Kleinism in Australia 2017. Will it go away?

The future of our nation depends on our attitude towards children and their schooling

KLEINISM IN AUSTRALIA. WILL IT GO AWAY?

A REVIEW

The summer holidays are over ‘down under’, and Australia will commence the new school year under the most peculiar circumstances. We’d like to start a new year of school learning with high levels of confidence in our pupils’ abilities to do as well as they can  and with our own usual high level of teacher zest for teaching  young people how to go about it.  In the long run, we’d like to see Australia at the top of the pole for schooling excellence and our country amongst the leaders of commercial enterprise because of our business expertise in fundamentals and our ability to solve problems, innovate productively and enjoy challenges.   Sadly, these fundamental characteristics of a successful schooling system have to be held on hold for some years; replaced by a testing regime invented by a New York curriculum incompetent, teacher-hater, ex-lawyer;  once in charge of a school district there.

We aren’t allowed to start the school year down under with high hopes and positive attitudes. We are obliged to maintain the ridiculous; to start as early as possible with heavy preparation and intense practice for our annual standardized blanket testing program called NAPLAN, held each May.  Its clone is called NCLB in the US. As educators at the chalk-face, we have no option, no choice, no say. Our system is controlled by testucators, disciples of Kleinism….a fear based system of schooling that was imported in 2008 by Julia Gillard, later our Prime Minister; then federal minister for education. It was one of the biggest mistakes a government representative  ever made.

Following the 2007 federal elections, she was charged by her senior colleague Kevin Rudd, new to the job as PM, to reform the Australian education system almost immediately, because his fellow neo-cons were telling him that teachers were making a mess of it and that most Australian children couldn’t spell or calculate. He used serious threatening language in his instructions to the teaching force and to her, to find something better than what we had. The  Business Council of Australia and the ‘Four Pillars of Australian Banking’, both organisations of neo-liberal persuasion, roundly approved, despite both politicians being known within their temples of wisdom,  as ‘lefties’. It was a peculiar liaison….and became a weird time in our history.  Dutifully, she booked her flight to find a place somewhere in the world that had a reputation.  Actually, Australia had a reputation itself for being amongst the world’s best at the time, but anti-school fanatics were the preferred mouthpieces of the local press – especially the Murdoch press. No. She didn’t select  Finland, South Korea or nearby New Zealand whose schooling achievements were beyond the ordinary. Her first stop was New York. As macabre as the scenario appears, on her first day, she visited Rupert Murdoch, a requirement of all Australian leaders when they travel overseas….. to get their riding instructions.  He arranged for her to attend a cocktail party being organized by the Rockefeller Foundation where she was introduced to Joel Klein, a fellow lawyer who, as strange as it seemed to Australians, was in executive charge of a large school district in New York. His system had a reputation. Indeed. It had a really bigreputation – not for learning or teaching or anything to do with the realities of schooling, but for threatening learners and teachers and principals and schools to do as they were told and, if they didn’t measure up to his requirements, they were out of a job or the school was closed. He sweet-talked our Julia into the effectiveness of this sort of approach to school leadership and,…..within minutes…..Australia had a new system.

She didn’t request a study of the effects of high stakes testing on schooling, nor check the credentials of the New York operators.  She was conned, big time. Rupert and Joel Klein rubbed their hands with glee, because they were in the publishing, programming business, worth billions.

Not long later, Klein  openly boasted to the world that his test-based scheme was well established in Australia. He was correct. Although it is based on fear and deceit and child abuse, Australia still has  it.  The big boys, of the kind that were at the cocktail party, will not allow our government to have any other kind. Their colleagues in the BCA and banking fraternity keep vigilant. That’s clear.  Julia felt that she had found the ultimate touchstone of school control, and was able to persuade the Australian banking community to pay the cost of a visit by her ‘pin-up boy’, as she called co-lawyer Klein,  to speak to them in their own fortresses in Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra. Despite some ethical uncertainties which she later modified by capturing the ‘approval’ of the principals of all Australian schools with a very  swift, cunning and deceitful maneuver. They had to carry the can for professional ethics, once they pronounced their approval of kleinist naplan.  Indeed, they dutifully suspended their professional ethics and still do….adopting an attitude that disappoints proud principals of the present and past wondering how this happened to organisations that were once stalwart and proud of their protection of children’s rights.  Federal and state education bodies, once citadels of wholesome schooling,  succumbed to the use of fear and the abuse of mental health of children for whom they are supposed to be responsible…..and….as Aussies say: “She was in with Flynn”. No blood on her hands.

She established a special unit called the Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority a sort of third level of government power, a sort of bundestag that now completely controls schooling;  and  she made sure that it was staffed with expert measurers whose experience in schooling and teaching and learning was severely limited.  This incongruous mis-match between knowledge of testing and knowledge of learning between people running the show, has had profound consequences.  After all, whoever controls the schooling system, controls the country’s future. The outcomes of constructing testing devices that contain inbuilt pupil dislike and distaste for particular school subjects and for school itself …and doing so in a most rigid manner….has had  effects that run counter to the faith that she and ‘pin-up’ Klein had in improvement of PISA and NAPLAN raw scores. They flopped, failed, flunked all neo-con expectations as schools are doing in countries that are overdoing the fear base; and, it must be noted, run counter to the expectations of parents for schoolies to do the right thing.  Despites their attitude to childhood, they’d like their kids to do well. Australia, after eight years of kleinism is heading downhill fast.

The last few years in the US and in Australia have clearly demonstrated that no schooling system can progress while its most outstanding features at the chalk-face, each capable of gynormous damage, include

Fear of failing

Deceit

Abuse of mental health.

all deliberately imposed by forces beyond the classroom. Office-based testucators of known kleinish measurement calibre have no idea of what happens in the classroom. They just mass-produce tests, send them to schools, gather the data, pat themselves on the back, blame teachers when things don’t go so well.

But, hold! Now, a breath of fresh air. A hopeful start has been made in the US education circles, our major mentors, in December 2016, by reducing the ponderous effects of centralised control. Releasing states from their fearful obligations is a small step, but it is a step in the right direction. Maybe, one day, control of the learning act will seep down through the numerous know-it-all hierarchies to the real learning centres in all countries where the teaching/learning experts reside, now being wrecked by the corrupting influences of kleinism – fear,  deceit and abuse.

