AUSSIE FRIENDS OF TREEHORN
Will Common Sense Ever Return to the Classroom?
When your computer or TV set fails, switching the machine off for a while, rejuvenates it. Maybe that’s what we need to do with the failed NAPLAN testing program. Switch the testing program off until a better alternative is found.
It seems, though, as if our politicians are too beholden to the big end of town and cannot prise themselves from its clutches. There’s nobody in Canberra with any grunt or spunk to try to stop the nonsense….to consider the plight of the millions of little Treehorns, totally ignored by adults. They can’t turn off the greatest threat that Australia has to our economic growth; and they don’t seem to care about the mental health of its young citizens. For the sake of kids, maybe the all powerful testucating fraternity appointed by our pollies, some of whom may have had a passing brush with schooling, might have the power to turn the use of Naplan into a voluntary service.
The well-heeled ACARA might like to make NAPLAN tests available free-of-charge to any teacher who requests them. Just that. No collection of useless data. No competition. No harmful publication of results. Just let the teachers use them if they think that they are of any value and wish to use them. [As a test-fixated principal in my immature days, I wore out two copies of Diagnostic and Attainment Testing by Fred & Eleanor Schonell. I loved testing. I even asked a volunteer aide to spend her entire time over a few months at the school, using Schonells’ Individual Reading Test, to test as many pupils as possible; and a contact at the Schonell Centre became a close friend. Except for the friendship made, the rest was a complete waste of time but it was on my terms. I wanted to know. After awakening to the extent of the damage that I was doing, I later found that the in-built classroom alternatives to blanket testing are much more effective and efficient at getting to know the child and assess class progress. Even routinized shared evaluation techniques work better than raw, bullying blanket types of mass testing.
( I hope testucators understand what I mean by that remark).] Evaluation as part of the teaching/learning act is powerful stuff. Modes of shared evaluation focus on the child in a personal, confidential 3-way –teacher, pupil, parent – form of collaboration; and not on the extremely competitive, public, immoral Canberra-based one-hit way– – that Gabby Stroud described so well.] The gagging of principals and the mushrooming of parents were dreadful tactics to be employed when our frenemies introduced the scheme. The professional operators in the classroom have far more expertise than anyone located somewhere else, to be able to decide when and how any kind of test should be used.
And….after all…..child welfare and love of learning MUST come first………. not working like mad to supply data to Canberra.
Education in Australia needs to escape from its “Canberra state of mind’ and get back to the schools for learning purposes.
Can anyone in the holy-of-holies explain why May is the chosen month for children to trade three days of learning for three days of stupid inactivity at a desk, filling in bubbles? Simon? Yes It suits Canberra.and its politicians aren’t brave enough to use basic common sense – or don’t know what blanket testing means in the schooling context.
If economic growth hinges on harnessing knowledge, innovation and talent [SMH 18/09/16], Australia has big, big problems. For years, we’re been heading in the wrong direction. We’re on the edge of a plateau, heading downwards….that’s for sure. The existence of NAPLAN is very, very serious business. It’s effects can, no longer, be ignored!
Please let COMMON SENSE prevail. Things have got out of hand. Talk to some real teachers.
Have another look at ‘The Drum” http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-09-16/the-drum-friday-september-16/7854134