Friday, April 08, 2016

Education Readings for schools facing a creative future

By Allan Alach

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

The Secret To Creativity: Become An Intellectual Middleman
This article wasn’t written about education; however it is applicable to classroom programmes. How does your classroom compare to this?
"A lot of the people we think of as exceptionally creative are essentially intellectual middlemen." That is, "They’ve learned how to transfer knowledge between different industries or groups. They’ve seen a lot of different people attack the same problems in different settings, and so they know which kinds of ideas are more likely to work.”

Tests are about control
Standardized Tests Have Always Been About Keeping People in Their Place
“Our modern assessments are holdovers from the 1910s and ‘20s, an age when psychologists thought they could isolate the racial markers for intelligence and then improve human beings through selective breeding like you might with dogs or cats. I’m not kidding. It was called eugenics.

Grit vs Resilience
“The whole concept of grit to me has simply borrowed from a long history of research into resilience and given resilience a new and somewhat trendy name. As far as I can see grit does not exist as a phenomenon distinct from resilience but is rather a sub-set of resilience and resilience is not a great predictor of academic success.”

Collaborative Writing, Common Core, and ELLs
“In collaborative writing, students would do their own thinking and writing first and then connect with others to provide and receive feedback for improvement. Or, as is the case with the collaborative story-writing ideas that we'll be discussing, there is explicit space made for students to first use their own intellectual abilities. Then, student interaction can follow so that the end product is one to which everyone has contributed and is superior to what a student creates on his or her own.”

Education in Crisis: The Threat of Privatization Around the World
Diana Ravitch
Diane Ravitch.
Yes, there is a crisis, but it is not the one you have read about. The crisis in education today is an existential threat to the survival of public education. The threat comes from those who unfairly blame the school for social conditions, and then create a false narrative of failure. The real threat is privatization and the loss of a fundamental democratic institution.”

Teaching Children How to Think Instead of What to Think

“The factory model of education, with its focus on academic and economic elitism, is churning out obedient workers for the system, encouraged to conform every step of the way. We are not being treated as organic, creative, investigative human beings, but instead as parts in the machine. The education system is filtering out the inquisitive nature of our being, with the ultimate goal being to prevent dissent against the system. The system doesn’t want thinkers. It doesn’t want people to question its methods. It wants a population that can be easily manipulated and controlled so as to relinquish all its power to the elite.”

Contributed by Bruce Hammonds:

21stC Modern Learning Environments (MLEs) and 1970s Open Plan Schools – similar challenges and problems – or new opportunities?
Bruce’s latest blog article.
“MLEs, if implemented properly, might well be ‘windows to the future’ but education is always
more than buildings and technology and it is important that they don’t become the ‘silver bullet’ that when provided will solve problems that ‘single cell’ classrooms are unable cope with. Those teaching in such glamorous photogenic environments are naturally all too often over enthusiastic about their experience but what is needed is a critical appraisal of their success.”

Kids need some structure
When Kids Have Structure for Thinking, Better Learning Emerges
“Amidst the discussions about content standards, curriculum and teaching strategies, it’s easy to lose sight of the big goals behind education, like giving students tools to deepen their quantitative and qualitative understanding of the world. Teaching for understanding has always been a challenge, which is why Harvard’s Project Zero has been trying to figure out how great teachers do it.”

How To Kill Creativity (And How To Rebuild It)
“What if innovation isn’t about doing more stuff but just removing barriers?
What if we just become more conscious and innovation takes care of itself?
Perhaps by identifying and removing barriers we can accelerate innovation simply by leveraging the capability that’s already there.”

What Quality Education Should Teach You, According to a Harvard Scientist
Steven Pinker
Wisdom from Steven Pinker.
Don’t let the education system keep you from having a real education. Learn how to think. Figure out how to spend more time reading. When you do, focus on the most basic and essential wisdom — including the lessons from history.”

From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:

A book celebrating tchr creativity
Let's return to creative teaching!
“Creative activities were seen by teachers involved in the 60s and 70s as the central focal point for learning and integrated studies were a means to realize this. The recent emphasis on inquiry learning continues these ideals but struggle against the literacy and numeracy pressures that eat up almost all available time.”

Creative teaching at Opunake Primary. Lewis Carroll's 'Alice in Numberland’
“I think it is very important to share ideas of creative teachers in this age of isolated self managing schools - be great if New Zealand teachers who read this blog to pass it on to any teachers who might find it interesting.

Results of powerful learning at Opunake 
Dysfunctional schools or dysfunctional students
“How many schools have taken the advice of research and good practice to actually listen to their students? How may have tried to personalize learning around the needs of their students rather than insisting students 'learn' what they obviously dislike.

Schools conforming students

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