How do Learners Learn at School?

  The Treehorn Express                           

Treehorn? http://primaryschooling.net/?page_id=1924

Theme song:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gQj-6F7yPM8

“””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””

Treehorn Express is dedicated to the cessation of Kleinist NAPLAN testing in Australian.   Kleinism is a New York version of fear-driven schooling which  uses the blanket testing ‘wmd’ called NAPLAN to destroy the reputation of  public schooling.      This weapon was introduced to schools in Australia in 2009. It disrespects children, devalues teachers’ professionalism and threatens the developmental future of Australia.     Ideologically, NAPLAN is immoral, politically driven, curriculum destructive, extremely costly, unprofessional, interruptive and very divisive. It is clearly aimed in a malicious manner  at public schooling and its teachers.  It also strives for mandated, standardised mediocre achievements in only a very few aspects of a full school curriculum in all schools.  It will survive until enough good people say, “Stop it.”

Click on the Naplan site for more details : http://www.nap.edu.au/information/FAQs/index.html

“”””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””How

How Do Learners Learn At School?

I asked a parent this question. He thought about it quite seriously and then remarked. “The teacher teaches them something, maybe from the black-board.  She then questions them and might set a test or the kids write something down.”

Well, we all know that there is much more to the learning process than that. They were mentioned earlier in The Treehorn Express [10 August, 2011],  The list is worthy of careful thought and consideration. Teachers can  think of an instance for each activity and try to figure how many can be used in one learning activity. The more the merrier, perhaps???

brainstorming     grouping      rationalising

choosing     inferring     reflecting

classifying     inventing     recalling

comparing     investigating     repeating

constructing     listening     representing

contrasting     manipulating     seriating

copying     matching     smelling

counting     mimicking     taking roles

creating     ordering     talking

deducing     planning     tasting

evaluating     practising     testing

experimenting     predicting     touching

exploring     pretending     verifying

generalising     questioning     watching

Learning to learn is an involved business, right?

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________-

     Re-form  Compulsory  Schooling.

Start at the classroom.

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________-

Re-form   – NOT reform [meaning ‘change’].

RE-FORM.  Start the system again.

Design it from the bottom up – with the knowledge of how children learn in school-room settings. What goes on in each classroom is the only thing that matters. For goodness sake, all you politicians….set things up so that expert classroom operators can consider their task and work on how to do better than we are presently doing. Arrange things to improve what goes on with learning in a classroom. Don’t make decisions on what you think goes on.

Compulsory – The starting age for compulsory attendance needs to be determined by examining the accumulated knowledge of the learning habits of children in the first decade of their life; and how they develop their idiosyncratic learning styles.  Special effort is required for setting the age to start undertaking institutionalised, regular, organised learning habits.  Should there be a completion age?

Schooling – The word ‘education’ is a nondescript word that says nothing important. A child’s education happens all the time during waking hours. A child’s schooling is special, when attendance is compulsory.

Classroom – The place where we force children to spend time so they can learn things and develop their unique styles of learning. To have each classroom work efficiently and effectively is why society appoints Ministers of Education and Secretaries.  The effect of their decisions on what happens in school classrooms during the years of compulsion is their main job… probably meant to be their only job.  To have classrooms work well is why Principals, Senior Education officials and advisers have a job, also.  Their curriculum leadership [guiding learners through certain learnings] is their main role, their only role is they can manage it. This professional group needs to know as much about each classroom within their care as possible and to be in them as often as possible. They need to have had hard-yard experience, to read widely and know more than most about schooling.

The home rooms themselves need to be of a size and shape, and contain sufficient learning material that allows for the full range of teaching strategies. Can you describe an ideal classroom for various age groups and various school activities?

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________   Like to check the recent ‘Treehorns’ ?    Click on Recent Posts and Archives in the sidebar.

