Do schools kill creativity?

This talk by Sir Ken Robinson at the 2006 TED Conference is a fantastically entering and funny but more importantly thought provoking talk. It is one of if the most watched TED talks ever with 3,974,014 views. I have seen it a few times over the past couple of years and it makes me think about how a pedagogical scaffold like Blooms, which places creativity at the top of higher order thinking skills, is often at odds with the way schools educate students. Ken Robinson’s talk is about how he believes schools kill creativity.

Why is it that every education system on earth has the same hierarchy of subjects, mathematics and languages at the top and on the bottom are the arts? Ken Robinson 2006

Why school? Post 1

This will be the first in a series of posts based on the book Why school? by Will Richardson. If your interested it can be downloaded from Amazon to your Kindle or iPad Kindle app for $2.04 (at the moment). The reason for bringing this book to your attention and discussing it in further posts is to generate discussion on a topic that is current.

I came across the book Why school? on Twitter, it is an easy read and raises many questions about our students learning in 2012 and beyond. Its main premise is that teachers, knowledge, learning and getting an education are no longer scarce commodities that can only really be accessed through institutions but are now abundantly available thanks to the Internet.

“Today if we have an Internet connection , we have at our finger tip, on-demand access to an amazing library that holds close to the sum of human knowledge and, equally important, to more than two billion people with whom we can potentially learn.” Will Richardson, Why school?

The author does acknowledge that the Internet is not without its issues, both in equity and as a place that is difficult to navigate, “It can be overwhelming, distracting, nonsensical, and at times frightening.” He also sees schools as important places, “I believe there remains a great deal of value in the idea of a school as a place our kids go to learn with others, to be inspired by caring adults………..Communities built around schools are better for it.”

This video is a good introduction to Will Richardson’s views on education. It is a TEDxNYED talk made before the publication of the book Why schools?


What are your views on homework?

Found this interesting tweet by @johntspencer:

“Grading homework is essentially the same as grading the organizational structures and family context of the child”. Is this quote accurate? When we set homework is the success of this homework based on:

  • what other activities a family has organised.
  • whether or not parents are home at an appropriate time to assist/encourage.
  • having or not having a designated place for homework.
  • the time the homework is completed (done early or late when children are tired).
  • the parents valuing the type of homework coming home.
  • how much stress and argument the homework causes.

What influence do we have on homework being a successful?

  • Do we set homework just because teachers have always set homework and we feel obligated?
  • Do we think carefully about how our homework is structured, the time it will take and the value it adds to the learning at school?
    • Do we expect students to work at home on concepts that they struggle with in the school environment that provides professional support (classroom) and think they should be able to manage?
    • What supports do we put in place to help ensure homework can be completed successfully?
  • Do we take into account external factors that impact on the success of the homework we set i.e. the family structures mentioned above?
    • Do we set too much?
    • Do we set it too often?

Homework is often a topic that attracts debate, some parents/teachers see it as vital for learning and that it should be lengthy and set regularly while others will argue it is a waste of time and does not enhance learning. There are also those that choose to try and find a happy medium between these two views.

Regardless of your views about homework it is an unavoidable reality that at year 11 and in particular Year 12 students will need to do homework, and at times lots of it to be successful. This could also be said of further education at TAFE and university. This presents the argument that homework at other year levels prepares students for what will inevitably come.

My personal belief is that homework has a place in school but only if careful consideration of its implications are thought about first.

Here are two articles that look at homework from different perspectives, one is a list of why homework is important the other an article which looks at homework from a parent perspective. Below these links is a 5 minute video discussing ‘A new Vision for Homework’ – very interesting.

Top 14 Reasons Why Homework is Important – Interesting to note that these are commendable reasons but if they are to be successful what sort of environment is needed at home to foster these?

Why we’re getting the homework question wrong

What are your views on homework?

TfEL/Australian Curriculum Meeting Week 5

Wednesday Admin meeting 3:20-3:45pm in Kim’s room.

Wednesday TfEL/AC meeting directly after @ 3:45 – 4:45pm


TfEL/AC Meeting

Just a reminder from week 2 term 2 post:

Please note the following changes to our structure in terms of who is working with who and on what.

This term sees the following:

  • R-6 staff working on AC maths
  • Tanya, Allan and Ed working on 7-10 AC maths
  • All other secondary staff working on the TfEL process. Same staff as term 1 with the addition of Justin and Nick.

TfEL Staff

Same staff as term 1 with the addition of Justin and Nick. It would be good for this group to meet in the staffroom. I have copies of the resources lists from the TfEL DVD which will be useful for those staff who have made some decisions about the one or two elements they would like to improve. It would also be good to meet as a group to see where staff are at and any issues that may be occurring.

