Now there’s a real dilemma


Aussie Friends of Treehorn

encouraging adults to think sensitively, to care for kids, to make wise choices….with their hearts in gear, their pens active and their votes available .



Do schools operate for NAPLAN testing purposes or to teach young folk about learning?

Consider:  More and more parents are opting out of NAPLAN testing. While the number is seldom published it is said to be growing at an enormous rate.  It should not be long before at least half of the school parent population does not want their children to be bullied by a pencil in such a dangerous fashion. as they are now.  You’d know that a learning lock-down starts for Years 2,4,6,8 at about this time of the year, getting things ready to practise tricks for next May’s tests. You’d know, but not take much notice, that, as a rule, the school stops operating almost completely for at least three days in May every year for the tests, and for a lengthy period beforehand.  A learning malaise settles over the whole school at the time..

It’s no wonder that so many parents want their children to be free from the NAPLAN style of fear-based miseducation which can causes deep depression, anti-learning, anti-school attitudes.  Stress and depression have reached really dramatic limits amongst school kids everywhere over the past decade.  Twenge of San Diego University maintains that the large  generational increases in anxiety and depression amongst young folk are related to the school  systems’ changes from “intrinsic” to “extrinsic” programs….. from personally guided and meaningful learning to the materialistic and test-based high-stakes type.  The rise in suicidal depression has been parallel to the growth of the world-wide GERM meme that started its spread around the world from New York in 2001.

Australian learners and learning have been neglected for a lot more than three days per year over the past seven years. The kind of learning that promotes permanent personal  intrinsic achievement and cognitive happiness is down-played by politicians, measurers and bureaucratic extrinsically-motivated sciolists, because they know not what it is and what to do.  Master research Professor Masters of ACER said last week : “I don’t think we can keep doing what we have been doing and expect to see a big improvement in literacy and numeracy.”  I’m sure of it, young man.  Treehorn told us that seven long years ago.

Feedback from the test, under existing circumstances – that is, with only some of the potential candidates undertaking the test –  renders the whole caboodle invalid and unreliable for heuristic purposes.  In other words : useless on all fronts.   And, NAPLAN operations are too distant from reality to be diagnostic, as some pretend them to be. On-line might speed results up but has its own demons.  In other words:  it’s all a great big dumb waste of time. Can such a measuring instrument become more useless than useless?  Under the kind of leadership now controlling Australian schooling, things will not change just yet. Politicians and their testucators still seem to think that  hard-data blanket testing has some merit…… weird as that might be under the circumstances.

Pupils will soon have to be  given back their learning time and their learning space, both of which are wasted during the prep-period and the three-day testing period.  NAPLAN is an intrusion, not the main game.  To deny any pupils access to a full learning curriculum for the full year in a rich learning environment for an imperfect test score, is immoral and unethical…. as it has been for many years. Child-careless ACARA forces schools to provide bare-walled classrooms, police-like supervision and a dark, heavy atmosphere of fear at test time.  Classrooms with all their learning paraphernalia should be retained for that section of the school that has opted out from the tests and wants to learn;  bare walls and serried rows for NAPLAN victims only…preferably somewhere else……as far away from a learnacy atmosphere as possible…..where it belongs.

The presence of NAPLAN in a school diminishes its learning sanctity and its humanity.

For the sake of the whole school, the NAPLAN tests might be better conducted over a three-day week-end. School time is too precious to be wasted on it. Dedicated NAPLANists would not mind. It would help to remove the uneasiness and discomfort of NAPLAN test-time now controlling the school time-table.

Some children also stay home or wag-it during the testing period.  That’s very sad, although it must be difficult to want to go to school, if the school is only offering NAPLAN tests for the three days. Legal procedures need to be taken against those who encourage children to stay home from school during school  time, denying them access to proper learning. There are no special conditions re compulsory attendance surrounding test times….or are there?  A normal attendance and normal instruction must be expected for all pupils on all test and other school days; and pupils should expect to be taught..

Access to real learning time is, presently,  a serious school problem….especially in the first half of imagesMay.

The logistics can be reasonably well handled in a large school with adequate facilities and large enough staff during test-prep time. Testucating staff and learnacy staff can even  be kept separate, to a degree, in a very large school, but it’s quite complicated for smaller schools….trying to organise two different kinds of classrooms and teach in two different ways in the same classroom.

The expectation, however, is that, no matter how large the school, children attend them to be taught, according to the school’s curriculum. That’s a serious government responsibility.  Testing is an extra imposition, an unwanted intrusion, claiming precious time, an interruption to learning processes and procedures.

As difficult as the logistics of converting physical learning space into a fearsome jail-like atmosphere is, spare a thought for the principals with principle and their administrative staff with big hearts for kids and their learning atmosphere…..and still have to do as they are told.   It must be very distressing for real teachers  to have to obey anti-cognitive obstructional  nit-wits from some other planet to have to construct and tolerate an alien kind of atmosphere for a long three days each year.

Messy , isn’t it?


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



The Story of NAPLAN

Gillard – Garrett – Pyne –  ?


2008 – 2012 – 2015 – 2017

Education Readings August 28th

By Allan Alach

I welcome suggested articles, so if you come across a gem, email it to me at

Science Proves Reading To Kids Really Does Change Their Brains

Teachers of school entrant children will already have suspected this is the case; now here’s some proof.

“Pediatricians often recommend parents routinely read aloud to their young children.

Now, for the first time, researchers have hard evidence that doing so activates the parts of preschoolers’ brains that help with mental imagery and understanding narrative — both of which are key for the development of language and literacy.”

Kindergarten boys less interested in language activities, study indicates

Following on….

“We have not looked at whether the differences in reading abilities between boys and girls have any connection with participation in language activities in kindergarten. However, we do know that systematic linguistic stimulation promotes language skills in children. Unequal participation in activities that promote linguistic stimulation may be a factor in reinforcing the differences that already exist between children. If these gender differences persist, we can imagine that girls will have an advantage and boys and girls will start out on a different footing when they start primary school.”

A Dictionary For 21st Century Teachers: Learning Models & Technology

Thanks to Phil Cullen for this one.

“An index of learning models, theories, forms, terminology, technology, and research to help you keep up with the latest trends in 21st century learning.”

This could change everything about school — for kids, teachers and everybody else

Excellent article by Marion and Howard Brady.

We’re convinced that systems theory is the key to creating a general education curriculum free of the core curriculum’s major problems. And we’re dead certain—based on extensive classroom experimentation—that helping kids lift into consciousness and use their already-known systemically integrated information organizer moves them, in just a few weeks, to performance levels not otherwise possible.”

