Monday, 27 August 2012

dumbing us down

John Taylor Gatto
What does the school do with the children? Gatto states the following assertions in "Dumbing Us Down":
1.       It makes the children confused. It presents an incoherent ensemble of information that the child needs to memorize to stay in school. Apart from the tests and trials that programming is similar to the television, it fills almost all the "free" time of children. One sees and hears something, only to forget it again.
2.       It teaches them to accept their class affiliation.
3.       It makes them indifferent.
4.       It makes them emotionally dependent.
5.       It makes them intellectually dependent.
6.       It teaches them a kind of self-confidence that requires constant confirmation by experts (provisional self-esteem).
7.       It makes it clear to them that they cannot hide, because they are always supervised.[9]

Everything we thing about schooling is wrong: J T Gatto
Part of your thesis is that the true purpose of compulsory government schooling is conditioning, conformity, rows of chairs, routine, bells. Jerry Mander, author of the Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television, uses the phrase ‘form is content.’ The form of public schooling is its content. 
… habit training and attitude training is imposed by the structure. Alexander Inglis, around the First WorldWar, wrote a book, it’s very, very hard to get, called “Principles of Secondary Education”.
The first is to make people predictable so that the economy can be rationalized. You can do that if people are predictable. Yet, history has demonstrated over and over and over again that we’re not. So the very first purpose or goal of institutional schoolings is to make people predictable.
Darwin was a big influence, but it’s not the Darwin that is sold in school text books. It’s not the fellow curious about nature. It’s a fellow absolutely certain that animal trainers and plant breeders had discovered the operational truth of human life. Darwin’s “Descent of Man”… was immediately adopted by the managerial classes of the planet. You had to find ways to lock up the evolutionarily retarded, to waste their time and set them against one another.
John Calvin says clearly that the damned are many times larger in number than the saved. The ratio is about twenty to one. There are too many damned to overwhelm with force. So you have to cloud their minds and set them into meaningless competitions with one another in ways that will eat up that energy.
Spinoza …1670… had a huge influence on the leadership classes of Europe, the United States and Asia… “Tractate Religico Politicu”it was nonsense to think people were damned or evil because there was no supernatural world. He also said there’s an enormous disproportion between permanently irrational people who are absolutely dangerous and the people who have good sense. The ratio is about twenty to one. Spinoza actually says that an institutional school system should be set up as a ‘civil religion’… everyone read Spinoza, all over the planet.
He said we need a ‘civil religion’… to eliminate official religion, which he says is completely irrational and dangerous. And two, to bind up the energies of these irrational twenty to one and to destroy their imagination.
Johann Fichte in Northern Germany in 1807, 1808, 1809, where the very first successful institutional schooling in the history of the planet, was established… in his famous Addresses to the German Nation, that the reason Prussia suffered a catastrophic defeat against Napoleon at Jena was because order was turned on its head by ordinary solders taking decisions into their hands.
University of Leipzig in the 1870's… the Father of Behavioral Psychology, Scientific Psychology, Bill Helmvoight… every college presidency of any significance in the United States, with the single exception of Cornell, is awarded a Prussian PhD. Every department head had a Prussian PhD
The subject is schooling and all the unexamined assumptions schooling imply, such as - to be removed from your family, your neighborhood, your traditions, your church, whatever other source you have and be placed in the hands of total strangers who you come to see are, all from bottom to the top, flunkies. They’re all interchangeable. None has any original ideas. This qualifies them as guards, to see that the training is imposed as it was designed.
Television and school – they do exactly the same thing in slightly different ways - even the wonderful stuff… – both being abstractions retard the capacity for that critical examination.
“Wealth of Nations.” You’ll see that in the first 15 pages he says that peasant children are quite as capable of sitting at the policy table and making high level decisions as the Duke’s children.
… the mind’s capacity to create and invent. Television undermines this capacity. The collapse of descriptive language undermines this. If you don’t use it you lose it Real education is not knowledge based. Real education is the unfolding of this capacity.
Back in the sixties an anthropologist, Carlos Castaneda, published a series of best sellers, supposedly about his apprenticeship with the Yaqui Indian shaman, Don Juan in Northern Mexico. The shaman said the key to everything is to always see death sitting on your left shoulder, this hawk or this raven watching you.

