Restorative Justice in Schools: Does it Work in Improving School Culture, Academic Tone, and Student Behaviour?
Educhatter » Social-Emotional Skills
by Paul W. Bennett
1y ago
Restorative justice is very much in vogue in Canada’s K-12 schools.  Widespread adoption of restorative justice theory and practice, commonly reflected in “circle conversations,” is largely aimed at moderating punitive, and at times harsh, discipline in schools.  Defenders of the new student behaviour management approach, claim that it works to the benefit of ‘labelled students,’ drawn disproportionately from racialized and marginalized students. Since the recent advent of Black Lives Matter and the 2015 Truth and Reconciliation Commission report, it has gained fresh currency in pub ..read more
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The Mindfulness Obsession: Is Relationship-Based Education its Latest Canadian Mutation?
Educhatter » Social-Emotional Skills
by Paul W. Bennett
4y ago
Taking time to really get to know students sounds like good common sense for teachers.  The best teachers, in every school, have always done so while challenging students with high expectations, engaging learning activities, and an intellectually stimulating curriculum. The philosophy, espoused in Dr. David Tanter‘s 2018 Nelson Educators textbook, The Third Path, prescribes something completely different for today’s individualistic and anxiety-filled generation. It also appears to have turned the heads of the educational thinkers mobilizing under the banner of Ontario ASCD, a northern frontier ..read more
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Promoting Student Well Being: Is the Mass Application of Mindfulness Harmful to Schoolchildren?
Educhatter » Social-Emotional Skills
by Paul W. Bennett
4y ago
Mindfulness has enjoyed a tremendous boom in the past decade and has recently begun to spring up in Canadian school systems. Two provinces, Ontario and British Columbia, are hotbeds for promoting “student well being” through broad application of ‘mindfulness training’ and its step-child ‘self-regulation ‘ beginning in the earliest grades. Under the former Liberal Government of Kathleen Wynne, the heavily promoted “Student Well Being Strategy’ attempted to integrate ‘mindfulness’ through what is known as the MINDUP curriculum.  The recent change in government presents a rare opportunity to crit ..read more
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Measuring Student Progress: What is Gained by Phasing-out Ontario Provincial Testing?
Educhatter » Social-Emotional Skills
by Paul W. Bennett
4y ago
The latest student achievement results, featured in the April 30, 2018 Pan-Canadian Assessment Program (PCAP) 2016 report, prove, once again, how system-critical testing is for K-12 education. Students in every Canadian province except Ontario saw gains in Grade 8 student scores from 2010 to 2016 and we are now much the wiser. That educational reality check simply confirms that it’s no time to be jettisoning Ontario’s Grade 3 provincial tests and chipping away at the reputation of the province’s independent testing agency, the Education Quality and Accountability Office (EQAO). The plan to end ..read more
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Stealth Assessment: Where is Ontario’s Student Well-Being Assessment Heading?
Educhatter » Social-Emotional Skills
by Paul W. Bennett
4y ago
Ontario now aspires to global education leadership in the realm of student evaluation and reporting. The latest Ontario student assessment initiative, A Learning Province, announced in September 2017 and guided by OISE education  professor Dr. Carol Campbell, cast a wide net encompassing classroom assessments, large scale provincial tests, and national/international assessment programs.  That vision for “student-centred assessments” worked from the assumption that future assessments would capture the totality of “students’ experiences — their needs, learning, progress and well-being.” The she ..read more
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Stealth Assessment: What do Facebook Data Mining, OECD Testing, and ‘Well-Being’ Assessment have in Common?
Educhatter » Social-Emotional Skills
by Paul W. Bennett
4y ago
Millions of Facebook users were profiled by Cambridge Analytica without their knowledge and that public disclosure has heightened everyone’s awareness of not only the trend to “personality profiling,’ but the potential for massive invasion of privacy. These controversial actions have exposed the scope of Big Data and the wider aspirations of the data analytics industry to probe into the “hidden depths of people.” It has also, as U.K. expert Ben Williamson has reminded us, tipped us off about the growing trend toward personality measurement in K-12 and post-secondary education. Williamson’s 201 ..read more
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Measuring What Matters Conundrum: Will Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) Assessments Meet the Reliability Test?
Educhatter » Social-Emotional Skills
by Paul W. Bennett
4y ago
Starting next year, students from Kindergarten to Grade 12 in Canada’s largest province, Ontario, will be bringing home report cards that showcase six “transferable skills”: critical thinking, creativity, self-directed learning, collaboration, communication, and citizenship. It’s the latest example of the growing influence of education policy organizations, consultants and researchers promoting “broader measures of success” formerly known as “non-cognitive” domains of learning. Portrait of Primary Schoolboys and Schoolgirls Standing in a Line in a Classroom In announcing the latest provincia ..read more
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The British researchED Movement: What’s Causing the Buzz in Canadian K-12 Education?
Educhatter » Social-Emotional Skills
by Paul W. Bennett
4y ago
“Asking the right questions” is what most of our best teachers encourage and expect from our students. It’s also what our leading education researchers do when trying to grapple with a particularly thorny or “wicked” problem besetting students and teachers in the schools. Yet far too many teachers across Canada remain reticent to do so because they are essentially trained to carry out provincial mandates. Raising the difficult questions is not always welcomed or appreciated where it counts — among those who set education policy, prepare teachers, and implement curriculum in our K-12 school sys ..read more
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Social Justice Education: Is SJE a Broadening or Narrowing Classroom Pedagogy?
Educhatter » Social-Emotional Skills
by Paul W. Bennett
4y ago
Ontario elementary school teachers are now being totally immersed in the new pedagogy of Social Justice Education. The Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario’s newish resource, Social Justice Begins with Me, is being rolled out as a teaching resource for the Early Years to Grade 8.  It’s a prime example of the deep inroads being made by “social justice educators” in transforming “character education” into a vehicle for addressing social injustices through the schools. The EFTO promotes Social Justice Begins with Me  as an “anti-bias, literature-based curriculum resource kit” that is design ..read more
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Testopoly and Social-Emotional Learning: Is the ‘Pearson PLC Plan’ a Bridge Too Far?
Educhatter » Social-Emotional Skills
by Paul W. Bennett
4y ago
“Learning isn’t a destination, starting and stopping at the classroom door. It’s a never-ending road of discovery and wonder that has the power to transform lives. Each learning moment builds character, shapes dreams, guides futures, and strengthens communities.” Those inspiring words and the accompanying video, Learning makes us, left me tingling like the ubiquitous ‘universal values’ Coke commercials. Eventually, I snapped out of it –and realized that I’d been transported into the global world of  British-based Pearson Education, the world’s largest learning and testing corporation, and draw ..read more
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