At the end of our tether

Steve Wheeler’s observations about the potential impact of mobile technologies on learning.

“Being able to choose when and where to learn is part of the freedom to learn. It is not just about freedom of thought and freedom of speech, but also freedom of space and place. It is about choice. The is academic freedom. We have no excuse now. We are living at a time in our history where the small device in the hand of the student is able to provide opportunities for any time, any place learning.”

Leave the World Better than We Found It

This article is the introduction to the book A People’s Curriculum for the Earth, which looks as though it could be very worthwhile.

“We educators need to imagine, cooperate, create, hope—and at times, defy and resist. And we need to see ourselves as part of a broader movement to build the kind of society that is clean and just and equal and democratic. One that seeks to leave the world better than we found it.”

Research examines relationship between autism and creativity

Time to have another look at autistic children in your classroom?

“People with high levels of autistic traits are more likely to produce unusually creative ideas, new research confirms. While the researchers found that people with high autistic traits produced fewer responses when generating alternative solutions to a problem, the responses they did produce were more original and creative. It is the first study to find a link between autistic traits and the creative thinking processes.”

This week’s contributions from Bruce Hammonds:

18 Activities That Make Creative Writing Actually Fun

“Here are some great writing strategies and prompts that will honor your students’ imaginations and free their muses to soar.”

The Best Advice for Creating Student-Centered Learning

The below article includes an excellent small Australian video showing educational changes from 1950s to modern times – worth viewing.

“Student-centered learning puts the emphasis on experience and hands-on learning. Buzz words are: Inquiry-based learning, case-based instruction, problem-based learning, project-based learning, discovery learning, and just-in-time teaching.Whatever you call it, the emphasis is on students becoming empowered to own their learning. So let’s embark on a little journey exploring student-centred learning.”

Students Advise New Teachers: From Structure Comes Freedom

Advice for new teachers.

“Follow these tips and you can build a classroom culture of respect, rapport, and learning. When the classroom culture is positive, students are more apt to participate in all types of learning activities.”

Choosing the wrong drivers for whole system reform

Michael Fullan asks have we been using the wrong ‘drivers’ for educational reform? Short answer  – yes!

Successful drivers of change focus on relentless development of  ‘capacity building’ – to make learning more exciting, more engaging, and more linked to assessment feedback loops around the achievement of higher order skills.”


“A ‘wrong driver’ is a deliberate policy force that has little chance of achieving the desired result, while a ‘right driver’ is one that ends up achieving better measurable results for students.The culprits are 1. accountability: using test results, and teacher appraisal, to reward or punish teachers and schools vs capacity building; 2. individual teacher and leadership quality: promoting individual vs group solutions; 3. technology: investing in and assuming that the wonders of the digital world will carry the day vs instruction; 4. fragmented strategies vs integrated or systemic strategies. Although the four ‘wrong’ components have a place in the reform constellation, they can never be successful drivers. It is, in other words, a mistake to lead with them.”

From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:

Guy Claxton’s Magnificent Eight

Guy Claxton believes that teachers need to focus on how they relate to students in their classrooms. What is important , he writes, are the values embodied in how they talk, what they notice, the activities they design, the environments they create, and the examples they set day after day. These represent the culture of the class.Every lesson invites students to use certain habits of mind, and to shelve others.”

Bureaucratic ‘creep’ and curriculum ‘drag’!

Bureaucratic creep and curriculum drag 2004 – have things improved?

“Tomorrows Schools ( when schools were made self governing in NZ in the 80s) was all about community control – or so the publicity went. It sounded good at the time but the possibility of local control and creativity was quickly crushed by the imposition of confusing curriculum statements and time wasting assessment requirements.”

In praise of slow

“The ideas of Carl Honore, in his book ‘In Praise of Slow’, are a real antidote to our current obsession with productivity, speed, consumerism and ‘workaholism’, which has filtered its way into all we do – including education. Carl Honore believes too many of us are living our lives on ‘fast forward’ and as a result our health and relationships are paying a heavy price. Obese children are but the most recent symptom of this fast life. Carl writes that we are to ‘over stimulated and overworked and struggle to relax to enjoy things properly, to spend time with family and friends’.”

Inspiration and challenges for today

Pioneer New Zealand creative teacher Elwyn Richardson recognised – and some good advice for today’s teachers.

“In April of this year (2005), at the age of 80, Elwyn Richardson was given an honorary doctorate by Massey University to recognize his work as ‘one of New Zealand’s most inspiring, innovative and influential teachers whose ideas were ahead of his times’. His recently republished book ‘In The Early World’ outlines his philosophy of learning and teaching including his respect for the emerging abilities of the children he taught. ‘They are my teachers as I was theirs and the basis of our relationship was sincerity, without which, I am convinced, there can be no creative education’.At the ceremony Professor Codd said that, ‘It is timely in the 21st century to recapture teaching as an art. In the early World inspires teachers to take risks, to contemplate values and philosophies as central to the teaching – learning process and to adapt prescribed curriculum to the children’s own desire to explore , inquire and create.’’

Education Readings August 21st

By Allan Alach

I welcome suggested articles, so if you come across a gem, email it to me at

The King Has Abdicated

Phil Cullen’s take on the announcement by US academic Gene Glass of his withdrawal from the discipline of educational measurement due to its misuse by the school reform movement.

This is big news.

“If ever there was a giant amongst educational measurers of the world, it is Gene Glass, Senior Researcher at the National Education Policy Center at the University of Colorado, Boulder. The seminal mega-research of Glass and Smith into ‘Class Size’ is a study to which any studious commentator refers if ever he or she mentions anything about the efficacy of class size on child learnings. It had an enormous impact on world discussion about class size. His leadership during the 1970’s Minimal Competency Testing movement was profound.”

The Great Learning Gap

“Sugata Mitra’s controversial new study summarised in the TES here suggests that self study on the internet can boost a child’s performance by seven years. Basically, 8 and 9 year olds studied GCSE content online before being examined three months later in examination conditions. They were successful. It sounds astounding, but it’s true, at least for the small number of children involved. And actually I don’t think it’s that surprising. To me, this is not a study about the power of the internet. It’s a study about the power of children.”

‘Growth mindset’ is not just for school students, teachers can grow their minds too

This is is a must for teachers, much more than the ‘can’ in the title.

