Handy Hints For Helping Children Learn At Home, Pt.1

A teacher’s take on how you can help your child succeed…

It’s Parenting 101. Limiting TV time, making sure your child gets plenty of sleep and helping them set up a designated learning space. Yes, it’s common sense. But hey, it doesn’t hurt to be reminded.

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It goes without saying that a school isn’t the only place learning occurs. You’ve previously heard my thoughts on why I’m not fond of homeworkand that I think kids should get more opportunities to play and just be kids, but alas, parents are always asking me what they can do, to help their child’s learning. It’s actually a question I love to hear as it demonstrates a parent’s understanding that learning is a partnership between home and school; child, family and teacher. Naturally, different children need extra help with different academic areas, but this list – based on Andrew Fuller’s “Help Your Child Succeed At School” – outlines the basics.

  1. Most Learning Doesn’t Happen At School!
    “Children spend only 15% of their time at school. They spend more time asleep (33%) than they do at school. Most of their time (52%) is at home, awake, mucking around, playing, and learning about life and it’s what they do with that time that is important.” Remember that you play a much great role in your child’s education than their teacher.
  2. The Learning Space – Getting Organised
    Work with your child to create a dedicated space where they can do homework, projects and read. As you know from their bedroom, kids have trouble keeping things neat and tidy! They’ll need help with this initially, but you can help them figure out ways of keeping their stationary in order, the workspace clear and clutter free.
  1. The Learning Space – Lighting
    “Natural or indirect lighting such as a desk lamp is best for learning. It is best for your child not to study under fluorescent lighting as it is related to raised cortisol levels in the blood stream (an indicator of anxiety and agitation). Cortisol also suppresses language functions.”
  1. Limit TV/ Computer/ iPad Time, Of course!
    Don’t make them go cold turkey. An hour and a half per day is plenty. That’s not to say they should be doing ‘homework’ for the rest of the time: Arts, crafts, playing outside, listening to and making music, socialising, relaxing, family time, the list goes on. Oh, and keep electronics out of the bedroom and away from their ‘learning space’.
  2. Plenty Of Sleep!
    “A good nights sleep (at least 8 hours) is essential for optimal brain functioning at school. Memory consolidation occurs during sleep especially during dream (or REM) sleep. During the normal 8-9 hours of sleep, five dream (REM) cycles occur. Adolescents getting only 5-6 hours of sleep lose out on the last two REM cycles and thereby reduce the amount of time the brain has to consolidate information.Teenagers need as much sleep as children, partly because their brains are doing so much development. Always remember there is no such thing as a sleep bank. So just because you slept 10 hours one night doesn’t mean you can get away with only sleeping six hours the next night. Students who don’t get enough sleep have to work much harder to do well at school.”

 Follow https://teachling.wordpress.com/  to read Handy Hints For Helping Children Learn At Home, Pt.2.

Teachling<WordPress> < Twitter>

Download the full summary of Andrew Fuller’s version at http://www.andrewfuller.com.au/free/AndrewFullersHandyHints.pdf.

Image sourced from here

Discussion: Should we fine parents who holiday during term time?

I previously wrote about the impact on students that are regularly late to school (https://teachling.wordpress.com/2014/02/14/ding-ding-ding-why-are-half-my-students-still-not-here/). I just found this great post about families that take holidays during the school term. What do you think?

Secret Teacher

In September 2013 a new rule came into effect which prevented schools from granting pupils time off school, except for in ‘exceptional circumstances’. As such, parents who make the decision to remove their children from school to take them on holiday are doing so in a manner inconsistent with the law of the land and risk a penalty. Previously pupils could have been granted up to ten days leave without ramifications; however that is no longer the case. As a result, the number of parents being fined for taking term time holidays has increased by over 70%. Surely, this seems resonable. You break the law, you get fined.

That is, of course, until you consider why parents choose to take holidays during term times. Of course there are some parents whose holidays are previously prescribed to them or who simply cannot take time off at any other period of…

View original post 643 more words

White Men Can’t Jump and Primary Teachers Can’t Blog… About Anything Important, At Least!

