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.


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


Like to check the recent ‘Treehorns’ ?    See Recent Posts and Archives links on sidebar  {Thanks to Allan Alach]

Phil Cullen

41 Cominan Avenue

Banora Point

Australia 2486

07 5524 6443



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