Friday, February 26, 2016

Creative teacher readings. England's poor efforts; anti ability grouping, Frank Smith ( reading) and Guy Claxton

By Allan Alach

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

Four neuromyths that are still prevalent in schools – debunked
I’d suggest that the so-called education reform movement is the biggest source of learning myths.
“Many neuromyths” are rampant in our classrooms, and research suggests that people are often seduced by neuroscientific explanations, even if these are not accurate or even relevant. Research also shows that explanations accompanied by images of the brain also persuade people to believe in their validity, however random the illustration.”

6 Ways To Make Learning Visiblethe horrors of testing; 
A 'wow' classroom1
“How do we distinguish knowledge, skills, and thinking from….learning? How do we make learning visible, so that we might surface and document powerful discoveries about the influence of our teaching on learners?”

7 things Blended Learning is NOT
“What has ‘Blended Learning’ done for the world of learning? It had the promise to shake us out of the ‘classroom/lecture-obsessed’ straightjacket into a fully developed, new paradigm, where online, social, informal and many other forms of learning could be considered and implemented. This needed an analytic approach to developing and designing blended learning solutions. So what happened?

Why England is in the ‘guards van’ of school reform
Andy Hargreaves contrasting Scotland and England school systems - one of these is failing. There are lessons for many other countries here.
“England no longer values these things. About half of its schools are now outside local authority control. England offers a business capital model that invests in education to yield short-term profits and keep down costs through shorter training, weakened security and tenure, and keeping salaries low by letting people go before they cost too much.”

'Like a horror show: It is difficult to comprehend the government's stupidity over testing in schools’
Another article looking at the dire situation in England, especially the move to test school entrants.
“It is not just the age of the children that makes baseline assessment so problematic, it is also its format: a series of yes/no statements which fail to capture the complexity of the learning process or
the child's developmental stage. Can it really be possible to judge, on the basis of observation in the first six weeks of children starting a new school, whether they are or are not "risk taking", whether they have or do not have "curiosity" and “persistence?

Take exams early in the morning to get a higher score
Ponder on the implications of this:
Hans Henrik Sievertsen from the Danish National Centre for Social Research in Copenhagen and his team have looked at 2 million standardised test scores from Danish children aged between 8 and 15. Starting from 8 am, for every hour later that a test was taken, scores declined by an amount equivalent to the effect of missing 10 days of school. Children who were performing worse at school seemed most affected by the time they sat the exam.

Against the Sticker Chart
An article for parents that has implications for the classroom.
“The problem with sticker charts and similar reward systems is not that they don’t work. Rather, they can work too well, creating significant negative and unintended long-term consequences for both the kids and their families. Sticker charts are powerful psychological tools, and they can go beyond affecting children’s motivation to influence their mindset and even affect their relationship with parents.”

Contributed by Bruce Hammonds:

Why Ability Grouping Doesn't Work
While schools implement ability grouping, streaming or class cross grouping there is conflict with modern approaches to teaching and learning.
“In the 'Pygmalion Study'(Rosenthal and Jacobson 1968) elementary teachers were told that the lowest achieving students were actually the highest and vice versa.  Simply because of this information and teachers' subsequent expectations, the low achieving students showed significantly higher gains in their scores. Thus labelling or grouping students not only has a negative impact on their self-efficacy, but on teacher expectation.”

Innovate Like Sherlock Holmes
The power of observation – elementary my dear Watson
Watson: When I hear you give your reasons, the thing always appears to me to be so ridiculously simple that I could easily do it myself, though at each successive instance of your reasoning I am baffled until you explain your process. And yet I believe that my eyes are as good as yours.
Holmes: Quite so. You see, but you do not observe. The distinction is clear.

From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:

This thing called reading.
If you have never read Frank Smith then you need to rectify this asap.
“Frank Smith believes that children do not need to be taught to read instead teachers need to create the conditions for them to want to. If reading is active process, that respects their ideas and worlds, they will want to join the reading club.”

