Mr M's Blog

The Purpose of Education

The Purpose of Education

Recently a large gathering of primary and secondary school principals from all over New Zealand met with the Minister of Education, Hekia Parata, and the internationally renowned educational researcher and scholar, Professor Andy Hargreaves, formerly of Great Britain and now at Boston College, Massachusetts. Professor Hargreaves is the Thomas More Brennan Chair in Education at the Lynch School of Education at Boston College. The mission of the Chair is to promote social justice and connect theory and practice in education. 

The focus of this gathering was to launch a debate on “The Purpose of Education” in New Zealand. Some wonderful thinking, discussion, and idea sharing resulted, and I would like to share the best bits with you as I think this is an important topic for us to reflect on as parents, as teachers and educational leaders, and as a learning community focussed on doing the best we possibly can to educate, guide, prepare and support our children to become lifelong learners.

I was asked to reflect on the question, “if there was only one thing Western Heights could achieve for its children by the time they leave here, what would it be?

There are so many answers that come to mind - giving children a sense of self-worth, teaching them empathy, guiding them to become independent leaders of their own learning, helping them to be resilient and persistent… and many more.

In the end, I settled for embedding in them a love of learning that reaches down to the cellular level. A love of learning means that you will want to and love to learn about - first yourself; second others; third your world. 

  • Life-long learning about yourself will help you understand the importance of believing in yourself, having courage, confidence, resilience and persistence (among many other qualities).
  • Life-long learning about others will help you become empathetic (as you will learn not to judge others without first understanding them), cooperative, collaborative, and a team player (among many other qualities).
  • Life-long learning about your world will help you to be a caring, concerned and connected citizen. It will lead you to care more for your world as you understand and value the beauty, wonder, and finiteness of its resources.

We want to grow Learners who Love to Learn, Learn to Lead. Our WHS school Mission is “Love to Learn to Lead.”

If we can find ways to hook children into learning, and grow in them an ever-deepening passion for learning, so many of the challenges they (and our society) will face, will be overcomable.

Passion is an oft overused word, but I can assure you that I am passionate about achieving this goal, as are our staff.

As our Minister, Hekia Parata, stated, “Anyone not passionate about causing learning to happen should get out of the education business. I don’t want miserable people around our children, or around you,” she said.

It’s all very well being passionate about learning and growing Learners who Love to Learn and Learn to Lead, but passion has to be accompanied by action. 

A dream without a plan is empty after all.

For me, this brings in the power, purpose and possibility of the new Four R’s.

The original 3 R’s were reading, ‘riting and ‘rithmetic - a bit of a worry just in the name.

The new Four R’s are the means by which we ensure Reading, Writing, Mathematics and all the other wonderful components of our New Zealand Curriculum are taught, understood and mastered. They are the tools by which a passion for growing learners who Love to Learn to Lead becomes reality.

The Four R’s are:

  • Relationships - giving our children an opportunity to love and be loved. Treating every child in our care as our own flesh and blood.
  • Relevance - making sure children can make a connection to their learning through real-world/their-world contexts. Through this comes engagement, a sense of purpose, focus and a love of learning.
  • Rigour - is causing learning to happen, and knowing that it did. It is the analysis, assessment, discussion, conferencing, feed-back and feed-forward that allows us to know that learning has taken root, has been made into meaning, and become a part of the learner.
  • Reflection - requires the constant and consistent review of what we did, why we did it and what resulted. Reflection allows us to grow, to improve, to be better than before, and to understand the big picture around our learning.

The President of the NZ Principals’ Federation recently had this to say:                               

Our New Zealand teachers are world class professionals right across the deciles as proclaimed by the OECD recently. The close relationships our public schools have with our local communities mean that community aspirations and values create a context for each school's unique curriculum. This allows schools to continually adapt and change in response to demands for new skills. New Zealand schools can thus remain ahead of the game. Whilst much of the rest of the world is still immersed in standard methods of teaching and testing. New Zealand has leapt ahead into inquiry learning and teaching, problem-solving, critical thinking, self-management of learning and other innovative approaches.

'Our statement of purpose for education will inevitably involve knowledge and skills, it will also involve a range of values and competencies reflecting our growing cultural diversity, our environmental concerns, the need for equity, fairness and justice, inclusiveness and the desire to see our children grow into responsible, compassionate and contributing, global citizens.' 

In addressing "The Purpose of Education’ Minister Parata said that education is a 'powerful... social platform for excellence so that people can participate in the economy and grow in prosperity and cultural awareness. Minister Parata insisted the purpose of schools is to cause learning to happen and know that it did. 

She acknowledged that teaching was a complex and challenging job because it requires finding out how learning happens for each child. She spoke of the collapse of time and distance with the bright new digital world but quickly added that whether you are talking about the business of schools or of governments, the greatest influence comes from good quality leadership. 

Professor Hargreaves stated, "There are two discussion trends world-wide, progress and direction - how you are doing and where you are going. 

Professor Hargreaves’s purpose points to ponder were:                                                                      

  • Citizens cannot maintain both ignorance and freedom                                                                   
  • Education should be paid for, controlled and maintained by the public                                        
  • Education is provided in schools that embrace children from varying backgrounds                                        
  • Education should be non-sectarian                                                                                               
  • Education should be taught using the tenets of a free society.                                                           
  • Education should be provided by well-trained, professional teachers  

Cheryl Doig is a Futurist. She was the first principal to win the Goodman Fielder Wattie School of the Year award while at Richmond School in Christchurch. I have worked with Cheryl many times over the years and she is inspiring, challenging and an educational visionary.                                                                                                                                       

In addressing the purpose of education, Dr Cheryl Doig who works as a 'Futures Consultant' said there are more questions than answers. Whilst we want to value the past, it must be acknowledged that we are heading in a very different place now and that place is driven by technology and globalisation, not by learning to read, write and get a job.                             

Education will be a life-long learning process, according to Cheryl Doig, and school is just a small part of that.         

The world is changing at such a rate that you cannot have a school or university curriculum that is not instantly changeable. Our current system is not broken, she said. It works quite adequately for what it was designed for. The thing is, we must call time on that era. As Sir Paul Callaghan once said, 'New Zealand must become a city of four million people, a country where talent wants to live.’                                                                                           

It was also important to note the changing nature of work with 47 per cent of jobs that exist right now being capable of automation. The kids of today, therefore, need multiple opportunities to prepare them for a successful future because many will be in jobs that don't exist yet whilst many jobs that exist today will have disappeared. 

Professor Andrew Hargreaves summarised at the end. He noted the ideas and sentiments which principals repeated many times, including that we want the statement of the purpose for education to be bold, specific, holistic, encapsulating diversity, clear, inspiring, courageous, inclusive, passionate, bicultural, apolitical, collaborative, global, sharing, demonstrating professional ownership and reflecting New Zealand Curriculum.         

