Darwin Effect – Treehorn Effect

The Treehorn Express

Treehorn’s story : Open attachment.

[Maintained by NZ educator Allan Alach]

“Yeah, I was good at everything. Honest, everything; until I started being here with you. Now, I’m only good at everything on Saturdays and Sundays.”

[Albert Cullum: “ The Geranium on the Window-sill….”]


Darwin Effect – Treehorn Effect

Has anyone solved the mystery? How and why the normally anxious, enthusiastic, probing, controversy-seeking, all-powerful Australian media gave the ‘big ignore’ to the APPA-NZPF Conference, that promised to be the most crucial education conference to be held in Australia during the past five decades; one that had the potential to change the landscape of Australia’s primary schooling in a promising way? The calibre of the guest speakers from around the globe was such that public exploration of ‘Leading Learning’ – the conference theme – in this most GERM-ridden country in the world, augured well. It didn’t happen.  It is now most unlikely that public discussion of the right-hand side of the table will be discussed any time soon.

The Darwin effect.

Thanks to Allan Alach for arranging the table below; with the hope that Pasi Sahlberg approves of the enlargement.


The press missed its opportunity to listen to two GERM-based papers by Terry Cook and side-kick Peter Garrett that clearly described Australian conditions. Reporters missed this NAPLAN renewal of the GERM ethos according to the Gillard-Klein gospel.  Australian principals will do as they are told as fear-based NAPLAN moves into the “…second phase of reform” [Peter G.]. The 2025 Gillard goal must be reached! They will! Things are under control.  Principals will continue to remain silent on ‘leading-learning’ issues [RH column] and will continue to support the GERM principles. They will support all GERM aims as NAPLAN gives birth to other tests.  They are bound by  “codes of control  conduct’  and “memoranda of understanding” and other things. Principals must not comment nor allow their teachers to comment. The normal Code of Ethics [battered in 2008] must remain in crippled condition in the back seat as politically-backed testucators charge ahead without respect for the school-child victims.

Paranoiac dedication to fear-based testing is now an established feature of the Australian schooling landscape. Who cares?

Australia is the greatest GERM country of all!

NAPCC [National Assessment Program Civics and Citizenship] will be introduced next year. Educators might think such ‘subjects’ to be pretty weird test topics, but they will be done on-line with branches running along paths that school-based testucators should enjoy.  Acting-CEO [Rob Randall] of ACARA reckons that it could improve in its efforts to “…capture the full range of achievement on tests.”

Who cares? The Treehorn Effect.

NZ Cares Things are changing across the ditch, however,  as Paul Drummond indicated at the Melbourne conference. His New Zealand Principals’ Federation and the unions, especially the PPTA [Post-Primary Teachers Association], concerned parents and politicians are prepared to have their say about NZ’s fear-based, GERM school-testing competition called ‘National Standards’.  They are unafraid. They openly told the Minister that she was “the Minister for privatizing Education.” and declared that the government was running a deliberate campaign to undermine confidence in local public schooling. They criticised her to her face and she was very uncomfortable. The catch phrase seemed to be “ Those who can – teach. Those who can’t –pass laws about teaching.”

Each of four politicians of different persuasions with extraordinary [well- we just don’t have any of similar calibre on this side of the ditch] knowledge of schooling spoke with genuine feeling about what was happening to NZ children at school. All were on the side of children attending public schools.  [Allan Alach predicts that New Zealand will be first off the GERM bandwagon.] Lucky NZ kids. As you know, in Australia, nobody cares; so our pollies don’t?!  ‘We get what….’ sort of thing. Ours reveal their interest only by  throwing dirt at ‘standards’ , ‘outcomes’, ‘scores’, ‘teachers’ softened by an occasional platitude. They know not and care less. [Treehorn Effect]  Their day will certainly come.

If you have time, it is worthwhile spending some of it searching the http://www.ppta.org,nz/website. You will be impressed by the standard of the NZ politicians. In her talk, Catherine Delahunty suggested that it will probably take so long to get rid of the GERM testing National Standards, it’s easier to get rid of the government.  The speeches were more supportive of children and their teachers and more anti-testing than Australians are used to hearing. Might I suggest that you listen to the opening address by President Robin Duff and an impressive talk by Angelo Garvialatos , President of the Australian Education Union who spoke forcefully on the transformative nature of public education and what it means to every child. He did not mention NAPLAN directly. Australian unionists don’t talk about it, even at home.  It’s a government-controlled Treehorn thing although some might  call it the Mushroom Effect.

While in New Zealand, Pasi Sahlberg confidently fielded questions about GERM on a radio show http://www.radionz.co.nz/national/programmes/saturday/audio/2534761/pasi-sahlberg-improving-education  The NZ media knew that he was in the country.


TO: Any federal politician who cares for kids:  You might like to ask the Honourable Minister for Education in parliament,

“Do you think that Australian school children, now doing poorly on PISA scoring after five years of NAPLAN, despite spending from two to four years LONGER at school by age 15 than do Finnish school children, should concentrate on learning instead of preparing for tests?”


Don’t forget:

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

Those who can’t be present might chose to download it from this website and share it with the teachers at their school and everywhere else.


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



“The Government has a fetish for assessment and a penchant for making decisions without a public mandate.” [Catherine Delahunty]

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One thought on “Darwin Effect – Treehorn Effect

  1. Thanks for this. I have had the experience of being a principal in Australia and more recently the USA. You might be interested to read my most recent blog titled “Don’t Forget the Kids” at


    I have long feared the connection between JG and Klein. I have experienced first had the effects of standardized testing in the USA. But I also recall the collapse of the LAP tests in Victoria because parents simply acted and pulled their kids out, making the tests no longer valid because so many didn’t sit for them.

    I look forward to reading more of what you have to say.

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