Against School: John Taylor Gatto
H. L. Mencken, who wrote in The American Mercury for April 1924 that the aim of public education is not ‘to fill the young of the species with knowledge and awaken their intelligence. ... Nothing could be further from the truth. The aim ... is simply to reduce as many individuals as possible to the same safe level, to breed and train a standardized citizenry, to put down dissent and originality. That is its aim in the United States... and that is its aim everywhere else.’
Orestes Brownson, the hero of Christopher Lasch's 1991 book, The True and Only Heaven, was publicly denouncing the Prussianization of American schools back in the 1840s. Horace Mann's "Seventh Annual Report" to the Massachusetts State Board of Education in 1843 is essentially a paean to the land of Frederick the Great and a call for its schooling to be brought here.
James Bryant Conant - president of Harvard for twenty years: 1959 book-length essay, The Child the Parent and the State… that the modem schools we attend were the result of a "revolution" engineered 1905-30.
Alexander Inglis's 1918 book, Principles of Secondary Education, in which "one saw this revolution through the eyes of a revolutionary."
1) The adjustive or adaptive function. Schools are to establish fixed habits of reaction to authority.
2) The integrating function. This might well be called "the conformity function," because its intention is to make children as alike as possible.
3) The diagnostic and directive function. School is meant to determine each student's proper social role.
4) The differentiating function. Once their social role has been "diagnosed," children are to be sorted by role and trained only so far as their destination in the social machine merits - and not one step further.
5) The selective function. This refers not to human choice at all but to Darwin's theory of natural selection as applied to what he called "the favored races."
6) The propaedeutic function. The societal system implied by these rules will require an elite group of caretakers.
Woodrow Wilson, then president of Princeton University, said the following to the New York City School Teachers Association in 1909: "We want one class of persons to have a liberal education, and we want another class of persons, a very much larger class, of necessity, in every society, to forgo the privileges of a liberal education and fit themselves to perform specific difficult manual tasks."
In the 1934 edition of his once well-known book Public Education in the United States, Ellwood P. Cubberley detailed and praised the way the strategy of successive school enlargements had extended childhood by two to six years, and forced schooling was at that point still quite new. This same Cubberley - who was dean of Stanford's School of Education and Conant's friend at Harvard - had written the following in the 1922 edition of his book Public School Administration: "Our schools are ...factories in which the raw products (children) are to be shaped and fashioned .... And it is the business of the school to build its pupils according to the specifications laid down."

turn off your tv

"Do you know we are ruled by TV?"
-- from the poem An American Prayer by Jim Morrison

"They put an off button on the TV for a reason. Turn it off . . . I really don't watch much TV."
-- President George W. Bush, C-SPAN interview, January 2005

"American children and adolescents spend 22 to 28 hours per week viewing television, more than any other activity except sleeping. By the age of 70 they will have spent 7 to 10 years of their lives watching TV."
-- The Kaiser Family Foundation

"You watch television to turn your brain off and you work on your computer when you want to turn your brain on."
-- Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple Computer and Pixar, in Macworld Magazine, February 2004

"Everybody’s got values . . . The thing that frightens me is the way that an eroding public school system . . . and television on all over the place is leading to a steady dumbing down of the American public and a corrosion of basic critical thinking in the population."
-- Jamie Raskin, American University law professor, November 2004 on the DemocracyNow! radio program
Kill Your Television

Peter Finch/Howard Beale: "We're as mad as hell, and we're not going to take this anymore."

Network - YouTube

Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television (1978) is a book written by Jerry Mander which argues that there are a number of problems with the medium of television. Mander argues that many of the problems with television are inherent in the medium and technology itself, and thus cannot be reformed.
Mander spent 15 years in the advertising business, including five as president and partner of Freeman, Mander & Gossage, San Francisco, a nationally-known advertising agency.[1]

... television has effects, very important effects, aside from the content, and they may be more important. They organize society in a certain way. They give power to a very small number of people to speak into the brains of everyone else in the system night after night after night with images that make people turn out in a certain kind of way. It affects the psychology of people who watch. It increases the passivity of people who watch. It changes family relationships. It changes understandings of nature. It flattens perception so that information, which you need a fair amount of complexity to understand it as you would get from reading, this information is flattened down to a very reduced form on television. And the medium has inherent qualities which cause it to be that way.

Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The revolution will not be televised: Gil Scott Heron

Gil Scott HeronThe Revolution Will Not Be Televised with lyrics - YouTube

"Winston turned a switch and the voice sank somewhat, though the words were still distinguishable. The instrument (the telescreen, it was called) could be dimmed, but there was no way of shutting it off completely . . . Winston kept his back turned to the telescreen."
-- from 1984 by George Orwell

Television is advertising. It is a medium whose purpose is to sell, to promote capitalism. In 1977, Jerry Mander, a former advertising executive in San Francisco, published Four Arguments For The Elimination Of Television. In the book, Mander reveals how the television networks and advertisers use this pervasive video medium for sales.
Four Arguments talks about a lot more than just advertising. Mander attacks not only the contents of the television images, but the effects television has on the human mind and body. His discussion includes: The induction of alpha waves, a hypnotizing effect that a motionless mind enters. How viewers often regard what they see on television as real even though the programs are filled with quick camera switches, rapid image movement, computer generated objects, computer generated morphing and other technical events. The placement of artificial images into our mind's eye. And the effects that large amounts of television viewing have on children and the onset of attention deficit disorder.
However, at the heart of Mander's arguments, lies advertising. In the words of writer Charles Bukowski: "[America is] not a free country -- everything is bought and sold and owned."

