Friday, May 11, 2018

Learning ought to be fun / childrens' playgrounds / learning from NZ's First Labour Government

A culture that values student curiosity and creativity above all
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

Kids are not better at technology than adults.

The difference between kids that are deemed better than adults with technology is not some innate ability; it is their willingness to push buttons. To see what happens. To act on their curiosity.  That’s it.’

Should School Be Fun? (The answer is yes)

‘I also just want my students to enjoy their time in my class and school as much as possible.
Because when a student is having fun, they are engaged and learn better. Research has shown that students who are happy and feeling positive emotions are more likely to “take risks, solve more nonlinear problems that require insight, and generally perform better overall.” It’s why the best and most meaningful learning experiences are often hands-on and take place in loud classrooms, and sometimes not in a classroom at all.’

Learning Theories: Jerome Bruner On The Scaffolding Of Learning

Bruner believed that when children start to learn new concepts, they need help from teachers and He wondered whether the very structure of school is the failure.’other adults in the form of active support. To begin with, they are dependent on their adult support, but as they become more independent in their thinking and acquire new skills and knowledge, the support can be gradually faded. This form of structured interaction between the child and the adult is reminiscent of the scaffolding that supports the construction of a building. It is gradually dismantled as the work is completed.’

The skepticism threshold: is there any evidence for inquiry learning?

Interesting debate here. Read and consider.

“The problem with the inquiry approach, which is so beloved, and so fashionable in education these days is that it benefits middle class children with good vocabularies and lots of cultural capital. It really detracts from the learning of the least able, the most marginalized [students].”

It’s Not Just About Tests, It’s About Valuing Children

By Kenneth S. Goodman and Yetta M. Goodman

Fortunately the current New Zealand is moving towards a child based education system but there are many other countries still wedded to a test and destroy schooling programme.

“Disguising their aims as reform, our political decision makers have marginalized teachers, teacher educators, and researchers to the point that those with real insights and knowledge are blamed for the failures they might have avoided.”

Contributed by Bruce Hammonds:

It's time to land that helicopter: hovering isn't helping your kids

Same applies to school playgrounds.

‘Here's the deal: play cannot be totally safe if it is true play. Some element of danger or challenge, either physical or mental, is needed for children to feel that they are truly playing. Why is this? True play pushes children to their growing edge.’

Inside the Rise of “Risky” Playground Design

Child recreation areas with exposed nails and steep drops—placed deliberately—have caught on in the U.K. and are coming to America.

‘Educators in Britain are embracing the idea that purposeful risky play promotes resilience and builds more self-reliant young people. As a result, public playspaces there are being redesigned or newly built to actively present that risk. What that looks like—playgrounds with access to saws, knives, loose bricks and two-by-fours, and fire—is something that might sound alarms for some parents here in the litigious U.S.’

Student-Centered Planning

Planning instruction around students’ readiness, interests, and learning preferences empowers them to drive their own learning.

‘Learners’ involvement begins with how inviting the lesson appears to them. Learners evaluate a lesson based on their readiness, their sense that it’s something they can do. Does the learning experience provide sufficient supports to help them develop the skills to succeed?’

Students' Perceptions of Teacher Quality

Can there be excellence in the classroom without first-rate
Teachers are the 'silver bullet'.
teachers? We can change our curriculum, buy more materials, change the physical environment, give more standardized exams, but without quality teachers all the change in the world will not produce the desired effect. The desired effect must promote greater depths of student learning. Everyone seems to be looking for a "silver bullet;" that special program that will captivate students and arouse them to greater levels of academic achievement. Those of us who understand teaching know the teacher is the "silver bullet”.'  

The Case For Old-School Kindergarten: Why We Need To Let Our Kids Play

‘…when it comes to young children, engaging in unstructured play with other kids may be better for your child’s development than any academic task. Play helps kids learn how to regulate emotions, solve problems, and make plans. A better predictor of a kid’s academic success in the 8th grade is how well they socialize with their peers in the 3rd grade. Playtime isn’t wasted time, if you’re concerned with academics; in fact it’s just the opposite. Playtime is essential for young children, though you won’t likely see this reflected in your kids’ school.

From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:

'Everyone has a right to an education they are best fitted for so as to develop the fullest extent of their powers'. Going back to principles that underpinned the First Labour Government

Very appropriate article, given the current Labour led government’s review of education in
First Labour Government
New Zealand

‘Schools that are able to cater for the whole population must offer courses that are as rich and varied as are the needs and abilities of the children who enter them… be true equality of opportunity… to convert a school system constructed originally on the basis of selection and privilege to a truly democratic form..’

Looking back

Dr Beeby
This article  discusses the great New Zealand educator, Dr Clarence Beeby. Again this is very timely given the current review of education.

‘Every child, Dr Beeby said, 'should leave with a sense of achievement'. We need teachers who refuse to accept that the failure of any child is inevitable. Teachers, to achieve this, need to be sensitive to the needs of every learner. If you can turn failure around, he said, 'you might get a glimpse of the school of the future'.


Anonymous said...

All good stuff to us- our generation; those of us who developed and thrived in the creative movement-- and what has been missed the kidswe taught generally thrived and it was mare than fun we had some tough work to do . The kids had or worked hard

There is no guarentee that the new generation of teachers can grasp the new freedom for creativity-- they have been bought up on the old values of testing and overloaded measurement

they will have difficulty- the generation of teachers have no idea about what we are talking about-- Who has promoted what they can NOW do ???- grasping the nettle and just behind the wings the dark voices of opposition will be reinforcing their daggers of mistrust and misinformation-- Failure !!
I hope I am wrong Just ask around and see the Actuality Of what is happening. JC

Bruce said...

Kia ora JC

In many ways you are so right. Teacher's today have no idea of the creativity of the 60/70s and the early 80s. The so called Modern Learning Environments are just another version of the 70s open plan schools. The may suffer the same fate unless they are underpinned by a shared set of teaching beliefs and strong leadership. The one you led in the 70s was brilliant but most ended up closing off the spaces.

The enthusiasts for MLEs say that they are new and far better than self contained classrooms. This of course is wrong unless shared teaching beliefs are established. Real innovative creativity can be found in self contained rooms. The only way to tell is by the quality of the work the students do ~not by access to modern ICTas wonderful as they are.

Buzx words like collaboration and teamwork are flung around but unless quality work is achieved they will remain buzzwords.

Only time will tell.