Friday, March 29, 2019

Teachers - your future is at stake. Please read and add your voices to the debate

Educational Readings Friday 29th March 2019

Teachers:  Your future is at stake!

The 7th April is the last day  to make your views known about the proposals included in the Tomorrow’s Schools Review report  ‘Our Schooling Future: Stronger Together’.

The report outlines the possibility of the biggest change in our education system since the introduction of the original Tomorrow’s Schools over three decades ago.

Before Tomorrow’ Schools primary schools were administered by regional Education Boards. These Boards appointed teachers, provided advisory help and looked after school finance and grounds. Alongside the Boards were Education Department Inspectors who assessed teacher and school performance. There was no doubt that these Boards needed revision but, in the change to self-managing schools, a ‘few babies were thrown out with the bathwater’.

For those involved in Tomorrow’s Schools they were exciting times. BOTs members had to be appointed and were soon involved in preparing Charters and writing endless policies and facing up to
building and grounds issues. Sadly not all schools were equal and some found it difficulty gaining expertise from BOT members.

It’s important to note that the changes were not a response of community dissatisfaction, far from it, but were part of a political shift towards a market forces led society based on a belief in business efficiency being applied to all areas of government would have positive results. After three decades we
are now paying the price and the inequality resulting from the changes sees schools now enrol students disadvantaged by this inequality. It is also true to say many citizens gained in wealth and some schools (mainly it seems large secondary schools) in high socio economic areas thrived – and today, understandably through self-interest, are resisting any changes.

The ‘self-managing’ aspect of schooling was also lost to a degree when the National government introduced the New Zealand Curriculum along with a set of Learning Area documents, each of which outlined strands, level of achievement
and an impossible number of learning objectives to be assessed and reported on. In 2007 a Labour government saw the light of day and introduced (in 2007) a totally revised New Zealand Curriculum which had (has) broad acceptance. Sadly before this could be ‘bedded in’ a new National government introduced their reactionary National Standards along with assessment and documentation demands enforced by ERO.

So that brings us to today. A new government and no National Standards and the Review.

Things need to change. 

Promised levels of student achievement have not eventuated and
the system is not working well enough for our most disadvantaged.

We need a different way to think about our schooling system.

Please read the Review document and the voices below speaking out for and against. Make an email submission of your concerns and view to

Further information about the Review is available

Allan Alach   Bruce Hammonds

Take a quick look at the articles below both for and against.

Tomorrow's Schools quick submission guide from the NZEI and their response to the Review.

The government is currently reviewing Tomorrow’s Schools – the name given to the reforms that dramatically changed our schools nearly 30 years ago - and the NZEI wants to make it easy for you to have your say about the future of education.’

Tomorrow when the war began

Auckland Grammar - against!!
Analysis: A growing group of schools across the country have launched a coordinated opposition to the Tomorrow’s Schools proposed changes, but the campaign is full of misinformation.On Tuesday, a group of 49 (and growing) primary and high schools officially launched the Community Schools Alliance.The alliance took out full-page ads in the NZ Herald and Dominion Post, as well as sending out a press release, setting up a website, a Twitter account and a Facebook page.’

Claire Amos - for
Claire Amos interview by Jack Tame on Breakfast TV

A very balanced review of the Tomorrow’s Schools Review in which she faces up to the criticism of the Auckland Alliance of large secondary schools against the proposals. Claire is concerned with every school, not just those that have done well under the current system.’

Choice vs Equity: A Personal Response to Tomorrows' Schools Review

I have been quite surprised to see the response from some to “Say no to the Haque Plan”. First of all, it is not the Haque Plan, rather it is the Tomorrow’s Schools Review Report and should be
Maurie Abraham - for
referred to as such.Secondly, it contains many recommendations falling under 8 key issues, making it very difficult to give the whole report a blanket ‘Yes’ or ‘No’. Anyone with an open-minded approach would find favour with some of the recommendations, would be unsure about some and would want to explore further, and would be quite opposed to others. A consultation process allows such a range of responses to be submitted and considered.’

Education Hubs sensible and overdue

Opinion: I notice some of my principal colleagues have taken against the recommendation of the Tomorrow's Schools
A principal's opinion
Taskforce to introduce Education Hubs
, a regional structure that will take over some of the jobs done by principals and boards of trustees.  Here's why I think Hubs are a sensible and overdue change to the way we run our school system.’

Schools launch $20,000-plus campaign against Tomorrow's Schools reforms

The "Community Schools Alliance", backed by 43 of the country's 2431 state and integrated schools, opposes a scheme by a task force led by former principal Bali Haque for about 20 regional "hubs" to take over most powers from elected school boards.’

