role to ensure that everyone ‘be allowed to live lives of dignity - be given a fair go’.

The ideas introduced are now all but invisible and now it is assumed ‘that markets, allowed to operate freely and independently…. will make everybody better off’; wealth will ‘trickle down’.

Ruth R's 1991 Budget
The ‘stiff medicine’ of the reforms, according to Ruth Richardson will make us ‘healthier for it’ There is to be no gain without pain'. ‘By leaving welfare, trade unions, and state monopolies behind, we have become self-sufficient and free. If we are poor then that we will simply make us work
harder; and if that job pays very little, then we will be encouraged …to make better choices’. Ruth believed (still does) that 'we' needed to be freed from the 'tyranny of big government' which was 'sapping the individual spirit'/

Roger Douglas had a vision of no income tax, slashing of social spending of all kinds and the replacement of state provided healthcare and education with competitive and private and private user-pays systems. This is a privatisation agenda – the business world can do everything better than the government. The ideals of privatisation have in recent years led to asset sales and moves, through charter schools, to privatise education. Health is also open to privatisation.
Roger Douglas - Labour!

The reforms, according to Douglas, were all about the need to ‘break the dependency cycle which encourages some people to look to the State for support when they could be making it on their own’. This is all about worsening people’s standards of living to help them! The legacy of this thinking lives on and is now established as current political orthodoxy so natural to be invisible.

As a result of this thinking many Western counties have developed an ‘underclass’ of desperate people with their associated social problems: drugs, crime homelessness casual crime. The growth of such poverty confounds market forces thinking. Many in poverty now worry about money to support their families all the time. ‘Poverty’, Dean writes, ‘is more than lack of money: it is also a set of conditions that make it difficult to get ahead’- health costs, poorer life expectancy, and mental health issues.

As Dean writes, ‘being poor is bad for your health’. 

Today  widespread and deep poverty is in contrast to a New Zealand the  home of ‘cradle to the grave welfare provision’ – that was dismantled with Ruth Richardson’s Mother of all Budgets  in 1991. Ironically the first reversal in this policy was passed by the National Government in this year’s budget. A clear sign ‘market forces’ has not solved the problem? Labour’s working for Families programme provided some respite but in reality the poverty has deepened as income has increased at the top. As well, writes Dean,’the bottom 30% of society….experienced either no or very low gains in the thirty year period’.

 So much for the ‘trickle down’ theory.

Dean, as a recent student writes about the effect of the student loan scheme. Free tertiary education is now hard for recent students to imagine but was introduced in… He interviews the Vice Chancellor of the University he attended who had the task of introducing ‘market forces user pays’ into the universities.

The vice chancellor now suggests ‘there may be some things that cannot be easily captured in standard accounting methods’ and adds, ‘More market does not seem to have freed the worst off among us to participate in New Zealand society’.
David Lange , ' I want to thank all people whose lives have been wrecked by us'.

It is becoming clear that the guiding principles of ‘freedom and responsibility of the individual’ has not worked for all or the benefit of the wider society. Not all people are in a situation to be able to make choices without support.

There is now a need to return to benign government oversight and regulation; for state planning and redistribution; to value collective solidarity through unions and means to protect workers from exploitation. This is not a call to return to state paternalism (often referred to despairingly as the ‘nanny state’) but more a development of regional, community and local involvement in the name of the common good.

There is a need, Dean writes, to develop ‘social capital’ or cohesiveness to develop more community participation and responsibility. 

Dean quotes the research of Wilkinson and Pickett (authors of the book The Spirit Level) who write that a large range of social ills (such as crime, drug use, obesity and mental illness and educational attainment) increase with greater inequality as well as a decline in community life and social cohesion. People are left to fend for themselves and are less caring of others.

Young people in particular have been on the receiving end and many are feeling socially isolated, worthless and powerless. In 2014 11% of people aged 15-24 were not in education, employment or training; the youth unemployment was 19%.’ Unemployment in recent years has remained higher than in the thirty years after the Second World War’ and productivity has certainly been no higher since 1884 than it was in the decades after the Second World War’. The rich have gained while ‘for many the changes have been destructive.’

‘Home ownership is now a distant dream for people'.. ‘with affordability is most difficult for the young and the poor. ‘The speculative frenzy of the last decade’ has been ignored by the government. There is little popular support for solutions that would dampen the demand, such as a comprehensive capital gains tax’. ‘Make no mistake’, Dean writes, the housing crisis has been exasperated by the sanguine belief that the market will simply fix the problem’.  To solve this problem ‘would involve
governments building more houses themselves’. State houses have been sold off, or inadequately maintained, and currently are up for grabs for others to make use of; another move towards privatisation.