Further sentiments also echoed by the speakers included dignity, identity, ubiquity, authority, inquiry and intervention.                                                                                                        

Professor Hargreaves noted that 'if you don't know who you are, you are not self-confident enough to succeed.’ 

I am confident our WHS children are developing a very strong and clear sense of who they are, why learning is important and rewarding, and how they can lead in their own lives, with others, and in their world. This is our purpose in education, and your support, encouragement, engagement and commitment is greatly appreciated as it makes all the difference.

Thoughts on Praise

Stephen Grosz on Praise

Praise doesn't build a child's confidence, so what does?

Shortly after qualifying as a psychoanalyst, I discussed all this with an eighty-year-old woman named Charlotte Stiglitz. Charlotte - the mother of the Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz - taught remedial reading in northwestern Indiana for many years. 'I don't praise a small child for doing what they ought to be able to do,' she told me. 'I praise them when they do something really difficult - like sharing a toy or showing patience. I also think it is important to say "thank you". When I'm slow in doing something for a child, or slow to help them and they have been patient, I thank them. But I wouldn't praise a child who is playing or reading.' 

No great rewards, no terrible punishments - Charlotte's focus was on what a child did and the effort they put into doing it. 

I once watched Charlotte with a four-year-old boy, who was drawing. When he stopped and looked up at her - expecting praise - she smiled and said, "There is a lot of blue in your picture.' He replied, 'It's the pond near my grandmother's house - there is a bridge.' He picked up a brown crayon, and said, 'I'll show you.' Unhurried, she talked to the child, but more importantly she observed, she listened. 

She was present. 

Being present builds a child's confidence because it lets the child know that she is worth thinking about. Without this, a child might come to believe that her activity is just a means to gain praise, rather than an end in itself. How can we expect a child to be attentive, if we've not been attentive to her? 

Being present, whether with children, with friends, or even with oneself, is always hard work. But this attentiveness - the feeling that someone is trying to think about us - is something we want more than praise.

Shirley Clarke on Praise and Mindset

A fixed mindset is the result of a continual focus on your ability rather than your achievement and effort. Praise to young children reinforcing 'cleverness' or intelligence and exclaiming over speed of mastery gives a clear subliminal message: to get approval you need to master new things quickly, with little effort, both of which will earn you the 'clever' label. The more your ability, your speed and lack of effort are praised ('Well done! You hardly needed to think about/work at that at all! Clever girl!), the more you don't want to lose that position of greatness, so the less you want to engage in tasks which require time or effort or might lead to some kind of failure. People with a fixed mindset avoid challenging tasks for fear of failure, thus missing many valuable learning opportunities. 

Studies show that rewards - a concrete version of grades - given to a select few for their achievement, effort or behaviour, reinforced fixed mindset, for both those who get the reward and those who don't. Children do not need rewards when the culture is focused around all children competing against themselves and their own previous achievement. When there is a growth mindset culture in which the learner’s achievement is celebrated verbally and personally, and the goal is to strive for excellence, stickers and stars seem tokenistic and patronising.

Alfie Kohn on Praise

Studies conclude that rewards are ineffective. In the process of writing a book on the subject, I've found hundreds of studies showing that rewards are strikingly ineffective at producing lasting change in attitudes or behaviours. Once the rewards run out, people go right back to acting the way they did. 

Rewards don't create an enduring commitment to any value or action; they merely change what we do. 

Consider the questions that children may ask themselves. Threaten a punishment and a child will come to ask, "What am I supposed to do, and what will happen to me if I don't do it?" Bribe him by dangling a reward and he'll wonder, "What am I supposed to do, and what will I get for doing it?" Notice how similar these two questions are, and how different from what we want children to ask: 

"What kind of person do I want to be?" 

Good values have to be grown from the inside out; bribes and threats at best change children's behaviour only for a while. 

Rather than bolstering a child’s self-esteem, praise may increase kids’ dependence on us. The more we say, "I like the way you...." or "Good ______ing," the more kids come to rely on our evaluations, our decisions about what’s good and bad, rather than learning to form their own judgments. It leads them to measure their worth in terms of what will lead us to smile and dole out some more approval. 

Mary Budd Rowe, a researcher at the University of Florida, discovered that students who were praised lavishly by their teachers were more tentative in their responses, more apt to answer in a questioning tone of voice ("Um, seven?"). They tended to back off from an idea they had proposed as soon as an adult disagreed with them. They were less likely to persist with difficult tasks or share their ideas with other students. 

In short, "Good job!" doesn’t reassure children; ultimately, it makes them feel less secure. It may even create a vicious circle such that the more we slather on the praise, the more kids seem to need it, so we praise them some more. Sadly, some of these kids will grow into adults who continue to need someone else to pat them on the head and tell them whether what they did was OK. Surely this is not what we want for our daughters and sons. 

Rewards simply control through seduction rather than force, according to University of Rochester psychologists Edward Deci, Ph.D., and Richard Ryan, Ph.D., and all techniques that rely on control ultimately undermine what children need in order to make good decisions and take responsibility for their actions. Studies have shown, for example, that kids whose parents reward them frequently are less generous than their peers. 

Other research shows that the more students are led to focus on getting good grades, the less interested they will be in what they are studying, the less creative their thinking will be, and the more they will try to take the easy way out. Again, it makes sense: The more children see the "A" as the goal, the more they will come to see the learning itself as something to be gotten over with. The practice of paying kids for top grades -- offering, in effect, a reward for a reward -- doubles the damage. 

It's not the reward itself that's objectionable -- it's the practice of using something as a reward that causes the problem: "Do this and you'll get that." This feels controlling, causes dependence, and may spoil our relationship with our children. We risk coming to be seen as goody dispensers who have to be pleased rather than as loving and caring allies. 

If our long- term goal is more ambitious than getting kids to obey mindlessly, then we'll have to take the extra step of bringing them in on the process of making decisions. 

You might say to your seven year-old, "I've noticed that lately it's taking you a long time to get dressed in the morning, honey. What do you think we can do to solve that?" 

Rewards may be effective at training a pet, but raising good kids means working with them rather than doing things to them. 

Class Dojo - Class Don’tjo

Nearly all research points to public discipline as ineffective or counterproductive. There are many many reasons not to use publicly-displayed, one-size-fits-all behaviour systems. 

They are public 

They undermine a sense of community 

A child’s dignity, privacy, self-respect are no less real or important or valid, than yours 

Undermining a child’s privacy and dignity, damages their relationships with their peers, with you, and with themselves.

