Friday, May 25, 2018

Readings for creative teachers - Elwyn Richardson/ Sir Ken Robinson / John Dewey / the importance of play...

From Elwyn Richardson - Rooster and hens . 
Education Readings
 By Allan Alach

Every week Bruce Hammonds and I collect articles to share with teachers to encourage a creative approach to teaching and learning. I welcome suggested articles, so if you come across a gem, email it to me at

Time again to focus on teacher creativity - the legacy of Elwyn S Richardson

Bruce’s latest article – a must read.

‘There was a time when New Zealand  primary education was internationally recognised for placing the learner at the centre of learning. When education was driven by a belief in the creative power of the learners themselves; when learning was based on the internal and external lives of the children.’

How is philosophy of education useful to education?

‘Philosophy of education is sometimes assumed to be a rather abstract discipline that is somehow
removed from the ‘real’ practice of education – but this has not been my experience. I began my educational career as a practicing teacher, and in that capacity I used ideas from the philosophy of education for practical purposes long before I became a more formal student of philosophy of education.’

Why Mean Girls Are Younger, and Meaner, Than Ever Before

‘These days, we hear of girls at younger ages exhibiting similar “mean girl” behaviors
excluding, isolating, spreading rumors verbally or posting lies online. It is disturbing to realize that very young children are acting deliberately to hurt classmates and friends. Admittedly 7-and 8-year-olds may not have the social skills or maturity to understand how their actions hurt others or how to act differently. That’s where parents come in.’

Ignore the hype over big tech. Its products are mostly useless

This isn’t about education; however it’s something to to reflect on when the
The latest 'silver bullet'
edtech salesperson arrives with the ‘next big thing’
in education that will solve problems you didn’t know you had (interactive whiteboards for example?)

‘If we do not want to live in a world in which “assistants” trick us into flimsy conversations, and human contact is a chore left to the bottom of the labour market, we do not have to. There is a basic fact about the future the figureheads of big tech too often forget: that what it will look like is actually up to us, not them.’

We should be teaching kids public speaking in school

‘For the sake of social equality, all schools should teach children the public speaking skills they need for educational progress, for work and for full participation in democracy. Our research is beginning to show that children who are taught these skills, perform better in maths, science and reasoning tests.’

Contributed by Bruce Hammonds:

Who Needs Computers in the Classroom? Not Students

The money is better spent on sincere and hardworking teachers.

‘If you begin to research computers in the classroom, the search tends to bring up "the benefits of…" and article after article extols these benefits, all written on behalf of people selling computers. When you look at real research such as the OECD report on Students, Computers and Learning, the usefulness is quite sketchy and may even have a negative influence.’

Smaller Class Sizes and REAL Personalized Learning are Needed for Safer Schools

There’s another solution for schools. One that few education reformers entertain. Smaller class sizes and providing students with real personalized learning. Not sitting kids in front of screens for all of their schooling but ensuring that they are better connected to teachers and their classmates. Providing small enough classes so teachers and students can help each other adjust to life when they experience problems.’

Connecting with Gen Z

‘“If we teach today’s students as we taught yesterday’s, we rob them of tomorrow.” American
philosopher and educational reformer John Dewey is said to have made this statement about a century ago. If John Dewey were alive today, would he say, “Teachers have done injustice to the present generation of learners by robbing them of their tomorrow”?

Two studies point to the power of teacher-student relationships to boost learning

Kids do better when teachers know them well.

‘It seems that the ostensible benefits of specialization were outweighed by the fact teachers had fewer interactions with each student. No one was minding the whole student throughout the whole day or providing continuous emotional support, keeping an eye on a kid who had an argument in the morning or whose mouth was achy from a loose tooth.’

The problem with our schools? There’s not enough playtime.

More wisdom from Sir Ken:

‘By real play, I mean unstructured, physical play, mostly outdoors, where children follow their curiosity, and invent and enjoy spontaneous games. This has been shown to have profound physical, emotional and social benefits. Real play also develops the neural pathways upon which other forms of learning depend. Play facilitates critical life skills such as problem-solving, teamwork and creativity. Active play is the natural and primary way that children learn.’

From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:
Children as scientists

‘That children are scientists is a truth worth repeating with emphasis. That they are also artists,
musicians, and social beings we know. But young children particularly are more scientists than they are anything else. The child starts to become a scientist with those basic reactions that first make him and her aware of cause and effect.’

Self managing learners

‘If students are to become 'active seekers, users and creators of their own knowledge' then self-managing skills need to be 'taught' deliberately as an important goal of any classroom. The best way to see if students are self-managing is when the teacher leaves the room what intelligent behaviours would you hope to see on return?’

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