The Treehorn Express

Prepared and presented by Phil Cullen,

proud anti-NAPLAN geriactivist thinking of kids.


Treehorn story?

The Treehorn Express Theme song: ‘Care for Kids’

April 29

Hi Politicians:  Ever think of going to Finland?


 NAPLAN or NOPLAN : That is the Question!

Derek Hedgcock, former Primary School Principal, shares the concern of parents about the worth of NAPLAN to do what it purports to do. In earlier correspondence, Derek comments: “As I talk with the few parents with whom I have contact these days, mainly at kids footy etc., they are curiously concerned about the tests and certainly have an innate cautionary concern about it all. I think the moribund inertia among the profession is mainly caused by ‘survival mode weariness’ as much as anything more sinister such as apathy.”

Please read Derek’s short article, which is at the foot of this posting. He emphasises the relationship between learning, evaluating and planning; and, since learning, as the business of schooling,    entails these elements, the usefulness of NAPLAN as a device to cure an imaginary problem is incompetent. You’ll like the way that Derek shares his concerns.


Pull your kids out of NAPLAN tests, say educators

This newspaper article by Bethany Hiatt in The West Australian quotes from those who have written articles for ‘Say NO to NAPLAN’ to be launched in Melbourne on Monday. Statistician Professor Margaret Wu and Literacy Consultant David Hornsby say: “…the tests measured only fragments of student achievement and could not provide accurate information on their abilities.”  “It is unnecessary and a waste of public money….”

Renowned music educator and Victorian Opera Director Richard Gill said that activities used to prepare for tests, “destroy individuality, stifle creativity, stultify thought and make all children respond in the same way.”  “It is an educational circus in which the children are the trained animals and the teachers the poorly paid ringmasters. If we want a nation of non-imaginative robots who can do NAPLAN tests then we are well on the way to achieving that condition.”

Monday 30 April 2012 is a watershed day. It will mark the beginning of greater support for school children and their teachers in Australia; the beginning of that ‘peaceful insurrection’ to end the political and corporate control of what is done in our schools.


U.S. Parents say NO in Washington

It’s a big day up-over too. Parents from around the country are gathering in Washington, DC, the capital, on Monday and intend occupying the Department of Education until Wednesday, 2 April. They are sick of  big business control of schooling…..the Rupert Murdoch, Bill Gates, Joel Klein kind of control …..that, you will know, has already extended itself to Australia…and is responsible for NAPLAN…as you also well know. Click on   Yes. It’s another sample of the Occupy Movement. Parents have reached the end of their tether. “We asked – they said  NO. We wrote – they said NO. We sent them research – they said NO. We say NO. We opt out. We will put a screeching halt to corporate education by saying NO to the test.”

If the Australian public listens also on Monday to the voices coming from the Literacy Education Coalition’s launch of ‘Say NO to NAPLAN’ also on Monday, Australian parents will not need to go to these lengths. You can read more in the article ‘Movement Against Standardized Testing Grows As Parents Opt Out’ .  The authors say: ‘Parents in the movement say teachers spend too much time teaching to the test while neglecting long-term projects or more creative learning strategies. They say the tests measure only what students know at a given time, not what we should be defining as ‘learning’.”


(Australian) Teachers set to boycott NAPLAN skills tests

[The Australian  19-01-2010]

Steady. Don’t get your hopes up. Look at the date.

It was a day of enormous joy and wondrous hope for concerned parents and serious educators. A future of learning, love of learning, high achievement and academic challenges for our children looked assured.  The Australian Education Union was showing its mettle. Its President said that the reporting of school results and league tables was a “touchstone issue for the teaching profession.” 

“It’s one of the most critical issues that we’ve ever had to confront and we cannot and will not sit by and allow the further creation and publication of leagues tables given the damage they will cause to students and school communities.” 

The article also comments: “Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard, who is responsible for education and industrial relations stared down the union threat…” That lady can stare!

Not a squawk from anyone since……and NAPLAN with NOPLAN [no teaching/learning plan] soldiers on.

And Mr. Murdoch’s (that man with the enormous wallet full of test publisher’s millions) newspaper The Courier Mail will publish on Monday also, the most comprehensive set of  tables of Queensland schools [2008 to 2011] it has ever published….an unprecedented insight . “We have harvested all the data so you can compare.” Ho hum.

Think of Unions                                        Think of guardians of work practices                                                          Think of eunuchs                                      Think of Professional Associations                                                                     Think of ethics                                          Think of ‘What?’


So….Monday, April 30 2012 is an historic day:-

Melbourne: Say ‘NO to NAPLAN’ is launched.

Washington :  Anti-test parents occupy the Dept. of Education.

Brisbane : Mr. Murdoch holds court.