Lester Flockton.Nothing wrong with being critical!
New Zealand respected educationalist Lester Flockton encourages principals to be critical.
“Lester Flockton encourages principals to develop critical reflective thinking about what is 'put before them from on high, or the latest offering from theorists, researchers, policy pushers, advisers, consultants, programme package purveyors and the like'. 'Such people', Lester reminds us, 'often have claims that are incomplete in their perspectives and insights about the working of schools and classrooms.”

More Zen - less zest!
“Hare Brain and Tortoise Mind - think less! Guy Claxton is a thinker after my own heart.
 While everyone else is rushing around introducing rational thinking skills he is pushing the 'slower' idea of developing intuition, hence the title of his book 'Hare Brain Tortoise Mind - how to increase your intelligence by thinking less'.Claxton is about valuing patience and confusion which he believes are the precursors of real wisdom rather than the current emphasis on rigor and certainty. It is by digging into this ‘under mind’ of our unconscious that Claxton believes creativity resides.”

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Views of New Zealand Educationalists: Warwick Elley, Lester Flockton , Kelvin Smythe, and Bali Haque

I was sent a short article written by Warwick Elley a well respected New Educator and thought it worth sharing because his view on recent imposed directives from the Government are critically commented on.

The Minister ignores local expertise preferring to import ideas from counties that do not nave much in common with New Zealand.

Warwick Elley

'Why Are We Squandering $359 Million on Misguided Education Policies?

Now that the Ministry of Education is reconsidering, with primary teachers, the shape of its keynote plan “Investment in Education Success” (IES), we should examine the evidence for the original proposal. The scheme was rejected by 93% of primary teachers, not just because it was another surprise package, imposed without consultation, but because teachers see more drawbacks than benefits. I share their skepticism.

First, the Minister exaggerates the potential of schools to reduce gaps between high and low achievers. She quotes poverty as accounting for only 18% of the differences between students. That figure ignores the influence of many non-school indicators not measured in PISA. Visiting expert David Berliner puts our figure at 78% of student achievement differences due to home circumstances, neighbourhood influences and school social status. That leaves little room for changes due to differences in the quality of teaching. We cannot generalise from the dissenting Tennessee study quoted by the Ministry. It is dated, confined to one subject and one cohort, and assumes that NZ teachers vary in quality as much as US teachers. Furthermore, common sense suggests that there are many ways of being a good teacher. Raising literacy and numeracy test scores are only two.

The objective of IES is to raise the achievement of all students, high-achievers and selected priority groups – Maori, Pasifika, Low SES and Special Needs students. As we have consistently out-performed other nations in the percentages of students achieving at the highest levels, but have failed to reduce our “under-achieving tail”, it is surely better to focus those millions on reducing the gaps between the priority groups and the rest. Spending up in the top schools will only increase the size of our gaps, as the research consistently shows that un-targetted interventions help top students the most.

Much of the Ministry evidence justifying IES comes from two British sources - the McKinsey Reports. These purport to reveal the secrets of systems described as “sustained improvers” in international surveys. No mention is made of the critiques of these reports. For instance, claims about the success of England’s literacy and numeracy strategies are surely false, as the gains quoted predated the relevant surveys. Likewise the successes attributed to  Michael Fullan, popular adviser in Canada, Australia, England and New Zealand, must also be questioned. All these education systems have been in steady decline in PISA in recent years. Bias or shoddy scholarship?

There may be merit in forming “Communities of Schools” to share “best practice” but the case is not well made. As this Government has done so much to provoke strong competition between schools – through National Standards and league tables – the  hoped-for cooperation between schools would be half-hearted at best. We should follow the example of most European countries and
dispense with competitive rankings of schools, which are clearly shown to polarise achievement levels. Moreover, the idea of absenting top teachers and leaders from their stations – with big bonuses - to help others, is unpopular with teachers and parents. Research shows that many teachers are effective when they spend long hours, going the extra mile for their own students. Low-achieving schools need the best principals and teachers fulltime, not as periodic visitors. We need more incentives to secure this outcome.

