Friday, July 15, 2016

Creative teacher readings; too much maths? too much data? unschooling and the myth of genius.

Education Readings

By Allan Alach

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

What’s At Risk When Schools Focus Too Much on Student Data?
‘The argument in favor of all this is that the more we know about how students are doing, the better we can target instruction and other interventions. And sharing that information with parents and the community at large is crucial. It can motivate big changes. It’s to serve equity and uphold civil rights, say the latest Ed Department regulations, that states must provide clear and transparent information on critical measures of school quality and equity to parents and community members.” But we’re also starting to hear more about what might be lost when schools focus too much on data. Here are five arguments against the excesses of data-driven instruction.’

Constructivist Classroom: Knowing The Wrong Answers, Too.
Constructing learning
‘Focusing on the wrong answers may seem counterintuitive to many, but doing so helps teachers understand the disconnect between the right answer and students’ common misconceptions. Talking through wrong answers has the incredible ability to make teachers better educators and students less frustrated and more receptive to the mountains of new information presented in the classroom. In short, understanding the wrong” answers leads to learning that lasts.’

We’re teaching our kids wrong: Steve Jobs and Bill Gates do not have the answers
This is a longish article, but don’t that put you off.
‘A close look inside the classroom door suggests that in the past 150 years we have come to think, perhaps without realizing it, that the purpose of education is to make money. Though going to school hugely increases a child’s chance of earning a decent wage in adulthood, that fact need not, and should not, define our thinking about what and how children should learn. Decent wages may be a very desirable outcome of attending school. But that doesn’t mean that money should be the goal of education or the measure of its success. Of course, the skeptic might ask what harm there is in designating money as the purpose of school. As it turns out, plenty.’

Want to Build a GREAT School? Follow These 10 Commandments…
Another article by Tony Gurr.
‘Thou Shalt create an environment and climate that is organised, secure and safe – yet provides for risk-taking, creativity and imagineering at the student, classroom, departmental and school level…’

Study: Controlling parents have maladaptive perfectionist kids
I suspect that this won’t be news to teachers…

‘In a five-year study of primary school children in Singapore, researchers found that children with controlling parents are more likely to be overly critical of themselves, a problem that increases with age. Being too hard on themselves also had long-term consequences: Children with high or rising levels of self-criticalness reported more symptoms of depression or anxiety.

What schools can learn from the unschooling movement
‘According to practitioners, unschooling is a learner-centered pedagogy. Learners choose their own path based on interests throughout their natural lives including, but not limited to natural play, household responsibilities, work-based experiences, travel, family, social interactions, and family.
Unschooling is about one’s personal learning journey — operating on the premise that the more personal the learning is, the more impactful it will be. By design, unschooling questions the relevance of standard curriculum and instructional approaches, as well as elements that will often impede learning such as grading. In the end, unschooling practitioners would argue that the self-directed learning approach truly prepares students for the real world instead of a formal education.

Contributed by Bruce Hammonds:

The myth of the young artistic genius is keeping us from pursuing our passions
Never too old to learn…
A lot of us are experts at coming up with excuses not to pursue our creative interests. Do you know how old I’ll be by the time I learn to play the piano?” we ask, imagining how foolish we’ll look stumbling over Chopsticks.”Well, we’ll be the same age if we don’t. There is no such thing as a person who is too old” to be creative. But I’m too old” is something adults say in order to avoid the emotional cost of the ego deflation involved in being a beginner.’

The Wrong Way to Teach Math
‘Here’s an apparent paradox: Most Americans have taken high school mathematics, including geometry and algebra, yet a national survey found that 82 percent of adults could not compute the cost of a carpet when told its dimensions and square-yard price.’

Let's Stop Requiring Advanced Math, A New Book Argues
‘Hacker's central argument is that advanced mathematics requirements, like algebra, trigonometry and calculus, are "a harsh and senseless hurdle" keeping far too many Americans from completing their educations and leading productive lives. He also maintains that there is no proof for a STEM shortage or a skills gap; and that we should pursue "numeracy" in education rather than mathematics knowledge.’

From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:

Terry Crooks NZ
It is all about motivation
‘In all his years in education Terry said he had come to the conclusion that the most important issue in education is motivation.'Motivation', he said, 'is at the heart of learning.''Motivation', he added, 'is far more important than the introduction of such things as National Standards . This coming from an educationalist who has dedicated much of his life to the testing of students achievements was worth hearing.’

30 Years ago - so what has changed?
‘Recently I received an e-mail from a student I hadn't heard of since she was in my class in 1978. She wrote about how great it was to experience the class and how
Student at right lower row
much all that we did has stayed with her over the years. With this in mind I searched out something I wrote, at the time, for the team of teachers I was leading. I was curious to see how much my ideas had changed since then.’

Self managing learners
‘Self managing is a 'key competency' both for the smooth running of a inquiry based classroom and to develop vital life long learning capabilities. As such it is highly related to future success. When students are 'self managing' it allows teachers the time to work with students who need help.’

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