Mindlessness

The Treehorn Express

Treehorn story? http://www.onlineopinion.com.au/print.asp?article=11697

The Treehorn Express Theme song: ‘Care for Kids’

March 29, 2012

164

Mindlessness

It’s the wonder of the age that Governments can be so publicly unkind and unfeeling to school children; and that so few seem to care or notice the level of cruelty. Academics, school principals, state administrators, teachers’ union and professional associations  appear to have given encouragement to government-stamped unethical teaching practices  by their silence and occasional cowering acquiescence to instructions from political leaders. It can’t be that they don’t like children or enjoy punishing them or they don’t know what is going on.

It is not dislike of school children; it’s not the lack of professional wisdom; it’s not the deliberate trashing of professional ethics; it’s not a new found love for fear-based learning; it is not  lack of knowledge of joyful achievement-based teaching techniques. There is no reliable professional data anywhere to support the annual high-stakes imposition of blanket-testing on schools; with much to indicate that it is almost certain to be harmful to children’s learning development and teachers’ quality of instruction. The silence remains. No comment from those most involved…..the principals, the parents, the teachers, even politicians. They remain steadfastly silent. Not understood! How come?

It’s pure mindlessness. How else can it be described?

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Politicians to note

The Treehorn Express is sent to a number of politicians who, it was thought at the time of inclusion in the mailing list, would be child-oriented and would concern themselves with justice for children at school: Chris Back, Bob Brown, Michaelia Cash, Cameron Dick, Justine Elliott, Bruce Flegg, Peter Garrett, Sarah Hanson-Young, Barnaby Joyce, Bob Katter, Helen Kroger, Gavin Marshall, Adam Piccoli, Chris Pyne, Janelle Saffin, Tony Windsor.  Some had been members of the ‘Senate Inquiry into the Administration and Reporting of NAPLAN Testing’ whose terms of reference virtuously demanded constant dialogue; others were responsible for an educational enterprise somewhere;  and others seemed to be good people who, it was presumed, liked to think about conditions for children at school.

Some poignant questions were sent to them on 19 March. But….

Treehorn knew : There was not one reply to any one question.  Perhaps the questions were too complicated. So…..  One more try:

Hello….

Chris, Bob, Michaelia, Cameron, Justine, Bruce, Peter, Sarah, Barnaby, Bob, Helen, Gavin, Adam, Chris, Janelle, Tony:  Please respond to this question…

Would you vote to have NAPLAN  banned?

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NAPLAN tests are being held on 15-17 May for Years 3, 5, 7, 9…..not long to go, kids.  Practice books are well on display in book stores and newsagents and some schools have ordered them in bulk. The cheat-fest is now in full swing.

The kids will handle the tests okay. Scores should improve, of course. Certainly nothing will be learned of Australian school children’s capacity, progress or fondness for Literacy and Numeracy, but following enough practice, scores will improve. Nothing of any use to schools, whatsoever. We all know this. We just comply and collaborate for no good reason….like all good Americans clones do.

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In a short article, an American third-grade  teacher tells us: “Why Kids Hate School” . She says that “The way we have to teach is anti-kid, anti-learning, and just plain boring:”

Click” http://www.parenting.com/article/why-kids-hate-school?cid=searchresult

We will ignore her. She thinks that chasing test scores kills kids’ love of reading!

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A booklet re NAPLAN is to be launched at the AEU building in Melbourne on Monday 30 April at 5.30 pm. It contains a number of short [2 page] articles including….

* Inappropriate use of NAPLAN data

* Teaching to the Test

* Holistic Reading vs NAPLAN Reading

* The Problem with NAPLAN testing of Spelling

* Your Children and NAPLAN

* What NAPLAN ignores

* The Age of Absurdity

* Evidence-based Assessment

More details as they come to hand.

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The second-last page of The Shrinking of Treehorn describes Treehorn, watching TV and finding that he had turned a bright green colour. Since every adult that he knew had ignored his condition when he was shrinking, he thought to himself, “If I don’t say anything, they won’t notice.”   Then, as he sat there in bright green splendour……

Treehorn’s mother came in. “Do turn the volume down a little, dear,” she said. “Your father and I are having the Smedleys over to play bridge. Do comb your hair before they come, won’t you, dear,’” said his mother as she walked back to the kitchen.

That’s the finish of the book. Powerful.

NAPLAN is in May. Comb your hair, kids.

banvamandnaplanbanvamandnaplanbanva,andnaplanbanvamandnaplanbanvamandnaplanbanvamandnaplanbanvamandnaplanbanvamandnaplan

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

Maintained by outstanding NZ educator, Allan Alach

Phil Cullen

41 Cominan Avenue

Banora Point

Australia 2486

07 5524 6443

cphilcullen@bigpond.com

http://primaryschooling.net

Who’s doing What to Whom?

The Treehorn Express

Treehorn story? http://www.onlineopinion.com.au/print.asp?article=11697

The Treehorn Express Theme song: ‘Care for Kids’

March 27, 2012

163

Who’s doing What to Whom and Why?

WHO?  

“We are talking about the vultures. Corporations are poised to supply the artificial heart of learning to a wounded public school system they fully intend to finish off. But they won’t succeed. No, they won’t because our communities are going to fight for our beloved schools, we teachers are going to fight for our students, and our students are going to demand the education they discover.

