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May, 2016

  1. Education Negligence A Consideration

    May 27, 2016 by Tunya

    Restless Parents Are A Sign Of Growing Concern About Education

    It’s not about “underfunding” that parents gathered for recently in Richmond. It was about underperformance of Math, in particular. The presentations outlined the issues — How Discovery Teaching Fails Elementary Math — How Parents Can Ensure A Math Foundation for their Child — Important Topics Removed From HS Math — The Myth of Math Disability.

    There is a growing consciousness amongst some parents (and a few students) that the new curriculum, already rolled out in some areas, is just a further step to “deeper dumbing-down”. The international mantra-speak about this 21st Century Transformative Learning always uses a string of words like “collaboration, communication, critical thinking”. Have you noticed?

    Parents, by law, still need to be informed in quantitative terms whether their children are acquiring the basic skills. Also, they want to know if they have achieved expectations they are capable of. The topic of “educational negligence” is not far from the thoughts of a few hard-nosed parents. They are aware of the growing legal opportunities that may be open to them for remedies. See —


    [to Globe & Mail  Provincial Exams scaled back and Vancouver Sun — Province reduces number of exams required for graduation — ]

  2. “reading wars” continue their damage

    May 25, 2016 by Tunya

    Tunya Audain says:
    May 25, 2016 at 4:29 pm
    Reading Wars Do Immense Damage !

    It is FLABBERGASTING — a) that teacher-training faculties DO NOT teach HOW TO TEACH READING; and b) that discredited reading programs still proliferate.

    I just heard today that there was a recent workshop in “balanced literacy” filling three conference rooms in my province of British Columbia, Canada. We must be some kind of backwoods because this is a program that pretends to use phonics in early years, but only as a last resort. We still have Reading Recovery, which is an expensive remedial program feeding off the “failures” of the “balanced literacy” or “whole-language” approaches. The byword still seems to be that reading is “caught” not “taught”.

    This is so sad because reading is a BASIC SKILL. If not reading by end of Grade Three, students might start acquiring the Matthew Effect and start sliding backwards to failure and poor self-esteem.

    The “sight words” part of these discredited programs (discredited via quantitative research) were actually a successful way to teach DEAF children to read, but then this was generalized for other children who principally use auditory cues to first learn to sound out the alphabet and words, a phonetic approach.

    This is a disaster soon to be played out in developing countries where an Early Grade Reading Assessment program (EGRA) under some UN and other auspices is to be mounted as a serious initiative. Right in their literature they forecast trouble — “The reading ‘wars’ are alive and well in many low-income countries, often miring ministries of education and teaching centers in seemingly endless debates between the ‘whole-language’ and ’phonics-based’ approaches.”

    Heaven help us!. Why should it be LUCK if some kids learn to read properly and systematically while others still do it by “guessing”?

    [comment to Joanne Jacobs blog  — ]

  3. Education Choice is NOT School Choice

    May 23, 2016 by Tunya

    School Choice OR Education Choice

    Why should education simply be a choice between one institution and another? 12 years of being contained and restrained and induced into an institutional mindset. Deinstitutionalization is what we talked about in the 70s after Ivan Illich did his book, articles and conferences on “deschooling” society.

    Please note, he was not only talking about deschooling schools, but also fracturing the institutional mindset of society as a whole.

    Well, it’s come to pass. Nevada is the education choice model to follow. It is the first actual universal model to put the responsibility back into the biologically rightful holders of the duty for education of the young — the parents.

    While Nevada is still not over the legal hurdles it faces, here is the Handbook for Parents —

    Note page 3 — “ . . . innovative thinkers from all political backgrounds have proposed concepts that turn school choice into education choice — the ability for parents to truly control their child’s K-12 education.”

    Surrey, BC, is experiencing the very same conditions that prompted Nevada’s new model — budget problems, immigration of many new school-age children, disaffection with use of portables. This what I wrote to the Globe and Mail and Vancouver Sun to their coverage:

    New Model For Education Funding

    In announcing millions of dollars for schools construction in Surrey the BC Premier stated that a new funding model may be needed.

    Interesting that in Nevada last year practically the same circumstances were at play — immigration squeeze placed a big demand for school spaces and there was a huge need for portables. Nevada chose to offer an alternative funding structure for parents to choose from: They could apply for Education Savings Accounts. Many parents signed up and would qualify starting after May 1 this year. They could spend the money for private schools or tutors or a whole host of other mix-&-match possibilities.
    The beauty of ESAs is the unbundling of education — it does not have to happen at a full-time school. Flexibility is a great spur to innovation, especially for meeting individual needs and talents of students.

    We did have our foot in the door of such a plan already in Sept 2014 during the teacher strike. Finance Minister’s office paid out $40 a day for 13 days in Sept. For 180 days of a school year that would be $7200. That would be a good incentive for parents to find (or create) education services and probably be able to use already existing community spaces.


    [ comment to SQE Mondauy 23 May, '16 ]

  4. Discovery continues its masquerades

    May 11, 2016 by Tunya

    The Mantra Persists — Discovery In It’s Many Masquerades !

