Let’s Think, Opt out, Talk, Reinvent

Aussie Friends of Treehorn
protecting school children from nasty excesses of the greedy and misguided
“Why not re-design a schooling system that starts with a discussion on these sorts of things….and NOT from the presumptions of those whose own classroom experience has been limited and who only recall their crash-bang-wallop gotta-pass-the-test techniques  of their very  own schooling experience”
 Let’s Think,Opt Out, Talk, Reinvent
     When the naplannic cane toads were released in Australian schools in 2008, there was atomic-sized gasps from those who pupilled children at school, working in a constantly evaluating, Siamese-twin sort of relationship…… dedicated to learning.  I spoke with dozens of those I knew were high-quality teachers who were dumbfounded that this could occur. in Australian schools. 
   Many, like me, still find it hard to believe that this sort of thing actually happened.  Our dreams of having schools that were so learning attractive to kids that they’d just learn, learn, learn because it was good fun  and challenging and wonderful, were shattered.  We could not contemplate the thought that Australia would ever foster a system that would deliberately teach child to dislike learning.. It happened. 2008. The destiny of our future citizens is now very worrying, even frightening.   It’s naplanic. What are we trying to do to our kids in their classrooms?
   Have you, as Australian Professor Michael Dunkin has done: ,examined the kind of classroom agitation that occurs on wet and windy days at school, the ‘shows’ that the pupils can put on for visitors, the distracting  modes of behaviour at the end of each week, of each year. School pupils can be such  lively little buggers for no apparent reason.  Why do schools teach maths in the morning; leave art and physical education to the late afternoon; cancel sport, art and music when test heat is high?  Are some subjects so unimportant that they can be dropped when NAPLAN–prep starts?  What sort of schooling is that? Is there some sort of weight in subjects?  Can our domineering, testucating  fanatics describe any of the million social-teaching-learning exchanges that occur each and every day in each and every classroom that are more important than their stupid tests? 
    Michael Dunkin says, “Few attempts have been made to document these ‘truths’. These are examples of the context of the classroom upon the processes [e.g. smiling, listening, problem-solving, distracting, answering, asking, demonstrating, commending, cajoling, questioning, supporting, expounding, correcting, distributing, frowning] that occur within it. These are context-process relationships that could be examined. Such relationships reveal influences that need to be examined. Such relationships reveal influences upon classroom events that environmental factors, physical and temporal, have.”
   Let’s THINK about what he is saying. Will such learning exchanges be happening on May 10,11,12? Dunkin, Gage, Biddle wrote definitive works on classroom learning that testucrats  prefer to ignore. They talk about classroom learning. 
   Why doesn’t Australia try to document these truths….or just talk about them?   What sort of teaching strategies are used from the range of those we know about…..of the hundreds and hundreds between the maieutic, self-generating techniques to the didactic [sermonising], through the wealth of child-centred and adult oriented forms and the plethora of group techniques? Why don’t we let teachers that use all these sorts of teaching/learning exchanges, run the show?  Let’s give back schooling to them and help the kids learn things?
   Why not re-design a schooling system that starts with a discussion on these sorts of things…and NOT from the presumptions of those whose only classroom experience has been limited; and who only recall  the crash-bang-wallop, gotta-pass-the-exams techniques of their own very limited school experience. That only leads to klienism, a dead-set failure.
Let’s ask ourselves some pertinent questions…
        Which is more important : spending the day practising tests or spending the day learning?
        Why do politicians talk about democratic principles and don’t stand up for kids when it matters?
        Why don’t basic human rights apply to kids at school during NAPLAN season?
        How much does NAPLAN cost ?      Who benefits?
Phil Cullen  41 Cominan Avenue  Banora Point  Australia 2486    cphilcullen@bigpond.com             http://primaryschooling.net/                     http://qldprimaryprincipals.wordpress.com/
07 5524 6443          0407865999
proud to be sticking-up for kids
looking for a party to vote for
hoping that Australian schools will concentrate on mass devotion to learning asap

Education Readings April 29th

By Allan Alach

I welcome suggested articles, so if you come across a gem, email it to me at allanalach@inspire.net.nz

Not Every Kid Wants to Learn How to Code

The latest educational bandwagon is that all children should be taught how to code computers, although exactly what this is supposed to achieve isn’t clearly spelled out.

