Friends of Treehorn: Freedom to Learn.

Friends of Treehorn

Freedom to Learn

Take another good look at this clip, you gutless followers of Klein and his kind, you supporters of NAPLAN and its evil. You crazed testucators.

There is no place in modern society for the kind of abuse of children as revealed by the kind of treatment shown in this clip. Imagine if little seven-year-old Year 3s had been able to express their fear and distress, as the Year 9s were able to do!

Imagine how much better our schools would be if they had been allowed to develop their freedom to learn and if our teaching groups had not been so completely eichmannised during the 2008-2012 period.

Imagine how much better our schools would be if our news organisations were allowed to speak out – as Channel 9 did.

Listen again to Klein’s reasons for imposing this Standardised Blanket Testing [SBT] regime of the NAPLAN kind on unfortunate New York kids, you adherents to and distributors of NAPLAN’s dirty business….

  1. Teachers who cannot obtain decent scores on ridiculous tests are sacked. [This – from a bloke who can’t even describe schooling activities in school-speak terms. The hero of our ‘professional’ groups!]
  2. Children must be stressed and distressed because that is a part of living….according to Klein. It is intended! Child abuse is an integral part of the Klein-Gillard-Pyne NAPLAN notion of learning and it has lasted in Australia for five years .

Ye Gods. Australians believe in him! What have we done?


From “Bitter Schools” to “Better Schools”.

NAPLAN has to go if the ‘Better Schools’ program is to succeed. How can we get rid of it and get on track?

Take a look again at the 60Minutes program before the Murdoch zone of media silence is re-installed. Look at those wonderful Aussie teachers featured in the program, who are prepared to speak out in public. The numbers of fair dinkum Aussie educators prepared to say their piece, is growing. They need more of their child-concerned friends from professional and industrial organisations to join them and rescind any support for NAPLAN. God bless the ladies who appeared.

NAPLAN must be banned entirely. It can be eliminated by the end of this year. Dismiss the bulldust that ‘it is useful and can be modified’. You know that that is the coward’s way out and that it would continue to inhibit proper learning….and that such inanities will NOT remove the kind of abuse illustrated by 60Minutes.

If the Australian Primary Principals’ Association [APPA] and/or the Australian Secondary Principals’ Association [ASPA] or any other large body conferenced on ‘The Morality of Standardised Blanket Testing’ or ‘The Rights of Children at School’ or ‘Blanket Testing and Professional Ethics’, and conducted such a conference in a spirit of independent professionalism [i.e. No Murdochters from ACARA, ACER or his political reps from the Wehrmacht. ] the complete banning would be a ‘lay-down misere’. Put simply, there is no need for NAPLAN to exist. True professional teachers know this.

While the complete banning of the dirty [Yes] testing program would be the normal outcome under normal democratic circumstances, we cannot expect that sort of thing for some time.

Coercive political lawyer control of schooling with big-time corporate support is too pervasive at this time.

  1. The APPA and ASPA could declare that they can no longer support NAPLAN on professional grounds. Teachers are expected to impose levels of stress beyond the normal on young children aged 7 – 15 years of age; and principals are expected to create the circumstances.
  2. The Australian Education Union [AEU] could declare that it can no longer support the forms of child abuse attached to NAPLAN. Its members are too tolerant and have been Gonski-diverted.
  3. The Association of State School Parents Association [ASSPA] could also declare that they do not support the kind of child abuse inflicted on our children by NAPLAN testing nor will they tolerate the mandated, forced, deliberately hidden nature of NAPLAN.
  4. There is a likelihood that some children will suffer permanent mental damage from the kind of preparation that NAPLAN tests demand and from the rituals of its administration. It can be expected that some parents will test the probable breach of the Rights of the Child as declared by UNESCO; and the use of wilful blindness [legal] techniques to hide such rights from public scrutiny

If any of these circumstances occur, the abuse of our children’s mental health AND the abuse of the teaching profession’s ethical base will cease. Let’s make it ASAP.

 The Good News:

Australian teachers have started to reclaim the moral, ethical backbone of the profession’s ethics. Once the greatest of the caring professions, it had, temporarily, lost its way. We will regain our pride.