“Most educators would be aware of the term ‘growth mindset’ by now. The idea is you can work on being smarter. Whatever abilities and talents you have are just a starting point, if you work hard, make mistakes and keep trying, you can achieve. Teachers are using it to encourage and motivate children in their classrooms.

But there is another application for this idea; it can be used as an underlying ethos for the professional learning of teachers.”

10 Ways To Fake A 21st Century Classroom

“It’s 2013, so whatever you’re doing in your classroom right now is technically 21st century learning. Semantics aside, we all can improve, and many of us are being held accountable for improvement by administrators, blogs, and the local PLC to “bring the next generation into the 21st century.” With that kind of pressure—and constant district walk-throughs—it may be necessary for you to fake a 21st century thinking and learning environment to make the right kind of impression with the right people, and give the appearance of forward-thinking.”

Play’s the thing

There’s a lot of useful information here, both in and out of school.

“Somehow the importance of play has been lost in recent decades. It’s regarded as something trivial, or even as something negative that contrasts with ‘work’. Let’s not lose sight of its benefits, and the fundamental contributions it makes to human achievements in the arts, sciences and technology. Let’s make sure children have a rich diet of play experiences.”

Imagine that you wanted to slowly kill public education

Does this article by Scott McLeod ring any bells for you?

“Somehow you have to create a narrative over time that erodes citizens’ support for public schools and counters their incredible historical legacies of college and career preparation, citizenship development, cultural socialization, economic opportunity creation, and facilitation of intergenerational income mobility. Here are some things that you and your like-minded colleagues might try to do:”

How Should Learners Influence Classroom Design?

“Researchers and designers of learning environments often debate whether the learner should adapt to the learning environment, or whether the learning environment should adapt to them. Arguably, this is the wrong question. A better question is: how does the environment shape the learner, and in turn, how does the learner shape the environment?”

Why Schools Should Teach Meaning and Purpose

“I believe it is the responsibility of a school to help students develop their personality, but this is not possible when a school tries to be efficient. You need ‘pointless’ and ‘ineffective’ student activities that don’t lead to better grades if you want them to live a life of meaning and purpose. Sacrifice a bit of your academic excellence and make room for personal development. The system won’t thank you for it, but the students will – by living a more fulfilled life.”

This week’s contributions from Bruce Hammonds:

Does a MLE suit all learners?

“Essentially, I don’t find this sort of question helpful. There are some more important questions that should precede it. That’s not to be dismissive at all of the fact that people will be interested in these sorts of things – it’s important that these themes are fully investigated as new approaches are being adopted in our schools and learning institutions. It’s like asking “does an MLE suit all learners?” when the equally valid, yet often uncontested question is “does a traditional egg-crate classroom suit the needs of all learners?”’

The neurons that shaped civilization

Culture Counts

Seven minutes Ted Ed talk to illustrate the power of culture and learning from others – a change the rational ‘scientific’ GERM approach to learning.

Neuroscientist Vilayanur Ramachandran outlines the fascinating functions of mirror neurons. Only recently discovered, these neurons allow us to learn complex social behaviors, some of which formed the foundations of human civilization as we know it.”

If life is a game, then education is play

Education is best when built upon such notions of play.

Play embodies our natural inclination to explore and experiment with objects and systems outside of us and integrate them first-hand into our psyche. Through educational play, we get to explore new ideas and come to know ourselves, as well as those around us in often-profound ways.”

From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:

‘Haiku Curriculum’ – simple and deep!

“At some point the Japanese threw away complex poetic forms and invented haiku.This is what we ought to do with our current incoherent curriculums Since the 90s schools worldwide have had to implement a complex set of curriculums imposed on them by ‘experts’ long removed from the reality of the classroom.”

Messages about education.

“I have been reading an article on the web about the pressures being placed on young children and their teachers in the United States to achieve expectations set by standardized tests. In the process teachers have had to narrow their curriculum to ensure their school does well when results are published. And as well, I guess, they would be worried about their tenure?”

Why are teachers so reluctant to change?

“Over years of visiting schools it seems mean to say that there has not been as much change as one might have hoped for considering all the imposed reform efforts. Ironically the biggest change I have seen was when a more progressive pedagogy entered our primary schools in the late 60s and early 70s. Out went straight rows, the strap, and the overbearing role of the teacher. Even the introduction of computers hasn’t yet changed school structures as much but there are signs they will.”

Sailing into the future on the educational SS Titanic!

Many school structures still reflect a Titanic mentality

“Many of our current organizations may look impressive but there are plenty of signs that all is not well. There are ‘social icebergs’ of discontent and alienation ahead that will eventfully force change on us. Just as it takes a tragedy in our personal lives for us to face up to new reality, so it is with the wider world of organizations – particularly those designed in, and for, past eras.”

The King Has Abdicated

An oversized, ugly, brutal giant called Naplan walked into a bar with a toad on his head.
The surprised barman asked, “Where did you get that thing from?”
The toad replied. “ I dunno. It just started off as a wart on my backside.”

The King Has Abdicated

“I am no longer comfortable being associated with the discipline of educational measurement.”If ever there was a giant amongst educational measurers of the world, it is Gene Glass, Senior Researcher at the National Education Policy Center at the University of Colorado, Boulder. The seminal mega-research of Glass and Smith into ‘Class Size’ is a study to which any studious commentator refers if ever he or she mentions anything about the efficacy of class size on child learnings. It had an enormous impact on world discussion about class size.

His leadership during the 1970’s Minimal Competency Testing movement was profound. The application of the most misused and misapplied concept of competency aka basics in American history, resulted in state authorities and school districts wondering what schools could do about it. The foolish thought that testing would encourage school pupils to perform better. They used local tests and the SAT : Student Aptitude Test as measures.
Glass described the movement as one would describe NAPLAN : ‘the case of fruitless use of an analogous concept – the minimum lethal dose’ ; ‘bad logic and worse psychology’ ; ‘a return to Payment by Results, abandoned by the British over one hundred years ago’ ‘has nothing to do with science and technology; not with psychology, not with measurement. It has to do with politics’ ; ‘the business of failing students’.Why would such a giant of the measurement profession ‘no longer feel comfortable ‘ with the American version of NAPLAN testing? Without a doubt, the world’s leading measurer for endless years, Gene Glass has been ‘slowly withdrawing his intellectual commitment to the field of measurement’ and has even asked his University to shift him from its measurement program. In the field of education, this decision represents a greater comment on prevailing educational circumstances than King Edward VIII’s did for regal circumstances; or if one of highest test performing schools in the country decided to drop NAPLAN and HSC contests from its curriculum ….that sort of thing.

