NAPLAN is NOPLAN – A commentary



This is an invitation to readers of The Treehorn Express to comment on the comments and examine the ‘credentials’ of NAPLAN testing in more depth than we have in the past.  First…


1. Former NSW primary principal, Ray Armstrong forwarded ‘Treehorn’ the copy of the interview conducted by a radio station in Victoria concerning the recently released results on the NAPLAN tests, and forwarded in the Treehorn Express on 9 March.


……and listen to the attached audio….former school Principal John Nelson exposes NOPLAN

A national breakdown of school results shows a lack of improvement in numeracy and literacy levels of some high school level students. The data has been released today on the MySchool website, the one-stop online portal for parents to monitor schools’ performance. One former Victorian school leader who resigned over a NAPLAN controversy, thinks the flat line trend points to a need to lift both teaching and student standards.

  1. I thanked Ray in the following way…

    Thanks Ray…….from Treehorn.

    Looks like the State Control of Learning is a flop. Teaching is best left to Teachers, free to expand pupils’ learning to the limit…ignoring the political pursuit of naplan mediocrity. 

    Q.E.D.  “What was to be was demonstrated.”

    The Fallacy of Hegemonic Dominance certainly applies.

    3. This provoked Paul Wildman to comment in the following manner; and it is Paul’s observations that I should like to use to provoke further discussion.


Phil and Ray well done.  A few comments please –

Ray’s conceptual understanding of NAPLAN (and yours Phil to a point) is still quite narrow. The solution will be in our techno-utopian mind set will be More Of The Same that is more and intense NAPLAN applied by computers and discipline, funding loss, fiscal corporal punishment, so to speak, if failure occurs will expand exponentially.  Our culture is, I submit from a political perspective, only interested in the scientific-technical side of things not the socio side of things i.e. seeing schooling as a socio-technical exercise as per the late great Aust systems theorist Fred Emery.

NAPLAN is actually emerging as a complete alternative pedagogical world that is part of Big Business just like Big Pharma and Big Brother – in fact in NSW from next year you can’t sit for your senior certificate if you haven’t got an ‘8’ in NAPLAN – can you/we see how the Western Anglo mindset reproduces itself herein.  NAPLAN has now become THE pedagogical system for Australia NOT conventional subjects etc.  And this is just the beginning.

As with the EPA and FDA in the US we see what in ancient Greek is called ‘enantiodromia’ where the opposite is achieved to what is set out to do.  So these US bodies, by their decisions and actions (not their public remit) are now responsible for increasing pollution and increasing obesity and cancer in particular, respectively.  So, I fear, it is thus with Education Big Ed as it may be called.

Stopping NAPLAN and continuing say schools, centralised curriculum, hierarchical power over systems therein, Nation State based, same age cohort class groups, exclusion of community from pedagogy will solve only part of our dilemma as schools themselves are as we discussed simply antiquated machines for producing factory fodder for industries of yesteryear (indeed our whole Governance structure is similarly outdated) – now universities are the same mix – right down to Kindy curricula all decided centrally by the elite and all based on this failing user pays system.

You Phil support the work of school inspectors. I submit the inspectorate as a whole, functioned as a surveillance mechanism for the elite – which you were part of.   Systems wise the momentum was and is, in Anglo countries, only towards NAPLAN and its intensification within Anglo Nation States.

I welcome discussion of these broader issues as well as NAPLAN.

Ciao paul

Wildman, P. (1998). Biting the Bullet with Fred Emery. Futures, 30(6), Second Thoughts section: 573-583.

Wildman, P. e. (1998). A Retrospective on Fred Emery. Futures (August), 30(6), 573-584.

Paul Wildman  (1) Our future is not ours to colonise but is loaned to us by our grandchildren. (2) Scale needs to be sensitive enough to pick up context.Go CRAFT! . Go kids and adults learning  . Go the Bush Mechanic  Brisbane LETS No: 140 Mob: 0412027818   KALGROVE Pty Ltd. Attn. P Wildman. PO 73 Northgate Brisbane 4013 Australia. NB: unless specifically and previously agreed emails cannot be assumed to be confidential.