“But here’s the thing; not every kid wants to be a computer scientist.  Not every kid wants to work with a computer.  Not every kid wants to stare at a screen, nor do something with technology.  Did we forget that in our eagerness to jump on the coding wagon?”


Learning to Code vs. Coding to Learn

Along much the same lines:

“For what it’s worth, and in case it might be of any interest to others, here are, in no particular order, some of the most common arguments I hear made both in support of, and against, educational coding initiatives.”


Does our ‘edtech’ obsession get in the way of education?

“Instead of proclaiming the virtue that apparently derives from forswearing technology – as if academic rigour and using computers were somehow antithetical – wouldn’t we be better off by remaining open to the notion that using technology, in certain circumstances, may actually contribute to improved teaching and learning? Wouldn’t it be a good idea to develop teachers’ expertise so that they are able to make discerning use of whatever technology may be most helpful at any given time for any given purpose?”


PISA-envy, Pearson and Starbucks-style schools

“The focus on test scores is vital to the neoliberal vision of education. It is what enables standardization and hence accountability across the system. If outcomes in the form of test scores are what counts, then it becomes easy to compare one student with another, one class with another, one school with another and one state with another. And test-based accountability has now become a truly global phenomenon, shaping local and national educational priorities and policies.”


Why Lots of Love (or Motivation) Isn’t Enough

Latest article by Alfie Kohn.

“True, these students no longer require carrots or sticks. They don’t need discipline because they’re self-disciplined. . . in a way that’s disturbing. Their motivation is internal, but it sure as hell isn’t intrinsic. And that key distinction would go unnoticed if we had just asked whether they had internalized certain values rather than inquired about the nature of that internalization.”


Better teachers? Better at what, exactly?

A lament from an Australian teacher.

“Until we are capable of putting our children’s needs in front of anything else, we will continue to slip down the educational league table. It has nothing to do with better teachers. It’s got everything to do with protecting our children from politicians.”


Contributed by Bruce Hammonds:

Teaching /learning in flexible spaces – Modern Learning Environments MLEs – New Tech High

Bruce has written another article about this current development.

“By the late sixties, in England, flexible school buildings were being specifically designed to allow a varied combination of individual and group work as well as for class and inter-class activities. And in the 70s ( inspired by American school critics such as John Holt) an open education movement started which culminated in the development of open plan schools.”


Sir Ken Robinson Changes the Paradigm

This is an oldie but well worth watching again.

“Sir Ken Robinson’s inspirational talk at the RSA Conference called “Changing Paradigms” has made its way around the education circles through different media. This animated version of the speech, taking us through the speaker’s colorful prose with illustrations, has made even more of an impact.”


From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:

We have lost so much over the past 50 years. We need to return leadership back to creative teachers.

“It was in the sixties when creative classroom teachers working within a shared educational philosophy were the real leaders. In contrast to all the structural changes that have happened since the advent of Tomorrow’s Schools the role of the teacher has been neglected. There are some, such as Professor Frank Crowther, University of Queensland, who says that, since the 1970s, the professional respect for teachers has diminished.”


A future Vision for Education

Modern Learning Environment / Innovative Teaching Practice – or just good learner centred teaching?

Imagine a school where every child would see themselves as an investor in their own learning. Older children would frequently coach and mentor younger children. Those who were more advanced in a subject would help those lagging behind. Children would help teachers design learning programmes, their parents would be parties to these discussions .The children would see it as their responsibility to learn in their own time, often using online tools provided by the school.”


What do we steal from our students?

“Dr John Edwards based his presentation, the final one for the conference, on a question his wife had asked him when he returned after teaching his graduate students.

She asked him, ‘What have you stolen from your students today?’’


