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‘Education Reform’ Category

  1. research ed Toronto Nov 10-11, ’17

    November 14, 2017 by Tunya

    My Parental POV & Significance Of researchED in Toronto (Nov 10/11, ’17)
    I wasn’t there, but was tuned-in to the audio and twitter feeds. Hoped to hear things that would warm my parent-advocate’s heart. This was, after all, not for parents but a conference intended to inspire teachers to become more research and evidence-based in their practice. That in itself is #1 in my praise of the conference. On the whole, I feel parents strongly do want their kid’s teachers to be grounded in practices that are proven to work — not fuzzy stuff. I have always said that the education field lacks discipline and rigor and not a profession like health, accounting, or engineering. Pleased to hear someone on the first panel say to this effect: “ Why is education the least empirical of all human pursuits? We need to build an empirical base.”
    #2 A highlight at the conference of 30 speakers was Michael Zwaagstra, with standing room only. If his presentation was anything like his article of the same title: Content Knowledge is the Key to Learning, I can see why it was popular. Maybe it got out that he has strong views on progressivism and its latest manifestations in the provinces of AB, BC and ON where some parents are getting a bit antsy. Read just the Executive Summary, p4, of 18 and you get the picture:…/FC200_Content-Knowledge_JL311…
    #3 It was twittered out that Greg Ashman, a “graduate” of three such researchED events in Australia had just been published in a UK magazine — worth reading — People who have been bedeviled by the education enigma should be happy to know there is a movement where the leading founder says: “We are at the mercy of gurus and snake oil fads without evidence-based education.” (Tom Bennett, #rEDTO17)

    [on FB 12 Nov ’17, with some of my comments in conversation]

    Tunya Audain Brave New World ? ? ? 

    Jan 2016 this OPINION by a university professor, David Livingstone, described BC’s new curriculum, designed by “education experts”.!topic/Grassroots-Education/3UuuiBWJU74
    “The next generation will lack the desire, the ability, and even the attention span to read with understanding. Their thoughts will become shallower, not deeper . . . No longer tethered to the past, the future will look more like a blank canvas upon which “the experts” can plan a Brave New World.” Such is tyranny.

    Michael Zwaagstra presents similar fears and in his essay hits hard on the need for proper reading methods to be taught. His presentation will shortly be in audio and I’ll report when.

    Doesn’t all this smack of our fears a decade ago, Heather? You, as trustee, visited a successful program to teach reading in Scotland.You brought back the information. Why don’t school systems learn? Who runs the show? These are questions that must be asked, AND answered.


    Accelerated Contradictions – False Dichotomy – BC New Curriculum

    I can remember when Michael Fullan, one of those mentioned at rED2017 as a “guru”, visited BC in 1986. His topic: New Cultures for School Improvement. (I wasn’t there: It was for administrators.) It’s been a steady flow of such gurus to BC who undoubtedly chalk up massive frequent flyer points!

    In January 2015 Tom Albury (GELP) said: “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.” 

    Where are we now? It takes an international event like reasearchED in Toronto to highlight BCEd Plan as a False Dichotomy (Zwaagstra’s slide)



  2. Defining Home Education

    October 9, 2017 by Tunya

    Defining Home Education

    I agree: The term “unschooling” is a bit problematic. Unschooling is like deprogramming. Like you’re trying to decontaminate or undo something. Also the terms “to school” or “schooling” have connotations of indoctrination or training.

    When Ivan Illich first proposed “deschooling” in 1971 he was talking about the “planned process which tools man for a planned world . . . Inexorably we cultivate, treat, produce, and school the world out of existence.” (1971) Deinstitutionalization is also a term he used. His book — Deschooling Society — is free to download off the Internet.

    Increasingly in the literature and research you will see the term “home education” being the preferred term. My article “Home Education: The Third Option”, 1987, is available for download from Academia. The Global Home Education Conference will happen May 15-19, 2018, in Moscow & St Petersburg, Russia. For a quick read on how the movement got rolling with John Holt’s help read:

    [ comment sent to FEE — ]

    [ also posted on my FB — Homeschooling, unschooling, deschooling — What? First see this incredible interview with a 13yr old homeschooled student —  ]


  3. Quit or persist with ed reform?

    October 9, 2017 by Tunya

    Paul Bennett is a long-time education reformer.  He just posted on Facebook his photo of 30 years ago as a school trustee candidate. He also has the blog, Educhatter   I wrote this note on his Facebook page:

    Thanks, Paul.
    On this Thanksgiving Day I am so grateful that you have not dropped out of the ed reform efforts. You have such a stockpile of experiences, insights and knowledge it would be a pity for us to lose your perspective and continuing zeal. It’s so tempting to quit. So many I know are so, so relieved to leave the pain and hopelessness. Ed improvement sabotage is so frustrating, infuriating, exasperating, maddening, sad . . . Thanks for being there and not giving up. Hope to see visible responsiveness in our lifetime!