There are so many intelligent, talented, compassionate educators who were called to this profession. Teaching was a calling for me. I’m in this for the long haul, and by “this” I mean public education. I’m going to stand up for the right that all young people have to a quality education.

I’m not going to lie down while corporations prey on our students. I don’t want to see our nation’s young people at the mercy of a Rupert Murdoch or a Michael Milken [former felon and largest provider of online education].

Finland, not incidentally, doesn’t have standardized tests. They understand that a quality education emerges from a strong community and a humane society.

OCCUPY  Whatever you believe about your political identity, your party affiliation, your status, please don’t forget to occupy your conscience, your activism, and your humanity.

We need to to do more than rouse ourselves from intermittent election cycles. We need to occupy our hearts, our minds, and our capacity for critical thinking. We can’t go back to sleep.”

Those of us who care for kids wish that we could have had the opportunity to say this to the face of every Aussie pollie. The quotation comes from an English teacher in Santa Rosa, California, but it could well come from an Australian or New Zealand teacher, because the same ‘authoritarian education mandated by an illegitimate corporate power,’ exists here .  Simone Harris says it as it is.

Aussie teachers, though, seem too wimpish or frightened to say such things and politely maintain a controlled silence.  It’s galling for those of us who love school kids, appreciate their rights,  proud believers in professional ethics and who try to work in a teaching culture that promoted fearless and enjoyable freedom to learn; and to know that such freedom can produce achievements far above the mediocre levels demanded by time-servers in schools and those who control them. It’s galling because we also believed that none of this fear-ridden, corporate-controlled, politico-totalitarian system of schooling would ever, ever, ever occur in Australia.  It has. It’s an appalling state of affairs.

http://dissidentvoice.org/2012/02/no-public-education-no-democracy/

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What?

Professor Margaret Wu, world-respected statistician, tells what happens when measurers, sciolists and number-crazed politicians are turned loose on a placid uncomplaining population. They become so possessed by classroom scores and numbers, that they transfer the results of invalid and unreliable tests of school pupils’ achievements to judgements about teaching ability. In USA, they describe it with Gold Medal euphemism as VAM – Value Added Measurement. Believe it. The Yanks actually perform the crazy calculations; and if educational history keeps unrolling, it will hit down under soon. Margaret Wu in her article (attached)  says…

“I will make two unequivocal statements:

(1) Teacher accountability cannot be established by student test scores.

(2) Statistical inference alone cannot be used for any high-stakes decision making.

In the case of using student test scores to judge teacher performance, the inference made has a huge margin of error, simply because there are so many factors impacting on student test scores  and their gain scores [value-added scores]. Even if we control for students’ socio-economic status (SES), there are many other factors that have large impacts on the academic growth of students, such as parental support, natural academic ability, motivation, interests, personality, and cultural and ethic differences.

…the margin of error in making such an inference about teacher-performance based on this test score is large, in fact, totally invalid…”

Professor Wu’s paper is seminal. If it was nailed to the wall of every staff room in Australia, teachers of the kind described by Simone Harris above, would act as Simone suggests. If such thinking teachers started talking to each other and to parents,  NAPLAN itself, on which all school scores are based, would  go. There is obviously no need for it in any schooling sense, and ‘compassionate educators’ know this.

Professor Margaret Wu concludes her revealing paper with…

“If the ranking of teachers does not stop, I will have no choice but to compile a league table of people by their proficiency level in statistical literacy. I can already identify some people at the bottom of the table. Further, I have far more confidence in identifying people with low statistical literacy than the newspaper has in identifying low performing teachers. As a final note, I hope teachers will file a class action to put abusers of statistics behind bars and the world will be a better place. “

Kids can’t take class actions. Then again… all they need is for their trusted principals to say ‘No!’ on their behalf.

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Whom?

Concern in the USA for hard-data results of measureable school subjects disposed their President to introduce testing programs, based on the belief that children can be coached better to pass tests if they know where they stand in relations to others there will be repercussions if they don’t cope. They even called it ‘No Child Left Behind’ inferring that children would benefit. We called it NAPLAN, a much more honest description. Americans, since they first invented IQ,  have standardized testing embedded in their DNA; and heads of corporations and military superordinates believe that tough test-based control in the classroom works better than any other styles of classroom interaction. Toughness works on troops and office clones, so it is easy to make children quake. Most also believe that the 3Rs are about the only things that children should learn at school and all three are  easy to practise.

Adam Richardson, writing in the ‘Harvard Business Review’ [‘Where No Child Left Behind Went Wrong’] suggests” “To put it bluntly, NCLB should stop focussing on the “Three Rs” and should focus much more on the Four Cs: Creativity, Complexity, Curiosity and Collaboration…NCLB is increasing the gap between students’ abilities to be successful, not decreasing them.

Standardized testing drives home the implication that there is a clear definitive answer to every question. This has never been the case, and is even less so today and in the future. But we are not preparing students properly for ambiguity.”

http://blogs.hbr.org/cs/2011/10/where_no_child_left_behind_wen.html

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WHY?