Displaying these charts publicly is in effect using public shaming as a way to control children’s behaviour. This is completely incompatible with creating a safe and nurturing environment. We can manage our classrooms without using shame to do it. 

They track behaviour, but they do not change it. 

They do not effectively allow for individual development, needs, situations, or progress. 

They create comparison and competition instead of building  community. 

We want our children to learn to 

be kind 


support one another 

be tolerant of others who are different from them 

never take pleasure in someone else’s pain 

ensure their successes don’t come at someone else’s expense 

We don’t want our children to see their classmates as competition - rather as a family full of people who help one another, and where different people work on different skills in different ways, at different rates, at different times, using different tools. 

Other reasons not to use a one-size-fits-all behaviour system 

They are reward-based. The research on rewards is pretty clear. As Alfie Kohn says “This is one of the most thoroughly replicated findings in the field of social psychology: the more you reward people for doing something, the more they tend to lose interest in whatever they had to do to get the reward...” 

More specifically, researchers have found that people’s interest in a task ordinarily plummets when they are acutely aware of being evaluated on their performance — even if the evaluation is positive.” (The Schools Our Children Deserve)

All of the following count as rewards: 

actual trinkets from a treasure chest or class “store” 

a sticker on a chart 

special play time/extra interval/a class party

the simple act of moving a clip or card “up” a chart

In the short-term, rewards work, if by “work” you mean that they produce compliance in the form of desired behaviours. 

They do not build 

children’s self-regulatory capacities 

decision-making skills 

intrinsic motivation. 

We want our children to do the right thing because it is the right thing, not because it will earn them a treat.

Behaviour systems are about the teacher controlling the kids, not about the kids learning to control themselves. 

Behaviour is a skill, rather than an innate expression of character 

Behaviour can be learned


If behaviour can be learned, it can be taught 

If we think about behaviour as a teachable skill, just like reading, it becomes pretty obvious that we can’t expect every child to go about learning to behave in the same way, at the same rate. Just as children start school with a wide range of reading abilities, so, too, do they start with a wide range of “behaving” abilities. 

A child who struggles to read will figure out compensatory strategies, some of which are adaptive, and some of     which are disruptive. 

A child who struggles to read is already aware that others can do so. 

A child who struggles to read probably doesn’t know why he or she is struggling. 

A child who is an excellent reader will probably not be motivated by the strategies that are helpful for more             typical, or struggling readers. 

A child who is an excellent reader may be embarrassed if attention is constantly drawn to his or her strengths. 

If behaviour is a skill, like reading, every child arrives with a different  level of ability. 

If behaviour is a skill, like reading, we cannot blame or shame a child who struggles with it. 

If behaviour is a skill, like reading, children’s individual abilities and progress (or lack thereof) have reasons           behind them. 

If behaviour is a skill, like reading, it is our job to figure out the reasons. 

Sticker-Strategy Replacement 

Have a plan, a toolkit, a bank of strategies to manage your classroom consistently, calmly, and thoroughly.

Talk about how we want our class to be, develop a “code of cooperation”, and show examples of what those expectations look like. 

Help students manage themselves. 

Create classroom expectations together 

Describe explicitly what those expectations look like throughout our day and our school. 

Use children’s literature to discuss classroom behaviours, relationships, and feelings. 

When expectations are not met, use logical consequences. 

Acknowledge positive behaviours 

Use one-on-one conversations and personal behaviour plans when needed. 

Use a "Take a Break" space.

This is not a traditional "Time Out". This is a place in the classroom where children can take a moment to decompress, take a breather, or think about making different choices. Children will often go there on their own, but sometimes will be asked to go there by their teacher. The child will only stay there for about 1 or 2 minutes - use an egg timer so they don't stay too long. 

Have a basket with some helper tools in it - 

A mirror because sometimes it helps a kid to see the emotion on their own face in order to recognise it. 

Squishy balls for squeezing the tension away, a few cue cards for self calming. 

A timer to remind kids not to stay too long. 

A stuffed toy for a little snuggle 

Other Keys to Success 

Build a relationship with your students and their parents. 

The first thing each child needs learn from you is that you love them - unconditionally. 

Consider where a child comes from before he/she gets to school and  use that information. 

Have high high expectations for your students 

Ground those expectations in trust and faith that children, given the right support, and the right environment, can   manage themselves successfully and positively. 

Provide lots of freedom and lots of choice in your room. 

Remind children that freedoms and choices are privileges. 

Have a very specific understanding of what constitutes “problem behaviour.” 

A behaviour is only a problem if it interferes with a child’s safety and learning or the safety and learning of others. Period. A behaviour that is annoying to me is not automatically a problem. 

Be Fair. 

Explain Fair doesn’t mean same. 

Fair means everybody gets what they need. 

When the children understand what “fair” means, you can meet those needs without worrying about accusations of favouritism. 

Normalise the tools that help children manage their own behaviour.

Children need to know it is okay to ask for help with their behaviour. If a child asks for a break from the mat, she can have it. If he knows he will do better in line by walking with me, he can. If she can’t stop chatting with her neighbour, help her find a place to work alone. Leaving the mat, holding my hand, sitting alone, are not punishments. These are choices and tools that help children be their best selves. 

Choice is a privilege. Let children choose which “work” to do first. Children like having choices, having a say in the path their day takes. 

If they are not managing those choices well, the privilege of choice is lost. You will rarely need any consequences other than “loss of choice”. 

Look for patterns. If you are constantly correcting the same behaviour from the same child at the same time in the same spot every day, ask is there a way to break the pattern? 

Don’t have “systems” - have relationships.What works for one does not work for another and makes things even worse for a third. 

Do family building - whanaungatanga - all year. 

Do challenges together. 

When a problem arises, consider your options before speaking. 

Rather than call out a student for misbehaving pull them aside, ask them to leave the room to think about it, or do a quick check in. 

Use humour - never ever use sarcasm. 

Engagement matters. If children are engaged, they misbehave less. 

Ask the child face to face and quietly, what is going on? 

Don’t assume why a child is misbehaving, ask. Ask how they think their day is going? Take this opportunity to build a deeper relationship. 

Wipe the slate clean every day 

Be excited about learning and your class. Motivation is contagious. When one child gets excited and has an opportunity to share that enthusiasm, the contagion spreads. 

Do lots of activities on what self-control means and how when we catch ourselves and get control over our behaviours, we can be proud. 

Communicate the goal - for everyone to the right thing even when no one is watching.

When we try to teach children how to act, and react, we have to keep in mind the long term effects. We want to be teaching children to do the right things because they are the right things to do. We want to grow young people who have an internal moral compass that guides them to make good choices because they are good choices, not because we are “paying” them.

