title

Education Bookcast

Stanislaw Pstrokonski

11
Followers
39
Plays
Education Bookcast

Education Bookcast

Stanislaw Pstrokonski

11
Followers
39
Plays
OVERVIEWEPISODESYOU MAY ALSO LIKE

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About Us

Education Bookcast is a podcast principally for teachers and parents who would like to know more about education. We cover one education-related book or article each episode, going over the key points, placing it in context, and making connections with other ideas, topics, and authors. Topics include psychology, philosophy, history, and economics of education; pedagogy and teaching methods; neurology and cognitive science; and schools and school systems in historical and international perspective.

Latest Episodes

84. Skin in the Game by Nassim Nicholas Taleb

Nassim Nicholas Taleb is a former options trader who noticed that the financial markets were unstable ahead of the crash in 2008, and made a lot of money from shorting the market (betting that it would crash). Since then, he has written a quadrilogy of books on risk and decision-making under uncertainty which he calls the incerto. The books in the series are Fooled by Randomness, The Black Swan, Antifragile, and the one I cover in this episode, Skin in the Game. At least two of his books - The Black Swanand Antifragile - have now made it as concepts and vocabulary of popular parlance. Taleb is a very well-read and insightful author. He follows a philosophy of education in the extremes - a combination of long library visits and street fights, to paraphrase his own description. More accurately, he spent much of his teenage years reading stacks of books at home while bombs went off outside, as he was a civilian during the Lebanese Civil War. His writing has generated a following, and his erudition inspired me years ago to try to read as much as I could - something that ultimately influenced my decision to start this podcast. Taleb's writing is fiery, to say the least, as he pulls no punches to those who he finds morally abhorrent, which seems to be a large section of the population. His favourite targets are economists and journalists, and in a way that is what Skin in the Game is all about - the moral peril of people who don't take risks. The reason for covering this book on the podcast is quite self-reflective. If education commentators aren't teachers themselves, if they don't have to test their ideas by actually carrying them out and seeing them succeed or fail, if it doesn't hurt them when they are wrong, then what's to stop them blindly commentating with full confidence, even if they don't know what they're talking about? What's to stop them bullshitting their way to fame and fortune? What's to stop them polluting the idea space with worthless junk to make themselves sound good? This is exactly the sort of trap that I feel that some commentators may have fallen into - and one that I am in danger of falling into myself. As I enter the first year in almost a decade when I am not teaching in any capacity, might I lose contact with reality? Might I not end up selling snake oil? The danger is real. So, this episode is largely a moral discussion, as well as a personal reflection. I think we should be aware of the effect that risk profiles have on the incentives of people within a particular domain - in this case, education. Enjoy the episode.

25 MIN3 d ago
Comments
84. Skin in the Game by Nassim Nicholas Taleb

83. SuperMemo's 20 rules for formulating knowledge

SuperMemo is a flashcard and spaced repetition software that has been around since 1991. Its founder, Dr Piotr Wozniak, maintains a blog with many interesting discussions of learning and memory. One that stood out to me was the 20 rules for formulating knowledge, available via this link: http://super-memory.com/articles/20rules.htm. I read the article with an eye to finding fundamental or deep principles of learning, rather than improving the quality of my flashcards. The following rules were the ones that seemed to fit the bill: Do not learn if you do not understand. (Rule 1) Learn before you memorise. (Rule 2) Build upon the basics. (Rule 3) The minimum information principle. (Rule 4) Avoid sets and enumerations. (Rules 9 and 10) Combat inteference. (Rule 11) I discuss these rules in context of my own experiences and of the theory that I have covered on the podcast. Enjoy the episode.