Fertile ground for opposition politicians to develop positive alternatives I would think but this would mean contesting the victory of the market forces ideology of the past thirty years. 

What has been lost is respect for the common good and, Dean writes, ‘addressing the nature of our duties and responsibilities to others’. The pain and the gain have not been shared by all.

In 1935 the First Labour Government was like a ‘second coming’ with its promise of social security, free medical treatment and its free hospital care for all; ‘so great was the joy in our family’ (Janet Frame). In contrast, writes Dean, ‘we now have a well-developed scepticism of utopian visions….one that has led to a political imagination that is insular, technocratic, and in the end, moribund’.
Michael Joseph Savage

Political discourse, he writes, now sounds like advertising campaigns for insurance companies e.g. ‘vote positive’.

Apathy about politics after three decades of market forces is rampant it is time, he continues for ‘a more imaginative, visionary, political  settlement….at the very least we must discard a political philosophy that ….is a failure …and that Labour ( needs) to broaden the meaning of freedom such that it includes rights of participation…that everyone feels part of.’

His book is asking for a new national story. ‘What if this story were to be one of aroha – feeling, empathy and compassion’ in contrast to the individualistic ‘winner takes all’ society we now live in. ‘A country in which people could really live a full life’ – all people.

First Labour Government
It is time to have a conversation of what kind of country do we want to be.  Growing inequalities and social dislocation will not be solved by the current ‘market forces’ ideology. We need a new view of the world to solve intractable problems we face today.

Best to read Andrews book to fully appreciate his thoughts.

A few of my own thoughts

The current market forces ideology (often called neo –liberal) was introduced in the 80s to reduce state control/compliance and to free the enterprise of the individual with the belief they would, make better decisions. After 30 years we still have top down government but increasing developed through privatised contracts.

Perhaps such changes were needed (Ruth Richardson’s ‘medicine’) but any advantages have not been shared and inequality, with its associated social problems, is growing.

An alternative to privatisation based on contracts and targets (which are open to ‘rorting’ and distortion is now required. What we now have is still top down - ‘free market Stalinism’; it is a process that shifts the blame to the providers.

                                                         The current government is leading to New Zealand
Privatization agenda
being run for the benefit of big business and international corporations and the process democratic values are being demeaned.

We have to get people to believe that the free market does not work in all situations – there is a need for central government to ensure all citizens benefit from economic growth. This does not mean a return to heavy handed state intervention but assisting regional and local communities to have greater responsibility, associated with greater resources to do so.  

Once New Zealand had Provincial Government; maybe it is time to return to some form of regional responsibility and diversity within agreed frameworks.

This would require a rebalancing of central and regional/local government.  Privatisation based on target setting is a too narrow a way to ‘measure’ quality of life for all citizens. With targets, it is not the ones you hit that always count – sometimes you miss equally important things you weren’t looking for and there are always unintended consequences.

Such thoughts would require greater faith in democracy; a feeling that all citizens need to be valued and listened to. We need to develop a culture that engages people at all levels. We need to have means to unify the various independent organisations so that they contribute to the common good. Schools, hospitals, welfare services, housing, NGOs, police all work independently – there must be ways to integrated them more fully?

The current government’s agenda is to deregulate the state, to privatise power and to allow corporations to have too much influence. We  now need government intervention to smooth out growing inequities but this ought not need be a return to the heavy hand of state intervention – more a ‘helping hand’ to ensure all benefit rather than waiting for the false promise of ‘trickle down’ economics.

It is now time for a real alternative – for the beginning of a new thirty years of sustainable and equitable development? Time for a new narrative; one based on diversity, fairness that requires the participation and ownership of all citizens.

Friday, June 19, 2015

John Hattie or Pasi Sahlberg ? / more Finland / the Common Core / Mt Eden School and inquiry learning

Educational Readings
By Allan Alach

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

This weeks homework!

Hattie warms up Visible Learning for Pearson; also Hattie and Pasi Sahlberg on YouTube
Kelvin Smythe targets John Hatties latest research.

Hatties research is rubbish.
For him, the beauty of it being rubbish is that it allows him to say it says whatever he likes.
In his latest trick he has produced a new book called The Politics of Distraction: What doesnt work in education.

School starting age: the evidence
Thanks to Cam Lockie for this:
Interesting research from the University of Cambridge, which runs counter to the usual spin from the school reform movement.
In my own area of experimental and developmental psychology, studies have also consistently demonstrated the superior learning and motivation arising from playful, as opposed to
Learning through play
instructional, approaches to learning in children
. Pretence play supports children
s early development of symbolic representational skills, including those of literacy, more powerfully than direct instruction. Physical, constructional and social play supports children in developing their skills of intellectual and emotional self-regulation, skills which have been shown to be crucial in early learning and development.

