Friday, May 20, 2016

UK Education/ Literacy and computers/Philosophy teaching/ Michael Fullan and Pearson/ Seymour Papert and are the the three Rs' obsolete?

Education Readings by Allan Alach

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

Sorry, Nicky, I’m out.
An English teacher writes an open letter of resignation to UK Secretary of Education Nicky Morgan. If you think your version of GERM is bad, I’d suggest that England possibly tops the scale.
“Please accept this as written notice of my resignation from my role as Assistant Head and class teacher. It is with a heavy heart that I write you this letter. I know you’ve struggled to listen to and understand teachers in the past so I’m going to try and make this as clear as possible. In the six short years I have been teaching your party has destroyed the Education system. Obliterated it. Ruined it. It is broken.

Reading on a Screen Rather Than Paper May Affect What You Learn, Study Shows
Here’s another article suggesting that we may need to be more careful about believing the hype about technology.
‘A new study suggests that it’s not only what you read, but how you read it that matters.
Reading on paper versus on a digital screen may impact what you end up absorbing from the text, according to a study by Dartmouth researchers. This research is being presented at the Association for Computing Machinery conference in San Jose, California, this week, and has not yet been published in a peer-reviewed journal. In the study, people who used computer screens for learning did better when it came to understanding concrete details, but they had more difficulty understanding abstract concepts.

It’s the Environment, Stupid
Annie Murphy Paul
Read about Paul Toughs findings
Rather than consider noncognitive capacities as skills to be taught, I [have come] to conclude, it’s more accurate and useful to look at them as products of a child’s environment. There is certainly strong evidence that this is true in early childhood; we have in recent years learned a great deal about the effects that adverse environments have on children’s early development. And there is growing evidence that even in middle and high school, children’s noncognitive capacities are primarily a reflection of the environment in which they are embedded, including, centrally, their school environment.”

Inverse Relationship Between GPA and Innovative Orientation
The more students focus on test scores, the less creative they become.
Another article by Peter Gray.
Testing out creativity!
‘Our educational system was designed for a different age, a time when jobs required rote performance and unquestioning obedience, where innovative thinking was considered to be unnecessary or even a liability for the majority of people.  Ironically and tragically, rather than adapt our educational system to the needs of our modern times we have doubled down on the old system, so it is harder today than ever before for young people to retain and build upon their natural curiosity and creativity.’

Study: Teaching Students Philosophy Will Improve Their Academic Performance
An interesting study from England.

Socrates and philosophy 

‘The kids who were taking philosophy classes improved their math and reading skills by about two months of additional progress compared to the students who didn't take the classes. The actual aim of the classes was to improve student confidence in asking questions and constructing arguments, but the additional academic gains were undeniable.’

The Disturbing Transformation of Kindergarten
One of the most distressing characteristics of education reformers is that they are hyper-focused on how students perform, but they ignore how students learn. Nowhere is this misplaced emphasis more apparent, and more damaging, than in kindergarten.’

Contributed by Bruce Hammonds:

A chance to look around three classrooms 

Bruce’s comment: I found these three short u-tube videos and thought they were useful to give insights into English primary school classrooms. All to often we read or hear from experts well distanced from the reality of the classroom.  All classrooms reflect the ‘message system’ of the
teacher or school.  The small videos below do just this.  I believe strongly in the importance of classroom environments and found the viewing most interesting. The fact they are not professional presentations adds authenticity to the small videos. Note Literacy and Numeracy ‘learning walls’, the emphasis on current interdisciplinary  topic displays . What would a tour of your room show?

Michael Fullan believes in an educational transformation? Pearson's role in education: A Rich Seam: How Pedagogies Find Deep Learning.
Bruce’s latest article.
‘Pearson's version of 'personalized learning' relies on 'data driven analytics' and technology to ensure  learning. Some of the schools following a 'Pearson's approach' look more like
 Larry Rosenstock:Wise words from New Tech High
high powered 
traditional schools with students learning through digital technology. My preference is the New High Tech approach, which is also referenced in the 'Rich Seams' document - a real world activity based school making use of a wide range of technology from carpentry tools to computers.

Read about this great book.
With Educational Technology, We Don’t Know What We’re Doing
Another Annie Murphy Paul article.
‘A head-slappingly obvious (yet often overlooked) point: Why are we spending millions upon millions of dollars on unproven technologies, when there are so many empirically-proven techniques from cognitive science and psychology that are going virtually unused?

From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:

Learning from bamboo
Resilience - the ability to bounce back!
Before there was ‘grit’ we had ‘resilience’.
Bamboos are a great symbol of resilience, bending in the wind and quickly growing if it comes to the worst. Going with the flow and knowing when to sidestep are important skills of learning. It is all about resilience.  Students at school need help develop to learn to stick at tasks and to persevere so as to gain the satisfaction of achieving something they didn’t know they could do. Naturally the task has to be meaningful and worthwhile to the individual.’

Seymour Papert : The obsolete 'Three Rs' - blocking real change in education
Bruce’s comment: The place of the ‘three Rs’ in an age of computers. Worth reading if you teach in a MLE.
‘All this  Victorian emphasis on the ‘three Rs’  according to people like Professor Seymour Papert, a highly respected MIT expert in learning and computers, ‘expresses the most obstinate block to change in education’.’ The role of the basics’, he writes, ‘is never discussed; it is considered obvious’. As a result other important educational developments are being ignored. Papert is not questioning the importance of ‘the Rs’- children cannot learn effectively in all curriculum areas without them but they need too be 'reframed' to be seen as foundation skills to allow students to learn rather than ends in themselves.’

The urge to collect- and display
How can you incorporate this in your classroom?
‘When you visit people’s homes what they collect and display indicates what is important to them. Nothing is displayed with out some thought behind the object – each object has its own story to tell to the collector and to a visitor. Collections reflect the personality and interests of the owners. The urge to collect starts young and for some people early interests become lifetime occupations often turning into careers.’

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