Dr Liz Gordon – the result of 30 years of Tomorrow’s Schools

Two main societal effects occurred in the 30 years of school choice.  First, ‘exclusive’ schools became larger and larger, milking their social cachet as the top schools in the country for financial and reputational gain.  That such status was so patently unearned, forged from the social and educational characteristics of their privileged, ready-to-learn, white students and large parental donations, was a source of particular angst for me Second, schools at the ‘top’ and ‘bottom’ of the social spectrum faced increasing social separation.’

Cathy Wylie outlines new wave of change for New Zealand Schools 2012!

Cathy Wylie - for
In 1986 an ‘earthquake ‘hit education in the form of ‘Tomorrows Schools’; following the publication of the Picot Report self-managing schools were born. Now, almost three decades later, A  NZCER  chief researcher Cathy Wylie has written a definitive and compelling story of school self-management called ’Vital Connections: Why We Need More Than Self-managing Schools’.”

Trust Teachers—They’re the Experts

His subsequent book, What School Could Be Ted Dintersmith,
describes the best of what he saw—and highlights his fervent belief in the value of teacher expertise, student agency, and locally derived solutions. Taken as a whole, the book is a rallying cry for an overhaul of the American educational system.’

Friday, March 22, 2019

Time for cultural understanding as a priority - and Tomorrows School Review

Readings 22nd March 2019

It’s a week from the tragedy of Christchurch. So much has
been said but what is that schools can do to develop greater cultural awareness, understanding and respect?
This is a wakeup call to move away from the technocratic approach of the past decades towards a focus on developing a more humanitarian appreciation of the different cultures that are part of our New Zealand society – ‘cultural literacy’.  It is obvious that racism, prejudice, and intolerance underlies many of the problems we face in New Zealand and this has been amplified by the inequality created by three decades of a neo-liberal politics with its emphasis on ‘me first’ individual rights over community obligations.
The New Zealand Curriculum is light in respect to this area particularly in the second half where the curriculum
defines the expectations for the various levels. All that is provided is a list of bullet points. All other learning areas provide greater definition.
Is it time to return to the older term Social Studies – the term used prior to Tomorrows Schools? This older syllabus provided broad directions of cultures past and present for students to study leaving plenty of room for teacher choice.
One practical recommendation is for principals and teachers to read the publications and writings of the late Kelvin Smythe and reintroduce his ‘feelings for’
approach to respect and value other cultures past and present. Kelvin wrote powerfully about the need to appreciate the attitudinal aspects of education in contrast to the current one dimensional achievement bias.
The following links will download eight articles on ‘feelings for’ Social Studies that Kelvin reworked for his legacy publication:  The File
If you want to explore more of Kelvin’s writings, check out these two websites:

