Monday, October 29, 2012

Developing a twenty first century education system – a system that realises the gifts and talents of all students





'I was appointed for a purpose!"
The Secretary of Education Ms Lesley Longstone, in presenting her report on education, states that New Zealand does not have top performing education system because far too many students leave with little to show for their attendance. She refers to Maori and Pacifica and special needs students in particular.
Appointed by the current government Ms Longstone seems dedicated to pushing the government’s agenda by developing a need for other means of educational provision – the privatisation of learning. Ms Longstone previous experience was as an educational manager in the UK with responsibility for introducing ‘free’ schools – in New Zealand charter schools.  As an aside ‘free schools’ in the UK   and charter schools in the US have shown little success.

That New Zealand ranks in the top echelon in international benchmarks is conveniently ignored by Ms Longstone. Ironically both the UK and the US, countries leading the educational privatisation agenda, do not rate at all.
This, as mentioned,  is more about a privatisation agenda than  an educational one.
Unfortunately the responses from teachers unions are predictably defensive but agree that improvement is necessary for ‘failing’ students.
The simple fact is that our current education ‘system’, with its genesis in the pastindustrial age, is in dire need of transformation. The current government’s solution is improve the situation by imposing standards  enabling comparison and competition between schools. As an approach this, as in other countries, will result in a narrowing of the curriculum, teaching to the tests and the side-lining of creativity but is vital to achieve the business/privatisation agenda by providng doubtful data for parents to make ‘informed’ choices.


Something wrong with our industrial age system!
Rather than defending the status quo it is time to consider the 'shape' of education needed to provide students with the dispositions and skills to thrive in increasingly uncertain and unpredictable times. Rather than standardising, testing, and sorting students what is now required is the personalisation of learning; learning tailored to the needs of individual students; an education predicted on developing every students talents and gifts.
Such a personalisation of learning is the key to ensuring equity in education.
Time to celebrate differences

Personalisation is not a new concept and is  seen in the way the very young learn. In the formal education system it is  best seen in early education provision and early primary but is side-lined as students move through schooling until. By secondary schooling, education is largely standardised – ‘one size fits all’ – students graded by ability and increasingly contributing to the failing of the students Ms Longstone is concerned about. The ‘one in five students failing’ mantra repeated endlessly the Minister of Education Ms Parata. The current system ends up by being successful only for the academic students.
At this point I join the ‘schools are failing’ critics but the solution I back is personalisation rather than standardisation or privatisation.
Years ago I read that Honda (of Honda cars) said that every problem needed three or four why questions to be asked.

The problem seems why it is that Maori, Pacifica and students with special needs fail to engage in the current school system?
Why aren’t students engaged? Answer: students do not see schooling as relevant and attendance does more harm than good.

1in 5 young live in poverty - 1in 5  failing, ?
Why don’t students see school as relevant? The student’s parents, and older siblings, found their schooling less than fun.
Why are parents not totally able to be supportive of the students? Many families are finding it hard to feed and clothe their children; many work long hours at menial jobs for low pay; and many are unemployed – particularly older siblings. A combination of the above leads to students arriving at school with poor entry skills and lacking the ‘social capital’ other more fortunate students have. Add this to the fact that 270000 students in New Zealand live below the poverty line. It doesn’t take much intelligence to see that this fifth of all young people equates to Ms Parata’s ‘one in five students failing’.
So what could be done to ensure all students succeed at school?
First there is a need to clarify the purpose for schooling , the disposition and skills all students need to thrive in what some are calling a new age of creativity or ideas – a  post-industrial unpredictable era. Ironically such answers are implicit in the 2007 New Zealand Curriculum which the current standards agenda has side-lined. UK educationalist Guy Claxton, in his book ‘What’s The Point of School’ talks about ‘learnacy being as important as literacy and numeracy while Sir Ken Robinson says schools shouldsee creativity as important as literacy and numeracy.

Education for standardisation
Secondly education needs to be personalised – tailored to develop the talents and gifts of all students. Such an approach challenges the use of demeaning ability grouping and assessing students narrowly on literacy and numeracy abilities in primary schools and the streaming and subject fragmentation of secondary schooling. Such an approach is the antithesis of the current move towards standardised education.