Down under, we’re notoriously slow to examine the effects of imports from up over.  The big boys there and here do not like it, when educators reveal the truth….that the problem lies within the testing itself. We can’t expect any improvement to learning in our schools in 2017. Both places have a devil-may-care attitude towards children and their schooling; and basic timidity prevents us from sticking up for kids.

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Phil Cullen 41 Cominan Avenue  Banora Point Australia 2486    PH:07 5524 6443  cphilcullen@bigpond.com   Refer: “Who”s Who in Australia”

ATTITUDE

The future of our nation depends on our attitude towards children and their schooling
ATTITUDE

Hardening of attitudes is one one the world’s must serious diseases – Zig Zigler

 

  • ATTITUDE is a human condition defined by Jung as “…the readiness of a person’s psyche to act or react in a certain way.”  This psychic reaction is usually the result of a personal evaluation of the circumstances that surround our social experiences.   In the workplace, a person adjusts control over his/her feelings once the affective domain checks out what is being demanded by somebody else….each using his or her esoteric knowledge and experience to develop a specific attitude.  Each person decodes the messages coming through the work-a-day system in his/her own way and reacts with enthusiasm or ennui or rejection. If the motives of those in charge  run counter to the ethics of the professional operator at the work-face or their attitude is not to give two hoots about the underling’s attitude, there will be problems. Attitudes will clash. System-wide ennui is guaranteed….. prior to rejection. Systems, especially schooling ones, hope that everybody….administrators, assistants of all kinds, teachers, teacher- aides, children become enthusiastic and demonstrate positive similar attitudes to learning [the only business of schooling] per se. The Finns adopted this attitude years ago. It’s an intense, involved business….esoteric in a very real sense….. so it is important for a country’s development that everybody is on a similar wave-length about the best ways, allowing for variety  of course, to teach children how to learn. Think of Finland’s all-as-one attitude to learners and teachers.  However, if wires are crossed as to the purpose of schooling and there is a serious divergence of attitudes in the ways that schools and schooling authorities teach and evaluate , all is lost…for sure. Think Australia

Distinguished psychologist, Gordon Allport describes ATTITUDE as “…the most distinctive and indispensable concept in contemporary society”.

Let’s look at Australia’s attitude to schooling. It is sadly in need of a major overhaul as this example shows: We were, to a person, impressed by Finland’s mode of schooling because it does well at PISA tests for 15 year olds every three years; NOT because its schools value the learning habits of its children, and the country highly values what teachers do in the teaching-learning-classroom context.  We were impressed by its high scores because weprefer to use bang-crash modes of instruction and have a  penchant for using numerals to describe human endeavour. It’s a post millennium form of pagan idolatry…adoration of numerals.  That’s true, isn’t it? What is going on? How come the Finns don’t use our crash-bang-rigid techniques? What do they know, that we don’t? Do people really do better when they like learning? Fear makes people do as they are told in concentration camps, correction centres, battle procedures and the like. It should work in schools. That’s our forte…our attitude to learning. Be big and strong and commanding. Finland seems to work back-to-front. The whole country likes the idea of learning.

Monopath, Julia Gillard, representing our entrenched screwball attitude to schooling and teating when she chose the Klein system of fear-based learning in 2007, did so with confidence that Australia’s attitude to schooling and scoring is of the bang-crash-wallop-fear kind. Attitude! With her attitude embedded in looking for a malevolent solution rather than a tender, inclusive one for Australia to conduct an  evaluation of its schooling system, she only went for one extreme view. She only looked at one, using the Stuart Firestein technique of ‘farting around in the dark’; but, she grabbed the kind her friend Kevin wanted. Since then, of course, it has been shown that she boo-booed,  that the use of NAPLAN testing to judge the standard of schooling is the work of fools, but we are stuck with it because she and her political and corporate friends said that we must do as we are told….despite our professional desires to exert true ethics and esoteric knowledge that will benefit children…..and avoid the kind of  serious damage that NAPLAN inflicts.

Now, we Aussies also tend to judge a country’s world ranking only by its three-yearly scores on extreme PISA tests for 15 year olds.  That, in normal circumstances, is a pretty big ask….and a sick one….and another sample of the work of fools.  It presumes that what is tested has been taught and that each question means the same things for each contestant country.

If this was a reliable method of making judgements, Australia would never have changed to kleinism back in 2008. We were amongst the worlds best then; and have only moved down to the failing section of low-level-learning countries, since we introduced naplanish fear-based operations. Our pollies took too much notice of the local malcontents who seldom have anything nice or useful to say about the ‘present generation’; and treat ‘childhood’ as if it was someone else’s problem. Attitude.  Wouldn’t it be more reliable and valid to judge our system, not on PISA scores, but on the quality of our contributions to world science, medicine, music, mathematics, art, social sciences, world politics,  literature, sport and recreation….the kinds of things that schools do?  Don’t our measurers know enough about measurement to be able to do this?  They need to see a teacher!

The jury rests.

You will have noted…..

The fear-bang-crash attitude is now so well entrenched in the Aussie psyche, that a change of government does not make any difference.  They all join in the work of fools. Federal parliament sorely needs some politicians who are concerned about the plight of children at school. There is none in the chamber, at present,  who cares,   The atmosphere at federal parliament has been attitude-free about decent schooling for a very long time…and…our weak state pollies have handed schooling responsibilities to people at the federal level who don’t seem to give two hoots about child welfare and intellectual progress. [So much for the power of COAG!] The change from Labor to Liberal saw more of the same; and there is no political party policy at present – anywhere- suggesting any change towards a child-oriented-high achievement- learning system. Check their policy documents.  Find the word ‘naplan’, if you can. Make sure you take a good look at the policies of the Labor, Liberal, Green and National parties.  Is there any state party which is proud enough to want to go for positive change?  It  would not be too difficult to organise a state system that is prepared to think and challenge the rest of the world, but everybody is afraid. They would have to THINK first, and that seems to be a pretty difficult thing for political parties to do.

Tragically, our children cannot expect to enjoy and extend their natural love for learning while the Australian attitude towards acceptance of the fear-based, kleinish high stakes bashing of kids and teachers’ mind-sets of learning, remains.