Phil Cullen

41 Cominan Avenue

Banora Point

Australia 2486

07 5524 6443

cphilcullen@bigpond.com

http://primaryschooling.net

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

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IT’S TEACHERS’ DAY

The Treehorn Express

Treehorn? http://primaryschooling.net/?page_id=1924 
The Treehorn Express Theme song:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gQj-6F7yPM8

“””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””

Treehorn Express is dedicated to the cessation of Kleinist NAPLAN testing in Australian.   Kleinism is a New York version of fear-driven schooling which  uses the blanket testing ‘wmd’ called NAPLAN to destroy the reputation of  public schooling.      This weapon was introduced to schools in Australia in 2009. It disrespects children, devalues teachers’ professionalism and threatens the developmental future of Australia.     Ideologically, NAPLAN is immoral, politically driven, curriculum destructive, extremely costly, unprofessional, interruptive and very divisive. It is clearly aimed in a malicious manner  at public schooling and its teachers.  It also strives for mandated, standardised mediocre achievements in only a very few aspects of a full school curriculum in all schools.  It will survive until enough good people say, “Stop it.”

Click on the Naplan site for more details : http://www.nap.edu.au/information/FAQs/index.html

“””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””WHA

It’s Teachers Day

We celebrate Teachers Day down under, today.  Although World Teachers Day was held on October 5, national celebrations are held on different occasions.  UNESCO instituted the notion forty years ago. Australia and New Zealand chose the last Friday of October. If one searches today’s press for big-time recognition of the work of teachers and their tolerance for stress, one might be disappointed. A ‘google’ of teachers’ poems and other  indications of teachers’ worth, however, can be fun, however. It’s a good day for doing this.

My favourite recognition of Teachers Day remains a letter to the Brisbane Courier Mail on Teachers Day 2008, written by Catriona James-McGovern of Bundaberg.

TEACHER SPEAKING

I am a primary teacher. As well as teaching English, which includes reading, writing, spelling, punctuation, phonics, gramma, handwriting, speaking and listening, I teach maths, SOSE [social studies], science, art, health and technology.

I teach children to sing, dance and act so they can be part of a school musical. I teach children about healthy eating and the need for exercise.

I teach children to communicate and get along with others, to value others’ opinions, to treat other as they would like to be treated, to use manners, to respect the property of others and to be fair. I teach children to cross the road safely, to ride their bikes safely, to walk safely on the cement. I teach them to wash their hands, to blow their noses, to wear hats in the sun and to sit on their chairs safely.

I teach children to want to come to school, to want to learn and develop a love for learning. The children I teach know that I will do my best for each one of them, that I like them, that I value their opinions, that I want each of them to succeed and that I am proud of their achievements.

Who am I? Just an ordinary teacher. There are thousands of other teachers just like me out there. Thousands of them pick up the newspapers or turn to television daily to be told what a bad job they are doing.

I love my job. I love the children; I love the buzz I get when they make me proud and I love the noise of 52 of them beating down my classroom door at 8.15am every day.

That’s what will get me through the turbulent times ahead. I hope that all of those teachers just like me get through them, too. Have a great Teacher’s Day today.

o0o0o0o0o

I know that I’m not supposed to, but I feel a little teary every time I read this wonderful comment.  I do check it out every now and then on http://primaryschooling.net?/page_id=616  It breathes such  hope for a better immediate future.  I  trust that the writer and all of her colleagues are surviving these ‘turbulent times’ and that they enjoy today.

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Re-form  Compulsory  Schooling.

Start at the classroom.

___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Like to check the recent ‘Treehorns’ ?    Click Recent Posts and Archives in the sidebar.

Phil Cullen

41 Cominan Avenue

Banora Point

Australia 2486

07 5524 6443

cphilcullen@bigpond.com

http://primaryschooling.net

What is a good school?

The Treehorn Express

Treehorn? http://primaryschooling.net/?page_id=1924

Theme song:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gQj-6F7yPM8

“””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””

Treehorn Express is dedicated to the cessation of Kleinist NAPLAN testing in Australian.   Kleinism is a New York version of fear-driven schooling which  uses the blanket testing ‘wmd’ called NAPLAN to destroy the reputation of  public schooling.      This weapon was introduced to schools in Australia in 2009. It disrespects children, devalues teachers’ professionalism and threatens the developmental future of Australia.     Ideologically, NAPLAN is immoral, politically driven, curriculum destructive, extremely costly, unprofessional, interruptive and very divisive. It is clearly aimed in a malicious manner  at public schooling and its teachers.  It also strives for mandated, standardised mediocre achievements in only a very few aspects of a full school curriculum in all schools.  It will survive until enough good people say, “Stop it.”