Kill Your Television-Jerry Mander

Sunday, 26 August 2012

deschooling society

Ivan Illich was a visionary.

Deschooling Society (1971) is a critical discourse on education as practised in modern economies. It is a book that brought Ivan Illich to public attention. Full of detail on programs and concerns, the book gives examples of the ineffectual nature of institutionalized education. Illich posited self-directed education, supported by intentional social relations in fluid informal arrangements:
Universal education through schooling is not feasible. It would be no more feasible if it were attempted by means of alternative institutions built on the style of present schools. Neither new attitudes of teachers toward their pupils nor the proliferation of educational hardware or software (in classroom or bedroom), nor finally the attempt to expand the pedagogue's responsibility until it engulfs his pupils' lifetimes will deliver universal education. The current search for new educational funnels must be reversed into the search for their institutional inverse: educational webs which heighten the opportunity for each one to transform each moment of his living into one of learning, sharing, and caring. We hope to contribute concepts needed by those who conduct such counterfoil research on education--and also to those who seek alternatives to other established service industries.[1]
The last sentence makes clear what the title suggests—that the institutionalization of education is considered to institutionalize society and conversely that ideas for de-institutionalizing education may be a starting point for a de-institutionalized society.
The book is more than a critique—it contains suggestions for changes to learning in society and individual lifetimes. Particularly striking is his call (in 1971) for the use of advanced technology to support "learning webs."
The operation of a peer-matching network would be simple. The user would identify himself by name and address and describe the activity for which he sought a peer. A computer would send him back the names and addresses of all those who had inserted the same description. It is amazing that such a simple utility has never been used on a broad scale for publicly valued activity.[2]
Illich argued that the use of technology to create decentralized webs could support the goal of creating a good educational system:
A good educational system should have three purposes: it should provide all who want to learn with access to available resources at any time in their lives; empower all who want to share what they know to find those who want to learn it from them; and, finally, furnish all who want to present an issue to the public with the opportunity to make their challenge known.[3]

Deschooling Society - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Scary School Nightmare:

Scary School Nightmare - YouTube

A critique of commodificationProfessionals and the institutions in which they work tend to define an activity, in this case learning, as a commodity (education), 'whose production they monopolize, whose distribution they restrict, and whose price they raise beyond the purse of ordinary people and nowadays, all governments' (Lister in Illich 1976: 8). Ivan Illich put it this way:
Schooling - the production of knowledge, the marketing of knowledge, which is what the school amounts to, draws society into the trap of thinking that knowledge is hygienic, pure, respectable, deodorized, produced by human heads and amassed in stock..... [B]y making school compulsory, [people] are schooled to believe that the self-taught individual is to be discriminated against; that learning and the growth of cognitive capacity, require a process of consumption of services presented in an industrial, a planned, a professional form;... that learning is a thing rather than an activity. A thing that can be amassed and measured, the possession of which is a measure of the productivity of the individual within the society. That is, of his social value. (quoted by Gajardo 1994: 715) 
Learning becomes a commodity, 'and like any commodity that is marketed, it becomes scarce' (Illich 1975: 73). Furthermore, and echoing Marx, Ivan Illich notes the way in which such scarcity is obscured by the different forms that education takes. This is a similar critique to that mounted by Fromm (1979) of the tendency in modern industrial societies to orient toward a 'having mode' - where people focus upon, and organize around the possession of material objects. They, thus, approach learning as a form of acquisition. Knowledge become a possession to be exploited rather than an aspect of being in the world. 
Ivan Illich: deschooling, conviality and the possibilities for informal education and lifelong learning

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

british humour

... at the Olympics:

The Opening Ceremony:

Her Maj:

Mr Bean:

The Closing Ceremony:

Monty Python's Always Look on the Bright Side of Life:

Monty Python & Olympics Closing Ceremony: Eric Idle Sings 'Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life'

Some things in life are bad
They can really make you mad
Other things just make you swear and curse
When you're chewing on life's gristle
Don't grumble, give a whistle
And this'll help things turn out for the best...

Monty Python:Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life Lyrics - Lyric Wiki - song lyrics, music lyrics

I am the Walruss:

I am he as you are he as you are me and we are all together.
See how they run like pigs from a gun, see how they fly.
I'm crying.

Sitting on a cornflake, waiting for the van to come.
Corporation tee-shirt, stupid bloody Tuesday.
Man, you been a naughty boy, you let your face grow long.
I am the eggman, they are the eggmen.
I am the walrus, goo goo g'joob.

Mister City Policeman sitting
Pretty little policemen in a row.
See how they fly like Lucy in the Sky, see how they run.
I'm crying, I'm crying.
I'm crying, I'm crying.