 

A Primary teacher’s take on education blogs…

 

Like many primary bloggers, I am unable to engage in grown-up discussions about education because my brain is full of glitter, toy bears and gingerbread” – TruthfulClassroom

 

I once heard, those that can, do… Those that can’t, teach… Those that can’t teach, teach primary! We primary teachers, at the bottom of the food chain, don’t have much to offer the world of ‘professional dialogue’. Where secondary and tertiary teachers are able to talk policies and such, as MissHorsfall acknowledges, we primary teachers are better suited to topics such as:
-Why the hell do the red felt tip pens run out so quickly?
-Why do I either have 5 red pens and no black when it comes time to do the register, or vice versa?
-How exactly do 7 year olds get through so many glue sticks?

TruthfulClassroom and MissHorsfall are joking of course (I would actually, however, like some of those questions answered, to be honest!). 

 

They write in response to this post in which Michael1979 pondered the lack of primary teacher bloggers. Specifically, the lack of primary teachers that blog about ‘real’ education issues. Hence, wh the above tongue-in-cheek comments came about. He asks, why don’t primary bloggers write about topics such as:
-Will ‘scaled scores’ provide useful information at end-of-key-stage tests?
-Is primary schooling becoming all core and no breadth?
-Will the new grammar requirements in the National Curriculum raise standards of reading/writing?
-Is the current level 4b a viable expectation for 85% of students?
-How is the newly-enhanced Pupil Premium going to have an impact in primary?
-What impact are small cohorts or small sub-groups having on Ofsted inspection outcomes?
-What is the professional view on baseline assessments for children on entry to YR?

 

Did that list put you to sleep, as it did for me? You can see TruthfulClassroom’s counter-list here, which includes topics from the very *a-hem* important, such as:
-Literally, where the f*** do all the children stash the red felt tip pens?
-Which facial cues alert you to the fact that a child is about to projectile vomit all over their workbooks?
-Do any other teachers feel nauseous when they see Comic Sans?

To the more *literally* important topics, such as:
-How can we expose children to texts that they can relate to, but which also challenge them?
-How can we educate to equip children to challenge the rampant inequalities that face them?
-How can you teach climate change to 6 year olds in a way that scares them enough to care and empowers them enough to acts?
-Do all young male teachers get rapidly promoted out of the classroom, or just most? 

 

All people are different and bloggers are all looking for something different. Some might get a kick out of dry post about education policy, whereas others enjoy posts that help them, as teachers, make a difference in the day-to-day. Both, of course, have their place. If we don’t get more of the ‘right people’ making big policy decisions at the top, our future generations will be worse off. Similarly, if we don’t have the ‘right people’ at the classroom level, potentially great policies will make no difference.

 

Jokes aside, I enjoy blogging because it gives me a chance to read and write about education-related topics that interest me, as I work to facilitate the academic, social, behavioural and emotional development of young children. If it relates to kids and improving their futures, I’ll read it… if I have time! Similarly, I don’t try to limit myself to writing about any one topic in particular. I’ve written on topics such as why parents need to get their kids to school on time, why ‘grades’ should be scrapped in favour of real feedbackwhy I think schools are becoming overly ‘academic’ , lots about the importance of ‘relationships’ in education here, here, here and here, and the importance of ‘play’.

 

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I’m always keen to give my 2 cents, or ‘a teacher’s take’ on all sorts of topics that will help children to have the best possible start to life, particularly during their primary school years. So as always, please do let me know if there’s anything in particular that you want me to write about!

 

Teachling<WordPress> < Twitter>

 

 Image source: http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-pFRnnljuGac/UHRzcy4plVI/AAAAAAAADNA/pFws4U5ITyw/s1600/shakespeare.jpg 

 

What does 6×4 mean?

A teacher’s take on visualising multiplication…

I saw this blog post a while ago on reflectivemaths and after commenting, put it aside. However, recently working on some early multiplication concepts with my own students has brought it back to mind.

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So, does 6×4 mean 6 lots of 4 or 4 lots of 6?

The reply by the above-mentioned blogger was “bearing in mind the answers the same of course. I’d say you start with 6 and then multiply by 4. So 4 lots of 6

That makes a lot of sense. Though, my initial response is that I visualise 6×4  as “6 fours”. “x” essentially meaning “lots of”, rather than “times”. As in, 6×4 is 6 lots of 4, or 6 times 4 things (6 packets of 4 pens) rather than 6 things times 4 (4 packets of 6 pens). But yes, regardless, we still get 24 pens either way!