At the classroom level, we know that each  of those children staring out the window  or fiddling under the desk or  leaning with their chins on their hands, while the teacher is trying to introduce some new topic , is saying, “I’m not interested in learning this stuff; and there is nothing that you can do to make me if you keep going this way. You can’t force me to learn if I don’t want to.” The child has attitude. Too many, like this victim of high stakes testing,  prefer to be bludgers; under present conditions of schooling, an attitude forced on our kids because our pollies don’t care what our testucrats are doing to them. Together, the pollies and the testucrats have no conceptual grasp of what happens in the classroom, They have no idea of the effectiveness of pupilling or of the importance of the intimacy and power of the pupilling contract. All pupils have an attitude to whatever happens at school.  Theirs is a healthy attitude. They want to learn.  We’d all like all school experiences to be meaningful and wholesome and effective…..but ‘there’s those NAPLAN rules’.

Think of the beautiful young seven-year-olds after two years of school learning….having learned more than they will ever learn in any other two years of their lives,  being forced into the front line of fear and mental abuse about to be used on them for the first time in their lives. This will happen in Australia in a few weeks time.  Naplan neurosis, the only predictable outcome of a testing program for children so young, is a serious social malady, highly contagious, that causes learning insecurity, anxiety, depression and fear of accepting challenges; and it remains with them for the rest of their lives.  The testucrats, suffering from delusions of adequacy, believe that they properly reflect the community attitude of a need for the stern quantification of schooling, thus  denying children of the love and support that true learning needs. Their holier-than-thou attitude to teachers wishing to pupil their classes shows that they are out of their depth…..they’re over their heads in a car-park puddle.

That, by the way, is what measurement freaks have never learned.  “You can’t teach me anything, if I don’t want to learn.”   “Negativity turns me off.”

That’s where Australia’s office-bound testors have completely buggered-up the system. They think that frightening kids, threatening teachers, making kids practise, practise, practise test-taking; sanctioning after-school attendance at tutoring shops, doing plenty of homework is what schooling is about and enlivens the learning psyche.  Bulldust. That’s a testucator’s attitude. THE ATTITUDE OF OUR QUALITY, EXPERIENCED TEACHERS IS MILES AWAY FROM THIS.   ATTITUDE.  Quality teachers don’t like abusing children and turning them into robots to get a score. They prefer to treat children as pupils…… pure teaching.

Testucators don’t care how kids feel.  Their attitude, based on the fundamentals of measurement and statistics, is that hard data must be collected at any cost. Measuring is their profession….and they rule the roost. They think that heavy blanket-type, three-days-long collection of data every second-year  from pupils who prefer to be learning, is a legitimate pursuit. Children can be treated as robots. The testor’s  God ,’Statistics’, reigns. Rigidity is supreme.

So, Australia is  now in a very precarious position. Testucrats only want children  to learn what can be recorded on a piece of paper.   Teachers want to teach  their pupils all that they need to know, while testors only want them to learn only what can be  tested by PISA and other unreliable instruments.    Kids want to learn. Sadly, Aussie teachers must do as testors require.  Kids must do as they are told by both. No choice. Parents have to be the adjudicator. if they ever learn that they have plenty of  power. ‘  in their hidden right to say ‘NO’. ….even though federal politicians make the most of parents’ gullability by hiding the option of choice from them.  Attitudes, during this naplan period of history, are so far from a healthy teaching-learning reality, that things are  positively dangerous for Australia’s future. There are no expectations of change or of discussing the need for change during 2017.  We can’t shift the PISA guideposts, so we must accept that the inevitability of our official attitudes through forced NAPLAN testing will remain the same. As parents, we have been told to shut-up. We are all cooked, buggered, flattened, finished, done, however, if we continue with  such antique attitudes in 2017.

The only sensible attitude is to go back to tors – to 2007 – and do what should have been done then. Give back the decent professional ethics to real school administrators and scrap stupid NAPLAN.  Talk about the purposes of schooling.  I repeat. TALK. We are getting further and further away. We are slipping further down the gurgler of international repute; and our nastiness to children [Read “Beautiful Failures”?] is widely known and internationally deprecated.  Australians continues to adopt a very, very, very unhealthy attitude to schooling. On the world stage, that’s the kind of people we are becoming…..nasty bastards.

‘Experts’ from beyond the schooling hemisphere….especially those Aussie journos and commentators and Institutes, with out-of-context opinions and no firm  schooling attitude …..have some way-out solutions. *Bring in Gonski or any needs-based model  quickly!* Leave everything to COAG! * Do whatever Finland, Germany, Singapore or the US is doing! *Let’s talk about something else to do with schools. They seem to be saying :”We don’t know much about schooling, but we’d like to express an opinion. We are the elite. We set the agenda for discussion every day. and we prefer to be blase about school things…..pretend we know all about it.   Such opinions will be useful , however, if ever we get around to talking seriously with The Lucy Clarks, the Kathy Magolis and Gabriel Strouds of this world, who know what is going on; and don’t mind telling it as it is. You and I know dozens of worthy educators who have ‘been there, done that’ – from Kununurra to Collingwood – who can help us sort out our attitude to learning while at school.

Do we have an identifiable, united Australian attitude towards schooling as the Finns and other progressive countries appear to do? No.

It a mixed mess at present, reflecting only the attitude of Julia Gillard, Joel Klein, Chris Pyne and Simon Birmingham and their measurement hard-line disciples who would only suggest the following….

DON’T  bother asking Australian teachers what effects NAPLAN has in the classroom.  Don’t risk finding out about their attitude to fear-controlled schooling….nor the results of this. Teachers must be kept silent and obedient.

DON’T ask parents if they want the choice of saying “Yes’ or ‘No’ to their children’s endurance of the test-prep period each year. January to May.   What is their attitude to being left out of it all? Must we continues to keep the real truth from parents?

DON’T ask the community-care professionals or the general public if they see NAPLAN as a form of child abuse.  What is the attitude of the mental-care-professionals to the fear, anxiety, sleepnessness and depression suffered by NAPLAN victims?  Don’t mention what it can lead to.

Feel sorry forthose about to enter Year 3 and the world of testucation.

What is Australia’s attitude towards fair-dinkum schooling?  REALLY!