This is monumental.

It says so much that ought to have an impact on the principles of schooling and the place of measurment in it.He once said, “I favour competence, I prefer classrooms where teachers know where they’re aiming. Sloth is as unattractive to me in children as it is in grown-ups. Bad writing stinks; it’s as ugly as litter. And bad arithmetic is pathetic, and sometimes unfair. But I don’t like the MCM {aka NAPLAN [Aus.]}. It’s bad psychology; it’s bad measurement; it’s bad thinking. It threatens to subjugate what’s easily measured to what isn’t. It is rooted in the fiction that we know what skills in school insure success in life.”

You must read….. “Why I am No Longer a Measurement Specialist”

Onya, Gene Glass. God bless you.


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

I once visited Professor Glass at Boulder. The Ahern Inquiry into Education in Queensland was in full swing, and , as Chairman of the Queensland Primary Curriculum Committee, I wanted to find out as much as I could about Minimal Competence Testing in the United States. Small world, Dr. Barry McGraw whom I knew, then at Murdoch Uni., was visiting Professor Glass to find out more about measurement. Dr McGraw later became Julia Gillard’s captain’s pick to lead ACARA and apply NAPLAN, based on Klein’s New York model, to Australian schools. How about that? Ironic?

Principals with principles

 Aussie Friends of Treehorn
encouraging adults to think sensitively, to care for kids, to make wise choices….with their hearts in gear, their pens active and their votes available .

It must be difficult for a 2015 school principal with principle these days….to conduct curriculum activities using the best of what is known about learning within an institutionalised context, and also coping every day with the demands of a political whim that actually impairs cognitive development of school children.  The 2008 whim was based on a belief, held more by significant politicians of the time than by any other sector,  that school children learn best when the school climate  is one of heavy rigour and driven by fear of testing results.  So, there is an extraordinary amount of school time nowadays that concentrates on measuring parts of schooling that only testing experts,  employed by such politicians  believe should be taught and tested. Principals are stuck with organising a byzantine system of control that keeps pupils and teachers  in line; and parents in the dark.

As Professor Costa [Calif.StateUni.] states : “What was educationally significant and hard to measure has been replaced by what is educationally insignificant and easy to measure. So now we measure how well we taught what isn’t worth learning.”    School principals with principles are expected to maintain this farce and are expected to hoodwink the public  on the virtues of running schools based on the whims of teaching-inexperienced measurers employed somewhere else.  The logic that teaching a child how to fill in the right bubbles on a piece of paper somehow helps the child to read better, calculate more accurately and develop profoundly in other critical literacy and numeracy skills is twisted logic. It is the kind of logic that a full generation of wise school leaders have had to tolerate.
Many educators believe that the use of such data to make judgements about schools is a sneaky, dishonest  scheme to privatise Australian schools, to undermine Gonski recommendations and to maintain the flow of money to testucating, publishing and computer programming corporations.
It’s a real dilemma for principals with principles. The forces that have no regard for children’s feelings nor parental concerns are very powerful. While a self-respecting principal can call upon his or her professional ethics to deny access to his or her classrooms, it’s a very brave thing to do under the existing political, totalitarian-based regimes since 2008. The hubristic arrogance of lawyer-trained Ministers has been and is so overpowering.  It’s possible only for  principled principals to reform as an ethical, professional group. Even then, they need to be strong to protect school children the way they should be protected.
Sometimes, chances come at Conference time for large organisations which principals and teachers subscribe to, at great expense. No free rides. The really productive ones are those run by subject associations but,  during the coming month or so, there is a number of conferences with highbrow connections:
Australian Council for Educational Leadership –Sydney – “Setting the Learning Agenda. Courage and Commitment to Lead”. [ The title suggests that the likes of NAPLAN, Direct Instruction etc. might be coming to an end very soon.]
Australian Secondary Principals Association –  Attendance at ACEL Conference suggested.
Australian College of Education – Sydney – “Education on the Edge.”  [Sure is. Should be some fireworks. Methinks it’s toppled already.]
Australian Primary Principals Association – Hobart –  “The Heart of Leadership”  [In view of leadership principles involved in the dispensing of NAPLAN tests, – see above- the outcomes of this conference should be momentous.]
Australian Government Primary Principals Association – [No conference. Unsure of its place in the schooling landscape.  Allied with APPA or trods on its toes?  A CIA outpost?]
Association of  Heads of Independent Schools of Australia – Sydney– “Culture, Character, Collegiality. “  [ Jolly good.]
At such conferences, some of the most productive time is spent in rooms, bars, coffee shops and  cafes  discussing the major issues of the day or just ‘chewing the fat’ about major issues affecting Australian schools.  Under such conditions, one would imagine that principals with principles would discuss what they are going to do about NAPLAN and its control over Australian schooling. With the conversions to tablet use, this period of 2015 is super-critical for serious decision-making that can have  its foundations in sessions like these.  Indeed….It’s  time for all schooling-connected organisations to get together. As Professor Kenneth Wiltshire says, “The whole of the NAPLAN plan needs to be put on hold…” [Treehorn 3 Aug.2015] Yes. It’s serious business, that can’t be neglected.
Supposing that conferees were challenged by a comprehensive list of comments and examined them comment by comment,  about  standardised blanket testing provided by Marion Brady of The Washington Post………..
– provides minimal to no useful feedback for classroom teachers;
– leads to neglect of music, art, other oral ways of learning, physical health;
– unfairly advantages those who can afford to pay for out-of-school tutoring;
– hides problems created by margin-of-error computations in scoring;
– penalises test-takers who think in non-standard ways [which the young frequently do]
– radically limits teacher ability to adapt to learner differences;
– gives control of the curriculum to test-manufacturers’
– encourages use of threats, bribes, and other extrinsic motivators;
– uses arbitrary, subjectively-set pass-fail cut scores;- 
– produces scores that can be [and sometimes are] manipulated for political purposes;
– assumes that what the young will need to know in the future is already known;
– emphasises minimum achievement  to the neglect of maximum performance;
– creates unnecessary pressures to cheat;
– reduces teacher creativity and the appeal of teaching as a profession;
– lessens a concern for and use of shared evaluation techniques
– has no “success in life”  predictive  powers;
– unfairly channels instructional resources to learners at or near the pass-fail score;
– are open to massive scoring errors [as has already occurred] with life-changing consequences;
– are at odds with deep-seated ‘fair go’ Australian values about individuality and worth;
– Create unnecessary stress and negative attitudes towards learning;
– perpetuates the artificial compartmentalization of knowledge by field;
– repels a wholesome holistic attitude towards inter-discipline learning;
– channels increasing amounts of tax-money into corporate coffers and special programs instead of general classrooms;
– Wastes the vast, creative intelligence and potential of human variability;
– blocks instructional innovations that can’t be evaluated by machine;
– unduly rewards mere ability to retrieve second-hand information from memory;
– subtracts from available instruction time;
– lends itself to ‘gaming’ – use of strategies to improve the success–rate of guessing;
– makes TIME – a parameter largely unrelated to ability – a serious factor in scoring;
– creates test-fatigue, aversion to subjects and an eventual refusal to take tests seriously;
– is a monumental waste of money and time;
– destroys institutions’ reputation  and that of the profession in myriad and unsuspected ways
Wouldn’t you like to be a fly on the wall if any group  dared to discuss some of these comments….and follow it through??
If significant teacher groups or learned societies should examine a few of these factors seriously……’s bye-bye NAPLAN.
When? 2015?
Phil Cullen  41 Cominan Avenue  Banora Point  Australia 2486  07 5524 6443              