Importing the teacher-sharing models from Asia is highly debatable as their systems are much more authoritarian, their educational goals narrower, and their after-hours coaching schools often contribute more than their regular schools. Even the quoted example of principals spending time supervising a range of municipal schools in Finland ignores the fact that we are unique in having no structure between schools and central authority, which lumbers our principals with far more duties to perform. Few could spend days away from their desk.
Perhaps “best practices” of successful teachers should be identified and disseminated if possible, but many already exist. For instance, students who struggle in reading need early, individualised, intensive, expert help. Such effective tutoring has been given to thousands of 6-year-olds, here and overseas, in the form of Reading Recovery. Yet only half of our low-decile schools, where most strugglers are found, can afford it.  Jeanne Biddulph’s “Reading Together” Programme where parents are taught effective tutoring practices is another proven strategy. There is research to support numerous other targetted interventions. The millions should be invested here, not on teacher bonuses.

Of course, IES would have minimal impact if the root causes of achievement gaps – poverty and inequality - are not addressed more vigorously, in the early years. More resources for pre-natal care, more support for young mothers, more “at risk” children given easier access to quality ECE, earlier screening for disabilities – such measures would generate “sustained improvements”. The research is clear – dollars invested in quality child care will save thousands later!'

Kelvin Smythe is a must read to get a critical view of educational developments. If you have visit his site and sign up for his  regular postings.Kelvin is a fighter for the best of holistic primary education which is at risk.

Lester Flockton .

How do we make judgments about how well our schooling system is performing? Domestically, the most common methods use NCEA and National Standards results. In addition, the Education Review Office(ERO) reports on school performance. For international benchmarking the current favourite method is the Programme for International Testing (PISA).

All of these methods are problematic and have significant negative and unintended consequences. Together they also represent a largely quantitative paradigm of thinking about, and measuring school performance which needs to be challenged

Current performance measures of schools and the schooling system are not useful, and dangerous, particularly because politicians and many school leaders are basing their decision making on the data they produce.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Creative Education Readings - keeping up with innovative thinking about teaching and learning . Music education. School choice doesn't work


By Allan Alach

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

Why Social and Emotional Learning Is Essential for Students
“Research shows that SEL not only improves achievement by an average of 11 percentile points, but it also increases prosocial behaviors (such as kindness, sharing, and empathy), improves student attitudes toward school, and reduces depression and stress among students.”

How Music Education Can Lighten Kids’ Lives And Improve Learning Outcomes
Not at all surprised by this. I’ve observed the benefits to children from learning to play the drums.
“The symphony pays for professional musician-educators to teach a focused curriculum throughout the year, from music fundamentals to individual and group cello and violin.
So far it has paid off: Participants are testing higher in math and reading than students who aren’t in the program. But Sound Minds, its creators say, also promotes music’s intrinsic power to uplift, inspire and challenge.”

Good Vibrations: The Role Of Music In Einstein’s Thinking
Following on
“Looking at the role of music in Einstein’s thinking sheds some light on how he shaped his most profound scientific ideas. His example suggests that in being intimately involved with the scientific  complexity of music, he was able to bring a uniquely aesthetic qualities to his theories.

Teaching: Just Like Performing Magic
Penn and Teller magicians
Interesting observations from a magician…
“Education, at its most engaging, is performance art. From the moment a teacher steps into the classroom, students look to him or her to set the tone and course of study for everyone, from the most enthusiastic to the most apathetic students. Even teachers who have moved away from the traditional lecture format, toward more learner autonomy-supportive approaches such as project-based and peer-to-peer learning, still need to engage students in the process, and serve as a vital conduit between learner and subject matter.

School Choice Fails to Make a Difference

“This outcome flies in the face of the predictions of many economists, who often tout school choice
as a way to improve the U.S. educational system while also increasing equality of opportunity. Economists typically assume that people are rational and well-informed, and will make decisions that benefit them. If giving students and their parents more school choice hurts the students academically, then something is seriously wrong with the theory.”

David Perkins
The Global Search for Education: What’s Really Worth Learning?
“I watched David Perkins’ presentation on this timely topic at the IB Heads World Conference this year and I am delighted to welcome him today to The Global Search for Education. David is interested in how we ought to adapt our curriculums in light of an ever-changing world. He asserts that what is conventionally taught in our schools is not necessarily meant to produce the kinds of community members we want and need. Perkins believes that only by reimagining what we teach our children can we lead students down the road to learning that results in a flourishing life.”

