Teacher Proofing

 FELLOW EDUCATORS : Please send this along to people in schools as extensively as you can. Those who already do…..thanks from Treehorn and the other kids.

The Treehorn Express

[Not available by email from Treehorn Central to schools in Queensland, Australia]

Teacher Proofing

USA has a penchant for branding and packaging things as neatly as possible.  As far as schooling is concerned,  a canny money-hungry educator can extract bits from the regular school curriculum, invent a catchy vogue-word to describe what-ever-it-is that needs attention,  then wrap the contents up and peddle it to the gullible. Bingo! Legs 11 ! Holidays at Waikiki.  If it cannot be wrapped up, it is branded and sold in bulk…. as ‘Models’….. by sweet-talking peddlers at conferences and seminars;…. and cocktail parties..

This comes as little surprise when it is a fact of life that schooling in America is owned and dominated by well-heeled corporate plutocrats., whose political influence in the other three English-speaking GERM countries is becoming as extensive as it is in the old US of A. The teacher-proofing edubusiness is big time and is exercised in many forms. Its enormity and  influence is far, far more extensive than the ordinary Michael Dundee Aussie would believe.

Sage educators in the UK and in NZ don’t usually do this. Despite the heavy hand of neoconservatism that all countries share, they have always tended to treat  teaching as a noble profession that actually pupils [aka teaches]children according to each child’s frame of reference. The child is the package. The teacher’s role in the act of teaching and evaluating and moving ahead is total. Unsubstantiated, untested, unprofessional, gimmicky quackery stops at the classroom door of their lively learning centres, where the child is treated as the centre of the universe and its performance is judged by its interest in learning. Diagnosis and evaluation is part of each activity. A school’s  reputation is based on the way it treats children. If parents want to know about the best school around, they go to a reliable source…..the shopping centre…get the real deal……certainly not to unreliable, crooked test results, used by the unwitty for comparative purposes..

Of the four English-speaking, politically-controlled education systems – the GERM countries – Australia religiously follows what the USA does; no matter what… blindly as a rule. It’s all  high stakes data-laden emotion-free performance-testing stuff which Americans love. Aussie unemotional, couldn’t-care-less, morally corrupt testucators now use it without second thought. Bugger the feelings of kids. Obediently, we followed the ‘Kleinist Model’ holus-bolus, called it NAPLAN, and continue to maintain its demonic philosophies with the sternest controls possible…. Iraq-like.

How many of us teachers have tried and become enthused – for a while – by some such package, only to find that the package takes over the teaching?  Precious school time is devoted to completion times and corrections while our own professional judgement and modes of evaluating take a back seat? In ancient times, I was an SRA structured reading and IMP specialist. Mea culpa. I hope such indiscretions are forgivable.

How often have we been seduced by brand names for special movements and innovations; and have crossed swords with colleagues until things settled down and the next craze came along? We have discoursed about….  open and traditional…. phonics and whole-word….new maths and maths…persuasive and traditional…..child-centred and subject centred….composite and multi-aged….charter and mainstream…..education and testucation….child-based and didactic….?

There is a new list on the way from up-above…..data-driven instruction,  blended learning, differential learning, closing the achievement and talent gap, student-centric instruction, yap, yap. Makes one ever wonder what ever  happened to classroom teaching as a descriptor?

In America it is said:  Schools nationwide continue to adopt student-centric instructional models that use data to empower teachers and engage learners. Data-driven instruction has moved beyond the education-buzzword sphere to educators’ daily lexicon.”  So, Kleinism aka Naplanism is now permanently embedded in many of that nation’s schools…..more so in ours. The article continues : In this ASCD Smartbrief Special Report, we provide a round-up of news about recent trends in data-driven instruction, blended learning and stories about how some schools are preparing the next generation of data scientists.”  Getting everybody ready to be rocket scientists! Thinkers and learners?

Read this? ……some schools in Utah have lengthened the school day from six-and-a-half hours to eight to cope with data collection and marking. There is a national lobby for longer school hours.  “The National Center on Time & Learning (NCTL) is dedicated to expanding learning time to improve student achievement and enable a well-rounded education. Through research, public policy and technical assistance, we support national, state and local initiatives that add significantly more school time for academic and enrichment opportunities to help children meet the demands of the 21st century.”  [Using didactic instruction for eight hours per day shouldn’t be very exhausting, compared to three or four hours of serious teaching, should it? Good idea?]

Whatever happened to test-free composite-strategy teaching ?  [That’s a new vogue word that I just invented to keep up with the Yanks]

The sorts of initiatives that we have imported [e.g. charter schools]  and embedded in the data-laden environment of NAPLAN and its hellfire cobbers are a serious threat to our future. Such restrictions to serious school learning will continue (“The whippings will continue until morale increases” policyin Australia while we continue to adopt the American mind-set. Schools in Australia are not run by teachers any more, but by remote control.

Political control of national testing programs is the most successful method of isolating teachers from effective teaching known to mankind; and that kind of conditioning suits the package-deal spirit of teacher-proofing.

Coercion always induces low level acceptance of a profession as a profession, so the outcome is that better teachers are quitting;  neophytes with potential don’t last long; and better-quality applicants don’t want to join the profession because of our leaders’ grossly unprofessional attitude to children and their teachers.  Make no mistake. This is a critical issue.

The Desert News of Salt Lake City makes this point following an America of the future conference: “The level of despondency within the profession is too high for our future to be safe. A fairly dispiriting conversation, to be sure, but the response to the host’s penultimate question left me feeling downright sad at first, and, then, upon reflection, a bit confused. Replying to the query ‘Do you think the quality of teaching will decline in the years to come?’ each panellist explained her sense that the profession and, thus, the state of education were in decline. To paraphrase the veteran teacher of the group, ‘I’ve encountered many great teachers in my years in the profession, but it’s getting harder and harder for these folks to hold on. At the same time, it’s getting more difficult to attract new people into teaching.’ Listening to that assessment about a core element —the core element?— of our public education system, how can you not become despondent?” 

With the teacher-proofing of Australian schools based on the American MODEL, how can we not feel even more  despondent down under?  Let’s bring the child back into the equation, get rid of the rubbish and start TEACHING.  {PLEASE NOTE. Those teachers who fly in the face of the coercion and teach without reliance on data…..please hang in there. The kids need you.}

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If you wish to receive The Treehorn Express direct, please contact me.

cphilcullen@bigpond.com

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Phil Cullen {…..kids and their teachers first}  41 Cominan Avenue  Banora Point 2486 Australia    07 5524 6443    0407865999    cphilcullen@bigpond.com
http://primaryschooling.net/                                http://kelleyandcullen.net/          http://qldpriaryprincipals.wordpress.com

“Good morning, class.                                                                I was good at everything. Honest. Everything

Today I will prepare you for the future.                                 Until I started being here with you.

Listen carefully                                                                           I was good at

And do not interrupt!                                                                   Laughing

Are there any questions?                                                             Playing dead

None?                                                                                        Being

Good.”                                                                                        Yeah. I was good at everything

 But, now I’m only good at everything

On Saturdays and Sundays”

“The Geranium on the Window Sill Just Died, But Teacher, You Went Right On” : Albert Cullum

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