The Treehorn Express

Treehorn’s story : Open attachment.

[Maintained by NZ educator Allan Alach]



It was at a principal’s conference that a participant said to me. “It’s at a conference like this, that one comes along, confused. It’s the mark of a good conference when one goes away confused at a higher level.”

I’ve been to a few APPA Conferences – Darwin [ as key-note speaker with Ross Thomas and Barry McGaw both of whom were super speakers], Brisbane [where I had to speak about Janus, the two-faced fellow], Canberra, [which I had to open because Professor Manning Clark couldn’t get there] and Sydney [where I described the Queensland experience of how avid groups, moral campaigners at the time, funded by U.S lobbying groups like the John Birch Society and Moral Majority, can effectively lobby government members and have parts of the curriculum banned]. This Sydney speech had repercussions that I have detailed in Back to Drastics – Education, Politics and Bureaucracy in Queensland 1975-88 [USQ Faculty of Education 2006]. From each APPA conference I’ve come away, at least bewildered at a higher level. I’ve always been impressed.

Primary principals have a knack of running conferences that mean something. There is always an ‘atmosphere’ of common interest that picks up the theme and a spirit that enlivens the discussions that follow what speakers have to say. I’d suggest that it has something to do with principals’ hands-on experience at the work-face translating the topic to a ready-for-action mode. Thoughts have to entertain what happens in the classroom when someone, who doesn’t know, makes a decision that alters classroom behaviour and ruins the ‘performance’ culture of schooling….all interwoven with what the speaker has said. It can be a mind-blowing and disturbing period for thoughtful principals.

This coming APPA-NZPF September conference, combining the leadership of the eight Australian systems and New Zealand, should be a truly outstanding one. The theme, LEADING LEARNING, is so appropriate for this period of history. Australian schools are now under more robust government control of professional ethics than has ever occurred in the history of education. New Zealand isn’t free from similar controls [ ]In 2009, politicians introduced a fear-based learning system that has had a severe negative impact on curriculum, teaching strategies, teaching ethics and, worst of all, has dumbed-down each pupil’s desire to do better at the things they do at school. The difficulties of working under such a regime are enormous, especially for those who have to enact procedures that, they know, are counter to effective learning. There is nothing that the conference can do about it, but one can be sure that such things will be talked about. Each participant is sure to be provoked. I’d love to be a fly on the wall.

The conference will also be exciting because the keynote speakers are renowned, known for their forthright views. Pasi Sahlberg and Yong Zhao are two whose writings and video clips are favourites with Australian and New Zealand school folk. Whoever chose the speakers, was given wise counsel; or themselves were keen students of primary schooling as a discipline. The cv of each leader is worth checking and googling. Some of the articles really help readers to sort out their personal views. It would be developmental for each of us to do this; and then read what the world media have to say about the speeches of Andy Hargreaves, Kishore Mahbubani, Pasi Sahlberg and Yong Zhao. It’s an exciting prospect.



Nationally Absurd Program: Literature And



This program, introduced into Australia in 2009 by GERM advocates to undermine public trust in the role of state schools and line the pockets of rich publishers, relies on the use of numbers to describe schools, states and systems.

The absurdity of such political pranks is evident in the way that the public treats them. Here, in this list of a few years ago, we have a list of schools, each and every one a fine school, teaching its proud clients well, with some named and shamed on the basis of a ridiculously unreliable score on a ridiculously invalid, unrelated test. That’s blatant skulduggery; grossly dishonourable.. Those who approve of this NAPLAN scandal in any way should not be anywhere near school children. Notice how the non-professionals, beyond the schools, even averaged the scores: “The numbers provided are the total average of the school across the five categories of reading, writing, spelling, grammar and punctuation and numeracy.” to conclude which school was best or worst. That means that spelling= numeracy. Wow. Notice too, how the unprofessionals, within the schools, said nothing about it to anybody. If your school supports the NAPLAN underhand, totalitarian principles, you need to think twice about sending your child there.

The sort of labelling you see is here to stay. Watch this space as this year’s crazy scores emerge. NA[for absurd]PLAN has to be banned, asap.

Does your local member approve of this sort of undermining of public trust, of using numbers to describe places of learning? Have you asked.?



This is a short appeal to Primary and Secondary school organisations in the hope that, one day, they will demand a real school-based revolution.


We hear so little of Scotland, but “Here one find very little teacher-bashing and scant reference to market solutions to social problems….The Scottish government is moving towards greater school self-evaluation and has, over the past decade, slowly rolled out a progressive ‘curriculum for excellence’. in stark contrast to our own government’s speedily devised, overly prescriptive and increasingly contested programmes….Modesty and consensus-seeking are the hallmarks of Scotland’s approach, consistent with Scotland’s belief in ‘collaboration rather than competition’, and in marked contrast to the ‘quick fix’ grandstanding approach of GERM guerillas who deliberately seek to undermine public trust and confidence in the role of the state.

Scotland offers another model, celebrating both the possibilities of good government and education as a public good.”




“Testing is about politics. Some insist that it is technically necessary. Such people lack imagination about how to teach and how to run schools.” [Gene Glass]





41 Cominan Avenue

Banora Point 2486


07 5524 6443

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