“The poem is worth a read because it clearly makes the distinction between an antiquated transmission style of teaching (which is still all too common) and what is now required if we are to develop all students as ‘confident life long learners’, the ‘seekers, users,and creators of their own knowledge’, that our revised curriculum asks of us.”


Contributed by Phil Cullen:

Test-score inflation can boost graduation rates but comes with consequences, Stanford study finds

“Six years ago, a team of educational researchers shocked New York state with clear statistical evidence of widespread manipulation of test scores on the high school exit exams, or Regents Examinations. The analysis, which formed the basis for an investigative report in the Wall Street Journal and sparked major reforms by New York state, showed that test graders were artificially lifting the scores for 40 percent of the students who had fallen just short of passing.”


A Toad called ‘Naplan’

“Indifferent to opinions of real experts in Australia, or USA or the UK or Finland or anywhere in the world, our power-drunk  
education know-it-all 
then had to use underhand ‘client-capture’ techniques to have her way and to cover-up a monstrous brain-fart.”
Aussie Friends of Treehorn
protecting school children from nasty excesses of the greedy and misguided
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.
A Toad Called NAPLAN
If ever you see a large, ugly cane toad in your garden, call him “Naplan”.  He’s a darling of all the political  hoi-poloi and educratic know-it-alls.  Both the toad and his namesake share a similar history. They were both mistakenly introduced to do a special job. Those who brought them both to Australia thought that they knew better than anybody else. Big mistake. A political decision to introduce both kinds of vermin was too hurried; immediate; on sight; no questions asked.  They were desperate. They thought that they were on a winner because some smart-alecs in Hawaii and New York told them so. No checking of consequences.
Indifferent to opinions of real experts in Australia or USA or the UK or Finland or anywhere in the world,  our power-drunk education know-it-all then had to use underhand ‘client capture’ techniques to have her way and to cover-up a monstrous brain-fart. No research. No checking how things are going or  likely to go. No public talk. No need. A dramatic blunder of gargantuan proportions!  The school testing debacle continues….but it can be stopped. Parents just have to say ‘NO!’  High stakes testing wasn’t even needed in the first place. Her bowel movements must have been irregular at the cocktail party where her decision to introduce kleinism to Australia was made; on the spot, before Rupert and Joel even said ‘Goodnight’. A dry martini did it.
Australia was committed to a Klein version of schooling.
Millions of dollars later and ever-lasting  gross destruction of our intellectual landscape by NAPLAN testing and our  physical landscape by almost-as-ugly toads, the waste continues.
[The cane toads introduced to the cane fields of Gordonvale, North Queensland, gobbled up tonnes of cane beetles that flew close to the ground. Nobody had bothered to check to see how high toads could leap nor how high beetles could fly!!. A total waste. No prior thought. The voracious hungry ones migrated from NQ to see what they could eat around the eastern part of Australia and the Northern Territory.]
There’s a lesson to be learned, by our brown-nosed educrats and our indifferent political candidates, from our now millions-strong army of cane toads, each called ‘Naplan’,  don’t you think? We must OPT OUT and ….
That’ll be new for our politico-educrats, won’t it?  BUT….

Australia’s order of business for educational improvement needs to be…..

                                                                                                                                   2. RETURN TEACHING TO TEACHERS.
                                                                                                                                   3. THINK
                                                                                                                                   4. TALK
                                                                                                                                   5. REINVENT A SYSTEM OF SCHOOL LEARNING.
Phil Cullen  41 Cominan Avenue  Banora Point  Australia 2486  07 5524 6443   cphilcullen@bigpond.com         
    http://primaryschooling.net/                     http://qldprimaryprincipals.wordpress.com/

Who’s for kids?