My school has been working with a Maths coach on childrens’ misconceptions, and multiplication is always a confusing topic. To try and stop confusing our students, we talk multiplication in terms of “6 fours” rather than “6 times 4” or “6 lots of 4”. This aims to take the confusion out of the “x”. Further, “6 fours” acknowledges 4 as it’s own whole. Whereas, the 4 in “6 times 4” means children are seeing it as “4 ones”. Basically, why can’t 4 be it’s own being (first version)? Why should 4 only ever be seen as a quantity of ones (second version)? In saying that though, the 4 pens I mentioned above still labels poor 4 as 4 ones.

Again though, the answer is still 24, no matter which way you look at it.

Thinking in terms of ‘repeat addition’ – the concept I was working on with my 7 year olds – do you see 6×4 as essentially 4+4+4+4+4+4 or 6+6+6+6?

What about those good old “times tables”? Going through the 2s, for example, do you start with “1×2=2, 2×2 =4, 3×2=6, 4×2=8”? Or “2×1=2, 2×2=4, 2×3=6, 2×4=8”? Again, even though the answers are of course the same, I think the way you say it makes a huge difference to how the concept is visualised. Hence why, again to try and stop misconceptions, we do 2s as doubles now. That is, “double 1 is 2, double 2 is 4, double 3 is 6, double 4 is 8”.

Maybe the best solution is just to present young children with all possibilities, so that at the end of the day, they can ‘connect’ with whichever way they prefer. 6×4 might be “6 times 4”, “6 lots of 4”, “6 fours”, “6+6+6+6”, “4+4+4+4+4+4”, arrays, maybe even “double double 6”. If the answer is the same, does it matter how we get there?

Teachling<WordPress> < Twitter>

 

 

The highs and lows of teaching: From making a difference, building great relationships and shaping the future, to homework, reports and helicopter parents.

A teacher’s reflection on 6 months of blogging…

13,000 words later and I feel like I’ll never get sick of posting. Over the past 6 months I’ve had the joy of having some good chats with fellow educators like the experienced, very enthusiastic and full-of-ideas Norah Colvin, to new teachers such as the very switched-on and similarly enthusiastic Cultivating Questioners, as well as blogs such as ijstock and Cognition Education. Let’s admit it, every blogger loves to get comments! When a comment comes through from people of the same wavelength as you, it’s always exciting, isn’t it!

More than a chance to network, hear from other people that are passionate about education (teachers and parents alike) and learn new things, blogging is a great chance to just hammer your thoughts out on a keyboard, send them into cyberspace and get things off your chest. Particularly when you work in a profession which is constantly evolving, and which there seems as though there’ll never be a manual on ‘how to teach’. Therefore, all schools do things differently and of course, you’re never going to agree with everything that goes on within your school and system. It’s always nice to hear you’re not the only one!

I started this blog to share My 2 Cents on a range of education-related topics. Long story short, one of my rabbits was sick, and after consulting ‘Dr Google’, I discovered that hardly any professionals post useful advice relating to their profession online. I felt, as a teacher, that I could easily write about what I do, and that it might help a parent, a teacher, anyone. Thus began, “A teacher’s take…”

A summary of my posts:
A teacher’s take on getting your kids to school on time… And why it’s the least you can do…
A teacher’s take on why schools should scrap ‘grades’, and give kids real ‘feedback’…
A teacher’s take on rethinking education…
Ken Robinson’s take on how we should be viewing education…
Ken Robinson’s take on schools, and how they kill creativity…
A teacher’s take on letting kids play…
A teacher’s take on positive teacher-student relationships…
A teacher’s take on student reports… And why they’re a waste of my time!
A teacher’s take on homework…
An Australian teacher’s take on America’s Common Core…
A teacher’s take on parent-teacher relationships…
A teacher’s take on respecting teachers, pt2…
A teacher’s take on respecting teachers, pt1…
A teacher’s take on earning respect from students…
A teacher’s take on positive thoughts and how kids let negative thoughts consume them…
A teacher’s take on independence and helicopter parents…
A teacher’s take on the jargon of explicit teaching…
A teacher’s take on “How Children Learn”…
A teacher’s take on self-help and parenting advice…
A teacher’s take on blogs…

Teachling <WordPress> < Twitter>

Ding, Ding, Ding – Why are half my students still not here?