Paying them is a broad term. We pay them with praise, stickers, marbles in a jar, stars, lollipops, extra minutes at interval etc. This is bribery. It is done with the best intentions, and we often see short term benefits. The children become quiet, they stay in their seats, etc. The fact remains, they are doing it for the payment. They are focused on the  prize, and when the prize is gone, they no longer have any reason to do it.

When no one is “paying” them to take turns, be kind, or listen, they are left with a poorly developed internal motivation. Instead, we have been feeding the bribery centre in their brain.Rewards and punishments actually trigger activity in the addiction centre of the brain. We are encouraging our children to become addicted to reward – praise, stickers, sweets, class parties, etc. This does not build self motivated learners. 

It builds addicts.

To some Class Dojo specifics: 

What is Classroom Dojo is really doing to children’s focus and engagement? 

If you are a child who is generally a hard working, motivated learner, you now become a hard working, motivated “behaver.” 

Your attention is continuously being drawn away from your work to notice how you are doing on your points, or how someone else is doing. Even if the points are not being changed regularly, your attention is now divided - pulling your thinking and attention away from learning. 

If you are a child who is usually on task and doing well, but sometimes slips up, your mistakes are now made bigger. 

Your slip-ups become public errors, and they suddenly become a much bigger deal. 

If you are a child who is often getting into trouble, your troubles are there for everyone to see. 

You get a continuous reminder of your failures. 

Often teachers will say my children love Class Dojo, however, when they get down to what it is about it their children love, the argument breaks down. 

They love the avatars.

Use RazKids and give them avatars there to encourage reading. Don’t use Dojo just because of the cute monsters. 

They love the rewards.

Well who wouldn’t? We all love sweets. But again, rewards don’t build learners. 

They love what their parents say. 

That is, they love praise. Of course they do. But we need to be careful about using praise as a reward. And of course, not all the kids love what their parents say... 

Again, the most important thing a teacher can do is build relationships with their children, and build a classroom community where respect and contributions are valued and expected.

We need to use careful language with students that encourages positive behaviour and builds identities for students as contributing members of the class. 

We need to teach children that feelings, good and bad, are normal and ok. They can handle these feelings appropriately and safely, and they can set goals to improve. 

Teaching is interacting, active, engaged and engaging. 

Teaching is not sitting at a desk grading children’s behaviour and typing in reasons for that arbitrary grading.

We want teachers conferencing with children, providing quality feed-forward and feed-back for each individual learner. 

The locus of learning is with the child.

The focus of learning is on the learning and not on the behaviour.

When you are tracking behaviour, sending out updates of the grading and the reasoning every few minutes, there is no time for the above. The locus has then moved to you, the focus has then moved to behaviour.

If the learning is powerful, relevant, challenging, achievable, targeted at each individual according to their needs, interests and at their general level of capability, behaviour is generally not an issue. 

Thoughts on Learning

Sometimes we can worry about change. We think about the way things were and how they worked for us. The world our children live in and one day will work in, is very very different from the one we grew up in. The speed of change is exponential, and we need to be changing with our world and preparing our children for a world of change.  Change  requires  an  evolution  of  thinking  that  can  offer  new possibilities for continued greatness ahead. 

One change we must emphasise is ensuring the focus is more than just on academic achievement, but rather on Whole Child growth and development.

When we state “Whole Child,” we are specifically addressing the development of the social, emotional, physical and academic development of each student.

A  Whole  Child  approach,  which  ensures  that  each  student  is  healthy,  safe,  engaged, supported, and challenged, sets the standard for comprehensive, sustainable school improvement and provides for long-term student success.

Whole Child Education Expectations: 

Each child enters school healthy and learns about and practices a healthy  lifestyle. 

Each child learns in an environment that is physically and emotionally safe for all. 

Each child owns their learning and contributes to a close personal connection with our school         

                and their community.

Each child has access to personalised learning and is supported by caring, qualified adults. 

Each child is challenged academically and nurtured individually to prepare them for success 

                in life.

Skills for the 21st Century: 

“The rigour that matters most for the 21st century is demonstrated mastery of the core competencies for work, citizenship, and life-long learning. Studying academic content is the means for developing competencies, instead of being the goal, as it has been traditionally. "In today’s world, it’s no longer how much you know that matters; it’s what you can do with what you know.” -- Tony Wagner, The Global Achievement Gap 

The success of our children is dependent upon our ability to teach them 21st century skills: 

    Collaborative Team Member

    Effective Communicator

    Globally Aware, Active, and Responsible Student/Citizen

    Information Literate Researcher

    Innovative and Practical Problem Solver

    Self‐Directed Learner. 

“As educators, school leaders, and policymakers, we exist in a world where too often assessment equals high-stakes tests. This is a very limited view of assessment. The fundamental purpose of assessment is the improvement of student achievement, teaching practice, and leadership decision-making.” Douglas Reeves, Ahead of the Curve: The Power of Assessment to Transform Teaching and Learning. 

We believe all students should participate in Music. This year we have implemented a school-wide music programme that has given every child a taste of how engaging and empowering participation in music can be. Mark McLay our Marvellous Music Maestro describes it as opening their eyes to a world of challenging fun. The value in their participation goes far beyond the act of playing any specific instrument. The value lies in the skills they learn in performance, practice, and participation in a group. Playing an instrument activates both sides of the brain. It teaches the value of effort and achievement. It teaches appreciation for the arts. I want to publicly thank Mark for the magnificent job he has done with this programme, it has added a wonderful new dimension to learning at WHS.

Our Vision is for our children to Love to Learn to Lead. This is a whole child vision. 

We want our children to Love themselves, to be strong in themselves, resilient and confident in what they can do and what they can learn.

We want our children to Love each other - to be a part of a caring and contributing family. Bucket-Fillers who make a difference in their world by Paying It Forward. One of the most important ways we show our love for our family is by listening - a skill for the ages.

We want our children to Love our world. It’s the only one we’ve got, there is certainly not another in the Universe that we are aware of or could reach, so we must look after it with love and care.

We want our children to Love to Learn. Learning gives us power over our world, our circumstances and our future. It offers us options and opportunities that we would not have without it. Learning is for life.

We want our children to Lead. 

With our WHS values, our children are well set to lead - in their own lives as they set goals, develop action plans, identify what success looks like and reflect on how they went and where they go next. 

In the lives of others as they set the standard for others to aspire to. In their world as they live leadership through what they do rather than what they say.

“As educators, our responsibilities are to support our children in pursuit of their learning, to support our children in pursuit of their dreams, and to support our children in pursuit of imagining successes not already conceived. 

We must do all we can to meet our responsibility to develop the “Whole Child, Every Child.” 