Education to develop talents
Finally schools need to be developed as community centres providing parent with access to health facilities. Seeing schools as neighbourhood schools was one of the unrealised advantages of self-managing schools. Schools need to be seen as the key to developing democratic values ( see John Dewey) and the empowering of students, teachers and parents. Every school a ‘charter school’!

Jonn Dewey not Henry Ford
Such solutions are of course not compatible with the current government’s privatisation and standardisation ideology. And it moves well away from teacher organisations defending the status quo only seeing room for improvement.

 

Friday, October 26, 2012

Educational Readings:Montessoei, Diana Ravitch


Educational Readings - By Allan Alach

 

Yesterday’s Special Edition, highlighting the Cambridge Primary Review, has been well received around the world, helping to connect the international campaign against GERM.
 
This includes this comment from Robin Alexander in an email to Phil Cullen:

‘That's terrific. Many thanks,

Sir Robin Alexander
 Best wishes from Chile (where there's huge interest in the Cambridge Primary Review).

 Robin’

I welcome suggested articles, so if you come across a gem, email it to me at allan.alach@ihug.co.nz.

This week’s homework!

Montessori: The Missing Voice in the Education Reform Debate
 

These two links need no introduction.



The Data-Driven Education Movement

A comprehensive debunking of this GERM that is infecting education all over:

‘Being data-driven is only useful if you have a strong theory by which to navigate; anything else can leave you heading blindly toward a cliff.’


How to save taxpayers billions of $$ — really

Marion Brady arguing for the use of sampling as the best means of determining effectiveness of pupil learning.

This section, while US focussed, is very applicable elsewhere. Readers, wherever they are, will be very familiar with this.

What’s the education-test manufacturer complex’s long-term strategy, as coordinated by the American Legislative Exchange Council?

           (1) Invent an education emergency and make skillful use of the mainstream media to push it.

          (2) Attack the legitimacy of public education by destroying trust in its most obvious representatives — teachers.

          (3) To make manipulation easy, centralize decision-making for standards and accountability at the highest possible level.

          (4) Work behind the scenes with politicians from both political parties, wealthy foundations, and Wall Street types to push vouchers, charters, and funding for anything public that can be profitably privatized.

          (5) Call congressional hearings on the matter and invite to testify only those “educators” and think-tank “experts” who — if they taught long enough to understand what they were doing — have long since forgotten it.

          (6) Dazzle the continuous stream of new, young, inexperienced teachers with slick, colorful, ready-made instructional materials heavy with current jargon about it being “data driven,” “child-centered,” “research-based,” “technology enabled,” “blended,” “aligned with the new Common Core Standards. ”


Testing in kindergarten: whatever happened to story time? 

‘Chicago kindergarteners could spend a third of their school year taking standardized tests’

A warning for the rest of infected world from the USA, remembering that their kindergarten is for five year olds.


Five-year-olds put to the test as kindergarten exams gain steam

Another article on the same topic.


Survey Finds that NAPLAN Has a Detrimental Effect on Education

Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it. Australia now finding out what USA and England have already learnt - GERM damages education.


Audit Blasts Lack of Oversight of Charter Spending

Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it, Part 2. As the New Zealand government moves to pass legislation to establish charter schools, there is increasing concern about the lack of oversight. Maybe the government, as well as blindly following the GERM prescription, should also read articles such as this one from Diane Ravitch.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Educational Readings special edition: Sir Robin Alexander, Cambridge Primary Review,


Educational Readings

Special Edition -    By Allan Alach

 

As an example of the increasingly wide connections being developed in in the anti-GERM campaign, Phil Cullen recently received an email from Professor Robin Alexander, Fellow of Wolfson College, Cambridge University, Professor of Education Emeritus, University of Warwick, and Director of the Cambridge Primary Review, which has been called;

The most comprehensive enquiry into English primary education for 40 years.’

The value of this review, and associated documents, in supporting the battle for holistic education, worldwide, should not be underestimated. Accordingly this Special Edition provides links to the Review itself, and also to a number of supporting websites. 

