Friday, 24 June 2016

Creative teacher readings : politics/ maths, dance and handwriting/ MLEs/ and tapping into the students' world

Education Readings

By Allan Alach

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

Jo Cox - great loss
Politics at its worst and best
This article by Robin Alexander (Cambridge Primary Review Trust) discusses the situation in UK as the vote to stay in or leave the European Union reached the crunch point. There’s much in this article that is applicable in many other countries and I’m sure the points he makes will resonate with you.
Sir Robin Alexander
‘What has this to do with primary education? Everything. Most schools espouse a vision of human relations which is diametrically opposed to the divisive and inflammatory rhetoric to which we’ve been treated during the past few months. Somehow they must hold the line against that rhetoric’s malign pervasiveness and champion with children the possibility of a more generous and inclusive world.  Most schools – at least we hope this is so – make the quest for truth and understanding paramount in their shaping of children’s curriculum experiences, yet myths, lies and obfuscation have been rather more prominent of late in the public sphere.’

Seeing Struggling Math Learners as ‘Sense Makers,’ Not ‘Mistake Makers’
‘In discussions of progressive and constructivist teaching practices, math is often the odd subject out. Teachers and schools that are capable of creating real-world, contextualized, project-based learning activities in every other area of school often struggle to do the same for mathematics, even as prospective employers and universities put more emphasis on its importance. This struggle may come from a fundamental misunderstanding about the discipline and how it should be taught.’

What Educators and Parents Should Know About Neuroplasticity, Learning and Dance
Apart from anything else the children will love it. What else do you need?
Talking, writing, and numbers are the media of knowledge. However, we now know that dance is a language, brain-driven art, and also, a fuel for learning subjects other than dance. In short, dance is an avenue to thinking, translating, interpreting, communicating, feeling, and creat­ing. As a multimedia communication that generates new brain cells and their connections, dance at any age enriches our cognitive, emotional, and physical development beyond the exercise itself and extends to most facets of life.’

The #1 Reason for Poor Student Performance
‘His answer is clear: stress. Students from non-supportive and even violent households and environments—which is where, at least in some cases, economics does come into play—are unable to develop higher-order thinking skills.’

Contributed by Bruce Hammonds:

Design Thinking and PBL
‘With the development of Modern Learning Environments schools need to consider cross curricular project based learning and design thinking.While project-based learning has existed for decades, design thinking has recently entered the education lexicon, even though its history can be traced back to Herbert A. Simon's 1969 book The Sciences of the Artificial. So why the resurgence of these ideas?’

Art the 4th R
What the Common Core Missed 
‘Art and design work together to form a foundational language that allows us to "speak transmedia" with meaning and articulation. It is a highly portable language that translates well across curricular areas, cultures and the universe of diverse ideas. Above all, it is a language that helps us develop new perspectives, skills and habits of mind for solving problems, mining opportunities,  and "seeing" in its most compelling sense. It is time for Art to take its rightful place along side reading, 'riting and 'rithmetic. Art isn't just good for the soul. It is a language we all need to be able to speak.’

Building a Nation of Makers
‘Makers, builders and doers – of all ages and backgrounds – always have had a vital role in pushing our country to develop creative solutions to some of our most pressing challenges. As President Barack Obama has noted, during this week, "We celebrate the tinkerers and dreamers whose talent and drive have brought new ideas to life, and we recommit to cultivating the next generation of problem solvers.".The term "making" refers to both traditional outlets for creativity such as metalworking, woodworking and drawing, as well as to digital fabrication made possible by computer design tools, robotics, laser cutters, 3D printers and other tools.’

Why Handwriting Is Still Essential in the Keyboard Age
Do children in a keyboard world need to learn old-fashioned handwriting? There is a tendency to dismiss handwriting as a nonessential skill, even though researchers have warned that learning to write may be the key to, well, learning to write. And beyond the emotional connection adults may feel to the way we learned to write, there is a growing body of research on what the normally developing brain learns by forming letters on the page, in printed or manuscript format as well as in cursive.

How to Design the Perfect Modern Learning Assessment
It seems developing your school as a MLE is the big thing these days! How does one design the perfect modern learning assessment?
‘In good modern learning assessment:
   students gain instant feedback;
   they are not penalized for mistakes, and;
   they are given a chance to apply changes as needed.’

From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:

Fundamentals in education
The creation of the mind
‘In recent years education has become more and more cognitive or rational; learning that can be seen and measured so as to prove evidence of growth. In the process real fundamentals have been overlooked.The creation of the mind is more than simply cognitive. The mind is a unified, active, constructive, self creating, and symbol making organ; it feels as well as thinks – feelings and emotions are a kind of thought. Attitudes are created from feelings and emotions.’

Bring back the Jesters!
‘The idea is worth spreading throughout all organizations to combat the blindness created by past success. It is one way to counteract the conformity which pervades top down management. Telling the truth is difficult in too many environments and as a result organizations fail to adapt to changing environments. As Oscar Wilde wrote, ‘Telling the truth makes you unpopular at the club’

Tapping into the student's world
‘The stance taken about how children learn is vital. Those who think they know more than the child work out prescribed curriculums and, as part of this, develop elaborate systems to see thing as are being learnt - including National testing. This is the 'jug and mug' theory of learning where the teacher is the full jug and the teachers job is to pour knowledge from the full jug to the empty mug.For others the aim is to do everything to keep alive those innate desire to learn - or to 'recover' it if it has been subverted by prior experiences.’

from leading and learning

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