NAPLAN WASTE

brain 1So there have been no significant gains in student results this year.

So what?

Can we measure the more intangible but more important outcomes with tests?

E.g.

  • Curiosity and wonder about the world
  • Formulation of ideas, dreams and goals
  • Ability to socialise and communicate
  • Determination to overcome difficulties
  • Fresh, creative writing
  • Ability to think logically and problem solve
  • Children’s ability to empathise with others and ability to manage their own strong feelings
  • A feeling of self-worth and optimism?

Of course we can’t! You need careful observations and skilled teachers and parents to identify the above qualities.

All teachers know how important the above outcomes are to children’s lives and yet we concentrate on such a narrow band of abilities.

Why do we think education is always about measurable results?

Why are we so scared of aspects of education we cannot pin down?

A good education is so much more than the results in the areas that NAPLAN measures.

Once again, children are being likened to machines that just need information rammed in tightly.

NAPLAN completely ignores the fact that children have at least 8 intelligences. Children who lack skills in maths and literacy feel like complete failures.

We see children with amazing art ability and aptitude for thinking deeply and logically. We see children who know so much about science and have “out of the box” ideas for helping our environment. These kids are still consigned to the rubbish heap.

We have not come very far!

So many years and so little progress!

“Now, what I want is Facts. Teach these boys and girls nothing but Facts. Facts alone are wanted in life. Plant nothing else, and root out everything else. You can only form the minds of reasoning animals upon Facts; nothing else will ever be of any service to them.”
Charles Dickens, Hard Times

The money spent on the development and administration of NAPLAN could so easily have been provided to schools for extra teachers, resources and ongoing professional development of teachers. That would have contributed to long lasting benefits for all Australian children!

Charles Dickens had it right- “There is a wisdom of the head, and… there is a wisdom of the heart.” – Hard Times

Hard Times ahead for education if we don’t get our heads out of the sand and stop applying flawed pedagogical principles to the education process!

 

 

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ELVES, WISHES, HOT CHIPS AND SPELLING!

 

 

elf

 

ELVES, WISHES AND SPELLING!

On Saturday we commenced our WINTER FESTIVAL.

I told the kids the old solstice legend of people hanging their wishes from trees for the elves to see and hopefully grant! The kids were keen to do the same so we hung our wishes on our learning tree.

I also told them that elves HATE spelling mistakes and don’t read wishes that are misspelled! What a change- they all checked their spelling carefully, checked in with teachers and used dictionaries. I have a feeling these spelling elves are here to stay at ICE!FullSizeRender (002)

I was fascinated to note their wishes. Many asked for gifts for their families. One child wished for immortality. A few asked for happiness and peace.

I truly believe rituals and celebrations are very important for children. They love the “wheel of the year,” and are fascinated by old traditions. They help children feel grounded, part of the community to understand their connections to the past.

This week and next we are celebrating this MIDWINTER time with a veritable festival of learning activities. We have even obtained a fake log fire to add to the atmosphere!fire

Here are some of our activities- they can easily be adapted for any classroom and are great to use at home!

  • Studying and writing about ice crystals http://encyclopedia.kids.net.au/page/ic/Ice_crystals
  • Mindfulness sessions- staring into a candle or fire and sharing what came into your mind.
  • Cook and eating wintery food such as baked potatoes, apple bread or hot chips.chips
  • Expressing gratitude for all the wonderful blessings we have experienced this year and setting goals for the warmer months ahead. You could light a tiny tea-light for each blessing children tell. (Keep up high!)
  • Reading and writing about the Earth’s orbit around the sun and why we have seasons.
  • You tube cold weather clips of crackling fires and snowy scenes. https://youtu.be/25SV6zqTl1k

https://youtu.be/zGD5C4wLsrs

So put plenty of layers on, make huge hot chocolates and celebrate this lovely deep, introspective season. It offers opportunities to go deep, get introspective, re-adjust the sails and just take a much needed deep breath!

 

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Treating kids like rubbish!

“Your son is absolutelycrumpled paper no good at anything!”

I was chatting to one our Mums this evening and she told me of a very sad incident. It concerned her young son and his classroom teacher.

The classroom teacher told the mother, “Your child is absolutely no good at anything. He is not good at reading, writing, maths, art or even physical education.”

The mother gave the best answer possible, “Whatever,” and grabbed a piece of writing paper from the teacher’s desk. She crumpled the paper into a ball and held it up for the teacher to see. “My son is like this crumpled piece of paper. You and this school have completely crushed his spirit and he has folded up deep inside himself.”Then she threw it in the bin and left.

