High Stakes

 The Treehorn Express

Who’s Treehorn?   http://primaryschooling.net/?page_id=1924

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


Treehorn would not have known that the staffroom at his school contained four different kids of teachers. He didn’t care. None of them seemed to notice his condition nor cared about his shrinking. His own teacher was special in many ways; the others, just people.  For adults, the four different kinds are easily distinguishable. They tend to reveal themselves after a few minutes’ conversation and more by a visit to their classroom.

Kleinists have a firm belief that pupils learn best when they are threatened with all sorts of punishment and that they need plenty of testing, testing, testing, cramming, cramming, cramming, practice, practice, practice, raving, raving, raving. They believe in high-stakes, hard data schooling.  I was one of these for far too long. My excuse was that every pupil from Year 1 onwards had to be prepared for that three-subject examination at the end of primary school that alleged to select those who should be allowed to proceed further. The exams were prepared by fearsome kleinists who lived in an office far, far away from my classroom.

Kleinism is based on the notion that, if the children do poorly at factory-made tests, it is the teacher’s fault. It’s all fear based. Politicians frighten the bureaucrats, who in turn frighten the principals who then frighten the teachers who frighten the kids. Simple business design; and the gospel according to Rupert.

Mugwamps are people who sit on the fence on ideological schooling issues. They have their mugs on one side and their wumps on the other. They don’t bother to check things out. It’s too much. They let superior kleinists get away with it.

Eichmanns lack a mind of their own. Like Adolf, organiser of Germany’s program of elimination of the Jews,  they  whimpishly ‘do as they are told’ and let others concern themselves with issues of basic morality and social justice. They don’t want to distress their bureaucratic superiors or their political masters.

Then there are Real Teachers who believe in kids and care for them, empower them, have high expectations of their personal achievements and ensure that nothing will interfere with their quest for developing each child’s love for learning. They believe in the sanctity of the pupilling processes. One day they will reveal themselves and liberate children from the farcical numbers game.. Their views are ignored at present.


To illustrate……

Cheap varieties available….

 KLEINS   –  hard and bitter.

MUGWUMPS – grow well on both sides of the fence.

EICHMANNS – easy to control.

Children should be kept clear of these varieties, if possible.

They are toxic.



1.Thank you Mary Mackay of Amsterdam for the illustration of the tee shirt.

2. Previous Treehorn [“3Rs on Steroids”] was circulated by Allan Alach, Primary Principal. Diane Ravitch picked it up’ and included it on her twitter to 20,000 fans. Onya Allan. Thanks Diane.

Phil Cullen

41 Cominan Avenue

Banora Point

Australia  2486

07 5524 6443



Ask your local state and federal member if he or she know how much Naplan testing costs….publishing, administering, including salaries of operators.

Go on. It only takes a few minutes.

I’d like to see the reply.

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