Aussie Friends of Treehorn
protecting school children from nasty excesses of the greedy and misguided
Who’s for Kids?
Here’s an interesting list. You can check to see how interested in schooling and in NAPLAN [The greatest threat to Australia’s welfare, since the Japanese]your present representative is.   It says a lot.
Let’s now see how concerned about school children’s welfare they have been; and how likely they are to be interested between now and the election.
What did your federal representative do?
Click on a name
Which ones care about the damage to kids and have something t say about NAPLAN?
It’s worth checking to see who cares about kids at school.
Which party seems to dominate in the ‘care for kids’ business in the classroom…..all kids….all classrooms….no matter where they go to  school?
Below is the copy of a letter that I have sent  to Richmond’s four candidates. I live in the electorate.  There are four parties represented : National, One Nation,  Labor, Green. One of these has already shown complete indifference. More later
Dear Candidate for Richmond, Federal election for 2016,
I am one of your possible constituents and I am also one of a large number of educators who are opposed to the use of NAPLAN testing in Australian schools.
I write, daily at present, for what is called The Treehorn Express, in an effort to have the testing programs cancelled.  You will have seen it if you take an interest in primary schooling. I plan to write an article about the attitudes of political candidates towards NAPLAN issues. 
I am assuming that you know the history of the introduction of these standardised blanket tests and that you have an attitude towards their use.  Our anti-NAPLAN crusade is based on our concern for
[a] The nasty way that children are treated in the administration of the test. It is a form of  emotional child abuse.
[b] The serious impact that the tests have on schooling by extensively  narrowing the school curriculum;
[c] The negative impact that the tests have on the attitudes of children towards certain subjects [notably Maths and Science] and towards schooling itself.
[d] The continuing impact of NAPLAN by its self-generating lowering of standards of Australia’s economic culture.
[e] The denial of choice for parents.
I have searched for comments that you and/or your party might have made about NAPLAN and its effects. While your party has probably had something to say about money for education, Gonski. privatisation, proposed changes and general standards, I have yet to notice any specific comments that you or your party have made about the greatest threat to our country’s economic progress ever perpetrated  in this country.  
You may have different ideas and opinions from those listed above, of course.  Would you be prepared to express them or even state plainly that you were in favour of NAPLAN testing… or opposed to it ….or indifferent to the controversy.
Thank you in anticipation of an early reply.
Phil Cullen
Treehorn Express 
41 Cominan Avenue
Banora Point 2486
07 5524 6443
PARENTS’  RALLY –  Southbank, BRISBANE –  1 JUNE – 11.30 a.m.
Show ‘THEM’ that you are serious about your child’s schooling.

Educational Malpractice.

Aussie Friends of Treehorn
protecting school children from nasty excesses of the greedy and misguided
That’s what Standardised Blanket Testing does – whether it be NCLB [USA], Standards Testing [NZ] or NAPLAN [Australia].  It’s an essential part of its modus operandi.  It is wrecking so many little lives.  
It’s malpractice!
Just substitute ‘Australian’ for ‘American’
Brave teachers who will stick-up for kids are needed more than ever in our history.
Never before have children been so systematically abused and tormented.
Teachers and parents need to form a coalition of determined anti-naplaners.
Even though it may be too late to dump NAPLAN testing in Australia  this year, let’s opt out of the tests on May 10,11,12; and talk about schooling on June 1 at Southbank, Brisbane.
Is Kleinism [aka ‘Fear Driven Schooling] the kind of system that Australia needs? It isn’t working very well.
Phil Cullen  41 Cominan Avenue  Banora Point  Australia 2486  0   cphilcullen@bigpond.com             http://primaryschooling.net/                     http://qldprimaryprincipals.wordpress.com/
07 5524 6443          0407865999
proud to be sticking-up for kids
looking for a decent political party to vote for….one that thinks 
 Let’s think 
What do you think ?  Finland wants to abandon the teaching of subjects!


Test Prep

Aussie Friends of Treehorn

protecting school children from nasty excesses of the greedy and misguided
It’s Test Prep Time
Aussie kids should be sweating it out now.
“Test Prep is about studying the arcane way that the tests structure the questions….far from straight forward….deliberately tricky…don’t teach anything – useless…..handling the computer component….
makes a lot of money for Test Prep companies …”
For “Common Core”, read “NAPLAN”
PARENTS’  RALLY –  Southbank, BRISBANE –  1 JUNE – 11.30 a.m.
Show ‘THEM’ that you are serious about your child’s schooling.
Phil Cullen  41 Cominan Avenue  Banora Point  Australia 2486  0   cphilcullen@bigpond.com             http://primaryschooling.net/                     http://qldprimaryprincipals.wordpress.com/
07 5524 6443          0407865999
proud to be sticking-up for kids
looking for a decent, democratic party to vote for
hoping that Australian schools will concentrate on mass devotion to a love for  learning soon.