26 MIN2 w ago
Comments
83. SuperMemo's 20 rules for formulating knowledge

82. Memorable Teaching by Peps McCrea

Continuing with our information processing model theme (i.e. seeing the mind as made up of long-term memory and limited working memory), we now have a book on teaching practices that is based on this very model. The title of this book comes from the idea that as teachers, our aim is to make long-lasting, high-quality additions to students' long-term memories. After an introduction to this model of the mind, Peps McCrea goes on to elucidate 9 principles of memorable teaching: Manage information (information is always in competition for students' attention) Streamline communications (consider the way you communicate ideas to maximise clarity and conciseness) Orient attention Regulate load (overloaded students can't learn; underloaded students get bored) Expedite elaboration (ways of making new ideas stick) Refine structures (going from a vague sense of an idea to a deep understanding) Stabilise changes (making knowledge last) Align pedagogies (don't teach badly?) Embed metacognition Something that I am quite impressed by, and I mention several times in the episode, is how succinct and clear the author's writing is. It really looks like he has been using the principles in the book to expound the principles in the book (which is a bit of a mind-bending mouthful to say or think). In other words, he takes his own advice. This is a great book. I recommend it. Enjoy the episode.

45 MINMAR 1
Comments
82. Memorable Teaching by Peps McCrea

81b. ...except for this one "learning style"!

There one major, well-documented factor that effects what the best kind of instruction is for different people: expertise. This episode's article is The expertise reversal effect by John Sweller et al. (2003). The effect is so called because certain changes in instructional materials and practices that have repeatedly been found to enhance learning in novices, have actually been found to reduce learning in more advanced students. Hence there is a "reversal" in effectiveness. The effect can easily be understood by considering the information processing model of the human mind (i.e. the idea of the thinking mind being made up of long-term memory and a limited working memory). Thus, this episode makes up part of a series on the podcast about this model of the mind and its implications. Enjoy the episode.

46 MINFEB 18
Comments
81b. ...except for this one "learning style"!

81a. The Myth of Learning Styles

Learning styles are one of the most widely believed psychological ideas known by scientists to be invalid. Over 90% of university students in the USA believe in them, and most adults will gladly share whether they consider themselves to be visual, auditory, or kinaesthetic learners (VAK theory is the leading learning styles theory). In this episode, we look at six publications showing the problems with learning styles theories. The problems fall into three layers: The questionnaires for many learning styles theories (i.e. the way in which the learning style of a given person is determined) have problems of validity, meaning that they don't measure anything, or they don't measure what they claim to measure. For example, if everyone answers that they would rather learn a dance by dancing it rather than by watching it or listening to an explanation, then that probably says more about what a good way to teach dancing is, rather than what learning style the individuals have. The questionnaires also suffer from problems of reliability. This means that when the same person is re-measured, they get a different result, which means that the measurement isn't trustworthy, and therefore means that nothing is being measured. Those few theories that are shown to be both valid and reliable then have to be tested for whether they actually make a difference to student learning. Is it better to teach visual learners visually, auditory learners auditively, etc.? It turns out that there is no evidence for this in the research in high-quality studies, and in fact there is much evidence to the contrary (that your supposed learning style makes no difference to the way you learn). Thankfully, the lack of validity of the idea of learning styles simplifies the task of teachers and other educational professionals greatly. You don't have to think about learning styles! Enjoy the episode. Notes The articles covered in this episode are the following: Dembo & Howard (2007). Advice about the use of learning styles: a major myth in education. Pashler et al. (2017). Learning styles - concepts and evidence. Willingham et al. (2015). The scientific status of learning styles theories. Cuevas (2015). Is learning-styles based instruction effective? A comprehensive analysis of recent research in learning styles. Kirschner (2016). Stop propagating the learning styles myth. Reiner & Willingham (2010). The Myth of Learning Styles.

