Friday, September 15, 2017

New Zealand education at risk/ technology for and against / creative education/ and the NZelections and education


Education Readings

By Allan Alach

I welcome suggested articles, so if you come across a gem, email it to me at allanalach@inspire.net.nz

Data Driven Into the Weeds

Data data everywhere and not a thought in sight
‘Having a data-driven school has been all the rage for a while now, because when you express your ideas, thoughts, and biases in numbers, they qualify as "facts," whereas judgment expressed in words obviously lacks data-rich factiness, and so should be ignored. Yes, the fact that I am 100% an English teacher may make me about 62% bitter about the implied valuing of numbers over words; I'd say I'm at about 7 on the 11-point Bitterness Scale, and that's a fact.’


Don’t Spend A Penny On Education Technology Until This Is Clear

Virtual reality is it enough?
This ‘keeping up with the Jones” is a familiar practice, especially in anything related to technology. That approach, though, can lead to imbalanced education policy, mediocre edtech programs, and a lot of wasted money. Integrating education technology is a complex thing that depends entirely on local and constantly changing factors.’



Why Students Should Take the Lead in Parent-Teacher Conferences

‘But at schools built on Deeper Learning principles, the meetings are often turned into student-led conferences, with students presenting their schoolwork, while their teachers, having helped them prepare, sit across the table, or even off to the side. The triad then sits together to review and discuss the work and the student’s progress. The message, once again, is that the students are responsible for their own success.’


The Power of Visualization in Math

‘The power of this moment, the change in the learning environment, and the excitement of my fifth graders as they could not only understand but explain to others what the problem was about convinced me it was worth the effort to pursue visualization and try to answer these questions: Is there a process to unlock visualizations in math? And are there resources already available to help make mathematics visual?’


How can teachers introduce forest school principles to their curriculum?

‘More commonly, forest school is part of a bigger educational mix in which pupils enjoy time outdoors perhaps once a week, but the same principles apply: a drive to build young people's independence and self-esteem through experiencing the natural world. Lili Pluck, forest school assistant at Ashdon, says: "It's about learning to realise what is around you, appreciate nature and enjoy the freedom, space and sense of peace.”’

Contributed by Bruce Hammonds:

The Internet Is Killing Creativity - And Analog Is About to Make a Comeback

‘In some ways, I think the internet has made it harder to become creative because it encourages us to be interested in all the wrong things. (Note: I differentiate between becoming smarter--educating yourself on every topic ever, which the internet is like freakin' fantastic at, and being creative. Artistically putting yourself out there.) Why my negativity around creativity?’

Sir Ken Robinson on how schools are stifling students’ creativity
‘While many Canadian educators struggle to find the solution to students' declining math scores, there's one expert who says we may be looking at the problem the wrong way. Sir Ken Robinson – education guru, author and adviser – says relentless testing and the push for standardized scores are destroying students' imagination and talent. He argues that schools are stifling instead of nurturing kids' creativity.’

Reasons Today’s Kids Are Bored At School, Feel Entitled, Have Little Patience & Few Real Friends

‘Today’s kids come to school emotionally unavailable for learning. There are many factors in our modern lifestyle that contribute to this. As we know, the brain is malleable. Through environment, we can make the brain “stronger” or make it “weaker”. I truly believe that, despite all our greatest intentions, we unfortunately remold our children’s brains in the wrong direction.’

A New Zealand  Haeata student gives her view on modern learning       
Three years ago when we knew some of our local schools would be closing, my school, Aranui Primary, started what was called "modern learning”. At first it was really weird and we didn't know what we were doing, but then the teachers got trained in modern learning. Over three years we changed the way we learnt to the way that best suits us so we could self-manage, but not too much depending on how good you were at self-managing. We had stages: Manager, Self-Managed, Self-Directed, and Self-Driven.’

The Troubling Trend to Collect Behavioral Data on ALL Children
As school starts, many parents are being bombarded with information about behavioral data collection on their children. A lot of this is tied to the trendy push for social-emotional learning (SEL), and the attempt to connect behavior with a child’s ability to read and do well in school. But it’s troubling to see schools monitoring the behavior of every child so tightly. Children will not have perfect behavior.’

