Treehorn Express:

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


Short Comments re. Prep.Grades’

NAPLAN Preparation

Children. When you pray, make sure that you thank your God for those folk who stick-up for you with the simplest of gestures and the shortest of comments to let other adults know that they are on your side. In some cases, they take a risk, especially if they are employed by one of the present heavy-handed state governments, itself bribed into submission by the federal government.  Your teachers live in one of the craziest periods of schooling history. Pray for them. One of them, upon learning that Queensland was introducing a NAPLAN form of scaling your ‘school-work’ in the first semester of Preparatory schooling had this to say. He didn’t have to do so. His heart was heavy with concern for Queensland children and he said so. Then he was confronted by a school episode in Victoria which he went on to describe…..

1. Kevin Pope, Principal of Meadow Heights Primary School in Victoria added : “The NAPLAN box arrived today.

The kids have only been back at school for four days. The stress and wasted time will start in thousands of schools from tomorrow.

The talk at Principals’ meetings will be about ‘how are we going to maximise their school’s NAPLAN scores.

The talk in staff-rooms will be focussed on getting through this useless and useless exercise and surviving it AGAIN!

And what about our pupils ? Why should we put them through this again for what purpose???

Principals right across the country should leave this pointless test in the box or return it to the sender with the words:

We don’t have time for this. We want to teach.

It’s not worth opening at our school.

We know all we need to know about our learners.

Our pupils deserve better.

Please do not send it to us any more. We don’t want it !!! “


2. Patricia Buoncristiani from  also felt for unfortunate young Queenslanders.

“ I can only offer what is becoming a more and more frequent response to what I read is happening in education’ –

aaaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrrrrrhhhhhhhhhhhh “

Well said, Pat. Could be the title of a song that the kids would sing on May 14, 15, 16.

Only 90 school days to go, Kids. Don’t forget the catch cry. “Top 5 by 25. We’re on target! aaaaarrrrrrrhhhhhhhh

Idea. Any creative child-oriented person out there can insert words about NAPLAN to ‘Care for Kids’


Let concerned adults make sure that NAPLAN eradication becomes a top election issue.

Kids don’t get a vote.

Phil Cullen

February 8th  2013


Treehorn Express:

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



A Story

Queensland testucators believe in ‘the sooner the better’ maxim to get children used to fear-based learning in preparation for the Standardised Blanket Testing. called NAPLAN. They really don’t like little kids nor the idea of their liking learning. Kids MUST be testucated asap and get used to a world of nastiness. Love has no place in it all.

A Sunday Mail article of 3 Feb,,2013 described the negotiations between two teacher organisations and the Q’ld Government, with the allocation of judgements made about Preparatory Grade children’s learnings. Apparently the Government wanted the branding systems to be of the A,B,C, variety but it gave way to a weird and wonderful categorisation list instead.

The article said: “Under a compromise agreement to spare children’s feelings the students [?] will be marked as Applying, Making Connections, Working With, Exploring or Becoming Aware instead of the usual A to E.” [The emphasis and query are mine]

I just could not believe what I was reading, and emailed a short letter to the Courier Mail on the same day, using the newspaper’s set routines. I sent it in time for Monday’s edition.

I wrote  “I can’t believe it. The Sunday Mail tells us that children in their first few months of schooling will be categorised in human learning activities according to a soft scale that disguises the use of numbers or of letters of the alphabet. No matter what is used, it is still categorisation, and children know what it means. They know that they have been officially branded according to a scale. They will live up to the scale with little regard for the kind of descriptors. Too many will sense failure before they have a chance.

Testucators in their NAPLAN preparations have gone too far. Confronting fear-based NAPLANism in Year 3 is bad enough. The poor young children who are just coming to terms with organised learning and loving the challenges of their first few months of schooling, will have a brand recorded on official lists. I don’t believe it

Teacher organisations compromised on this latest assault on children’s love for learning, which will seriously damage their zest for personal achievement.’

I just don’t believe it.’

[Phil Cullen, Banora Point]

It was not printed on Monday.

It was not printed on Tuesday.

Not unusual for the Courier Mail. On Tuesday, howeve, it did print the following letter.

‘The Queensland Teachers’ Union says the new A-B scale could inappropriately label students – give me a break.

Life is about realising your strength and improving short-falls. The only way you realise either is when they are communicated to you in a clear and easy to understand, way

Disappointment is something we all need to do with. Kids need to understand that there will always be someone faster, better, brighten and slower.

The football team has a captain, the workplace has a manager, and those positions are based on merit. It’s time we started teaching that you get out what you put in.’

[Amanda Pinna, Callamvale]

And Rupert Murdoch’s statue at Bowen Hills received some extra polish.


You, my dear teacher,

you who tell me my thoughts are wrong,

you who are so neat and strong ,

you so strict and proper and lukewarm

you who tell me that I can’t and that I shouldn’t!

You, you –

who are you?

[“The Geranium of the Window-sill just Died but Teacher you went right on “– Albert Cullum]


Let concerned adults make sure that NAPLAN eradication becomes a top election issue.

Kids don’t get a vote.

Phil Cullen

February 6th  2013

What Naplan Does

Treehorn Express:

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



A briefing for concerned parents

NAPLANISM is based on a belief that learning is best in school classrooms where the following conditions prevail :-

  • Testing exercises control all Years 3,5,7,9 learning efforts.
  • Fear is regarded as the best motivator for improving achievements in basic learnings.
  • The school’s daily time table is manipulated to spend as much classroom time as possible on NAPLAN preparation.
  • No serious learning time is made available for children not taking the test
  • Cheating through constant test-taking practices is approved.
  • Slight adjustments to strict test routines or acts of human compassion by test supervisors towards stressed children at test-time is verboten and officially declared as ‘cheating’.
  • Children must be denied access to essential creative elements of their cognitive development during preparation period prior to May.
  • Established professional ethics of the teaching profession and of school leadership have to be suspended during the NAPLAN period.
  • Normal teacher compliance and willingness to obey authorities without question has to be exploited by line managers. Classroom teachers are nice people. Use them.
  • Teachers, principals, all school personnel and P&C members are forbidden to discuss any crippling effects of NAPLAN, anywhere, anytime.
  • Testimony from outstanding educators, statisticians, academics and practitioners must be hidden, silenced or ignored.
  • No choices are offered to parents for their children to participate in the tests or test preparation. No mention is allowed on enrolment forms or on websites or newsletters.
  • If scores aren’t high, teacher ability has to be denigrated in public. Some media representatives must suggest that certain teachers in certain schools can’t spell, numerate, ‘grammate’ or teach.
  • Pollie-speak using forked tongue, semantic manipulation and artful dodgery must pervade the electioneering landscape.


Listen carefully to the language of forthcoming elections…the semantic manipulations….

“OUTCOMES”: For politicians, some education journalists and testucators, this means ‘test results’. [e.g. C.Pyne (Alternative Federal Minister): “Certainly student outcomes have gone backwards during the past ten years .”] For teachers “outcomes” means ‘noticeable changes across the curriculum’; an inherent professional knowledge of how things are going. “Outcomes”, however, has become a pollie-talk colloquialism that is used when political candidates don’t know what they are talking about.

“REFORM”: The Gillard-view means ‘Forcing better test results on a testing program’ based on measureable bits of maths and grammar items; nothing to do with general school learnings’. The teacher-view reflects cheerful extra effort applied to positive innovations.

“PERFORMANCE”: Testucating politicians and their flunkies, call this: ‘Test results’; whereas teachers see performance as ‘a positive response to beneficial classroom activity’ ;

“IMPROVEMENT”: Some cretons use this word to describe ‘better results on SBTs’; whereas teachers and parents regard ‘improvement’ as ‘gains in general ability and cognitive growth’;

“FUNDING”: ‘We don’t know what we are doing, so we’ll bribe anybody to get on our side of politics.”

“TEACHER QUALITY”: Teachers who concentrate on test results are better than others who pupil the whole curriculum and strive for holistic improvement.

  • The list of the best and worst schools and school authorities must be printed and noted for derision and approbation.
  • No positive articles and news items regarding schools should be allowed in any branch of the media during the NAPLAN season….February to November.


“There are four main ‘wrong drivers’ of whole system reform that have effective matched alternatives. The pairs of alternaives are

  1. accountability: using test results and teacher appraisal to reward or punish teachers and schools vs capacity building;
  2. individual teacher and leadership quality; promoting individual vs group solutions;
  3. technology: investing in and assuming that the digital world will carry the day vs instruction; and
  4. fragmented strategies vs integrated or systemic strategies.

“Choosing the Wrong Drivers for Whole System Reforn.”


Paul Thomson, Principal of Kimberley College, Brisbane was interviewed on ABC Radio 612 this morning by Steve Austin. Listen to it if you can. It is highly recommended that you listen and add a comment.



Click: ‘Care for Kids’

Phil Cullen

February 5th  2013


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

Educational Readings February 2nd

Treehorn Express:

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


Educational Readings

By Allan Alach

One rather scary feature of GERM is the practice, regardless of country, of ignoring evidence, research, and the voices of experience that go contrary to ideology. One particular group, ignored most of all, are the senior statesmen and stateswomen of education who have both the knowledge and wisdom derived from life long experience to see what is being done to children in the name of increasing profits. Recently I became aware of yet another name, Tom Sobol, from New York State.

I believe that one of the unfortunate consequences of the standards movement as currently practiced is the reductionism in the mission, goals, and purposes of the school. Somehow we have accepted a narrow, ungenerous vision of what life and learning are about. In the standards movement, the purpose of the school is to prepare students for success in a global economy; the curriculum of the school is the skills and knowledge pertinent to the separate traditional academic disciplines, narrowly conceived; and the measure of the schools is high scores on the standardized tests that assess this achievement in ways most suited to individual and group accountability. Yes, we want kids to be competent. But we also want them to be just and wise. Sometimes in all this intensity I wonder what we are really teaching our children – or rather, what they are really learning.”

Check his website or track him down on Facebook.

I welcome suggested articles, so if you come across a gem, email it to me at

This week’s homework!

Academy schools: a flawed system that cannot be sustained

‘A report from the Academies Commission reveals a programme that is fundamentally flawed. The result will be to worsen inequities, significantly damaging education, argues Ron Glatter.’

More evidence that charter schools won’t work, not that this will make any difference to ideologically driven GERM minded politicians. Maybe its the hand pulling their strings that is the problem?

We Don’t Need No Education

Not Pink Floyd, sorry! Is education really the key to economic success? According to this article, no.  What does this mean for the rationale behind GERM?

Ken Robinson: 1) Creativity & the Imagination  2) Building a Culture of Innovation

These videos feature Sir Ken. Is any other comment needed?

Transform Education? Yes, We Must

An article by Sir Ken from 2009 – still very relevant. When he came to New Zealand in 2007, he had a long talk to a very interested minister of education ( Can you visualise that happening now? Ok stop laughing.

The Global Search for Education: What Is the Fourth Way?

‘The Fourth Way is a powerful new vision to bring about effective educational reform.’

“We need to establish platforms for teachers to initiate their own changes and make their own judgments on the frontline, to invest more in the change capacities of local districts and communities, and to pursue prudent rather than profligate approaches to testing.”

— Andy Hargreaves and Dennis Shirley

Maybe we care too much about the wrong things.

Australian educator Pat Buoncristiani’s reflections after presenting at the recent International Conference of Thinking on Wellington. Another worthwhile blogger to follow… and another expert for GERM minded governments to ignore!

Newman government open to for-profit schools

From Queensland: see what happens if you elect a right wing government – charter schools follow very quickly. Isn’t that amazing? I wonder why?


Let’s make sure that NAPLAN eradication becomes a top election issue.

Click: ‘Care for Kids’

Phil Cullen

February 2nd  2013