Australia – GERM Capital


Named in honour of a young school boy called Treehorn, the hero of a children’s book called The Shrinking of Treehorn by Florence Heidi Parry with macabre illustrations by Edward Gorey. The story contains a powerful message. Treehorn.  kept shrinking but everybody ignored his condition – his parents, his teacher, his principal – everybody. He became so small that he could walk under his bed upright. Still, no one took notice of his plight. He had to find his own cure, which he did.  Then one evening he started to turn green – bright green.

  He decided not to tell no one. He had learned that all grown-ups take little notice of what happens to young school children.

 [Maintained by NZ educator Allan Alach]

“The hottest places in hell are reserved for those who, in times of moral crisis, maintain their neutrality.”  {Dante]


Australia – GERM capital of the World

GERM is an acronym for the giant scato-meme that testucators have helped to spread around the world with predictable success. It stands for Global Education Reform Movement.  It is a movement that has altered the well-established schooling status quo of countries from child-focussed-learning  to one that relies solely on high stakes testing.  It is a movement that started off in a New York school district and, supported by the resources of big-ticket publishing companies, established modes of testucation in a number of western countries. Australia was a push-over.  Australia can now claim to be the GERM capital of the world. This reform movement, powered by extreme political muscle, has corralled principals, teachers, parents and pupils. All are now well-conditioned to the pressures of GERM-inspired NAPLAN testing and look forward to its conversion to on-line operations.    NAPLAN, a testing device that pretends to assess literacy and numeracy levels, is standardised testing on steroids; sadly unreliable and invalid for ‘improvement’ purposes. That doesn’t matter. Australian schools were told to put up and shut up. We put up with it. We must.

The forms of corporation-based political control of learning is now part of the Australian landscape.

NAPLAN is failing, badly, in what it was supposed to do; and the political solution to this is to increase the effort – a not unusual political reaction. More clout. More money

Pasi Sahlberg first used the word GERM in a non-pejorative way to describe the differences between his country’s reform movement of many years ago that used non-testing, learning principles…. and those countries, like Australia, that have more recently adopted the heavy-handed measurement reform mode.  Finland’s system operates on cultural equity, teacher respect and curriculum freedom; ours and other GERM countries the direct opposite. Australian schooling now enlarges social differences, degrades the teaching profession and follows hard-core curriculum guidelines.

All authorities seem to be possessed by the occasional international PISA tests for 15 years olds, conducted by the OECD, for opinion and judgement about their schooling, despite the frailties of that mode of judgement.  Finland treats PISA casually because it cannot see any benefit in  national blanket testing and it does not want PISA results to control their curriculum as it does to GERM countries

NAPLAN adherents, advocates, supporters and operators cannot explain how our ‘students’ under-perform profoundly compared with Finland’s pupils at 15 years of age. How come? Australian children attend school for up to four years longer than do Finnish children by 15 years of age!  Over two years more of intense test-preparation and test practice for Australian school pupils and we still can’t ‘measure-up’! What is going on? Child-oriented learning-based educators [non-testucators] can tell the politicians why. But then, with their usual fervour for knowledge of what happens in the classroom, Australian politicians take no notice of those who know what they are talking about. They prefer to talk in numbers – NAPLAN-speak. That has been the pattern of political rhetoric for the past half-decade. These unfortunate policy-makers believe that there are votes in supporting NAPLAN, promoting choice, shaming teachers, advocating heavy guidelines and spruiking test scores.

No other authority, even New York whose model we adopted, can be as proud as Australia for its attention to GERM ideals as listed on ] We are faithful supporters and our schools are well controlled…not as productive in learning terms as they should be…going downhill in NAPLAN terms …but, well controlled. The Klein-Gillard duo continues to claim ownership.


Credit for Australia’s ascendance to gold-level standard in GERM principles must go to its forms of control.