Education Readings December 16th

By Allan Alach

Another year is ending, which means in New Zealand and Australia, it’s also the end of the school year, and time for teachers and children to have a long summer break away from the trials of teaching and learning. Make the most of the break – it’s the only real chance teachers get to have a ‘normal’ life. I will be taking my own advice and also having a break from sourcing education articles for these reading lists, until the end of January 2017. However I’m not letting you off that easy, so this week’s list is a bit longer than usual.

I welcome suggested articles, so if you come across a gem, email it to me at allanalach@inspire.net.nz

Brain-Based Learning: Pushing Children to Learn Faster—Why?

‘Brain-based learning promotes the idea that children learn faster if they are taught differently. But why push children to learn faster than ever before? Why turn children into adults before they are ready? What’s the purpose?

What right do educators and parents under the spell of indiscriminate brain-based learning hucksters have to destroy childhood?’

http://bit.ly/2hxrwTt

CRITICAL THINKING versus CRITICISM: Helping students know the difference

Recent world events suggest critical thinking is a skill that is sadly lacking.

‘Critical thinking is about thinking for yourself rather than accepting, without questioning, the thinking someone else presents to you. Critical thinking identifies and examines underlying assumptions and biases about a concept, a discourse, a work of art or written expression, or some other abstract idea. It involves judgement – your judgement, which is justified with reasons and evidence.’

http://bit.ly/2h2caFT

Why schools should not teach general critical-thinking skills

However …

‘Of course, critical thinking is an essential part of a student’s mental equipment. However, it cannot be detached from context. Teaching students generic ‘thinking skills’ separate from the rest of their curriculum is meaningless and ineffective.’ 

http://bit.ly/2gKZN5e

Play: The Four Letter Word in Primary School

‘Decades of research provides evidence that play is the most valuable and successful way in which children engage in learning.  Through play, children can build all the necessary skills and knowledge required of them in readiness for adulthood.  Social-learning theory, constructivism, cognitive development theories, socio-emotional theories and physical development theories all uphold the power play has in the holistic development of children.’

http://bit.ly/2gMNxiQ

What does the post-truth world hold for teachers and educational researchers?

‘I wonder about the correlation between increasing systems of surveillance and control over curriculum and pedagogy and the growing number of high stakes testing regimes, audit and accountability technologies, and the narrative of slipping standards, declining outcomes and an education system in crisis.’

http://bit.ly/2hH5Uar

The most important thing schools don’t do

By Marion Brady

‘On my list, one aim is paramount: “Maximize learner ability to make sense.” Not only does it enable every other legitimate aim of educating, it gives schooling its proper focus—maximizing human potential. No one needs to be taught how to make sense—to think. We’re born equipped to do it. The challenge is to do it better, to radically improve what are sometimes called “higher order” thinking skills, particularly those involved in tracing complex causal sequences and anticipating possible unintended consequences of well-intended policies and actions.’

http://bit.ly/2hy7RmQ

21st century challenges

Let’s face it “21st century skills” are a bit meh! Especially when they have no context.

‘So frequently is this phrase used in the discourse on education today that when uttered it generates involuntary winces amongst those listening. On the education conference circuit “21st century skills” is the certainty on the buzzword bingo card. Never mind that we’re almost at the end of the second decade of a century that is the only one that every child in school has ever known. To be fair, it’s a well-intentioned phrase used by well-intentioned people. I’m sure it’s a phrase that’s passed my lips on more than one occasion even before I saw the foolishness of it.’

http://bit.ly/2gL3QhQ

My Dream Job Destroyed My Dream: An Unoriginal Statement About Education

A sad story from USA which will ring true to teachers all over.

‘Five years ago, I got my first job as a teacher. My dream job. My dream school. I could not have been happier: life was good. Then, five months ago, despite my passion and idealism, I broke down and accepted that my dream for an education focused on divergent thinking, individuality, and genuine learning was horribly unrealistic, hindered by bureaucratic disconnect and systemic devaluation. It became clear that the job which originally brought me so much excitement, wasn’t at all as I thought. In fact, genuine creation and effective collaboration would be forever secondary to administrative agendas, systemic mandates, and a tireless effort to maintain the status quo.’

http://huff.to/2gL24NN

How useful are standards in helping teachers’ professional development?

Not very…

‘Governing texts such as national professional standards and a national curriculum can have the unintended effect of constraining opportunities for teachers to learn about their work. This occurs when they are interpreted in ways that encourage coverage of individual standards. However, I believe, when teachers are supported to engage in authentic, contextually appropriate professional learning that is focused on their learning needs in relation to the learning of their students, they can transform their practice.’

http://bit.ly/2hPyMJE

Contributed by Bruce Hammonds:

How to Integrate Growth Mindset Messages Into Every Part of Math Class

‘Catherine Good has experienced stereotype threat herself, although she didn’t know it at the time. She started her academic career in pure math, expecting to get a Ph.D. But somewhere along the way she started to feel like it just wasn’t for her, even though she was doing well in all her classes. Thinking that she’d just chosen the wrong application for her love of math, Good switched to math education, where she first encountered the idea of stereotype threat from a guest psychology speaker.’

http://bit.ly/2h28fsE

Learning Goals… Success Criteria… and Creativity?

While I am aware that setting clear standards are important, making sure we communicate our learning goals with students, co-creating success criteria… and that these have been shown to increase student achievement, I can’t help but wonder how often we take away our students’ thinking and decision making when we do this before students have had time to explore their own thoughts first.’
http://bit.ly/29WT7tf

If there’s a magic bullet to fix education outcomes, it starts with equity

Things aren’t good in Australia either.

‘Kids are disengaged, results are declining, school only works for a third of students. And in fortuitous timing, education ministers are meeting this week. With the end of the school education year comes the ritual release of end-of-school exam results. Once again we’ll parade the names of the top 100 schools and marvel at those that seem to do so well.

At the risk of raining on their parade it is all very predictable: two thirds of the top 100 are still there when the schools are ranked by the socio-educational level of the parents. Even the public/private school comparisons are largely spurious: results coming out of schools enrolling similar students don’t vary much between the school sectors.’

http://bit.ly/2h2i7CG

From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:

John Dewey – New thinking 1897!

