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

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s