39 MINFEB 11
Comments
81a. The Myth of Learning Styles

80. The Chimp Paradox by Prof Steve Peters

This is a book with a terrible title and wonderful ideas. Isn't there a saying about not judging the quality of a publication's contents by the attractiveness of its external design? Many famous athletes credit Steve Peters with being essential to their success, including footballer Steven Gerard and rower Sir Chris Hoy. This book summarises his ideas in a way that makes them accessible to everyone. Our minds are modular. Sometimes we are "at war with ourselves" or we "don't know why we did something". There are different parts inside us that sometimes cooperate and sometimes clash. Professor Steve Peters goes into a detailed description of the three elements of the psychological mind: the Chimp, the Human, and the Computer. He then goes on to explain their interactions, the ways in which their misbehaviours can cause problems in our everyday lives, and how to deal with it. Understanding these three elements will, for the first time in your life, give you a fully working model of how your mind works (and how the minds of others work), as well as a way of thinking about what to do when things go wrong. One thing that strikes me about this model is how compatible it is with the information processing model of the mind and cognitive load theory, which are based on splitting the mind into two parts: working memory and long-term memory. It seems as though working memory is approximately the same thing as the Human, long-term memory is the Computer, and the Chimp is the emotional centre, which is not included in the information processing model. (The information processing model seeks to simplify thinking down to just its non-emotional elements.) Understanding the mind in this way is invaluable to people trying to understand learning. I hope you find this book as insightful as I have. Enjoy the episode.

108 MINJAN 28
Comments
80. The Chimp Paradox by Prof Steve Peters

79. What learning is

This may be the most important episode on the podcast so far. When I started out on this journey of coming to understand education, I had a lot of questions. As I started to interrogate my questions further, probing the more fundamental holes in my understanding that lay behind them, I realised that I was missing answers to the most basic questions you could think of: What is education? And what is learning? I now feel that I have an answer to at least one of these questions. It's a very simple answer. So simple, in fact, that when I first encountered it I felt a mixture of bemusement at its simplicity, and annoyance or even rage at its apparent reductiveness. The definition is as follows: Learning is additions to long-term memory. It felt as though all the other aspects of learning that I had been thinking about - skill development, change in self-perception, the change in who a person is and who they say they are, and the experience itself - had been completely washed over and ignored. This made me mad at the "heartless scientists" (my feelings at the time) who were proposing such a definition. Eventually I realised that this definition is reductive in a "good way". So much in discussions of education ends up bloated with wordiness - finally, this is something succinct. And rather than being reductive in the sense of denying the aspects I mentioned above, it actually incorporates them. It turns out that long-term memory is so much more important than I, or almost anyone else, had previously realised. In this episode I discuss this idea and some of its implications. In the episodes that follow, I will go into this idea in great depth. There is a lot to say about it, and as I said, it may be the most important idea in education overall. Enjoy the episode.

67 MINJAN 14
Comments
79. What learning is

78. Interview with Dr James Comer

In this episode, I have the great privilege to invite Dr James Comer, the creator of the Comer School Development Program (SDP), onto the show. Dr Comer is the Maurice Falk Professor of Child Psychiatry at the Yale Child Study Centre, and has been since 1976, as well as associate dean at the Yale School of Medicine. His School Development Program has been used in more than 600 schools, and he has been awarded 47 honorary degrees. I was a bit nervous during the interview, and it shows. I had great respect for Dr Comer even before I spoke to him, as you can see from a brief overview of his bio. I don't get nervous recording episodes on my own anymore, but rarely do I have a chance to interview such a distinguished guest who I truly admire. During the interview my respect for Dr Comer only grew. Unlike so many people who I have heard speak in the education space, he stuck only to that which he knew about (which is not to say that he doesn't have great knowledge, only that he was willing to admit where he didn't know about something), and he answered questions in a way that demonstrated a connection to reality and a subtlety of understanding that went beyond partisanship. His answers just all seemed so reasonable. I realised that I was talking to somebody very wise. I learned a lot from speaking to Dr Comer. I hope you do from listening to our conversation. Enjoy the episode.