Click on the Naplan site for more details : http://www.nap.edu.au/information/FAQs/index.html

“””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””WHA

What is a good school?

http://primaryschooling.net/?page_id=483

Two very tall giants of effective schooling in recent times have been John Goodlad [Listed amongst the ‘Fifty Modern Teachers in Education’] of the Washington Univcersity. and Sir Alec Clegg [former CEO of the West Riding of Yorkshire]. Author of over 30 books, his most recent is In Praise of Education. His most famous is an award winner: A Place Called School. There is more detail  and one other view, if you click the site indicated just above.

John Goodlad, in “The School I’d Like To See” says…

*teach the processes of thinking ….”learning to think would be the prime focus of the entire school”.”

*arranged in phases, not grades or year levels

*multi-aged…to give each child to be amongst the oldest and youngest in a group

*phases would be guided by teams led by experienced, qualified teachers

*literacy of learning would transcend any other form of literacy

*different adult models available

*great deal of self-selection of activities

*no marks, scores or grades; no stylised report cards; no external rewards

The school would be concerned with the processes of personal realisation and fulfilment of individual identity, of individuals able to participate in all the richness that could lie ahead.

o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o

Sir Alec Clegg discusses “Some School Matters” and present his views of a good school.

*a place of orderliness,involvement and courtesy

*minimal anger; constant sharing and mutual help

*surroundings that add interest and stimulus

*where work is a joy; full opportunities for conversation

*and emphasis on play, with physical skill available to all, but not ruined by excessive competition

The school will be a haven from fear, where honesty prevails; a place to be shared where thought, reason and logic will be pursued in the desire to discover; this desire to be shared by teachers who have a similar liveliness of curiosity. Standards of excellence will be pursued by all.

“””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””

Where are some examples of good schools?  There are so many of them, despite  political efforts to standardise them and curb their search for excellence. More are refusing to pursue the imposed fear-driven tactics; and their search for excellence is unimpeded.  Many better ones have had to adjust for national blanket testing and their search is curbed. This is the great shame of the 21st century.

 http://primaryschooling.net/?page_id=231

Re-form  Compulsory  Schooling.

Start at the classroom.

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________-

Re-form   – NOT reform [meaning ‘change’].

RE-FORM. Start the system again. Design it from the knowledge of how children learn in school-room settings. What goes on in each classroom is the only thing that matters. For goodness sake, all you politicians….set things up so that expert classroom operators can consider their task and work on how to do better than we are presently doing. Don’t make decisions on what you think goes on.

Compulsory – The starting age for compulsory attendance needs to be determined by examining the accumulated knowledge of the learning habits of children and how they develop their idiosyncratic learning styles.  Special effort is required for setting the age to start undertaking institutionalised, regular, organised learning habits.  Should there be a completion age?

Schooling – The word ‘education’ is a nondescript word that says nothing important. A child’s education happens all the time during waking hours. A child’s schooling is special, especially when it is forced on you..

Classroom – The place where we force children to spend time so they can learn things and develop their unique styles of learning. To have each classroom work efficiently and effectively is why society appoints Ministers of Education and Secretaries.  The effect of their decisions on what happens in school classrooms is surely their main job. To have classrooms work well is why Principals, Senior Education officials and advisers have a job, also.  Their curriculum [guiding learners through certain learnings] leadership is their main role. This last group needs to know as much about each classroom within their care as possible and to be in them as often as possible. They need to read widely and know more than most about schooling.

The home rooms themselves need to be of a size and shape, and contain sufficient learning material that allows for the full range of teaching strategies. Can you describe an ideal classroom for various age groups and various school activities?

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Like to check the recent ‘Treehorns’ ?   Click Recent Posts and Archives links in the sidebar.

Phil Cullen

41 Cominan Avenue

Banora Point

Australia 2486

07 5524 6443

cphilcullen@bigpond.com

http://primaryschooling.net

Re-form compulsory schooling.