Therefore, we will continually reflect on all that we do to ensure we meet all the needs of these wonderful young people entrusted into our care, and support them to the best of our ability in order that they will Love to Learn to Lead.

W Edwards Demming

As a follow up to my blog on Quality Control and Kids, I would like to share with you a little from the life and work of Dr Demming.


In 1960, the Prime Minister of Japan (Nobusuke Kishi), acting on behalf of Emperor Hirohito, awarded Deming Japan's Order of the Sacred Treasure, Second Class. The citation on the medal recognizes Deming's contributions to Japan's industrial rebirth and its worldwide success.

In 1980, he was featured prominently in an NBC TV documentary titled "If Japan can... Why can't we?" about the increasing industrial competition the United States was facing from Japan. As a result of the broadcast, demand for his services increased dramatically, and Deming continued consulting for industry throughout the world until his death at the age of 93.

Over the course of his career, Deming received dozens of academic awards, including another, honorary, PhD from Oregon State University. In 1987, he was awarded the National Medal of Technology by President Reagan: "For his forceful promotion of statistical methodology, for his contributions to sampling theory, and for his advocacy to corporations and nations of a general management philosophy that has resulted in improved product quality." In 1988, he received the Distinguished Career in Science award from the National Academy of Sciences.


"A manager of people needs to understand that all people are different. This is not ranking people. He needs to understand that the performance of anyone is governed largely by the system that he works in, the responsibility of management. A psychologist that possesses even a crude understanding of variation as will be learned in the experiment with the Red Beads could no longer participate in refinement of a plan for ranking people.”

"There is no substitute for knowledge." This statement emphasises the need to know more, about everything in the system. It replaces "There is no substitute for hard work" by Thomas Alva Edison with, a small amount of knowledge could save many hours of hard work.

"Experience by itself teaches nothing." To Deming, knowledge is best taught by a master who explains the overall system through which experience is judged; experience, without understanding the underlying system, is just raw data that can be misinterpreted against a flawed theory of reality. Deming's view of experience is related to Shewhart's concept, "Data has no meaning apart from its context”.

Deming used an illustration of washing a table to teach a lesson about the relationship between purpose and method. If you tell someone to wash a table, but not the reason for washing it, they cannot do the job properly (will the table be used for chopping food or potting plants?). That does not mean just giving the explanation without an operational definition. The information about why the table needs to be washed, and what is to be done with it, makes it possible to do the job intelligently.

"You can expect what you inspect." Deming emphasised the importance of measuring and testing to predict typical results. If a phase consists of inputs + process + outputs, all 3 are inspected to some extent. Problems with inputs are a major source of trouble, but the process using those inputs can also have problems. By inspecting the inputs and the process more, the outputs can be better predicted, and inspected less. Rather than use mass inspection of every output product, the output can be statistically sampled in a cause-effect relationship through the process.

The 4 steps in the Deming Cycle: 

Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA), also known as Plan-Do-Study-Act or PDSA. Deming called the cycle the Shewhart Cycle, after Walter A. Shewhart. The cycle can be used in various ways, such as running an experiment: 

PLAN (design) the experiment; 

DO the experiment by performing the steps; 

CHECK the results by testing information; 

ACT on the decisions based on those results.

"A system must be managed. It will not manage itself. Left to themselves in the Western world, components become selfish, competitive, independent profit centres, and thus destroy the system. . . . The secret is cooperation between components toward the aim of the organization. We can not afford the destructive effect of competition.”

Taking action on the basis of results without theory of knowledge, without theory of variation, without knowledge about a system - has the effect of making things worse. With the best of intentions and best efforts, managing by results is, in effect, exactly the same as driving your automobile by keeping your eye on the rear view mirror. And that's what management by results is, keeping your eye on results.”

Deming realized that many important things that must be managed couldn’t be measured. Deming is often incorrectly quoted as saying, "You can't manage what you can't measure." In fact, he stated that one of the seven deadly diseases of management is running a company on visible figures alone.

Quality Control and Kids

Here’s the problem as I see it with today’s education policies. Businesses and governments are accountable - to stock holders and to voters. In the business world you can usually find a correlation between what you put into a business and what you get out of it.

In a business model, you ensure quality raw materials, resources and components go in as inputs. In doing so, you can be reasonably sure the outputs will also be of good quality, fit for purpose, and able to show a return on investment.

Governments, particularly those supported by businesses, want to be able to show returns on investment. They want to be able to measure what went in, measure what comes out and then provide a “value for money return on investment” statement. 

Governments have turned their attention to education and are seeking to apply the same principles.

Dr W Edwards Demming was brought in by the Japanese government after WW2 to look at their management systems and processes. He looked at their system of performance pay and famously set up an example for Captains of Industry. Dr Demming put a smaller number of red balls into a box with a larger number of white balls. “Workers” were invited to step up and blindly choose a ball. If they picked a red one they got a performance bonus. If they chose a white one, no reward. 

His point was, the workers had no control over the outcome.

In simple terms, Dr Demming taught these Japanese Captains of Industry that: 

     they had to devolve responsibility to the workers for their performance

     they had to listen to the person doing the job rather than bring in analysts and time and   

      motion experts

     they needed to make everyone responsible for improvement 

     they needed to share the performance rewards with everyone involved

     teams working as teams would always outperform individuals competing for rewards

     invest in your teams and your individuals

     show loyalty

In specific terms, Deming’s 14 Points on Quality Management:

     Create constancy of purpose for improving products and services.

     Adopt the new philosophy.

     Cease dependence on inspection to achieve quality.

     End the practice of awarding business on price alone; instead, minimise total cost by   

     working with a single supplier.

     Improve constantly and forever, every process for planning, production and service.

     Institute training on the job.

     Adopt and institute leadership.

     Drive out fear.

     Break down barriers between staff areas.

     Eliminate slogans, exhortations and targets for the workforce.

     Eliminate numerical quotas for the workforce and numerical goals for management.

     Remove barriers that rob people of pride of workmanship, and eliminate the annual rating or 

     merit system.

     Institute a vigorous program of education and self-improvement for everyone.

     Put everybody in the company to work accomplishing the transformation.

After WW1 the economies of Germany and Italy collapsed. The Deutsche Mark and the Lira were worth nothing. They blamed the rest of the world, got angry and went to back to war.

After WW2 Japan was demoralised and defeated. It also faced the aftermath of two nuclear bombs falling on two of its leading cities. They did not blame the rest of the world, get angry and go back to war. They sought advice, got thinking and got to work.

Japan’s economy did not collapse. In fact, Japan’s economy soon outpaced America’s. Japan soon led the world as an industrialised nation. 