New Zealand readers will be interested to note that the former Minister of Education, Anne Tolley, in correspondence with a Board of Trustees chair in Auckland, made the claim that national standards were consistent with the findings of this review. We can conclude from this that she hadn’t bothered to read it.

This set of documents is highly recommended.

Cambridge Primary Review home page:


Cambridge Primary Review Publications Overview:

 

Cambridge Primary Review Final Report:


Lectures presented by Robin Alexander in Melbourne 2010

REFORM, RETRENCH OR RECYCLE? A CURRICULUM CAUTIONARY TALE


THE PERILS OF POLICY Success, amnesia and collateral damage in systemic educational reform

Monday, October 22, 2012

Why do we have a Labour Day holiday in NZ?

Samuel Parnell


 
 
New Zealand celebrated Labour Day 22 October - and schools were closed.
 
What do your students know about Labour Day?
 
 Researching the topic would make an interesting 'mini study'.
 
 Ideal literacy tasks could be negotiated with your class to research.
 
After the study check to see how their ideas have changed?/
 
 
 
What conditions did working men have before Labour Day was legislated?
 
 What did the legislation establish?
 
Why did working people need unions?
 
Do they celebrate Labour Day in other countries?
 
 
Older students mike like to research the role of unions in assisting the working classes and why they are seen ambivalently by so many today.
 
 
 
 

 

Friday, October 19, 2012

Educational Readings by Allan Alach: Steve Wheeler,


Educational Readings - By Allan Alach

 

A number of events over the week has demonstrated the determination of the deformers to  ensure that their aims are met, even if this means telling untruths about their backgrounds, as exemplified by GERM Master in chief, Joel Klein, Murdoch’s hatchet man in New York. Klein is a self described educational expert who knows how to raise achievement (seems being a lawyer provides the idea background for this - damn, why did I spend all those years studying education?). However his stories about his childhood, education, favourite teacher, etc, are demonstrably hogwash. Not that this seems to matter to his Aussie disciples, who are hell bent on out GERMing the rest of the world. 
Pink Floyd - corperates taking over. Standardisation of schooling


In the spirit of trans Tasman competition, and the desire to outdo the Aussies, New Zealand hasn’t been immune this week, as the government have introduced legislation into parliament that will allow the establishment of ‘partnership’ (aka charter) schools, in spite of all the evidence to the contrary and ignoring the advice of Pasi Sahlberg during his recent visit. Seems we have the three unwise monkeys - hands over ears, hands over eyes, and speaking a lot of evil. There’s much worse to come, so Australian GERMers shouldn’t rest on their laurels. If our government has its way, battle for the title of World GERM champions will commence.

A frightening aspect of this legislation is that even though ‘partnership’ schools will be government funded, they will not be subject to official information act requests, thus preventing the media, in particular, from accessing ‘achievement data,’ as they are able to do with all the other state schools. Media league tables will, as a consequence, not include partnership schools data.   Partnership schools will also be free from most other statutory requirements imposed on state schools.  Why? Of course these schools are being promoted as the saving of education in New Zealand, that will instantly solve the problem of underachievement, notwithstanding all the evidence that indicates addressing poverty would be much more beneficial. 

However, to save Australia from the threat of losing their title as World Germ champions there is a very welcome unity amongst all the opposition political parties that GERMs do not have a place in New Zealand in any shape or form.

I welcome suggested articles, so if you come across a gem, email it to me at allan.alach@ihug.co.nz.

This week’s homework!

A convenient untruth

Steve Wheeler debunking the learning styles myth.

‘One of the biggest myths known to teacherdom is learning styles. Time and time again, the belief that students can be placed into specific categories such as activist or theorist, or that they are predominantly inclined toward one modal category of learning (e.g. visual, auditory, kinaesthetic) is inserted into professional conversations as if the theories are fact.’


Race-based student goals prompt controversy in South Florida

Hmmmm…. I can see a version of this coming in New Zealand, where achievement goals are set for underachieving Maori and Pacific Island children - anything to avoid the ‘elephant’ of poverty that the present government doesn’t want to acknowledge.


Homework: Training For Blind Obedience

Why give copious amounts of homework? Because this is the way it’s always been done? Seems the French may be going against the flow. Très bon!


America's Worst Invasive Species: The Wonk

Not just in the USA. This species is thriving in New Zealand and I suspect has joined cane toads in Australia.


Why the ‘market theory’ of education reform doesn’t work

Modern education reform is being driven by people who believe that competition, privatization and other elements of a market economy will improve public schools. In this post, Mark Tucker, president of the non-profit National Center on Education and the Economy and an internationally known expert on reform, explains why this approach is actually harming rather than helping schools.”


Best Practices Make Purrfect

A very timely expose on that horrible cliche´ ‘best practice.”


Save Unsuccessful Charter Schools (SUCS), Now!

Increasingly over the past decade, children and their parents all across the U.S. are choosing to enroll in or are being chosen to attend charter schools that are average or failing. Since these children are our future, we must organize now and help reform the struggling charter school movement; thus, I am forming Save Unsuccessful Charter Schools (SUCS).”


Fraudulent Educational Reform in America

Given the pipeline from USA to ‘down under’ this is worth reading so you can play “spot the similarities’.

“What goes on in America’s schools is essentially identical to what goes on in the Madrassas of the Muslim world. In both, orthodox beliefs are taught as truth and critical examination is discouraged. Two worlds clash in loggerheads.”

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Education at a crossroad - while many teachers seem confused in educational no mans' land



There is a battle being fought for the minds of our future citizens between those who see education as a means to achieve narrow political or economic ends and those who see education as developing the full potential, or gifts and talents, of all students.  In the centre of this battle are teachers distracted by defending the status quo.

The situation however,  if faced intelligently, could clarify the challenges ahead for teachers. 
 
Education is at an important  crossroad. The politicians view teachers as the problem and  see the solution as introducing their National Standards providing information to provide choice, if somewhat limited, for parents,. Charter schools take the choice further and introduce the  possibility of the privatisation of schooling.  Schools respond seeing the problematic ‘achievement tail’ as the result of difficult home circumstances and wider social issues which, of course is true,  but schooling often worsens the problem by destructive ability grouping , streaming and fragmented subject orientated teaching.


The genisis of mass education
The government has its minds firmly fixed on past orientated industrial aged solutions with their belief of  standardisation, efficiency and the measuring of a narrow set of targets published as league tables to allow school comparison.. The government, by  pushing this populist point of view, is tapping into the insecurity of parents and their need for reassurance in these difficult times.
 
On the other side stand  visionary educators and politicians who see the need for a new mindset for a new age. These visionaries see the traditional school structures and culture as part of the problem, unable to develop the full potential of all students.


teachers need to make up their minds
As result of these conflicting agendas many teachers find themselves in an educational ‘no mans land’ ; at a crossroad, facing both the past and the future -  uncertain of which direction to face.  The excitement sparked by the 2007 New Zealand Curriculum has been clouded by the confusion created by the political standards agenda.  Schools are being pressurised by the Ministry to follow the government’s stance, placing their personal integrity and professionalism at real risk.  Hardly the best position for schools to be in to ensure their students are equipped to face up to the very real challenges the future holds; challenges that will require citizens with confidence and creativity.

The first requirement when standing at a crossroad is to decide what direction to take .
 


Education at a crossroads
The choice is clear. either the dull ‘certainties’ of the past or the excitement and 'unknown-ability' of the future.  However the necessary courage to make an informed choice requires teachers to reflect on the assumptions that underpin traditional school organisation and also to appreciate that the standards agenda has failed wherever it has been implemented.  There is solid evidence from the UK and the US that the standards agenda there has subverted education principles and distorted the curriculum, resulting in teaching to the tests as the favoured school survival tactic.  Worse still, during the process, the creative arts and the sciences have been sidelined.  Surely we don’t want to follow that path of such destruction of the creative spirit.  And isn’t itparticularly ironic that we do better than both countries in internationaltesting comparisons?