67 MIN2019 DEC 26
Comments
78. Interview with Dr James Comer

77b. Case study: the Comer SDP in New Jersey

In this part of the two-part episode about Linda Darling-Hammond's book With the Whole Child in Mind, we will look at one of the two case studies mentioned in the book, that of Norman S. Weir Elementary School in New Jersey. The Comer SDP was implemented there starting in 1997 with the appointment of Ruth Baskerville as the school principal. At this time, the school was described as "characterised by student disaffection with the learning process, frequent fights, and low staff morale in a building that was in disrepair". By the end of the 2003-04 school year, the outlook was very different: 100% of Weir 4th-graders achieved full or advanced proficiency on both maths and language arts exams. (Unfortunately I couldn't find data for 1997, but as a comparison, the equivalent averages for the district and the state were 52.4% and 77.6% respectively.) As for the school environment, in a school questionnaire, faculty and staff reported the school climate as "relaxed", "very good", and "terrific." Others described the collegiality among staff as "excellent," with "fantastic" relationships where "every student and parent is valued." This close-up description of a success story gives some sense of what it would be like to be in a school operating the Comer process, and helps to add some concreteness to the otherwise abstract and general description from the previous part of my discussion of this book. Enjoy the episode.

17 MIN2019 DEC 24
Comments
77b. Case study: the Comer SDP in New Jersey

77a. With the Whole Child in Mind by Linda Darling-Hammond

Last episode, we saw a meta-analysis of comprehensive school reform (CSR) programmes. The best-performing programmes are Success for All, Direct Instruction, and the Comer School Development Program. The episode in this book concerns the Comer School Development Program (SDP), covering its philosophy and implementation. The focus of the SDP is on two main themes: improving relationships within the school; and thinking of all the ways in which child development can be fostered at school, known as the six developmental pathways (physical, language, ethical, social, psychological, and cognitive). The SDP is based on nine elements, split into three groups. There is the "who", which are the teams that are formed to guide the school and make sure all stakeholders are represented; the "what", which describes the operations that make change and solve problems in the school; and the "how", which are principles that govern the school culture and climate as a whole. The "who" are the School Planning and Management Team (SPMT), the Student Staff Support Team (SSST), and the Parent Team (PT). The "what" are the Comprehensive School Plan, professional development, and assessment & modification. The "how" is consensus, collaboration, and no-fault problem solving. The above nine principles are complex enough for me not to want to describe them in detail in this blurb, but numerous enough for me to want to put them here for reference for those who have already listened to the audio. I would like to thank Linda Darling-Hammond for contacting me to ask me to cover her book (and alerting me to the existence of the Comer SDP in the process), and for providing me with a free copy of her book for me to read. Enjoy the episode.

43 MIN2019 DEC 18
Comments
77a. With the Whole Child in Mind by Linda Darling-Hammond

Latest Episodes

84. Skin in the Game by Nassim Nicholas Taleb

Nassim Nicholas Taleb is a former options trader who noticed that the financial markets were unstable ahead of the crash in 2008, and made a lot of money from shorting the market (betting that it would crash). Since then, he has written a quadrilogy of books on risk and decision-making under uncertainty which he calls the incerto. The books in the series are Fooled by Randomness, The Black Swan, Antifragile, and the one I cover in this episode, Skin in the Game. At least two of his books - The Black Swanand Antifragile - have now made it as concepts and vocabulary of popular parlance. Taleb is a very well-read and insightful author. He follows a philosophy of education in the extremes - a combination of long library visits and street fights, to paraphrase his own description. More accurately, he spent much of his teenage years reading stacks of books at home while bombs went off outside, as he was a civilian during the Lebanese Civil War. His writing has generated a following, and his erudition inspired me years ago to try to read as much as I could - something that ultimately influenced my decision to start this podcast. Taleb's writing is fiery, to say the least, as he pulls no punches to those who he finds morally abhorrent, which seems to be a large section of the population. His favourite targets are economists and journalists, and in a way that is what Skin in the Game is all about - the moral peril of people who don't take risks. The reason for covering this book on the podcast is quite self-reflective. If education commentators aren't teachers themselves, if they don't have to test their ideas by actually carrying them out and seeing them succeed or fail, if it doesn't hurt them when they are wrong, then what's to stop them blindly commentating with full confidence, even if they don't know what they're talking about? What's to stop them bullshitting their way to fame and fortune? What's to stop them polluting the idea space with worthless junk to make themselves sound good? This is exactly the sort of trap that I feel that some commentators may have fallen into - and one that I am in danger of falling into myself. As I enter the first year in almost a decade when I am not teaching in any capacity, might I lose contact with reality? Might I not end up selling snake oil? The danger is real. So, this episode is largely a moral discussion, as well as a personal reflection. I think we should be aware of the effect that risk profiles have on the incentives of people within a particular domain - in this case, education. Enjoy the episode.