Dr W Edwards Demming is revered by the Japanese nation, and the Japanese people. America did eventually realise they had missed the bus, but the practices at so many major corporations were the antithesis of Demming’s Total Qulaity Management, that America’s economy all but collapsed. General Motors, Ford, Chrysler, Goldman Sachs - all these massive corporations ended up in impossible debt and disfunction because they ignored Demming’s TQM. 

Instead they followed a culture of paying obscenely massive benefits and bonuses to their CEOs and managers - even when their companies made massive losses. Now those same - Goldman Sachs for example - executives are working for the US government, employed by Bush, and pushing the same ideology that got America into such an horrific mess.

So back to the problem as I see it, with education. Ministry and government officials want to pay teachers for their performance. Think back to Demming’s example. You reach in blindly and if you get the red ball…

It’s the same principle here. 

What if teacher A gets three children with Attention Deficit Disorder, one with Hyperactivity, one Foetal Alcohol syndrome child, one spoilt child who has no boundaries at home, two freshly arrived refugee children with no English, 15 local children who have English as their second or third language, seven children who have not been to pre school and - well you get the picture.

There are many, many classrooms where this is a typical intake.

Teacher B meanwhile receives 18 children because their school can afford to lower class sizes due to financial support from their community. Those 18 children are predominantly New Zealand European. They have all been to pre-school, they all have books in their homes, they all have had language-rich experiences as they grew up, they all have learned their alphabet, colours and numbers to 20 before starting school. Their parents are educated, have good jobs and high expectations.

There are many, many classrooms where this is a typical intake.

So for the sake of society as well as the sake of the children, which children need the better teacher?

Would it be fair to say the children in Teacher B’s class are going to progress beautifully whether Teacher B is any good or not?

Would it be fair to say Teacher A could work her fingers to the bone and still have a number of children making limited progress?

Are the non problematical children in Teacher A’s class going to be able to focus and get the best Teacher A has to offer if she is constantly “managing” the challenging children?

Take this one step further. What if you are the parent od a special needs child? Is a teacher going to want to teach your child if it is going to put their performance bonus at risk by having your child in their class?

Each child we have the blessing to educate is unique. Each child, according to Sir Ken Robinson, “is a fountain of possibilities.” Children can’t be considered to be outputs. As teachers we must cultivate the right conditions for learning; we must find each child’s passion, talent, and creativity. As teachers we must capitalise on the great diversity in our schools and guide young people to find their talents with the goal of using these to positively contribute to society.

I am not opposed to accountability. Data informs planning and  instruction, but I think many have misinterpreted assessment and how it should be used. The word assess comes from the Latin verb assidire - to sit beside. Instead of doling out test papers, we need to be sitiing beside our learners, having personal conversations about what they know, what they want to know and how to scaffold between the two. 

Hattie’s research is unequivocal - relationships between learner and teacher; constructive, personalised feed back and feed forward; are what make the difference.

Drill and test achieves nothing lasting but may provide data to keep Ministers and voters happy if they do not know any better.

Demming proved that performance pay as the government is promoting, will not work because we must take individual differences, developmental differences, and life experiences into account.

There is no assessment that can accurately assess all children.

There is no one-size-fits-all test, fix, or easy way to measure student academic performance. It is difficult, challenging and messy work. We must abandon the idea that we can fix education with more money, a new program, or a piece of legislation. We can’t legislate learning any more than we can legislate love. Learning is organic, it happens when passion meets opportunity, when a great teacher creates an amazing experience for students to embrace.

Our children need the very best teachers we can provide. Our future rests in the hands of these children who will take over our world - the world we are leaving them is fraught with massive challenges such as we have not confronted before. To face those challenges our children need to be well taught - not just in reading, writing and math, but in thinking, caring, creating, contributing, collaborating, communicating, persisting, and in particular, discerning.

Right now we need discerning people to stand up and say performance pay for teachers is not the answer.

We need to apply Demming’s principles, and Sir Ken Robinson’s.

Behaving Intelligently

We live in an information age. The goal now is not to know the answer, or even to find the answer, but to know how to behave intelligently when we don't know the answer.

Often we feel we have failed - are failing, if we get stuck. In fact, just the opposite is true. Getting stuck is a sign that we are challenging and extending ourselves.

Going a bit deeper with that explanation ...

A critical distinction of intelligent human beings is that they not only have information, they also know how to act on it. They know how to perform effectively under those challenging conditions that demand strategic reasoning, insightfulness, perseverance, creativity and craftsmanship to resolve a complex problem. While they may be deemed "smart" because they possess many answers, they also know how to behave intelligently when they don't know the answers. As educators, we should focus on teaching learners how to produce knowledge, rather than reproduce knowledge.

Some strategies that children can use are:

 Take a minute to think about it.

 Look at the goal to be sure you understand what to do.

 Read through what you have done so far.

 Ask a friend to check your learning.

 Use equipment.

 Look at the learning displays.

 Ask a friend who understands the learning.

 If you are still stuck, ask a teacher or parent, or adult who can help.

The most important one of all though is...

Take a risk! Just have a go!

All of this relates to a topic I have been addressing with our teachers lately - Hard Fun.

Hard Fun can be expressed in many different ways, all of which all boil down to the conclusion that everyone likes hard challenging things to do. 

But they have to be the right things matched to the individual and to the culture of the times. These rapidly changing times challenge educators to find areas of work that are hard in the right way: they must connect with the kids and also with the areas of knowledge, skills and ethics adults will need for the future world.

Effective and meaningful learning is inspired through activities that are 



    involve lots of thinking 

    aim to create outcomes that are new

That is a definition of ‘fun’ 

    Learning has substance and challenge 

    The learner comes away with a sense of it having  

    been worth doing. 

That is a definition of of ‘hard’.

Mathematician, computer scientist and educator at MIT, Professor Seymour Papert, developer of Logo and Lego Mindstorms, calls this way of learning ‘hard fun’ (Papert, 2002). Inspired by a child’s comments about learning the programming language Logo, Papert argues for learning experiences that are fun because they are hard (Papert, 1996, in Barrow, 2005). That is, experiences should appeal to students’ interests and enjoyment but should also be challenging and stretch learners to develop their own good habits. 

Barrett (2005) helps in unpacking Papert’s notion of ‘hard fun’ in learning. He suggests the qualities of ‘fun’ include experiences of 




He suggests that the ‘hard’ in learning might involve seeking answers to challenging problems, being actively engaged in doing and thinking and questioning and changing one’s beliefs and attitudes.

Take a Mindstorms robot - by being left to figure out how to make it move using a computer, motors, sensors and Lego, a child learns complex ideas about maths, physics, programming and logic.

The "resistance" the child meets with from the real world as they try to make this Lego object do as it wants presents endless challenges to be overcome - and the child learns through gradually getting it right.