    “ . . . children in rows bad, teachers who talk bad, today’s kids will have 17 jobs in 5 industries, content and knowledge bad, schools kill creativity, project-based learning is the future, kids need 21st C competencies and be ‘engaged’ — or so the mantra goes. We have it here in Canada as well, right now!

    This reminds me of the 1980 quote from the Aquarian Conspiracy: “Discoveries about the nature of the mind, unfortunately, have been like the slow-spreading news of armistice. Many die needlessly on the battlefield, long after the war is over.”

    Just how many of our children are the casualties of today’s continuing education wars. A dozen years ago Richard E Mayer said, “The debate about discovery has been replayed many times.” After discovery came experiential learning, then problem-based learning, then inquiry learning, then constructivist instruction. Other terms also populate this thrust — and they should be collected and brought forward for the needed work ahead. 

    Mayer, in his paper “Should There Be a Three-Strikes Rule Against Pure Discovery Learning? The Case for Guided Methods of Instruction” says:
    “An important role for psychologists is to show how educational practice can be guided by evidence and research-based theory rather than ever-shifting philosophical ideology.”

    The division, the disagreement, the actual “war” lies in a quarrel between practical people who want the education job done and political people who see schools as training for changing the world (or something like that, you know, “social justice”, etc.).

    To differ slightly with Mayer, I, as a grandparent, don’t think psychologists alone can tackle this job. Many parents are getting impatient, and so too are a lot of teachers. Thankfully, cognitive psychologists ARE leading the way in delineating effective methods in pedagogy. But the matter has come to the point of knowing that withholding critical information is doing untold harm in this world. No medical breakthrough would ever be left dormant as long as this unrevealed education knowledge has been left to fester.

    I am a gardener and am constantly uprooting invasive weeds. That is the imagery that inspires me to want to help in this task of getting the proper pedagogy out there. I came across an incredible article that increases my fears even more, and that is a 25 year chronicle of the very revered “scientific method” itself being attacked by “constructivists” . Academics out there should be able to get this paper easily and I got it months ago when it was still free — 25 Years of Journal Editorship, Michael R Matthews.

    The comforting part in Matthews article is that he has found at least one constructivist cheerleader who has “abandoned the constructivist paradigm as a useful theory for articulating and explaining knowledgeability and changes in observable behaviors . . . because it turned out to be plagued with considerable contradictions.” Ominously, however, Matthews points out that there is now a journal devoted to cultural studies in science as a mutation of the constructivist direction.

    I am wondering if this embrace by Willingham of the social and cultural is aligned?

    [published in SQE and Filling the Pail, Disrupting The Culture ]

  5. Parent Voice, choice and academies

    May 11, 2016 by Tunya

    Academies and Parent Voice Are Both Good Social Policies In Education

    The UK is following good advice regarding schools being accountable to the Ministry, thereby bypassing the self-interests that dominate schooling. Why this is happening is not peculiar to the UK alone. It is in other Western countries (Canada, USA, Australia, New Zealand) that schools have become the captives of self-interests and a dominating political/philosophical agenda generally called “progressive”.

    This post correctly identifies that parents generally have a different agenda for schools: “For progressivism to become a mass phenomenon, most ordinary parents had to be pushed out of educational decision making, because the vast majority of them stubbornly clung to conservative notions about hard work, discipline and knowledge acquisition.”

    Again, I say, this has been the common experience in the aforementioned Western nations. In the USA the response has been the gradual growth of alternative models such as charter schools, vouchers and education savings accounts. But, the opposition is vehement because vested interests are not primarily in the field for the best interests of the child.

    Government is well advised when it pays attention to the academic results the academisation model delivers. Here is a quote that supports the return of voice and choice to parents from Berkeley Law professor emeritus John E. Coons, 2002:

    > "There are a lot of benign effects of school choice but, for me, choice is family policy. It is one of the most important things we could possibly do as therapy for the institution of the family, for which we have no substitute. The relationship between the parent and child is very damaged if the parent loses all authority over the child for six hours a day, five days a week, and over the content that is put into the child's mind."

    > "What must it be like for people who have raised their children until they're five years old, and suddenly, in this most important decision about their education, they have no say at all? They're stripped of their sovereignty over their child."

    > "And what must it be like for the child who finds that his parents don't have any power to help him out if he doesn't like the school?”

    > "It's a shame that there are no social science studies on the effect of choicelessness on the family. If you are stripped of power—kept out of the decision-making loop—you are likely to experience degeneration of your own capacity to be effective, because you have nothing to do. If you don't have any responsibilities, you get flabby.”

    To Anthony Radice I want to say — What a profound post this is. I hope you pass it on to the powers that be in the Ministry and Prime Minister’s office.


    [comment sent to Anthony Radice, The Traditional Teacher on topic of how parent voice was pushed out for progressivism to spread, and how Academies in UK should return more local voice as opposed to establishment, unions, ed faculties, local boadrs, etc. ]