I’m A Primary Teacher & other things

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.

Naplan cannot predict anything nor reveal anything that teachers do not know already.

It only reveals that our national leadership is bankrupt. We have managers,not leaders.


I’m a Primary Teacher

I am a primary teacher. As well as teaching English, which includes reading, writing, spelling, punctuation, phonics, grammar, handwriting, speaking and listening. I teach maths, social studies, science, art, health and technology.

I teach children to sing, dance and act so they can be part of a school musical. I teach children about healthy eating and the need for exercise.

I teach children to communicate and get along with others, to value others’ opinions, to treat others as they would like to be treated, to use manners, to respect the property of others and to be fair. I teach children to cross the road safely, to ride their bikes safely, to  walk safely on the cement. I teach them to wash their hands, to blow their noses, to wear hats in the sun and to sit on their chairs safely.

I teach children to want to go to school, to want to learn and to develop a love for learning. The children I teach know that I will do my best for each one of them, that I like them, that I value their opinions, that I want each of them to succeed and that I  proud of their achievements.

Who am I? Just an ordinary teacher. There are thousands of other teachers just like me out there. Thousands of them pick up the newspaper or turn to television daily to be told what a bad job they are doing.

I love my job. I love my children. I love the buzz I get when they make me feel proud and I love the noise of 52 of them beating down my classroom door at 8.15 am every day.

That’s what will get me through these turbulent times. I hope that all of those teachers just like me get through them too. Have a great day today. teachers.

[ Bundaberg Teacher, Catriona J.Mc  – Letter to Editor C.M.1 Oct., 2008]



Australia – A Testucator’s Disneyland

[Definition – TESTUCATOR:  One, usually in an education job of some sort with a passing knowledge of schooling, who approves of or supports forms of national blanket testing, aimed at blaming someone or other.]

Australian education’s Deen Brothers have swung their assessment hammers again !  Saturday’s [27 Oct. 2012] press revealed that “Aspiring teachers will be tested in literacy and numeracy at the beginning and end of their education degree under a national plan to drive up teacher quality.”  [Courier Mail]

School Education Minister, Peter Garrett told the Eidos Institute in Brisbane, yesterday, that preparation for this was under way. State Education Minister John-Paul Langbroek welcomed the announcement.

Australia is about to hang out a sign: “We test everything.”  In small letters the sign will say. “It doesn’t do any good. We just like doing it. The salt mines if YOU object.”

Don’t stand still for too long, Mums and Dads, Grandpa and Grandma. You’re next.


Best Wishes to Kevin Pope

Principal hero and child-advocate, Kevin Pope of Meadow Heights is expecting a visit from either a ‘Fed” or a ‘Ted’ officer sometime soon. [Ted Baillieu is Victoria’s premier]. It is to be hoped the officers are able to learn something from Kevin. In an earlier time, an officer reckoned that Ted was being ‘political’, because he had candidly described “NAPLAN’ and its effects in a professional manner.

There is a word for ‘back-to-frontness’, but it escapes me.

An issue such as this is not so much about Kevin or Ted or Fed. It’s about his stand-out REGARD and CARE and LOVE for kids at school. In another GERM-free time, Kevin would not stand out as a hero.

In case you missed it, for more information, see See Article 12 in “Say NO to NAPLAN” at  www.literacyeducators.com.au/naplan

You might like to send a short ‘best wishes’ to him. He deserves a little support, a pat on the back and a  sincere ‘fairy clap’.  {See Kevin. I remember.}


[Coming soon : A story from Paul Thomson, the independent-school principal of a school where parents refuse to do the damaging/degrading NAPLAN tests]


It’s October

It wasn’t so long ago that school vacations consisted of a six week period in mid-summer, a week in May and a two-week period during the winter months. In Queensland, the two-week period was arranged to coincide with the Brisbane Show aka Exhibition. There was a long unbroken period between mid-August and mid-December, with the pre-Christmas period devoted to examinations of many kinds. It was a really tough slog. Departmental statistics showed that there were more parental complaints about teacher behaviour during the month of October than the whole of the rest of the year. It was understandable. One did not need to have a Ph.D. with a background in psychology to know the reasons why.

