Friday, July 24, 2015

Creative Teaching Readings: parenting/ ' my lazy wife'/ real education/Jerome Bruner/James Beane /Seymour Sarason and best books.

By Allan Alach

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

Weekend Homework

*I Am Not Tom Brady*
Just when I thought we'd reached peak madness, this arrived. Warning - youll need a strong stomach before reading this.
What kind of message does this send to students? I wondered. That their teachers are so incompetent that they need an ear piece and 3 people sharing a walkie talkie in the corner to tell them what to say?

How Can Parental Involvement In Schools Improve?
You dont have to be an accomplished educator or a Nobel-prize winning economist to understand the benefits of familial engagement in education. Imagine the dollars saved if more families volunteered for projects involving our schools, the benefits of having more people to read, tutor and mentor and the positive long-term economic boost from smarter, more successful students which, in turn, would strengthen public education.

Kids of Helicopter Parents Are Sputtering Out
When parents have tended to do the stuff of life for kidsthe waking up, the transporting, the reminding about deadlines and obligations, the bill-paying, the question-asking, the decision-making, the responsibility-taking, the talking to strangers, and the confronting of authorities, kids may be in for quite a shock when parents turn them loose in the world of college or work. They will experience setbacks, which will feel to them like failure. Lurking beneath the problem of whatever thing needs to be handled is the students inability to differentiate the self from the parent.

Second-Hand Helicopter Parenting
Following on:
Parents, I urge you to let your kids create and learn as kids. As hard as it can be to step back and watch it happen, it is SO important to the learning process and as it turns out, to mental health. Kids need to experience safe failures in order to learn that they are resilient. Kids need to see what they alone are capable of. They need to have the opportunity to learn independently. They need to know that they can improve because they want to.

Philosophy sessions 'boost primary school results
This is rather interesting. First link is to a BBC report and the second link is to the official website.
Weekly philosophy sessions in class can boost primary school pupils' ability in maths and literacy, a study says.
More than 3,000 nine and 10-year-olds in 48 UK schools took part in hour-long sessions aimed at raising their ability to question, reason and form arguments.

My wife is a lazy liar
Teachers and their partners will relate to this
Its the last day of school for my lazy, lying wife. She says teachers still have to go to work, but that cant be right. Teachers only work when the kids are at school. I wish she would come clean and
admit she is not really a teacher.  School starts around 9:00 and dismisses at 3:45.  She leaves the house before seven each morning, and its only a fifteen or twenty minute drive to the schoolwhere she teaches.She comes home around six or six-thirty in the evening. Sometimes later. What is she doing with all the extra time?

What Bill Gates Doesn't Understand About Education
Marian Brady:
Mr. Gates, you swing a lot of weight in political circles. If you told policymakers that the current thrust of reform was blocking alternative ways of improving learner performance, and educators should have enough autonomy to explore those alternatives, those of us who have been working on them for decades might have a chance to show whats possible.

This weeks contributions from Bruce Hammonds:

Real Education Still Matters: Exposing the Limits and Myths of 'Market Forces' Education.
Bruces latest posting, referencing an article by Peter W. Cookson Jr 
The rise of instrumentalism in education.
 Like those imprisoned in Platos Cave, learners who do not have the opportunity to experience free inquiry are vulnerable to the one-dimensional images and stereotypes produced by much of the media and publishing world. The learner is hobbled, even crippled, as she or he travels the developmental path of self-discovery and critical consciousness. This disempowering of mind produces tunnel social vision.

12 Must Read Books on Education for 2015
Twelve must read books on education for 2015.  Worth reading the information about each book to give you a sense of future directions. First in the list is a new book by Sir Ken Robinson. What books are you aware of that could be added to the list?

Design Is Eating The World
The industrial age placed efficiency number one. As Henry Ford, inventor of the assembly line, famously said you can have your car painted in any colour as long as it is black. Today  aesthetic design is an important factor. Would seem to apply to schools as well a need to move from one size fitsall standardisation to the personalisation of learning. Schools need to teach and
implement design skills.
Yet our generations greatest entrepreneur, Steve Jobs, considered design so important that he cited a calligraphy course as his most important influence.  For him, design wasnt just a products look and feel, but its function. Over the past 20 years, weve seen a radical shift toward design as a fundamental source of value.  It used to be that design was a relatively narrow field, but today its become central to product performance and everybody needs to be design literate.

From Bruces goldie oldiesfile:

What's your 'mental model' about teaching?
Whats your mind-setabout teaching?
Over the years I have become increasingly aware of the different ideas people hold about teaching( in todays terminology mind-sets')
It is also obvious that many teachers hold these mind-sets' unconsciously it is just the way they have learnt to do things. When asked about the beliefs that underpin their teaching many such teachers find it hard to move beyond platitudes or clichés. And when they can, all too often, their actions do not match their words.

On Knowing - Jerome Bruner
Wise words from the past as relevant as ever. This old blog features  ideas about creativity by Jerome Bruner from a little known book of his I picked up years ago called Essays for the Left
Hand. It has become one of my favourite books although a number of his essays are a little beyond me. His ideas on creativity are spot on.
Conditions for creativity require that the learner stand back from reality and to be 'prepared to take his journey without maps' driven by a deep need, or passion, to understand something. The 'wild flood of ideas' need to be tamed, and in the process, the thing being created takes over and compels the learner to finish. The learner, Bruner writes, is 'dominated' to complete the task.

Developing a democratic curriculum.
The ideas of James Beane:
Relating back to the ideas of John Dewey he believes that if people are to live democratic lives they must have the opportunity to learn what that way of life means. His ideas are based on the ability of students to participate in their own education. Democratic schools share a child centred approach but their larger goal is to change the undemocratic conditions of school themselves and in turn to reach out to the wider community.

Robert Fried on Seymour Sarason
Seymour Sarason is seen by educationalist Robert Fried as a cautious radicaland a pragmatic idealist who staunchly defends classroom teachers in one breathe and scolds them in another for their failure to make schools interesting places for teachers and children. Fried believes we should take him seriously. For sixty years Sarasan has agonized about why our institutions and social systems so rarely succeeded in achieving the visions of those who created them despite the hard work and sincere efforts of all involved. Sarason has relentlessly challenged conventional thinking about why schools seem so resistant to change.  Sarason has interesting ideas about school culture well worth a read.

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