“In clever language, this report [‘Schools Report: Failing to Prepare Students Hurts National Security, Prosperity” – J. Klein & C.Rice] deems poor educational performance of our schools as a national threat to security The magic bullet? Why reform of course! Somehow this study deduces that corporate-model charter schools, a national Common Core, a high stakes testing, school vouchers, and choice, merit pay, and elimination of collective bargaining rights of public educators (among the largest themes) as the solutions to our security woes.” says Morna mcDermott, Associate Professor at Townson University in This Is Not A Test. She provides an extensive list of readings for those who support NAPLAN and other blanket testing devices used in GERM countries. As Joel and Condis’ report shows, the USA has managed to maintain its low level on the world’s scoring ladder for over ten years thanks to its testing programs; and Australia is now able to head down the ladder hand-in-hand with the other GERMs to join them.  Such blanket testing is a monumental waste of time, money and effort.

Australian principals associations and unions support NAPLAN and, perhaps, also support the absurdity suggesting that teachers’ and pupils’ measureable efforts at school threaten national security. It’s insulting and ridiculous.

What do you think of Morna mcDermott’s three leading questions?     Don’t apply to Australia?  Neither did our participation in Klein/Gillard GERM-ridden antics!

http://www.examiner.com/education-reform-in-baltimore/this-is-not-a-test

banvamandnaplanbanvamandnaplanbanva,andnaplanbanvamandnaplanbanvamandnaplanbanvamandnaplanbanvamandnaplanbanvamandnaplan

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

Maintained by outstanding NZ educator, Allan Alach

Phil Cullen

41 Cominan Avenue

Banora Point

Australia 2486

07 5524 6443

cphilcullen@bigpond.com

http://primaryschooling.net

Please, Joel & Condi, Leave Our Kids Alone

The Treehorn Express

Treehorn story? http://www.onlineopinion.com.au/print.asp?article=11697

The Treehorn Express Theme song: ‘Care for Kids’

March 23

No mention of NAPLAN in the the Queensland electioneering yet.

Treehorn still wears a wry smile.

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PLEASE LEAVE  OUR  KIDS  ALONE

“Leaving large swaths of the population unprepared also threatens to divide Americans and undermine  the country’s cohesion, confidence, and 

ability to serve as a global leader.”

says the U.S. Education Reform and National Security report released on Monday, March 20.  It said the same sort of thing in its 1983 report:  A Nation at Risk: The Imperative for Educational Reform, which introduced the notion of judging educational  progress by using blanket testing [kids using paper and pencils at the same time] of children at school and then praising or condemning teachers, principals and school on the scores.  It is clearly based on fear: “If you do not do better each year on these tests, as invalid and unreliable as they are, we will punish you in some way or other.” That’s a NY kind of thing.

So, then as always, our US ‘Global Leaders’ bowed before their own corporate canards and became about the first on the  GERM list – the Global Educational Reform Movement – to take school improvement the wrong way. As usual, then, many countries [UK, Australia, NZ amongst them] did as they were bid by their [false] idol, knowing full well that the use of blanket tests for learning purposes was about as useful as Iraqi WMDs were explosive; and that there are many more user-friendly ways of stimulating children’s learning processes and using stress-less modes of evaluating that have meaning.  One Aussie politician just didn’t know nor trusted her own and she shouldn’t have attended that party. Let me assure our friends up over that, even though we live a long way down under your righteous centre of presumed knowledge, we know a thing or two about learning in schools and would have been able to help you with your problems if only one of our more powerful but obscurant  politicians had believed in her own constituents. You blew it, Joel and Condi. You should have realised that other people might know more than you do; and they are always willing to help the US of A when you get into trouble…as you know.

You will also know, that, on most educational measures Australia is just behind New Zealand way up the the top of the charts…not so far behind Finland.

Here’s one : http://dimpost.wordpress.com/2012/03/21/heal-thyself/

Look towards the bottom for your place on world charts.

Now, after twenty-eight years of blanket testing – according to your pundits who wrote this  US report – your test-based reform has been a waste of time. Mediocrity has been maintained. That is what your report is saying.

AND….Do you think that you will continue with more of the same?  Watch

Please, USA, give up trying to lead the globe in school matters. Please mind your own business, stay at home and bugger-up your own schooling. Please leave our kids alone.

There is a number of noble dissenters from the opinions presented in the report, mostly those concerned with the teaching of children. Bless them. The others are stake-holders in one way or other with ‘corporations and education foundations some of which are for-profit’ says Jack Hassard, Professor of Science Ed., Georgia.  http://artofteachingscience.org/2012/03/20/deja-vu-panel-says-schools-put-economy-security-at-risk/#more-8897

Joel Klein, co-leader of the panel, must now feel safe and cosy now in his $4million per year headship of the test publishing business, preparing for the introduction of digital-based schooling for his employer, Rupert Murdoch, worth $500billion in the USA alone.  Now that we Americans have made a mess of things, we should try harder, Joel seems to suggest. We should expand the business into the publishing of common core standards to include science, technology and foreign languages and keep testing the kids using ineffective blanket techniques. We don’t know any other way.

Prof. Jack Hassard suggests “The recommendations are the mantras of the corporate reform of education which is rapidly moving towards market based reforms.

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Australian Gullibility Reigns

Australians are champions at gullibility and the world’s best exemplars. All that was needed to have the cruel and ineffective NAPLAN imposed on our school children was for sweet-talking lawyer Joel Klein to tell our Minister for Education at a cocktail party, that his school system, based on threatening children, teachers, principal and schools, improved scores that allegedly measured levels of numeracy and literacy. She bought it. Bingo for Joel. Now, ‘how the money rolls in’!

Australia seems destined to maintain mediocrity as is the US? Or… since we have always been streets ahead of the USA in measureable PISA tests [in which GERM countries have great faith], in which direction is Australia about to go?