25 MIN3 d ago
Comments
84. Skin in the Game by Nassim Nicholas Taleb

83. SuperMemo's 20 rules for formulating knowledge

SuperMemo is a flashcard and spaced repetition software that has been around since 1991. Its founder, Dr Piotr Wozniak, maintains a blog with many interesting discussions of learning and memory. One that stood out to me was the 20 rules for formulating knowledge, available via this link: http://super-memory.com/articles/20rules.htm. I read the article with an eye to finding fundamental or deep principles of learning, rather than improving the quality of my flashcards. The following rules were the ones that seemed to fit the bill: Do not learn if you do not understand. (Rule 1) Learn before you memorise. (Rule 2) Build upon the basics. (Rule 3) The minimum information principle. (Rule 4) Avoid sets and enumerations. (Rules 9 and 10) Combat inteference. (Rule 11) I discuss these rules in context of my own experiences and of the theory that I have covered on the podcast. Enjoy the episode.

26 MIN2 w ago
Comments
83. SuperMemo's 20 rules for formulating knowledge

82. Memorable Teaching by Peps McCrea

Continuing with our information processing model theme (i.e. seeing the mind as made up of long-term memory and limited working memory), we now have a book on teaching practices that is based on this very model. The title of this book comes from the idea that as teachers, our aim is to make long-lasting, high-quality additions to students' long-term memories. After an introduction to this model of the mind, Peps McCrea goes on to elucidate 9 principles of memorable teaching: Manage information (information is always in competition for students' attention) Streamline communications (consider the way you communicate ideas to maximise clarity and conciseness) Orient attention Regulate load (overloaded students can't learn; underloaded students get bored) Expedite elaboration (ways of making new ideas stick) Refine structures (going from a vague sense of an idea to a deep understanding) Stabilise changes (making knowledge last) Align pedagogies (don't teach badly?) Embed metacognition Something that I am quite impressed by, and I mention several times in the episode, is how succinct and clear the author's writing is. It really looks like he has been using the principles in the book to expound the principles in the book (which is a bit of a mind-bending mouthful to say or think). In other words, he takes his own advice. This is a great book. I recommend it. Enjoy the episode.

45 MINMAR 1
Comments
82. Memorable Teaching by Peps McCrea

81b. ...except for this one "learning style"!

There one major, well-documented factor that effects what the best kind of instruction is for different people: expertise. This episode's article is The expertise reversal effect by John Sweller et al. (2003). The effect is so called because certain changes in instructional materials and practices that have repeatedly been found to enhance learning in novices, have actually been found to reduce learning in more advanced students. Hence there is a "reversal" in effectiveness. The effect can easily be understood by considering the information processing model of the human mind (i.e. the idea of the thinking mind being made up of long-term memory and a limited working memory). Thus, this episode makes up part of a series on the podcast about this model of the mind and its implications. Enjoy the episode.

