The Age of Absurdity

The Treehorn Express

Treehorn story?  

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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 NAPLAN 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 curriculum vandals for control of school-based learning. It pays well. It disrespects all school pupils [especially public school pupils], devalues teachers’ professionalism, threatens Australia’s developmental future and is just no good.  Politely described, it stinks.

Although some ‘pro-Julia education’ groups support it, ideologically, NAPLAN is immoral, unprofessional, politically driven, unrequested by the profession, curriculum destructive, extremely costly, wasteful and divisive.

A serious invitation is warmly extended to any pro-NAPLANer to dispute any one of these adjectives.

NAPLAN has a background of malicious intent.


For official information, click on  Get it ?


No fair-dinkum teacher likes NAPLAN,

It breeches all ethical rules.

In a school of repute there is no fan;

There’s learning without measurement tools.

                                                   ASSESSMENT IS NOT A SCORE SHEET – IT’S A CONVERSATION

Thanks Joe Bower



There has never been a time in the history of schooling that so many absurdities have occurred. Schooling, in  the USA, Britain, Australia and New Zealand, has become a pure-and-simple test driven operation for an large important part of each school year. The face of teaching has changed to test preparation because big business wants it to be. ‘Testing’ dominates school time and pushes creative aspects of the school curriculum out of the way. Amongst the biggest of businesses is test publishing. It’s raison d’etre is greed; certainly not school improvement.

The wonderful work that primary schools in Australia do now, despite these enormous unwanted and useless test-based intrusions into their administration and their teaching time, is testimony to the potential greatness of this country, that will be realized when its schools are allowed to operate in a professional manner. Go and visit one and you will see.

They do exceptional work to overcome the politically charged assaults. It borders on amazing. It’s quite absurd that this state of affairs has to continue…that teachers are stretching themselves to help children develop their full potential in the face of plainly stupid, political fear-based absurdities that interfere with their efforts.

Test preparation on its own [part of the test-publishing empire], is big business. In Australia, Kalaci Press aka Pascal Press prepares ‘Excel NAPLAN – style tests’; books of NAPLAN tests for practice, practice, practice.  Teachers, parents and schools purchase them and they are used in some schools as text-books. Kip McGrath has recently bought in to the Kalaci/Pascal empire. [Kip McGrath franchisees have made the most of the opportunity for big profits, helping pupils who fall behind.  Can’t blame them.]

A profit-making connection of Australian test publishing companies with the Murdoch-Klein testing empire has yet to be made public. There may not be one as yet, but it would be naive to accept that there won’t be a connection….soon.

In the interest of absurdity, Australia will do what the emperor wants….unless we adults say something about it.

A case study and its implications has presented itself in Queensland within the last few weeks. A State School included ‘Excel NAPLAN practice test books’ on its book list for 2012 for parents to purchase. Some parents objected.

Interesting scenarios emerge…

1. Are arrangements made for the children of such parents to learn mathematics in a different style  or enhance their literacy accomplishments – and not practice tests. If so, who teaches  them?

2. If sufficient parents at a large school opt-out [i.e. indicate to the school that they don’t want their children to do the NAPLAN tests], will classes be arranged as NAPLAN and non-NAPLAN classes?

4. Will there be NAPLAN and non-NAPLAN state schools in the future? A start has been made.

A recommended wet-day pursuit or any-day pursuit is to search through school websites [NO – not ‘My-school’; that’s a waste] and ask yourself if you would send your child to each school, based on the information provided. I did it for an afternoon recently.  I visited six in Queensland.  I certainly would not enrol my child at two of them.

One emphasised its concentration on scoring better on NAPLAN tests [‘As with all Q’ld schools our Years 3,5,7 will all sit the NAPLAN tests; so strong preparation for this part of the year is central to our curriculum’], the other hinted it.

(Pardon me while I’m sick)

I looked for those that believed in the teacher-child connection and, so, used the word ‘pupil’. None. All use the government sponsored trite non-school term. …’student’.

I looked for those who told parents, clearly, that they could withdraw their children from NAPLAN testing, simply by informing the Principal. None.

I looked for Principals who gave their studied, professional opinion on blanket testing since it now dominates the curriculum landscape. None.

I looked for views-on and methods-of shared evaluation. None.

Absurdly non-transparent!  Deliberate?

Most statements about beliefs in schooling were first rate. One was quite outstanding, citing authoritative sources for its beliefs and was quite persuasive about its class arrangements [Yes. Multi-aged].  Disappointingly, it did not give its view of NAPLAN testing. It seemed as if it wanted to say something, but wasn’t game.

APPA [Australians Primary Principals Association] stated to the ‘Senate Inquiry into NAPLAN’ [ Google: senate inquiry naplan : Click : submissions received ; Click : 228 ] in Para 3 “APPA supports the use of NAPLAN”. Then, three paragraphs further on, lists six very strong, cogent, professionally-based reasons why NAPLAN should not be entertained at all; followed by seven negative consequences of public reporting.  I mean to say ????? !!!!

Gold medal absurdity or Orwellian double-speak ?

[My submission to the Inquiry is No.20]

StalinismThe similarities between what is being proposed in countries pursuing a national standards agenda and 1930 Russia has been noted by American critics of national testing.”  And we imported the Klein-system of fear-based schooling to Australia from America! Ye Gods!  Talk about absurdity.

Read about it :

‘Learn from what not to do from reform in the US’ said Joe Bower from Alberta, Canada quoting from “Testing, Testing’ by Larry Bool and J.C.Couture.  They maintain that the absurd elements of the absurd US reform are largely ideological….

*market-based business methods for the running of schools;

*emphasis on standardisation and narrowing of curriculum;

*fostering choice and competition among schools;

*making judgements based on test data;

*merit pay and other incentives;

*faith that technologically mediated instruction will reduce costs;

*overwhelming top-down approach which tells everyone what to do;

*holds everyone-else accountable.

For Australia [as well as Canada] to copy such reform elements beggars belief.


Testing programs in schools throughout the world, in this unfortunate age, are grossly absurd.

Mark Twain said, “Sometimes I wonder if the world is being run by smart people who are putting us on, or by imbeciles who really mean it.”

and, don’t forget that George Orwell suggested that the manipulation of social institutions [schools] that NAPLAN controls is “…a condition that leads to the destruction of a free society, controlled by propaganda, surveillance, misinformation, denial of truth, manipulation of the past.”

This is starting to work in Australia . Unpersons comply and the rest of us encourage them by our silence.

It IS a sad, absurd age.


Other Treehorns ? :   Click on Recent Posts and Archives in the sidebar

Phil Cullen

41 Cominan Avenue

Banora Point

Australia 2486

07 5524 6443

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