Education as the processing of oranges.

Treehorn Express:

Shared opinions soaked in knowledge & experience – all well tested.


Distinguished Guest Writer



Lorraine Wilson

Lorraine Wilson is a renowned Australian Literacy Educator  This powerful article was first published in ‘Practically Primary’, Vol.16, No 1, Feb 2011 and is printed here with the kind permission of the Australian Literacy Education Association..

It is a most useful and perceptive summary that highlights in columns 1 & 2, the differences between those educators who believe that schooling should be child-centred and individualised and those testucators who see a school as a standardised assembly-line manufactory. The article needs careful consideration by those who live on the edge of being either a compliant processor or one who cares deeply about child development..

There is no fence for them to sit on any more. This is an election year in Australia. Fence-sitting teachers, principals and parents have to make up their minds. Kids don’t get a vote.

The third column compares the beliefs and activities sponsored by the 2nd column’s testucators with the way that process workers deal with inanimate objects.

This table is such a succinct, well-organised arrangement that it deserves to be displayed on the walls of schools, even super-markets, and provided to parents of all school children in some fashion or other. The allegory applies to any system’s fascination with Standardised Blanket Testing.

[Australia’s Blue-ribbon GERM virus, called NAPLAN, the world’s most intellectually destructive force, is referenced in the testucators’ column 2, sections 5 & 6.]

Education as child/centred, individualised.

Education as standardised, mass produced

The processing of oranges

Each child is different, thus children’s learning pathways differ. There is no one path to education.

Education is differentiated, starting from each individual child.

Education is a standardised product. Education starts from a standardised program. All students proceed along one linear, standardised path.

Oranges from different orange groves, pass along the one conveyor belt. All traverse the same path.

Education is child and community centred and is relevant, purposeful and ongoing for life.

Education is inquiry with learners asking questions and solving problems of relevance to them, and their lives.

Education is a standardised product to be given to all students, via the same teaching program.

Mass produced education is artificial, joyless, without purpose, and is of little relevance to student.

Orange processing is a standardised process, with different oranges experiencing the same process.

Mass produced oranges are artificial, tasteless, and non-organic.

Teachers plan for each child to learn and experience success. Evaluation is ongoing and varied. Evaluation informs what is taught.

Standardised tests are used to measure ‘learning’ of the standardised curriculum. Children and schools who do not pass, are labelled ‘failures.’

Conveyor belt process workers eliminate non-standard oranges. Along the conveyor belt small ones slip off, spotted ones, pale ones are tossed into waste buckets.

Teachers work as professionals, encouraged to plan professional development around their needs, and trusted to develop learning programs best suited to the needs of their particular students.

Teachers are deskilled, and have little discretion over what and how to teach. They are process workers, implementing programs developed by others, far removed from their actual students.

Smaller growers have no voice. They are powerless and cannot compete against large international growers. Their local grown products are not valued.

Schools value diversity; children of different cultures, classes and religions have much to learn from each other. Schools do not want less able students or ESL students, as they sully school test results which are published on ‘MySchool’ website, a government initiative, which allows comparisons of schools. It is easier for the process workers, (and cheaper for the plant operators) if the incoming oranges are the same species.
Each child is valued. Only some children meet the standard and are valued.The indigenous child has different view of 1778 – Fail!The child is hungry and can’t concentrate – Fail! Only some oranges pass the standard.This orange is bigger than others – discard!This orange has different skin colour- discard!


Local educators and local knowledge are valued. Local educators and local knowledge are ignored. Politicians and wealthy business people are the new education gurus. Overseas oranges are imported from large multi national companies.Local varieties are not valued and are ploughed into the ground.
Curricula and classrooms, vary from region to region. One national curriculum is developed for all children across the nation. Teachers and children conform. Supermarkets across the nation sell the same oranges.
Collegiality is valued over competition. Teachers work co –operatively developing curriculum suited to their students. They experience joy as they observe their students overcome difficulties and experience success. Successful’ teachers are offered financial rewards. Thus teaching becomes competitive; teachers no longer share ideas.Teachers of failing students are threatened and lose their jobs. ‘Failing schools’ are closed. Successful growers are those who conform and grow what the large multinational supermarkets order. With their profits they plant more trees. Smaller growers cannot compete. They fail and go out of business.
Education is to develop active, informed, inquiring citizens willing and able to work for, and to contribute to, their communities Education is to develop conforming, obedient workers, and to keep the masses unemployed and ignorant. Tasteless, non-nutritional curriculum squeezes the last drop of creative juice out of the children. Orange processing is designed to ensure a standardised, tasteless, non-nutritional product, which is mass produced by large multi national growers, and keeps local growers out of the market, thus keeping them poor and downtrodden.

References : Leland,C & Kasten,W. Literacy Education for the 21st Century: It’s Time to Close the Factory, in, Reading and Writing Quarterly,18:5-15, 2002. © Taylor & Franc

educationallybankrpteducationallybankrpteducationallybankrupt ducationallybankrupt 

The world is not fair. Testucators should be spending their days processing oranges or asking questions: ”Would you like fries with that?”  

neglecttreehornisbeingadpotedneglectedtreehornisbeingadoptedneglectedtreehrn isbeingadopted  

Let concerned adults make sure that NAPLAN eradication becomes a top election issue. Kids don’t get a vote.


Click: ‘Care for Kids’

Phil Cullen

February 3rd  2013


One thought on “Education as the processing of oranges.

  1. Pingback: Standardised testing lowers the quality of learning | recognitionlearning

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