Principals’ Commitment – Post Conference.

The Treehorn Express

Treehorn’s story Open attachment.

[Maintained by NZ educator Allan Alach]

“When the effective is secure, the cognitive is inevitable.” [John Settledge]


Principals’ Commitment


GERM or Leading Learning


The grey matter has been stirred. We principals now ask ourselves some serious questions. Which do we support?  What can we do? Do we believe in child development based on the maintenance and extension of a child’s natural love for learning; popularly called LEARNACY – or  – do we adhere to the consuming, politically imposed 3Rs GERM-inspired testing programs such as NAPLAN ?  There is no evidence in existence that shows that GERM techniques work for any positive progress. When do we return to helping children to learn how to learn?  When will politicians note that if they want school children to climb the PISA scale, learning-love is the only way to go? Such learning needs learner leaders of ethical learning calibre.

[The acronym GERM for Global Education Reform Movement was first used by Pasi Sahlberg of Finland to describe the differences between test-focused countries and his own country. His original  highlights of the differences have been enlarged in the table above – to describe contemporary Australian schooling  on the left   –   compared with what it could be  on the right.]

Australian schools are now the world’s most ardent followers of the GERM techniques, soft-lifted from New York.

Parts of the United States share the crown, while many states have forsaken the strictures of the failing NCLB  [Bush, 2000: ‘No Child Left Behind’] illustrated best by the Klein fear-based New York model, and there is growth in the number of states now encouraging learning-based schooling.  After five years of NAPLAN, Australian test scores are going backwards as expected and teaching-learning acts deteriorate. The New Zealand government is trying to force its schools closer to the GERM ideals but there is sincere and determined child-oriented resistance [see Drummond address at APPA-NZPF Conference] from primary principals. East Asian countries, eternally known for enthusiastic dedication to schooling accomplishments while once renowned for a heavy ‘disciplined’, long hours, hard-work approach to learning,  have been concentrating on the ‘leading learning’ approach illustrated on the right-hand side of the table above for about fifteen years. Shanghai, Singapore, Hong Kong and South Korea are now proud of their PISA accomplishments.

The only two western countries in the Asian galaxy, thanks to NAPLAN and National Standards, should continue to head  backwards.

Finland cares little about PISA [the OECD’s ‘Program for International Schools Assessment’ test for 15 year-olds] accomplishments. It disapproves of the GERM high-stakes testing model and happens to do well at such tests because of its attention to LEARNACY; and it allows PISA testing whenever the random choice of schools is made, just for the heck of it.

Don’t Australian and New Zealand politicians, measurers, supporters. teacher/principal/parent organisations, media reps and school-based testucators believe in the power of learning?

Such GERM adherents must find it difficult to explain how Finland can achieve so well in PISA tests when its school children have had up to 4 years less formal schooling at 15 years-of-age than Australian and New Zealand children.

Its starting age is 7 years-of-age compared to our 5 years-of-age; it’s school year and school day are considerably less, no homework, no extra time of test preparation; so, all told, about 4 years difference. Check Pasi Sahlberg’s talk to APPA-NZPF principals on if one has any doubts on the figures.

Do you think that LEARNACY and the leading of learning might have something to do with it?

Yes. It’s a time for deep thinking for primary principals and their school teams and parents. They might consider their commitment –  to political force? – to test publishers who pocket the proceeds of testing programs? – to children ?


As John Kuhn  says { }, “I believe fervently that Michelle Rhee {= Julia Gillard] and an army of like-minded bad-school philosophizers will one day look around and see piles where their painstakingly-built sandcastles of reform once stood, and they will  know the tragic frame of Ozymandias.  Billion-dollar data-sorting systems will be mothballed. Value-added algorithms will be tossed in a bin marked History’s Big Dumb Ideas. The mantra ‘no excuses’ will retain all the significance of “Where’s the beef?”  And teachers will still be teaching, succeeding, and failing all over the country, much as they would have been if Michelle Rhee [and Julia Gillard] had gone into the foreign service and Bill Gates had invested his considerable wealth and commendable humanitarian ambition in improving law enforcement practices or poultry production.”



You are all invited

Monday, October 15

AEU Building, 112 Trenerry Crescent  Abbotsford  Victoria

Launch of ‘Say NO to NAPLAN’  –  Mark 2

5pm for 5.30pm – Tea, coffee. refreshments provided

The response to the original set was astounding…headlined in all major newspapers.

Papers will be made available, free of charge from the Literacy Educators [see LINKS below]

Please rsvp your indication of attendance at the function, at your earliest


“GERM has become the way of thinking for a number of countries. Australia is hot and strong on this, so is New Zealand.” [Pasi Sahlberg]

Recommended Links

[Gold Medal :ACEL]
41 Cominan Avenue
Banora Point 2486
07 5524 6443

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