Some Snippets

 The  Treehorn  Express

Who’s Treehorn?

“None of the adults is much help.” said Treehorn. If he was an Aussie, he would say, “They’re bloody lost.  They used to believe in mateship….looking after each other, taking care of one another and standing up for others when they are threatened.”  That concept was dumped in 2009 when Klein of New York and his good friend, now PM, introduced the system of harassing young children and their teachers for GREED. There is money to be made by him and his friends at the big-end of town.

Our great nation has put its future on the line for that. Our kids and their schools are seriously threatened.  “Our once-caring adult mates just don’t give a hoot in hell about us kids.” our Treehorn would suggest.  If only they’d stop to think; and those who have had classroom experience,if only they would ”Light up the darkness, keep the faith, and give the bastards the business.” as Paul Gatto suggests. Too tame. Mateship and its general meaning are disappearing. We need floods and fire and cyclones for it to show.

Meantime, back at the school……


The present-day bipartisan political  focus on CONFORMITY, INEQUALITY and MEDIOCRITY – forced on us by government decree  – through the regimentation of our young by the use of NAPLAN – with all-party support– is NOT the Australian way.



Some Snippets


There are 277,000 teachers in Australia, 250,000 of whom, no doubt,  dislike NAPLAN.  If your party does not advocate the complete banning of national blanket tests of any kind, then,  feel threatened.  Teachers might decide that the banning of blanket-test-based NAPLAN should replace Carbon Pricing, Illegal Immigrants and things like that [of lesser importance] as the No.1 Election Imperative…. which it should be.  The Labor Party will have to cease its present costly activities.  If any major schooling body, e.g. AEU, decides to organise a campaign on behalf of kids during 2013, the political party that is on the side of kids should skate in. Each of the 250,000 has friends and family….about a million all told. Simple maths, seldom understood. I know 18 from one teacher family who will be voting informal if no candidate is willing to stand up for kids.

You see, judgement about assessment and evaluation in the classroom is a professional thing, beyond normal politics.  ‘Politics’ has put its nose into professional ethics using totalitarian tactics  It deserves all that it gets. Now, we schoolies need to put our nose into their activities, starting now. Let’s go.

No fence-sitting or part-fixes should be allowed. Unprofessional NAPLAN must go.

As Hannah Arendt says, “The aim of totalitarian education has never been to instil conviction but to destroy the capacity to do so.”

How’s your conviction? Been damaged?


Poor England is going for a part-fix. Apparently they are thinking of having just one blanket test at the end of primary schooling. Even the most ardent tester or measurer should realise the futility of this; except, of course you are ‘after’ something…like teachers, or seeking mis-guided votes. What use will it be? Queensland teachers of the old Scholarship Examination will know what it means…and how much of worth was taught in schools after the Inspector finished the annual school inspection.

A close friend, who became a friend following a visit to the exceptional Bristol [now Avon] Local Education Authority, where he was a senior officer at the time, wrote last week: “Although I was head of an examination board [music] with 600,000 candidates a year worldwide for ten years I still think you are absolutely spot on when it comes to the absurdity of these classroom tests you rightly disparage. England is taking some action, but not going all the way. I believe “key stage one” tests have been or are about to be abandoned leaving just one maths, literacy and science test at the end of the primary stage.”

What a pity England does not go all the way.  It will surely suffer the skulduggery that a one-hit high-stakes blanket test brings to schooling.


In a culture of high-stakes testing, such as Australia, some greedy folk could follow the dollar signs and start a back-yard business. Here’s how one in Japan advertises. “ We believe that your test score is the sum of your knowledge and  your test-specific strategies. We have worked with specialists to analyse the [NAPLAN?] tests which commence [next May], for trends in vocabulary, grammar, reading comprehension that appear in the actual test. You can efficiently learn the techniques necessary to improve your score.

We also conduct periodic practice tests that recreate the real test environment as close as possible, so you can feel for the actual test day and get rid of any pre-test anxieties.”

[Australian substitutes in parentheses.]

Schooling? Where is it going?

Presently, in Australia, we can buy test-practice books. Will state departments ban their use in schools?  What is the policy about the use of such books in school time?  A moral dilemma, for sure. If they look the other way, will such books be used at times normally used for teaching purposes?  What can a state department do about this ? We could  send our kids to Kip McGrath, which is allied to a test-publishing business and presently gearing up for the big market.

Can you believe that some people call this ‘education’ ‘; and that some politicians and pretend-educators agree with this sort of school culture?  Let’s bring it out in the open and discuss the issues until September, 2013 or whenever candidates present their party’s point of view.

 It will be their NAPLAN day :-

National Assessment of Politicians’ L…………….. And N…………….  Can you help to fill the blanks?

Lassitude and Neglect ?        Laziness  and  Nonchalance ?


Meanwhile, enjoy what some school girls do.

Hope you like jazz.

Phil Cullen

41 Cominan Avenue

Banora Point 2486

07 5524 6443


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