Phil Cullen, [No.83], 41 Cominan Avenue, Banora Point 2486 07 5524 6443

Educational Readings September 6th

By Allan Alach

I’m off to England this weekend and so will be taking a break from the world for the next month. This week’s list is longer than usual, to keep you busy until I return.

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

 This week’s homework!

Diversity or conformity?

Another article by Steve Wheeler:

‘We live in a diverse world. We are all unique individuals. Each of us has his or her own specific abilities and talents, preferences, desires and aspirations. These should be nurtured and encouraged, especially during our formative years. And yet many schools are based on the Fordist principles of conformity and massification. State funded education, said Nietzsche, is often mediocre for the same reasons that cooking in large kitchens is poor. Even with the best teachers and the highest aspirations, state funded education is still about lack of attention to detail, and a push to serve up a ‘one size fits all’ education. Children are required to perform according to the expectations of the school system, teachers, parents, society. It doesn’t start with the mind.’

Education Is a System of Indoctrination of the Young

Noam Chomsky kicking a few sacred cows.

 Debunking the Genius Myth

“You would never put a child into the driver’s seat of a car, with no license and no drivers’ ed, and expect him to be able to cruise down the highway successfully, with no fear or hesitation,” said O’Brien. “And yet kids are sent to school with no manual on how to use their brains. Not what to learn but how to learn. The result is that everyone spends their days in school guessing what might be the best approach, the most effective technique…and the questioning about the how takes a lot of time and attention away from what needs to be learned.”

Being Different, Disruptive and Deviant! (via Bruce Hammonds)

A look at how students who are labelled as disruptive, rebellious etc (the ones who suffer the most from GERM) can go on to change the world.

‘By being rebellious, “disruptive” and “deviant” many of them changed both their game and ultimately, the world! They did this by thinking what no-one else was thinking and doing what no-one else was doing, by taking conventions and turning them on their head, by making the ordinary unexpected.’

 Separating neuromyths from science in education

More sacred cow kicking…

‘….historically, claims linked to neuroscience have often turned out to be backed by scant evidence.’

What We Know Now (and How It Doesn’t Matter)

‘Well into the second decade of the twenty-first century, then, education reform continues a failed tradition of honoring messaging over evidence. Neither the claims made about educational failures, nor the solutions for education reform policy today are supported by large bodies of compelling research.’


American Schools Are Failing Nonconformist Kids: In defense of the wild child.

‘As a consumer of education—both as a child and a parent—I’d never thought much about classroom management. The field sounds technical and dull, inside baseball for teachers. Scratch two inches below the surface, however, and it becomes fascinating, political philosophy writ small. Is individuality to be contained or nurtured? What relationship to authority do teachers seek to create?’

The right’s toxic back-to-school disaster

‘As students return this week, there will be teacher jobs cut and mass shootings unaddressed. Here’s the big problem.’

An article for all the USA readers, with lessons for other countries as well.

‘The creation of an underskilled, uneducated, anti-intellectual citizenry is a threat to our very existence, and we should not stand by and watch it happen.’

 The Mis-Education Of My Son

A warning story from USA about charter schools. Something for New Zealand and, Australian parents (post election) to look forward to.

The Only Thing You Need To Be A 21st Century Teacher (via Bruce Hammonds)

“If there was one and only one thing you needed to be the best 21st-century educator you could possibly be, what would you think that one thing is? It’s a ponderous question and it’s hard to narrow down the defining characteristic of what makes a teacher of the digital age most effective. Terry Heick challenges you to discover it for yourself in the following TeachThought article.”

We have lost so much in the past 50 years. We need to return leadership back to creative teachers. (via Bruce Hammonds).

In recent years the myth of the principal as the key to school transformation became persuasive and as result the principal’s status has gone up commensurably. Crowther questions this myth, believing that the reality has not lived up to the rhetoric. The so called ‘heroic leader’ may effect short term change but all too often this is a temporary transformation. It is ironic, believes Crowther that the image of the school principal as the centre of school reform has contributed to the lowering of the status of teachers.


‘It is time for creative teachers to take their rightful place at the centre stage of educational reform; they have been waiting in the wings long enough.’

Here are a couple of links forwarded to Phil Cullen by Mary MacKay, Amsterdam.

