A True Schooling Conference

The Treehorn Express 

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

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

The Treehorn Express is dedicated to the cessation of Kleinist NAPLAN testing in Australia.  Kleinism is a New York version of fear-driven schooling which uses the blanket-testing ‘wmd’ called NAPLAN [its only learning-motivational weapon] to destroy the  reputation of teachers and schools. This weapon was forced on schools in Australia in 2009. It separates ‘haves’ from ‘have-nots’; and opens the door for mega-bank-rolling by known publishers, measurers and technocrats for absolute control of schooling in this country. It disrespects school pupils, devalues teachers’ professionalism, threatens Australia’s developmental future and is just no good.  More politely described, it stinks. Although some ‘education’ groups support it, ideologically, NAPLAN is immoral, unprofessional, politically driven, unrequested by the profession, curriculum destructive, extremely costly, wasteful and divisive. It has a background of malicious intent.


For further information, click on the official description http://www.nap.edu.au/information/FAQs/index.html



Last month on 23 October, 2011, the creator of Treehorn passed away at 92 years of age. Florence Parry Heide was the mother of five children, grandmother of seven and a great-grandmother.  She was one of the most popular authors of children’s books – ever. Her most popular was The Shrinking of Treehorn [1971]. illustrated in macabre fashion  by Edward Gorey who also illustrated her two other Treehorn books, Treehorn’s Treasure [1981] and Treehorn’s Wish [1986].

See http://www.vintagechildrensbooksmykidloves.com/2011/11/shrinking-of-treehorn.html

She was going to call our hero Harold, but decided on a home-made version from the surname of one of her friends.That makes his name unique; but his appalling ailment is shared by all children of his age – primary school age. They are universally ignored. Everybody: parents, teachers; all adults ignore children at school when things get serious. Most adults just don’t know what to do when politics and schooling get mixed. Young pupils never complain, so it’s ‘let’s just go with the flow’ for the adults.  What a monumental shame.

Vale Florence Parry Heidi. God bless you for giving us such a reminder of our frailties.



Following a conference last week at which Peter Garrett, Minister for Education etc., led a group of principals on ways to improve scores on the Naplan tests, there will be another one on Monday, 14 November at which he will lead a conversation with parents live and on-line for the same purpose. Improving the scores is important for Peter G. for political purposes.  The integrity of the spirit of mathematics and literacy curriculum is not discussed. If you are interested in checking this out by ‘attending’, try http://ministers.deewr.gov.au/garrett/peter-garrett-live-qa-14-november-2011 

I do hope that the parental right to exclude children from the Naplan annual tests is emphasised.  I share a feeling with others that it may not. Fair play? Why aren’t schools encouraged to have a permanent fixture on their school newsletters some statement like : “The professional staff of this school disapproves of national blanket testing and would like to encourage parents not to participate in Naplan testing. A note to this effect, addressed to the Principal will be sufficient. We value on-the-spot shared evaluation of progress with each pupil.”

I’ll miss the on-line show, but I’d like to ask: “Why, dear Peter, shouldn’t you encourage such statements, so that parents know?”

The Gillard government, as indeed might an Abbott government, feels quite secure that schooling-by-fear is here to stay. One commentator suggests that this is part of our endemic militarism. Political parties feel encouraged by the silence of teachers and other adults (Hi Treehorn), with quite weird active support from principals’ formal groups. Few remember that the importation was a political stunt and nothing else. It had nothing to do with improving learning.  Now, at the centre of origin the majority of school principals [New York] want the whole business terminated.

Read http://huffingtonpost.com/kevin-weiner/new-yorks-rebellious-scho_b_1082494html/

Peter, Julia and their neo-naplan friends want to keep it !!!

There’s a teacher or two who believes that the effects of Naplan can be softened…like softening the attitude of a bull-pit, half-way through its leap at your throat.  Professionalism!  What’s happened to it?  Say “Stop it” for children’s sake. Completely.

Les Treichel says, “I fear that the ‘window of opportunity’ is regrettably now firmly closed. Our only saving grace will be when Principals and teachers at the workface demonstrate the courage to stand up and be counted! Of course they must firstly convince the Mums and Dads that NAPLAN is a debilitating disease that will ultimately kill the love of learning and have disastrous consequences for the harnessing of each and every child’s full educational potential. This will be no easy challenge as parents tend to be highly gullible and prone to be readily brainwashed by our political masters.”

There is no one in Australia more experienced in the schooling of remote school children than Les Treichel. Very, very few would come anywhere near him. After over fifty years of active hands-on school experience in the far west of Queensland, he is speaking, no doubt, on behalf of the thousands of children and parents that he has known and worked with.

I’d like to see a real Schooling Conference with the likes of Les Treichel, Paul Thomson [Kimberley College Principal], Anne Nelson [Spensely Street State Primary School], Allan Alach [Hokowhitu Primary School] and others of rich experience, wide reading and deep thinking about teaching and learning in the school context, in conversation with other practising chalk-face teachers and principals, discussing what really happens in classrooms and how we can do better. We would have a TV show of epic proportions….a signature event.  No lectures. Just plain, honest-to-goodness talk, broadcast and recorded for the benefit of those who can’t attend.  (Nobody seems to talk about ‘teaching and learning in the school context’ any more, do they?.) I’d like to see Prof. Michael Dunkin there too. What Australian academic has studied and described nitty-gritty classroom interactions in depth more than he has?

A cynic might suggest that one such conference be run for those teachers who vote Labor; one for Conservatives[post 2013?] and one for the apolitical.  The big controllers might then take notice of the report.  Might as well take politically controlled schooling to its extreme. Cynic!  In any case such a conference would be a stand-out…talking about teaching and learning in classrooms!  Unique.


Valid Testing

Australia’s best known and most respected literacy educator with over fifty years on the job, Prof. Brian Cambourne is concerned about validity aspects of the NAPLAN tests of literacy. He suggests that questions need to be asked about what some psychometricians call “consequential validity” [what happens as a consequence] and what all psychometricians call “ecological [or external] validity” [measuring the effectiveness]. The later assumes that “NAPLAN and effective literary behaviour are synonymous”.  More later.


Pedagogy of the Oppressed 

Allan Alach applies this wonderful book by Brazilian Paulo Friere, written in 1970, to the New Zealand context.  Its currency is maintained for a number of countries. Pick yours. Allan’s article appears in this week’s Education Today, a really wonderful New Zealand magazine [amongst the world’s best] that dares, in its current issue, to have politicians makes pre-election statements. Great idea. Make sure you read the comments. Editor Doug Hislop has given permission to copy Allan’s article for Treehorn. Hang in there.


Occupy DOE 

The occupying bug has spread. American teachers and parents are planning to occupy the Department of Education in Washington next year to protest the stupidities allied to blanket testing. Check it out. http://www.facebook.com/pages/Occupy-the-DOE-in-DC/232665050126806


Is there a mining magnate or corporate leader out there who cares for kids?

There are people in Victoria who would like to produce enough car-stickers ‘BAN NAPLAN’ for each teacher in Australia to put on their car.

Get in touch.

Attention Tom : “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.”


Thousands of thanks to Allan Alach for his advice and references.

Other Treehorns ? :   Check Recent Posts and Archives in the sidebar.

Phil Cullen

41 Cominan Avenue

Banora Point

Australia 2486

07 5524 6443



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