46 MINFEB 18
Comments
81b. ...except for this one "learning style"!

81a. The Myth of Learning Styles

Learning styles are one of the most widely believed psychological ideas known by scientists to be invalid. Over 90% of university students in the USA believe in them, and most adults will gladly share whether they consider themselves to be visual, auditory, or kinaesthetic learners (VAK theory is the leading learning styles theory). In this episode, we look at six publications showing the problems with learning styles theories. The problems fall into three layers: The questionnaires for many learning styles theories (i.e. the way in which the learning style of a given person is determined) have problems of validity, meaning that they don't measure anything, or they don't measure what they claim to measure. For example, if everyone answers that they would rather learn a dance by dancing it rather than by watching it or listening to an explanation, then that probably says more about what a good way to teach dancing is, rather than what learning style the individuals have. The questionnaires also suffer from problems of reliability. This means that when the same person is re-measured, they get a different result, which means that the measurement isn't trustworthy, and therefore means that nothing is being measured. Those few theories that are shown to be both valid and reliable then have to be tested for whether they actually make a difference to student learning. Is it better to teach visual learners visually, auditory learners auditively, etc.? It turns out that there is no evidence for this in the research in high-quality studies, and in fact there is much evidence to the contrary (that your supposed learning style makes no difference to the way you learn). Thankfully, the lack of validity of the idea of learning styles simplifies the task of teachers and other educational professionals greatly. You don't have to think about learning styles! Enjoy the episode. Notes The articles covered in this episode are the following: Dembo & Howard (2007). Advice about the use of learning styles: a major myth in education. Pashler et al. (2017). Learning styles - concepts and evidence. Willingham et al. (2015). The scientific status of learning styles theories. Cuevas (2015). Is learning-styles based instruction effective? A comprehensive analysis of recent research in learning styles. Kirschner (2016). Stop propagating the learning styles myth. Reiner & Willingham (2010). The Myth of Learning Styles.

39 MINFEB 11
Comments
81a. The Myth of Learning Styles

80. The Chimp Paradox by Prof Steve Peters

This is a book with a terrible title and wonderful ideas. Isn't there a saying about not judging the quality of a publication's contents by the attractiveness of its external design? Many famous athletes credit Steve Peters with being essential to their success, including footballer Steven Gerard and rower Sir Chris Hoy. This book summarises his ideas in a way that makes them accessible to everyone. Our minds are modular. Sometimes we are "at war with ourselves" or we "don't know why we did something". There are different parts inside us that sometimes cooperate and sometimes clash. Professor Steve Peters goes into a detailed description of the three elements of the psychological mind: the Chimp, the Human, and the Computer. He then goes on to explain their interactions, the ways in which their misbehaviours can cause problems in our everyday lives, and how to deal with it. Understanding these three elements will, for the first time in your life, give you a fully working model of how your mind works (and how the minds of others work), as well as a way of thinking about what to do when things go wrong. One thing that strikes me about this model is how compatible it is with the information processing model of the mind and cognitive load theory, which are based on splitting the mind into two parts: working memory and long-term memory. It seems as though working memory is approximately the same thing as the Human, long-term memory is the Computer, and the Chimp is the emotional centre, which is not included in the information processing model. (The information processing model seeks to simplify thinking down to just its non-emotional elements.) Understanding the mind in this way is invaluable to people trying to understand learning. I hope you find this book as insightful as I have. Enjoy the episode.

108 MINJAN 28
Comments
80. The Chimp Paradox by Prof Steve Peters

79. What learning is

This may be the most important episode on the podcast so far. When I started out on this journey of coming to understand education, I had a lot of questions. As I started to interrogate my questions further, probing the more fundamental holes in my understanding that lay behind them, I realised that I was missing answers to the most basic questions you could think of: What is education? And what is learning? I now feel that I have an answer to at least one of these questions. It's a very simple answer. So simple, in fact, that when I first encountered it I felt a mixture of bemusement at its simplicity, and annoyance or even rage at its apparent reductiveness. The definition is as follows: Learning is additions to long-term memory. It felt as though all the other aspects of learning that I had been thinking about - skill development, change in self-perception, the change in who a person is and who they say they are, and the experience itself - had been completely washed over and ignored. This made me mad at the "heartless scientists" (my feelings at the time) who were proposing such a definition. Eventually I realised that this definition is reductive in a "good way". So much in discussions of education ends up bloated with wordiness - finally, this is something succinct. And rather than being reductive in the sense of denying the aspects I mentioned above, it actually incorporates them. It turns out that long-term memory is so much more important than I, or almost anyone else, had previously realised. In this episode I discuss this idea and some of its implications. In the episodes that follow, I will go into this idea in great depth. There is a lot to say about it, and as I said, it may be the most important idea in education overall. Enjoy the episode.