Why oh why do we maintain the stupidity of copying systems that have nothing to offer and only maintain mediocrity…according to the report ?

Please, USA, do not attempt to exert your ‘ability to serve as global leader’ in educational matters. We know a lot more about schooling than you do. We don’t need to do your will in all things.

For most obscure reasons, although we know its source, we are stuck with NAPLAN until someone stands up and says NO  to the nonsense. Enough is enough. Stop it. If the Klein method helps our kids to learn how to learn and want to learn more; can help them to be more creative, industrious, independent, accountable, peace-loving, earnest and honest…please demonstrate.  Prove it to us parents and grandparents. You’re fooling with their future because you took notice of the wrong people.

naplanbannaplanbannaplanbannaplan

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 generation of Aussie kids.

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

Maintained by outstanding NZ educator, Allan Alach

Phil Cullen

41 Cominan Avenue

Banora Point

Australia 2486

07 5524 6443

cphilcullen@bigpond.com

http://primaryschooling.net

USA’s National Security

The Treehorn Express

Treehorn story? http://www.onlineopinion.com.au/print.asp?article=11697

The Treehorn Express Theme song: ‘Care for Kids’

March 21

No mention of NAPLAN in the the Queensland electioneering yet.

Treehorn wears a wry smile : “So?  Do you really expect adults to worry about kids?”

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National Security [U.S.A.] at Risk

Treehorn would suggest that few Australians will take any notice of what this implies for Australia, I’m sure.

Treehorn makes the big-time in the USA

Joy Resmovits of the Huffington Press comments on the  Schools Report: Failing to Prepare Students Hurts National Security, Prosperity by Condi and Joel [our Aussie hero]. Below the official portrait of Condi is a list of 8 related articles.  In the list, there is a reference to our March 17 blog .

http://goodolewoody.wordpress.com/2012/03/20/schools-report-failing-to-prepare-students-hurts-national-security-prosperity/

Onya Treehorn.

After ten+ years of heavy high stakes blanket testing there is: “a rising tide of mediocrity…”

In this article one will be able to view the politically-admired founder of our Australian schooling system and curriculum designer, Joel Klein,  join with Condi Rice on a video clip to suggest that the USA’s cannon fodder is not up to scratch. Soldiers need higher literacy and numeracy skills to invade other countries. Couldn’t be caused by the high stakes testing regime that has been in place for over ten years – at least one generation of pupils and students –  of course!  Choice will fix it! Charter schools! What about effective pupil-oriented learning?

http://www.huffingtonpost.com./2012/03/03/schools-report-condoleezza-rice-joel-klein_n_1365144.html?ir=Latino+Voices&ref=topbar

“Condi Rice-Joel Klein report: Not the new ‘A Nation at Risk.”

This was circulated yesterday and is repeated in case you missed it. It’s a comment from Valerie Strauss whose regular column The Answer Sheet appeared yesterday in The Washington Post.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/post/condi-rice-joel-klein-not-the-new-a-nation-at-risk/2012/03/19/gIQAI8hKOS_blog.html?wpress=rss_answer_sheet

On 14 March the Washington Post had anticipated the outcome of the report…

http://www.commondreams.org/view/2012/03/14-0

naplanbannaplanbannaplanbannaplan

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 generation of Aussie kids.

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

Maintained by outstanding NZ educator, Allan Alach

Phil Cullen

41 Cominan Avenue

Banora Point

Australia 2486

07 5524 6443

cphilcullen@bigpond.com

http://primaryschooling.net

Questions for Political Candidates

The Treehorn Express

Treehorn story? http://www.onlineopinion.com.au/print.asp?article=11697

The Treehorn Express Theme song: ‘Care for Kids’

Questions for all Political Candidates

There will be federal elections next year.  Why don’t we help to make NAPLAN blanket testing and its consequences the major issue?  It’s important enough; far more important than most issues that persist as being important, but aren’t. Decent schooling establishes and maintains our country’s future.  Our future resides in the children presently at school….and, for sure, things do not look good for Australia’s future if we pursue our present course of fear-driven, numbers-based, over-competitive, gimmick-ridden,  blanket-testing policies that devalue the teaching profession and debase its professional ethics.

We have to ask our possible politicians cum decision-makers if they prefer this sort of  system –  run by banking interests, corporate managers, gullible politicians, test publishers, military personnel, academic measurers …the underbelly of effective schooling … or would they prefer to have a system that seeks to be the best in the world.

It so happens that, in 2008,  we copied one of the worst in the world as we all know.  We could have copied the best. Our politicians at the time  made a monumental mistake. Why don’t we change now?

Finland is the highest performing school system in the world.  Our candidates have to ask themselves and their own party leaders why we didn’t copy its system and structure. It was available. It is based on the very opposite of  New York schooling that features fear.  Finland rejects blanket testing, merit pay, intense competition, over-practice of pre-determined essentials, gimmickry, devaluing the contribution of teaches and mistrusting their professional abilities. It boasts a system based on equity and high respect for teachers. It achieves the highest scores in the world on all PISA {Programme for International Assessment} tests…… even though it dislikes blanket testing, and contested PISA tests just to show the world that GERM destroys useful learning.

GERM is a popular term for Global Education Reform Movement, undertaken by many countries which, like Australia, fell for the quack medicine peddled by  the USA.

