Digital Giants about to Take Over Schools

  The  Treehorn  Express

Treehorn, the hero of Florence Patty’s The Shrinking of Treehorn kept shrinking. Adults ignored him as they do with any thing that is really worrying for pre-adolescent children. The annual blanket testing of Years 3,5,7,9 in Australian schools is a case in point. It is evil,  and most Australian adults just don’t care. They don’t talk about it much, even though its effects are more serious than Carbon Taxing and phone scanning and such . Many teachers and principals don’t open up about the effects on teaching and learning.. They are too frightened, or too unsure, or too compliant. Some might even argue that it doesn’t matter much. Treehorn knows.


Digital Giants about to Take Over Schools

Digital schooling is looming; and heading down under fast. Anxious schoolies hope that there has been extended discussion and politician- classroom teacher discussion about its impact. If there has been no such arrangements, we may have missed the boat again. Many remember the structured kit-learning of the past and have opinions about its influence on classroom practice

Now that blanket testing is firmly established in Australia as a teaching device, it will be quite easy to introduce other unethical procedures without any consultation with schoolies or their representative organisations. I refer to the two previous editions of The Treehorn Express.

On Line Opinion  I revised the article called “Do You Know Who Controls our Children’s Schooling?” and submitted it to On Line Opinion. Two comments on the article stood out…

“Education is, as Rupert Murdoch described it in a speech to the G8 in May 2011, ‘the last frontier’ – a vast market waiting to be invaded, conquered and financially exploited by News of the World and other companies. He cited approvingly of what he called Sweden’s ‘IKEA’ schools, the owner of which has said, ‘If we’re religious about anything, it’s standardisation. We tell our teachers it is more  important to do things the same way than to do them well.’

What attracted Murdoch, sniffing like a dog at its neighbour’s bum, was this: ‘Like IKEA, a giant Swedish furniture-maker, Kunskapsskolan gets its customers to do much of the work themselves. The vital tool, though,  is not an Allen-key but the Kunskapsskolen [“Knowledge Portal”], a website containing the entire syllabus.

Note, students are “customers’. The chain of schools to which Murdoch referred has 700 employees and teaches nearly 10,000 pupils, with an operating profit of SKr62 last year on a turnover  of SKr655m [A$1=SKr6.7].

Murdoch wants to take this approach internationally. “

Thanks to ‘mike-servethepeople’ for this comment.  Looks like the debate as to whether we call school children ‘pupils’ or ‘students’ is on hold for a decade or two. They are Murdoch ‘customers’.  [I’ll hang in there for ‘pupils’ just the same.] Australia’s present style of schooling founder, Klein, runs the business for Murdoch; and Bill Gates has set up a similar business. Duck!

For thoughtful readers a very useful comment came from ‘Ho Hum”  :-

“In her well-researched and much foot-noted book ‘This Little Kiddy Went to Market : The Corporate Capture of Childhood’ Sharon Beder tells us all we need to know about this topic.

She also names the usual right-wing corporate suspects, their inter-relations, and their front groups [which help to promulgate the ‘gospel’ according to corporations.”


 Allan Alach, Principal of Hokowhitu School, Palmerston North [ ] is an example of a wide reading, deep thinking, curriculum concerned, proud Primary Principal. He shares his readings and his wisdom widely. He is a fan of Treehorn Express and has included some on this website, devoted to the unfortunate Treehorns presently passing through their primary school years. Of course, I think that it is just great and thank Allan sincerely.


Thank you indeed for the response to the change of email address to My apologies for any inconvenience.


Stephen Krashen wrote to the Los Angeles Times on July 17, 2011.

J.K.Rowling’s Harry Potter has a great deal to say about current educational policy.In “Harry Potter:”The Order of the Phoenix (2007), villain Dolores Umbridge [“You know. I really hate children”] informs Hogwart’s students that their course on Defense Against the Dark Arts will be “carefully structured” and all theoretical, with no actual use of spells. When students complain, Umbridge says”…a theoretical knowledge will be sufficient to get you through your examinations,  which after all, is what school is all about.”  The next line says it all.

Harry Potter : And how is theory supposed to prepare us for what’s out there?

Dolores Ubridge : There is nothing out there, dear!


I  swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim.

Silence encourages the tormentors, never the tormented. Sometimes we must interfere.    (Elie Wiesel, “Night”)

{Thanks to Mary E Mackay for these two extracts}

Phil Cullen

41 Cominan Avenue

Banora Point

Australia 2486J

Please keep talking about the issues, send this ‘Treehorn’ to as many folk as possible; and pray that our school children will regain their FREEDOM TO LEARN.


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