The Treehorn Express
[Maintained by NZ educator Allan Alach]
Treehorn is the hero of a masterful children’s book The Shrinking of Treehorn by Florence Heidi Parry that cleverly illustrates adult concerns for the welfare of school children. The little fellow kept shrinking and became so small that he could walk upright under his bed. Nobody – nobody – his parents, his teacher, his principal took any real interest in his well-being.except for an occasional nod. The message is a clear and simple one for all parents of school children, for less-than-ethical teachers and principals who just don’t care enough.
“Testing should be seen as an essential dimension in the process of teaching, not a parasitic growth upon it.”
[The Bullock Report. 1975 – ironically the report of a Committee of Inquiry, appointed by Margaret Thatcher, concerned about ‘declining standards’ .]
I’m so proud of what I do. I’m so pleased that Althea Hurley introduced me to Treehorn. I’m pleased to have named The Treehorn Express after a school child who represents every school child in the world now suffering from debilitating school experiences and macabre class-room practices, because few adults care; and such children are forced to attend schools where classes have to tolerate the indignity of arrogant political corruption of professional practices. I hope to see the dignity of Treehorn and his friends restored, one day soon.
I am so proud to share the newsletter with Allan Alach who maintains this blog which is being read by hundreds of folk in a number of countries. The biggest daily ‘hit’ of 240 readers was made on https://treehornexpress.wordpress.com/2012/10/11/australia-germ-capital/
There has been no challenge to the claim of Australia leading the world in GERM practices. This means: We lead the world in the disgraceful treatment of school children.
I am so proud that I once quoted a teacher, in an official state department document [June 1983]: “If I have to test my kids to see how well they are doing, I ought to quit my job.” then went on to say,” It’s the children’s business to evaluate their progress and to gain confidence from their accomplishments. It’s the teacher’s business to teach them how to evaluate purposefully…”
I am so appalled by the Stalinisation of democratic processes that treats our children as robotic measurement tools in a most contemptuous manner, for political purposes. Since all of Australia’s major parties support the imposition of state-controlled theories of learning based on fear and shame and competition, they have seriously restricted my franchise. How can I vote for any candidate who supports such policies?
How can I trust a political party that once espoused democratic principles but now demeans such principles, fully conscious that they are being manipulated by under-hand lobbying of media conglomerates? I mean Liberal and Labor and National parties. The Brer Fox parties just don’t bother much about kids. If they had more gumption, I suspect that they might. They haven’t found the breath to announce their views on blanket testing yet.
I am surprised and disappointed to learn that state education department officials, catholic education and independent school authorities do as they are told so willingly. When they feel that they have to use Gestapo-type tactics on child-caring professional, curriculum-oriented principals [e.g. Thomson and Pope] they demean their office. They should celebrate the presence of such people in their vicinity. When they ‘come the raw prawn’ with ‘heavy’ treatment of their hierarchical subordinates at the same time as they support and encourage wide-scale cheating practices, they lower the dignity of the teaching profession, including their own office, even further.
[e.g. NAPLAN protocols indicate a lack of tolerance for ‘cheating’ which it defines as ‘gaining an advantage over another’. Then, ignoring its own ‘code of conduct’ aka ‘code of control’, it hypocritically encourages schools to practice and even makes practice tests available. In its cheating report, it does not mention the number of hours each class spends on practice routines, at the expense of other curriculum imperatives. It probably doesn’t bother to check.
Some regions publish NAPLAN results to massage their competitive boasting, such as listing the “TOP TEN” in regional newsletters. One such region includes in the top 10, the name of a school that follows the sport of giving the current Year 9 NAPLAN test to its Year 8s and then suggesting to parents of the low achievers that their children should not do the test in Year 9. In this case, the practice is widely known in the region because the cluster of primary schools in the vicinity are blamed for the low achievements of the Year 8s. It’s a National Partnership School and the principal’s c.v. notes his abilities as the head of a ‘high performance school’. It’s an ironic twist to the Literacy Educators’ “Say NO to NAPLAN” campaign, but it is widely known that more and more schools around Australia are offering such advice to the parents of low achievers. That’s NAPLAN in action.That’s NAPLAN know-how.]
I am professionally sickened by the ethical depravity of Australia’s principals associations and teachers unions, who used to believe in children and used to encourage teaching/learning experiences according to the most effective classroom techniques known. I used to believe in them. I held primary principals in the very highest regard – the greatest of all professions – and was always proud to say that. They now openly subscribe to the ‘one-size-fits-all’ publishers’ beliefs and to the ‘state-controlled-theory’ of fear-promotes-learning and pupil-stress-focused-attention, best inflicted through didactic techniques. I’m ashamed. Even worse, they subscribe to the belief [despite 2012 NAPLAN results] that blanket testing and rigid supervision produces positive learning outcomes and higher test scores. I am very, very sad and disillusioned.
School teacher groups should have told Ms. Gillard at the outset that their support for such pupil-demeaning, injurious, exotic and unusable Big Apple practices infringed our professional ethics – which they plainly do; and which are presently having an obvious and proven deleterious effect on children’s learning. Perhaps it is too late for the present occupants. They have been corralled and branded, unfortunate enough to have to ply their craft during this crazy moment in history. For now they MUST do as they are told. Over the past five years, compliance and moulding to the will of politicians and sciolists have invaded their ethical space and GERMed it. Ethically principled principals are in short supply. Those who do what sterling leaders do, are stand-outs.
[Should Gillard-Garrett GERM operators recommend Joel Klein for an Order of Australia?]
“Educational standards should be redefined as the quality and outcomes of learning in the entire curriculum to which children are entitled by law.”
Prof. Robin Alexander , Chairman: Cambridge Primary Review http://www.primaryreview.org.uk/downloads/Alexander_Miegunyah_lecture_FINAL.pdf