Opting Out? ACARA details

Aussie Friends of Treehorn

protecting school children from nasty excesses of the greedy and misguided


They need our serious consideration

What are trying to do to our kids?

Can I withdraw my child from the tests? I have a ‘philosophical objection’ (See “Withdrawals” below]. Yes. Indeed.  I hate the rotten things; Amen.

Below is an extract from ACARA’s attack on parental rights…..the sort of rules that Gradgrind would insist upon….trying to remove as many parental  rights as possible.  They are removed without remorse or feeling or compassion for child welfare.  We need to consider what these testucratic bullies are doing to us and our children. NAPLAN represents political bullying of the worst totalitarian kind.

No recognition of parents’ rights. Parents not even asked if they approve of high stakes testing for their children.

The ‘bull’ is highlighted in red in the ACARA documentation below. Please pause and think when you come to something in red.

Parents can and should ignore any references to testucating expectations and the demand that a formal application must be received in time (Para 1). That is absolute rubbish.  Australia is a democracy and such demands [reminiscent of totalitarian states] are out of place. The Rule of Law applies to school children even though they are at school. ACARA is ordering children to submit to the torture of fear and emotional upset caused by standardised blanket testing. We all know that such intrusions into the curriculum cause gross emotional upset and a dislike for certain subjects [e.g. Maths & Science] and a general dislike for schooling itself.


You will note that ACARA  says that NAPLAN tests are “a part of school routine”.   RUBBISH.    SHEER UNADULTERATED RUBBISH.  Until NAPLAN took over the curriculum and school time tables, all schools had their own forms of Learning, Evaluation and Reporting programs. NAPLAN is an insulting one-off intrusive attack on all respectable, professional, home-grown school evaluation programs. It just took over.  In 2008, it instituted a monstrous disruption to teaching and learning by political fiat, that is now seriously affecting school operations and our children’s educational welfare….and the country’s future.


All in all, the amount of valuable learning time that is consumed by NAPLAN nonsense for months each year is frightening. It’s far too much….

and there have been no positive results……on the contrary……only diminishing test scores and a battered curriculum.


“While participation by all students is expected, students may be withdrawn from the testing program by their parent/carer. This is a matter for consideration by individual parents/carers. Withdrawals are intended to address issues such as religious beliefs and philosophical objections to testing. A formal application in the manner specified for each state or territory must be received by the principal prior to the testing. Your principal can provide further information about the withdrawal process. For more information, see Student participation.




Exemptions may be granted for students with a language background other than English or for students with a disability. In both cases, schools need to discuss the proposed exemption with the student’s parent/carer and gain their permission prior to the testing period.

English language proficiency: Students with a language background other than English who arrived from overseas and have been attending school for less than a year before the test may be exempted. However, these students are not automatically exempt and should be given the opportunity to participate in testing. Principals can expect information from test administration authorities on the preferred method for collecting and recording this information. Students may be exempt from one test (e.g. reading) but still be able to participate in another test (e.g. numeracy).

Students with disability: Adjustments are provided to students with disability to support access to the tests and encourage maximum participation.  Students with significant intellectual disability and/or those with significant co-existing conditions which severely limit their capacity to participate in the tests may be exempted from sitting the national tests. This is determined after consultation has occurred between the principal and the relevant parent/carer, and if it is decided the student is not able to access the tests with adjustments. For more information on the types of adjustments available, see the section on Adjustments for students with disability.


NAPLAN tests are a routine part of the school calendar. However students may be withdrawn from the testing program by their parent/carer if there are religious beliefs or philosophical objections to testing. This is a matter for consideration by individual parents/carers in consultation with their child’s school. A formal application in the manner specified by the relevant test administration authority (TAA) must be received by the principal prior to the testing.