The Common Core can't speed up child development
When did the science matter to the ideologues?
However, for skills in what Bloom calls the "cognitive domain," the school curriculum has become blind not only to the progression of normal child development but also to natural variations in the
rate that children develop. It is now expected that pre-school children should be able to grasp sophisticated concepts in mathematics and written language. In addition, it is expected that all children should be at the same cognitive level when they enter kindergarten, and proceed through the entire grade-school curriculum in lock step with one another.

How Early Academic Training Retards Intellectual Development
Peter Gray
Following on, heres Peter Grays contribution to this theme. Maybe one day our leaders will realise that theres more to education than ideology and economic theories.
Now, heres the point to which Im leading.  It is generally a waste of time, and often harmful, to teach academic skills to children who have not yet developed the requisite motivational and intellectual foundations.  Children who havent acquired a reason to read or a sense of its value will have little motivation to learn the academic skills associated with reading and little understanding of those skills.  Similarly, children who havent acquired an understanding of numbers and how they are useful may learn the procedure for, say, addition, but that procedure will have little or no meaning to them.

ALL Babies Walking By Six Months OldA Satire on the Common Core Charade.

It was ensured, by adhering to these rigorous standards, ALL babies would be on track for the Olympics and/or professional athleticism. No one questioned the age appropriate sports standards. No one questioned who wrote the standardsand those who did, in any way, were looked down upon.   Many, at first, even believed these standards were appropriate, necessary, and the answer to preparing the babies for a solid future in professional athletics and quite possibly a turn in the Olympic Games.

The Education Revolution will Not Be Standardized: The Moral Imperativeof Testing Refusal
The bigger picture underlying the battle against neoliberal/corporatised education:
Education reform is not happening in isolation. To revolt against testing as vehicle for the destruction of our schools, our communities and our children is to recognize that education is merely one piece to a bigger puzzle of corporate global control over our lives (energy, food, prisons, industry, etc etc).

Myth: You can do more with less
Another Pasi Salhberg article - any other comment needed?
Pasi Sahlberg
Some economists have calculated how much studentsachievement could be improved by enhancing the quality of the teaching force. An efficient way to do that, they argue, is to find poorly performing teachers and get rid of them. Then, bringing young, enthusiastic talent into these classrooms will actually lead to the betterment of education at the same time when resources diminish. Within this logic lie three fallacies that, if taken as facts, will be harmful for the teaching profession and thereby for the entire education system.

Finlands Latest Educational Move Will Produce a Generation of Entrepreneurs
And yet another article about Finland.
The new approach aims to encourage different kinds of learning, shifting from facts to problem solving, individual work to collaboration. In other words, instead of skill-oriented instruction, this topical structure prioritizes the four Cscommunication, creativity, critical thinking, and collaborationskills that are central to working in teams, a reflection of the 'hyperconnected' world we live in today.

This weeks contributions from Bruce Hammonds:

8 Wishes for My 3-Year Old About the Future of Education
Bruces comment: this is a feel good link. What would you wish for in education for a three year old? A good question for schools to ask their parents! Here is one dads wishes for his three year old and all the wonderful educators  along the way.
You may wonder what your educational journey will look like. Honestly, every persons experience is different. I am hoping that my journey can be a guide for yours, but also that you are able to set your own path. Right now I see an educational system that is evolving, and hopefully it is evolving to meet your needs, wants, desires, and passions. It is my wish that your educational journey will be successful beyond your wildest imagination.

Improving Our Schools From the Inside Out
Bruces comment:  Difficult times for teachers in America. In light of the current issues flooding our education system, from an overemphasis on standardized testing to a shaky implementation of the Common Core State Standards, veteran teachers are turning to extreme measures to stress their dissonance: resigning. Lets make sure things dont get so bad in NZ but we know of some teachers who have had enough.
Foremost, I cannot imagine what it must feel like leaving a profession that you love out of frustration and hopelessness. I am in no position to judge any teacher who expresses his or her grievances publicly and resigns.
But what happens to the teachers who decide to stay?
What happens to the next generation of teachers who are committed to the profession irrespective of decisions made outside of their personal classrooms? I refuse to become jaded and cynical or simply apathetic, counting down the days until retirement.

How Student Centered Is Your Classroom?
How student centred are you in your school/classroom?
In the education world, the term student-centred classroom is one we hear a lot. And many educators would agree that when it comes to 21st-century learning, having a student-centred
classroom is certainly a best practice. Take some time to think about where you are with creating a learning space where your students have ample voice, engage frequently with each other, and are given opportunities to make choices.Use these questions in this blog to reflect on the learning environment you design for students in your class.