This is "hard fun"

Making sure the learning process is deep and enriching - and hard - rather than shallow is an important teacher's role.Hard Fun Is Not Just for Kids

Hard fun has come to serve as my guiding principle for my adult life. What I took away from Negroponte and  Papert’s work is that hard fun might just be the best way to keep the kid-like spirit alive in grown-ups, throughout our lives.

To sum up - … "hard fun learning" has to be the right things matched to the individual and to their culture. 

Our challenge - to find areas of work that are hard in the right way: 

    that connect with our learners 

    also with the areas of knowledge, skills and ethics 

    they will need for the future world.

We are introducing Hard Fun into the Lexicon of Learning - “learnish” - that we speak in our classrooms and our school.

The final word from arguably one of the smartest men to have lived, Dr Steven Hawking:

“Intelligence is the ability to adapt to change.”

Change can be hard, it can be fun, behaving intelligently in the face of change is Hard Fun.

If you are still with me to this point - awesome, you persevered and I hope you gained something from it.

More on Steven Hawking and Getting Stuck

Stephen Hawking’s life is remarkable in many ways. Firstly, because he is a brilliant physicist and has made groundbreaking discoveries regarding the cosmos, black holes and other unexplored aspects of the universe we live in. Secondly, he has survived motor neurone disease (ALS) which was diagnosed when he was 21 years old. He was told he had a few years to live and now, at the age of 73, he is still alive and as mentally active as ever. He has been immobilised since his twenties and then lost the power of speech which means that he now speaks via a computerised synthesiser.

Stephen Hawking  was born on Jan 8th in 1942 which was the 300th anniversary of the death of Galileo. At school, he only managed to get average grades. He was curious about how clocks worked and regularly took them to pieces but was not very good at reassembling them.

His studies at Oxford were disturbed by his rowing practice which occupied six afternoons a week. He was the coxswain who steered the boat and kept the rowers safe. The only problem was that his studies suffered and he admitted that he had to cut some corners to pass his exams.

His studies and research brought him countless prizes and recognition. He held the Lucasian Chair of Mathematics at the University of Cambridge for 30 years. Isaac Newton held the same position in 1669.

Hawking’s relationship with his wife Jane is movingly portrayed in the film The Theory of Everything.   When asked what he thought of the film, Hawking replied that there was not enough science in it while his ex wife thought that there was not enough emotion.

Stephen Hawking’s life is an astonishing story of a man who faced enormous odds and went on to become one of the world’s most famous scientists. Here are some of his most famous quotes.

“I have noticed that even people who claim everything is predetermined and that we can do nothing to change it, look before they cross the road.”

“The downside of my celebrity is that I cannot go anywhere in the world without being recognized. It is not enough for me to wear dark sunglasses and a wig. The wheelchair gives me away.”

“Mankind’s greatest achievements have come about by talking, and its greatest failures by not talking. It doesn’t have to be like this. Our greatest hopes could become reality in the future. With the technology at our disposal, the possibilities are unbounded. All we need to do is make sure we keep talking.”

“Intelligence is the ability to adapt to change.”

“My advice to other disabled people would be, concentrate on things your disability doesn’t prevent you doing well, and don’t regret the things it interferes with. Don’t be disabled in spirit, as well as physically.”

“One, remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Two, never give up work. Work gives you meaning and purpose, and life is empty without it. Three, if you are lucky enough to find love, remember it is there and don’t throw it away.”

“It is no good getting furious if you get stuck. What I do is keep thinking about the problem but work on something else. Sometimes it is years before I see the way forward. In the case of information loss and black holes, it was 29 years.”

“So next time someone complains that you have made a mistake, tell him that may be a good thing. Because without imperfection, neither you nor I would exist.”

“We are all different, but we share the same human spirit. Perhaps it’s human nature that we adapt and survive.”

“If I had to choose a superhero to be, I would pick Superman. He’s everything that I’m not.”

“I am just a child who has never grown up. I still keep asking these ‘how’ and ‘why’ questions. Occasionally, I find an answer.”

“I have lived with the prospect of an early death for the last 49 years. I’m not afraid of death, but I’m in no hurry to die. I have so much I want to do first.”

“Try to make sense of what you see and wonder about what makes the universe exist. Be curious, and however difficult life may seem, there is always something you can do, and succeed at. It matters that you don’t just give up.”

“It is a waste of time to be angry about my disability. One has to get on with life and I haven’t done badly. People won’t have time for you if you are always angry or complaining.”

“We are in danger of destroying ourselves by our greed and stupidity. We cannot remain looking inwards at ourselves on a small and increasingly polluted and overcrowded planet.”

“Keeping an active mind has been vital to my survival, as has been maintaining a sense of humor.”

“I have so much that I want to do. I hate wasting time.”

Early Reading - Part One

In this world of increasingly rapid technological change, it is important we do not forget some of the core skills, habits and values that have stood the test of time.

Chief among these in my book - excuse the pun - is a love of reading. 

If there is one skill we teach our children that carries more weight than anything else, it would probably have to be the ability to read with deep comprehension.

So, tonight a few ideas to help you support your child become a great reader...

We want our beginning readers to be able to lose themsclvei n a book. We want them to be transported to a different place. We especially want them to realise the world they live in is much bigger than the street they live on. 

When you take a trip to the library or the book store, try these strategies to find books that are worth your time and investment. Many of the strategies go hand in hand.

1. The Five Finger Test. 

If you are not sure of your child's reading level or if they have picked a book by its cover, this is a strategy you can use to see if the book is something they can really read. Pick a page from the middle of the book. Ask your child to hold up five fingers and begin reading the page aloud. Each time they encounter a word they don't know, they put a finger down. At the end of the page (or a reasonable passage length] they should still have one or two fingers up. If all their fingers are down, you may determine you still want to get the book as a read-aloud-to-them title. If all their fingers are up, the text is easy for him. This isn't a bad thing.

2. Nonaction Captions. 

Let's say your daughter has a thing about horses and has chosen a book about them. You can do the Five Finger Test on the captions. This is often a strategy to enter into non-fiction. If the captions are within her reading ability, she may use them as a way into the regular text as she looks for more information about the concept shown in the photo.

3. Multilevel Texts. 

Many books, both beginning fiction and non-fiction have text written on two levels. 

These books have simple beginning text for your child to read and more difficult text for you or an older child to read. Frequently these have more information and richer storylines than simple beginning readers. This is a great way to help support their reading.

4. Tried and True. 

If your child wants to read a title they have read before, don't worry. Although you know it's too easy for them, let them reread them.

