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July, 2016

  1. Matthews Reflections – a “must” read

    July 25, 2016 by Tunya

    Absolutely MUST Reading
    Here is a teacher who LOVES civilization, the Enlightenment, children, teaching Science, the Scientific Method, the concept of continuity of life — Here he was at the frontlines of the art and science of teaching Science to the young — Here is what he saw for 25 years of his life as he edited a Journal devoted to these teachers who teach Science — Here he saw the tentative, then ever more assertive, incursions by Constructivists who had learned from the Reading and Math Wars how to flummox * the Science; how to embed; how to seed self-doubt; how to turn truth–seekers into relativists, etc., etc.

    √ #1 Please see the post on July 18 about Constructivism and the two comments today, one from a concerned teacher and my comment (a concerned grandmother) on our fears. Link to Michael Matthews FREE article.

    If you study the History of Education and how the theme of creating “The New Man” pervades so much of the literature — well you haven’t seen anything yet! There is so much that is being hatched right now, via school changes — employing the latest through cognitive and neural science; through data mining using school devices; through cultural norming; applying artificial intelligence; and through a host of sophisticated media techniques — that the sooner we clue in the better. Post-human is not just Science Fiction any longer!

    √ #2 Again, read #1 above and/or read Sections 10, 11, 12 of this FREE article by this professor who fervently wishes for the “demise of constructivism”, and in personal correspondence says: “everyone recognizes that constructivist-taught children can’t read, can’t add up, can’t understand or do science … but no one wants to take responsibility” (note: permission granted to use his comments)
    * Flummox — confuse, perplex, stun, stump, baffle, bewilder, flabbergast, confound, mystify, bamboozle, deceive . . . . . . . .

  2. Constructivism – Now Into Science Wars

    July 25, 2016 by Tunya


    Ever hear about the casualty lists that continued, even after a formal truce was signed? Sometimes it took months for the word to get to the front lines of the old wars. Of course, they did not have the technology we have today to get the word out to the front lines — instantly !

    Here is one declaration about Constructivism’s rejection by a leading promoter that’s already 10 years old! How many Constructivist casualties in that time period?

    “I have abandoned the constructivist paradigm as a useful theory for articulating and explaining knowledgeability and changes in observable behaviors. …[this] because it turned out to be plagued with considerable contradictions.” (Roth, W.-M. 2006) Learning science: A singular plural perspective, p. 326)
    A dozen years earlier this same author had been saying: “Constructivist teachers view themselves as gardeners, tour guides, learning councillors or facilitators rather than as dispensers of information or judges of right and wrong answers.”

    The aim of constructivist science teaching was to turn students into constructivists. Again, the same author’s quote is instructive: “Thus, science educators seek to help teachers in changing from worldviews that are commensurable with objectivism to ones that are commensurable with constructivism.”
    On another thread I had posted information regarding material to read about how Constructivism had migrated from Reading Wars to Math Wars to, now, Science Wars.

    Constructivism As It Affects Science Teaching

    I read this article while it was still available FREE in January according to publishing rules, but then it became costly. I had recommended it to many people. It is now again FREE due to the author’s intervention.

    I recommend it highly. Reflections on 25 Years of Journal Editorship

    Michael R Matthews chronicles his editing of a Journal devoted to teachers who teach SCIENCE in Schools. It is the Sections 10, 11, 12 that deal specifically with how CONSTRUCTIVISM made inroads into the teaching. At one point it became so dominant that a speaker proclaimed: “We are all Constructivists now!”

    Are we concerned? I am very concerned, on many counts, but fearfully because discussion about methods and philosophies such as constructivism are being suppressed and not provided forums for wider airing. I am concerned because “Shifting of Minds” and changing “worldviews” ARE topics in the inner circles of the education establishments but are not open to the public.

    [ to SQE 20160725 11:35 ]

  3. Education Groupthink — Who Needs It ?

    July 24, 2016 by Tunya

    GROUPTHINK In School Reform — Who Needs It?

    Two leading American education analysts — Rick Hess and Robert Pondiscio — have experienced searing experiences around the issues of groupthink.

    Hess, with the American Enterprise Institute, wrote (Jn 15’16) that the Ed Reform community is as loaded today with groupthink as the Teacher Ed Colleges have been for so long. The progressive orthodoxy rules: “Dissenters, whether students or faculty, were dismissed as troublemakers.” Outside the faculties, Ed Reformers critical of the dominant reform movements have no place to “look for refuge”.

    Hess, in an earlier article (Jn 1’16) figured that “90% of ‘school reform’ land” is progressive and that their “’by any means necessary’ ethos” is a method that does not square with conservatives. He figures that the general population outside schools is an even 50/50 split between conservatives and progressives.

    Pondiscio, of the Thomas Fordham Institute, wrote (May 25’16) about “The Left's drive to push conservatives out of education reform”. The comments section to the article was suspended because they were “getting unnecessarily acrimonious and threatening. ”

    If critics in the education communities are complaining of being squeezed out in education discussions, where does that leave the “consumers” — general public, students, parents, taxpayers? This goes way beyond “producer capture” and “rent-seekers’ dominion”, doesn’t it? That’s one good reason that “uber” ideas are taking hold — education savings accounts, charter schools, online learning, home education, etc. Anything to avoid the nastiness!

    [published in Filling The Pail ]

  4. Education — parent choice or totalitarian coercion?

    July 23, 2016 by Tunya

    Should Parents Be Able To Choose Their Children’s Schools ?