Yellow matter custard, dripping from a dead dog's eye.
Crabalocker fishwife, pornographic priestess,
Boy, you been a naughty girl you let your knickers down.
I am the eggman, they are the eggmen.
I am the walrus, goo goo g'joob.

Sitting in an English garden waiting for the sun.
If the sun don't come, you get a tan
From standing in the English rain.
I am the eggman, they are the eggmen.
I am the walrus, goo goo g'joob g'goo goo g'joob.

Expert textpert choking smokers,
Don't you thing the joker laughs at you?
See how they smile like pigs in a sty,
See how they snied.
I'm crying.

Semolina pilchard, climbing up the Eiffel Tower.
Elementary penguin singing Hari Krishna.
Man, you should have seen them kicking Edgar Allan Poe.
I am the eggman, they are the eggmen.
I am the walrus, goo goo g'joob g'goo goo g'joob.
Goo goo g'joob g'goo goo g'joob g'goo...


Which happens to be my favourite Beatles song:

Lennon received a letter from a pupil at Quarry Bank High School, which he had attended. The writer mentioned that the English master was making his class analyse Beatles' lyrics. Lennon, amused that a teacher was putting so much effort into understanding the Beatles' lyrics, wrote the most confusing lyrics he could.
I Am the Walrus - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

But people have tried to analyse this:
Alan W. Pollack's Notes on "I Am The Walrus"

And Howard Goodall believes the Beatles saved Western music:

Which is brilliant

Monday, 20 August 2012

amazing jouneys

different ways... different ways of travelling

.. by rabbit-proof fence:

The Stolen Generations (also known as Stolen children) were the children of Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander descent who were removed from their families by the Australian Federal and State government agencies and church missions, under acts of their respective parliaments. The removals occurred in the period between approximately 1869[1] and 1969,[2][3] although in some places children were still being taken until the 1970s.

File:Rabbit proof fence map showing route.PNG

by motorbike:

The Motorcycle Diaries is a memoir that traces the early travels of Marxist revolutionary Ernesto "Che" Guevara, then a 23-year-old medical student, and his friend Alberto Granado, a 29-year-old biochemist. Leaving Buenos Aires, Argentina, in January 1952 on the back of a sputtering single cylinder 1939 Norton 500cc dubbed La Poderosa ("The Mighty One"), they desired to explore the South America they only knew from books.[1] During the formative odyssey Guevara is transformed by witnessing the social injustices of exploited mine workers, persecuted communists, ostracized lepers, and the tattered descendants of a once-great Incan civilization. By journey's end they travel for a symbolic nine months by motorcycle, steamship, raft, horse, bus, and hitchhiking, covering more than 8,000 kilometres (5,000 mi) across places such as the Andes, Atacama Desert, and the Amazon River Basin. The book ends with a declaration by Guevara, born into an upper-middle-class family, displaying his willingness to fight and die for the cause of the poor, and his dream of seeing a united Latin America.

File:Che Guevara-Granado - Mapa 1er viaje - 1952.jpg

or by spacecraft:

and solve a problem whilst you're at it:

Apollo 13 was the seventh manned mission in the American Apollo space program and the third intended to land on the Moon. The craft was launched on April 11, 1970, at 13:13 CST from the Kennedy Space Center, Florida, but the lunar landing was aborted after an oxygen tank exploded two days later, crippling the service module upon which the Command Module depended. Despite great hardship caused by limited power, loss of cabin heat, shortage of potable water, and the critical need to jury-rig the carbon dioxide removal system, the crew returned safely to Earth on April 17.

File:Direct Abort Trajectory - Lunar Landing Symposium, MSC Jun66.jpg

Thanks to Speak Out (Pre-Intermediate) from Pearson for this idea

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

theories of language learning and teaching: input

The brain needs input. The more correct and understandable sentences it gets, the more sentences it can imitate and the better it gets at making its own sentences.
By the way, the language learning model described above is basically the “comprehension hypothesis” (or “input hypothesis”) by professor Stephen Krashen (University of Southern California) and is part of his “natural approach” to language learning.
The model describes the process of a child learning its first (native) language. The child listens to its parents and other people. The child’s brain collects sentences and gets better and better at producing its own sentences. By the age of 5, the child can already speak quite fluently.
But the same model works for learning a foreign language. In fact, we think it is the only way to learn a language well.