Education Readings August 14th

By Allan Alach

I welcome suggested articles, so if you come across a gem, email it to me at

Choice Stifles Learning for Educators

“What is it about a mandated, contractually obligated, professional development conference that inspires some teachers and completely turns off many others? Why do some teachers glow with excitement at conferences and many others complain as they go through the motions? Is it the conference itself, or the attitude of the educators attending, or a combination of both?”

‘Nothing you learn at university has any relevance in a classroom’

This article doesn’t reflect the title….

“But teacher education in Australia has become a zombie discipline. Its brains are being eaten by ‘experts’ that hold no proficiency in teaching and learning, but are offering a view because they attended school at some point. These ‘experts’ are instructing universities – holders of self accrediting authority – about the necessity to return to the ‘basics.’”

Why Dyslexia Is No Bar To F1 Champions

This isn’t strictly educational but then again it shows how people can succeed at the highest level in spite of their reading disability.

“Vancouver neurotherapist Mari Swingle insisted there’s scientific basis for Stewart’s theory, saying that dyslexics’ brains have an affinity for things like racing.

“There’s a different form of spacial perception that dyslexics have, so it’s almost fundamentally what hurts them in their learning to read actually helps them on courses and tracks,” said Swingle.”

7 things that doodling does for you that will probably make you want to start doodling again

Seems we should allow to doodle in class… can you cope with that?

“Shelley Paul and Jill Gough, two learning design educators, have taken the call to doodle into their classrooms. Armed with research and some colored pencils, they’ve come out with some hands-on experience that really illustrates why doodling is the jam.

So here are seven things doodling can do for you.”

Too much too soon? What should we be teaching four-year-olds

Young children with oral language deficiencies are becoming a very common problem in New Zealand schools and this article suggests that the first schooling experiences should focus heavily on redressing this.

“We need to develop children’s oral language skills early and leave formal classroom instruction until children have the foundation skills they need to achieve. This should raise the attainments, and esteem, of all children.”

Climbing a tree can improve cognitive skills, researchers say

Get children outside as much as possible!

“The study, led by Drs. Ross Alloway, a research associate, and Tracy Alloway, an associate professor, is the first to show that proprioceptively dynamic activities, like climbing a tree, done over a short period of time have dramatic working memory benefits. Working Memory, the active processing of information, is linked to performance in a wide variety of contexts from grades to sports.”

Signing off: Finnish schools phase out handwriting classes

I’m in two minds about this. I can see the logic but then again there’s evidence to support the value of handwriting to children’s learning.

“While purists mourn the loss of personality and the “human touch”, some neuroscientists stress the importance of cursive handwriting for improving brain development, motor skills, self-control and even dyslexia. French education officials took heed of these findings and reintroduced cursive writing classes in 2000 after a brief hiatus but in Finland, there’s been little response to the proposed scrapping.”

How the Arts Prepare for a Life’s Work in any Discipline

“Here is an outstanding keynote by Dr. Root-Bernstein, who after researching over 200 biographies of outstanding scientists found a correlation between their sustained art and craft avocations to their achievement in other disciplines, especially the sciences.  His talk begins with a quick display of childrens’ art which quickly reveals a playful and powerful connection to some great minds.  In other words, this is not a passive Art Appreciation class here, folks, but a case for active and continuous making, doing, tinkering (especially in high school).”

This week’s contributions from Bruce Hammonds:

Seeing Struggling Math Learners as ‘Sense Makers,’ Not ‘Mistake Makers’

I recommend you all read this.

“Teachers and schools that are capable of creating real-world, contextualized, project-based learning activities in every other area of school often struggle to do the same for mathematics, even as prospective employers and universities put more emphasis on its importance. This struggle may come from a fundamental misunderstanding about the discipline and how it should be taught.”

New Zealand’s all but forgotten science research about valuing the both the views students hold and the process of learning to clarify their thinking – The Learning in Science Project. 

“Science teaching in primary classrooms cannot be ignored or forgotten. Primary schools need to provide worthwhile challenges to stimulate and challenge children’s’ present ideas as well as providing  opportunities to ‘learn how to learn’. Primary science, above all else, needs to encourage children to take an interest in their environment and their own learning, explore ideas, and seek and develop understandings about their world.”

My Longstanding Beef With Instructional Leaders

Principals as instructional leaders – yeah right!

Two articles by Bill Ferriter:

“But the truth is that despite working for some remarkable principals over the past 22 years, I’ve never turned to them for help with my instruction — and they never volunteered any instructional strategies that challenged my practice in a positive way.  Instead, I have always turned to my peers for that kind of professional challenge because I know that my peers are wrestling with instruction on a daily basis.  The expertise that I need to change my teaching rests in the hearts and minds of other practitioners — not my principals.”

From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:

The Geranium on the Window Sill Just Died…

The Geranium on the Windowsill just died but Teacher you went straight on.

A book to encourage teachers to listen to the variety of voices of their students and reminded them of what it was like ‘to be small, penned up, bossed around’; and for students retain a sense of resiliency and joy during the time they are at school.”

Schools – so last Century

Schools so last century – still…

“At the end of the nineteenth century schools were developed to meet the needs of an industrial age to transfer knowledge to often reluctant students and, in many ways, they have changed little since those beginnings. In contrast almost every other aspect of our lives has been changed through technological advances. Roland Barth, from the Harvard Leadership Centre has written, ‘many of our schools seem en-route to becoming a hybrid of a nineteenth century factory, a twentieth century minimum security penal colony and a twenty-first century Education Testing Service.”

