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. Treehorn’s principal and his teacher, even his parents give him ‘short shift’. They don’t seem to care that school testing can cause stress,vomiting, worry and sleeplessness and does nothing for learning habits. Children’s problems are so easy to ignore.
CARE FOR KIDS
Relax. Lean back. Think about kids. Look carefully at each frame. Sing along as loud as you can.
Then….If you teach kids how to develop their wonderful learning habits, FEEL PROUD. If you’re a testucator, feel ashamed.
Care for Kids
Louise prepared this clickable clip for The Treehorn Express. Most of the photos were from her own collection. She has a lot of photos because she is a primary school teacher and loves kids; some are from her own teaching experiences at Beechmont and Canberra Islamic School. Did you like the one of the little girl on the potty, ‘borrowed’ from http://allthingslearning.wordpress.com ? There’s also an occasional shot of some oldies reading to kids during the annual Reading Week at Beechmont in the days when Reading wasn’t tested and adults and kids enjoyed it and shared it.
The catchy song itself was composed by Peter Best for Australia’s participation in the International Year of the Child, promoted by UNESCO in 1979.
Treehorn introduces and concludes the presentation, unnoticed, uncared-for, walking upright under his bed. The full clip is a metaphor that clearly illustrates the interruptions to children’s learning and to their love for learning while sciolists and political manipulators, carrying much more power than they deserve to claim, interfere with good achievement-based classroom practices. These are the people who openly debunk the power of LOVE for learning and have introduced FEAR as their curriculum imperative. Look carefully. 1. We have an overseas ‘expert’ telling the pupils and their teachers what they should do. 2.Then Frau Gillard waves her cane at teachers and orders them to do as they are told….or else. They do. 3. Her Immenseness tells her [then] leader that she knows what to do. 4. He, the greatest of leaders, tells the children what he expects. 5. SHE discusses her ideas with principals. 5. Garrett gobbledygooks. 6. The driver, on GERM steroids, aims the school bus [MySchool] at those who might get in the way. 7. Shades of yesteryear. It’s pre-1962. We are on our way back there…..as thoughtless testucators do.
Experienced educators expect these assaults on child welfare to arrive on the scene every now and then. Older educators have unpleasant memories of the ‘Back to Basics Movement’, the Minimal Competency Testing [MCT], Competency Based Education [CBE], the Moral Crusades against parts of the teaching of social studies, the effects of Sputnik on maths; as well as the positive memes that supported school achievements and enriched the curriculum. No one can predict when they will occur nor how long they will last. Most of these nasties lasted less than a decade and some rode on the back of others depending on the level of teacher morale in larger western countries at the time. All we know, at present, is that the present hyper-destructive GERM scato-meme started in New York in the 1990s following the structural/managerialist pandemic which destroyed the working ethic of large corporations and public services; and is still maintained by those corporate troglodytes who maintain the belief that a plumbers can run garages better than mechanics if they have a detailed CV and interview well. If he or she has an MBS or Ph.D., they can do anything! A lawyer or Ph.D. measurer can run an education system.
This GERM scato-meme, NAPLAN’s effects will last longer than most because some very powerful people are in charge of its spread, especially the influential, experience-free, couldn’t-care-less-about-kids, determined politicians. Low-level teacher morale can be kept in place because co-operation with authority is part of a teacher’s DNA. As a genera rule, they are nice, uncomplaining people; and test-freakish scoundrels make the most of it. The complicity of representational organisations can also be controlled with promises and buz-baz managerial puppetry. As things stand at present, these forms of heavy-handed control will be maintained for quite a while….. and, as long as it lasts, there are large profits to be made by you-know-who.
My guess is that some state’s ministry will start to think about the plight of its state school children, about the power of learnacy and combine with its more school-experienced officers who are willing to espouse their imprisoned ‘care for kids’ beliefs. This will be the beginning of the end of NAPLAN and the start of a ‘learning enlightenment’. My money is on W.A. will be the first state to break free.
However, unless the impact on children’s learning interests and achievements is seriously considered by parent groups, teacher groups, principals groups, political party branches. the whole country is at risk. No doubt.
HISTORY Society always has trouble dealing with cruel memes, like these GERM-configurations [NAPLAN, ‘ National Standards’ and NCLB ]. Such nasty treatment of school children, through history, has attracted a peculiar measure of adult support. It is likely that this occurs because school children have no recognised advocacy and, as Treehorn suggests: most adults just don’t notice their distress. Only occasionally does an advocacy for children rise from the general population. When Encyclopaedists of the late 18th century pressed for state-run secular schools, their representative Thomas Paine [Rights of Man 1791] reckoned that governments should safeguard peoples rights and not assault them. He had to leave town and head for Europe. The more adult-supported notion at the time was of the kind that was pronounced by the likes of Adam Smith [Wealth of Nations 1776]: that the government might provide minimal opportunities for ‘the inferior ranks of the people’. [At the time, they needed a G.O.N.S.K.I. attitude to help them to Guide Our Nations School Kids Intelligently].
When Payment by Results was encouraged by authoritarian School Inspectors as they listed unrelated ‘sums’ and questions on chalk-boards to determine the level of efficiency of a school, there was a need from true educators within the system to plead for sanity. During this period, Grammar Schools and their clones had instituted the notion of written entrance tests to help them to select the ‘best’ scholars from the schools available at the time. As universal schooling grew and the client-base more uncertain, public examinations were instituted and supported by the ’state’. The exams were never checked as to their impact on schooling generally. They were a managerial device. Their prominence for the same reasons continues today. unchecked.
In 1862 school-experienced Matthew Arnold, saddened by the “deadness, dullness and discouragement” of test-based schooling, after a visit to Europe, where schools were still operating under the teaching/learning influences of Rousseau and Pestalozzi and Froebel, pleaded for a return of “intelligent life” to British schooling. Matthew, we do need you now.
History shows that state public schools gained more and more attention over the centuries. Australian states expanded secondary schooling at a considerable rate of knots during the mid-C20th. Public interest demanded more of both compulsory sectors of schooling as the ‘inferior ranks’ were offered quality secondary schooling within their own locality. State primary and secondary schooling grew in stature through the 20th Century and set the upper-standard in teacher-pupil interaction, achievement and innovation. However the pesky public examination and internal testing bug remained as part of school routines. The introduction of seamless schooling in the progression to subject-centredness made little difference. Enormous slices of preparation time and test-time, extending to weeks in some circumstances, consumed balanced time-tables, replaced learning time, soured scholarly interest in learning per se; and caused many fine learners to wonder why they were at school. That’s what fear-based NAPLAN does in spades.
When Finland asked itself about the real purposes of schooling, thirty-to-forty years ago, while we we trying to wrap a stern school curriculum around a testing fetish, the Finns took a different direction.
If a pupil does not know why he or she goes to school, they are not at school. This decade of kleinish NAPLAN-based schooling seems to be determined to destroy the meaning of serious learning and the attractiveness of schooling – attractive in the sense that learners are drawn to a school because of the kinds of fair-dinkum learning there.
NAPLAN Testing Stress Disorder
“Respect children and their great NATURAL love for learning and the joy that true learning brings them while they are at school. Care about what they do at school. Things can happen.” [Judy M., the day after. 15/12/12.]