‘John Dewey’s famous declaration concerning education was first published 1897 and is still as pertinent now as it was then. All school communities ought to declare their beliefs about education and then work towards aligning all their teaching to achieving what they believe in. If they do not determine their own destiny someone else will. Having clear beliefs provides both security and the basis of making all choices – or simply saying no as appropriate. The following are excerpts from Dewey’s declaration.’

http://bit.ly/1EeQDlT

The corporate takeover of society and education.

‘Since the early 90s society has been reshaped by a neo liberal corporate ideology. An emphasis on private enterprise and self-centred individualism has replaced an earlier concern for collective good of all members of society.   As a result of this ideological shift a wider gap has been created between the rich and poor causing a number of social concerns. Schools as part of this shift have been transformed from a community orientation to being part of a competitive cut throat ideology.’

http://bit.ly/1hARUnP

The surprising truth about what motivates us.

‘Daniel Pink’s latest book, ‘A whole New Mind: Drive’, subtitled ‘the surprising truth about what motivates us’, is truly exciting. He writes that for too long school have relied on an extrinsic ‘carrot and stick approach’ (or ‘name and blame’).The three things, he writes, that motivate us all are: autonomy, mastery and purpose. Real learning is achieved when the joy of learning is its own reward.’

http://bit.ly/2gMq29u

Signs of a creative classroom

‘One thing seems obvious to me, after several decades visiting primary classrooms, is that real innovation only comes from creative teachers and not from imposed programmes. Unfortunately,  all too often, creative teachers are the last ones to be listened to in this era of school consistency and formulaic ‘best practices’. It seem we are moving towards a standardised approach to learning at the very time when we need to value (and protect) our creative teachers and their creative students.’

http://bit.ly/2gMUlNg

For New Zealand readers (but may be of interest elsewhere):

Given the changes in New Zealand politics recently, such as the sudden resignation of prime minister John Key (my pet theory, which I’ve been espousing for many months, is that he timed this to ensure he would get a knighthood before the election next year), as well as a stampede of government ministers for the exit door, here are few articles from a few years back about the government’s national standards based education agenda.

A teacher’s response to National’s ‘Education in Schools’ policy

Those of us who spoke out against national standards (and in some cases losing their careers as a result) in 2010 and 2011 are being proved correct. There is an increasing amount of evidence that is demonstrating that the main outcomes has been harming children’s educational and therefore life opportunities. How immoral is that?

‘I am saddened that this is the direction National want to take with our education system. We have a world-leading curriculum and (as National agree) excellent performance from our top students. However, we also have a long tail of underachievement, primarily from our Maori and Pasifika students and those from poorer backgrounds. Teacher input is only one aspect of learning – it is difficult to learn if you are hungry, tired or worried.’

http://bit.ly/2hPb14E

John Key and Mrs Tolley turn education into a McDonalds – principals will now become managers complying to franchise regulations.

‘Time will show John Key and Mrs Tolley to be the simplistic wreckers they are. In the meantime creative teachers will have to cope by going underground  and if the remainder can’t see the problem then they will be seen as complying with the destruction of an education system once held in high esteem  by educators (if not politicians and technocrats) around the world.’

http://bit.ly/2hGMBhw

National’s ‘brighter future’ doesn’t include the students or their teachers!

‘The current National Government has ignored educators worldwide and opted for an accountants view of education turning students into products and schools into factories so as to give consumers a choice – but what a choice!What many feared has come to pass. Populist political simplicity has won the day!If you repeat a half truth (one in 5 students are failing) without also factoring in the effects of poverty and poor health of  unknown in other civilised countries. One fifth of our students live in distressing poverty (that is, of course, 1 in 5).’

http://bit.ly/2gMR3cT

We failed PISA. How to fix it.

 

WE FAILED PISA-ONE ISSUE ONLY

PISA results down.     TIMSS report damning.   WHAT?  

WHAT HAS HAPPENED?  WHAT CAUSED IT?   WHO’s to BLAME?

HOW DO WE FIX IT ?

Media experts have examined the results and know how to fix it…..well……

Make funding more equitable.                                                 

Restore strict discipline.

Banish smart phones  

Employ only quality teachers.

Improve entrance level to teacher preparation

 Fix our cultural and economic inequality.       

 TEACHERS ARE TOO FRIGHTENED

PAY TEACHERS BETTER.

More after-school tutoring, like Singapore                            

More homework.

Stop funding private schools.                                                  

Make Maths & Science a prerequisite for all Uni. courses.

IMPORT GOOD MATHS & SCIENCE TEACHERS

ooooooooooooooooooooo0000000000000000000000000

Schooling in Australia is now a farce; thanks to the one issue only.     Only one thing has caused the decline. 

NAPLAN

Kill-learn NAPLAN

Julia said, in 2008, that PISA results would improve once  NAPLAN got under way……”TOP 5 BY 25”, she said. 

And her NAPLAN  has been the only one major alteration to the system  since that time; since we have been going down hill.  The curriculum – how and what  children are taught at school – has been taken over by crazy assessments; and testucators have replaced educators in the halls of power; and results continue to plummet.

As Joan said, “Anybody with a brain half the size of a starfish’s must see what caused it.” She must have noticed……that……

THE ONLY CHANGE TO SCHOOLING IN RECENT TIMES HAS BEEN THE USE OF 

NAPLAN TESTS. THEY ARE DESIGNED TO KILL LEARNING.

It hasn’t worked.  It never will. LET’s TALK ABOUT THE REAL CAUSE

The Great One – Simon himself – has proposed that we import better Maths and Science teachers.  {There’s one from left field.  ?!?! ]

We can import Socrates, Plato, Pythagoras, Fibonacci, Frobel, Rousseau, Steiner, Madame Montessori,  Friere, Confucious, Froebel, Rousseau, Einstein, Piaget, Jesus but , for sure, there will still be a decline  in Australia’s results on the PISA tests and any other tests of its kind, while we have NAPLAN in our schools.  There can be no doubt about this. It’s deadly stuff.  It kills the love for learning.  It’s fear-based credo is just too much for our Aussie kids.  They can give the pundits world shattering high scores if they are allowed to learn how to learn with love and encouragements and challenge and to enjoy learning for its own sake and if they treat Maths and Science as really beautiful subjects full of amazing interests and challenges. They’ve proven it in the past. Kids do better without the NAPLAN kind of child abuse.

NAPLAN prevents that kind of attitude, that kind of attention, that kind of positivity.  Kids  are taught to hate Maths and Science.

