Compulsory te reo Māori in schools

We look back on some practices e.g. teachings caning children and go – how could they do that/say that/ think that way back then? It would be wonderful if the next generation of teachers say the same thing about Māori not being compulsory in school.

It is interesting reviewing this post. I wrote it a good few months ago, and put it in draft form to come back to to avoid reactionary responses burned into the internet forever. I agree with much of what is written, and continue to agree with the principle of making te reo compulsory. HOWEVER, I think that an awful lot of structuring needs to be put in place to avoid it starting and failing because inadequate supports were put in place. At the end of the day it is our native language and the benefits of speaking more than one Continue reading


Bullying sucks

I heard a story of a child who has been feeling unwell as an avoidance tactic for school. This child was being bullied. On the grand scale of bullying it would count as on the minor side, but it was significant to the child concerned which makes it significant.

This yet again reiterated my frustrations as a teacher when bullying occurs. I can address the bullying with the child (and sometimes that is enough – by exposing it to the light or separating a couple of individuals who just get nasty together – those are the easy ones), but often this is not enough to address the issue. That is the issue with bullying – it is generally not a one off thing, but an ongoing pattern. Patterns can be hard to change. And just leaving it for the teacher to fix does not work because the teacher is not always there. Oh, the teacher definately needs to know it is going on and needs to take steps to support students, but this isn’t always effective. Yes there are strategies that can be employed

  • Restorative justice
  • Teaching skills to deal with it
  • Removal of the bully from the playground
  • Peer support
  • Teaching people to recognise unhealthy situations – or friends who aren’t friends
  • Home-school connections
  • Addressing it in the wider school context
  • Developing student relationships and expectations to stand up for one another
  • Helping kids learn to stand up for themselves and react less

But ultimately how do we stop it? A determined bully will find ways to continue. They themselves have learning they need to do. But how do we protect those who are being hurt in the process to stop it? How do we empower the victim?

In some ways physical violence is easier to deal with because there are marks. But what about words? What about those complex situations where the bully is subtle and jabs, jabs, jabs then gets upset when there is a response? What about when the bully knows how to play the game and hide the bullying?

Is there really anything that we can do or is it an uphill battle? In saying that it is not a battle that we can afford to stop fighting. It is a battle that we see played out not just in school, but continued through into adult life. New Zealand (in 2016) holds the silver medal for the highest statistics (worldwide) of workplace bullying. Click the link below to see an article on it. Therefore, simply dismissing bullying as ‘a part of life’, or as someone needing to ‘harden up’ because ‘life isn’t fair so you might as well get used to it now’ doesn’t work.

Despite a plethora of literature on bullying, it seems to be an ongoing problem (and not just over here in NZ either) and not one that is easily addressed. If you have some more ideas to add regarding this issue, please do.


workplace bullying

100+ Tools for Differentiating Instruction Through Social Media | Edutopia


Here’s a useful post I stumbled across – it focuses on purposeful use of tech tools rather than replacing doc…

A real bugbear of mine is having these wonderful tools available and then just using them to replace pen and paper activities (assuming you have been able to get past issues such as equity of access/ physical access/ internet speed/training/ policy matters etc). It’s chocolate covered broccoli and kids know it.

The trouble is there are so many barriers preventing genuine integration – some of these are genuine, some are excuses. But this ties into the touted learning revolution with the ‘game changers’ that are computers. As I have studied this topic it strikes me that this cry goes back to the eighties and even well before that.

Ultimately I have come to the conclusion that all the tech in the world will make minimal difference without substantial changes to pedagogical and assessment practices. So big ups to all you people out there doing your darndest! Remember, one step at a time on your tech journey. Just don’t stop for too long in one place.

Learning Centred Classroom

As a part of my lecture this week, I encountered the notion of a learning-centred classroom. This differs from current educational language which talks about shifting from a teacher -centred classroom to a student/learner-centred classroom. Well what about changing the language to a learning centred classroom?

It is a subtle shift in language, yet quite powerful.

A learning-centred classroom seems like a ‘well, isn’t that what the point of education is?’ kind of thought. Yet in a time of cramped curricula, ‘good’ educational opportunities and high accountability, it is all too easy for learning to take a back bench to curricula coverage, getting through the list, achieving results and ‘teaching’.

Well as we all know, teaching does not necessarily equal learning (nor does it necessarily preclude it). Results can be achieved, but that doesn’t necessarily mean learning has occurred. Students can look engaged but again, this doesn’t mean learning has happened.

So what prompted this thinking? I know you have been dying to ask. As usual, this does not come from me. I have included below an extract from a useful website which addresses this topic. The site can be accessed via this link: Link Alert!

“Many of the ways we have of talking about learning and education are based on the assumption that learning is something that individuals do. Furthermore, we often assume that learning ‘has a beginning and an end; that it is best separated from the rest of our activities; and that it is the result of teaching’ (Wenger 1998: 3). But how would things look if we took a different track? Supposing learning is social and comes largely from of our experience of participating in daily life? It was this thought that formed the basis of a significant rethinking of learning theory in the late 1980s and early 1990s by two researchers from very different disciplines – Jean Lave and Etienne Wenger. Their model of situated learning proposed that learning involved a process of engagement in a ‘community of practice’.”

As I look back I can see myself as a practitioner who has had both a teacher-centred and then learner-centred classroom. I have certainly tried to promote learning (achieving both success and failure). But, can I definitively say I have had a ‘learning’ centred classroom? Can you?

I’m signing off now to do some more reading. Enjoy!

Authentic learning contexts

“The use of authentic tasks is also advocated to foster learning transfer in the belief that the collaboration among students helps them learn not only the concepts under discussion but also how these concepts are used in the workplace or in life (Jaworski, 1994 ). To accomplish an authentic task, students must interact through sharing what they are thinking, relating their ideas to past experiences, collaborating with their peers, actively constructing their own meaning, and incorporating the diverse perspectives of others,” (Woo & Reeves, 2007 p.20).

Although written in the context of web-based learning, this has implications for  ‘contextualising’ learning in face-to-face learning as well. To foster the transfer of learning, not only is collaboration needed, but a truly authentic context, rather than a forced one. Woo and Reeves identified ten characteristics of authentic activities (from p.21):

  • “1. Authentic activities have real-world relevance.
  • 2. Authentic activities are ill-defined, requiring students to define the tasks and sub-tasks needed to complete the activity.
  • 3. Authentic activities comprise complex tasks to be investigated by students over a sustained period of time.
  • 4. Authentic activities provide the opportunity for students to examine the task from different perspectives, using a variety of resources.
  • 5. Authentic activities provide the opportunity to collaborate.
  • 6. Authentic activities provide the opportunity to reflect.
  • 7. Authentic activities can be integrated and applied across different subject areas and lead beyond domain-specific outcomes.
  • 8. Authentic activities are seamlessly integrated with assessment.
  • 9. Authentic activities create polished products valuable in their own right rather than as preparation for something
  • else.
  • 10. Authentic activities allow competing solutions and diversity of outcomes.”

To summarise, authentic activities can take multiple paths, require flexibility, collaboration, and learner control. They require higher order thinking and certainly scaffolding to support students at their various stages of development. Authentic learning tasks are messy (and I would disagree that with point number nine that they create polished products – that isn’t necessarily learning.

Woo, Y., & Reeves, T. C. (2007). Meaningful interaction in web-based learning: A social constructivist interpretation. The Internet and Higher Education, 10(1), 15–25.