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.

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