A teacher’s take on getting your kids to school on time… And why it’s the least you could do.

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A couple of weeks into the new school year here in Australia and one thing is frustrating me more than assessments, meetings and a new bunch of rascals combined. PARENTS! Specifically, why is it so darn hard to get your kid to school on time? Seriously?! 9am can’t be that hard, considering we teachers are there before 8am every day (That may come as a surprise to those that think we work 9-3:30, hehe).

Before I rant, let me chuck in some quotes, to prove it’s not just me… Michael Grose’s Parenting Ideas website is fantastic if you haven’t explored it already. He says here that “School absenteeism is a huge problem in Australia – and much of it is parent-condoned”. Shockingly, the average student misses 12-15 days of school each year (doesn’t sound like that much really, however…), which equates to a full school year lost over the span of their education. Yikes!

Grose continues that “Australian kids spend only 15% of their total time at school. They spend more time asleep than they do at school. So we need to maximise every day to get full value. That means turning up to school every day, on time”. There are always a few stragglers, coming into class late, whose parents bring them to the door after the bell has gone, give them their cuddles, say their goodbyes, holding up the start of the school day for the whole class. One day last week, we didn’t actually start the school day until 9:07 (Even then, one boy didn’t arrive until 9:45!). When the bell rang at 9am (following a ‘warning bell’ at 8:57) only half of my class were present! Let’s say though, very conservatively, that the beginning of my class’s school day is held up for just 2 minutes each day. That’s almost 7 hours missed across the year; more than a full school day.

Last year I had a perpetually late mother get stroppy with me for, and I quote, “You don’t acknowledge me in the mornings when I bring _ into the class!” For real? You bring your son into class late every day and you want me to engage you in conversation, despite that fact that you’re contributing to the whole class losing more than a full day of school this year?

Punctuality isn’t just about teachers griping about a lost couple of minutes. It affects all students in a class and is a problem all around the world, with some UK schools beginning to issue fines to parents of tardy students!

Parents, get your kids to school on time. Better yet, get them to school 5 or 10 minutes early. That will give them a chance to have a chat to their buddies, maybe have a quick run-around outside, unpack their bags and come into class to get settled. They’re ready to start the school day when the bell rings.

The alternative is to rush around in the morning, get them to school late, give them no time to socialise and get settled, and come into class late, embarrassed and ashamed that the whole class is waiting on them and that they haven’t had time to organise their belongings.

Why it’s the least [many parents] could do:
No doubt ‘Parent’ is becoming fewer and fewer peoples’ full-time job.  Most parents now are so-called ‘working parents’. Of course this means you’re going to be busy, busy, busy. Not only are you thinking about your child constantly and caring for them; organising play-dates, planning dinner, getting the kids to their sport games, music lessons, trying to get on top of the house-work. You’re also holding down your own job, rushing around to meetings and so on. As a result, more and more parents are taking a hands-off approach to their child’s formal education. With less time in your day, you might not be able to get to school during the day to help in the classroom or attend excursions. With nights a blur, parents are often telling me there’s no time for homework (if you’ve read my post about homework you’ll know that I’m not too fussed about that, anyway!), and are often too busy or tired to get to school for parent-teacher meetings and information nights. If you’re one of these parents – and rest assured I am by no means ‘having a dig’ at you – then, at the very least, the extend of your involvement with your child’s schooling is making sure they’re at school every day, and that they’re there on time.

Teachers are there to support you and help you give your child the best possible start to their life. Sometimes, you need to help us to help them. Get your kids to school on time.

