Friday, October 19, 2018

New Zealand loses a top educator - Kelvin Smythe / teacher well being / Importance of PE / Deep learning / creativity

Education Readings
 By Allan Alach

Sad news this week. One of New Zealand’s premier educators, Kelvin Smythe, lost his battle against prostate cancer last Saturday

Kelvin was one of the very best educators in New Zealand’s history and his passing is a tragedy for primary school education. Over the past decade from 2009, Kelvin led the battle against the then government’s imposition of national standards (not too dissimilar to common core standards in the USA) and I think it’s fair to say that his efforts contributed to the removal of these when the government changed a year ago.
He was indeed an educational warrior who fought to the end to protect holistic /creative /democratic teaching from current technocratic formulaic approaches.

Our condolences to Kelvin’s family, who devoted themselves to his care over the last few weeks.

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

Mindset is encompassed by the holistic and should be seen as commonsense given space: I give it a strong tick

Kelvin Smythe’s last article, written with one hand as he had a broken arm and when he was in very poor health. He was determined to write to the end and one of his big regrets about dying was
that he had so much more that he wanted to write.
This posting supports mindset as expressed by the American academics Jo Boaler and Carol Dweck. I perceive mindset as a strategy to encourage holistic ideas into mathematics, in particular, a curriculum much in need of being repaired from its fragmented and perilous condition.’

Kelvin Smythe and John Hattie – the killing of creativity by the technocrats

‘Smythe, after reading Hattie's book 'Visible Learning', writes that Hattie's 'feedback' is really attached to a direct instruction process .It is more concerned with testable transmission of teacher devised content to the students and as such is antithetical to individuality and creativity. The book, according to Smythe, is 'skewed to a certain style of teaching and learning ( learning set up for measurement) and towards appealing to conservative influences.’

Kelvin Smythe’s advice for principals
“Principals need to be in charge of their own destiny.  Principals need
to focus on the important things -as for the rest just get them done. Principals, he said, need to take a moral stance. The best advice, Kelvin believes, is to 'colonise' the New Zealand Curriculum document and to keep integrity with their own beliefs. If principals cannot keep true to their beliefs they will become as confused as a 'chameleon on a Scottish plaid!’”

Teacher Wellbeing- some research highlights
‘Teaching as a profession is inherently stressful. We are working with people all day and human beings are complex, sometimes tricky even. Here’s some of what I found out about what may contribute to positive teacher wellbeing in our current educational climate.

Physical Education is just as important as any other school subject
PE is yet another subject area that lost ground due to the relentless focus on ‘raising achievement.’
Physical Education (PE) is often viewed as a marginal subject within the curriculum. PE is still championed for its potential to promote health and encourage lifelong physical activity. This is an important issue given that over 30% of year six pupils are classed as “overweight” or “obese”'

Being Barefoot Benefits Brain Development
'Proprioception gives us the ability to perceive the motion and position of our bodies in space, while
the vestibular system is responsible for balance and coordination.
The development of both of these senses relies heavily on sensory input we receive through bare feet, especially during infancy and childhood, Flegal explains in an article for Natural Child Magazine.'

5 Things Children Learn at Preschool That Are a Waste of Time and Not Developmentally Appropriate
'Calendar Time, Craft Projects, Teacher-Directed Lessons, Worksheets, and "Letter of the Week"
They're part of a typical preschool schedule, and parents rarely question their legitimacy. Instead, they see them as "real learning" and what's needed to prepare kids for kindergarten. Many child development experts, however, believe they're largely a waste of time and may even be detrimental.’

What is Deep Learning? Who are the Deep Learning Teachers?
‘Deep learning promotes the qualities children need for success by building complex
Deep learning
understanding and meaning rather than focusing on the learning of superficial knowledge that can today be gleaned through search engines.'

How to Teach Self-Regulation
‘To succeed in school, students need to be able to focus, control their emotions, and adjust to change.'

From Traditional Teacher to “Modern Learning Advisor
'What is the role of the single teacher in a classroom in a world where millions of potential teachers are now a few keystrokes away on a laptop or phone?

From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:

Wounded by School

Success in life is all too often determined by success at school. And all efforts to improve schoolingvery rarely take the trouble to listen to the voices of teachers let alone students. In her wonderful book 'Wounded by School' Kirsten Olsen speaks passionately about the experiences of young people whom the school system has failed.
The importance of observation
Drawing is an ideal way to break through habitual ways of thinking. All too often our students see but they do not look. Observational drawing has long been an important means for some teachers to develop deeper consciousness in students - to assist students see through their habitual ways of seeing and to develop new awareness.’

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