A GREAT TITLE – The Killing Season

Pupil Treehorn:           Why can’t we kids have a test-free, pupil-centred, achievement-oriented, holistic-learning-based-curriculum?  Why? Why?

Klein testucators:     Why can’t we have a profit-based, stress-laden, teacher-squirming, unreliable test program.  That’s what we have. We can’t change it.

Treehorn:                    Why can’t you replace tension with challenge, fear with encouragement, ritual with creativity, teacher-bashing with professionalism, subject-hate    with love-of-learning, time-wasting-tests with shared-evaluation ?

Testucator:                 Simply : We don’t know HOW. We’ve lost it.

Essential Viewing:       https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dPs46yOcwP0&feature=share&app=desktop 

Aussie Friends of Treehorn

Treehorn is the hero of a children’s book called The Shrinking of Treehorn by Florence Parry Heidi. It’s about a small boy with enormous problems, who remained totally ignored by all adults, including his parents, teachers and principal during an important period in his life. Like all young school pupils, he came to learn that adults don’t take much notice of school kids, no matter how dire the circumstances. Children are left on their own to survive, despite the stress that  some very cruel adults impose on them – like the operators and users of NAPLAN the Wombat tests. The Shrinking of Treehorn is a powerful story with a morally-stunning conclusion.

A GREAT TITLE – The Killing Season

When they were joined at the hip, he said unto her, who was Minister for Education . “Go forth and find a scheme whereby we will straighten out those state schools  whom our ultracrepidarian masters tell us need a shake up.”  Fond of using long words, he added, “If the plebs don’t like it, let them send their brats to another school, until they find one that suits them.” Preferably private.

She found a u-beaut scheme in a few minutes – at a cocktail party in New York – and the rest is history.

Realising that serious educators in Australia would not be too keen to treat Aussie children and teachers in the same callous  way that they were being treated in New York, the home of Australia’s emperor, he who must be obeyed by all neo-con political parties [that’s Labor and Liberal down under] , our rookie political schemer had to devise a schooling system that he liked and that suited his purpose…..and hers.

It was a piece of cake.

First trick was to arrange for the Chancellor Klein, the sweet-talking maestro himself, to visit down-under to talk to those who know all that is needed to be known about schooling – the banking fraternity, who paid his way, and their fellow corporate geniuses. He did the job well within a few days; and Kleinism,  described in his home-town as ‘fear-based schooling’, was here to stay.

Schoolies, who traditionally care for kids as learners, would present a problem.  Knowing that they are usually nice, compliant, easily bent towards any kind of change they were an easy push-over after a work-shop or two of  specially chosen participants and forming a governemtent sponsored association that would do as it was told…a masterly manouvre.

Next was to appoint a special-services unit that would control the introduction of a BST [Blanket Standardised Testing] industry that would be able to hoodwink the population into believing that fear-based testing is the only method of promoting learning and achievement under the guise of better scoring on a one-size-fits-all annual testing basis.  Australia has always had a surplus of measurement gurus with international reputations who have always had more than their share of influence over state departments over the years; so the formation of ACARA  to eventually take-over Australian schooling took little time to establish.

What about the control over parents?  ‘Seasy.  Let’s not tell them. Let them believe that testing is good for kids, that NAPLAN is a regular part of school routine, that they do not have a choice. Order school principals not to mention it and to demand parental compliance. What do you think Australia is? A democracy?

Transparency ? What’s that?

Well you may ask if the effects on children’s social and emotional development was discussed during the pre-NAPLAN era….or even during?   Did the know-it-alls and their henchmen give any consideration to increases in other aspects of child development – cheating, bullying, drug-taking, stress-related illnesses, cognitive disinterest, dislike of schools and of important school subjects – known associates of examination fever?  Well? Did they?

Well may you ask if the effects on the general curriculum, on the time spent in schools on ‘test prep’ [as the Yanks call it], on the natural holistic aspects of learning, on the probable use by private schools of the test results for enrolment purposes or any other shameful effects on children’s cognitive development were dealt with early in the piece. Well?

It was killing time. Who cares about kids?   Who cares about their parents?

The season remains open. Kill kid’s enthusiasm!



Phil Cullen  41 Cominan Avenue  Banora Point  Australia 2486  07 5524 6443   cphilcullen@bigpond.com

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