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 Let’s ask all political candidates……today! 

Queensland first. This is the week to ask Queensland candidates the following questions, since their state election is being held in a few days. Those of us who are Queenslanders are earnestly asked to either send this copy of The Treehorn Express  to or ask each candidate to provide you with an answer to each. They can post them to me at the address below or email them. Don’t expect them to do so, of course; but Treehorn and his school colleagues will be pleased to learn that some adults care. The rest of us can ask our present incumbents now and all candidates for federal seats next year. PLEASE DO SO. YOU COULD REALLY HELP SCHOOL CHILDREN….even if we are a bit late for Queensland. Sorry to be so late, Q kids, but you do have some great schoolies who should be looking after you. They’ll make up for it.

____________________________________________________________

1. Do you take an active interest in local school activities?   P&C member?

2. Do you talk to many teachers about NAPLAN?

3. Do you think that NAPLAN is useful for helping with normal classroom activities?

4. Can you explain what the terms NAPLAN and GERM mean and what influence they have on schooling?

5. Can you explain why GERM is so detested by the world’s most outstanding child-centred educators –e.g. Goodlad, Ravitch, Robinson, Smythe, Alexander, Brady, Ohanian, Sahlberg ?

6. Do you [or would you] tell your constituents in public that parents only have to write a note to their principal [public or private] to make sure their children do not do the May tests? 

7. What do you know of Finland’s education system and its future focus?

8. What do you know of the New York system run by lawyer Joel Klein…the one Australia copied?

9. What do you know of the Australian system and its future focus?

10. Did you see the Lateline interview of Pasi Sahlberg, Finland’s Director-General of Education on 28 Feb.? What did you think?

Comments from any candidate would be most welcome. All 159 Treehorn Express readers and their friends would enjoy reading them, I‘m sure. Treehorn himself believes that there will not be any.

bannaplanbannaplanbannaplanbannaplanbannaplanbannaplan

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 generation of Aussie kids.

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

Maintained by outstanding NZ educator, Allan Alach

Phil Cullen

41 Cominan Avenue

Banora Point

Australia 2486

07 5524 6443

cphilcullen@bigpond.com

http://primaryschooling.net

Joel, Condaleezza and others.

 The Treehorn Express

Treehorn story? http://www.onlineopinion.com.au/print.asp?article=11697

The Treehorn Express Theme song: ‘Care for Kids’

 CURRENT NEWS   

Joel, Condoleezza and others report

In April 2011, Joel Klein and Condoleezza Rice were appointed to head a group ‘evaluating the U.S.public education system within the context of national security.’ This report on kids at school presently being test-cooked to be cannon fodder [and corporate zombies] will be released next week. The Washington Post of Wednesday, March 14 anticipates its conclusions…

http://www.commondreams.org/view/2012/03/14-0

Why OECD ? Why PISA?

Allan Alach, who sends most of the articles mentioned below, asks some poignant questions after reading this article about the determination of Wales to get in the top twenty scoring of PISA tests.

http://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/education-news/2012/03/15/first-minister-carwyn-jones-predicts-wales-will-make-world-schools-top-20-91466-30537499/

Allan asks: “Isn’t there something paradoxical here? If every country aims to move up the PISA league tables, and succeeds, what happens?  Surely, if all countries are moving up, nothing will change? Also, correct me if I’m wrong here, but with the exception of the Finlands and the like, all the countries who want to move up the ladder are doing the same thing – standards testing, accountability, performance pay and so on. What is the magic difference that moves Wales [or others] up the ladder, given that the prescription is the same all over? Will their testing/teaching system be better than NAPLAN, for example? What else could make a difference.?

It doesn’t make sense to me. If moving up the ladder is so important, why not learn from those at the top?

And, a question that I’ve raised before – how come PISA results have become the be-all and end-all of education? Why do we let the OECD dictate what ‘good education’ is?”

Ouch. Such a comment must hurt those who are possessed by their ranking in the PISA tests; and by those who believe that blanket testing helps children learn. That was a real jab to the short rib, Allan, for the measure-mad.  Remember – Finland does not believe in blanket testing and only entered the PISA contest just for fun.

Since then, PISA has possessed all countries that have little regard for children. What use is it? Great point. Thanks. And yes, what does the OECD know about teaching/learning techniques that we don’t?

Sites to Behold

Kelvin Smythe, outstanding New Zealand educator of http://www.networkonnet.co.nz/ has recently commented on [1] ‘National Standards [aka NAPLAN In Australia] is about self-managing schools.’ In this article he speaks of Joce Jesson, a senior research fellow, developing a carefully constructed argument building to a powerful conclusion. [2] A book called I’ve Got Something to Say by Gail Loane and Sally Muir. One of Kelvin’s readers wrote :’I totally endorse the review – this is one of the best teaching resources I have seen in years. It puts writing into a context in which it can be REAL and alive – for teachers and most certainly for children.’ {3] some advice to Mr. Shearer, leader of the N.Z. Labour Party.

For access to these articles, click on ‘LATEST’ to the left of the site.  Very worthy material.

Tony Gurr at http://allthingslearning.wordpress.com provides an excellent launching pad for so much advice on so many issues and learnings, that one can spend a very happy day, surfing from his place.

His latest are [1] ‘Herding cats’ and change (Part 2) ; [2] The Mother of all curriculum ‘Myths’; [3] In Praise of Creativity (Part One}. Tony’s graphics are splendid….the little girl on the pottie getting ready for the IT revolution in the ‘Care for Kids’ theme song above is one of his.

