The Treehorn Express
Treehorn’s story : Open attachment.
[Maintained by NZ educator Allan Alach]
“Normal professional discourse about the nature, shape and value of shared evaluation and allied learning exchanges, has been replaced by sterile chatter about test score and printed tables.”
[ Jan Moroney]
Breaking News for NAPLANers
LEARNING RESIDES IN THE INDIVIDUAL
Yes, Dear Naporners. [Jan’s term.] That ‘learning belongs to each individual’ will be news to you. Let me explain, Herr/Frau Measurer and Herr/Frau Minister, as you don’t seem to know much about learning at school.
You won’t make me learn anything unless I want to. I love learning and I do it my way. I do it when I’m good and ready. You can bully me all you like in the sternest of conditions with your stupid tests and threats and practice.
I do what you want, even though I hate it, only because I’ve been reared to do as I am told. I’ve always been that way. I’m an obedient child. Teacher, you frighten me, that’s for sure, with your penchant for tests.
I wish that I was brave enough to tell you that I’m bored silly by what we do for a few months before the NAPLAN tests.
The crazy season from February to May doesn’t give me a chance to learn much. It’s a great big waste of time. I reckon that I would like maths if I could have fun with it. I hate the stuff. When can I get old enough to get out of here? This goes on for four of my first nine school years and here I am wanting to learn something!
How would you like to be in my place?
Do this sum. This year I averaged about 2 hours each day for 16 weeks [80 days] doing practice tests. That’s 160 hours or the equivalent of about 6 full-time school weeks – sitting still, filling in bubbles with a pencil. You try it.
CHILDREN LIKE LEARNING
You don’t believe this, do you? This is front-page breaking news for testucators and measurers and politicians, especially Education Ministers:-
The banning of NAPLAN will actually increase the level of mastery of numeracy, reading, writing, spelling, grammar and punctuation.
because children like learning and do their best when teachers are free to apply what teachers know about children’s learning. There is no doubt about this. Unfamiliar as it is to measurers, here’s some information for you….
- Children believe in their own ability. They grow to be what you expect them to be. [You know, Mum, that you are good at something because someone you liked once told you that you were good at it. Remember?]
- Children don’t aim for mediocrity in anything they do. [NAPLAN measuring ensures mediocrity by quelling enthusiasm.]
- They are naturally curious and interested in the world around them. [Each one usually finds a special interest in some aspect of living. Testing drives away enthusiasm for aspects of literacy and numeracy. But…Knowledge of classroom learnacy can and will raise levels of performance in these now-dull topics to dizzy heights, if that is what their controllers want. Just cut the crap.
- They enjoy play and prefer to be happy. [Children will make the most of play and happy endeavour for learning purposes. It works for two-year olds. It works for 52-year olds]
- Their curiosity disposes them to handle things, explore situations and attempt something new. [Watch them and you’ll see.]
- They are thrilled and immediately motivated by success as much as they feel disappointed by failure. [They apply their own benchmarks. It is their private business. It’s their secret and personal evaluation.]
- They learn effectively when their own interests are being satisfied. [The confidence trickster aka teacher sets up learning situations where the child believes that he or she really wants to ‘do this’ at ‘this point in time’. We used to call it ‘motivation’.]
- They learn by doing, observing, imitating and teaching other children. For them, learning is an active occupation.
For the highest level cognitive development of each child’s learning capacity, the ability of the teacher to make the most of these elements of children’s natural love for learning, is essential. High-stakes blanket testing ruins everything.
CHILDREN CONSTANTLY EVALUATE THEIR OWN PROGRESS AND LIKE TO SHARE IT
Office-bound measurers don’t know about this. Children have evaluated how well they are doing at everything from birth. It’s an essential part of the learning process. Children usually want to share anything they do at school with someone for whom they have respect. Any sort of teacher-pupil enthusiasm-raising relationship, whether it is between the golf-pro and the golfer or a football coach and his team relies on on-the-spot evaluation. Each and every school pupil need to have single face-to-face sharing of effort of some kind each day as part of the effort. If children do not know why they are at school nor appreciate their daily progress, they are not at school. Sharing of effort is a constant during the full time of each school day. This is mandated by the compulsory nature of schooling. Exterior-sourced testing is an unnecessary bother.
If a teacher should want to run a test that might help them to check out any current concern, so be it. One heavy thumping with a barrage of testing in May with results in September and inventing artificial poppycock to laud its usefulness is a rotten betrayal of the spirit of learning. The numeral scores, by then are useless and outdated. Statistician Margaret Wu [ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i-ptsrdyxBE ] uses hard evidence to demonstrate that the use of NAPLAN scores as a measuring stick to compare schools and authorities is a nonsense, even fraudulent. Sharing progress as often as possible, with parent and child in a three-way partnership, with the child in command of the evaluation, will produce outcomes that will donkey-lick any kind of learning outcome that national blanket-testing can offer. In any case, evaluation of effort is personal and private. It is not the business of anyone beyond the classroom. Public delving and probing and exposing and wielding threats-galore is grossly immoral. Think about it.
We don’t respect a child’s desire to be part of its private evaluation of progress as much as we should. It is the ONLY way to go.
So, don’t trust your children to any teacher or school that says that NAPLAN results help them to evaluate pupil progress. If a teacher does not know how well pupils are progressing each day of every week, they should quit asap. For a public utility of any kind [newspaper, TV show, Minister, departmental officer] to proclaim that ‘NAPLAN scores show that state school students are performing below national average’ or any similar kind of gobbledegook, demeans the whole schooling process. Certainly politicians want kids to fail. It suits their rhetoric. Measurers want kid to fail. They keep their job. Publishers want kids to fail. It fattens their pockets.
CLASSROOMS ARE VERY BUSY PLACES
When a class of say 20 pupils enter the classroom, the teacher has to pretend that every one has had a pleasant time with friends and family since they left the room yesterday. None has been bullied nor physically pushed around by anyone else; they all like working with each other; adults at home have not had a loud argument nor any kind of ‘domestic’; there have been opportunities to learn something of interest at home or in the locality; they have had a full evening meal and a full nourishing breakfast; they feel well; they have had a pleasing conversation with their parents and one or more other adults. They are all charged and ready to roll with a meaningful day of learning.
Then the teacher commences a series of context-processes as Michael Dunkin [Researching Teaching. P.17] describes them, that come with the day’s program. The classroom context has an effect on the processes that involve the 20 souls, each so different in so many ways, in a daily routine that uncontrollably alters for some reason or other each day. During the day, the teacher, “…smiling, listening, problem-solving, distracting, answering, asking, demonstrating, commending, cajoling, questioning, supporting, expounding, correcting, disturbing, frowning” keeps the learning efforts on the roll. As the day moves from one kind of learning to another, confidence trickery has to come constantly into play. The pupil must believe they they have total control of the learning. There are constant unplanned interruptions, minor dramas and episodes. It happens. It’ a busy place. A teacher is a very busy person. Appreciate it, you grim testucators.
And then some idiot says things like “Parent must demand that teachers get higher scores on the NAPLAN tests.” What can teachers demand of parents? Believe me, classroom teaching is a busy occupation. One must love children and the act of teaching and be ready for anything to become a member of the most caring profession of all.
Teachers can do without the criticism and the disruptive and damaging effects of NAPLAN on the way they develop each child’s enthusiasm for achievement.
A third-party high-stakes testing environment generates unproductive tension in classrooms. Test preparation takes over. A shopping list of minimal competencies ensues.