Treehorn Express July 1

The  Treehorn  Express

Treehorn was a young school pupil; the hero of Florence Patty’s The Shrinking of Treehorn . He kept shrinking until he could walk upright under his bed. All of his carers ignored his condition – his parents, his teachers and his principal. They still do that sort of thing.


Is There Hope?

Diane Ravitch thinks so. Please click this link and read it now.

Diane ravitch _ Reasons for Hope

Are you as optimistic ?  There is so much to overcome before young children, who are forced by law to attend school, are given true freedom to learn. They are locked in and so vulnerable. Their teachers and principals, in whom we have so much faith, are ignored, corralled and controlled by legislators and measurers. The testing mentality is well ingrained and Australian folk are accepting  it after only two years. That’s really frightening. It does not deserve to survive as long as it has in the USA, where teachers and parents have to organise a huge rally in their capital on July 30 to bring their concerns to the attention of the politically powerful. It’s a splendid idea to possess the positiveness of Diane. Fair dinkum schoolies need something to feel good about.

J.Daniel Hollinger says that the USA has a testucation system. So we, like our up-over controllers, also have a pure and simple data-driven system where school pupils suffer because inexperienced – but smart – educrats believe that achievements in numeracy and literacy subjects can be forced.  If such educrats possess any knowledge of the classroom, they don’t show it; and  bow to the will of the politician who, at the source of things, is, in turn a willing puppet of  very powerful corporations.

Reform or Deform? The publishing  and high-tech industries now control our schools. Politicians claim to do so. Huh. Rupert Murdoch told the G8 Summit of wealthy nations in Paris last month, “Our schools remain the holdout from the digital revolution…. The same digital technologies that transformed every other aspect of modern life can transform education…My company is determined to try –in a big way.” His future for schooling is easy to imagine. Right? His motivation is pure.  There’s big money to be made; huge amounts.  He’ll do it if we give in. Test publishing makes billions as you well know, so it seems unlikely that Naplan will disappear any time soon, unless teachers and parents get fair- dinkum within the next year or so [Elections in 2013, remember?].  By 2013, local test publishers and practice books tycoons will have a bigger say than they now have.

You may have read that Pearson PLC, owners [rival of Murdoch’s News Limited] of the Financial Times and Penguin have just forged an agreement with Bill Gates to create a digital learning program. We are talking billions of establishment dollars here, set up to profit by billions and billions. This is no exaggeration. The market is huge and constant….and profitable.

Wouldn’t schooling be wonderful if the blokes with the big bucks had more respect for small young children? Wouldn’t it be a great world to live in?

There will be a big paradigm shift in schooling once these moguls take more control than they currently have.  Johnnie L. Roberts author of Rupert Murdoch: Big Man on campus predicts that students [aka ‘pupils’] will be digitally tracked, measured, categorised and fitted for a customised curriculum. There will be little need for humane, well-trained teachers in a testucated Dizzyland, called Australia.

But wait. Better teaching and learning elements can exist in a test-free digital environment. Perhaps our children can be pupilled and helped to share their personal evaluation of progress with some human-being that they respect as they become immersed in the digital soup. It’s possible. What a pity that real teachers can’t be IN on the ground floor of the design, with external testing prohibited and classroom behaviour appreciated.  But, lawyer Klein, now on an annual salary of millions, is setting up the Murdoch test publishing empire to do as he has done to New York and to Australia.

Where is YOUR level of hope?  I’d like to share Diane’s. May God bless her and the tens of thousands who, surely, will march with her.


Phil Cullen

41 CominanAvenue

Banora Point  2486

Please do something to help school children regain the freedom to learn.


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