What the model means for language learners
Here’s what’s important in the model from the point of view of foreign language learning:
  • The brain produces sentences based on the sentences it has seen or heard (input). So the way to improve is to feed your brain with a lot of input — correct and understandable sentences (written or spoken). Before you can start speaking and writing in a foreign language, your brain must get enough correct sentences in that language.
  • Output (speaking and writing) is less important. It is not the way to improve your language skills. In fact, you should remember that you can damage your English through early and careless output.
  • You don’t need grammar rules. You learned your first language without studying tenses or prepositions. You can learn a foreign language in that way, too.
Input — what it is and why you need it | Antimoon
Antimoon: How to learn English effectively

Dr. Krashen has published more than 350 papers and books, contributing to the fields of second language acquisition, bilingual education, and reading.[2] He is credited with introducing various influential concepts and terms in the study of second language acquisition, including the acquisition-learning hypothesis, the input hypothesis, the monitor hypothesis, the affective filter, and the natural order hypothesis.[3] Most recently, Krashen promotes the use of free voluntary reading during second language acquisition, which he says "is the most powerful tool we have in language education, first and second."[4]
Stephen Krashen - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

"Language acquisition does not require extensive use of conscious grammatical rules, and does not require tedious drill." Stephen Krashen
 Stephen Krashen
"Acquisition requires meaningful interaction in the target language - natural communication - in which speakers are concerned not with the form of their utterances but with the messages they are conveying and understanding." Stephen Krashen

"The best methods are therefore those that supply 'comprehensible input' in low anxiety situations, containing messages that students really want to hear. These methods do not force early production in the second language, but allow students to produce when they are 'ready', recognizing that improvement comes from supplying communicative and comprehensible input, and not from forcing and correcting production." Stephen Krashen

Stephen Krashen's Theory of Second Language Acquisition (Assimilação Natural - o Construtivismo no Ensino de Línguas)

The input hypothesis answers the question of how a language acquirer develops comptency over time. It states that a language acquirer who is at "level i" must receive comprehensible input that is at "level i+1." "We acquire, in other words, only when we understand language that contains structure that is 'a little beyond' where we are now." This understanding is possible due to using the context of the language we are hearing or reading and our knowledge of the world.
LANGUAGE LEARNING article--A Summary of Stephen Krashen's "Principles and Practice in Second Language Acquisition"

And on video:

StephenKrashenscomprehensibleinput.flv - YouTube
Stephen Krashen's Comprehensible Input — PISD TV — Plano Independent School District

theories of language learning and teaching: dogme

It all started when Scott Thornbury teased out an analogy between the Dogme 95 film-makers collective and the current state of ELT. Dogme 95 (spearheaded by Lars von Trier) vowed to rescue cinema from its slavish allegiance to a Hollywood model of film-making, with its addiction to fantasy and special effects. ELT, Thornbury argued, had become similarly dependent on a constant fix of materials and technology, at the expense of the learning possibilities that could be harvested simply from what goes on "within and between" the people in the room (to borrow Stevick's phrase). ELT needed a similar kind of "rescue action".
It is not books that we oppose. It is the prevailing culture of mass-produced, shrink-wrapped lessons, delivered in an anodyne in-flight magazine style. Worse, in their syllabuses these in-flight courses peddle the idea that the learning of a language runs along a predetermined route with the regularity and efficiency of a Swiss train.
The order in which learners acquire language, and the elements of which that order is composed, are still hotly debated...
Dogme still able to divide ELT | Education | Guardian Weekly

From the man who started it all:
Website Homepage for Scott Thornbury

A load of links:
Dogme: Free ESL | Websites | Lesson Plans

A teacher at work:
... pick up the nearest course book on your desk. Next time you're in the library, compare it against Headway and against just about anything produced since. Whether they've added a handful of unrealistic case studies or dilemmas, got gap fills or pointless vocabulary exercises, been jam-packed with grammar explanations or don't have any, they're all playing off a similar structure.

helloSomewhere in the deep dungeons of most ELT publishing houses, someone whose name we don't know, but at a random guess he's not a socio-linguist, has done some kind of very-necessary-to-show-on-the-page-so-it-feels-and-looks-like-Headway-because-the-teachers-might-be-afraid-if-it's-different kind of breakdown which goes -- well, if I knew the plot points I'd tell you.

I mean do the publishers even care that the unit themes they've chosen have no direct relationship to the following one?
That they rarely have anything to do with our students' lives?
That the lexis presented on one page doesn't show up in the next unit or even the one after that? That there's no space on the page to write?

and her suggested links:
Dogme in ELT


Sunday, 12 August 2012


The movement for Post-Autistic Economics (PAE) was born through the work of University of Paris 1 economist Bernard Guerrien. The movement is best seen as a forum of different groups critical of the current mainstream: behavioral economics, heterodox economics, feminist economics, green economics, and econo-physics. Started in 2000 by a group of disaffected French economics students, Post-Autistic Economics first reached a wider audience in June 2000 after an interview in Le Monde.[1]
It was supported by the Cambridge Ph.D. students in 2001 with the publication of "Opening Up Economics: A Proposal By Cambridge Students",[2] later signed by 797 economists.
The term autistic is used in an informal way, signifying "abnormal subjectivity, acceptance of fantasy rather than reality".[3] It has been criticized for using the medical diagnosis, autism, as a derogatory expression.[4]

The ancient Greeks use to sit in their chambers and declare logical theory about nature, but they didn't go out into nature to see if the theories were correct and many time they were incorrect.