The problem with evidence based practice
So, what is the problem with evidence? After all, evidence is proof, confirmation, verification, substantiation, corroboration, affirmation, authentication, attestation, documentation; support for, backing for, reinforcement for, grounds for. Nothing wrong with that. Or is there? Actually, in education, there is.”

Contributed by Bruce Hammonds:

For creativity over conformity in classrooms
“Do schools kill creativity, asks Ken Robinson in the much-watched TED talk. I am inclined to say, they do. Of course, educational systems do notwork in a vacuum, but are a reflection of the society they function in.”

How To Kill Creativity (And How To Rebuild It)
“Many of our organisations, without realising it, act as inhibitors of innovation.Rules and protocols are put in place — often for very good reasons — that preserve the status quo. Over time, organisations develop a set of social norms — ‘the way we do things around here’ designed to protect the business from failure.One of the biggest inhibitors of innovation is part of human nature itself — the fear of losing what we’ve got.”

Where Did The Joy Of Learning Go?
“Help your child regain the kindergarten passion of embracing learning with joy. When school stops being fun, all too frequently, learning stops. Help your child retain that kindergarten enthusiasm of embracing each day with the joy of learning. Connect your children to what they learn at school through their interests and past positive experiences so they will WANT to learn …”

From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:

Asking questions is my business
Keeping alive the laser like curiosity of the young
“Curiosity and creativity are the basis of all learning. If they are lost education soon turns into 'schooling' and students in begin to ‘turn off’ and they wish they were elsewhere. Their ‘voice’, their identity as a learner, their questions, their queries and their theories, it seems, are no longer required.Lively curiosity is turned into dull compliance.”

Back to the future?
Good pedagogy is nothing new it seems“Mark Twain once said that he could live for a month on one compliment so it was great to receive a
e-mail, from a student teacher from Glasgow University who said, after reading a newsletter I wrote on Teaching and Learning Strategies in 2002, that it 'completely changed my view of education and teaching'.I couldn't resist re-reading what I had written in 2002 and was pleasantly surprised to see how relevant what I had written is to today's challenges.”
And now it is 2016!

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Developing a pedagogy for a Modern Learning Environment; Supporting future-orientated learning and teaching- a New Zealand perspective (NZCER)

The Ministry of Education flagship for a twenty-first education system are the development of schools as Modern Learning Environments – MLEs for short. They are appearing wherever there is the population growth to require new schools and in the Christchurch area following the destruction created by the earthquakes.
A new Modern Learning Environment ( MLE)

Video clips on TV provide a glamorous picture of such building.  Flexible spaces allowing for team work and teacher collaboration with dramatic entrances and amenity plantings. Students are to be seen sitting on aesthetically designed furniture  and spaces featuring access to computers.
A Modern Learning Environment - Student centred?

What could go wrong and are they really so new? And did the architects confer with creative teachers about how they are to be used?

Such environments were created in the 1970 and were then called open plan schools. The only thing missing at the time were the computers.  Those that were successful were led by innovative teachers who were able to develop teaching approaches to take advantage of the flexible spaces. In most cases the walls were returned and teachers returned to self-contained classrooms. Many parents, after initial excitement, asked for their children to be placed in ‘normal’ classrooms as many students were not seen to be gaining any real advantage. Ironically the best open plan environment I observed (and assisted) was led by a very creative teacher was a collection of prefabs joined together
An Open Plan school 1960s

The lesson learnt (or more to the point forgotten) was that pedagogy is more important than buildings designed by distant experts.

Late last year I was given a NZ Council for Educational Research (NZCER) paper called ‘Supporting future-orientated learning and teaching- a New Zealand perspective’ which provides teachers working in MLEs   valuable ideas (ideas equally valuable for teachers in self-contained classrooms).

The authors argue that current educational structures and practices are not able to cater for the learning needs of all students in the 21stC. The paper provides findings to contribute to the development of a future oriented system.