From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:

Back to school to see what really happens in New Zealand classrooms – Nigel Latta

In recent years politicians from the ‘right’ have given the impression that our schools are failing – our current Minister is fond of saying ‘one in five of our children are failing’ and that the introduction of National Standards will solve the situation.  ‘We so often hear stories about how standards have fallen,’ said Latta, ‘that you would be forgiven for thinking the sky has fallen in’.’




For New Zealand readers - a few articles to consider before the general election on September 23rd, which will hopefully see the end of national standards and charter schools.

National Standards – which Parties will keep them and which
will ditch them?
‘It’s election time again, but before choosing which Party to vote for, make sure you know what their education policies are – and pay attention to what isn’t mentioned, too. This time we are looking at National Standards.’
Election questions are for all of us
Before we settle on which political party to support this election, let’s ask a few questions of ourselves. An election is traditionally an opportunity to ask questions of would-be politicians. More fruitfully, it’s an opportunity to ask questions of ourselves. Questions to candidates will then follow, but the self-examination is actually the more valuable for democratic engagement.

Nigel Latta: The New ‘Haves and Have Nots’ – Time for Moral Leadership in New Zealand
As we begin to focus on the upcoming elections it is surely time to move away from on the personalities of leaders and to focus on the real issues facing our country.
The programme was a serious attempt to get to the core of inequality in NZ and its consequences for us all.Once NZ had one of the highest home ownership figures in the world and we didn’t see examples of extreme wealth. Latta is careful to say he is not against people doing well but he was stunned to learn that over the past decades the gap between the rich and poor in NZ has widened more than anywhere in the Western World.’

 NZ National government gets an F for education

‘OPINION: My verdict on the Government's track record in education is that it is an epic fail.
The reasons for this verdict are many and varied, but I will focus on three main areas:
1. Our student achievement data is declining nationally
2. Ideology is overriding evidence
3. Trust has been completely eroded in the sector achievement data’

Friday, September 08, 2017

New directions in education in New Zealand / current standardised approach gets an "F"/ teacher stress and workload andthe importance of creativity and lots more....


Leader of the NZ labour Party Jacinda Adern

Education Readings

By Allan Alach

I welcome suggested articles, so if you come across a gem, email it to me at allanalach@inspire.net.nz

Why I Teach

Every action, every thought spent on these children is holy. The tiniest gesture is magnified through infinite time and space. When I help a child gain confidence in her reading, I help not just her. I help everyone she will ever come into contact with –her co-workers, her friends, family, even her own children if she someday has some.’


How can teachers encourage more girls to study mathematics?

As a maths teacher at a large sixth form college, I’m concerned by the disproportion of female students in the department. I spoke to three groups of girls in year 12 about their experiences; one not studying maths, those studying single maths, and those studying double maths. Based on their feedback, I have the following suggestions for encouraging more girls to take the subject at A-level.’


Imagined futures 5: Robot teachers?

Steve Wheeler:

‘In a conversation with Sugata Mitra several years ago, the novelist Arthur C. Clarke stated: 'Any teacher who can be replaced by a computer ... should be.' 
Clarke was right of course. Teachers cannot be compared to machines, and should certainly never function as such. If they do, then they aren't teaching.’


Spinning Plates -we need to drop some

Workload is the issue that won't go away, perhaps quite rightly so, it is not sorted. As teachers, and leaders, we are plate spinners. However, we sometimes need to work out what plates we can afford to drop. This is perhaps the single most important question that all of us should be asking - if I don't do this, what will happen?’

Why Teaching Kindness in Schools Is Essential to Reduce Bullying

Kindness changes the brain by the experience of kindness. Children and adolescents do not learn kindness by only thinking about it and talking about it. Kindness is best learned by feeling it so that they can reproduce it.’


If I was teaching Social Studies today…

‘Some folks know that I started my education career as a middle school Social Studies teacher in Charlotte, North Carolina. If I was still doing that now, I would be incredibly excited because so many wonderful resources would be available to my classroom. For instance, if I was teaching Social Studies today…’


Contributed by Bruce Hammonds:

Nine reasons New Zealand's National Standards aren’t working (and other issues with our education system)

Out with standardisation
‘Sometime during the 1970s, jet engines superseded propeller driven planes for most domestic air travel in New Zealand, as it had for pretty much all international flights. The same should now happen to an archaic back-to-basics system like National Standards, which a modern understanding of effective teaching and learning had rendered out of date before they were even introduced.’