Students are considered absent for test purposes in the following instances:

  • They did not sit the tests because they were not present at school when the test was administered.
  • They were unable to sit the test as a result of an accident or mishap.
  • They were at school but were too ill to partic


Principals are encouraged to enable the participation of students who were absent on the day of the test but who return to school within the week scheduled for NAPLAN testing.”

Phil Cullen  41 Cominan Avenue  Banora Point  Australia 2486  
 cphilcullen@bigpond.com             http://primaryschooling.net/                     http://qldprimaryprincipals.wordpress.com/
07 5524 6443          0407865999 
proud to be sticking-up for kids
looking for a decent political party to vote for….one that thinks 
 Let’s think 
Have a peep at the attachment from John Oliver.


Why do we tolerate it?


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 .
Accountability during the present era of schooling is described in  Arabic numerals.    Finland is said to be better than Singapore because it scored higher numbers on the peculiar PISA tests for 15  year-olds. Are you sure?  How’s its Music and Social Education programs? Northern Territory has a better system of schooling than Victoria because it scores better at Literacy kinds of tests. Are you sure?   How’s its Art and Environmental Education? Turpentine High [7] is a better school than St. Custard’s Grammar [4] because it scored higher on NAPLAN tests.  Are you sure? How descriptive can  these silly statements be, when there is no reliable arithmetical mechanism known to man to authenticate them ? Using numerals to describe a child’s abilities for lively, active social intellectual undertakings like learning through an holistic curriculum, and then using an average number to describe  a school or a schooling system, is just not possible. It’s ridiculous! Then the art of making wide-sweeping generalisations after testing only three small parts of extensive standaridsed subjects!   Just think. Isn’t such activity listed in the upper reaches of lists of crazed behaviour?
An outcome of managerialism, it’s a crazy, puerile way of describing things, surely. Some ‘funny’ adults even believe in it! It’s how NAPLAN operates. Why not use Egyptian hieroglyphics or Greek icons?  It is such a stupid idea…..extracting numbers under duress once every two years from a collection of small kids who don’t like what they are doing.  These small kids are human beings, part of humanity and cannot be classified by using inhumane procedures to produce a digital description. We use our children for the wrong purpose.  We exploit them.
As Kathleen Lynch {‘New managerialism in education: the organisational form of neoliberalism’} suggests, managerialism stripped the public service and schools of ethical values during the 1980-90s; and replaced them with the ideals of profiteering. Things had to be quantified before they could be judged. In the case of schooling, those sections that could be run for profit, were isolated and exploited, including …..
1. TESTING and its associated industries: publishing, special programs, concocted curriculum appendages, computer tablets and  associated software.   It’s now worth billions to its exploiters. Our children are intellectually, emotionally and socially dismembered for the sake of a score.
2. PRIVATIZATION. Running a private school can be a very lucrative business. Fees and government subsidies have never been so high. While non-fee-paying public schools have always set the main for general achievements and social maturity without much fuss, the ‘air of respectability’ and the inculcation of neoliberal values that private schools claim, is hard to beat.
NAPLAN, it must be said, is an organisational blunt weapon of neoliberalism used on the most vulnerable of Australia’s citizens. It reduces first order teaching and learning principles as well as respected social and moral attitudes, like ‘be kind, and care for kids’,  to lower order principles. “Trust, integrity, care and solidarity with others are subordinated to regulation, control and competition. In this regard it [managerialism]  provides a unique type of moral guidance for businesses and organisations modelled on businesses, including hospitals, schools. welfare offices and housing departments.’  says Katheen Lynch. NAPLAN has suppressed professional values to the extent that its conduct has become incidental to the running of the school, whose broader curriculum it cunningly controls.
In terms of accountability, the public, it is said, has the right to know which schools are working properly and which ones are not. We don’t insist on  this in other caring professions’ edifices. Have you ever heard of a hospital, dental clinic, child-care centre, aged home or any other caring institution described by a newspaper or official statement in numbers after a paper and pencil test of clients? We trust such places to do the right thing. They all do.
Honestly, does Australia really need unenlightened, uncaring, inexperienced, bullying individuals  to test our children without permission, to produce a useless score; and then say ,”Here’s the evidence that one school or one system is better than another?” Such poppycock!
If high stakes levels of accountability are necessary for the education system, why not try one that works?
Why not select a group of school experts who have had creditable experience in the classroom and in the curriculum administration of a school; and request them to visit schools to evaluate the standard of operations ofall the things that schools are obligedto do to have its future citizens  learn about learning.  If one has spent a reasonable period of time teaching and administering, one doesn’t have to be in a school for too long, before one can ‘feel’ the atmosphere. Visiting classrooms, talking around, observing child behaviour in learning terms, watching the teacher-pupil interactions, getting immersed in the physical environment as a learning centre all have their messages for an assessor whose ‘been there, done that’ previously. Why not choose the very best of those known to be expert at these things to circulate around a number of schools and report to the controlling authority on the state of things?
Let’s do the job properly.   Let’s find out how good each school is, public  and private within a geographical area.  Because of their classroom expertise, such people will be able to talk turkey to all school personnel about their style of pupilling and curriculum application. They’ll be able to see things and comprehend their meaning  and then fly with pollen on their wings to other places, spreading useful ideas and helping all human beings in each school, within their bailiwick, to grow professionally and to teach better. They will know real pupilling when they see it. They’ll know a real learning classroom when they see one. They’ll be on the spot to give advice when they see that an adjustment is necessary.
If they work as a team and have a real, institutional connection with the major curriculum body at state level, everybody knows what’s going on and the public has access to the state of affairs of a particular subject or special curriculum activity at any particular point in time.  No more one hit fear-based tests on pieces of language or maths or science and then broadly defining the condition of a school. Such poppycock!
Think about it. Yes, You’ve heard of this kind of thing.  You know that it works. You know that it keeps schools on their pupilling and curriculum toes.
Why not re-invent it?                      ______________________________________________________________
Phil Cullen  41 Cominan Avenue  Banora Point  Australia 2486  07 5524 6443   cphilcullen@bigpond.com         
    http://primaryschooling.net/                     http://qldprimaryprincipals.wordpress.com/