Not covered are practices of streaming, cross classroom setting and ability grouping although current research is against such practices that dominate/distort educational opportunities. Nor is the importance of affective/ attitudinal aspects of education ; areas lost in our National Standards, achievement based measurable achievement.

The future of educational change can be seen in many current innovative programmes. My feeling it is such schools/teachers we need to help share their ideas and not in Ministry determined clusters led by the wrong people!

The authors are also well aware that the phrases ‘21stC learning’ or ‘future learning’ can be seen as problematic and open to various interpretations but their paper provides ideas to assist schools – MLEs or not.

Changing times, social and technological, demand new approaches; educational assumptions need to be challenged. We face an uncertain world faced with a range of ‘wicked’ problems. Teachers and students need support ‘to actively develop the capabilities they need to productively engage in 21stC wicked problem solving.’

Schools need to be built around what we know about learning and in an information age how students can create their own content through action – ‘knowledge workers’.  Education in a Knowledge Age ‘must foreground the development of learner’s dispositions, capabilities or competencies’.

Research clearly shows people do not learn well as spectators receiving pre-packaged information delivered by experts. Good learning requires ‘active engagement’ in the ‘whole game’ and the more people learn the more they are capable of. Creative teachers have always known this but ‘our schools are often set up in ways that do not support theses principles’.  A paradigm shift is required. Schools, the authors write, need to be ‘unbundled’ and ‘reassembled in smarter ways’ to reflect the needs and demands of a 21stC world.

The paper outlines seven ‘emerging principles for a 21stC education system.

Theme one: Personalising learning.

‘Education needs to be built around the learner rather than the learner being required to fit with the system’. 

Education should keep the innate desire to learn alive; to tap into, amplify or provide opportunity, to develop every learners’ unique talents. This is well beyond current educational provision and although the authors recognise teachers at the margins, ‘we are not yet seeing deeppersonalisation’.

Theme Two: New vies of equity, diversity and inclusivity.

It is obvious that the needs of many groups of learners have not been met. National Standards have narrowed opportunity for many students who see themselves as failures. Education needs to value diversity rather than the current press towards standardisation. Diversity needs to be actively recognised as a future strength and requires valuing individual ‘needs, strengths, interests and aspirations’. We have in our schools an ‘opportunity’ rather than an ‘achievement gap.’
In a future diverse world people will need to work ‘with people from cultural/religious and/or
linguistic backgrounds or world views.’ Students need the ‘ability to think between, outside and beyond them – that is, the ability to work with a diversity of ideas.’

Theme Three: A curriculum that uses knowledge to develop learning capacity.

This, the authors believe is our biggest problem. Our current or traditional idea of knowledge is about ‘content and skills to be selected from the disciplines to form the “subjects” or “learning areas” of the school curriculum; the learner’s job is to absorb and assimilate knowledge in their minds’ and to demonstrate this through assessment.

The conception of knowledge as seen by the authors is ‘ as something that that does things’; ‘more like a verb than a noun’. The knowledge Age requires students ‘creating and using new knowledge to solve problems and find solutions to challenges as they arise on a “just in time” basis.

Reproducing stored up knowledge can no longer be the educators core goal instead ‘the focus needs to on equipping people to do things with knowledge in inventive ways in new contexts and combinations.’ An individual stock of knowledge is important as a foundation for their personal cognitive development and to be useful ‘individuals must be able to connect and collaborate’ with others ideas.

From this point of view disciplinary knowledge should be seen, not as end in itself, but as a context within which students learning capacity can be developed’. ‘While the New Zealand Curriculum signals this it is clear that this has not changed underlying thinking for many schools’.

Theme four: “Changing the script”; Rethinking learners and teachers role.

‘Twenty first century ideas about knowledge and learning demands shifts in the traditional roles or scripts followed by learners or teachers’; ‘teachers’ roles must be re-conceived’; the ‘learners roles and responsibilities must also need to be re-conceived’. ‘This calls for a greater focus on recognising and working with learners’ strengths and thinking about what role teachers play in supporting the development of every learner’s potential.’