The real-world economics review is a journal of heterodox economics, published by the post-autistic economics network since 2000, and formerly known as the post-autistic economics review. It is distributed by email at no cost, and previous issues are posted on the website.
The journal is part of the post-autistic economics (PAE) movement, and, as such, heavily criticizes neoclassical economics.

students want feedback part 2

A great blog:

looking again at John Hattie:

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Making learning Visible (John Hattie)

Auckland University Professor John Hattie has recently authored a study, based on research into 83 million students, studying effective teachers around the world and has come up with some reassuring results for creative teachers. It's all about trusting relationships and 'oodles of feedback'. Note - it is not about national testing, our government's highly unoriginal plan.

A link For more undated thinking about Hattie

It seems hard to avoid the brief press releases of Auckland University Professor John Hattie's research in our newspapers. It is a shame that the papers haven't done more in depth research of their own into Hattie's findings.

Most teachers by now will know the main findings of Hattie's research from his previous papers and creative teachers will be reassured that his research backs up intuitive ideas gained from their experience. For such teachers Hattie's findings will be obvious and common sense; unfortunately common sense is not so common! A quick glance through Hattie's book provides definitive evidence of what works and what doesn't.

What doesn't 'work' includes class sizes,homework and school type and he doesn't even mention our current governments misguided focus on national testing.

I have my doubts about the importance of school type but as he states in his book ' this is not a book about what cannot be influenced in schools.... critical dimensions about class, poverty... are not included.. not because they are unimportant, indeed they may be more important than many of the influences discussed in this book. It is just that I have not included these topics in my orbit'.

He also says that his book is not about qualitative studies. It only includes studies that were based on statistics. Thankfully his finding give support to the intuitive ideas gained by creative teachers through their lived experience. Hattie does say his message is a positive one for teachers and that 'many teachers already think in the way the book argues'.

Although I appreciate his exclusion of the socio -economic dimensions the effect of the environment students students come from has to faced up to. If not faced up to it places a impossible responsibility on schools and teachers in such areas.

Hattie's research also includes little criticism of the archaic industrial aged structures of secondary schools which work against many of the relationship issues he found to be most important. Although this is understandable, in light of Hattie's study, it is a also a shame - a bit like patching up a sinking ship. In previous paper he has written that his research would assist 'restoring faith in the public school system'. Elsewhere he mentions that effective practices are more often to be seen in primary schools. If out of date school structures are not faced up his effective teaching findings could well be simply cosmetic - getting better at a bad job. And, indeed, Hattie's development of better testing in literacy and numeracy has had the effect of schools focusing on literacy and numeracy and diverting valuable teachers energy away from other equally important areas. Such thoughts would seem to place Hattie as an educational conservative unlike future orientated thinkers such as Guy Claxton, David Perkins, Howard Gardner, Robert Fried and Elliott Eisner etc, and creativity expert Sir Ken Robinson.

To his credit he quotes that, for all the reforms, in many respects some aspects of education are 'hardly different than 200 years ago' and that his 'meta analysis' of research provides the potential to make real changes as its conclusions are 'beyond reasonable doubt'.

The big challenge of Hattie's findings, if implemented, would mean 'a change in the conception of being a necessitates a different way of interacting and respecting students'. This brings us back to the writings of Guy Claxton and our current curriculum's emphasis on 'key competences'.

Hattie's meta analysis ( a synthesis of 50000 previous studies) found that overwhelmingly student teacher interaction came out on top.

Hattie's book is about the power of directed teaching, focusing on 'what happens next' through feedback and monitoring. This is an approach that also informs the teacher about the success or failure of their teaching; making learning for both teacher and student 'visible'.

Number one is teaching where the students know exactly how well they're doing and can articulate this, and what they need to know, to their teacher. Hattie says that teachers should ask themselves, "how many of the kids in your classroom are prepare to say, in front of class, 'we need help', we don't know what's going on', or ' what have you learned?" This sort of trust, he says, is rare.

The most effective strategy of all is giving regular feedback and fostering an atmosphere of trust - these are qualities within the reach of every teacher to improve on.

I have to agree with the head of the secondary teachers union who has said , in response to Hattie's finding that, 'it is not rocket science' but I disagree that it it would be common practice in our stressed secondary schools. Hattie, in his book, commends the work of University of Waikato's Russell Bishop study of the experiences of Maori students which asks for a considerable change of approach in teacher student relationships. It is however not 'rocket science' for those creative teachers, past and present, found in our primary schools.