Random Comments from Readers

Les Treichel one of Australia’s most experienced true-blue schoolies, now part-time retired, ghosts an address from a concerned Principal to parents, teachers and students of his school that illustrates the present-day spirit of NAPLAN. THE NAPLAN SCHOOL OF THOUGHT; LES TREICHEL

Ken W. Toowoomba Home-Schoolers : We were talking to a manual-arts teacher today. He and his [teacher] wife are considering homeschooling their family. He believes that the Nat Curric is just a forerunner to teachers being given supervisory roles while students use computers to complete centrally administrated tasks [possibly in cubicles with little flags they can push up and down for assistance]. See. Those fundi schools [Ken refers to the  of American ACE kind of schools, one of which was run by Rona Joyner] of the 70’s were pointers to the future! 

John H. former Primary Principal and School Inspector of Koala Beach : In today’s SMH there is a piece by Dr. William McKeith on cameras in the classroom. Hong Kong seems to be the leader in this practice where parents and administrators view what is going on in the classroom. Maybe we could run a book on when this will appear in Australia. Julia and co. could see what is going on in the classroom at Upper Scrubby Creek. Surveillance cameras are a way of life on the streets of the UK, but would you have liked one when you were at Baking Board?

{Answer. No John. I don’t think so. Baking Board, by the way, was a fettlers’ siding – 37 kids in six grades, a Scholarship candidate or two every year – long desks and forms. My successor left to become a Jesuit priest; and then Lyle Schuntner – later QTU and QTCU President and Liberal MP, straightened out the place.}

John S-S upon reading of the appalling treatment of some outstanding Brooklyn teachers who were pilloried because of their pupils’ test scores, said

“The story of those wonderful teachers’ heroic achievements in their schools being denigrated with contempt because they fell between the cracks of the testing regime’s flawed ‘measurement’ criteria is the kind of horror story which should cause Australian education leaders to change their policy – immediately.

I would also remind you of the wonderful critique of ‘high stakes testing’ offered with such warmth and good humour by Pasi Sahlberg, the Finnish Education analyst who recently visited Australia.”

Richard Waters of the School of Total Education, Warwick, sent the following newsletter to all parents at the school.

GETTING THE BALANCE RIGHT

I was talking to some friends recently who had returned from a couple of years working in New York and they were saying that the pressure on kids there is incredible.

The New York system, set up by lawyer Joel L. Klein, so impressed our Prime Minister that she modelled much of Australian’s current education policy on it. This includes the high stakes NAPLAN testing and the publication of schools results on the MySchool website.

Because of Queensland’s relatively poor performance on the NAPLAN test, there has been a lot of pressure on teachers. In some schools, certain students are asked to stay home on test day so as not to bring the results down.

The Prime Minister is also concerned about our apparent slip in performance from 4th to 7th place in relation to other OECD countries, especially since some of our Asian trading partners have passed us.

Ironically, Pasi Sahlberg, Director of Education in Finland, which has been at the top of the OECD rankings for many years, is critical of the way Australia uses its NAPLAN tests and MySchool Website. Speaking on the 7.30 Report on ABC TV last week he commented: “Anywhere these types of things have been put in place, teachers have started to focus more on teaching to the test and the curriculum is narrowed….” 

Sahlberg said, “We believe that co-operation and networking and sharing are the important things to make sure everybody will improve…”

It is important to get the balance right between helping children achieve good literacy and numeracy standards and putting too much pressure on them.

Education is about producing good citizens and helping children to gain confidence in their ability to learn. Is high stakes testing really the way to achieve those outcomes?

Treehorn: The Child’s Representative  Attached is a short article that I have submitted to a local [Tweed Heads] church bulletin.

TREEHORN – children’s representative

Have you found it difficult to emphasize the threat to Australia’s children and the country’s well-being to fine people who haven’t given a thought to kids-at-school for years?  I’ve tried in this article. I’m supposing that almost all are interested but not concerned about NAPLAN and its effects on classroom operations. None with whom I have discussed the issue, has had a view of how to handle the coming high-tech classroom revolution; although one businessman told me that, when he was handing out prizes to nine Year 9 pupils at his local high school, he asked each what s/he thought of computers in classrooms. He was surprised that each one told him that they were boring.  I also get the impression that the public’s view of teaching as a profession is sinking, which must sadden all of us deeply….if it’s true.

Readings for Busy People

IS THE TEACHING PROFESSION DEAD? Shaun Johnson suggest : “Teaching as a respected profession has been on life support for quite some time. Currently so-called reformers appear poised to finally pull the plug once and for all. Teaching is and should ideally viewed as an intellectual profession….

I’m pretty close to admitting that it is indeed dead, or at the very least so deprived of intellectual and professional vigor that it cannot possibly recover. Teaching is now closer to a vocation than a profession; a teacher is what Said calls the ‘friendly technician’. I’m disappointed. I mean: I don’t have a problem with vocations per se. But education, man, I expected something a bit more from them.”

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/shaun-johnson

RAISE TEACHER STATUS TO IMPROVE SCHOOLS, SAYS OECD On Wednesday, 14 March [Current News] Sean Coughlin reported on BBC News that a recently released OECD report suggests that a modern economy needs teachers who are able to support the learning of children in a digital age. “People are not attracted by schools organised like an assembly line, with teachers working as interchangeable widgets in a bureaucratic command-and-control environment….At present, teachers across the industrialised world are not receiving levels of pay that reflect their importance, says the report.”