She knows from her mother’s heart and brain that her son has strengths and weaknesses just like any child. She knows that given encouragement and a loving and nurturing learning environment, he will thrive.

This incident took place in a Church school. I think they need to remember the words of Jesus, their leader,

“Then Jesus called for the children and said to the disciples, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of God belongs to those who are like these children.”

No wonder this child has no confidence and has given up. At the moment he believes he is useless and it now our job to help him re-build his fractured self-esteem.

How sad that a teacher can behave in this way. Educators are meant to teach and build children up- not crush their beautiful spirits.

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Your child won’t amount to much….

AllKids are Smart Front CoverYour child won’t amount to much….

At least 10 times over the last 2 years I have had sad, hurt parents tell me the teacher of their child (primary years) has cast a very negative judgement on their child. Here are a few typical ones:

  • “Will never be academic,” (turned out to be an A student),
  •  “Will not amount to much,” – child picked that up and then pretty much believed it and went on to tell her Mum that the teacher “knows I will never be able to do it!”
  • “Will make a good hairdresser”- yes- that really WAS said! Apologies to all hairdressers as I think you are amazingly gifted!
  • “You need to lower your expectations because he will NEVER go to Uni- just doesn’t have the capacity.”  (That one went on to top his high-school year and will definitely be going to uni!)

How can trained educators do that?

How can we judge human potential so lightly and go on to trample on everyone’s dreams?

Whenever I look at the groups I teach I am always aware that I might have an Einstein, a Richard Branson, Maria Montessori, Marie Curie or a Bill Gates sitting in front of me. They might wriggle around, show little interest and be downright non-compliant at times. So what? Maybe my chosen teaching method that day was boring. Maybe they already knew the material. Maybe they were tired or had a fight with their best friend………

Many very successful adults did very poorly at school and in fact failed!

What does that tell us?

STOP JUDGING!

It could be us as educators or our inflexible exam based system that is breaking the spirit of our children and holding up their potential.

I have met many successful people with terrible memories of school. They were made to feel stupid, inept and eventually angry and resentful. Luckily anger has lots of inherent energy and they used it to fuel their future success.

The interesting thing is that behind all these failures who made good was a parent or mentor who really believed in them.

Just one person to believe in them made the difference!

If not for Einstein’s mother the scientific world would be so much poorer.

My take-away message is two-fold:

  1. To teachers- stop judging potential and treat EVERY child as potentially gifted. Look instead at your teaching methods.
  2. To parents- keep believing. Refuse to swallow the negative, bitter pills given to you. Let your child know you believe in them, provide a positive learning environment and let your child’s mind unfold!

So what if they fail the test, exam or forget the facts? There is a lot more to education than those things.

We believe EVERY child is smart and this is why I wrote a book of the same name.

Refuse to believe anything less.

Contact us on 61 8 92714200 to get a copy of the book. If you are in Singapore you can purchase it from www.september21.com.sg

Email me privately on victoriacarlton@iinet.net.au if you have any matters re your children you would like to discuss.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The ABC of Child Whispering: M is for MAGIC and MYSTERY

 

Cute school boy sitting on floor and using his smartphone

I am getting ready for tomorrow’s NEW-START workshop and thinking of ways to introduce some magic and mystery to the environment.

Last year we ran this workshop in Singapore and Perth and we turned the lights out and had scores of twinkling electric stars and candles when the children came in.Charlotte 2

The room felt like a IMG_3221cosy but mysterious cave and the children were all asked to remove their shoes as they entered. This signalled that we were going to be doing something quite different. We were going to get in touch with our deeper selves and try some transformation- all of us- adults and children!

We try very hard to create an air of mystery and magic at ICE and surprisingly it isn’t expensive or hard. You simply have to view the environment through the eyes of a child and then let your imagination run wild!

We have a star of learning that is switched on at every session to show how much we value learning and a learning tree complete with coloured lights that is hung with symbols of all the important learning activities we do as we go through the year.star

We always have quiet, relaxing music and some soothing art/craft or books ready for the children when they arrive. I love watching the way they visibly relax as they enter this magical space and start to interact. Children are so ready to enter into their imaginations and learn when given environments such as this.

I have been into so many amazing classrooms this year to train teachers and I have seen some wonderful, inviting environments deliberately crafted by wise, child-whispering teachers who understand the effect these surroundings make for children.IMG_5199

Parents can create a sense of sacred importance when they eat together as a family. Simply dimming the lights and lighting a candle to represent the love of the family, can create a special atmosphere. Children are far more likely to want to talk and communicate deeply in such special spaces.