I liked Hattie's reference to philosopher Carl Popper's 'three worlds' ( a favourite of the late National Art Adviser Gordon Tovey, mentor to creative teachers in the 50 and 60s). The first world of surface knowledge, the second of thinking skills ( 'key competencies'), and the third creating deep concepts about what is worth learning. Tovey called the 'third world' the creative products resulting from learning. It places 'key competencies' in perspective for me.

Hattie writes that the major source of student variance lies within 'the person who gently closes the door of the classroom door and performs the teaching act'. His research focuses on the difference between the 'expert' or 'excellent' teachers and the 'accomplished' or simply 'experienced'. I would prefer the use of the phase 'creative' rather than 'expert' because it is the 'artistry' of such teachers that make all the difference. Identifying and sharing such teachers quality teaching attributes is the focus of Hattie's research. 'While teachers', he says, 'have the power - few do damage, some maintain a status quo in growth of students achievement,and many are excellent'.We need to identify, esteem, and grow those who have powerful influences on student learning.'

Papers are available on the Internet which outline all Hattie's ealier findings but the top teaching influences are : feedback, instructional quality, direct instruction, remediation feedback, class environment and challenge of goals.

'Expert' (or 'creative') teachers, Hattie found, had real respect for their learners as people with ideas of their own. They are passionate about teaching and learning, able to present challenging learning tasks ensuring 'deep learning' ( able to be transferred) and show more emotionality about successes and failures in their work. They are able to make lessons their own, invite students to 'engage', integrating and combining new learning with students prior knowledge. Their expertise ('artistry') allows them to 'read' their classrooms and to be more responsive to learners.

Such creative teachers,Hattie writes, are very context bound and find it hard to think out of the specifics of their classroom. They are extremely flexible and opportunistic, improvising to take advantage of contingencies and new information as it arises. They are 'greater seekers and user of feedback'. Interestingly research indicated that such teachers did not have written lesson plans but all could easily describe mental plans for their lessons. They were able to work intuitively and focus their energy on the creative act. Creative teachers indeed!

Interestingly it was pedagogical knowledge ( 'the art of teaching') rather than content knowledge that distinguished the 'expert' teachers.

The three things that separated 'expert' from 'experienced' teachers were: the degree of challenge presented, depth of student processing of knowledge and representation of what was worth finding out about, and ongoing monitoring and feedback.

Five areas covered in Hattie's latest book are;

Students to develop: a 'positive learning disposition' and to be 'open' to new learning. They need to develop 'engagement' with learning goals so as to become 'turned on' so as to gain worthwhile learning. Claxton's 'learnacy' or the NZ Curriculum's 'key competencies'.

Homes to be helped develop 'positive parental expectations and aspirations' as 'positive parent alignment' with school is vital.

Schools to provide a positive , optimistic, invitational, trusting and safe learning climate. One that welcomes student errors and develops positive peer influences; that gives both teachers and learner's respect as learners.

Teachers who are seen by their students as quality teachers. Who provide clarity of expectations and a belief that all can learn. Teachers who are 'open' to new ideas, who develop positive learning climate, and who value the importance of student effort to improve.

A curriculum that is explicit to learners and that provides challenging in depth experiences.

Hattie's work probably deserves greater consideration than I have given it as it is important. If teachers are to make the difference Hattie believes is possible then we need more than 'press releases'.

Hattie's on going research has identified teacher effectiveness ( or creativity) 'beyond doubt' and faces up to the fact that not all teachers are equal.

If the ideas Hattie has identified are known by all teachers then all our students could do far better than is currently expected.

Applying such ideas is preferable to wasting teacher time and energy on the failed concept national testing.

students want feedback

Professor John Hattie's Table of Effect Sizes

Hattie says ‘effect sizes' are the best way of answering the question ‘what has the greatest influence on student learning?'. An effect-size of 1.0 is typically associated with:
•  advancing learners' achievement by one year, or improving the rate of learning by 50%
•  a correlation between some variable (e.g., amount of homework) and achievement of approximately .50
•  A two grade leap in GCSE, e.g. from a C to an A grade
An effect size of 1.0 is clearly enormous! (It is defined as an increase of one standard deviation)

Below is Hattie's table of effect sizes.

Influence Effect Size Source of Influence
Feedback 1.13 Teacher
Student's prior cognitive ability 1.04 Student
Instructional quality 1.00 Teacher
Direct instruction .82 Teacher
Acceleration .72 Student
Remediation/feedback .65 Teacher
Student's disposition to learn .61 Student
Class environment .56 Teacher
Challenge of Goals .52 Teacher
Peer tutoring .50 Teacher
Mastery learning .50 Teacher
Homework .43 Teacher
Teacher Style .42 Teacher
Questioning .41 Teacher
Peer effects .38 Peers
Advance organisers .37 Teacher
Simulation & games .34 Teacher
Computer-assisted instruction .31 Teacher
Testing .30 Teacher
Instructional media .30 Teacher
Affective attributes of students .24 Student
Physical attributes of students .21 Student
Programmed instruction .18 Teacher
Audio-visual aids .16 Teacher
Individualisation .14 Teacher
Behavioural objectives .12 Teacher
Team teaching .06 Teacher
Physical attributes (e.g., class size) -.05 School