Embracing Failure: Building a Growth Mindset Through the Arts

"Students have to take risks," says Cristina Gonzalez, the former chair of NMSA's visual arts department. "That’s something that is so unique to learning in the arts. Great art comes from risk taking, from being willing to fail. Maybe it will work. Maybe I'll discover something about myself, something about my capacity that I wasn't even aware of, and that's so exciting for a student.”


How To Weave Growth Mindset Into School Culture

‘The Academy of Health and Medicine, a small learning community within Arroyo High School in California, has been pioneering a focused approach to teaching growth mindset that starts with
Strong Start, a summer institute that incoming ninth-graders are highly encouraged to attend."We'll purposefully try to put them in situations where they'll be uncomfortable, and yet not feel vulnerable — it's a kinda fine line we walk — and then provide opportunities for them to work their way through it and find some success," said Jim Clark, who helped start the program.’


From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:

The teacher’s role in the creative process.

Authentic problems are not hard to find if you listen to your students and enter into dialogue with them. Perhaps some favourite dog or cat has died. An older brother or sister is getting married. A new baby has been born. A grandparent is very sick. Dad has bought a new car. A tree has burst into bloom. There has been a flood.They mightn’t sound like a curriculum but they are things that really matter, they cause anxiety or delight, and need a resolution. This is the reality of the children in your classroom but how often do you see this world celebrated?’


Learning is about constructing meaning.

Dame Marie Clay
Marie Clay was 'constructivist' or more accurately a 'co-constructivist' believing, like such researchers as Jerome Bruner, Piaget and Vygotsky that students create their own meanings and that this is best achieved by sensitive teacher interaction, always leaving the responsibility of learning in the child's hands. Holdaway(79)calls this need to make meaning a 'semantic drive' - one that it put at risk by insensitive teachers who do not value student creativity as the source for all learning.’



Cathy Wylie outlines new wave of change for New Zealand Schools!  NZ Labour has an alternative

Kathy Wylie
In the 1980s a new political ideology swept through Anglo American countries. It was a time of dramatic change as the democratic welfare state was replaced by  what has come to be known as a ‘Market Forces business oriented’ approach based on small government, valuing self-interest, privatisation, competition, choice and accountability.
This neo liberal approach was believed to be the only way to cope with dramatic worsening worldwide economic circumstances. A common phrase at the time was TINA (there is no alternative).New Zealand was not immune.’




Friday, September 01, 2017

:The standardisation of learning - NZ National Standards / What to do about Trump / Comics? / and walls of shame in NZ!


Standardising education


Educational Readings


By Allan Alach


I welcome suggested articles, so if you come across a gem, email it to me at allanalach@inspire.net.nz

Transmit, regurgitate. Transmit, regurgitate. Transmit, regurgitate…


Why do we believe that this model is adequate for the demandsof a complex, global innovation society?
http://bit.ly/2wNgNiG
Raising an UnTrump

Alfie Kohn
When the words “Trump” and “children” appear in the same sentence, it’s often because the writer is trying to figure out how to protect the latter from the former. How do we shield our offspring not only from what this man does (particularly if the youngsters in question are at risk of being harassed or deported) but from who he is? How do we explain to our kids that someone who bullies, lies, and boasts about assaulting women has made it to the White House? The news these days presents parents and educators with what might be described as a series of teachable moments that we never asked for and cannot easily avoid.

Comics And Reluctant Learners: Dispelling The Myths

When I hear teachers say things like this, or that comics are only for the “kids who don’t like to read,” I feel they’re buying into a common myth: that reluctant readers are the only ones who can benefit from comics. While it’s true that comics and graphic novels do work well with reluctant readers, that’s precisely because they work well with nearly all readers.’

When Memorization Gets in the Way of Learning

Some things are worth memorizing--addresses, PINs, your parents' birthdays. The sine of π/2 is not among them. It's a fact that matters only insofar as it connects to other ideas. To learn it in isolation is like learning the sentence "Hamlet kills Claudius" without the faintest idea of who either gentleman is--or, for what matter, of what "kill" means. Memorization is a frontage road: It runs parallel to the best parts of learning, never intersecting. It's a detour around all the action, a way of knowing without learning, of answering without understanding.’

