Humour in the face of the Horrible

Humour in the Face of the Horrible

The Horrible The English-speaking countries of the world have little-to-no interest in the social and intellectual health of school children. When large-scale, high-stakes issues arise in school systems, their publics prefer to condemn teaching practices, teachers and children’s social circumstances than to examine the full circumstances of an issue with professional integrity. Schooling is such a soft target.

Every decade or so, a ‘Standards’ Meme dominates activities throughout these English-speaking education authorities and is maintained by vested interests of some kind. The link between them is the common English language. The general hoity British public school culture prefers things that way. It’s only kids. Too many other things to worry about, old chap.

Things become quite horrible. Operating under Stockholm and Eichmann induced conditions, the school itself, in some instances becomes the enemy of positive schooling.

Those of us who lived through the last standards meme with its venomous effects and its consequences, can assure you that this one is much more dangerous for those English-speaking countries which are forced to tolerate this sort of controversy. Children’s freedom to learn and to achieve and finding ways of satisfying our country’s need for high-achieving lateral thinkers and doers is never high on the agenda of inter-generational conversation. Knowledge of spelling and tables becomes the main issue of the day. The meme turns into a low-level discourse and maintains itself on its own offal. Who cares about kids heading for an uncertain kind of future, full of inspiring challenges, in a country that just doesn’t care much about where it wants to go, despite programs like Australia’s recent “Challenge of Change – 2015 Intergenerational Report……. for ‘Adults Only’, of course. You can wager that the state of schooling will not get a jersey. Children are not part of anyone’s generational interest. Since this over-bearing 2008 Meme is politically operated, staked by some of the biggest businesses in the world, it does not look like disappearing for some time, even though the cries from the likes of Dr.Karl are very serious. The meme can only disappear when classroom teachers, parents of ‘ordinary’ social-class parents and the older pupils, all now used as pawns, say NO to testing. Then we can ask what we need for our present crop of kids to be “resourceful”.

It will take some time because, in Australian parlance, our now-established, anti-resourceful, unimaginative, pervasive Standards Meme, converted to NAPLAN, is a ‘corker’.

While Australia tries to produce automatic robots at the same naplannic level of mediocrity, Dr. Karl’s TV adverts of the moment, emphasise the crucial need for Australians to be more creative and innovative and diligent !!! Fat chance while NAPLAN exists. Indeed, NAPLAN’s depressing control of a creative, holistic curriculum will certainly make Australia more vulnerable to exploitation than it has ever been.

There is little doubt that the products of English-speaking ‘western’ schools of the world will be the poor ‘cotton-pickers’ of tomorrow’. Sorry Dr.Karl. I reckon you’d agree that we need to start at the beginning. We can’t. The mess is almost too vast for the youngest cohort. Its sterility is becoming entrenched. It requires the kind of resourcefulness that is in short supply.


In the meantime, humour helps people to maintain their spirits. It varies in kind. A former Australian primary school principal, whom many of us knew and whose war experience parallels that of the American hero in the movie “Unbroken”, was made to kneel during an incident at Hell-fire Pass while his guard punched him viciously in the back. It was his birthday and his colleagues, keeping time with the punches, sang “Happy birthday to you”. That’s morbid humour and there are other many kinds. Power humour helps those of us, who love children and are distressed by the sadness of what is happening to them, to cope.

Things are very sick at the moment and those who care about kids need some bright light. .

Power Humour The extraordinary talents of The Bad Ass Teachers’ Association provide support for the wounded school-based victims [classroom teachers and children] of corporate greed and political chicanery in an entertaining way. Who would ever have thought that schooling issues would ever need to use such tactics? Treehorn hopes to supply one or two laughs-a-day or a pithy illustrated comments for those in Australia who are enjoying a well-earned break at this time of the year. Here’s the first…..

[Thanks to BAT]

The Bad Ass Teachers’ Association is an association that is for every teacher
who refuses to accept assessments,tests and evaluations imposed by those
who have contempt for real teaching and learning.


Phil Cullen 41 Cominan Avenue Banora Point Australia 2486 07 5524 6443

One thought on “Humour in the face of the Horrible

  1. Pingback: Humour in the face of the Horrible | Education,...

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