–          Teachling <WordPress> <Tumblr> < Twitter>

More from Teachling:
A teacher’s take on why schools should scrap ‘grades’, and give kids real ‘feedback’…
A teacher’s take on letting kids play…
A teacher’s take on parent-teacher relationships…

Further reading:
Heidi Scrimgeour’s “Late for school again: But does it really matter?
Livia McCoy’s “Student absences: They hurt more than you might think
DEECD’s “Every day counts: The importance of full-time attendance
Michael Grose’s “It’s not ok to be away… Or to be late to school

Image credit:
http://www.parentdish.co.uk/back-to-school/late-for-school-again-but-does-it-matter/

Why ‘Grades’ Are A Useless Form Of Feedback (And Do More Harm Than Good)

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So, ‘smart’ kids are no happier than others. Besides, why does society value academia so highly anyway? School systems think standardised testing will somehow improve learning and that assigning grades and report cards will somehow improve learning, but a large body of research suggests quite the opposite. Kids need feedback that will help them improve. But what do we actually want students to get out of their education? What are we trying to achieve?

A teacher’s take on why schools should scrap ‘grades’, and instead give students real ‘feedback’…

Grades are a useless form of feedback, and do more harm than good
Alfie Kohn outlines here some of his arguments against ‘grades’:
Grades tend to reduce students’ interest in the learning itself
Grades tend to reduce students’ preference for challenging tasks
Grades tend to reduce the quality of students’ thinking
Grades aren’t valid, reliable, or objective
Grades distort the curriculum
Grades waste a lot of time that could be spent on learning
Grades encourage cheating
Grades spoil teachers’ relationships with students
Grades spoil students’ relationships with each other

In this article, educator Chris Crouch gives his three key reasons for his anti-grades stance and why they’re not only potentially harmful to learning, but plain useless and unreliable:
• Grades are inflated
• Grades remove intrinsic motivation
• Grades are poor communicators of student learning

What are we trying to measure, and how do we measure it?
I read yesterday that the world’s ‘smartest’ kids are also the ‘saddest’. Yikes. That goes against the age-old, ‘go to school, get a good education, become smart, get a great job, have a great life’ model that is drilled into us from when we’re young. Surely we don’t prioritise good grades and academic results above the chance for a happy childhood? Although that would be in line with the ‘win-at-all-costs’ mentality that is rife in today’s society. It got me thinking about our push for “results, results, results” in schools, which then got me thinking about how we define and measure “results”.

Of course we want our students to get “results”, but how do we measure the success of education? And besides, what are we actually trying to achieve? I’ve blogged previously about Ken Robinson’s ideas about education and suggestions that we focus too heavily on the ‘academic’. I quoted him as saying “The whole point of education is to get people to learn. If there’s no learning going on, there’s no education going on.” He says that the role of teachers is “to facilitate learning”, to “mentor, stimulate, provoke, engage”. I’ve searched Victoria’s education department website as well as Victoria’s curriculum website and Australia’s National Curriculum website and Australian government’s education department website. Surely, as the four key organisations that determine what my students learn, I will have been able to figure out what I’m expected to be doing when I teach. I couldn’t actually find anything of any use, other than “High quality school education supports productivity and improves the educational outcomes of children, increasing the likelihood that they will attain skills and be in employment” (http://education.gov.au/school-education). My reaction – what the heck does that mean? Let me get this straight… If my students get a job when they finish school, then their education has been a success? Can other people see how ridiculous that sounds? Well, I’m no closer to learning what kind of ‘results’ I’m looking for, other than the specifics listed in curriculum documents. Perhaps that is actually what we’re hoping for? Children that develop a long list of skills and understandings that will lead to them getting a job? In America, don’t the Common Core Standards aim to develop “college and career readiness”? I’m starting to see a pattern.
Kindergarten prepares kids for Primary School,
which prepares kids for High School,
which prepares teenagers for Tertiary Education and work.

>Is this honestly what our education system is/does?< 

Above I listed lots of reasons given by Crouch and Kohn as to why grades are not only useless, but damaging to learning. Even if we ignored that for a moment, how can teachers grade a student’s learning if we don’t actually know what we or they are hoping to achieve, let alone how to measure it?

So what feedback will improve student learning?
I’m not arguing for a kumbaya, sit-around-the-campfire and sing all kids praises regardless of effort. I’m not arguing that we shouldn’t measure success or attempt to measure a learning program’s effectiveness. Some argue that these days, we’re overly politically correct, praise kids too often and are setting our future generations up for failure but taking away things such as competition and opportunities to build resilience. I’m not suggesting we scrap ‘grades’ and reports and replace them with gold stars for all. I do believe, however, that teachers need to actively give their students real feedback – Feedback that report grades or exam scores do not provide.

Many ‘pro-graders’ argue that grades do give ‘feedback’ to teachers, students, parents, schools and systems are about how kids are going with their learning. I suppose they do somewhat, however as Ken Robinson has mentioned, we assess learner success “across a very narrow spectrum of achievement”. Curriculum documents essentially provide teachers with a whole repertoire of skills and understandings that their students are expected to master. That’s what we assess against. That’s what we use to assign grades. That’s the feedback we give.

I’ve mentioned John Hattie in a previous blog post, in regards to his work on “effect sizes” in relation to “feedback”. Long story short, I don’t see reports/grades anywhere on his list of factors which improve student learning outcomes. A few factors are sort of related, such as “Student Self-Reported Grades” which states that a student’s expectations of their own learning and the push for them to exceed those expectations, “Formative Evaluation” which basically refers to the assessment used to inform teaching and learning, and “Feedback” information for teacher and more importantly, the student, on where they’re going, how they’re going and where to next. Note that this last factor does not mean feedback given to a parent about what their kid has done at school for the last six months! Here, Hattie says that feedback (not grades!) “leads to increased effort, motivation or engagement to reduce the discrepancy between current status and the goal, it can lead to alternative strategies to understand the material, it confirm to the student that they are correct or incorrect, it can indicate that more information is available or needed, it can point to directions that the students could pursue, and it can lead to restructuring understandings” (*pp2-3).

This research has shown that descriptive feedback, which conveys information on how one performs the task and details ways to overcome difficulties, was far more effective than evaluative feedback, which simply informed students about how well they did and, consequently, carried a connotation of social comparison without giving any guidelines on how to improve” (^p32). Further, “receiving a grade was also generally associated with lower self-efficacy and more negative affect” (^p33).

Although they’ve been around since the 1700s, it might be time to give grades the flick. In fact, the fact that they’ve been around for so long is probably even more of a reason to get rid of them. If anyone is able to give me some arguments for grades that out-way the downsides I’ve discussed, I’m more than happy to hear your side!

This has been my longest post to date, so thankyou for sticking with it – If you stayed until the end! 🙂

Teachling <WordPress> <Tumblr> < Twitter>

Some good links relating to this topic:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/chris-crouch/grades-do-more-harm-than-_b_4190907.html?ncid=edlinkusaolp00000003&ir=Education
http://danhaesler.com/2014/01/20/are-the-smartest-kids-also-the-saddest/
http://www.alfiekohn.org/teaching/fdtd-g.htm
http://www.alfiekohn.org/teaching/tcag.htm
http://education.qld.gov.au/staff/development/performance/resources/readings/power-feedback.pdf
•(*)hhttp://www.education.auckland.ac.nz/webdav/site/education/shared/hattie/docs/formative-and-summative-assessment-(2003).pdf
•(^)http://www.ets.org/Media/Research/pdf/RR-08-30.pdf

Image source: http://hardik.practutor.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/BadGradeClipArt.jpg

What is education, anyway? Pt.3

A teacher’s take on rethinking education…

So, following my last two posts – the first in response Ken Robinson’s Ted Talk on ‘how schools kill creativity’, the second regarding his ‘new’ model of education – I’ve been pondering what exactly this means for me, as a teacher, and what it means for my students. Ideas are spinning around in my head such as providing an education based on diversity as all kids are completely different. Why do we focus so greatly on academic talent and celebrate academic achievement? There is a clear ‘hierarchy’ of subjects in schools in which literacy, mathematics and science are on top with the humanities, physical education and visual and performing arts at the bottom. Are we actually discouraging childrens’ natural creative abilities? If education was designed to meet the need of industrialism, why has it changed so little in the last hundred or so years?

I know that I personally am always hoping to provide an education which considers these factors. An education which sees children truly engaged, rather than simply compliant. However, given  that I, as a teacher, have so little control over curriculum (what I teach ), my good intentions will only get me so far. I have slightly more control over pedagogy (how I teach) and as such I am able to try to shake things up somewhat, but at the end of the day if my school/system/state/community ‘demands’ that I teacher certain things, as hard as I try, those same old principles will still come through.