Parents’ alert

Aussie Friends of Treehorn

protecting school children from nasty excesses of the greedy and misguided
Does my child have to ‘do’ NAPLAN tests?
Let’s all make sure that, during the month of April, each parent of every child in Years 3,5.7.9 in every single Australian schools knows that they have a choice.  
While our government is being deliberately deceitful in this matter and does not tell parents in any clear manner that they have the right to say “Yes” or “No”, and try to make things as difficult as possible when they have to, parents still do  have this right. Keeping such secrets gives Australian politicians and school officials no credit for honesty or ethical behaviour. 
Ethical democratic principles are at stake here.  
All a parent needs to do is drop a short note to their child’s teacher or to the principal, despite the way in which ACARA expresses its requirements. Nothing more.  
Principals and teachers also have an obligation to express their opinion of NAPLAN testing in the public arena; and are professionally obliged to inform the parents of their pupils of their rights. They need to do so asap prior to their pre-NAPLAN teaching program for this year, or give the reasons why they don’t ‘indulge’ in test-prep. It’s April.
There has never been an official instruction to prohibit principals from offering the choice to parents.  There is a furphy abroad that they are not allowed to do so. It is now clear, that this furphy was perpetrated by a few brown-nosing non-school state departmental executives in regional areas. No self-respecting school-oriented educator would try to deceive parents in this way. 
Even some professional organisations are fearful of mentioning that parents have a choice.
Offering parents the democratic right to say “Yes’ or “NO – not just ‘No’
is just good-manners.  Not to offer the choice is crude and insulting.
Ethical principals should publically inform all parents of this right through normal school communications.  Some will provide a pro forma, offering the choice to their parents. It doesn’t matter which one is used. [ACARA has a copy that requires a statement of a religous belief or philosophical stance. No need for it. Use anything….as long as the school hears of your intentions.]
If one is not supplied by schools, parents who  prefer to be more ‘official’, will find a pro forma in the Literacy Educators’ site, mentioned below. The need for special ACARA documents to withdraw from NAPLAN is quite untrue. A short note is sufficient.
Educational authorities have the same obligations of transparency.  So do media outlets.  The right of choice, under the present circumstances needs to be a media responsibility. If media outlets had more autonomy and believed seriously in the concept of a free press, NAPLAN would not be here now. 
Since it is unlikely that public exposure of parental rights will occur in the short term, principals and teachers must take the initiative…for the kids sake. Tell parents.  
Let’s do it now.  Tell the world…
 School pupils do not have to do NAPLAN tests.