Personalized Learning Without People – An Education Scam from the 1980s Returns

Sometimes it seems that education policy is nothing but a series of scams and frauds that becomes untenable in one generation only to pop up again 10 or 20 years later with a new name. Take Personalized Learning, the latest digital product from the ed-tech industry to invade your local public school. It’s cutting edge stuff.
Except that it isn’t.

Contributed by Bruce Hammonds:

National Standards: Are they working? Walls of shame!!!

A new book by Waikato University's Professor Martin Thrupp effectively warns other countries
Is your child below, at, or above?
against the policy in its title, The Search for Better Educational Standards: A Cautionary Tale. Thrupp is horrified by those cards on the wall at Sylvia Park."I don't think it's particularly helpful to have that kind of positioning for students who find themselves in the low group year after year," he says.’

The Cold Truth About Personalized Learning

This – this twisting and standardizing of the hopes and dreams we have for our children, and the
cruel and cold replacement of efficiency and linearity for the messy and impossible to measure qualities like good humor in life that make school memorable, joyful, and maybe even irresponsible every now and then – is precisely the danger we face right now.’

Using Technology Doesn’t Make You Innovative

If a classroom gets iPads, a question you will often hear immediately is, “What apps should I download?”  In our concern for machines taking over education, we often do things that encourage machines to take over our teaching.’

One in five boys with behavioural problems lag behind in maths and reading

One in five boys in year 3 have an emotional or behavioural problem that sees them lag a year behind their peers in reading and numeracy, according to research that stresses the mental health of young people needs to be a focus in primary schools.’

To Develop Future-Ready Students, Project-Based Lessons Teach Real World Skills

Recent research indicates there is a direct and undeniable correlation between improved student outcomes and integrating SEL and life skills—like problem-solving, collaboration, and good judgment—into existing curriculum. What's more, teachers value these skills. So do employers. They help changes lives, break the cycle of inequity, and foster economic opportunity.’

Researchers: Ask ‘what’s right?’ — not ‘what’s wrong?’ — with kids from poor, stressful backgrounds

Over the past decade, the share of public-school students who live in poverty in Washington state has grown from about 37 percent in 2006 to 44 percent as of last year.
As that number rises, so too has the body of research showing the short- and long-term effects of living as a child in stressful environments. Studies have found, for example, that poor children achieve less, have more behavior problems and are less healthy than peers raised in wealthier families.But for Vlad Griskevicius, a professor of marketing and psychology at the Carlson School at the University of Minnesota, such studies tell only half the story.’
From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:

Industrial age systems past their 'use by date’.

Charlie Chaplin was aware of the problem in the early years of the last century!  It was Thomas Kuhn who was the first to introduce us to the idea of paradigms – the idea that we all live in world that we have all 'bought into' unconsciously. A potential for a shift happens when we are exposed to new ideas but, all too often our mindsets are so fixed, we cannot understand new ideas let alone make the change. Kuhn was talking about the difference between traditional science theories and new revolutionary ideas.’

Friday, August 25, 2017

Let's make creativity central to learning; lets stop politicians interfering; let kids play, create,and explore nature



Teaching is assisting students learn for themselves

Educational Readings

By Allan Alach

I welcome suggested articles, so if you come across a gem, email it to me at allanalach@inspire.net.nz

Sir Ken Robinson's education revolution 

A refresher course for you about Sir Ken. Interesting little anecdote here - a Liverpool music teacher had two of the Beatles in his class yet failed to recognise their musical talents. That’s a lesson that shows how unreliable assessment and teacher judgement is, so why does the system persist in
trying to prove otherwise?

Robinson believes that the current systems of mass education are outmoded, too standardised, and stifle true learning.

"My view of it is that in many respects they are modelled on principles of factory production, like, for example, we educate our kids in batches by age - all the three-year-olds, all the four-year-olds, shunting through the system. There's no educational reason to do that - it's an efficiency ideal.”’