Such ideas are often ‘shorthanded’ by such phrases as ‘student centred pedagogies’ or ‘student voice’
however starting sharing power with the learners can be met with resistance, particularly if this is interpreted as “anything goes”’.

‘The challenge is to see past seeing learning in terms of being “subject centred” or ‘learner driven” and instead think about how learners and teachers would work together in “a knowledge building” learning environments’. ‘This is not about students and teachers being”equals” as learners. Rather it is about structuring roles and relationships in ways which draws on the strengths and knowledge of each other in order to best support learning’.

Theme Five: A culture of continuous learning for teachers and educational leaders.

All the principles above are premised on the need for those supporting students to work effectively towards 21stC learning as some of the approaches differ from what today’s teachers experienced in their own learning. ‘Teachers and school leaders may resist adapting current approaches.’

Need to change assumptions
The authors state that many of the ‘21stC ideas…are not actually new. They have been around a very long time’. ‘The challenge is to achieve a system shift that creates a more coherent educational ecology that can support what is known about good learning and that can accommodate new knowledge about learning and, importantly new purposes for learning in a changing world.’
‘This means that education systems must be designed to incorporate what is known’. ‘This has implications for thinking about professional development’.

The Government’s plan to develop cluster with lead principals and teachers will only work if those selected have experience with such ideas – to my knowledge such creative innovative thinkers are simply not available in sufficient numbers.

Theme Six: New kinds of partnerships and relationships. Schools no longer siloed from the community.

‘Learning for the 21stC, it is argued, should support students to engage in knowledge-generating activities in authentic contexts. Students must learn to recognise and navigate authentic problems and challenges in ways that they are likely to encounter in future learning situations.’  This will involve ‘messy’ problems where answers or outcomes not known to teachers.

This implies involving people from the wider community and for developing schools more connected to the community and this in turn requires students and teachers collaborating with other people who can provide specific kinds of expertise, knowledge or access to learning opportunities in community contexts.

Real change will require ‘buy in’ from the wider community. ‘‘Buy in’ could be achieved by engaging community members in authentic educational activities that draw on their expertise’.

Theme Six: New technologies.

Notwithstanding considerable investment in ‘digital resources have not revolutionised learning environments’. ‘The potential of new technologies to transform teaching and learning is heavily dependent on educators’ ability to see the affordance and capacities of ICT in relation to the underpinning themes for learning in the 21stC’. ‘It is further dependent on schools having the infrastructure, inspiration, capability and opportunities for innovation to achieve these kinds of teaching and learning.’

It is obvious that simply providing Modern Learning Environments, ICT and clusters and lead teachers is not answer unless underpinned by appropriate learning/teaching beliefs.

Theme Seven: The role of collaborative practices.

The idea of clustering has become increasingly popular but ‘networking and collaboration in itself do not necessarily support the emergent of future focussed learning practices’ but, done properly, they would provide opportunities.

Policy Implications.

The authors conclude their paper require three key ideas to ensure an education system based on the above themes is: diversity, connectedness and coherence.

Such ideas allow us to see a way forward that goes beyond ‘ticking the boxes:  that is are schools personalising learning; are they educating for diversity (as well as working to achieve success for all learners); are they reconceptualising the roles and responsibilities of teachers and students; are they engaged in continuous professional learning; and are they developing a range on new “real” partnerships with their communities?’

It is time to move away from focussing on the parts but to focus on strategies to put these ideas together; to join all this up in a way that is ‘driven by a coherent set of shared ideas about the future of schooling and its purpose and role in building New Zealand’s future’.

A good start would for teachers to evaluate how much their school is facing the future by assessing their school against the themes above.

Another would be to read Sir Ken Robinson's book ' Creative Schools: Revolutionising education from the ground up'.

The key phase is ‘from the ground up’.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Education Readings for the creative teacher

By Allan Alach

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

Online Public Schools Are a Disaster, Admits Billionaire, Charter School-Promoter Walton Family Foundation
Oh what a surprise…..
The majority of online charter students had far weaker academic growth in both math and reading compared to their traditional public school peers,” their experts’ press release said, after noting that kindergarten-through-high school students need to be in classrooms with live teachers, not occasional faces on computer screens. To conceptualize this shortfall, it would equate to a student losing 72 days of learning in reading and 180 days of learning in math, based on a 180-day school year.”