How many ‘experts’ have noticed the growth in wasteful assessments and the enormous increases in the gathering of data and the impact that it is having on teacher-pupil contact time for learning purposes?

Isn’t it time that one of our political parties started to think ‘kids’ and ‘learning’ and ‘fair go’?  I certainly cannot vote for a party that allows NAPLAN to continue. How can you…if you like kids?

Can we do without it?  Can we afford to keep it going?

What’s wrong with democracy as a way of life? Why can’t we forget about NAPLAN and PISA and get on with learning?

_______________________________________________________________________________________

Phil Cullen, 41 Cominan Avenue, Banora Point 2486.
07 5524 6443  0407865999 
cphilcullen@bigond.com
Refer :”Who’s Who In Australia”

The Most Important Things Schools Don’t Do – A challenge to Australia’s Educatio MinisterThe Most Important Things Schools Don’t Do – A challenge to Australia’s Education Minister

PLEASE SEND THIS ON TO YOUR STATE MINISTER. TREEHORN DOES NOT HAVE READY ACCESS TO THEM OR THEIR DEPARTMENTS.
Treehorn Express
A CHALLENGE TO STATE MINISTERS
This week, the collective wisdom of Australia’s education system gathers to consider what can be done to ensure that Australia has the world’s best  system of schooling.  It’s a tough  task considering the direction in which we seem to be going and the unseemly mess we are in.  All those with the title of Minister and their advisers will discuss school funding, the depletion in PISA scores and various issues that have been raised through pre-meeting correspondence. 
The Treehorn Express and its faithful readers maintain a genuine concern for the standard of schooling in Australian, New Zealand and the US and anywhere else that shares a love for school kids and a passion for helping them to learn how to learn. The standard and type of schooling in the western world, controlled by measurement freaks,  is a big worry. Australia is the most test-crazed country in the world  It allows little time for teachers to teach. 
We are supposed t be here for kids, not institutions and measurement manufactories. 
Below, fellow advocate for kids, Marion Brady reckons that the aim of schooling is : MAXIMIZE LEARNERS’ ABILITY TO  MAKE SENSE. Same aim, different expression. All experienced educators are on the same wavelength.
With Brady’s comments in mind, Treehorn would like to challenge each minister to read his article below and leave the meeting 1. Still using NAPLAN; 2. Still having unequal funding for private and public schools and 3. Failing to instigate a serious, wide and open discussion on the best ways to care for Australian kids in a schooling environment, during our children’s  natural search for excellence over 13 years or so of schooling.
If they are fair dinkum Aussie educators, we can expect 1. the end of NAPLAN;  2. Gonski- funding or better; 3. plans for an intense, extensive public discussion.
We don’t want Prime Minister Pauline having to tolerate a bigger  mess than her previous female PM left .  No kind of misogyny intended.
It’s a short article – one of his best – and it deserves to be carefully read with an open mind and pleasant thoughts about school children.  Treehorn has added a short comment at times and highlighted some statements,. You’ll be able to tell.
The original is located in the Washington Post ….
Washington Post, “The Answer Sheet” blog by Valerie Strauss
Posted December 9, 2016:
___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
The most important thing schools don’t do
By Marion Brady
Prepare the young for  tertiary education and careers; promote democratic citizenship; keep Australia  economically competitive; master the core subjects; transmit societal values; instil a love of learning—those are six of about 30 aims for schooling I’ve found in academic journal articles.  Treehorn can add:  ‘care for the mental health and learning attitude of young people.’ That’s seven.
On my list, one aim is paramount: “Maximize learner ability to make sense.”Not only does it enable
every other legitimate aim of educating, it gives schooling its proper focus—maximizing human 
potential. 
No one needs to be taught how to make sense—to think. We’re born equipped to do it. The challenge is to do it better, to radically improve what are sometimes called “higher order” thinking skills, particularly those involved in tracing complex causal sequences and anticipating possible unintended consequences of well-intended policies and actions. We know how to build nuclear power generating plants, but not how to dispose of the waste they create. We know how to produce enough food to feed the world, but not how to distribute it equitably.We know how to start wars, but not how to end them or avoid them altogether. We know how to warm the planet, but not how to navigate the political complexities that stand in the way of adopting measures to stop the process.We know how to frack the aquafers and empty each nation’s underground water tanks and despoil the landscape and oceans, but not how to replace it all. 
Unfortunately, schools—the institutions modern societies have created to help the young maximize their ability to think—have never been able to present well-thought-out strategies for actually improving sense-making. Beyond the primary and elementary levels, the emphasis has instead been on delivering the content of subjects considered “core”—math, science, language arts, and social studies. As those subjects are traditionally taught and tested, “thinking” is primarily a matter of recalling information delivered and, to a lesser extent, applying that information in abstract ways.
Recalling and applying are, of course, thinking skills, but what makes us fully human, and what gives humanness so much potential, is our ability to infer, hypothesize, generalize, categorize, relate, compare, contrast, correlate, describe, abstract, extrapolate, predict, sequence, integrate, synthesize, interpret, translate, empathize, value, envision, imagine, intuit.
That’s 24 thought processes, most of them more complex than recalling and applying. Add to them other thought processes of which I’m not aware. Add the extremely powerful role emotions [like fear of failing NAPLAN]and the place of play in shaping thought. Add the fact that the actual process of sense-making integrates the processes systemically to create a whole greater than the sum of parts. Considering these complexities, the human potential being wasted by teaching to machine-scored tests that can’t evaluate the quality of sense should be obvious.
The failure of traditional schooling to significantly improve thinking skills stems primarily from its emphasis on delivering “pre-processed” information. The contents of textbooks, teacher talk, reference materials, the internet, and so on, are products of the thinking of others, leaving learners with nothing to do except try to store information in memory long enough to pass a test. That’s about as interesting and intellectually stimulating as memorizing completed crossword puzzles.  That’s NAPLAN 
Traditional schooling’s emphasis on recalling exacts a heavy price – boredom, discipline problems, reliance on extrinsic motivators, the rapid disappearance from memory of information once taught, decades of flat academic performance.
That list of problems having its roots in the neglect of all other sense-making processes could be extended.
Thinking skills can be significantly improved by coaching that focuses learner attention directly on immediate, “unprocessed” reality, on primary sources from past realities, and on imagined probable, possible, and preferred future realities. Learning teams can investigate their school’s energy efficiency, compare attitudes toward authority of early  settlers in Australia as manifested in the records they kept, analyze waste disposal procedures in their neighborhoods, predict likely consequences of Australia’s  inevitable cultural change from the western [US dominated] economic culture to those requirements of the Asian  [China dominated] economic galaxy. Those kinds of activities engage because they respect and make active use of the ability to think.*
The complexity of the sense learners make when they’re intellectually engaged in real-world work makes it clear that quality of thought can’t be evaluated by commercially produced standardized tests. Do two “good” hypotheses equal four “fair” or seven “poor” hypotheses? What’s the difference between “good” and “fair”?  Does a kid’s inference show insight or startling insight? Is a learner’s description of an event beautifully succinct or merely sketchy?  Computers can’t answer these questions.
There’s no getting around the inherent complexity of original thought, and no getting around traditional schooling’s failure to stimulate and nurture it.
Today’s reformers dream of low-cost schools where technology does the telling and  technology does the testing, That’s NAPLAN….plain dumb.
“Civilization,” said H.G. Wells, “is a race between education and catastrophe.” Perpetuating the misguided education policies put in place by politicians at the urging of wealthy but educationally clueless campaign contributors doesn’t just invite societal catastrophe, it assures it.
                                                              ###
The links below access free explanatory materials and ready-to-use secondary-level courses of study illustrating instructional activities that routinely require learners to engage in a full range of cognitive processes.
At all times, the caution issued by John Settledge when he toured Australia, needs serious heed : “ When the affective is secure, the cognitive is inevitable.”
Other than the fact that learners’ exercise of those processes produces thought too complex to be evaluated by standardized, machine-scored tests, the activities themselves fit within traditional bureaucratic boundaries and expectations.
Thinking about thinking: http://www.marionbrady.com/CIR .asp
_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Phil Cullen
41 Cominan Avenue
Banora Point 2486
07b55246443
0407 865999
Refer: “Who’s Who in Australia.”