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


NAPLAN or NOPLAN :That is the Question!

by Derek Hedgcock

Recently, as is the course of daily life, a few things did not go all that well for me.

Don’t be alarmed …. For they have been nothing of any major, life-threatening or life-changing status in the scheme of things: bothersome perhaps is the best description.

Firstly the gearbox in my aging Landcruiser began making odd and expensive sorts of noises as I drove about town. So l took it to an expert who, by actually driving my car and listening directly for himself as i sat beside him saying things like …. “That’s it right now!’…. duly assessed the cause of the emerging fault and then at an agreed time and manner, fixed it. l settled the account directly with him and now drive with relative peace of mind amid the normal cacophony of sounds, normal to a twenty-something year-old 4\/\/D vehicle …..

Secondly, the refrigerator began freezing everything we had stored in it. So, l called in an expert, who assessed the problem by actually visiting the house and making an on-site diagnosis by looking at our fridge (He even took some panels off to peer inside) whilst he made all sorts of soothing utterances. He explained the problem clearly with direct reference to our very own fridge and with our grateful compliance, then ordered the required new parts and in due course with regular informative phone calls to keep us up-to-date with parts availability/delivery: fixed the problem without having to take the appliance away from its place in our kitchen. We can now have breakfast without needing to thaw the milk each early morning rush …

Thirdly, I had a puncture whilst on a training ride for an upcoming endurance event for a worthy charity. l was the one in charge. l had all the necessary expertise and equipment. So, l fixed the flat myself and continued on my merry way to complete the ride. The tyre remains serviceable some 500km later …

How things come in threes? A bit like learning really? …… EVALUATE-PLAN-LEARN-EVALUATE-PLAN-LEARN EVALUA TE-PLA N …

There’s a pattern here is there not, However, the threesome componentry that is PLAN-LEARN-EVALUATE, are neither discrete nor linear. They occur in daily life as highly interactive co-dependencies. Otherwise we get nowhere from dawn to dusk to dawn…

Firstly, a problem is detected by the person so affected/involved, on-site. However, l was evaluating, planning my next move and learning all at one.

Secondly, suitably qualified expertise assesses the problem, on-site and in direst consultation with the person so affected: if such consultation is deemed necessary by they so affected. However, we were evaluating, planning the next moves and learning all at one.

Thirdly, the problem is fixed, on-site: participants directly reassured, encouraged and supported by the most appropriate expertise for the situation. However, we were evaluating, planning the next move and learning all at one.

The firstly, secondly and thirdly descriptors are no more than temporal references as a narrative account such as this demands for coherence and communicability.

How does this perfectly normal pattern of daily life compare to NAPLAN?

Who detected the problem NAPLAN purports to resolve?

ls the problem real or imaginary and how significant is it in reality?

Have there been on-site, interactive diagnoses of the problem? Surely the NAPLAN tests do not suffice?

Have the parties directly involved in the “problem” been consulted in the context of their daily life: the context within which the “problem” is supposed to exist?

Has there been on-site, context relevant, fair and equitably provisioned, expert support, to fix the “problems” that the NAPLAN assessment has with great fanfare announced?

ls NAPLAN a natural act? Classrooms have to be natural, human suited places.When compared to daily life, NAPLAN is inhuman as a learning thing.

Did my motor mechanic place an advertisement in the national press for all to read, to my shame, about the “substandard” condition of what l believe and rightly so for my needs and context, to be a perfectly functional car?

Did our refrigeration mechanic establish a nation-wide website for all to become aware of the “problem” with our kitchen appliance?

Did l have help foisted upon me despite, as an experienced cyclist, although all alone, I was confident of my ability, my foresight to be prepared for such a problem, my expertise and my determination: to diagnose and fix my own problem?

Learning is the absolute function of daily life. Learning governs the present and predetermines our future existence, whether it is about having a functioning car, refrigerator, bicycle or something way more complex and important as an education system.

A healthy education system is far more important than any car, appliance or contraption.

So, why is it that the same levels of common sense, justice, expert autonomy and effectiveness cannot be applied to our children’s classrooms as is so normally the natural course of things for trivialities such as a puncture?

l\/lore importantly, why is it that despite common sense AND a comprehensive, government funded enquiry into the resourcing of our schools, that the ”problems” NAPLAN exposes are well publicised but remain so poorly addressed.

Wherein sit the incompetencies of NAPLAN and its inevitable shortcomings, as has proven to be the case elsewhere in the world where such approaches have been applied to schools?

Is it within the falsehoods of our politicians and the vested interests they support?

Or is it the fault of innocent children, involved parents and committed teachers?

NAPLAN… NOPLAN …. same thing l reckon!

Derek Hedgcock

27th April 2012

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