The Treehorn Express
(Unable to be read in schools in Queensland, Australia)
Born in 2014
Children born this year will be my age at the end of this century*. I do hope that their teachers and principals [the real classroom curriculators] understand what will be going on in the years up to 3000 [and up to 2020, 2030, 2040….], so that we can help the children in a better way than we do now, during the schooling part of their preparation for the unknown. If teachers don’t understand how to prepare for the unknown, Australia and the rest of the world have a super-problem. School-and-child-oriented folk in authority will have think very seriously, very soon, about better ways to handle schooling….if the concept of schooling lasts much longer. The time to think is NOW – for serious reasons.
If, anyone in the general teaching fraternity in 2014 believes that politically controlled standardised blanket testing is, in any way, appropriate for the school children of the remainder of the 2000s, they should quit right now. Get out of the way. A test-based attitude is a serious menace to society.
If the future is unknown, shouldn’t we think about what we teach and how we do it? Isn’t this an important issue? Should Australian schools persist in teaching NAPLAN first and then other things from a left-over centrally-controlled, categorised curriculum list OR should we teach Learnacy wrapped around the things that the local and larger society require? Think about your own schooling.
I wish that I had been pupilled in Learnacy…how to handle learning. It’s an essential for all circumstances, for every bit of living….right through to old age….like 86.
I went to school to pass exams. There was no other purpose. The exams were paper and pencil type. If I didn’t write down what my teachers required of me on a piece of paper on one particular day of the year, I would not get a proper job. That was what life was about. I had to learn what to write down.
Things have changed. Children now go to school to learn how to tick the right bubble.
I had to learn things that I didn’t want to learn about; and some teachers were not too good at persuading me to show any enthusiasm; and their persuaders stung.
Things have changed. It’s more difficult to create the fear of failing; but caning the intellect instead of the hands creates more stress.
I had to pass exams in a limited number of subjects, whose relevance I did not understand.
Things have changed. Only NAPLAN in Australia; NCLB in the USA; ‘National Standards’ in NZ and UK are relevant…..says Gestapo head quarters.
Has anything else changed much in the world of learning? Don’t we still indulge in the hardening of the categories, as Weingartner called it….the way in which we compartmentalise knowledge. Art is not maths, and history is not music and language is not history; and maths and literature are important and art and music are unimportant? Years and years of Latin used to be important because everybody at ‘good’ schools should prepare for an Arts degree at a university in accord with some crazed linguist who had persuaded the intellectual body politic that Latin was an essential requirement for all human beings.
I hated it. Also, because I couldn’t see the intelligence behind crippling beautiful English sentences with Parsing and Complex Analysis, I hated Grammar and suffered great stress for the first hour after lunch every day. It was hell. Because I went to a non-state school, I did have not much experience with Art or Music [Choir, yes] or Dance or those categories that did not matter much at exam time. I know. The school’s reputation depended on the number of exam successes, not on how it taught children..
Aren’t you mystified by the way we organise schooling?
Sir Ken Robinson asks educators if they know what the world will look like in five years time. Listen to him for a few minutes.
Postman & Weingartner suggested, many years ago, that people at school should be issued with ‘crap detectors’. I hope that they are handed out at the door of all ‘conversations’ and Accord meetings, fast becoming the new way of entrenching the embedded.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch….
*I have a g-grandchild to be born this year. I am truly concerned that, in five or more years’ time, the poor little bugger might go to a school that still ‘runs’ NAPLAN. I appreciate that the local neighbourhood school, the best kind of school, might still be forced by the government to use this learning-destructive device. It’s scary to think that what NAPLAN does to young children and the collateral damage that it does to every pupil at a school, will affect one of mine. Since private schools copy state schools, there’s nowhere to go. I’ll recommend home-learning if the malady is still around.