Friday, February 23, 2018

Signs of change in the air for the New Zealand education system / time to rediscover John Dewey / the importance of the arts / time to question ability grouping and the 'Three Rs' and lots more.....

Time for teachers to add their voices to the debate

Education Readings

By Allan Alach

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

Yesterdays Schools
Chris Hipkins,  the new Minister of Education, has announced that there is to be a review of the New Zealand education Tomorrows Schools (1986) system. Not before time.

How Children Learn Bravery in an Age of Overprotection

Peter Gray:

‘I doubt if there has ever been any human culture, anywhere, at any time, that
underestimates children's abilities more than we North Americans do today.  Our underestimation becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy, because, by depriving children of freedom, we deprive them of the opportunities they need to learn how to take control of their own behavior and emotions.

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

I completely agree with this teacher’s message that our children are getting worse and worse in many aspects. I hear the same consistent message from every teacher I meet. Clearly, throughout my time as an Occupational Therapist, I have seen and continue to see a decline in kids’ social, emotional, and academic functioning, as well as a sharp increase in learning disabilities and other diagnoses.’

My Pedagogic Creed (1897)
by John Dewey

‘I believe that much of present education fails because it neglects this fundamental principle of the school as a form of community life. It conceives the school as a place where certain information is to be given, where certain lessons are to be learned, or where certain habits are to be formed. The value of these is conceived as lying largely in the remote future; the child must do these things for the sake of something else he is to do; they are mere preparation. As a result they do not become a part of the life experience of the child and so are not truly educative.'

'It's given the children a love of wildlife': the schools letting nature in

‘But the children have been taking an active interest in the wildlife at their school for a while. Since creating a garden in an unused corner of their field more than two years ago, the pupils have attracted a variety of birds. They’ve planted wildflower seeds, created a vegetable plot, made bird nests, and learned about biodiversity. The school has a wicker bird hide and has bought binoculars to encourage bird spotting all year round.'

To foster a love of art in children, we must teach it at primary school

If we want children to value art, we must give them access to it early on in life. Here’s how primary schools can make space for creativity.

‘Robust art curricula should cover a range of artists, styles, genres, websites, books and galleries. Look to design lessons that build on prior learning, can be connected to a wider context (historical or geographical, for example) and provide opportunities to further develop visual literacy. Teachers can be encouraged to help children to think critically about images by asking open and closed questions, and giving them sentence starters as a way to talk about art. For example, “I like the way the artist has ... ” or “In this artwork I can see ... ”’

Contributed by Bruce Hammonds:

Great Pedagogy Trumps Ideology

‘Political ideologies may have indirect impacts on schools by the social and economic policies they enact and the impacts these have on learners’ lives, but the pedagogical approaches of teachers have so much more of an influence in schools. Teachers and schools have always looked at the constraints placed upon us by governments and then continued to design curriculum and learning in the best way they see fit.’

The Real Agenda of “So-Called” Education Reform

‘What if I told you that the hidden agenda of those controlling public education policy has actually been to crush innovation, make children more obedient, force teachers to “dull & dumb down” their instruction, and do whatever else is needed in order to snuff out young people’s natural creativity, curiosity, independence, freedom of thinking and love of learning?’

The Pedagogy Of John Dewey: A Summary

‘John Dewey is one of the giants in the history of educational theory, and it’s difficult to isolate one of his specific theories to discuss here. He was influential in so many areas of educational reform, that to choose one theme would do him a disservice, so I will highlight several of the areas in which he was ahead of his time.’

How should we group students in primary maths classrooms?

‘Grouping students in maths classrooms based on their ability or prior attainment is a notion that is increasingly being challenged by research . When we have engaged in so-called ‘ability grouping’ practices for so long, why should we think about changing? And what would the change involve? These are big questions that are concerning many teachers at the moment,  spurred by a nagging concern that traditional ability grouping may be missing the mark for a large group of students, along with wider conversations about equity issues in our school system.’

On the Edge of Chaos: Where Creativity Flourishes

‘If it’s true, in Sir Ken Robinson’s words, that “Creativity is not an option, it’s an absolute necessity,” then it’s that much more imperative to find ways to bring creativity to learning.But first, we have to understand what conditions foster true creativity. One definition that scientists have agreed upon for creativity is the ability to create something that’s both novel as compared to what came before, and has value. “It’s this intersection of novelty and value, a combination of those two features that’s particularly important,”

From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:

The forgotten genesis of progressive early education

‘My own experience has taught me that all the best idea have come from those who teach the very young children rather than with those working at the 'higher' levels  but this seems to have been forgotten. As children move up through the school system their experiences, their sense of agency and voice are replaced by subject requirements and teacher intentions. At the secondary little has changed in hundred years.’

Seymour Papert : The obsolete 'Three Rs' - blocking real change in education

All this Victorian emphasis on the ‘three Rs’  according to people like Professor Seymour Papert, a highly respected MIT expert in learning and computers, ‘expresses the most obstinate block to change in education’.’ The role of the basics’, he writes, ‘is never discussed; it is considered obvious’. As a result other important educational developments are being ignored.

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