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

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