Study: Feedback doesnt always help students
The dark side of feedback.Under some conditions, we may need to refrain from 'rescuing' children by providing them with feedback, and instead let them struggle, engage and learn on their own. As well the concept of feedback implies teacher know best and can easily lead to a
compliance mentality.and diminishing creativity.
A new Vanderbilt University study challenges the assumption that feedback is always a good thing, at least for student learning.The study, conducted by Emily Fyfe, a doctoral student at Vanderbilts Peabody College of Education, suggests that once a lesson is taught, immediately telling students if they are solving problems correctly or incorrectly can lead to lower performance on subsequent problems and post-tests. If a student is working on problems before learning the material, however, immediate feedback is helpful.

From Bruces goldie oldiesfile:

Together principals can do it
An oldie that Bruce wrote in 2005.
The true challenge  is for groups of principals to find their common voice what  is it that they  all believe is important and would focus and engage the energy of them all? The trouble is individual principals are loath to show their real cardsand share important educational issues. Our system in NZ since the mid 80s had bred into them a competitive ethic and, as well, it is not good form to admit weaknesses to others.

L.I.S.P. New Zealand's lost research!
New Zealands Learning in Science Project had huge potential but was cut off before it really had a chance due to a change in the political climate.
Research showed that the prior ideasa student brings to any learning situation , if not aligned with the teachers concepts, remains the view the learner holds, even if they know the right answerto give back in a test. This has dramatic implications for teachers and teaching and explains why so much of what is taught is soon forgotten or fragile at best. As David Ausabel , the educational psychologist wisely wrote, The most important single factor influencing learning is what the learner already knows; ascertain this and teach accordingly.

Towards a creative school.
Bruces comment: Rear vision thinking the schools default mode?
It is sad to see schools happily 'driving into the future using their rear vision mirrors'. Just as our students are entering a world beyond our comprehension we are busy ensuring they will be able to cope with a past age. There is more than a whiff of Victorian three Rsaround our schools as teachers focus on testing children in what are considered the two areas of concern literacy and numeracy. All this conformist formulaic 'one size fits all' teaching is leading us back to the standardisation of Henry Ford who one said, 'you can have any colour you like as long as it is black.

Points of view from Mount Eden School
The New Zealand Curriculum a lost opportunity? A focus on implementing the New Zealand Curriculum ideas from Mt Eden Normal 2007.
With regard to the 'new' curriculum principal  John  Faire said that, for many, it is a bit 'back to the future' and that the curriculum statements and accountability demands imposed since the early 90s had all but 'squashed out the creativity' that was to be seen in the 70s and 80s.  It is now he
John Faire
said, quoting from Stoll and Fink , 'about teaching and about time.' The front half of the 'new' curriculum he said approvingly is 'future focused' but the 'second half' is the 'same old same old'. John hopes that the
  NZCs more creative future focus is not lost due to accountability demands.
Unfortunately the situation has become more difficult for such creativity since Johns presentation in 2007 and his advice is now more relevant than ever.

This cartoon  up what is happening in too many classrooms! The result of 'intentional teaching, standardized teaching/testing and ill informed  feedback  An educational 'Procrustean one size fits all bed'!

Friday, June 12, 2015

ADHD/ demonizing teachers/ the 'end of education' and re-imaging education - and lots more!

Educational readings

By Allan Alach

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

This weeks homework!

Showing Up
Excellent post by Peter Greene highlighting the importance of teacher-pupil relationships in the learning process.
Attempts to "teacher-proof" classrooms by using carefully constructed lessons and word-for-word scripting are attempts to make showing up irrelevant. Whoever shows up in the classroom, the reasoning goes, the lesson will go on exactly the same. But teacher-proofing a classroom is like husband-proofing a marriage, trying to come up with some set of rules so that it won't matter who shows up to fill the husband role, the marriage will work just fine. That's crazy talk. If the teacher doesn't really show up as a living, breathing human being, students cannot be engaged.

Don't Overthink It, Less Is More When It Comes to Creativity
Did you ever find that group brainstorming doesnt work that well? Maybe this is why:

Most of us have experienced writers block at some point, sitting down to write, paint or compose only to find we cant get the creative juices flowing. Most frustrating of all, the more effort and thought we put into it, the harder it may become. Now, at least, neuroscientists might have found a clue about why it is so hard to force that creative spark.