R-6 Staff

Meet in Paul’s room.

After quick discussion with Paul, Angela and Jackie this group might look at the following:

  • Angela and Valmai share some of the information they received from Lisa Jane O Connor.
  • Maths proficiencies (unpack these and have some discussion).

8-10 maths – Tanya, Allan and Ed

Will need to make a decision about where you want to work.

I have some suggestions/resources for you to use as you see fit. As a group you may wish to discuss your own concerns and issues around the 8-10 maths curriculum. The resources that you may want to use are:

1. The year level and content descriptions and achievement standards – What does our program look like now? How is the Australian Curriculum different to current programs? Do I understand the Achievement Standards and what they are for? Look at the work samples on the AC website?

2. The Achievement Standards  – R-10 in maths. Copies of the Achievement Standards only (no content). Do they make a logical progression?

3. The maths scope and sequence tables.

Ed has the copies of these resources.

Arts Connected Toolkit

This site provides information about visual elements and principles of art. Information is provided about line, colour, space, shape, balance, movement & rhythm. There are also two videos which show professional artists creating original art works using the principles covered in the toolkit section of the site. The site also provides an Encyclopedia which is an in-depth guide to learning more about the building blocks  of composition. Here you’ll see many examples of works of art that illustrate  the visual elements and principles. Looks like an easy to use and informative site for helping to teach students about art.

Click here to visit ArtsConnected

Don’t forget to visit the Curriculum page on this site for web resources associated with subject areas including the Arts Connected Toolkit.


Learning Design Part 1

My intention is to present a series of posts on the topic/process of Learning Design. Hopefully these posts will give you an understanding of the process. The resource for these posts will be the Australian Curriculum Leaders Resource ‘Getting Started’ DVD (developed by DECD Learning Services). This resource provides information including Power Points and short video on 4 areas – 1. Australian Curriculum 2. TfEL 3. Learning Design and 4. Professional Learning Communities (PLC’s). The Australian Curriculum Leaders Resource can be accessed online by clicking here or see Nick for the DVD if you are interested in looking at these topics in more depth.

Rather than try and spend large chunks of time in meetings going through Learning Design I thought it might be useful to do small snippets from the DVD over a period of time to introduce Learning Design to teaching staff.

Learning Design is the term used for combining the ‘What’(Australian Curriculum) and the ‘How’ (TfEL) in a way that will assist teachers with their programing and assessing of student learning. Learning Design encompasses the following (click on the diagram below to enlarge it and view it clearly).




How do we measure the value of a teacher?

Since standardised testing has made its way into the national spotlight through NAPLAN and the MY School website teachers have continued to discuss the issues of using these test results as a measure. Currently NAPLAN compares schools in a very public way. What would you do if that comparison was no longer the school but you? What if your name was published alongside your ‘value’ ranking (percentile) which was determined by how well your students did on their annual standardised test? What would you do if this result impacted on your job security and could get you fired? Would you narrow the curriculum to push your kids to achieve in the areas to be tested? I think I probably would! This is the case in some US States and educational districts. Below is a link to a thought provoking and emotional article by a teacher named Maribeth Whitehouse who ranked in the 99th percentile based on her students doing very well in the standardised tests.

Click here to read Measuring My Value.

The Khan Academy/Flipped Classroom

The Khan Academy: The future of education? American 60 Minutes did a piece a couple of days ago about Sal Khan and The Khan Academy. The Khan Academy has inspired a whole new way of thinking called the ‘Flipped Classroom’ where students get the information at home through video and do their homework at school. The reasoning being that if students are accessing well thought out explanations about concepts and topics at home they are then prepared to do more activities and tasks in class with teacher help as opposed to ‘passively listening’ to the teacher explain concepts. I know Ed is using the Khan Academy videos with some of his students in Year 9 maths.

Here is the 60 Minutes segment. An amazing story of what one person has achieved (some of the software being trialled looks amazing).


My Place for teachers

I have not used this site personally but it looks like an excellent resource. I am pretty sure that Ali Newbold mentioned she had used it and it is very good.

My Place for Teachers contains an exciting range of educational materials designed to support teachers in exploring issues and contexts presented in My Place, both the book and TV series.  The teaching activities reflect and support the Australian Curriculum objectives for studies in both History and English for years 3–6. Things to look out for on the site include:

  • 39 new clips from series 2
  • 156 new English and history teaching activities that use the clips as a jumping-off point for classroom learning
  • 12 new decade timeline entries with new photographic content
  • 40 existing digital curriculum resources re licensed for use on the site
  • more than 400 new stills from the show
  • new content for Behind the scenes.

Visit my pace for teachers by clicking here.

My Place for teachers can also be found as a link on the Curriculum page on this site.