Frequently Asked Questions

PLEASE: Send this to more and more schools AND to your local politicians, won’t you? For the kids’ sake.

The Treehorn Express

Frequently Asked Questions

Pretend that you are an Education Minister or shadow minister in one of Australian States or at the federal level; and that your colleague, Mr. Chris Hipkins, the child-oriented shadow minister for education in New Zealand, has ‘possessed’ your intellect. You respond as truthfully as he usually does to the sort of questions that Aussie ministers are likely to receive.

1. WHY DO YOU LIKE NAPLAN ? I don’t. I hate it. It bleeds the very soul out of children’s learning. It’s unfair to kids. It halts the development of their intellect and damages their mental health. What is there to like about it? We can’t pretend it’s useful in any way, can we?

2. DO YOU KNOW THAT WELL OVER 80% OF YOUR TEACHERS ALSO HATE IT? Yes. I do.

3. THEN WHY DO YOU PERSIST WITH IT? I’ve got no choice. Julia heard about it at a cocktail party in New York, then bank-rolled a visit of its inventor, arranged and paid for by the bankers and the top-end-of-town plutocrats; then she put it into action using a very expensive, large network of offices, eichmannised data collectors and officers…. It’s so enormous and costly, that it would be too embarrassing to unwind it. We daren’t reveal the cost. I’m told by my henchies that its cost is out of all proportion ….just to check out a few aspects of literacy and numeracy. Embarrassing, really. I’m stuck.

4. WOULDN’T YOUR CONSTITUENTS APPROVE OF SHIFTING THE MONEY TO SOME OTHER PART OF SCHOOL EXPENDITURE? Maybe. But then, we don’t tell them much about its effects on the kids in the classroom. We try not to talk abut it much; and you will notice that the media respects this idea. We try not to worry about it much; and, so, nobody else does Most parents think that NAPLAN testing is mandatory and that it is a ‘good thing’. They don’t care much about kids while they are at school, anyhow. We trade on that.

5. WHAT ABOUT THE DAMAGE TO THE KIDS? Nobody seems to care. Despite the research evidence about distress, vomiting, crying, sleeplessness, intellectual damage and the halt to cognitive development, not many adults care. Really. Think about it. We’d all prefer to pretend that frantic test preparation is much like the exam ‘swot’ in our day….toughens them up. Only happens for a few months each year.

6. YOU’RE KIDDING ?! Maybe. But….can you see what Rupert’s media outlets would do to us if we banned NAPLAN! Heck! Name one Australian politician with the moral integrity to stand up to him. Just one. Buggered if I am. The party room, where these sorts of things are decided, would tear me to pieces.

7. WHY DO YOU THINK SOME SCHOOLS AND PRINCIPALS APPROVE OF IT? If your school is in a ‘better-class’ suburb, the results enhance the school’s reputation. Some go along with those ‘upwardly mobiles’ who believe that a good score will give their child a better chance to enrol at a ‘better’ school. There are also some principals who would also receive HDs in ‘Skilled sycophancy’; distinguished by their brown noses.

8. WHAT DO YOU THINK IS A ‘BETTER’ SCHOOL? Without question, the neighbourhood state school that teaches an holistic curriculum and cares about the local community’s kids. Most state neighbourhood schools do better on the stupid tests, anyhow.

9. DO YOU MEAN A ‘CHARTER’ SCHOOL ? Doesn’t matter. Charter schools. Gates Schools. Pearson Schools. We call them Independent Public Schools. Don’t laugh. It was a really stupid idea. We’ll bring them back to the real world as soon as we can. They’re a real ‘no-no’.

10. SOME PRINCIPALS AND TEACHERS RECKON THAT NAPLAN HAS DIAGNOSTIC PROPERTIES. Yes. They do. Pull this one. Test in May and diagnose in September! Come off it. Serious evaluation is part of the process of teaching. It’s part of the process of developmental learning in all aspects of Learnacy itself. NAPLAN is only for gathering data….totally useless data, that’s for sure….but we are stuck with it for non-educative reasons. That’s all you need to know.

11. HOW DO YOU THINK WE CAN GET NAPLAN BANNED? Get on the side of kids and their classroom teachers. Talk about the effects of blanket testing on kids…loudly. Adults have to become extremely biased against any sort of injury or threat to child welfare during the learning process. BECOME EXTREMELY BIASED FOR THE SAKE OF KIDS. We need to ask teachers and principals, as much as we love them, how dare they treat our children the way that they do. We need to react quickly and loudly to the slightest assault on our kids’ welfare. We need to think very, very seriously of the consequences of high stakes testing on our wonderful kids’ cognition and emotions. The tension and stress affects them; damages kids for a lifetime. KIDS. KIDS. KIDS. Focus. Let’s play fair.

12. YOU”LL MAKE A GREAT MINISTER ONE DAY, WON’T YOU? Yes.

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Here’s to Goldie Hawn saying “School children need to be happier, productive and more optimistic. We need to shift the focus to the children and not just the tests. Children need to shake hands with their brains and develop their emotional literacy in classrooms that are joyful.”

_______________________________________________________________________________________
Phil Cullen […..on the side of kids] 41 Cominan Avenue Banora Point 2486 07 5524 6443 0407865999 cphilcullen@bigpond.com
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