Let Kids Fidget in Class: Why It Can Be Good For Those with ADHD
Are you a pen-clicker? A hair-twirler? A knee-bouncer? Did you ever get in trouble for fidgeting in class? Dont hang your head in shame. All that movement may be helping you think. A new study suggests that for children with attention disorders, hyperactive movements meant better performance on a task that requires concentration.

Why America Demonizes Its Teachers

The issue of teacher responsibility for student performance must be placed within this broader social context of what has been happening outside the American classroom for the last 30 years. Only in this way will the discussion about student learning become more realistic, and honest, and why singling out teachers alone distorts the true nature of both the problem and its solution.

Reading Readiness Has To Do With The Body
This is well worth reading and shows that the move for earlier and earlier instructionis potentially damaging to children who are not developmentally ready.
We know that our little ones walk and talk on their own timetables. No rewards or punishments are necessary to teachthem. Yet children are expected to read, write and spell starting at five and six years old as if they develop the same way at the same time. Academics are pushed on preschoolers with the assumption this will make them better students. This approach is not only unnecessary, it may be contributing to problems such as learning disorders, attention deficits, and long term stress.

I worry about teachers who blog
Some excellent advice here:
By all means, ignore the above thoughts and blog away to your hearts content. I cant stop you. But hopefully, just hopefully, albeit you write like no one is reading to help you grow and develop professionally; hopefully youll just stop for a minute. Do whats right. Think about your audience and credit where appropriate. I know that I couldve done better in the past. As Ive learned, perhaps we all can too?

Is school improvement a myth?
My heart aches for kids who receive a substandard education. I believe that much of what happens inside schools needs to change. But the only way we will make great strides in this area is to give up on the myths that have led us to that point to be really precise and logical about what it is that we are trying to improve and how to measure it.

Principal: Im retiring because Common Core puts test scores before children
Contributed by Ken Woolford from Queensland, Australia.
I bristle when I hear that evaluating teachers by test scores is needed to hold them accountable,as though teachers are outlaws or laggards. If there are some who are not doing their job, it is our responsibility as principals to address the problem. We should not destroy our schools to create a bell curve of accountability performance, which is created when we compare teachers to each other using student test score growth.

This weeks contributions from Bruce Hammonds:

Five Methods To Get Students Asking Essential Questions
If  the true goal of education is inspiring students with a lifelong capacity and passion for learning, it is at least as important that students be able to ask the right question as it is to know the right answer.

4 Misconceptions About Teaching and How to Avoid Them
Lets put some focus on strong misconceptions about teaching and the teaching profession, and not the teachers. We know the world is full of great teachers. Making generalizations, assumptions, or misconceptions about teaching would be fruitless. So lets focus on the profession itself and its changing nature.

Need a Job? Invent It
Education for a new world by Tony Wagner:
Reimagining schools for the 21st-century must be our highest priority. We need to focus more on teaching the skill and will to learn and to make a difference and bring the three most powerful ingredients of intrinsic motivation into the classroom: play, passion and purpose.

From Bruces goldie oldiefile:

Ways of exploring a bridge
An idea that was around well before the idea of 'multiple intelligences' emerged was to encourage children to explore and interpret their environment using a number of frameworks or viewpoints; the more frameworks, or ways of seeing, the bigger their netto capture experiences.

Beautiful minds - 'in a world of their own.

Sylvia Nasa Author 'Beautiful Minds'
Savants.The capacity of the brain is infinite. Lucky for most of us so called 'normal' people our brains suppress, or filter out, most of the information coming our way but for the savants their brains take in everything in their particular sphere of interest without interference. It is as if they have no deletebutton; their mind, like a Googlesearch, recalls everything! And as a result they miss out on capacities such as social and practical skills that we all take for granted.

The End of Education
Bruce's comment: Something to think about. Is the intrinsic purpose of education coming to an end? Education is not chasing a grade. It is not chasing a college or a job. If you do that you may get what you want, an Aor a B,but you will never be educated.An education is a process. It has a beginning but no end. It continues throughout life. It is learning to see and think.
The reduction of things to the quantifiable and to an end makes shallow a world that is deep; it makes dull a species that should be complex; it makes unthinking, uninvolved humans; it reduces human life to quantities: more money, more fame; more things, higher test scores. We arent interested in education; we are interested in getting things out of what passes for education.

Re-imaging education; lessons from Galileo and Brazil.
The importance of educational deviants.
Education stands at a crossroad caught in the lights of market forces ideology which blinds all
but a few to beginnings of a new era some call the Second Renaissance a new creative era. In his 1980 essay The World of Tomorrow and the Person of Tomorrowpsychologist Carl Rogers contemplated the kind of people that would usher in the new era as people with the capacity to understand , bring about and take part in a paradigm shift.