Why is Australia failing and what can we do about it?

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 .
This article provides the evidence, then asks an oft-repeated, easily-answerable, double-barrelled question about our declining PISA scores in Mathematics and Science
Of course we are falling behind….seriously falling behind. The evidence is shouting at us..
It would be nice if Australia could produce  outstanding Mathematicians and Scientists, wouldn’t it?  It can do it, but our pollies are holding back on the decision to stop standardised blanket testing. Since NAPLAN was introduced, we have been hell-bent on teaching children to dislike both subjects.  That’s always been the idea behind NAPLAN.  Induce fear; and pupils will work harder. If a child comes to hate Maths and Science, tough luck. Lots of people do. It’s the scores for this year’s tests that our domineering testucators want. They don’t give a hoot about attitudes to learning. During the years of NAPLAN testing, our scores in all sorts of these weird tests have declined.  It’s no wonder.  Any serious classroom teacher will tell you why.
If NAPLAN goes out the window into the garbage bin where it belongs, and we start to teach about the beauty and excitement and challenge and plain good fun that Maths and Science provide, we will undoubtedly get somewhere.
Only one commentator on the article linked the demise in scores to the influence of NAPLAN, as you will read.  Another spotted its dire influence but likes tests just the same. Most others blamed a lack of money, social class, overworked syllabuses, state education bureaucrats [I was one of them!] but not on our dogged testucrats’ determination to make sure kids disliked calculations and operations. 
NAPLAN seems designed to teach kids to hate learning. It’s working and results shown in the article, amongst other things, confirm this belief.
I was fortunate enough to share some time with HMI, Edith Biggs, the world’s  primary school mathematics guru of the mid-to-late twentieth century, and to correspond with her . I [as a school inspector]shared some of her ideas at the time with Chas Sheehan, foundation principal of Healy State School in Mt. Isa. You will find that the school’s motto is named after Edith Bigg’s best known book: Freedom to Learn – Active Learning Approach to Mathematics. It was a gem.
She was a prolific writer, and her books on the teaching of Mathematics in schools sold like hot cakes around the world. Some may be  still available. [e.g. “Teaching mathematics 5-9- a classroom guide for older children” ; “Confident Maths Teaching 5-13.” and others] She saw Mathematics as the second language that we use to interpret the world and she was particularly keen on its association with art. She taught children to observe the world and note the wonderful shapes, and exciting measurements; and to talk about them. Talking in mathematical and scientific terms should be part of enjoying life. She showed kids that Maths is a beautiful, exciting subject.
Australian pupils are not allowed to enjoy mathematics and science as Edith foresaw. They must produced scores. They must practice, practice on old tests and some new ones to answer tricky questions at naplan time. Ye Gods! If they dislike Maths and Science as a consequence, tough luck. Lot’s of people do.  ACARA needs the data for some non-educative, most-peculiar reasons.  Such a waste of time and money when children could spend the time now wasted, searching the world for mathematical and scientific beauty and form.  
Shame kids. It’s now only a matter of days to the slippery-slide test.  My advice is to get your mum or dad to opt you out of the naplannic assault on two beautiful subjects, before much more damage is done..  Become a conscientious objector to anything that attacks your ability to learn. Spend the three days [10,11,12 May] learning something.
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.
Why do we tolerate it?
Let’s protect our kids from cowardly politicians, greedy corporations and misguided school-measurers, who just don’t know what damage they are doing.