The Age of Stupid

Until Naplan is ‘dead, buried and cremated’…

The Treehorn Express

Since he was an obedient little boy, Treehorn, the hero of Florence Patty Heidi’s The Shrinking of Treehorn , wouldn’t bother to  take much notice of Naplan, National Standards, National Testing or NCLB or any other blanket testing name. Teachers tell him to do tests and he does them, without question.  He once wanted someone to take notice of him. They didn’t. He had a real problem…much as our present school pupils have with these silly kinds of testing. He and they are always willing to accept the way that adults treat them. Adults do it without feeling, as we all know. Little kids should be seen and not heard, of course. Send them to school and don’t worry too much. Politicians, carers, teachers, general public can treat them as they like as long as the treatment does not appear to be too dangerous. If the children had the chance to consider the worth of what is happening to them, they would probably think that adults are pretty stupid people. They don’t notice.


Kleinists Celebrate

Supporters of Kleinism [fear-driven schooling]in Australia will celebrate this coming week, when the results of the Naplan tests are released. The tests were held in May. Rewards will be distributed. Victims will receive their scores following the celebrations.

Ironically, this coming week is Child Protection Week in Australia.


The Age of Stupid

Christopher Trotter, a Kiwi political commentator said, “Welcome to the ‘Age of Stupid’; to the great dumbing down of New Zealand; the place where educational standards are being reduced to ‘readin’, ritin’ and ‘rithmetic…”

It is a very accurate description….of stupidity, that is. NZ calls it National Standards. We call it Naplan.

Who could ever have imagined a country that is so confused about the relationship between schooling and learning, and their connection with achievement;  and with the country’s economic and social welfare, that it would introduce blanket testing of a few items of unfortunate school pupils’ memory bank; and then threaten  both teachers and pupils to do as they are told.  Some country’s leaders have become quite dictatorial, in a very totalitarian, non-democratic sense; and have introduced coercive methods to control a few bits of ‘readin, ‘ritin ands ‘ritmetic ; so that they can then boast: “Look at what I have done. I have reformed the education system of this country. The check-out girls can now calculate. Vote for me again.”

The craziness is not an NZ phenomenon. It pervades the UK, from whom Australia  adopted our colonial style and shape of schooling;  and the US, from whom we copy the most ridiculous ideas because we feel obliged to do so. It’s all so crazy.  Whoever introduced the national blanket testing notion to each country, no matter what its fancy name, should be immortalised along with all political villains. They need to be known as well as…you know who.

We even allow our politicians, in each of these countries, to order teachers to do as they are told: and teachers do, even though their most precious professional instincts and knowledge are compromised . They do it because they usually do as they are told. And, so,  things get stupider.

The outcome ? Children suffer. They become robots shaped to political requirements

and the national flag flies at half-mast to represent the death of purposeful learning as well as the country’s potential.

[Don’t you think that this is about the most ‘telling’ clip that you have seen?  The busy politician is Anne Tolley, NZ Minister for Education. The clip was made by a Wellington teacher.]

Surely human beings of any social order know that bossiness in any enterprise does not work as well as experienced-based, co-operative leadership…the kind of style that has a thousand names… that disposes followers to work like crazy with levels of enthusiasm that are so high that followers will devote a major part of their lives to doing their job better.  Think of this…

We grant a large  measure of POWER to our politicians and trust them to exert the levels of CONTROL that are required for a happy, democratic, progressive country. The level of control over a system’s direction is revealed in the acceptance of their deliberate attempts to influence others.  In the UK, US, NZ and Australia, they have mucked it up….big time.

Long-regarded essential elements of power can be arranged in hierarchical order, as management theorists, French and Raven described so many years ago.  If any individual or group or country believes that the carrot-or-stick approach works in any social enterprise, they represent stupidity on steroids. The lowest levels, coercion and reward powers,  on their own, bring what they deserve…very low acceptance and low morale.

This is self-explanatory and begs a number of questions : Why do political leaders appoint  plumbers to run garages?  Who would reward one person more than another of equal status, and expect everyone to perform at a higher level?

You know that force, orders, codes of conduct, threats  receive lower order responses…why use them?  Why not use all levels of power in the best possible way? Is it true [as The Week 8 April 2011 reported] that “nearly two-thirds of Australian teachers are considering a new career.”?

Julia Gillard would be the major contender for a gold-plated Doofus Award, since she picked up the idea of introducing Kleinism [fear-based schooling] into Australia at a dinner party.  Introducing the divisive nationally-damaging political notion by threatening children and teachers, doubles her chances. Those who approve of her actions or support national blanket testing of any form also deserve nomination. Let’s hope that the list is dwindling.


Remember- ‘Nothing is infinite except the universe and human stupidity; and I am not too sure about the universe’. Einstein.

[Thanks Allan]

Phil Cullen

41 Cominan Avenue

Banora Point

Australia  2486

07 5524 6443

Please share this around. There are elections in New Zealand soon; and there is a likelihood in Australia.

Tell your local member how you feel.

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