The Treehorn Express

Treehorn? http://primaryschooling.net/?page_id=1924

Theme song:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gQj-6F7yPM8

“””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””

Treehorn Express is dedicated to the cessation of Kleinist NAPLAN testing in Australian.   Kleinism is a New York version of fear-driven schooling which  uses the blanket testing ‘wmd’ called NAPLAN to destroy the reputation of  public schooling.      This weapon was introduced to schools in Australia in 2009. It disrespects children, devalues teachers’ professionalism and threatens the developmental future of Australia.     Ideologically, NAPLAN is immoral, politically driven, curriculum destructive, extremely costly, unprofessional, interruptive and very divisive. It is clearly aimed in a malicious manner  at public schooling and its teachers.  It also strives for mandated, standardised mediocre achievements in only a very few aspects of a full school curriculum in all schools.  It will survive until enough good people say, “Stop it.”

Click on the Naplan site for more details : http://www.nap.edu.au/information/FAQs/index.html

“””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””

Re-form  Compulsory  Schooling.

Start at the classroom.

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________-

Re-form   – NOT reform [meaning ‘change’].

RE-FORM. Start the system again. Design it from the knowledge of how children learn in school-room settings. What goes on in each classroom is the only thing that matters. For goodness sake, all you politicians….set things up so that expert classroom operators can consider their task and work on how to do better than we are presently doing. Don’t make decisions on what you think goes on.

Compulsory – The starting age for compulsory attendance needs to be determined by examining the accumulated knowledge of the learning habits of children and how they develop their idiosyncratic learning styles.  Special effort is required for setting the age to start undertaking institutionalised, regular, organised learning habits.  Should there be a completion age?

Schooling – The word ‘education’ is a nondescript word that says nothing important. A child’s education happens all the time during waking hours. A child’s schooling is special, especially when it is forced on you..

Classroom – The place where we force children to spend time so they can learn things and develop their unique styles of learning. To have each classroom work efficiently and effectively is why society appoints Ministers of Education and Secretaries.  The effect of their decisions on what happens in school classrooms is surely their main job. To have classrooms work well is why Principals, Senior Education officials and advisers have a job, also.  Their curriculum [guiding learners through certain learnings] leadership is their main role. This last group needs to know as much about each classroom within their care as possible and to be in them as often as possible. They need to read widely and know more than most about schooling.

The home rooms themselves need to be of a size and shape, and contain sufficient learning material that allows for the full range of teaching strategies. Can you describe an ideal classroom for various age groups and various school activities?

__________________________________________________________________________________________________

The previous Treehorn Express [17 October 2011] indicated that teachers know more than most about a schooling system that works . Pollies, take note. Dismiss the above generalities at your country’s peril. Use teachers’ advice and decision-making abilities to provide quality schooling.

Let’s put on our thinking caps by asking each other some salient questions.

1. What is schooling ?

2. What is a school?

3.What do teachers do in their classrooms?

4. What do pupils do while at school?

It’s thinking time. Let’s deal with these issues, one at a time.

Lee Crockett and Ian Jukes call this a poem. Google them. It’s worth it. Others have said that it is just a list of slogans. What do you think ?

     What is a teacher?

What is a teacher?

A guide, not a guard.

What is learning?

A journey, not a destination.

What is discovery?

Questioning the answer not answering the question.

What is process?

Discovering ideas, not covering content.

What is the goal?

Open minds, not closed issues.

What is the test?

Being and learning, not reviewing and remembering.

What is learning?

Not doing things differently, but doing different things.

What is teaching?

Not showing pupils what to learn, but showing them HOW to learn.

What is a school?

Whatever we chose to make it.

Next question: What is a GOOD school ? See the next Treehorn Express.

_________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

You will recall the regret expressed by Ontario tertiary teachers about the effects of the 1997 testing and its rigid curriculum regimes; and how they are now paying, big time, for the folly. Allan Alach comments : “The tragedy is that this was predictable and disregarded, as are current concerns and evidence. Ideology and money are too strong for reason. Shades of the way Galileo was treated.”

________________________________________________________________________________

Still interested in Finland? Read : http://www.pasisahlberg.com/blog/  and http://www.com/article/politics/82329/education-reform-Finland-US?page=0%2C1 

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________    Like to check the recent ‘Treehorns’ ?

