Rollicking Politics

Rollicking Politics

Australia is enduring a peculiar period of political chicanery, wastage of enormous amounts of money  and indifference to social welfare, this year.

Maverick Pauline Hanson is taking over the airways and gaining ground every day on issues that befound and befuddle the population as our two major neo-con parties try to throttle each other. If she promises to ban NAPLAN, she’s the next PM. The major parties are losing their good manners,their ideological base and looking more like each other in their pursuits of neo-conservatism. The greens poke their noses at the others and nothing else. They seem to tolerate too easily their title of ‘tree-huggers’ and have become indifferent to things like schooling and caring for kids. In all, the Libs and Labs are antagonistic to children’s well-being, Greens are indifferent and the remainder just don’t care. Our education system is in a mess and no political party cares. Our future is dicey.

Sadly, there is no ‘star’ amongst the great number of state and federal politicians, no stalwart, no crusader who will stand up for the rights of children in their party room, in their state or federal legislature or in their star chambers. ‘Gutless wonders’, so-called, they don’t know how to talk about kids and their learning; nor to discuss why we force them to go to school…..and it’s not too difficult. Here’s a summary.

Kids go to school to learn things from a teacher. Each child is a pupil who is expected to work with his or her teacher; and each teacher is expected to provide the learning experiences that matter for the healthy, whole-hearted development of each child. Authorities believe that it takes about 12 or 13 years and a variety of teachers to do the job properly.

Let me repeat the key phrase : “WITH A TEACHER”….not controlled by some distant measurement freak

Kids do not go to school to pass tests. They go to school to learn;  and a major part of the learning process is for the teacher and the pupil to evaluate the progress of each child’s learning as they learn [not some time later] ; and so, each child grows in confidence and gets better. It ain’t easy and distractions from the teaching-learning-evaluating curriculum process are a nuisance; major distractions like external standardised blanket testing can be quite toxic. NAPLAN has shown that it is.  Such tests contain a lethal gene that destroys a love of the subject and of schooling and of learning. It’s extremely dangerous.

Effective evaluation does not need written tests nor high stakes nonsense. Children progress best with a pat on the back or a ‘word in season’ at the particular point in the learning process…not months away. Every person who bothers to read this page will recall a point in time when they were told by someone they respected that they were good at something  and they lived up to that prediction. Ask your favourite sports person or singer or artist how they came to be so good. Mr. Ghirladaiu told young Michael Angelo that he was good at drawing.

Business corporations who, once employed the cream of the school graduates became unable to understand, after the cream graduates went on to higher education,that they were left with the strugglers ….better value, but no more Einsteins amongst them. They blamed the school fraternity for producing lower level workers and when they had to pay through the nose for uni. graduates, they blamed the system.

Very , very ignorant politicians listened to the whinges of the high and mighty corporate bodies and felt obliged to do as they were told by their sponsors and lobbyists. Besides, a toxic meme that referred to standards of schooling was receiving controlled encouragement by the George Bush intelligentsia in New York where billion-dollar enterprises, connected to publishing tests and test-prep computer programs had got going.  The links to Australia were very, very strong.

All in all, the big boys decided that there was big money in school activities, once you had control of the activities. Money-making and blanket testing are a perfect couple….a perfect storm. Since then, others have found that schooling can be a very profitable racket in a number of ways.

So, when pumped-up Kevin Rudd, as PM decided that bullying tactics worked best when one dealt with schooling, he sent a bully to meet a bully who had an enormous reputation for bullying and was despised for the way he did it. So…we copied it. We must love the notion of kids trembling in a test room to confirm the big-business opinion of slovenliness.  The story of how Fair-Dinkum pupilling – consensual arrangements for learning – in Australia, became girt and choked by a toxic testing program in Australia – unfolds in Chapter 3…  

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