POLITICAL CONTROL  The introduction, in the 1990s, of managerialism into  public school education saw ‘plumbers running garages’ from pre-schools to state education systems. The  devastating inexperience-based effects filtered to classrooms and after a decade or so of its wantonness, there was an obvious need for reform of public schooling. Basic school experience of school administration had been devalued and pupils were paying a heavy price. This aspect of educational leadership remains, but politicians preferred to blame teachers at the work-face for the problem and continue to do so. Kemp, Nelson, Rudd and Gillard at the federal level made statements about the need for improved standards in a manner that was reminiscent of the Black Papers ‘Back to basics’ era. Joel Klein, a New York lawyer appointed by the Mayor to run his school district had found favour with Rupert Murdoch; and his efforts made headlines.  The spin drew the attention of Australia’s Minister for Education during a visit to USA, and persuaded by the sweet-talk of a fellow-lawyer, arranged to have him hold meetings with corporate Australia to have them endorse her next step – import the Klein System into Australian schools.

In retrospect, Australian school educators wish that she had visited Finland instead of the U.S.A. at the time. A learning-based indigenous system could have been developed based on equity, teacher respect and a developmental curriculum.

A diversion. What would happen, if, for 2013, one of our states decided to drop the expensive, failed NAPLAN program and adopt a child-focussed learning model of schooling of its own?  A dream?

Historically, schooling has been the responsibility of the states but, by the turn of the century, the press of the federal authorities for a take-over was made manifest.  “He who pays the piper” held the states to ransom and, being of the same political level of understanding about classroom behaviour, easily set the limits of control. Each state willingly complied and the tax-payer has since contributed billions of dollars to a useless effort.

PRESS CONTROL The daily press sets the agenda for discussions in the community, wherever people gather for a common purpose. It has always guided public opinion and has been known to manipulate commonly held views to suit vested interests and political viewpoints.  NAPLAN is a source of many newspaper columns, especially in May and October. As far as schooling issues are concerned, there has been a developing tendency not to report issues that might express a contrary-GERM view [The Darwin Effect], but individual journalists will sometimes  express an anti-NAPLAN stance or report someone else’s view. That’s the way, things appear to be.

Rupert Murdoch, owner of Wireless Generation, the test publishing company that is part of the world’s largest media conglomerate, hired the aforementioned Joel Klein, founder of Australia’s fear-based, high-stakes schooling system, “to pursue business opportunities in the education market-place.” In Australia the Murdoch companies own 22 influential major newspapers and 4 regional and suburban chains covering 64.2% of metropolitan Australia, while the Fairfax group covers 26’4%. I ask you!

The Fairfax group appears to take a more neutral view of Australia’s GERM addiction. Indeed its reporting of the first “Say NO to NAPLAN” production was balanced and open-ended.

While the balance lies in the hands of a powerful press, hand-in-glove with GERM adherent politicians, encouraged and supported by New York’s publishing houses/ i-pad retailers, and operated by heavy-measuring sciolists, Australia will remain at the top of the GERM heap. The secret lies in keeping parents in the dark and making sure that principal groups and teacher unions do not revive their lost professional ethics.

There’s the rub. There is a serious need for open discussion and learn-ed parent and teacher conferences on topics such as “The Morality of Blanket Testing” or “What Happened to Professional Ethics?” or “Where Have All the Parents Gone?”

While the media/political control of important schooling issues [such as those listed on the right-hand side of the Pasi Sahlberg-inspired table : *Teach Learnacy,  *Customise instruction for each child,  *Teach each at own pace, *Use children as the inspiration for change,  * Share evaluation of effort personally,  *Treat children as pupils – as potential students,  *Celebrate successes,  *Share teaching and learning efforts with as many possible],  will persist; and while testucators control Australian schooling, Australia’s future does not have much of a chance.  Schools and parents and the general public do not seem to discuss such things.  Tightly controlled, right?

We used to punch above our weight on international issues and the rest of the western world respected our opinions and took notice. We must get used to the lightweight division for that where our future is.


If you can’t make the ‘Say NO’ launch next Monday, [Oct. 15]

at AEU Building, 112 Trenerry Crescent  Abbotsford  Victoria

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

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


Please make sure that you send this contact site to as many people as possible and download the papers to share with parents and teachers…………..

For the sake of Australian children, it is very important that concerned parents and an apathetic public be informed….even hounded to listen to reason.


“What is needed in society is a change in the pattern of living …bring people back into the lives of children and children back into the lives of people.”  [Urie Brofenbrenner]

Recommended Links

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





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