Click Recent Posts and Archives in the sidebar.

Phil Cullen

41 Cominan Avenue

Banora Point

Australia 2486

07 5524 6443

cphilcullen@bigpond.com

http://primaryschooling.net

Looking Back from 22

 The Treehorn Express

Treehorn? http://primaryschooling.net/?page_id=1924

Theme song:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gQj-6F7yPM8

“””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””

Treehorn Express is dedicated to the cessation of Kleinist NAPLAN testing in Australian.   Kleinism is a New York version of fear-driven schooling which  uses the blanket testing ‘wmd’ called NAPLAN to destroy the reputation of  public schooling.      This weapon was introduced to schools in Australia in 2009. It disrespects children, devalues teachers’ professionalism and threatens the developmental future of Australia.     Ideologically, NAPLAN is immoral, politically driven, curriculum destructive, extremely costly, unprofessional, interruptive and very divisive. It is clearly aimed in a malicious manner  at public schooling and its teachers.  It also strives for mandated, standardised mediocre achievements in only a few aspects of a full school curriculum..  It will survive until enough good people say, “Stop it.”

“””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””

Looking Back from 22

When behavioural scientists at the end of the 21 Century examine the social milieu of its beginning, they will conclude that greed and bullying were dominant eIements of human existence back then. If leaders of powerful countries did not like smaller countries in late C20 and early C21, for instance, they invaded them. The general populace thought that, during the conflicts.  soldiers only shot at soldiers and no one else was hurt or that anyone suffered emotionally. Even though traditional warfare went out of fashion from 11 September 2001, they still believed in preparing the young for shooting at those they were taught to hate. There was plenty of hate around. The kind of preparation required for disciplined troops was in line with the kind of preparation required for industry and work life in mega corporations, so the warlords and top money-lords guided social system towards keeping the offence-force and the work-force to basic standards of learnings. They set standards, the limits of which did not involve any developmental learning challenge…just practice, practice, practice. They had no fair-dinkum name for it, so cunningly called it ‘Reform’.  Bankers and corporations approved of it; the population fell for it.

By 2020, countries who followed fear-driven schooling pursuits started to feel the effects. They were eviscerated in financial, cultural and social terms. They had left it too late to think. They caught up slowly after they had learned to listen to the operators of classrooms.

Parents of school children in the 2090s wondered why the beginning of the 21st Century started off as if compulsory schooling was controlled by robots who believed only in greed, competition, testing and controlling children by keeping them frightened. Of those countries that thought seriously about the nature of schooling, one stood out.  Finland. Other, kleinist [fear-driven] countries, tired of hearing of Finland’s cerebral successes, tried even harder to force their schools to toughen up with their treatment of their own children so that they could get better scores on formal paper-and-pencil standardised tests.  Countries did that sort of thing in those days. Australia was one.

It wasn’t only that such countries lacked an intelligent view of compulsory schooling. It was also simple-mindlessness and dumbed-down obedience to totalitarian corporate control. Simple-minded politicians legislated for immoral changes to schooling and left the work-force, subjugated by unctuous measurement-focussed  heavies, to do the best they could under threat. Children were disconnected from their brain power, and, apart from their ability to pass some meretricious  literacy and numeracy tests, their overall  academic abilities were left to stagnate, even within the subjects that dealt with basic literacy and numeracy. Politicians and bureaucrats fiddled with various cosmetic structural alterations [starting school age, names of classes, renaming groups of classes and many undiscussed pet ideas];  then set limits to literacy and numeracy achievements, and patted themselves on the back.

By the end of the century parents came to appreciate the intense complexity of organising learning for children of compulsory school age within each classroom, which everyone had missed early in the century.  People gradually learned that classroom teachers knew best and there was no room in any program of national school improvement for control by speculative measurers, hard-nosed opinionators, or fixed-minded, other-system copy-cats.