Bruce  Hammonds and Allan Alach

Opinion Piece: Tomorrow's School Review - little to lose and much to gain
‘The only real concern is we are not brave enough nor selfless enough to support changes that might benefit our entire educational system for fear of relinquishing
Claire Amos
perceived notions of control.
Of course no report is perfect, and with 32 recommendations to consider the devil will be in the detail and the proof will be in the pudding. There is always the risk of unintended consequences (as there was with the Picot Report in 1988) and there is the very real risk of some of the richness of these recommendations being lost in implementation and any plans being so slow to roll out that little, if any, gain is seen or felt for years to come. But on reflection, even when we consider all of these factors, the Tomorrow’s School Report creates a vision for tomorrow where there is little to lose and much to gain’
Claire Amos
The Tomorrow's School Review - A Quiet Optimism - Part One
This is the first post in a series, and seeks to look at some of the things that concern me with the TSR.  The things that give me cause for concern. Going forward, I am cautiously optimistic.  Whilst I have concerns, I am heartened by the Minister who informed leaders at
Time for fresh thinking
the NZPF Moot that he was genuine in wanting to work in collaboration with the sector.  There is an opportunity here to be innovative and futures focused, and most importantly, better equipped to resource schools and ensure there is equity in the system! I think there is potential here.  If the sector is fully engaged, and collaborative co constructors in the architecture of this re imagined new educational landscape, then we have the opportunity to create something quite amazing. To do this, we need to leave our mistrust, our cynicisms and our hurts from the dark days of educational persecution, behind us.  We cannot let the bad experiences of our yesterday colour us into a foul mood for today and the educational future of tomorrow.’
Strong panel drives debate on Tomorrow’s Schools Review
Prof. Peter O'Conner
Education Central ChalkTalks panel discussion on the Tomorrow’s Schools Review last night was one of the most robust debates on the proposed reforms to date. The debate darted across various aspects of the report, but most attention was given to the issues at the heart of the review: essentially tackling the inequality in our education system.
How to Develop a Greater Sense of Motivation in Students
Teachers can know their content backwards and forwards. They might have put
hours into their lesson plans. But if their students aren't motivated, learning won't happen. Often, childhood experiences may make motivation harder for students, according to a new working paper . The paper takes a look at the machinery of motivation: what’s going on in children’s brains when they’re motivated, and what’s holding them back? The researchers identify two types of motivation: approach motivation, which steers us toward a reward, and avoidance motivation, which prompts us to avoid damage. Ideally, they balance each other out.’
The Absurd Structure of High School
We are married to a system that has not been properly re-evaluated for 21st-century capabilities and capacities.’
How Algebra Ruins Lives
‘Raise your hand if your child feels tyrannized by abstract math. Raise your hand if you think our society would be better served if we spent more time learning skills that solve real-life problems — like finance, budgeting, and the ultimate life-skill: How not to be an asshole.’
#3quotes from Papert
Saymour Papert
Steve Wheeler:
‘MIT professor Seymour Papert wanted to turn education on its head. He was disillusioned with the idea that we should 'instruct' children and that they would learn solely from content delivery. He was particularly critical of the use of computers as 'replacements' for teachers.’
The growth mindset problem
‘Despite extraordinary claims for the efficacy of a growth mindset, however, it’s increasingly unclear whether attempts
Carol Dweck
to change students’ mindsets about their abilities have any positive effect on their learning at all. And the story of the growth mindset is a cautionary tale about what happens when psychological theories are translated into the reality of the classroom, no matter how well-intentioned.’
Stimulate Wonder: Make Curriculum Strange
‘The sense of wonder is a powerful learning tool that fuels creativity and innovation. Find out how to engage it in teaching to maximize student learning.’
The Key To Raising A Happy Child
‘For much of the past half-century, children, adolescents
and young adults in the U.S. have been saying they feel as though their lives are increasingly out of their control. At the same time, rates of anxiety and depression have risen steadily.What's the fix? Feeling in control of your own destiny. Let's call it “agency.”'
Why schools don't educate – from  John Gatto a US  Teacher of the Year
Gatto concludes saying we have to bi pass the vested interests that support the
status quo and get grass roots thinking to demand that ‘new voices and new ideas get a hearing’; that, ‘we have had a bellyful of authorized voices’. That, ‘we need a decade long free-for-all debate…not more “expert” solutions’; “experts” in education have never got it right’. ‘Enough’ he says, ‘time for a return to democracy, individuality, and family.
 Savants : Beautiful minds - 'in a world of their own'
Savants are   special individuals that have one amazing passion. Possibly the most
well known savant was featured in the film ‘Rain man’ portrayed by Dustin Hoffman. Based on a particular individual who had an amazing mind for mathematics and, in common with other savants, was very limited in social and relationship areas.The programme made viewers wonder about the amazing potential that lies within us all.

Friday, March 15, 2019

Time to think of the 'big picture' about the purpose of education

Time for new thinking

 Educational Readings 15 March 2019
Collated by Allan Alach and Bruce Hammonds
 Introductory thoughts
Just listened to an economist Kate Rayworth on National Radio about the purpose of the economy. Currently it's about unlimited growth with minimal concern with the effect it has on the sustainability of our environment nor with the problems of inequality that the current emphasis on unlimited growth has created.

The purpose of the economy, she believes, should now focus on meeting the needs of all people and the sustainability of the planet rather than growth and self-interest.

We now need an economy that focuses on helping all people thrive and one that sustains the environment for future generations; an economy based on ‘wellbeing’ and an economy that faces up to the massive ecological and inequality crisis created by the ‘growth at all costs’ economy. We now need an economy, she says, that is premised on ensuring all people thriving in a regenerating environment.

In this ‘new’ economy what then is the purpose of education?

 Currently, as a result of Tomorrows Schools, education is based on schools competing with success being measured by growth in achievement in a narrow range of metrics.  As a result we have developing ‘winner and loser’ schools with little thought to the wellbeing of all schools.

The Tomorrows Schools Review gives us an opportunity to think beyond current narrow school
self-interest and to consider ensuring the success of all students in all schools. An education that ensures all students leave able to make a better job of sustaining the environment than the current generation.

This week young people are marching in an effort to raise our consciousness of the dire straits current economic policies, based on unlimited and narrowly conceived growth have created.

Bruce Hammonds

Learn about Kate Rayworth

Eight ways of teaching  creativity.

Mia O'Brien, a lecturer at Queensland University, knows about the importance of teaching creatively. This excerpt is from her 2012 study Fostering a Creativity Mindset for Teaching (and Learning):
"In order for creativity to be a priority within schooling, we need teachers who understand the nature of creativity and appreciate its pedagogical value. However, creativity is not usually high on the list of reasons for choosing teaching."