How Measurement Fails Doctors and Teachers
“Education is experiencing its own version of measurement fatigue.

 Educators complain that the focus on student test performance comes at the expense of learning. Art, music and physical education have withered, because, really, why bother if they’re not on the test?”

Why So Many Schools Fail To Get Impact From iPad
Are they making a real difference?
“70% of UK schools are now using mobile devices in the classroom, according to Tablets for Schools. The vast majority of those devices are likely to be iPads, yet how many schools can you name who are standout users of the device? That is to say, how many schools are using the device to deliver true 21st century transformational lessons?
The answer, disappointingly, is very, very few.”

In Education "Reform" Nothing Means What You Think It Does
“I too want every student to succeed. I too want personalized learning, but I want those things for real, and not some cheap version of these promises that people stand to make a lot of money on. I think our kids are worth more than cute slogans and money making schemes they don't actually benefit from. Perhaps it is the English teacher in me. I just want people to say what they mean.

Contributed by Bruce Hammonds:

The Bridge Between Today's Lesson and Tomorrow's
Carol Ann Tomlinson
“Carol Ann Tomlinson sees formative assessment as an ongoing exchange between a teacher and his or her students designed to help students grow as vigorously as possible and to help teachers contribute to that growth as fully as possible. ‘When I hear formative assessment reduced to a mechanism for raising end-of-year-test scores, it makes me fear that we might reduce teaching and learning to that same level’.”

Start small and share
In DPS imaginarium, room to experiment for students and teachers
Creating conditions for teachers to be creative and then sharing successful ideas with other schools. Seems like a plan.
“Once an idea — which might be as small as a classroom strategy or as big as a new school design — is developed, the ‘imaginarium’ team runs through a series of piloting and reflection exercises. The team then presents a case to district leadership about whether that project should be scaled up.

From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldie’ file:

Schools should embrace fun and activity.
In the early years of education children seem eager to learn; they are lively and happy. Generally, the classroom provides an atmosphere of spontaneity in which children are encouraged to explore, discover and create.However, large numbers of students leave school feeling bitter and defeated, not having mastered basic skills society demands from them.For teachers of unhappy children, the school experience is generally also an unhappy one.”

Words of wisdom from Jerome Bruner
Jerome Bruner
 ‘The areas of hunches and intuition’, Bruner writes, ‘has been all too often overwhelmed by an imposed fetish of objectivity'...'The lock step of learning theory in this country has been broken, though it is still the standard village dance'. Today we still have those ( usually politicians) who wish to test for learning ignoring, according to Bruner, that 'it is difficult to catch and record, no less understand, the swift flight of man's mind operating at its best.'

What are the fundamentals in education
 “Ask most people what they would consider fundamental in education and they would probably say 'the three Rs' or, in,today's, speak literacy and numeracy. Certainly this is the view of our current conservatist government. But , like most simplistic answers , if people give the question more thought, more enlightened answers come to mind. Learning to interpret and express ideas about ones experiences is the basis of all learning from the moment one is born. As in the illustration we all see and interpret our world.”

Creative teachers are the key
Exploring a wasp nest.
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.These are all in line with recent ideas of 'personalising' learning - developing with learners, and their parents, 'individual learning plans.

The purpose of education – developing creativity and talents of all students.
“The dizzying speed of the modern world puts education at the heart of both personal and
community development; its mission is to enable everyone, without exception, to develop all their talents to the full and to realize their creative potential, including responsibility for their own lives and achievement of their personal aims’.”

Transforming Secondary Education – the most difficult challenge of all.Thoughts from a past age – ‘Young Lives at Stake’ by Charity James
“Charity James believed it was important to get secondary education right if all students were to leave able to take advantage of the exciting opportunities the future might offer.  The challenge remains. Secondary schools need a radical reappraisal to ameliorate the effects of obvious social and cultural disadvantages and also to develop the needs, talents and gifts of all students.”