Education Readings December 9th

By Allan Alach

I welcome suggested articles, so if you come across a gem, email it to me at allanalach@inspire.net.nz

Taking the PISA

New Zealand teacher Mike Boon (aka Boonman)

‘Well, friends, today was PISA day. The day when all media outlets around the world breathlessly pronounce their education system is either “plummeting” down the tables, or, through some miraculous miracle, soaring to new educational heights.

Three years ago I ranted about this nonsensical test, run by the OECD, which tests hundreds of thousands of 15 year olds around the world on reading, maths and science. I’m listening to Garbage on the Spotify at the moment and that is an incredibly apt word.’

http://bit.ly/2gbXPKP

Academics Worldwide call for the end to PISA tests

‘In education policy, Pisa, with its three-year assessment cycle, has caused a shift of attention to short-term fixes designed to help a country quickly climb the rankings, despite research showing that enduring changes in education practice take decades, not a few years, to come to fruition. For example, we know that the status of teachers and the prestige of teaching as a profession have a strong influence on the quality of instruction, but that status varies strongly across cultures and is not easily influenced by short-term policy.’

http://bit.ly/2gWrJlr

Why Americans should not panic about international test results

Applicable to other countries as well.

‘Unlike elections, one cannot definitively prove PISA predictions to be wrong since student success later in life cannot be conclusively reported like final vote counts. But if we think of a student’s success as winning the election, and the skills and knowledge PISA assesses as voters, what the polls missed during Brexit and the 2016 U.S. presidential election provides some interesting cautionary parallels.’

http://wapo.st/2hl2ohU

“Data is the wrong driver”

Thanks to Phil Cullen for this article about Queensland, Australia, which can be adapted for other similar educationally afflicted countries.

‘To comply with the current curriculum benchmarks, you cannot do justice to children or their learning. It is not practical to run a play-based curriculum AND meet the standards. If a child finds a caterpillar outside, it if far more engaging and meaningful to talk about butterflies and write and explore that, than to read a proscribed book and ask children about how a character can change or what we could do differently.’

http://bit.ly/2gcmSZg

Contributed by Bruce Hammonds:

End of Year Student Survey: Student feedback to implement next year.

Bruce’s latest article.

‘At the end of the school year it is a good idea to gather information from the students you are passing on. Not only is this a chance for you to get some insight about your teaching but it is also a great way to value the ‘voice’ of your students. You might also like to think about developing a similar survey for the beginning of next year to give some insight into student’s attitudes that they bring with them to your class. You could include the various learning areas, what they are expecting to gain from the year with you, and what questions they would like to find out more about. You might be able to work the later into a negotiated curriculum?’

http://bit.ly/2gWjgP1

Responding to Defiance in the Moment: Why Do Children Defy Authority?

‘Children who defy us often get to the core of our fears as teachers. They make us question our abilities and provoke feelings of insignificance. But when we rise above our own feelings and find developmentally appropriate ways to respond to these students, we offer them a path to success and a model of how to get along in the world.’

http://bit.ly/2gc0q7t

Teaching Without Rewards

‘Children build on their strengths, and to do that building—to grow academically and socially—they need us to recognize and encourage their positive efforts. But what’s the best way to offer that recognition and encouragement?’

http://bit.ly/2h4soi9

When Students Need More: Taking the Long View

‘A reality of teaching that all teachers know well is that no matter how effectively we teach, no matter how hard students try, and no matter how many good days the class has together, students will sometimes need more—more direction, more support, more teaching, more time.’

http://bit.ly/2gDGdDy

From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:

Why schools don’t educate.