Giving ourselves a magical interlude calms us and helps us open up to each other. It is no accident that romantic restaurants have candles and dim lights! Let’s also provide those spaces for our children to nurture their wonderful sense of magic and mystery. This is how we grow the imaginations and rich neural connections children need for learning!learning tree

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NEW START FOR YOUR CHILDREN

chick and egg

How many times have you wanted to press rewind but you know this is not possible?

Children suffer from this longing as they often blurt things out and then wish they could take them back!

Sadly we can’t do this but we CAN learn from mistakes and re-group and get on track and start our lives again!

I believe we ALL need a re-start sometimes.

Children need to feel optimistic and feel they can get back on track.

We have written a transformational and very effective workshop to help children achieve this.

We call it RE-START  and we have developed specific practical strategies to help children achieve this. We help them develop a sense of gratitude about themselves and what they already have and then we help them to set realistic goals.

We help them develop planning procedures and show them how to view life from the glass half full perspective.

Children are helped to become assertive, determine their strengths and weaknesses and to realise we are ALL smart! (But often in very different ways) All attending children are taken through a process to help them determine their stronger and weaker intelligences so they know how to strengthen their academic strengths by harnessing their strengths and talents!

We harness the image of the chick coming from the egg and show children that we can re-emerge with everything we already know.

Optimism can be taught but needs careful planning and persistence.

Both teachers and parents need to model optimistic behaviours by using positive language and actions. See this link for ideas to achieve this!

http://www.ahaparenting.com/parenting-tools/emotional-intelligence/optimism

There are great benefits to be had (for both children and parents) by adopting more optimistic outlooks. In our experience at ICE, children with positive outlooks are healthier, more resilient and tend to reach higher academic outcomes as they don’t allow negative self-talk to stop them!

http://stress.about.com/od/optimismspirituality/a/optimismbenefit.htm

Martin Seligman, the great expert in this area puts it so well:

“It’s a matter of ABC: When we encounter ADVERSITY, we react by thinking about it. Our thoughts rapidly congeal into BELIEFS. These beliefs may become so habitual we don’t even realize we have them unless we stop to focus on them. And they don’t just sit there idly; they have CONSEQUENCES.”

We believe these skills can be taught at an early age and will benefit children for the rest of their lives. Call us in Perth on 92714200 or email me on victoriacarlton@iinet.net.au for a comprehensive flyer about this course. Our next RE-START course will be held THIS Wed- 20-4-16

 

 

 

 

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THE SYSTEM IS BROKEN – HARD TIMES ARE BACK!

Our education system is broken.
We have lost the plot – seriously!
We treat children like vessels to be filled with knowledge- like Mr Thomas Gradgrind, the school board superintendent, in Charles Dicken’s “Hard Times.”
“Now, what I want is Facts. Teach these boys and girls nothing but Facts. Facts alone are wanted in life. Plant nothing else, and root out everything else. You can only form the minds of reasoning animals upon Facts; nothing else will ever be of any service to them.”

There are more and more schools that rip kindergarten children from the sandpits and plop them in front of boring workbooks, taking them away from play-based learning and thrusting them into formal school learning – all in the name of acceleration. Acceleration for what? Acceleration towards boredom and disengagment!

Some schools have the stated aim of getting all the children to be 1 year ahead before they get into year one! Why? What will this tension lead to?

Broken children will be the end results and already our level of anxiety amongst children has grown to worrying levels.
https://au.news.yahoo.com/thewest/lifestyle/a/25294925/anxiety-rising-among-children/
We are enrolling more and more children who are very anxious about NAPLAN, reports, academic performance and not managing to get all their homework done!
Schools are discussing children in terms of marks, stanines and percentages – not needs, personalities and learning styles.
The humanity, fun and excitement has gone from education and will continue to go.
Just over the last 7 days I have met broken children who believe they are failures at 8 years of age! I have met broken teachers who love children but have been instructed that children are no longer at the centre of the educational stage – it is all about exams results and, marks.
Even children are now describing themselves using the marks they get. I have children who have told me they desperately want to achieve a pass or get better than a C but believe this is no longer possible.

I have seen many reports that tell the exact position children come in their class. That is unbelievable and unacceptable in this day and age. It has to be stopped.
We are dishonouring our children and robbing them of motivation, hope and love of education. We CAN improve standards and reform our education system without taking away all the hope, enthusiasm, fun and creativity and breaking the hearts of the next generation!

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