What do teachers do?

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


What do Teachers Do?

Although University boffins are appointed to high positions of influence or are hired to write reports that seriously affect political decision-making then, quite often, square pegs are stuck in round holes. Many academic scioloists are asked to do things that they know little about.

I often fantasize of the enormous progress that Australia would have made if the likes of Dr Michael J Dunkin, who spent a seeming academic lifetime studying classrooms, had been appointed by our then Minister to institute reform to the schooling landscape of Australia.

What did our Minister for Education [J.Gillard] do after a cocktail with a New York lawyer who sweet-talked her with self-praise about his home-made fear-based system? She hired measurers whose knowledge of classrooms was very, very limited. We are stuck with her decision.

Now we have a fear-based, testing controlled system of compulsory schooling. Sometimes I extend the fantasy and wish we could go back in time and have her visit Finland instead of the U.S. before she made her undiscussed disastrous decision on how to reform schools; before she had a cuppa with Dr. Dunkin.

I had a dream.

Dunkin says, in Researching Teaching [March, 2009] that, until 1970, much of the study of classroom behaviour had concentrated on what teachers did and what pupils learned. He and U.S.A. famous researcher, Bruce Biddle,

“…wanted to know how classroom conditions and events affected what students learned while they were there. We also wanted to know why teachers did what they did. We wanted to know how the things that teachers did, affected the things students did in the immediate context of the classroom. We wanted to know the effects that the environment had on the things teachers and students did. Thus, we had in mind four different kinds of variables.

They were context variables, presage variables, process variables and product variables. We conceived the idea that all four could be inter-related and that the category into which any variable would be assigned would depend on whether we were focussing on the teacher or the students en masse or a particular individual student.

Thus, the teacher could be regarded as part of the context of the class,whereas the class could be regarded as part of the context of the teacher or, indeed, of any particular individual student. The architecture of the classroom, the culture of the school, the season of the year, the time of the day, climatic, economic and health conditions, would all be context variables.   

Anyone who has attended school knows that school children are more difficult to control on very windy days! We all know that children and teachers find it more difficult to concentrate as the end of the day, week or term approaches!

That is why mathematics lessons tend to be held in the morning before recess, while art and craft and physical education and sport happen in the afternoons, and excursions are planned closer to the end of term. But few attempts have been made to document these “truths”.

These are all examples of the effects of the context of the classroom upon the processes [for example smiling, listening, problem-solving, distracting, answering, asking, demonstrating, commending, cajoling, questioning, supporting, expounding, correcting, distributing, frowning] that occur within it. They are context-process relationships that could be examined. Such relationships reveal influences upon classroom events that environmental factors, physical and temporal have.

Questions about other causes of teacher and student behaviour involve presage-process inquiry, that is,  relationships between teacher or student characteristics [sex. age, personality, traits, professional qualifications, willingness to learn, for example] which are regarded as presage variables, on the one hand, and process variables, on the other” …continued.[Pp. 17-18]

This writer knows what he is talking about, and re-form needs to start from such discussions ABOUT THE CLASSROOM. How can you disagree?

M.J.Dunkin’s Researching Teaching [2010] has been published by AARE [Australian Association for Research in Education].

Teachers are busy people aren’t they? Shopping lists of what happens in classrooms are inadequate, but they can be revealing and help us to ponder about the wonders of what happens in them. When a teacher gets with  pupils about learnacy there’s sparkle, sparkle, sparkle, achievement, achievement, achievement for all.

When it’s about test preparation, it’s despair, despair, despair, shame, shame, shame for many.


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

Phil Cullen

41 Cominan Avenue

Banora Point

Australia 2486

07 5524 6443






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