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



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?


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:


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?


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.


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!


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.


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.


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




Leave a Reply

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

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com 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