The Treehorn Express
Opinion soaked in knowledge & experience.
Treehorn is the hero of an easy-to-read, sad children’s book: “The Shrinking of Treehorn” by Florence Heidi Parry. It clearly illustrates the disregard that adults demonstrate towards children at school. Even Treehorn’s principal and his teacher give him ‘short shift’. The message is clear when applied to children’s worries about fear-based testing regimes. We don’t give two hoots about the welfare and learning climate of our 5 to 12 year-olds. They can shrink, vomit, stress-out, cry, lose sleep all they like at test time….as long as they score well for the sake of politician-speak.
Learning From Year 4
Australia’s Year 4 children have demonstrated, in a very telling way, that the clownish tyranny of NAPLAN testing destroys the natural love for learning almost completely. The results of a previously unknown testing device[PIRLS] have to be seen as a very, very serious wake-up call…and not for the reasons that the Garrett-Masters-Gillard group suggest. The children have impressively debunked measurers’ attachment to what Giroux calls “instrumental functionality”: the belief that systems and practices can be organised according to hard-and-fast fear-based principles of standardisation, efficiency, practicality and measureable utility, these children have clearly told us that they prefer to be loved and led by those who genuinely love them; and not by some far-away bullying test freak, who does not have a clue about the learning culture of a Year 4 classroom. Our unfortunate Year 4s have exposed NAPLAN as a useless piece of baggage throttling the raison d’etre of schooling itself. Things are serious…very, very serious. That is what has happened.
You will have noted that the unimaginative test freaks say that things are serious only because the test scores were not up to scratch. They are now after blood because they don’t know which way to go. Teachers – duck!
What happened as soon as the scores were posted? Garrett gobble and the measurers’ masters blamed teachers with ‘quality teaching’ gobbledegook without any cognisance of the options. Then they blamed the principals and the progressive states who might be having second thoughts about the efficacy of NAPLAN. In any case, the blame will be certainly be levelled at the overall school culture for not having got the GERM inspired, crazy kind of non-school testing culture right….as decreed. The eichmanned brotherhood has patsied. Parents will be next if the complicit army of ethically deprived testucators cannot look after themselves.
If any notice had been taken of experienced Australian schoolies instead of a money- plastered New York lawyer and his measurement disciples down under in the first place, it is highly probable that Australian Year 4s would have dominated the world scores because they liked challenges and liked learning and were unafraid. That would have been part of their school life. Well? Any Year 4 teacher will tell you what NAPLAN has done to pupils. We’ve certainly headed in the wrong direction.
Australia, by the way, has the talent to develop its own brand of LEARNACY that has no limits to achievement. The first step would have to be the shelving of NAPLAN and similar kinds of high-stakes, fear-based curriculum shatterers that simply maintain a level of mediocrity that should not be tolerated. Our country ’s economic future depends on how well we treat our Year 4s and their co-pupils.
Would you like to be a Year 4 pupil? NAPLAN next May!
According to the ABC TV News of 12/12/12, Teacher-Bashing has commenced, led by the know-it-alls. Who will stick up for teachers? Which organisation? Who will tell the public about the intricacies of learning at that level of schooling? Which principal or union officer is brave enough to break away from thoughtless compliance to tell the truth about NAPLAN….to discuss learning and its own search for achievement?
That’s the state of play. Watch this space.