  1. Paul’s observations needs further discussion. I’d like to start.


  Paul’s observations are accepted without equivocation. The narrowness of my [aka Treehorn’s] crusade to get rid of NAPLAN, was confined to the criticisms of the macho-seditious way that it was introduced, the meek acceptance of the scheme by ‘education’ groups, the use of fear as a motivational instrument of learning, the deceitfulness of keeping parents’ democratic rights hidden from them.   I tried to concentrate on the lack of humanity in our treatment of children and the basic stupidity of NAPLAN.  Tough luck.  I just didn’t do any good.

As Paul suggests, the use of NAPLAN tests has initiated a new pedagogical system for Australia and my thin, weak  form of argument has been too focussed on its effects on the mental health and educative progress of young children…and little else.  Indeed, I thought that little else would be necessary, to have it banned,  but I was wrong. I have received a big red F for my efforts, and my stubbornness has not helped. I overplayed the criticism of kleinist attitudes. I guess I thought that I could crack the style of Aussie casual indifference to such schooling; and that every primary school principal in Australia would adopt my point of view;  but I couldn’t and didn’t.  We should now -at this present time in history – be undergoing a monumental shift from traditional pedagogy and the malpractice of  learning/testing traditional techniques to an unfulfilled urgent need for a nation of self-determined learners who can adjust to the dark side of corporate ideologies. THERE IS A SERIOUS  NEED TO DISCUSS THIS. WE NEED A RENEWED FOCUS ON SCHOOLING. AS AN ISSUE, IT IS BIG.

Curriculum issues have been limited to accountability, diagnosis and remediation.  We have dwelt on problem-solving related only to data gathering and  the passing of  tests, instead of enabling the young to be proactive in their efforts to make sense of a rapidly changing, innovative world. We need to talk about a curriculum that will help them to cope, but we seem to be prohibited from talking about it at length.  As we move from a pedagogy based on ‘teacher knows all’  and will teach children what they should know  and an andragogy that promotes more personal responsibility for learning and liking it, through to a future of heutagogical learning styles that will be essential for survival, there is no place for stupidities like NAPLAN. It had its day in 2009 when we learned about its seductive sabotage of basic child rights and its seditious intent, well described by Paul. It’s still around doing its damage and it shouldn’t be.

Within the profession, there is a critical need for a deep discussion on professional ethics and their relationship to UNESCO’s Rights of the Child. Why isn’t there a Code of Conduct that relates to them?  Do teachers observe a professionally initiated Code of Conduct or a bureaucratic Code of Control concocted by sciolist bureaucrats?  Are we, as Paul suggests, running schools that  are “….simply antiquated machines producing factory fodder for industries of yesteryear..”

When Bill Ford [1997] said that we should prefer ‘knowledge sharing’ rather than ‘knowledge hoarding’, Hase and Kenyon* said, ” In this respect heutagogy [i.e. self-directed learning] looks to the future in which knowing how to learn will be a fundamental skill given the pace of innovation and the changing structure of communities and workplaces”

While we have always spoken blithely about the need for pupils to ‘learn how to learn’, Australia has yet to discuss the kinds of pedagogy that work to set children on their learning trail from Year 1. Australia has also yet to discuss its casual indifference to schooling and learning matters and especially its toleration of the abuse of children’s mental health through the creation of fear and anxiety in the classroom.  Why do Aussie adults prefer to ignore serious issues such as these? How can we continue to tolerate the distress and anxiety it causes to almost every pupil…the suicides and the like? Would anybody notice if fictitious Treehorn regrew to his normal height and then turned a livid green..he did, and still is..[That message didn’t get through either, did it?] …..or notice that NAPLAN is failing with Greek ‘enantiodromiac’ spirit ? Will ‘Noticing’  itself ever become a syllabus requirement?  Did Aussies notice that Paul’s ‘enantiodromia’ was the main feature of  the most recent NAPLAN results.  The fear element was supposed to produce better results, but it took control of the contestants attitude to learning.  Learning, after all, is an individual act and you will not make me learn if I don’t want to. The pupils reacted to the last NAPLAN test in a very noticeable way….but….did we notice?  They reversed the intention. The next trick is for testucating sciolists to dumb down all future tests [if we are silly enough to persist with them] to ensure better scores on My School noticeboard. Who cares? Who would notice?

*Google: From Andragogy to Heutagogy by Stewart Hase & Chris Kenyon (2001) USC

Phil Cullen 41 Cominan Avenue Banora Point 2486 07 5524 6443  0407865999  REFER: ‘Who’s Who in Australia’

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