What this tells us is that teachers have an interesting challenge with creativity. Not only must they inspire it in their learners, but they must also give themselves full permission tobe creative as well. After all, teaching creatively means considering how creativity can apply to every responsibility a teacher has.’

Educating students for their future not our past

It’s so much easier to educate students for our past, than for their future. Schools are inherently
conservative social systems, as parents we get nervous when our children learn things we don’t understand, and even more when they no longer study things that were important for us.
Teachers are more comfortable teaching how they were taught than how they were taught to teach. And politicians can lose an election over education issues but rarely win one over education, because it takes way more than an election cycle to translate good intentions into better results.
The biggest risk to schooling today isn’t its inefficiency, but that our way of schooling is losing its purpose and relevance.’

 The value of the Education Hub proposal

‘Perhaps having access to an Education Hub at the time would have helped resolve current issues? A perfect mix of paid education professionals and locals that had the time and energy and emotional detachment to go through parent and teacher  could  make a huge difference.’

Why Playfulness Is the Key to Success in the 21st-Century

‘“I do not know what I may appear to the world, but to myself I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the seashore, and diverting myself in now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me.Isaac Newton I like this because it shows you the child in him, the one we can recognize in our own reflection if we pay attention. But more so, I like it because, from this human image, we can take out something for ourselves, something that I think is becoming more relevant today.’

Why Teachers Must Become Change Agents
Michael G. Fullan
Teacher education programs must help teaching candidates to link the moral purpose that influences them with the tools that will prepare them to engage in productive change.
Teaching at its core is a moral profession. Scratch a good teacher and you will find a moral purpose.’

#3quotes from Bruner
Steve Wheeler:
‘In my #3quotes series I have been citing directly from the texts of education thinkers, because it is
Jerome Bruner
important to apply ideas and theories in context. Too often, writers cite from theorists using secondary sources instead of delving into the original texts. In this post I will featuring direct quotations from legendary American psychologist Jerome S Bruner, whose work focused on the psychology of learning, pedagogical methods such as instructional scaffolding and the spiral curriculum, as well as social constructivist learning methods.’

Lies You Have Been Told About Educational Technology

‘When it comes to educational technology, we are all being lied to. Educational policy-makers, teachers, students, and parents have been made to believe that modern technology is “transforming the way students learn,” and “revolutionizing education.” Schools issue tablets and laptops instead of textbooks. Students spend much of their school day and night tied to screens for schoolwork and homework. The ed-tech companies have successfully crafted, packaged and sold to schools many myths masquerading as facts. These are spun in such a way that we are made to feel bad for questioning them. However, once parents and decision makers see the truth, they will demand change.’ 

The Key to Effective Classroom Management
‘A three-phase process helps build strong teacher-student bonds, which can reduce disruptive behavior.’

Peter Gray
Children’s Freedom: A Human Rights Perspective

‘For most people human rights have increased, but for children they have shrunk. In fact, children today are far more deprived of liberty than they were when I was a child more than 60 years ago, or when my parents were children 90 years ago.  And children are suffering because of that deprivation.  As I’ve documented elsewhere, children today are suffering at record levels from anxiety, depression, and even suicide.’

Dawn of a new creative era / Tomorrows Schools Review
Bali Haque
‘The Tomorrow's Schools Independent Taskforce spent almost six months looking at the evidence and held over 200 meetings all over the country. So is our current education system still relevant? Does it work for you as a parent or school board member? Does it meet the needs of our children today?’

Sir Ken Robinson's book is a must read if we want to bring education into the 21stC.

‘Our plea is for creative teachers, particularly those in New Zealand, to share Sir Ken Robinson’s book with as many teachers and schools as they can because the message is so important. If we really believe in giving every student the opportunity to leave formal education with their love of learning intact  and with all their unique interests, gifts and talents identified and amplified then we really have no choice.’

Guy Claxton : What is the Point of School

‘Anyone who has attended one of Guy Claxton' presentations ought to buy his book 'What's the Point of School'. This book is powerful and timely examination of why our schools are built to fail, and how to redesign them to meet the needs of the modern world.' The challenge of redesigning schools is a big ask but the book gives lots of very practical advice about how to create enthusiastic learners and more effective teaching. In particular the 'learning power' ideas gives guidance to how New Zealand teachers can implement the 'key competencies' of the new curriculum.'

Teaching and Learning Quotes

‘For too long schools have had to comply with endless bureaucratic top down edicts, confusing curriculums and associated accountability demands which have taken the focus away from
learning and teaching. As these imposed technocratic systems falter it is now time for creative teachers to also add their voices to the debate.
Students are born with a powerful desire to learn. Everything we do as parents and teachers must ensure that this powerful desire is kept alive. If there were to be one thing to be continually assessed it would be this desire... too many students leave with little to show for their time at school. Too many leave alienated and powerless.’