Terms used in the table (Interpreted by Geoff Petty)
•  An effect size of 0.5 is equivalent to a one grade leap at GCSE
•  An effect size of 1.0 is equivalent to a two grade leap at GCSE
•  ‘Number of effects is the number of effect sizes from well designed studies that have been averaged to produce the average effect size.
•  An effect size above 0.4 is above average for educational research
The effect sizes are averaged, and are a synthesis of research studies thought to be well designed and implemented by research reviewers. Hence they are the best guess we have about what has the greatest effect on student achievement.
Some effect sizes are ‘Russian Dolls' containing more than one strategy e.g. ‘Direct instruction' is a strategy that includes active learning, structured reviews after one hour, five hours and 20 hours study. There is also immediate feedback for the learners, and some corrective work if this is necessary.
Hattie does not define most of the terms in his table. My understanding of them is:

Feedback Hattie has made clear that ‘feedback' includes telling students what they have done well (positive reinforcement), and what they need to do to improve (corrective work, targets etc), but it also includes clarifying goals. This means that giving students assessment criteria for example would be included in ‘feedback'. This may seem odd, but high quality feedback is always given against explicit criteria, and so these would be included in ‘feedback' experiments.
As well as feedback on the task Hattie believes that students can get feedback on the processes they have used to complete the task, and on their ability to self-regulate their own learning. All these have the capacity to increase achievement. Feedback on the ‘self' such as ‘well done you are good at this' is not helpful. The feedback must be informative rather than evaluative. See the feedback page on my website or Teaching Today chapters 6 and 43.
Students prior cognitive ability: This is IQ and similar measures
Instructional quality: This is the student's view of the teaching quality; the research was done mainly in HE institutions and colleges.
Instructional quantity: How many hours the student is taught for. Direct instruction: Active learning in class, student's work is marked in class and they may do corrective work. There are reviews after one hour, five hours, and 20 hours study. See the separate handout.
Acceleration I think this is very bright students being put forward a year in schools
Home factors Issues such as social class, help with home work, extent to which the learner's education is thought important; etc
Remediation/feedback Diagnosing what students find difficult, and getting students to fix it.
Student's disposition to learn Student motivation
Challenge of Goals Students being given challenging but at least partially achievable goals
Bilingual programs Self explanatory??
Peer tutoring students teaching each other, peer-explaining, peer-checking, peer-assessing etc
Mastery learning A system of tests and retests of easy material with a high pass mark, if a student does not pass they must do extra work and then take a retest on the material they were weak at. See Teaching Today by Geoffrey Petty.
Questioning Students being questioned. The most effective questions are high order ‘why?' ‘how?'' and ‘which is best?' questions that really make students think . They need to be given time to think too, and can do better if they work in pairs than work alone.

Effect sizes Below 0.4 now follow. Some of these add a lot of value in a short time so don't ignore them…
Advance organizers A summary of the material in advance that puts some sort of structure to it. This can take a matter of moments and is best referred back to often.
Computer-assisted instruction Effect sizes for this are gradually rising as the instruction becomes more interactive, more engaging and generally better designed.
Instructional media Using state of the art visuals, videos, etc
Testing Testing by itself is not as effective as remediation/feedback where the test is used to find what the student needs to improve and they then do corrective work.
Affective attributes of students The attitudes, beliefs and feelings of students
Programmed instruction A form of instruction that involves students being taught by a computer or set of workbooks, by doing a series of prescribed tasks. If the student gets an answer wrong they are directed back to correct their misunderstanding. Devised by Skinner in the 1960s, but not much used now.
Individualisation Students working on an individualised programme of learning. This may work better if students are not working in a solitary way.
Finances/money Funny ….. this seems to have a larger effect when paid to me…
Behavioural objectives Having and using objectives in the form: “The students should be able to…” immediately followed by an observable verb. For example ‘explain' is okay because you can listen to, or read the student's explanation. However ‘understand' isn't behavioural because you can't see or read the understanding.
Retention Students who do not do well enough in one school year, being kept back to do the year again.

Beware Over-interpretation!
  • Surface learning (e.g. rote remembering without understanding) could produce high effect sizes short term for low cognitive skills such as remembering. For example the use of mnemonics has an effect size of about 1.1 (There is more to learning than passing memory tests.)
  • Most of the research was done in schools, though Hattie says effect sizes are remarkably stable and not much influenced by age
  • Some high-effect strategies are ‘Russian Dolls' with other strategies ‘inside'.
Some low effect sizes are not very time consuming and well worth trying for their additive effect.

prisoner's dilemma


nash in beatiful mind: 

not very good animation:

scientifc american: