Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Joshua Katz -Our Toxic Education System

Wow!! I just stumbled upon Joshua's talk about our toxic education system, I think he explains why we have the problems previously mentioned in these blogs-

Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Bonuses to Teachers

Many Governments and School districts offer Teacher Bonuses as a way to improve teaching.

Dan Ariely sums up the consequences of this strategy:

Monday, 9 June 2014

Problems with External Standardized Tests

Another problem with our focus on external testing is that our leaders focus on management rather than leadership.

Noted academic John Ralston Saul has written negatively about this effect in his book 
“Voltaire's Bastards”. Saul contrasts leadership with management - Leadership is about inspiring people, management is about people as objects of input-output processes.

Some have called it “the curse of managerialism.”

It may be why Prof Richard Boyatzis has found 50% of Leaders do not add any value!!

Other researchers, notably 
University of Chicago economist Steven Levitt, in his book “Freakonomics”, have discovered widespread cheating by teachers on these external tests.

Levitt has found significant evidence that Teachers adjust student answers on external tests to ensure all students in their class get good scores.  

Monday, 13 January 2014

Will Education Systems change?

Sir Ken Robinson has the most popular TED talk - Do schools kill creativity?

He has nearly 27 million views almost double that of any other talk. I have been to a number of  Schools throughout Australia and every one of them has shown the talk to its staff.

In line with Robinson’s critique of Schools, other significant people are arguing for similar changes in relation to Mathematics teaching. Notably, Conrad Wolfram arguing for a more realistic and practical teaching of mathematics.

Also, Dan Meyer, in his talk, “Math class needs a makeover” supports Wolfram’s contention. 

Others like Benjamin Zander – in his talk “How to give an A” talk about the demoralizing effect of standardized testing and he argues for more positive assessment procedures in order to motivate students.

There seems to be widespread support for these ideas; yet I have not heard of any Schools, particularly at Senior levels, actually making the changes that Robertson suggests. 

The key question is WHY?

I think a major reason is the trend to make Schools more ACCOUNTABLE.

This seems to be done by using external testing, like PISA and NAPLAN. This testing follows the management guru, Peter Drucker’s dictum - “What gets measured gets managed.”

However, these tests are widely criticized as they usually test just facts and knowledge, often in obscure scenarios.
Professor Richard Elmore states, "
The comparative appeal of standardized tests is easy to see: they are relatively inexpensive to administer; can be mandated relatively easily; can be rapidly implemented; and deliver clear, visible results. However, relying only on standardized tests simply dodges the complicated questions of what tests actually measure and of how schools and students react when tests are the sole yardstick of performance.”

For Schools to follow Robinson’s vision, we need to address the accountability problem. The issue is that it is extremely difficult and EXPENSIVE to test creativity and problem solving. Until that is solved I’m afraid School’s wont evolve into the kinds of places envisioned by Robinson.