Regarding the compliance vs engagement idea I touched on previously, a blog post I read titled ‘What we learn with pleasure, we never forget’ made some excellent points that make me feel a bit better about all this. “Why do we assume that learning only occurs when kids are serious and quiet?… The belief remains strong that learning can only take place when kids are quiet and the work laborious, that any activities where engaged kids seem to be enjoying themselves must be superfluous, and that teachers who make learning fun run the risk of being declared unprofessional. This thinking is having an adverse effect on what kids learn and how they are taught.” So perhaps, at the very least, even if teachers must work with curriculum that is uninspired, outdated (despite constant re-writes) and academia-heavy, we can teach it in a way that is engaging, personalised, and provides opportunities for creativity and learning through a child’s unique talents.

Think about all of the great work that teachers and schools do despite the current dominant model of education… Now think about how fantastic education would be if we were to rethink, not just pedagogy, but curriculum too (and no, I don’t mean the kind of ‘curriculum revolution’ that governments all around the world push particularly at election time, which always ends up being essentially  a very expensive re-formatting of the same old content)!

Will we ever see a true revolution in the education?

Teachling <WordPress> <Tumblr> < Twitter>

Read a great blog post on this topic here, that Norah Colvin directed me to.

More on this topic from Teachling:
Ken Robinson’s take on how we should be viewing education…
Ken Robinson’s take on schools, and how they kill creativity…
A teacher’s take on “How Children Learn”…

What is education, anyway? Pt.2

Let’s face it, children are basically all the same and should be taught in the same, tried and tested, chalk and talk, fashion. Teachers in schools should focus purely on the 3R’s – Reading, wRiting and aRithmetic – and leave that creative ‘fluff’ for kids to pursue in their own time. Children should be viewed as empty vessels and a teacher’s role is to fill them with enough knowledge to pass the test. Some kids are just lazy, hyperactive or incapable of learning, so teachers should let them be whilst focussing on the other kids that can and want to learn. Wait… What? Was there actually a time when people thought this way about education? I do hope that the opinions above are not felt by any person on this earth. My opinions are much more aligned with those articulated in Ken Robinson’s Ted Talk, “How to escape education’s death valley” (2013). So let me quote some of the highlights…

Ken Robinson’s take on how we should be viewing education…

What’s wrong with the current model of education?
• “I will make you a bet, and I’m confident I will win the bet. If you’ve got two children or more, I bet you, they are completely different from each other, aren’t they?”
• However, “education… is based on, not diversity, but conformity”
• “[We assess] what kids can do, across a very narrow spectrum of achievement.”
• They say there’s an ‘ADHD epidemic’, but “If you sit kids down hour after hour, doing low grade clerical work, don’t be surprised if they start to fidget.”
• “In place of curiosity, what we have is a culture of compliance” in schools… and a “culture of standardization.”

How should we be viewing education? What needs to happen?
• “Kids prosper best with a broad curriculum that celebrates their various talents; not just a small range of them.”
• As well as literacy, science and maths, “a real education has to give equal weight to the arts, the humanities, to physical education.”
• “The whole point of education is to get people to learn. If there’s no learning going on, there’s no education going on”
• The role of teachers is “to facilitate learning”… to “mentor, stimulate, provoke, engage”.

It seems pretty obvious when Robinson observes that education ‘happens’ in classrooms in schools, and that the people who ‘do’ education are the teachers and the students. “If you remove their discretion, it stops working”. Why then, is virtually every aspect of what goes on in education dictated by politicians, administrators, businesses and organisations, and even parents? It must be said that great teaching and learning happens in spite of the current model. “It’s like people are sailing into a head wind all the time.”

It’s all well and good to whine and moan about education and the fact that teachers are dictated to and that the current model of education is so outdated it is beyond ridiculous. But why don’t we stop the complaining and actually do something about it?

A veteran teacher, frustrated with the current state of affairs in schools, notes that “no one ever asks the teachers, those who are up to their necks in the trenches each day, or if they do, it is in a patronizing way and our suggestions are readily discarded. Decisions about classrooms should be made in classrooms. Teachers are the most qualified individuals to determine what is needed for their own students.” (http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2013/12/31/i-would-love-to-teach-but/)

I wonder what education would ‘look like’ if we handed control to teachers and students?

Teachling