Whose learning is it?

“Without meaning to many teachers not only diminish their student’s authentic sense of self but miss out in inspiration to develop engaging personalized programmes. As DH Lawrence wrote, ‘you have to know yourself to be yourself’. At school students learn to fit into a world designed by teachers and not all students will thrive in such an artificial environment.”

The Stupidities are over for the year. NAPLAN is code for Kleinism.

NAPLAN is code for Kleinism – fear-based gathering of useless data.

We all know that. We all know that the fear element is the reason for its dismal failure in 2015. It has been confirmed.

High-stakes testing has had plenty of air-play during the past two weeks. It  has big problems, hasn’t it? It has been shown to be a prismatic waste of time, money and effort, no matter what direction you look at it from. It’s a great big lemon and does no credit to our national views on schooling. We have certainly learned that…….

The mental welfare of children has been ignored for another year and permanent damage to the cognitive development and the learning attitude of these natural learners have been a feature of the debacle.   In mental health circles, it’s called CHILD ABUSE.  It’s a rotten business.

Rest children. The stupidities are over for this year. Ignore the results. They don’t mean a thing nor are of any use to anyone. Hostilities will resume early next year, unless we can stop the nonsense. Years 2,4,6,8 pupils!… to your Mum and Dad about it. Talk to your teachers. Try to prevent the torture from ever being used to abuse your mental welfare ever again! Let’s all talk to each other about NAPLAN. Adults included.

Australia does not have an integrity unit to examine big ticket reforms, so we are now stuck with some peculiar innovations over the recent years e.g. charter schools,  direct instruction, kleinism, naplan prep and high stakes testing.

The social malaise might now give adults the opportunity to talk about real schooling as well….Why doesn’t Australia use the kind that encourages life-learning, social happiness, community health, wealth and progress….the kind that treats its young children like human beings, the kind that is clearly aimed at national progress on all fronts.

[Note:  Did you read the most recent TIME magazine article headed : SMART IS A NATION THAT SPARKS COUNTLESS POSSIBILITIES ? It started with the sentence : “Singapore is a nation that embraces cutting edge technology to live better lives. …Singapore is building a Smart Nation with countless possibilities.”?  Proper schooling matters]

Clearly,  NAPLAN testing has not done anything for anybody, except for those who profit from the testing routines and paraphanalia. We can learn from the experience of 2015.

We can, for instance, all ask ourselves some questions about the purpose of public schooling.

Why do we go to school????…surely it’s because learning is a natural act and schools are meant to help us grow up properly, learning-keen, using our natural talents,  and in accordance with what our parents desire. Since NAPLAN now controls schooling in Australia, its efficacy needs some thought. It’s impact over the years has been devestating.  That much was proven last week. It’s a flop.  Parents have been duped….especially those who thought that the tests were obligatory or useful to the learning act; and those who believed that high-stakes threats increase enthusiasm for personal learning.

Literacy and Numeracy are essential skills . We study  LAN, not to get a decent score on a useless kind of test, but because we are members of the human race.  We need to love LiteracyAndNumeracy in their widest dimensions; but napLAN sucks the humanity out of life and out of Literacy and Numeracy and denies comfortable access to the rest of the curriculum. The score-crazy National Assessment Program, with its insistence on mediocrity as clearly demonstrated this year, has no place whatsoever in Australian schooling. ACARA and its organisational allies just don’t seem to know how to assess properly; and ignore the value of teacher-pupil shared evaluation for high results.

Australia can do a helluva lot better without NAPLAN. It’s now been proven conclusively that it’s failed.  Every single Australian child deserves better. It WILL occur despite laissez-faire adult attention.


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

Why NAPLAN is failing our kids


“EARLIER this week it was revealed that since NAPLAN was introduced in Australia in 2008 student achievement has stalled. Educators around the country cried in unison, wondering where it all went wrong.

How has throwing $100 million at standardised testing not improved results? They despaired. Or more accurately, they shook their heads at the information that was of absolutely no surprise to them and got on with doing their jobs.”


“David Hornsby has spent almost 50 years in education, teaching all years of primary school, working in the Ministry of Education and lecturing at various universities, and says the money being thrown at NAPLAN could be spent much better elsewhere in order to benefit our kids. “You can’t improve education by not investing in it,” he says.

“You don’t fatten the pig by weighing it, you fatten it by feeding it. By investing all of this money in assessment rather than education, of course things aren’t improving.”’

Read the full article here: Why NAPLAN is failing our kids

Treehorn: It’s been a long time. Quo vadis, School Learning?

Aussie Friends of Treehorn
encouraging adults to think sensitively, to care for kids, to make wise choices….with their hearts in gear, their pens active and their votes available .
It’s NAPLAN MEASURING WEEK..time for the pundits to write their editorials and letters to the editor with advices on how to improve NAPLAN  scores.
NAPLAN has nothing to do with learning. It has nothing to do with teaching. It has nothing to do with real schooling. It has to do with finding fault and making money. It’s an ineffective, unreliable and invalid device that makes the most of young children’s vulnerability and it deliberately threatens their cognitive development and emotional stability for the sake of a score. 

Treehorn – Still Going?

It’s been a long while since Allan Alach and I issued the first email copy of The Treehorn Express on in July 2011 to combat the stupidity of NAPLAN and its like being imported from New York..  Multi-talented former N.Z. primary principal Allan’s regular Friday readings are now extremely popular around the globe and we also have tried to give inspiration to primary and other teachers through regular and irregular email comments. We’ve been appealing to the hearts of adults. Here are some short extracts from those early days.

Alfie Kohn, widely respected author and educational commentator was asked what he thought of kleinism [fear-based learning]. Part of his response was…

We are living through what future historians will surely describe as one of the darkest in education history– a time when teachers, as well as the very idea of democratic public education, came under attack; when carrots and sticks tied to results on terrible tests were sold to the public as bold “reform”; when politicians who understand nothing about learning relied uncritically on corporate models and metaphors to set education policy; when the goal of schooling was as misconceived as the methods, framed not in terms of what children need but in terms of “global competitiveness” – so that large corporations can triumph.

There will come a time when people will look back on this era and ask “How the hell did they let this happen?” By speaking out, we’re saying that we need to act before we lose an extra generation to this insanity. The corporate-style school reformers don’t have the research on their side. All they have is the power to impose their ignorance through legislation. We must now make sure that the conversation about the how’s and why’s of education are driven by real educators.

