The Treehorn Express

Treehorn story?

The Treehorn Express Theme song: ‘Care for Kids’



It’s NAPALM, says Ken

For almost every Treehorn Express that I send,  I receive at least one comment or question, like : “When are they going to wake up to the damage that they are doing?”  ‘They’, of course, refers to the power elite [to use Kelvin Smythe’s term] consisting of  ‘politicians, bureaucrats, quantitative academics, newspaper editors’ and pro-NAPLANNERS ,who have ‘hermetically sealed’ the Australian schooling system; and taken little notice, deliberately, of the toxic problems that they have created and/or supported.

As Kelvin Smythe said in his honest-to-goodness treatise: “…while non-solutions to complex social issues are being slowly pursued to political advantage, actual solutions are being ignored, leading to the complex issues becoming more intractable and the ostensible beneficiaries of the non-solutions even more disadvantaged.”

That’s a powerful statement. So true….it’s the nature of western cultures, as demonstrated in schools since the arrival of managerialism’s carcinomatous testing pandemic.

Sadly, contemporary schooling is now being bullied by those, devoid of useful schooling experiences, who will not learn themselves and even seem proud of their destructive efforts – the ‘undead’, as Bruce H. calls them, deaden. One Treehorn reader, a former principal, spoke of a member of our Australian power-elite: “What he knows about schools can be written on the back of a used postage stamp in large font.”  That applies to all of them, I suspect, John.  It’s a truly sad state of affairs.

Another, Fred, a practising teacher, read of the plan to clear the deck of inept teachers.  “There goes the hierarchy and the test-focussed.” he said.

In another return comment, Ken, home-schooling parent, said, “ I note NAPALM has grammar etc. on it, when research [including York Uni.,2005] shows  no correlation between grammar knowledge and writing skills. NAPALM has no consideration for the humans burnt along with the buildings. I muse that if teachers had to take the equivalent of a Hippocratic oath, then most would now be forced to leave their jobs….The kids will survive NAPALM. Even at Auschwitz, as they were waiting to be gassed, children were observed playing in the dirt. I feel sorry for the adults [teachers and parents] whom I know are feeling more and more depowered. They are not asked their opinion. They are told what it will be. If ever the tale of the Emperor’s new clothes was appropriate.”  Yes, Ken. As resilient and play-some children are, the effects of our NAPLAN, our present-day mental gassing, will affect them for quite a while longer, of course.

Former principal Bruce said, “It  was on a visit to Virginia that I saw the destructive forces of computer generated testing take place. A dedicated computer lab room received a classroom of pupils every 45 minutes who filed in, logged on with their personal password and hammered like mad for thirty minutes. As they filed out the teacher pressed the print button and left with the full class results to improve upon till the next session. I think that’s when I saw no place for me in education. I’m glad we got through when we did, as the present rot has certainly caught up and kids will be the long term sufferers but they won’t know what they have missed and why.”

Avid reader Allan, school principal, provided the following articles, worthy of your reading time.

Author, Helen May, former dean of the University of Otago College of Education, worried about the passing of the era of progressive solutions, concludes the article : ‘If we can produce children who have a disposition to be learners, to take an interest, to become engaged, to take responsibility, to become good communicators, to become explorers – then we are setting a great foundation. It’s going to take a brave teacher to really challenge National Standards [aka NAPLAN in Australia], but if there is sufficient freedom and innovation, skilful teachers will make it happen. They always have.”


Professor Sparks, chairman of the British Advisory Committee on Mathematics Education [ACME] is concerned about the growing disinterest in school Mathematics because “…few pupils take maths beyond the age of 16. They are being ‘put-off’ by test-driven lessons in primary and secondary school. Classes often focus on the dry ‘procedures’ behind sums to make sure children pass exams instead of passing on a well-rounded understanding of the subject. Currently, only one-in-eight teenagers study maths to a good standard in the sixth form – leaving Britain behind many other developed nations. It’s a problem of attitude – being no good at Maths is a badge of honour.”


Valerie Strauss, Washington Post journalist and editor of The Answer Sheet writes of the U.S. Federal “Education Department’s Obsession with test scores deepens”.  She writes of the screwball Departmental belief that the scores “…tell us something important about how well a teacher does his or her job. They don’t, assessment experts say [over and over], but why let facts get in the way?” She concludes her article : “ Here’s my comment.  Please stop wasting our time and money on nonsense.”


To summarise :  If you  want our Aussie children to become keen learners  with a firm foundation of schooling, with love for the beauty and challenge of Mathematics; and you want our government to “stop wasting our time and money”, you will insist that the nonsensical, damaging blanket testing called NAPLAN ceases NOW.

If  you want the opposite, don’t take any notice.


If you have 4 minutes 17 seconds to spare from your busy schedule, click on the theme song “Care for Kids” above, relax and ‘take in’ the words. Meditate on the plight of today’s Aussie kids.

OtherTreehorns ? :   Check Recent Posts and Archives in the sidebar.

[ Sincerest thanks to the outstanding NZ educator, Allan Alach, for maintaining this widely-read site.]

Phil Cullen

41 Cominan Avenue

Banora Point

Australia 2486

07 5524 6443

2 thoughts on “NAPLAN or NAPALM?

  1. I just have a question – if we get rid of NAPLAN, are we going to replace it? Something needs to separate the kids that will work to get places with those that just won’t. Otherwise, higher academics are going to have trouble choosing students or places, and it’ll put unnecessary pressure on funding.

  2. Thanks Josh. Apologies for the delay. The answer to your question is a big NO. I can’t think of a need to separate kids [What for, by the way?], except for some school adminstrative purpose. Perhaps, as far as national blanket testing goes, the state could send the low achievers to the gas ovens or the school encourage them to go to another school. [That’s a sort-of eugenic Termin IQ Testing view. See my later article on “Illusion of Schooling”]. I’d go for spending the time saved on test preparation by helping learners to appreciate the magic and beauty of mathematics, the intrigue of the English language, and the wonders of science.
    Secondly, I have heard of Austrailan universities who will accept the opinion of a school as to the academic chances of a school graduate if he/she wants to undertake such-and-such a course. Should they need much else? If the teachers don’t know, the academic potential of their pupils, they are in the wrong job. Agree?
    Finally, the banning of NAPLAN would save millions of dollars in publishing and administrative costs that could be put to something productive.
    Thanks for asking. Phil

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s