Eliot Eisner

Eisner writes that the traditional field of education has predicated its practice on a platform of scientific thinking.  He writes that when formal schooling was established, ‘schools were to become effective and efficient manufacturing plants…students were to be the raw material to be processed according to specifications’.  He believes we must get way beyond the language of: ‘delivering the curriculum’; imposing ‘best practices’ (which soon become ‘fixed practices’); ‘inputs’; ‘outcomes’; ‘targets’ and ‘standards’.  ‘We can’t afford a future’, he writes, ‘where schools become sidetracked measuring what is easy to measure rather than what matters most’.

In times of uncertainty it is not hard to see why  ideas  above appeals to populist politicians acutely aware of public anxiety – an anxiety that they capitalise on to suit their own agenda.  As a result a Victorian’ Age obsession with tracking literacy and numeracy achievement has become the ‘default’ curriculum of many schools and formulaic ‘best practice evidence based’ teaching the means.  Consequently other vital attributes and talents are being overlooked.  All this so called ‘scientific management’, Eisner reminds us, has little to do with modern science.  Scientists are involved in a creative endeavor to challenge current beliefs and develop new ideas.  This enlightened trial and error is the basis of both scientists and very young children.

As a result of scientific management, Eisner tells us, we are, creating an industrial culture in our schools, one whose values are brittle and whose conception of what is important narrow.  What is troublesome is the push towards uniformity, uniformity in aims, uniformity in content, uniformity in assessment, uniformity in expectations.’  This is the world of accountants, technicians, simplistic politicians and anxious parents; people who find comfort in statistics – who believe it is important to define measurable standards for students to achieve.

As a result of all this ‘scientific management’ teachers’ ability to exercise professional discretion is being constrained.  Teachers are becoming accountants of students’ achievement.  Parents are being encouraged to request ‘evidence of progress’ and the next probability of ‘league tables’ providing school comparison (on misleading narrow data) is on the horizon.

The very youngare born with innate abilities, are equipped with the means to learn, and with the capability to learn off others.  They are true scientists but, according to Daniel Pink in his book Drive this innate ‘default mode’ is unfortunately soon flipped by formal school experiences where students soon learn they are no longer in control their own learning.  And there lies the genesis of the ‘achievement tail’.

Eisner believes we need to generate an alternative vision of education, one premised on the importance of the arts and of creativity generally.  And he is the first to admit that such a vision is not new.  The rcurrently sidelined 2007 New Zealand Curriculum provides such a guideline seeing  students as ‘seekers, users and creators of their own knowledge’.  This curriculum, if implemented, provides the means to escape from ‘no mans land’.


To realise such a vision, Eisner believes, requires the replacement of the current failing ‘machine metaphor’ with a creative ‘living system metaphor.’  A living metaphor would encourage those involved to act and learn, as the very young, artists or scientists, at the same time.  ‘For those,’ he writes, ‘who like tidiness and efficiency it would provide a problem because it is very difficult to measure progress in a continually evolving learning situation.  Anybody,’ he continues, ‘involved in creating something new can relate to how destructive the rush to judgment early in the life cycle of a project can be.  How toxic to whatever they were trying too create’.  The current drive in New Zealand to gain instant results, through standards, is simplistic and will inevitably encourage a surveillance culture and a risk-averse mentality.

The struggle for teachers is to find a way out of the mechanistic status quo and to reach for that unknown future.  If we are to realise, what some perceptive futurists call, a Second Renaissance or Age of Creativity we urgently require our students to develop new competencies, allowing them to thrive in uncertain times.

Until the situation is resolved creative teachers find themselves locked in a power struggle for the shape of the future minds of our students.  There is plenty of ingenuity or creativity to call on but far too much teacher energy is being wasted by those in authority (including principals) who want to keep things exactly as the way they are.  The power struggle is never easy for any innovator trying out new ideas.  The status quo is a comfortable place to be and those who inhabit it are loath to give up their positions and the security they provide.  The philosopher Schopenhauer when remarking about the life cycle of ideas said, “firstly they are ridiculed, secondly they are violently apposed, and finally they are treated as self-evident.”

Positive learning attitudes come from students completing work of personal excellence in the arts and the sciences – or indeed in any area of purposeful endeavor.  When students are engrossed in such activities they often lose any sense of time and this is the power of engagement, of fully living.  One has to wonder why, when, and where the emotional intensity and curiosity to learn of the very young is lost.

Teachers who have succeeded in developing such powerful learners have encouraged their students to slow the pace of their work, to do fewer things well (in depth) and in the process have helped students savour and appreciate each learning experience for its own sake. When such a level of involvement is achieved the work and the worker become as one, lost in satisfaction of real learning.

Eisner is only one of many educators who can lead us out of ‘no mans land’ we are in.  Many names come to mind: Sir Ken Robinson, Guy Claxton, Diane Ravitch, Maxine Greene, John Dewey, Howard Gardner, David PerkinsArt Costa, Dennis Litky, Linda Darling-Hammond, William Glasser, Daniel Pink , Carol Dweck , Jo Boaler  and Pasi Salberg ( Finland) .  Along with creative teachers and schools their ideas provide a true alternative to the current highly rationalised and standardised approach that schools currently suffer under.

Who exactly does the Minister rely on for educational advice?

Eisner, and the like, are asking teachers to makes choices and judgments rather than meekly complying, or ‘going along to get along’, or to live in perpetual ‘no mans land’.

Eisner writes that the new vision requires the creation of a new culture of schooling.  He is asking of us to create an education culture that values surprise over control, uniqueness rather than standardisation.  He envisions an education culture that has greater focus on becoming than on being, places more value on then imagination than on the factual, assigns greater priority on the quality of the journey as more significant than the speed at which the destination is reached.

Up until now the current structures of education have all but destroyed this capacity to imagine by attempts to standardise and measure learning.  .

The future’, Daniel Pink writes in his book Whole New Mind, ‘belongs to a very different person with a very different kind of mind – creators, and empathisers, pattern recognisers and meaning makers. These people, artists, inventors, designers, story tellers, caregivers, councilors, big picture thinkers – will reap society’s richest rewards and share its greatest joys.’

It will be shame if we are led ‘Back to the Future’ by our current Minister and her technocrats - educating children for a world young learners have already left behind. 

 We need to escape from this ‘no mans land’.  We are at a crossroad. We need to take Sir KenRobinson’s advice and develop an education that engages and amplifies student’s talents and passions.

If want more on the topic read Kelvin Smythe's latest

Sunday, October 14, 2012

A great 'mini study' -whitebait


A creative teacher should be aways on the alert for interesting things to introduce to his or her class. What do your students know about whitebait?


The whitebait season is with us once again.

I wonder how many children in your class have tasted whitebait fritters or better still been out catching them? Do they know anybody that catches whitebait?

What do your children know about whitebait?

Whitebait made front page news in our local paper last week! The article  stated that 'they are a small fish in trouble. But that is nothing new.Their gradual demise has been well documented since 1840 when shoals were as long as a rugby field were a common site. Back then whitebait were weighed in tons; the next century it could be measured in kerosene tins, then pounds and now, more than ever, in cups.'


It would be great if you could acquire a few whitebait to keep in the class aquarium to study.If not access pictures of whitebait from the Internet of from reference books and make use of for research.

Whitebait make an interesting 'mini study'. Such a study could be part of the literacy programme and an opportunity to introduce research reading and writing to the class. A small research booklet could result and include observational drawing and diagrams.

First ask your students what they know about whitebait ( their 'prior ideas') and from this what questions about whitebait they can think of to research. Teachers could interact with their students to add question children might not think of - or wait because as the study progresses ( and students read up on whitebait) further questions will emerge.

Some questions might be:

Why do they have seasons ( introducing the idea of sustainability)? The season , in most of New Zealand, runs from  August 15th to  November 30th.