    In traditional school format let’s look at these two items and COMPARE AND CONTRAST, then express your OPINION in 250 words or less:

    √ #1 Donald Trump Jr speech to Republican National Convention 22 July 2016

    “The other party gave us public schools that far too often fail our students, especially those who have no options. Growing up, my siblings and I we were truly fortunate to have choices and options that others don’t have. We want all Americans to have those same opportunities.

    Our schools used to be an elevator to the middle class, now they’re stalled on the ground floor. They’re like Soviet-era department stores that are run for the benefit of the clerks and not the customers, for the teachers and the administrators and not the students.

    You know why other countries do better on K through 12? They let parents choose where to send their own children to school. That’s called competition. It’s called the free market. And it’s what the other party fears. They fear it because they’re more concerned about protecting the jobs of tenured teachers than serving the students in desperate need of a good education. They want to run everything top-down from Washington. They tell us they’re the experts and they know what’s best.”

    √ #2 Fraser Institute’s Report Card on Alberta’s High Schools 2016, July 23, 2016

    The Report Card on Alberta’s High Schools 2016 rates 307 public, private, separate and charter schools based on five academic indicators generated from grade 12 provincewide testing, grade-to-grade transition and graduation rates. “Alberta parents want the best for their families and having the ability to compare school performance helps them make a more informed decision about the school their children attend,” said Peter Cowley, Fraser Institute director of school performance studies.

    Taking into account the last five years, Alberta’s two charter high schools achieved the highest average rating of 8.3 (out of 10), followed by private schools (8.1), separate schools (6.3) and public schools (6.0). In addition to the rankings, the Report Card illustrates which specific schools are improving or falling behind in academics. The data suggests that every school is capable of improvement . . .

    “When parents see the Report Card’s objective evidence that a school’s results are consistently low or declining, they often become very effective advocates for improvement,” Cowley said. “Every year, every school in the province should find ways to improve student results—it’s as simple as that.”

    [posted to SQE — ]

    Making An Informed Choice On High Schools In Alberta ?

    See the latest Report on ACADEMIC results on AB HSs

    Read the news release

    Read full FI reports on AB, BC, ON Elementary and High Schools, QC HS

    NOTE: FI Reports deal with the ACADEMIC side of schools, generally SKILLS of reading, writing, arithmetic and reasoning — what parents generally expect, and which can be measured by standardized testing. In contrast, educators are seen to be shifting to the AFFECTIVE domain, the COMPETENCIES, (creativity, critical thinking, collaboration, communication, character, culture and computer technology) and which are hard to measure (and compare) against understood and acceptable standards. These differences need to be appreciated to see how the issues in education are stacking up regarding accountability, choice, parental vs establishment authority, international comparisons, etc.

    [posted as part of my FB 20160723 on above SQE content and with additional comment.]

  5. Alberta – Going Global — unfortunately !

    July 21, 2016 by Tunya

    Alberta And Its Place In Global Education
    There is a global drive toward a central, elite-controlled education program that is progressive, constructivist and communitarian in worldview. Many signs point not only to co-ordination but acceleration.

    When the Edmonton Model of education choice hit the Economics textbooks that was a signal. Alberta academic scores were consistently the highest in the nation. The tall poppy had to be cut down — and it was.

    To show a correlation AND causation — Education Choice = Raised Performance — that’s bad news!

    Now we read that social media, including the Australian Guardian (a decidedly left media) are paying attention to the Alberta Teacher Association’s recent motion to persuade the provincial government to drop participation in international education testing (PISA, PIRLS, TIMSS). The main reason given is that they are “distorting the education reform agenda”.

    The first clue I had that something “global” was being imported into Canada was at a parent meeting with a BC Ministry of Education official. We were told about “deeper learning”, “emotional competencies”, “collaboration”, etc. We were given the impression that wide consultation had already been done and that this was unstoppable. We were a month away from the May 2013 election and were informed that “Regardless of the political party that gets in, the plan goes ahead. It’s global transformation!”

    In January of 2015 BC held a forum for invited guests with a number of international speakers. This is what David Albury, a leading coordinator with Global Education Leadership Program (GELP UK) said on video: “This is a pivotal moment for BC . . . if we can continue to work together in this way we can build on how far we’ve got and really accelerate and sustain this — we’ll achieve what nobody else has yet achieved and that is to transform the system across the whole province… to enable all young people to have the skills and knowledge to be successful in the 21st Century.”

    A very recent Podcast by Rod Allen, Superintendent of Cowichan School District (BC), said to be a leading architect of BC’s new curriculum had a lot to say about the process. He mentions names of international influencers over the last 6 years who have travelled in. He talks about “reframing the journey . . . not your typical implementation cycle” and about the “reculturing process” to the point where “it’s a rethinking of the DNA of learning” and how “we built our social license”.

    We have Rick Hess, a senior education analyst with the American Enterprise Institute in his article — Making Sense of the Left-Right School Reform Divide — saying that “90% of ‘school reform’” is progressive and pleads for wider and more fair involvement.

    He linked a story by Robert Pondiscio which showed the left’s drive to push conservatives out of education reform. [Interesting to see this note at the end of the essay — Editor’s Note: Comment have been turned off for this essay because they were getting unnecessarily acrimonious and threatening. ]

    What I’m trying to point out is the concerted takeover of education narrative, planning and even practice by a constituency which is not representative of the general public. Hess says the split is at least 50/50 between progressives and conservatives in education. His American view parallels Canada’s position, IMO.
    [SQE 20160721  ]