In short, we [schoolies] have to take back our schools.”

A march on the capital was being planned at the time. Thousands of teachers and parents then marched on the capital, led by the likes of the Optout Association, NY Professor Diane Ravitch, Matt Damon [actor] and others. They were met by White House officials…all to no avail. The child-bashing, money-grabbing counter-forces are far too powerful up over….and they control us just as efficiently, down under.

At about the same time, Treehorn reported:

“Our Australian PM, when she was Minister, wanted to gain kudos for  her education efforts. Education is always a soft target,especially when one mentions ‘basics’,  ‘failure’. ‘kids on the check-out-counter’, ‘can’t spell’, ‘bullying’….all junk terminologies used by the uninformed. Off to the U.S. for answers she went. At her first cocktail party, she happened to speak to a New Yorker who ran a fear-driven school district that, he claimed was a successful school district. She fell for it.  Her collaborator claimed that the district was better-off because he was there; and that he really enjoyed running tests and scaring the pants off teachers. A very boastful chappie, he was, and, as she was, totally disrespectful of children’s feelings, parents’ concern and teachers’ ethics. Julia bought his scheme.  [We should have sent Bronny. She’d have cost less. All told, Julia is still costing us billions and billions in a lost future of sparkling cognition, creativity,  initiative and financial development]. She became quite determined and, subsequently,  introduced the Klein system of schooling to Australia without any meaningful consultation with Aussie Schoolies. With Aussie Bankers, yes. They paid his way down under. Joel Klein knows best, she claimed! He now proudly boasts of having introduced a “…hard data system into Australia. Come and talk to me about it.”  It’s his. [This is a direct quote. He proudly claims ownership of the Australian system of schooling….and…  NAPLAN operatives can now claim to be devotees or followers, at least,  of the Joel Klein mode of schooling. ]  

Academic measurer Barry McGaw put the scheme together for Julia and measurers continue to run the show.  Collegial, experienced, studious, child-conscious schoolies were not head-hunted nor were consulted. Parents are not allowed a choice in the present scheme of things.  They might prefer their kids to be taught instead of measured.

* Who’s Joel Klein”? He’s a lawyer who likes money. He later left the NY school district [in some chaos] and took a job with Rupert Murdoch. Worth $4.5m a year to Joel. His task is to run a recent acquisition of Rupert’s, the Wireless Generation.

* What’s Wireless Generation? This is a New York company that produces software that  “…tracks student test scores amongst other things.” The  ‘other things’ included digital instruction.  Rupert has said that he can see this investment as a move into “…a $500billion sector in the US alone.”  Yep.

“Kleinism” is the best description for Australia’s present system of schooling. This kind of mechanical, instrumental  schooling is now well on the way in the US and in Australia and, oh, how the money rolls in………to pockets in New York.  We seem to have plenty of money to throw around. Education is now a big business enterprise without any altruistic purpose whatsoever..

That means a very sad future for those who live down under. Just how ridiculously heartless can Aussie adults get?  Nobody cares except, perhaps a million or two Mums and Dads [the opt-out thinkers]  who won’t have a bar of hard data abuse-based testing in schools and are refusing to have their children contest the mechanical tests. They are opting out in droves.  Bully for them. But….there are too many Mums and Dads not caring either whether “the cat calves or the cow die’’, so to speak.

Well over 1200 Treehorn Express copies have been emailed over the past few years…… no avail. Unable to be read in government schools and deliberately rebuffed by red-necked testucating advocates,  some folk like them, just the same. We are proud that the testucators are afraid of them and will not discuss ‘child learning in schools’ openly. . 

Our efforts were directed to changing the hearts of adults towards children. That’s why the communication  was named after ‘Treehorn”.  Poor lad failed to get the attention of adults, even those who were important to him…. despite his obvious need for help. We just wanted adults to think seriously about the world of children and to try to improve their social and emotional condition because NAPLAN is, plainly,  an instrument of child abuse.  No luck. The story of Treehorn became just another children’s story. We overlooked the fact that adults are too busy or too something  to take notice of the social condition of school children. We have failed to this point…as Treehorn had.  Tough. 

Did we think that adults in the antipodes had softer hearts than those who lived in northern climes?  I reckon we did.  But…we were wrong….the contrary prevails.

Allan Alach  is one of  three great musketeers fighting relentlessly for the enhancement of public education in the South Pacific. Bruce Hammonds and Kelvin Smythe  are his companions..  There are few people in the world who go to such great lengths and spend so much time working for children as this trio. Unfortunately for them, the most school-knowledgeable politician in New Zealand is the child-oriented shadow Minister for Education who is in opposition. He  is quite different from Australian politicians. When it comes to schooling and child learning, he knows what he is talking about.  If Chris Hipkins ever becomes part of the NZ government benches, one can confidently predict that  NZ will develop a home-grown system of schooling that would leave the rest of the world in its wake. For sure. 

Australian adults seem too afraid to try to help our kids at school in need of encouragement, not condemnation. . They find other ways of dodging the issue. Our kids can cop it better and sweeter, we big people think. “We had to go through this stuff at school” , so why  shouldn’t they? . Yes. That’s the main excuse. We tend to bash the emotions and dignity of our children around  harder than most because that’s supposed to be good for them. The fact that most of the test-takers will be emotionally and cognitively crippled for life, doesn’t matter. They’ll be tough. 

As radical as it might seem to us down-under bogans, I believe that the following is possible.

1. Each Australian state can create an education system that is unique and productive. The myth of federalism has shown what can happen when one misguided viewpoint [e.g. Kleinism] can control a whole country. Every citizen’s future is in now in jeopardy. It’s very, very serious.

2. Lessons can be learned from other countries whose hearts are with children and with their learning abilities.  e.g. Finland treats its primary teachers, because they supervise the most critical aspects of human development,  as professionally superior to members of the medical and other ‘recognised’  professions. They  train them beyond Masters Degree status and pay them accordingly. There is a climate of progressive learning.

3. We just need a bit of fair-dinkum Aussie spunk to get rid of the stupid bloody nonsense asap.


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

Education Readings August 7th

By Allan Alach

I welcome suggested articles, so if you come across a gem, email it to me at

You can do it, baby!

Interesting observation on the ‘you can be anything you like’ messages that children receive.

“‘You can be anything you want to be’ is pithy advice that isn’t helping most of the young launch careers or find satisfaction in life. If we really think about it, few of us mean it literally. Twenge has told her daughter that ‘when people say you can be anything, it’s not true. For example, you can’t be a dinosaur.’ Perhaps what we’re really trying to say to our children is that we trust in their ability to build a meaningful life.”