Familiarity with text builds fluency, a skill that supports reading prowess. In addition, there is nothing wrong with having a character or storyline you love.

5. Magazines. 

Magazines are a great way to encourage reading for readers of all levels. There is a wide range of reading abilities. Articles tend to be short enough for beginning or struggling readers. The captions are often at an easier level than the text.

6. Talk to the Staff. 

Both librarians and book store staff know their stuff. Ask for suggestions based on reading ability, interests, and your child's favourite authors. They know what is new and what is popular. They also know the old stand-bys that may have fallen out of vogue but are reading gems. They can help you find books at the right level of ability and interest.

7. Determine the Purpose. 

We read for enjoyment and to gain knowledge. When your child picks a book, ask why it interests them. This isn't meant to be a quiz. Keep it simple. If it is because their friends are reading it, use the five finger test to see if they can read it. 

There is anything wrong with carrying around a book you wish you could read. It shows a curiosity of what is in the text. Just be sure to have material that they can read available.

8. Don't forget to pick up a book or two for yourself. It doesn't have to be a novel. It can be a travel magazine or a book on gardening. The best way to get your child to want to read is by seeing their parents read. You are the most influential role model they have.

Early Reading - Part Two

Your child has started to read a little. You are so excited and want to encourage him to read more. So you buy him books or go to the library. You sit next to him on the sofa and expect him to start reading away. Instead he gets stuck. 

The most common thing for a parent to say is "Sound it out." Sometimes that can help but it depends on him knowing the phonics rules that apply to that word. Frequently in English, the way we say the word is not phonetic at all. If it did the words though, thought, and through would all sound similar. 

Here are some ways to help your stuck reader tackle reading snafus. Giving clues is not cheating. It helps him develop strategies to decode the unfamiliar words he will encounter as he becomes a more secure reader. 

These strategies should help you stay relaxed while your child reads to you. 

Rhymes With: It is perfectly acceptable to give clues such as "It rhymes with gift." You can even use a word that is spelled differently such as " fed " for "head." The idea is to give them support for part of the word while they figure out the rest. 

Word Within: Ask your child if she sees any words she recognises within the word she is stuck on. For example, within the word "window" she may see "in" or "wind." My warning with this is to make sure the word within has the same vowel sound as the word she is decoding. Identifying the word "in" hidden inside "find" will just be confusing. 

Chunking: This is similar to sounding out a word. Instead of sounding out each letter, however, you ask your child to sound out chunks of letters. Cover the end of the word with your finger and have them sound out the beginning letters together. Then cover the beginning of the word and have them sound out the end in one chunk. The word "think" could be chunked into "th" and "ink." "Address" either could be "add" "ress" or "ad" "dress." This is a more natural way to use phonics in decoding. 

Picture Clues: Encourage use of the pictures to help figure out an unknown word. Pictures should be there to support the text. If the word says "sheep" and your child reads "lamb" after looking at the illustration, have them look at the word again. Point out that the word doesn't begin with the letter L. Let them try again. 

Freebies: Characters' names, long words, or a word they have never seen before even if they can decode it (i.e. "din" or "fret") should just be given. They will likely remember it when they next encounter it. For those new words, just say "Din means noisy." Don't spend more time than a short definition. The goal is to finish the sentence with understanding. Too many interruptions and they will not loose sight of the meaning of what they are reading.

Too Hard: Too many errors per sentence or on a page is a sure sign the material is too hard. You know your child best, but generally they way to tackle this to read the text aloud while running your finger under the words. Stop at the words your child knows and let them read those aloud. Even very early readers can do this with words such as "the" or "go.” 

Reread: After you have a sentence that you've had to stop a couple times to decode words, go back and reread the sentence together. You are providing the support to help your child remember what was just read. As soon as you finish, tackle the next sentence. 

Some children hate this strategy because they think it makes the story too long. If your child complains, you can ask them to tell you what the sentence said. If they understand, just move on without rereading. You know your child best. 

Buddy Read: Beginning readers become fatigued easily. By you reading every other page, your child has a chance to rest and recharge for a minute before the hard work of decoding begins again. This is a strategy many children have learned at school and are usually quite comfortable sharing the job of reading a book. 

Have Fun: Be sure to enjoy the text. Express surprise at something in the story. Laugh at the funny parts. By you being engaged in the story, you are modelling how to respond to literature. 

Review: When a book is over, instead of asking what the book was about, ask your child to show you what was his favourite part of the book. Ask them to reread the page they liked best. You should share and reread the parts you loved. This gives them the chance to discuss how they felt about the book. 

Acknowledgement: Make praise genuine and keep criticisms to a minimum. Focus on the skills or how you feel when you hear them read. Try "You worked so hard to figure those words out" instead of "I love the way you read." It helps them know you really recognise their effort.

Applying the SAMR Model 2


The Substitution Augmentation Modification Redefinition (SAMR) model offers a method of seeing how technology can impact teaching and learning. 

It is a framework through which teachers can assess and evaluate the technology used in their classroom. As teachers move along the continuum, computer technology becomes more important in the classroom but at the same time becomes more invisibly woven into the practice of good teaching and learning.

The SAMR model is also a good tool for reflection, and can be applied to many other aspects of the teaching and learning process or environment.

For example, we can use it to evaluate the way we are utilising our new Modern Learning Environment.

The challenge for us at Western Heights is to ensure our MLE is not a Modern Looking Environment, but an aide to modern approaches to teaching and learning.

Our Kakapo Team (senior school teachers) have been and will continue to, research ways MLEs provide enhanced, augmented, modified and redefined ways to teach and learn and prepare our children for the world they will inherit, rather than the one we grew up in.

One of the key messages I will be bringing back to staff is the shift in Mindset that is now required of us as 21st Century teachers. That shift requires us to see ourselves as learners first and teachers second.

We will also be reflecting on the work of Carol Dweck, a world-renowned Stanford University psychologist. After decades of research on achievement and success, Carol came up with a simple idea that makes all the difference. Teaching a Growth Mindset creates motivation and productivity which has specific application in the worlds of education, business, and sports.

This is an exciting time to be an educator. We are in a time of exponential change, and as they say, if we are not moving forwards, we are moving backwards.

We are well past the time where the teacher was the "sage on the stage", the gatekeeper of knowledge and the main voice in the classroom.

We have entered the age of the learner - where learners have the opportunity to think, reflect, discuss, analyse, and decide. 

Where the goal is not finding the knowledge, but ascertaining the validity and veracity of the information available. Then reworking, refining, repurposing and representing that information in ways that that add value, deepen understanding, have real world applications and make a difference.

I am amazed at how far and fast our staff have moved in their teaching and learning journey in just a year and a bit. I am excited at where we can go next, and look forward to you all joining us.

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