How do we improve literacy? Now when I use the word “we”, I know that it’s meaning isn’t clear. I could mean, “How do we, the teaching profession, go about improving literacy?” or I could mean, “What do we, the literacy coaches at Wellington Secondary College, do in order to improve literacy?” These are not … Continue reading Meeting Your Target: Just Cancel The Train
At thirty, Dan McLaughlin quit his well-paid job to become a professional golfer. He’d been to the driving range a few times, but he’d never played a complete round in his life…
This is a true story and true stories that are repeated tend to fall into two categories: Cautionary tales about thinking before you take a big risk, or Oprah-like tales about how much better you’ll be if you follow your passion. However, it’s hard to put Dan’s story into either category.
Dan decided to put into practice the 10,000 hours theory made famous by Malcolm Gladwell in “Outliers”, which suggests that you need that amount of practice to become an expert in anything. Using his savings, he practised virtually full-time for seven years to build up the hours, and after a mere 5,000 hours he was a 2.6 handicap golfer. (In case you know nothing about golf, that’s…
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Ok, in my first blog, I mentioned how I hadn’t bought the rest of a particular book, so I was stuck on analogies. Now, analogies can be useful but they have their drawbacks. Not only that, I think you’ll all agree that we need more than one string to our bow if we’re going to teach effectively. So, I bought the book and it’s time to move on to the “B”.
I’m not intending to go through the book from “A” to “Z”. I mean, just going through a book by starting at the beginning and going through chapter by chapter would just be boring, wouldn’t it? (I think that’s why I dropped Biology in Year 11… Well, that and the fact that I scored zero on a test! Really…Although I had been sick for the topic and had just arrived back in class, zero seemed pretty harsh!)
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The definition of “red teaming” varies depending on the organization doing it, but basically it consists of forming a group to find holes in the strategy or plan that’s under discussion. The idea comes from military strategies that involve thinking like the enemy and trying to work out a way to defeat one’s own army. … Continue reading Red Teaming For Schools
“This theory-induced blindness now strikes nearly everyone who receives a PhD in economics. The economics training the students receive provides enormous insights into the behaviour of Econs, but at the expense of losing common-sense intuition about human nature and social interactions. Graduates no longer realise that they live in a world populated by Humans.” Misbehaving: … Continue reading Behavioural Economics, Human Nature, Teenage Nature
Two Quotes from The Godfather: Bonasera: Let them suffer then, as she suffers. How much shall I pay you? Don Corleone: [shakes his head ruefully] Bonasera, Bonasera. What have I ever done to make you treat me so disrespectfully? If you'd come to me in friendship, then that scum that ruined your daughter would be … Continue reading DOES EDUCATION NEED “THE GODFATHER” – SOCIAL OR MARKET NORMS?
Schools have always been under-rated! Politicians and some media outlets like to concentrate on the problems while ignoring the fact that they’ve educated vast numbers of people. Yes, there is room for improvement, but no the occasional spelling mistake does not make a person “functionally illiterate”!
So, in a profession where one is constantly given harsh feedback – forget the media, think Year 8s on a Friday afternoon – it’s only natural that when teachers are presented with the “new, improved” model of education called 21st Century learning that there’s a certain amount of cynicism. Of course, some teachers will point to the distractions of technology and suggest that it’s just being pushed by people who love their toys and gadgets, while others will complain that they don’t have the capacity to embrace it due to poor resourcing and Internet access. When concepts such as “20% time”* are suggested, some…
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Nudging Your Students Toward Success
“You want to nudge people into socially desirable behaviour, do not, by any means, let them know that their current actions are better than the social norm.”
Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness by Richard H. Thaler and Cass Sunstein
“Today, as you go through your day, notice how many times people have tweaked the environment to shape your behavior. Traffic engineers wanted you to drive in a predictable, orderly way, so they painted lane markers on the roads and installed stoplights and road signs. Grocery store managers wanted you to spend more time in their store, so they positioned the milk coolers all the way at the back. Your boss’s boss wanted to encourage more collaboration among employees, so she approved an “open floor plan” layout with no cubicles or dividers. The bank was tired of your leaving…
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- “Motivation is more like a skill, akin to reading or writing, that can be learned and honed. Scientists have found that people can get better at self-motivation if they practice the right way. The trick, researchers say, is realizing that a prerequisite to motivation is believing we have authority over our actions and surroundings. To motivate ourselves, we must feel like we are in control.” From Smarter, Faster, Better
Ok, for those in Australia, the title of Charles Duhigg’s latest book, “Smarter, Faster, Better” may remind them of the Liberal Party’s slogan for the NBN, “Fast Affordable Sooner”, but don’t let that put you off.
Duhigg, who also wrote “The Power of Habit”, outlines several way that we can boost our productivity and one of the things I found more refreshing about the book is when he actually describes some of his own flaws and difficulties in managing his own…
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There are two sorts of people in the world, those who divide everything into two categories and those who don’t. Personally, I’ve always found it rather useful to remember the words of George E. P. Box who said: “Essentially, all models are wrong, but some are useful”. So I’m going to ask you to think about schools for a moment and do a massive oversimplification.
Take a particular subject or topic and categorise it according to the following question: Is it focused on the past or the future?
Yes, I’m sure that in some cases it’s possible to argue either way, but what’s the main thrust of the learning? In learning about scientific discoveries, for example, is it looking at them as a piece of history or is it about their importance going forward? Is science presented as a neat collection of what we already know, or is it shown to be a messy, inefficient process of…
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