Friday, April 29, 2016

To code or not to code/ PISA /Teaching in flexible spaces/ Sir Ken Robinson and lots more

Selected Education Readings

By Allan Alach

I welcome suggested articles, so if you come across a gem, email it to me at

The Author
Not Every Kid Wants to Learn How to Code
The latest educational bandwagon is that all children should be taught how to code computers, although exactly what this is supposed to achieve isn’t clearly spelled out.
“But here’s the thing; not every kid wants to be a computer scientist.  Not every kid wants to work with a computer.  Not every kid wants to stare at a screen, nor do something with technology.  Did we forget that in our eagerness to jump on the coding wagon?”

Learning to Code vs. Coding to Learn
Larry Cuban
Along much the same lines
“For what it’s worth, and in case it might be of any interest to others, here are, in no particular order, some of the most common arguments : I hear made both in support of, and against, educational coding initiatives.”

Does our ‘edtech’ obsession get in the way of education?
“Instead of proclaiming the virtue that apparently derives from forswearing technology – as if academic rigour and using computers were somehow antithetical – wouldn’t we be better off by remaining open to the notion that using technology, in certain circumstances, may actually contribute to improved teaching and learning? Wouldn’t it be a good idea to develop teachers’ expertise so that they are able to make discerning use of whatever technology may be most helpful at any given time for any given purpose?”

PISA envy
PISA-envy, Pearson and Starbucks-style schools
“The focus on test scores is vital to the neoliberal vision of education. It is what enables standardization and hence accountability across the system. If outcomes in the form of test scores are what counts, then it becomes easy to compare one student with another, one class with another, one school with another and one state with another. And test-based accountability has now become a truly global phenomenon, shaping local and national educational priorities and policies.

Alfie Kohn
Why Lots of Love (or Motivation) Isn’t Enough
Latest article by Alfie Kohn.
“True, these students no longer require carrots or sticks. They don’t need discipline because they’re self-disciplined. . . in a way that’s disturbing. Their motivation is internal, but it sure as hell isn’t intrinsic. And that key distinction would go unnoticed if we had just asked whether they had internalized certain values rather than inquired about the nature of that internalization.”

Save us from politicians
Better teachers? Better at what, exactly?
A lament from an Australian teacher.
“Until we are capable of putting our children's needs in front of anything else, we will continue to slip down the educational league table. It has nothing to do with better teachers. It's got everything to do with protecting our children from politicians.

Contributed by Bruce Hammonds:

Teaching /learning in flexible spaces - Modern Learning Environments MLEs - New Tech High
70s  Modern Learning Environment!
Bruce has written another article about this current development.
“By the late sixties, in England, flexible school buildings were being specifically designed to allow a varied combination of individual and group work as well as for class and inter-class activities. And in the 70s ( inspired by American school critics such as John Holt) an open education movement started which culminated in the development of open plan schools.”

Sir Ken Robinson Changes the Paradigm
This is an oldie but well worth watching again.
Sir Ken Robinson’s inspirational talk at the RSA Conference called Changing Paradigms” has made its way around the education circles through different media. This animated version of the speech, taking us through the speaker’s colorful prose with illustrations, has made even more of an impact.”

From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:

Prof Frank Crowther
We have lost so much over the past 50 years. We need to return leadership back to creative teachers.
“It was in the sixties when creative classroom teachers working within a shared educational philosophy were the real leaders. In contrast to all the structural changes that have happened since the advent of Tomorrow's Schools the role of the teacher has been neglected. There are some, such as Professor Frank Crowther, University of Queensland, who says that, since the 1970s, the professional respect for teachers has diminished.”

A future Vision for Education
Vision gives direction.
Modern Learning Environment / Innovative Teaching Practice – or just good learner centred teaching?
Imagine a school where every child would see themselves as an investor in their own learning. Older children would frequently coach and mentor younger children. Those who were more advanced in a subject would help those lagging behind. Children would help teachers design learning programmes, their parents would be parties to these discussions .The children would see it as their responsibility to learn in their own time, often using online tools provided by the school.”

What do we steal from our students?
“Dr John Edwards based his presentation, the final one for the conference, on a question his wife had asked him when he returned after teaching his graduate students.

She asked him, 'What have you stolen from your students today?’
The poem is worth a read because it clearly makes the distinction between an antiquated transmission style of teaching (which is still all too common) and what is now required if we are to develop all students as 'confident life long learners', the 'seekers, users,and creators of their own knowledge', that our revised curriculum asks of us.”

Contributed by Phil Cullen:

Test-score inflation can boost graduation rates but comes with consequences, Stanford study finds
“Six years ago, a team of educational researchers shocked New York state with clear statistical evidence of widespread manipulation of test scores on the high school exit exams, or Regents Examinations. The analysis, which formed the basis for an investigative report in the Wall Street Journal and sparked major reforms by New York state, showed that test graders were artificially lifting the scores for 40 percent of the students who had fallen just short of passing.”

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