    [Discouraging is another word I should have used.]

  4. Is Illiteracy the goal ?

    August 21, 2017 by Tunya

    What if illiteracy is the goal after all? Shouldn’t parents be informed which schools are committed to literacy — and which are not? Then parents could choose if they want their children to be able to read and think for themselves or just be a member of a collaborating community?

    Kevin Donnelly has just raised the question of Marxism in Australian schools and Greg mentions “Marxism-inspired critical literacy”.

    Please read the Australian, Aug 21, Wear it Purple Day and other cultural-left moves sending us puce —

    It’s important for people who do value reading, and who believe in proven methods, to appreciate the climate that prevails in some schools. From Kevin’s story and the comments it seems that, according to a former Education Minister (Joan Kirner, 1983), that education should not be “an instrument of the capitalist system” but “part of the socialist struggle for equality, participation and social change.” What chance is there for phonics in such a climate?

    [published as comment to Greg Ashman’s blog, Filling the Pail, topic What Australian Parents Need to Know About the Reading Wars, August 12 ]


  5. Evidence-based education — When?

    July 30, 2017 by Tunya

    Desperately Seeking Evidence-based Practice In Education

    There are at least two reasons why we should study the Whole-language experience if evidence-based education practice is a goal.

    Dress-Rehearsal: The entire, long, frustrating experience of how this now generally discredited method was initiated and sustained can be seen as dress rehearsal for the fads and untested methods being thrust upon us now. There is considerable literature on this topic, though unfortunately, few confessions by those largely responsible for the error of their ways. This would add considerably to the insights needed to understand how these movements gain traction and overcome opposition. For those opposing some of these new methods for the 21st Century the insights from this study would be enormously beneficial. Is there, maybe, such a book or article already?

    Characteristics of the Followers: Not everyone falls for the latest trends and fancies in education. But, during the Whole-Language debates Patrick Groff (1924-2014) did identify six such characteristics:

    “The Special Attractions of Whole-Language (WL)
    1 . . . educators historically have been notorious for their inability to resist the lures of educational innovations, regardless of whether or not they have been empirically validated.
    2 . . . WL relieves educators of much direct personal accountability for the results . . .
    3 . . . WL appeals to many educators’ romantic and/or humanistic interpretations of what is healthy child development . . . honoring children’s freedom and dignity is held to be more essential than how literate they become.
    4 . . . in the past, educators have ignored or rejected most of the empirical findings in practically all aspects of their field of endeavor.
    5 . . .the apparent simplicity of WL is alluring for teachers . . . With WL, teachers do not have to submit to pedagogical discipline that a prescribed course of direct and systematic instruction demands.
    6 . . . educators who have liberal social, economic, and political views doubtless are charmed by WL’s decidedly left-wing agenda . . . ”

    I will find a link for this Groff article and post it later in case current teachers might be seeking ways not to fall for the enticements placed in their way.

    [posted on Filling the Pail blog, topic: Problem-solving does not exist, July 30, 2017]

    Desperately Seeking Evidence-based Practice In Education – Supplementary

    I said I would provide the link to the full article by Patrick Groff —

    His more complete article on Whole-Language and how it spread is worth reading for those who are interested in how shaky theories in education proliferate. By going to the link above there is a “click” provided at the bottom for his fuller article plus more from a Journal in 1997 concerned about language and spelling.

    I know this post by Greg is about problem-solving as a shaky theory, but generally it’s also about how the education field seems to glom onto unproven fads so easily. There’s a lot of that going on right now. It’s important to call out these questionable practices, and Greg does a fine job of it, but is there hope to squelch bad practices?

    Self-esteem was a huge phenomenon pushed in the schools in the last decades. Is current exposure, calling it a “con” or “hoax”, going to sway anyone? See:

    [2nd comment posted 31 July, 2017]