What are whitebait? Children will discover there are several native species that collectively are called whitebait. There are five main species of whitebait. They are called kokopu  or inanga. The scientific name  for the species is Galaxidae named after the Milky Way because they are caught their eyes, with their translucent bodies, look like dazzling stars

What is the life cycle of whitebait? Whitebait travel up rivers in Spring, spend the summer up river growing to several centimeters long - called kokopu at this stage. Kokupu then travel downstream to lay their eggs in wetland near the sea.The eggs are washed out to sea - returning in the Spring as whitebait.

How do you catch them?
How do you cook them?

Some interesting maths could be developed around the cost of whitebait? How much do they cost each. Maybe the teacher could buy 200 grams so as to estimate how many in a kilogram!
The price this year is $140 a kilo. Some are being sold @ $35 for 250 grams!
 
Whitebait bring up the issue of conservation. What might be done to protect whitebait species?

Art work @ 11c a whitebait!
Their answers to their questions could be drafted out and good copies placed in their study books or a small display could be mounted on the classroom wall.

In earlier days teachers would have called this a single animal study.There are possibly articles in school journals for students to refer to? Schools could contact the Conservation Department for information.

For information about inquiry learning

State of science teaching in New Zealand

Friday, October 12, 2012

Educational Readings: Albert Shanker, Pasi Sahlberg


Educational Readings

 By Allan Alach


Here’s this week’s collection. Things must be speeding up, as I could have doubled the number of links. There is increasing interest in the USA about the GERMing of Australia and New Zealand, as shown by the big increase in readership of the Treehorn Express blogs, and also by increasing Twitter referrals of our articles. We can use our experiences and battles to support the disinfection campaign elsewhere, through using the power of the social media and internet to counteract the media driven spin supported GERM. Right will prevail over might.

I welcome suggested articles, so if you come across a gem, email it to me at allan.alach@ihug.co.nz.

This week’s homework!

The goal of the war against teachers: A conjecture

Stephen Krashen is yet another US academic who is battling against the deformers. Here’s his take on the war against teachers in the USA. Applicable elsewhere - what do you think?


Assessing Ourselves To Death

Albert Shanker was a USA educator who fought for public education and teacher unionism. We can forgive him for his misguided thoughts that started charter schools, as these never turned out to match his vision, much to his sorrow. The Albert Shanker Institute honours his memory. The title of this article is self explanatory.


Save Our Schools NZ
 

Pasi Salberg
New Zealand anti-GERM campaigner Dianne Khan attended a presentation by Pasi Sahlberg and subsequently wrote two detailed blog articles summarising Pasi’s wisdom. For those who have not read Pasi’s book “The Finnish Lesson” nor listened to him in person, these articles provide an excellent introduction. Finland, via Pasi, is our most powerful weapon against the GERMs. Pasi travels the world to spread disinfectant. The third link is to a Radio New Zealand interview with Pasi, which would have had a nationwide audience.




Fear of Creativity

“Why do corporations say they want and need creative ideas, but then reject them when the ideas are ambiguous and make them feel uncertain. Does society really value creativity? People say they want more creative people, more creative ideas and solutions, but do they really?”


The rigor (?) of kindergarten!

Editor's Note: How would you like a job with the following in the description? Severity, strictness, demanding, difficult, extreme conditions, exhaustive. I suppose some enjoy such jobs, but many of us would not like to be forced into such work. Unfortunately, this is exactly what our schools expect of our children...starting in kindergarten!!!  Read on to learn more.”


What’s Next on the School Reform Agenda

Once again, this is from USA; however history tells us that their mad ideas spread like GERMs….



Parenting More Important Than Schools to Academic Achievement, Study Finds

Yet more researched based evidence to be ignored by the ‘we know better’ ideologues of the political and corporate worlds.


The United States of ALEC: Bill Moyers on the Secretive Corporate-Legislative Body Writing Our Laws

This video has an educational connection that kicks in at about the 27 minute mark. You won’t be surprised by the revelations about US education policy development; however the fact that these policies are appearing elsewhere in the world may cause you to reflect on why this could be. The same goes with policies about climate change denial, clamp down on workers’ rights, targeting beneficiaries, privatising health care, tax cuts, etc etc……  This illustrates how the corporates are shaping the world to their benefit.