Back to 2012 : A wish :- During this year, just prior to a federal election, some astute politicians put party politics to one side and persuaded their colleagues that Australia’s classroom teachers could easily come up with a design for a schooling system that would put it amongst the world’s best by any measure. The one that sciolists put in place in 2009 was a disaster. It was finally realised that the chalk-face operators needed to be asked for their opinion and turned loose to implement a thorough learning-based system. Who else? Finland provided a useful model, but it wasn’t the only one; and an indigenous one that used the best of others [rather than a holus-bolus city-fied copy] was possible.

Finland maintained its prominence as a model for some decades. Other countries had trouble understanding what it had done, as simple as it was. According to Canadian Joe Bower, Finland had decided to develop a nationwide love of learning. See http://joebower.org/2011/10/paradoxes-of-finland-phenomenon.html  It had no natural resources except trees. Its competitive richer neighbour, Norway, had oil; so Finland decided to connect with its children’s brainpower, its greatest potential for social, cultural and financial greatness.  Bower suggests that the Finns worked with laser-light focus on nurturing their most precious resource. It worked. Clearly.  How did they do it?

1. They developed a high academic standard for entry to the teaching profession. A Masters degree is required.

2. They increased teachers pay and their reputation.

3. There is a concise national curriculum, used only as a guide by the professional classroom teachers.

4. They set a limit of class size at 24 but, according to Diane R., almost all classes are under 20.

5. Assessment of pupil progress is local. Pupil-teacher shared-evaluation is widely undertaken. National blanket testing is not endorsed.

6. There is a well-developed general policy to ensure equity and opportunity.

“Finland’s successful pursuit of policies driven by diversity, trust, respect, professionalism, equity, responsibility and collaboration refutes every one of the reforms [like NAPLAN] that focus on choice, competition, accountability and testing  being expanded around the world.” concludes Joe Bower. I claim the parenthesis comment.

As the years went along parents kept asking politicians why Australia hadn’t checked out Finland as a source of ideas, instead of mindlessly copying the narrow-minded, red-necked New York School District. A 2090 management theorist and any classroom teacher would tell them what they could have done in Australia and other smaller countries during the post-2012 years to preserve and increase self-respect, worth and international reputation. Until then, like USA, New Zealand, UK and a few other monied places, purulent blanket testing spoiled the will for children to learn.

Imagine, if one of the countries decided that schooling needed to be improved for the sake of the clients… the 7 to 19 year-olds…and that pupils needed help to learn as much as they could ; to the highest possible standard; to enjoy doing it at a school; to share it all with friends and colleagues; to become so interested in learning per se so much that it would become part of each individual’s make-up for the rests of their life. Supposing that they learned, at school, that sharing with your school colleagues, friends and neighbours the social graces to be pleasant to each other at all times*….to rid the world of hate and inhumanity and unkindness; not encourage these traits by high-stakes testing and competition. Compassion and understanding and cooperation would replace schoolyard bullying and destructive interpersonal and international relations. Imagine such a world!  One might ask: ‘How much school time is spent on teaching social intercourse…compared with the measureable subjects? ‘ It’s a matter of school time-tabling according to prevailing beliefs, isn’t it? The early 21C had some really screwball beliefs, didn’t it?

Arranging for dialogue isn’t difficult.  Look for two groups of good Australia’s classroom teachers, about twenty in each :-  one, Primary; one Secondary, because that’s the way the establishment runs schooling in most countries.  Arrange for them to meet in one place, near but separate, for as long as each group desires. Appoint clerical assistance. Just tell them that you [Parliament] would like them to come up with suggestions as to how Australian schooling should be arranged. Allow each to select a leader, but do not allow any boffin or beaurocrat anywhere near either group. Give them access to as much information [e.g. parent groups, comparative international information, rural groups, curriculum advisers] as they desire. Then ask some child-oriented school principals to check out their suggestions and comment. Then…everybody…talk about it. [Please don’t allow the 2009 style of decision-making – discussed only at a bankers’ dinner and the Press Club – before introduction.]

It would be a wonderful start. Australia would become a truly wonderful country. Amen.

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* Dottrens, Robert: The Primary School Curriculum – the kind of education the world needs. 1962. Translated into 3 languages. Neighbourhood and International brotherhood are featured.

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Phil Cullen

41 Cominan Avenue

Banora Point

Australia 2486

07 5524 6443

cphilcullen@bigpond.com

http://primaryschooling.net

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