AND……It was extra-extremely tough for those teachers serving in remote areas [of WA & Q’ld especially], a long way from their boy-friends, girl-friends, family members, friends and the kinds of sporting interests and cultural pursuits that their home-town offered. Most Queensland teachers came from Brisbane and other cities tucked away in the south east corner. Teachers in remote localities sacrificed a lot to provide schooling for those children whose folk had chosen to live where they lived. It is over 1800 kms from Brisbane to Mt. Isa and 1700 kms to Cairns [both stepping stones to far-away places]; so week-ends visits to home are out of the question. It was also a long tough period for parents as well who listened to ‘school stories’ for the tense period up to October, but, with thoughts similar to the teachers, relaxed about November in anticipation of a long break.
I was Regional Director and Inspector for the north-west schools district, an area that was marginally bigger than Texas….just a little bit, but larger. I was ably assisted by a senior clerk and two typists in the office at Longreach. The district stretched the full length of the Northern Territory border from the Gulf of Carpentaria to the South Australian border, east to places like Hughenden, Barcaldine and Tambo. I was obliged, at the time, to inspect every teacher in the area and provide them with a numerical assessment of their abilities [Believe it]. I wrote a report on every state school and convent in the area every year; later adding ‘mission’ schools at Mornington Island and Doomadgee. I used to send out an occasional professional newsletter for every teacher written by their regional colleagues, willing to describe some interesting activity that I might have noticed during my visits; and included many professional articles as well, sourced from the giants of the era. It was the period of [mistakenly called ] open area schooling. It was an exciting time for me, professionally, and I learned a lot from the young enthusiastic teachers and principals of the outback. We had a saying,”Only the best go west.”I didn’t want to have to listen to too many parental complaints at any official inquiry that were usually acrimonious and from which no ‘winner’ emerged. Besides,it was a long way to some places where tensions may have got beyond breaking point. I wondered how I might alert all teachers in the region to be careful in handling the tensions and stress of this part of the school year. The October statistics were not generally known, so I sent out a one page, foolscap-size newsletter with “IT’S OCTOBER” in the largest print that would fit on the page. Nothing else – apart from my signature. Imagine the reaction in schools and staffrooms.What’s he talking about?Did it ‘work’? Who knows? Who cares? I know that I had no inquiries to endure.
naplancontrolsareevilnaplancpntrolsareevilnaplancontrolsareevilnaplancontrolsareevilnaplancontrolsareevilnaplancontrolsareevilSenate InquiryIf you take a look at the submissions to the enquiry received [before mine], then you will appreciate the extent of the issues with which the  members of the committee will have to cope over the next few months. You wont envy them their task. The variety of issues raised is enormous. Check out  http://aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Senate_Committees?url=eet_ctte/teaching_learning/index.htmand take a look from time to time.


Thinking in the Deep End

Patricia Buoncristiani, an Aussie with American citizenship shares a blog with her American husband http://ThinkingInTheDeepEnd.wordpress.com  now listed in the links below. Both spend a  portion of each year in both countries.  Pat, in the latest one, expresses concern about “…the decline in the arts since the advent of GERM. It worries me greatly.”  She continues in her letter to Treehorn: “ The intriguing thing is that things are changing in Australia to more closely resemble what has destroyed education in the USA . Bizarre! “


Please note that www.primaryreview.org.uk  has also been added to the links below. It is one that points the way to issues that primary teachers will want to consider many times during the course of a school year. Thanks to Professor Alexander for indicating that “The ‘primary’ in the title might give encouragement to those in that sector.” Every primary teacher in every GERM country needs to be familiar with this review. Every testucator in every GERM country who can read-for-content, as unlikely as that is, needs to read about what is necessary [See above as well]


When Is A Charter School Not a Charter School?

The Queensland Minister for Education etc. John-Paul Langbroek, has assured Bruce Jones, former Primary School Principal, that Q’ld has ‘…no intention of introducing charter schools based on the U.S.A, or N.Z. models….Over the next four year 120 Independent Public Schools [IPS] will be rolled out across the state [Queensland] with 26 IPS to commence in 2013.”

One can now expect U.S.A. and N.Z. to change their charter school names to Independent Public Schools….if they like to use oxymorons in public. It’s a game called ‘Having fun with gimmicks’.”

Principals of IPS in Q’ld will be able to ban the use of all forms of external blanket testing, I suppose.


Shop Big W

Ken and Suesie Woolford, Toowoomba, of Home-schooling fame, found a splendid book at Big W for $22: The One World Schoolhouse – Education Reimagined by Salman Khan. They enjoyed it because, says Ken: [1] You can pick it up at Big W; [2] it is NOT a book above gloom, boom and guilt; [3] It is obviously aimed at non-specialist readers; [4] It is positive and exciting to read, referring to the same research and ideas that Treehorn highlights. Keep alert next shopping trip, kids, and slip a copy in the trolley.


“Having a top-five PISA goal as the centre of the nation’s educational ambition is clearly at odds with the Gonski panel’s view that ‘An excessive focus on what is testable, measureable and publicly reportable carries the risk of imbalance in the school curriculum.” [David Loader and Simon Whatmore in The Age :’Why It’s Time for a Class Revolt. ]

G.O.N.S.K.I : Guide Our Nation’s School Kids Intelligently

N.A.P.L.A.N. :  Never Allow Pupils Learn Anything Necessary

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One thought on “I’m A Primary Teacher & other things

  1. Yes Phil, as Principal at Aramac at the time well do I remember receiving your “IT’S OCTOBER” Occasional Paper! My thoughts go back to those enlightening days where our professional freedoms, devoid of the constraints currently imposed by the likes of NAPLAN, spawned innovative and inspirational modes of teaching which proved so highly effective in fully engaging our students in their own learning. Despite the isolation and the extreme ever-present challenges of living the “Outback Experience” we all came away better Teachers – fully enriched and professionally attuned to the notion that the nurturing of a “love of life-long learning” will always remain the paramount driver of our educational agenda. The Testucators I fear have an all together different agenda!

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