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-17357646

THE MIND OF KIDS  On Saturday, 10 March [Current News] Lisa Cooley wrote: “Kids have an interconnectivity today that we could never have dreamed about…Kids know that the promise of jobs and prosperity that we make to them as a return for knuckling down and getting to work is a myth. [If they don’t know it, if they believe in that prosperity, then we are guilty of lying, aren’t we?]

A lot of kids simply don’t believe the institution cares a fig for them. I should say, some kids have a funny feeling that their needs don’t matter….others know it for sure.

It matters so much that adults will devote time and attention to finding out who these kids are, what they enjoy, what they love, and what they most want to do, and learn, and be.”

http://mindsofkids.blogspot.co.nz/2012/03/yes-i-really-mean-it.html

PARENTS PULL CHILDREN OUT OF NAPLAN TESTS TO AVOID MySchool RANKING  A parent at Korowal School, a small private school at Hazelbrook in the Blue Mountains, one of 23 who withdrew their children from NAPLAN blanket testing,  said, “Parents at our school are very aware that the use of results from such small groups to rank schools on the MySchool website is as valid as pulling a random number out of a hat and the result could damage the school’s reputation unfairly.” That made Mr. Picolli, NSW Minister for Education, get his knickers in a twist. The Sydney Morning herald reported “ Mr Piccoli said yesterday that he held a ‘dim view’ of anecdotal reports of ‘schools holding children from the tests.’”  “If I get any confirmed cases, I will be taking action on it.” Mr. Piccoli said. “It’s not appropriate. The tests are supposed to be for the benefit of the student.”

I wonder who sold him that myth.  I wonder what he did to punish concerned and thinking parents of the Korowal kind. It happened last May.

http://www.smh.com.au/national/education/parents-pull-children-out-of-naplan-tests-to-avoid-my-school-ranking-20110510-1ehc6.html

TESTING BACKLASH School Districts in these Texas counties have adopted a resolution decrying an over-reliance on standardized high-stakes testing. This report in the Houston Chronicle says: “For years, murmurs of discontent have stirred among teachers tired of devoting class time to test preparation, school administrators saddled by legislative mandates, parents anxious about the increasing focus on high-stakes assessments….At least 40 school boards have taken a stand by passing a resolution decrying the ‘over reliance on standardized, high stakes testing’ that is ‘strangling our public schools,’  The testing culture has become ”the heart of the vampire.” As many as 45 days of the school year are interrupted by tests and third-graders are required to take four-hour-long, high-stakes tests. Superintendent Sconzo said: “It’s a single-moment-in-time assessment that does not come close to measuring all the students are expected to learn.”   “What began as a way to measure student learning…has ballooned into a ‘drill-and-kill’ cycle of test preparation.”

“Administrators stress they are not against accountability, but against a system they say leaves no room to teach critical thinking and simply produces good test-takers.”

http://www.chron.com/news/houston-texas/article/Schol-officials-High-Stakes-tests-failing-3398501.php

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Surely we have to wonder how Australia ever allowed the NAPLAN pestilence to infest our learning space.

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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 generation of Aussie kids.

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

Maintained by outstanding NZ educator, Allan Alach

Phil Cullen

41 Cominan Avenue

Banora Point

Australia 2486

07 5524 6443

cphilcullen@bigpond.com

http://primaryschooling.net

Readings for Busy People

 The Treehorn Express

Treehorn story? http://www.onlineopinion.com.au/print.asp?article=11697

The Treehorn Express Theme song: ‘Care for Kids’

READINGS FOR BUSY PEOPLE

Articles have been pouring in from some wonderful people who care for kids. I can pass on only some of them.  Thanks to Allan Alach in particular.

Only busy people find time to extend their professional reading, so this is for them. Some of us can catch as catch can. Others? Who cares? They shouldn’t be in the job, right?

The more one reads and views, though, the more difficult it becomes to understand why some many teachers, principals and others, who call themselves educators of some sort, can remain so silent, docile and inactive while their pupils and fellow teachers are treated so badly. Politicians must be so happy that so many schoolies remain medusan and docile, especially at election time. Wouldn’t there be a great spill if all teachers, their family and friends had something to say about NAPLAN and VAM at this time [the pre-test chaotic period] and they all refused to vote for any candidate who supported the ‘data-driven drivel’. One should live so long! In the meantime, I commend the following short articles and video clips.

[To think that VAM, the final insult to professional ethics was even considered by some dim-witted politicians! Is there no professional teaching bodies in Australia who can say ‘NO’?]