67 MINJAN 14
Comments
79. What learning is

78. Interview with Dr James Comer

In this episode, I have the great privilege to invite Dr James Comer, the creator of the Comer School Development Program (SDP), onto the show. Dr Comer is the Maurice Falk Professor of Child Psychiatry at the Yale Child Study Centre, and has been since 1976, as well as associate dean at the Yale School of Medicine. His School Development Program has been used in more than 600 schools, and he has been awarded 47 honorary degrees. I was a bit nervous during the interview, and it shows. I had great respect for Dr Comer even before I spoke to him, as you can see from a brief overview of his bio. I don't get nervous recording episodes on my own anymore, but rarely do I have a chance to interview such a distinguished guest who I truly admire. During the interview my respect for Dr Comer only grew. Unlike so many people who I have heard speak in the education space, he stuck only to that which he knew about (which is not to say that he doesn't have great knowledge, only that he was willing to admit where he didn't know about something), and he answered questions in a way that demonstrated a connection to reality and a subtlety of understanding that went beyond partisanship. His answers just all seemed so reasonable. I realised that I was talking to somebody very wise. I learned a lot from speaking to Dr Comer. I hope you do from listening to our conversation. Enjoy the episode.

67 MIN2019 DEC 26
Comments
78. Interview with Dr James Comer

77b. Case study: the Comer SDP in New Jersey

In this part of the two-part episode about Linda Darling-Hammond's book With the Whole Child in Mind, we will look at one of the two case studies mentioned in the book, that of Norman S. Weir Elementary School in New Jersey. The Comer SDP was implemented there starting in 1997 with the appointment of Ruth Baskerville as the school principal. At this time, the school was described as "characterised by student disaffection with the learning process, frequent fights, and low staff morale in a building that was in disrepair". By the end of the 2003-04 school year, the outlook was very different: 100% of Weir 4th-graders achieved full or advanced proficiency on both maths and language arts exams. (Unfortunately I couldn't find data for 1997, but as a comparison, the equivalent averages for the district and the state were 52.4% and 77.6% respectively.) As for the school environment, in a school questionnaire, faculty and staff reported the school climate as "relaxed", "very good", and "terrific." Others described the collegiality among staff as "excellent," with "fantastic" relationships where "every student and parent is valued." This close-up description of a success story gives some sense of what it would be like to be in a school operating the Comer process, and helps to add some concreteness to the otherwise abstract and general description from the previous part of my discussion of this book. Enjoy the episode.

17 MIN2019 DEC 24
Comments
77b. Case study: the Comer SDP in New Jersey

77a. With the Whole Child in Mind by Linda Darling-Hammond

Last episode, we saw a meta-analysis of comprehensive school reform (CSR) programmes. The best-performing programmes are Success for All, Direct Instruction, and the Comer School Development Program. The episode in this book concerns the Comer School Development Program (SDP), covering its philosophy and implementation. The focus of the SDP is on two main themes: improving relationships within the school; and thinking of all the ways in which child development can be fostered at school, known as the six developmental pathways (physical, language, ethical, social, psychological, and cognitive). The SDP is based on nine elements, split into three groups. There is the "who", which are the teams that are formed to guide the school and make sure all stakeholders are represented; the "what", which describes the operations that make change and solve problems in the school; and the "how", which are principles that govern the school culture and climate as a whole. The "who" are the School Planning and Management Team (SPMT), the Student Staff Support Team (SSST), and the Parent Team (PT). The "what" are the Comprehensive School Plan, professional development, and assessment & modification. The "how" is consensus, collaboration, and no-fault problem solving. The above nine principles are complex enough for me not to want to describe them in detail in this blurb, but numerous enough for me to want to put them here for reference for those who have already listened to the audio. I would like to thank Linda Darling-Hammond for contacting me to ask me to cover her book (and alerting me to the existence of the Comer SDP in the process), and for providing me with a free copy of her book for me to read. Enjoy the episode.

43 MIN2019 DEC 18
Comments
77a. With the Whole Child in Mind by Linda Darling-Hammond
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