A Myth for Teachers: Jobs That Don’t Exist Yet

We’ve often heard the phrase “We are currently preparing students for jobs that don’t yet exist . . “ and I must confess I’ve used it myself. However….

“This is a claim used to justify dumbing-down, the idea being that if technology changes working life really quickly then there is no need to teach content as it will be irrelevant by the time our students get to the workplace. The widespread use of the claim in educational environments can almost all be traced back to the “Did You Know?” or “Shift Happens” videos that went viral among fashionably minded educators some time back. These consisted of a variety of poorly sourced and dubious claims about the future accompanied by enough bright colours and loud music to hypnotise the congenitally gullible.”

We need more misfits in #education

“Misfits don’t see a problem with asking ‘why’ and asking for justification and misfits don’t base their actions on what is safe and what is ‘status quo.’”

Encouraging the Einstein and Edison in Everyone

I’m a little dubious about the long term effectiveness of these kind of approaches but then again they are better than all the nonsense associated with ‘raising achievement.’

“The 21st century will require solutions that are fashioned differently from how the problems were made. The solutions of this century will come from creative people who are willing to look at doing things differently. As such, the future will need more Albert Einsteins and Thomas Edisons — and by the way, there is a bit of them in all of us. Here are some ways to nurture both in all of your students.”

Whose fingers on the button?

Here’s an article by Seymour Papert (acknowledged as one of Piaget’s protégés) that was written in 1998 about the use of digital technologies in education.  Papert’s book Mindstorms: Children, Computers, and Powerful Ideas, published in 1980, is still extremely relevant and should be on your ‘must read’ list.

“From this follows a political aspect of child power as a factor in the interplay of change and resistance to change in education. For if the computer industry, the education establishment and the politicians have a common vested interest in keeping school as it is, children do not. And if just 10 per cent of children came to school with the experience of far richer learning outside, and with the expertise to show the school how to do it better, the pressure for change would quickly become irresistible.”

What I’m really thinking: the soon to be ex-teacher

Is this familiar?

“A bloated body of managers, many of whom haven’t taught in years. Driven by data and every new initiative, they have lost touch with where they came from. Without teachers who prioritise their rapport with pupils and make learning a fun, collaborative experience, the school is losing its soul.”

NAPLAN: Shakespeare would have failed the year 9 literacy test

Thanks to Phil Cullen for this article that discusses an unexpected outcome of Australia’s national testing programme. I suspect similar comments could be made about other national testing regimes.

In online sample tests [of the year 9 NAPLAN], 25 of the 50 questions relate to spelling. It is a fair bet that Shakespeare would have done very poorly on these. He would probably not even have understood why the questions were being asked. He would have performed better in the section in which students are required to complete sentences, but his approach to punctuation would almost certainly have been considered substandard. He would have excelled in the grammar section, and easily identified metaphors, alliteration, similes and rhymes. But overall he would either have failed or scored a very poor mark.”

This week’s contributions from Bruce Hammonds:

Three Traits of the Best Principals.

Bill Ferriter:

“Let me start with a simple statement of truth:  I am JUST a classroom teacher.  

I’ve never worked as a building principal — and my knowledge of the principalship is limited to tons of reading, tons of conversations, and my first-hand experience working with tons of different principals and assistant principals during my 20+ years of teaching. What I DO know is that regardless of their unique sets of strengths and weaknesses, the best principals that I’ve ever worked for shared three traits.”

The Secret Power of Differentiated Instruction

If Bart Simpson understands the destructive use of ability grouping teachers ought to as well.

“Do we separate students based on ability and continue to let the best ones in the other class get ahead while the “special” students fall behind because of a lack of ability? Bart Simpson said it best: “Let me get this straight. We’re behind the rest of our class and we’re going to catch up to them by going slower than they are?”

Project-Based Learning Activities—on a Budget!

“Project-based learning activities can be daunting for a teacher new to the concepts. If you are new, here are some key issues to know about real project-based learning:

1 Project based learning begins with an inquiry into a real-world problem.

2 Learning often takes place in collaborative groups, where students build a sense of community.

3 Research into the authentic problem involves going beyond the textbook, and involves activities such as interviews, web searches, and inviting guest speakers to class.Keeping in mind these criteria develop some great project-based learning activities on a budget?”

Personalised Learning – an idea for its time or just another buzz word

“I was re-reading Sir Ken Robinson’s latest book (which must be a must read for creative teachers looking for inspiration in this age of educational conformity) and was captured by his thoughts about the two worlds students live in.  One world – the personal one – all but ignored in classrooms. It is this personal world that was/is the world that creative teachers help students value and explore.”

From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:

Learning is about constructing meaning.

Marie Clay and constructivism

“Marie Clay – more than just about reading. In most teachers’ minds mention Marie Clay and they think of Reading Recovery. To me, I attribute to her the remark that, ‘if a child hasn’t learnt to learn something we haven’t yet found the way to help him or her’ or that, ‘all children will learn with the right task, the right help and enough time’. Marie Clay was a ‘constructivist’ or more accurately a ‘co-constructivist’ believing, like such researchers as Jerome Bruner, Piaget and Vygotsky that students create their own meanings and that this is best achieved by sensitive teacher interaction, always leaving the responsibility of learning in the child’s hands. Holdaway (79)calls this need to make meaning a ‘semantic drive’ – one that it put at risk by insensitive teachers who do not value student creativity as the source for all learning.”

Time to throw a spanner in the works!

“It is not hard to see secondary schools as artefacts of the 19th C .They so much resemble the Industrial Revolution on which they were based. They may be kinder gentler places today – for some students that is debatable, but they retain the features of a true industrial aged hierarchical organization or, worse still, a factory!”

Transforming schools through Project Based Learning (PBL) 

“The 21stC will require a personalisation of learning and the cultivation of student talent and creativity. It is important for a country like New Zealand for schools to encourage such innovation and creativity but to achieve this will require considerable transformation of the current system.American educationalist Thom Markham is an enthusiast for Project Based Learning (PBL) and believes that the most important innovation schools can implement is high quality project based learning.”

The Right to Learn – an agenda for the 21stC; challenging the status quo.

“As we enter the second decade of the ‘new’ millennium what has changed in education? Not much.We can do a lot better.What is needed are fresh perspectives.So far reforms have not changed the basic assumptions of traditional schooling. A new vision is required. We need to let go of what has gone on before and think of how to use technology to re-imagine the experience for learners.”