When Schools Forgo Grades: An Experiment In Internal Motivation

‘Because grades are often required, and easy to understand, they have become the focus for many
parents, teachers and students. The problem is that grades are often subjective, arbitrary and can be demotivating to students. They are also gatekeepers for advanced classes and college admissions, so grades can’t be ignored. This complicated dynamic means that grading policies are at the center of discussions around how to change teaching and learning.


This is exactly how our society kills creativity, in a breathtaking short film.

“Do yourself a favor and take some time out of your daily grind to be charmed by this beautifully crafted animation into reflecting on the woeful values of our society.’



How To Engage In Pseudoscience With Real Data: A Criticism Of John Hattie’s Arguments In Visible Learning

A long and technical article; however a skim read will give the gist of it, so henceforth you will treat Hattie’s pronouncements with a healthy dose of skepticism.

John Hattie ??
When taking the necessary in-depth look at Visible Learning with the eye of an expert, we find not a mighty castle but a fragile house of cards that quickly falls apart. This article offers a critical analysis of the methodology used by Hattie from the point of view of a statistician. We can spin stories from real data in an effort to communicate results to a wider audience, but these stories should not fall into the realm of fiction. We must therefore absolutely qualify Hattie’s methodology as pseudoscience.’


Kids Are Losing Playtime to Achievement. That’s a Problem.

The decline of play and rise of the overscheduled child has become a national concern. Peter Gray, author of Free to Learn, says that kids learn from observation, practice, and support. Most of this is done through play. But what happens when we limit the time kids spend playing, and what does our obsession with “high achievement” say about our culture as a whole?’


Why no one wants to teach in New Zealand

No teaching paradise
‘Recent analysis also shows that teachers only tend to stay in the job for about five years. They often leave because they are burnt out by the demands of teaching, an increasingly narrow and prescriptive curriculum, and by policy initiatives that promise much, deliver very little, and are quickly replaced by some “new” policy that is equally ineffective and short term. No wonder it feels like ground zero out there for so many teachers.’


If only in New Zealand!!!
Contributed by Bruce Hammonds:



Three minutes to appreciate Finnish Schools

Michael Moore documentary clip on Finland's school system.


On the Wildness of Children: The Revolution Will Not Take Place in the Classroom

The truth is, we don’t know how to teach our children about nature because we ourselves were raised in the cinderblock world. We are, in the parlance of wildlife rehabilitators, unreleasable. I
used to do wildlife rescue and rehabilitation, and the one thing we all knew was that a young animal kept too long in a cage would not be able to survive in the wild. Often, when you open the door to the cage, it will be afraid to go out; if it does go out, it won’t know what to do.  The world has become unfamiliar, an alien place. This is what we have done to our children.’


Noam Chomsky on the Dangers of Standardized Testing

‘The assessment itself is completely artificial. It’s not ranking teachers in accordance with their ability to help develop children who will reach their potential, explore their creative interests. Those things you’re not testing.. it’s a rank that’s mostly meaningless. And the very ranking itself is harmful. It’s turning us into individuals who devote our lives to achieving a rank. Not into doing things that are valuable and important.’


Kids’ Creativity: Two Important Questions for Parents to Consider

Parents typically want to encourage their children’s creative expression. However, uncertainties and misconceptions about creativity abound. Here are two questions that merit thought and discussion—along with ideas so parents can foster kids’ creativity to the fullest.’


From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:

An amoeba - a model for future change!

If we want to thrive, in what is being called the 'Age of Creativity', we need to see our organisations as living complex organisms able to create all sorts of wonderous things as we work in concert with each other. That’s more impressive than the simple amoeba. Schools as living communities – now that is a powerful metaphor.’


Educational change and leadership - bottom up!

‘The principal’s role is to ensure such gifts are affirmed and shared with other teachers. The principal’s role is to create the conditions for the expertise of teachers to be shared and to develop an overarching vision and agreed teaching beliefs for all to hold themselves accountable.’


Beautiful minds - 'in a world of their own’.

The capacity of the brain is infinite. Lucky for most of us so called 'normal' people our brains
Add caption
suppress, or filter out, most of the information coming our way but for the savants their brains take in everything in their particular sphere of interest without interference
. It is as if they have no ‘delete’ button; their mind, like a ‘
Google’ search, recalls everything! And as a result they miss out on capacities such as social and practical skills that we all take for granted.’