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SCHOOL REFORM IS EDUCATIONAL REAGANOMICS

This thought-provoking article suggests : “People in business know better than anyone the types of jobs that will be around in the future. The fact that they are stressing bubble-in in exams, rote online learning programs and a docile work force is a glimpse…jobs that are low skilled, low paying and unimaginative, the types of jobs where workers are interchangeable and replaceable. It is their imperative that they deskill and devalue the teaching profession so that the workers of tomorrow do not have any role models with the ability or capacity to speak freely.”

http://theassailedteacher.com/2012/03/05/school-reform-is-educational-reaganomics/ 

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THE PRINCIPAL’S ROLE IN TEACHER EVALUATION

Author principal Phil Weinberg says: “We principals are part of the problem. Not because we have promoted the use of hard-data, but because we have allowed our attention to stray from our chief job of promoting professional growth, training staff, creating community and defining what quality teaching and learning look like in our school.”

http://www.nytimes.com/schoolbook/2012/03/06/the-principals-role-in-teachers-evaluations/

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YES. I REALLY MEAN IT

Lisa Cooley suggests: “Kids’ natural desire to learn is their most powerful tool. The best way to shut it down is to make kids learn stuff that they don’t care about.”

http://mindsofkids.blogspot.co.nz/2012/03/yes-i-really-mean-it.html

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WHY WOULD ANY SANE PERSON WANT TO TEACH? 

A feature of the previous Treehorn, it’s worth repeating Steve Nelson’s question. It is so important. While Finland puts the teaching profession above that of medicine, law and other former high-status professions, Australia is deliberately downgrading and devaluing it….and with departmental and organisational support. An inevitable outcome of the political domination of this worthy and most important profession is lower order candidates in the future who cannot see the unworthiness of succumbing to the likes of NAPLAN and VAM,  and of ignoring the value of children’s instinct to want to learn more.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/steve_nelson/teacher_rankings_b_1320879.html

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‘THE GREATEST REVOLUTION TO HIT NSW IN 50 YEARS

said the greatest Minister, Adrian Piccoli.  NSW will judge teaching performance by numbers about those who can practise test papers better than others, while corralled in a small yard where they are autonomous as long as they don’t exert an professional candour. This meadow mayonnaise from the NSW Minister of Education is really mushy. How, though, could things have possibly got this far without the support of professional quislings?

http://bluyonder.wordpress.com/2012/03/12/big-changes-for-nsw-education

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VAMS: BUILDING A NEW SOCIAL ORDER

Tim Sleker presents a view of political control over social order. The domination of the teaching force is a key requisite. The author cites three political imperatives : 1. Controlling the curriculum; 2. Controlling the working conditions; 3. Controlling teacher behaviour.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/timothy-d-slekar/vamz-building-a-new-socia-b-1322005.html

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PUBLIC EDUCATION, PRIVATIZATION & PROFESSIONALISM

Dr Diane Ravitch, who used to support blanket testing in schools [we’ve all made that mistake] when she was up there with the super-educrats, speaks to a Californian Teachers’ Association conference in the Bay Area of San Francisco in January. Just listen to her for a few minutes….

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=ISHlHlLuLRQ

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CHARTER SCHOOLS NOT A GOOD ADVERT FOR SCHOOL AUTONOMY

Trevor Cobbalt of the Australian Save Our Schools organisation provides compelling statistics and reasons for caution if your authority ever considers the establishment of charter schools.

http://www.saveourschools.com.au

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STANDARDIZED TESTS WITH HIGH STAKES ARE BAD FOR LEARNING, STUDIES SHOW

Carolyn J. Heinrich, management researcher professor from the U. of Texas, provides some revealing evidence that our NAPLANs and other kinds of blanket testing are actually detrimental.

http://www.statesman.com/opinion/insight/standardized-tests-with-high-stakes-are-bad-for-2230088.html?AsSinglePage=true

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‘HIGH STAKES’ ASSESSMENTS FAIL TO DELIVER’

Our own Aussie Professor Margaret Wu joins with more evidence of high stakes uselessness.

http://localbodies-bsprout.blogspot.so.nz/2012/03/high-stakes-assessments-fail.html?spref=fb

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‘BRIGHT STUDENTS CAN’T WRITE ESSAYS’ SAY CAMBRIDGE DONS

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/educationnews/9124555/Bright-students-cannot-write-essays-say-Cambridge-dons.html

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TRANSPARENCY

Some print-journalists, radio talk-back contributors and TV commentators on talk-shows support NAPLAN because they say it makes the schooling system transparent…as if they’d learn all about teaching and learning and achievement in a school by reading the MySchool results. True. I’ve heard some politicians say this and they are supposed to know better.

In a summary of power-point pieces from a Professor Margaret Wu presentation, Bruce Hammonds of http://leading-learning.blogspot.com.au/ lists Prof.Wu’s summary, reshaped….

1. Teachers and school accountability cannot be measured by student achievement results.

2, There is no validity in linking student results to teacher effectiveness.

Given – a lack of validity in student assessment data;

–  a lack of reliability in students assessment data;

– common misinterpretation of data

…is the publication of student assessment data really transparent?

The publication of student assessment data is to mislead the public….and that is NOT transparency.

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SCHOOL REFORM

Professor Ken Robinson’s presentation returns, because it says things that we ought to be able to repeat to our school parents and groups. The world-wide reform movement [called GERM in many places] has two purposes, he says : economic and cultural; and he exposes some myths behind our efforts to improve both by ‘reforming’ them. He says that “…there are millions of kids who cannot see a purpose in going to school” and so he goes… It’s wonderful stuff, isn’t it?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zDZFcDGpL4U&feature=youtube_gdata_player

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There’s more reading to come because there seems to be a lot of healthy GERM control out there.

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 generation of Aussie kids.

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

Maintained by outstanding NZ educator, Allan Alach

Phil Cullen

41 Cominan Avenue

Banora Point

Australia 2486

07 5524 6443

cphilcullen@bigpond.com

http://primaryschooling.net