‘Notes taken from John Taylor Gatto’s acceptance speech as New York Teacher of the Year 1990. Gatto was recognized in Tom Peter’s (the business ‘guru’) in his book ‘Re-Imagine’ published 2003 as an important future orientated educator.‘We live in a time of great school crises, Gatto began his presentation, ‘and we need to define and redefine endlessly what the word education should mean. Something is wrong. Our school crisis is a reflection of a wider social crisis – a society that lives in the constant present, based on narcotic consumption’ 

http://bit.ly/2bWvrc6

A future Vision for Education

‘We need to move beyond, ‘correcting past mistakes and attempting to improve the quality and productivity of a quasi industrial form of production in which children come in one end, are worked on by professionals and then exit at the other end with the requisite skills and qualifications’.If it only worked for all students there would not be any urgency to change but it is becoming obvious that too many students fail –and even those that ‘succeed’ leave without all their talents appreciated.’

http://bit.ly/1pHqBCy

Robert Fried on Seymour Sarason

‘One of Sarason’s forty odd books has a name that reflects his lifetime theme ‘The Predictable Failure of School Reform’. He retired in 1989 as professor of clinical psychology at Yale University.Fried calls Sarason  a ‘cautious radical’ and a pragmatic idealist who staunchly defends classroom teachers in one breathe and scolds them (and policy makers) in another for their failure to make schools interesting places for teachers and children.’

http://bit.ly/14rjn5y

Does your classroom have the ‘wow’ factor?

‘The first sign of ‘wow’ is the overall first impression the room gives you. The feeling you get is that you are indeed in special place. There is a feeling of positive relationships between teacher and learners and often parents are to be seen quietly helping students. Other students seem to be working without supervision. A quick look around the walls, covered with students creativity gives an impression that this is a room dedicated to the students themselves.’ 

http://bit.ly/1FxlCvx

Profiteering is more important

Profiteering is More Important

“Profiteering is more important to Australian people than helping children.” said the lady on TV, representing children in foster-care. It was a general statement that applies, not only to kids in foster care, but Australian kids generally.
We are certainly not very good at caring about children. Indeed, it is safe to say that all political parties dislike children. One thing is clear.  Each goes to some lengths to  approve of child exploitation and abuse through testucation stupidity.
Yes. Profits before child welfare is becoming more and more  endemic to the Australian way of life than we care to admit…..especially through the schooling system  The schooling system is now on the edge of a tsunami of money-making rackets… oops…small businesses……. relating to ‘fixing’ learning traits.
We don’t care much about children at school any more. Anything goes; and we can now lay claim to  a world-wide reputation for a negative attitude towards children,  for  our declining test  results in our schools, for  our fiddling with school curricula and for  our immature crush on private schooling; and….. as the lady added “We care more about animals than we do about children.”, presumably referring to the Griffith by-election, and the success of the shooters party. We sure are a weird mob.
Our slump in standards and our sloppy attitude to curriculum matters is not caused by the schools, neither private nor public.  There is no difference in the quality of schooling nor in their achievements. It does not matter what kind of school to which parents send their children. The government parties believe that private schools are better, despite the studies of ‘pathways and future success’  that reveal otherwise. A good school is one that cares for pupils as pupils and as people; and has a link with every pupil’s home.  That’s available at all schools.  If you want a good schooling at the right price, send your child to the local high school. If you want a good schooling – mutton dressed as lamb – and have lots of spare cash, try a private school.
To compensate for the devastation to learning,  caused by the peculiar testing antics of today’s forms of schooling, there will soon be thousands of money-making grab-it firms vying for the rest of your spare coin. Apart from Tutoring places that concentrate on test success, there should be a significant growth in Maths Specialists, Literacy Specialists and Science Specialist of doubtful background who will help you at a price. Some will sell the elixir in packaged form. For instance there are, presently,  some ‘literacy experts’ exploiting the age-old debate about the ‘teaching of phonics’ or the ‘teaching of whole word’ [The Australian 25/11/16] when, in fact, our teachers teach reading [through using these components and others]….and it works very well, thank you.
Both major political parties believe that they know more about curriculum than professionals do and so use inexperienced personnel to advise it on what to do.  They usually recommend that we test.  Australia is amazingly test-fixated. Each test sets a mediocre limit on what has been learned.  It has to, to fulfil the rationales of measurement. As a consequence, we have one of the most rag-tag systems of schooling on the planet.  Our government’s educational termites try to force schools to achieve the mediocre  through its wild testing programs, instead of aiming for the moon in terms of learning. And when they don’t get what they want – mediocrity – they turn on the screws with greater force. It all just so crazy.
There is nothing, however, that can replace a classroom teacher and talking with him or her as much as possible about your child’s welfare.
Australia has to go through these weird machinations because notable profiteering-supportive politicians force their colleagues to assist them in their assault on childhood.  They, in the first place, have been told by media barons and those who profit from school testing regimes, to make sure that education means testucation or there will be no more media support or hefty donations at election time.
The capture of child-centred politicians and figures-in-authority is essential to the cause of profiteering.  Some people have difficulty in comprehending the scale of such an operation.  Julia Gillard performed a major coupe with great neo-liberal aplomb. The success of the manner that kleinism was introduced into Australia is an intriguing political science expose.
It will have to be something very serious to reveal the present day chain of command for profiteering. It does not look like a parent uprising will occur. What will choke it as it deserves? ? Trumpism? Maybe! Things just don’t look too good, no matter what solution one looks for.
Think about it. The fact that such political skulduggery aka kleinism happens in America too, is more than coincidental. After all, we imported it from there in 2008.
The lady [‘profiteering is more important’ lady…] is not wrong…profiteering is more important to Australian people than helping children. To be rid of it, there is a clear need to create an atmosphere of thinking about what’s best for Australian children and how we can enrich their childhood, instead of deliberately stultifying their love for learning so that big business can increase their profits.  We need to keep talking about this sort of issue.  We need to…..Talk. Talk. Talk.
Question. Question .Question.
What do tests do to children?
What do tests do for children?
How do tests lead to improvement….. in preference to spending the time instilling a love of maths or literacy or science?
What do testucating managers know about classroom interaction and the variety of teaching/learning processes being used by teachers?
[For instance, Direct Instruction  -costing taxpayers $37m at last count – that bunch of teaching strategies at the far L-H end of an extensive teaching continuum – seems a little bit over-the-top]
Who decides that children should disregard music and art and health and sport and creativity and challenging problem-solving activities and spend endless hours and days and weeks on dull thought-less testing practice instead?
Why can’t Maths and Science and Literacy be regarded as beautiful subjects instead of being brutalised by being used as fear-based tests?
Who decides?  
Why do keen observers draw cartoons such as this ?  What is it revealing to us?
There are so many questions that need to be asked.
Phil Cullen
41 Cominan Avenue
Banora Point 2486
07 5524 6443
0407865999
cphilcullen@bigond.com
Refer”Who’s Who in Australia”