How Poverty Taxes the Brain

‘Researchers publishing some groundbreaking findings today in the journal Science have concluded that poverty imposes such a massive cognitive load on the poor that they have little bandwidth left over to do many of the things that might lift them out of poverty – like go to night school, or search for a new job, or even remember to pay bills on time.’

There are two implications for children living in poverty – first, their parents don’t have the energy to be fully involved in their upbringing, and second, the same cognitive loads will impact their own development and performance.

China Enters “Testing-free” Zone: The New Ten Commandments of Education Reform

How long before GERM becomes an endangered species?

Aussie Elections. Vote Murdoch

A vote for any of the major parties will ensure:
1. Kleinist [aka fear-based] schooling will continue.
2. Child-centred forms of learning will be disapproved by political leaders.
3. Hard-nosed didactic teaching  strategies will be enforced.
4. Judgements of teaching ability will be made by numbers.
5. Test scores will distinguish ‘good’ and ‘bad’ teachers, classes, schools, systems and countries
6. Direct Instruction techniques will not require any lengthy academic teacher preparation.
7. Use of unreliable, invalid and malleable tests such as NAPLAN and PISA will be extended.
8. Ethical principles of educational administration will continue to be overlooked.
9. Educational progress will continue to be expressed in money terms and test scores.
10. Private and charter schooling will grow and grow.

Sorry kids.

I value my franchise and don’t give my vote to those who ignore child welfare..

It’s informal for me.

Phil Cullen

Australia is in the Top League of All-rounders

Reposted from Save Our Schools Australia.

Monday September 2, 2013

The Labor Government’s Better Schools Plan aims to put Australian schools into the top 5 in the world by 2025. A new OECD report shows that Australia is already in the top 5 in one respect – producing high all-round results.

Australia is ranked equal fourth in the world in terms of the proportion of students who are top performers in reading, mathematics and science (all-rounders). It has 8.1 per cent of students at the top proficiency levels in all three subjects.

The Australian proportion is similar to Finland (8.5 per cent), Hong Kong (8.4 per cent) and Japan (8.4 per cent). Only Shanghai (14.6 per cent), Singapore (12.3 per cent) and New Zealand (9.9 per cent) have higher proportions. Across the OECD, only 4.1 per cent of students are all-rounders.

The results are from the OECD’s 2009 Programme for International Assessments (PISA) for 15 year-old students.

The new figures effectively rebut claims that high achieving students are being ignored by increased focus on lifting the results of low achieving students.

In Australia, 22 per cent of students are top performers in at least one of the subject areas of science, mathematics or reading compared with an average of 16 per cent across OECD countries. However, just because a student is a top performer in one subject does not necessarily mean that the student excels in all subjects. Switzerland, for example, has one of the highest shares of top performers in mathematics (24.1%), but only an average share of top performers in reading (8.1%) and science (10.7%).

The same is true for many Southeast Asian countries and economies, notably Hong Kong-China, Korea, Macao-China, Shanghai-China, Singapore and Taiwan, where the likelihood of finding top performers in mathematics is considerably higher than in reading or science.

It is notable that some countries with higher mean test scores than Australia have lower proportions of all-rounders. For example, Korea has significantly higher test scores in reading, mathematics and science than Australia but a lower proportion of high achieving all-rounders (7.2 per cent). Canada also has higher reading and mathematics scores than Australia and about the same in science but has a lower percentage of all-rounders (6.8 per cent) than Australia.

Australia also does well in comparison with other high achieving countries. Australia has a similar proportion of all-rounders as Finland, Hong-Kong and Japan even though their mean reading, mathematics and science scores are significantly higher than Australia’s.

The OECD figures show that all-round success is relatively rare. Australia’s school system is one of very few that is capable of producing top performing students in all subjects. Australia’s high all-round ranking is indicative of a system that is giving strong support to high achieving students. To suggest otherwise, as some do, is to belie the facts.

Trevor Cobbold

How Wrong Can One Be?


Treehorn Express

How Wrong Can One Be?

It’s election day in Australia next Saturday and I have long anticipated that the topic ‘NAPLAN’ would be on everyone’s lips during this week and that everybody would be talking about its effects on the cognitive development of our school children and the economic future of this country. Each political party would then have ‘Ban NAPLAN” as its prime policy. I was hoping that NAPLAN would be, far and away, the main issue of the election.

I was so wrong. I came to appreciate how powerful is Florence Parry Heide’s message, in The Shrinking of Treehorn. Adults just don’t give two hoots about children of schools age, as young Treehorn so ably demonstrated. I thought that ordinary Australians would be especially rebellious when politicians started fiddling with and forcing teachers to apply inappropriate ways of dealing with children’s mental health and their ways of learning; and that some crazy Yank-happy people had cloned a failing New York system to do it. I just could not see NAPLAN lasting very long.

I was so very wrong.


 I knew that any effort would be ‘pushing it up hill’ since NAPLAN’s scandalous introduction in 2008; but I was pretty confident that the ethics of Australia’s leading education bodies would quickly remediate the extraordinary mistake made by their quick blessing of such a fear-based system of schooling [I hereby acknowledge the outstanding ‘persuasive’ techniques of Julia Gillard] even though the scheme was antipathetic to the successful achievement-based learning theories, known to every teacher.

Having been active with associations such as Primary Principals, Educational Leadership and general education under banners known as APPA, ACEL and ACE, I could not see NAPLAN lasting more that a year at most. I had been so impressed, during my career, by the moral integrity of each these associations during previous skirmishes of a political nature [SEMP, M:ACOS, Standards, MCT amongst them] I was surethat NAPLAN would have a life of about the same time-frame as the MCT movement. When their approval of NAPLAN testing portrayed them as complicit ‘Noddies’ standing approvingly behind an arrogant and contemptuous politician, the vision was quite shattering.

I misjudged things badly. Wrong again.


 When serious tertiary studies revealed that over 80% of teachers showed that they disliked NAPLAN and did not believe that it would work, one expected that their unions and organisations would raise the standard and even march on parliament houses to tell the uncaring pollies that ‘enough was enough’. The message went through to the keeper.

I was so completely wrong again.


 Then, when schools started to rely on constant pavlovian-style practice of small-time, albeit essential, maths and literacy items by dumping worthy aspects of the curriculum, I was pretty sure that subject associations, academics and teachers would tear ACARA apart, as would State Ministers of Educations who used to get pretty jumpy when artistic aspects of the curriculum were fiddled with. It almost seemed as if our state ministers became very lily-livered when the federal master-mind ministers wanted her or his own way.

Disappointing ….and disgusting. Nothing happened. I erred.


 The intensity of opposition to Standardised Blanket Testing by the world’s leading educationists [Brady, Robinson, Yong Zhao, Ravitch, Wu, Sahlberg, Goodlad, Glass, Hargreaves…the list could be so long that it would be easier to look for a school-educationist who supports the use of standardised blanket tests for school improvement purposes. [“If there is one out there, would you please stand up!”] has been so appropriate and honest, I could not envision any true-blue schoolie ignoring it.

The wave-length that these real educators share is based on sound learning theory and practice, not on measurement tactics. Marion Brady, in his most recent comment in the Washington Post expresses the feeling: “It should be self-evident that a democracy can’t function without an educated citizenry. It follows, then, that when leaders of business and industry buy a particular theory about educating and sell it to politicians who write education policy, responsible citizens will try to make informed judgements about it.

The key word that drives the present corporate-influenced education reform movement is “rigor”. Its supporters assume that teachers and kids have been getting off easy for decades, so a tough “no excuses” regimen is long overdue.” [See his quiz below]

Measurers would of course support testing in schools. They should have no place in decisions affecting school learning. Their role, in a schooling context, is to be on tap, never on top. What did Australia do?

[Why are we so afraid of Mr. Murdoch, owner of the $US700billion [Yes] firm producing the material and equipment, who is the main beneficiary of large heaps of money from various testing procedures everywhere; and is the de facto controller of Australian schools…..or…..have I got that wrong too?]


 Finally, I have not heard nor read the word ‘NAPLAN’ mentioned in any election material by any person for the last month or so. I thought that ‘BAN NAPLAN’ deserved to be splattered over each candidate’s poster. I thought that it would have been installed as of far greater importance than boat people, CSG, or paid maternity leave. No. Wrong, wrong, wrong.

The Treehorn Syndrome is just too overcoming. Adults just don’t care about kids.

Sorry kids. It’s so true.

Phil Cullen Sub_83


Read Marion Brady’s quiz: