Skinning Cats Alive.

I had convinced myself during the 1980s that, within twenty years, Australia would have a schooling system that was like no other…..built purely on love for learning and a zest for achievement in all things. At the time, things were on the up-and-up and school leadership was more ethical and professional and thoughtful than it had ever been. Teachers were proving their academic and professional worth in the big arena. Bureaucrats were learning to pull their heads in and were releasing the power of a truly caring profession. There was ‘Pride in Primary’ – real fair-dinkum pride in being a primary teacher -a catch-phrase that the good guys used at the time during their professional and personal activities. Classrooms looked like exciting learning places…‘Living, Learning Laboratories’ as Bob Pashen called them – inviting children to come in and join in the joy of learning. Things felt good. We had a lot of wrinkles to iron out that would take some doing and a lot more independence to be grasped … but we knew we could do it. We felt so tall and so proud of being primary.

Bugger! We couldn’t. A special form of heavy-handed totalitarian political control grew alien antennae that made some powerful politico-weirdos believe they knew everything about everything.,..and they took over the activities of governments.

A toxic form of managerialism hit the fan in the mid-80s; and we lost sight of the kids. These aliens organised and started running testing factories replacing real people who’d been-there-done-that ,organising schools of learning and mentoring others on the way. These good guys were cunningly dominated by absurdists who forced fear-laden testing on kids and have now done more damage to Australia than the Japanese could ever have done. Fear-laden swotting of a kind never known before has replaced decent teaching. The load on small pupils during normal learning time, the likes of which no previous generation has had to tolerate. is enormous. Kids are still our future, but you wouldn’t think so. 

Now we have a take-over of schooling by the most ruthless gang of kid-bashing monsters ever. Schools, intended to be the centres of schooling excellence that our children deserve, were set up on Day 1 of schooling … ,last Monday…. to be an examination centre for happy, anxious young kids who’d been dreaming of something else on their first day. 

What an introduction to a lifetime of learning!

The little ones were kept quiet and submissive, we’ve been told, waiting for a teacher to give them a series of literacy and mathematical encounters, the results of which were scored and recorded and forwarded to an all-powerful pooh-bah who will keep the data for statistical purposes. The school will be expected to keep the results until the poor little folk contest the really earnest NAPLAN test in Year 3, when they are about 7 years of age. The branding done and intellectual expectations set in place in the minds of those adults whom the child respects at this point, will mark their progress for many years, Day 2 marked the beginning of ‘getting to know you’ activities, starting to ‘down play’ the implications of the day before, and to start the pupilling….fair-dinkum schooling. No one will have time to try to see what effect the testing had on the pupil, how the pupil felt, The effects could be profound, but we big people will pretend that negativity can be patted away and all will be okay. We will also pretend on behalf of those who did not do well, that it doesn’t matter. The kids are so young. They’ll get over it. We’ve sorted them out early, as far as NAPLAN goes, anyhow. 

Remember that page in one of the most wonderful books on education :ThGeranium on the Window Sill Just Died but Teacher you went right on” by Albert Cullum : 

Where is my place in your puzzle, teach?

Do I fit?

Or am I one piece too many?

Tell me for real, teach!

I know there’s no room for me on the bulletin board,

but do I have a place in your puzzle?

When the advisers and special helpers move in to remind the slow or poor-scoring child of his or her inadequacies, we will be sure to get an increase in scores, by Year 3, because that’s what this kind of schooling is all about. By test time in Year 3 0r 5, many pupils will be saying, in Albert Cullum talk :

was good at everything

– honest, everything –

until I started being here with you.

I was good at laughing, 

playing dead, being king.

Yeah, I was good at everything!

But now I’m only good at everything

on Saturdays and Sundays…

It’s certainly useful to know how your pupil stacks up against others and against certain criteria. …and against their own views of themselves. It’s also critical , however, that the information is obtained as part of the learning operation. Those who would kill a cat by skinning it alive, would approve of the way that some schools conducted the operation last Monday. “Hello Sam. Here’s a little fun thing I’d like you to do. Bye Sam”

The media will pile on the plaudits for the kids and the teachers for the first day. It makes good copy. Parents will scurry home to learn how to do it better with the next child. After all, kids talk. The disgrace of having to seek remediation for what I did to my kid! OMG.

I should like to make one point. The way that this operation was carried out, the organisational mode was a disgrace. Only cold and calculating beasts , excuses for humanity, would dream this sort of thing

Teachers will learn more about each child during the first week or two of schooling and use it for each child’s welfare; in the way things ought to operateand;, hopefully, repair some of the damage done by mean-spirited adults who enjoy skinning cats alive,

Phil Culllen, Emeritus Director of Primary Education, Q’ld.., 41 Cominan Avenue, Banora Point. Australia 2486. 07 5524 6443 0407865999 cphilcullen@bigpond.com

Kleinism in Australia 2017. Will it go away?

The future of our nation depends on our attitude towards children and their schooling

KLEINISM IN AUSTRALIA. WILL IT GO AWAY?

A REVIEW

The summer holidays are over ‘down under’, and Australia will commence the new school year under the most peculiar circumstances. We’d like to start a new year of school learning with high levels of confidence in our pupils’ abilities to do as well as they can  and with our own usual high level of teacher zest for teaching  young people how to go about it.  In the long run, we’d like to see Australia at the top of the pole for schooling excellence and our country amongst the leaders of commercial enterprise because of our business expertise in fundamentals and our ability to solve problems, innovate productively and enjoy challenges.   Sadly, these fundamental characteristics of a successful schooling system have to be held on hold for some years; replaced by a testing regime invented by a New York curriculum incompetent, teacher-hater, ex-lawyer;  once in charge of a school district there.

We aren’t allowed to start the school year down under with high hopes and positive attitudes. We are obliged to maintain the ridiculous; to start as early as possible with heavy preparation and intense practice for our annual standardized blanket testing program called NAPLAN, held each May.  Its clone is called NCLB in the US. As educators at the chalk-face, we have no option, no choice, no say. Our system is controlled by testucators, disciples of Kleinism….a fear based system of schooling that was imported in 2008 by Julia Gillard, later our Prime Minister; then federal minister for education. It was one of the biggest mistakes a government representative  ever made.

Following the 2007 federal elections, she was charged by her senior colleague Kevin Rudd, new to the job as PM, to reform the Australian education system almost immediately, because his fellow neo-cons were telling him that teachers were making a mess of it and that most Australian children couldn’t spell or calculate. He used serious threatening language in his instructions to the teaching force and to her, to find something better than what we had. The  Business Council of Australia and the ‘Four Pillars of Australian Banking’, both organisations of neo-liberal persuasion, roundly approved, despite both politicians being known within their temples of wisdom,  as ‘lefties’. It was a peculiar liaison….and became a weird time in our history.  Dutifully, she booked her flight to find a place somewhere in the world that had a reputation.  Actually, Australia had a reputation itself for being amongst the world’s best at the time, but anti-school fanatics were the preferred mouthpieces of the local press – especially the Murdoch press. No. She didn’t select  Finland, South Korea or nearby New Zealand whose schooling achievements were beyond the ordinary. Her first stop was New York. As macabre as the scenario appears, on her first day, she visited Rupert Murdoch, a requirement of all Australian leaders when they travel overseas….. to get their riding instructions.  He arranged for her to attend a cocktail party being organized by the Rockefeller Foundation where she was introduced to Joel Klein, a fellow lawyer who, as strange as it seemed to Australians, was in executive charge of a large school district in New York. His system had a reputation. Indeed. It had a really bigreputation – not for learning or teaching or anything to do with the realities of schooling, but for threatening learners and teachers and principals and schools to do as they were told and, if they didn’t measure up to his requirements, they were out of a job or the school was closed. He sweet-talked our Julia into the effectiveness of this sort of approach to school leadership and,…..within minutes…..Australia had a new system.

She didn’t request a study of the effects of high stakes testing on schooling, nor check the credentials of the New York operators.  She was conned, big time. Rupert and Joel Klein rubbed their hands with glee, because they were in the publishing, programming business, worth billions.

Not long later, Klein  openly boasted to the world that his test-based scheme was well established in Australia. He was correct. Although it is based on fear and deceit and child abuse, Australia still has  it.  The big boys, of the kind that were at the cocktail party, will not allow our government to have any other kind. Their colleagues in the BCA and banking fraternity keep vigilant. That’s clear.  Julia felt that she had found the ultimate touchstone of school control, and was able to persuade the Australian banking community to pay the cost of a visit by her ‘pin-up boy’, as she called co-lawyer Klein,  to speak to them in their own fortresses in Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra. Despite some ethical uncertainties which she later modified by capturing the ‘approval’ of the principals of all Australian schools with a very  swift, cunning and deceitful maneuver. They had to carry the can for professional ethics, once they pronounced their approval of kleinist naplan.  Indeed, they dutifully suspended their professional ethics and still do….adopting an attitude that disappoints proud principals of the present and past wondering how this happened to organisations that were once stalwart and proud of their protection of children’s rights.  Federal and state education bodies, once citadels of wholesome schooling,  succumbed to the use of fear and the abuse of mental health of children for whom they are supposed to be responsible…..and….as Aussies say: “She was in with Flynn”. No blood on her hands.

She established a special unit called the Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority a sort of third level of government power, a sort of bundestag that now completely controls schooling;  and  she made sure that it was staffed with expert measurers whose experience in schooling and teaching and learning was severely limited.  This incongruous mis-match between knowledge of testing and knowledge of learning between people running the show, has had profound consequences.  After all, whoever controls the schooling system, controls the country’s future. The outcomes of constructing testing devices that contain inbuilt pupil dislike and distaste for particular school subjects and for school itself …and doing so in a most rigid manner….has had  effects that run counter to the faith that she and ‘pin-up’ Klein had in improvement of PISA and NAPLAN raw scores. They flopped, failed, flunked all neo-con expectations as schools are doing in countries that are overdoing the fear base; and, it must be noted, run counter to the expectations of parents for schoolies to do the right thing.  Despites their attitude to childhood, they’d like their kids to do well. Australia, after eight years of kleinism is heading downhill fast.

The last few years in the US and in Australia have clearly demonstrated that no schooling system can progress while its most outstanding features at the chalk-face, each capable of gynormous damage, include

Fear of failing

Deceit

Abuse of mental health.

all deliberately imposed by forces beyond the classroom. Office-based testucators of known kleinish measurement calibre have no idea of what happens in the classroom. They just mass-produce tests, send them to schools, gather the data, pat themselves on the back, blame teachers when things don’t go so well.

But, hold! Now, a breath of fresh air. A hopeful start has been made in the US education circles, our major mentors, in December 2016, by reducing the ponderous effects of centralised control. Releasing states from their fearful obligations is a small step, but it is a step in the right direction. Maybe, one day, control of the learning act will seep down through the numerous know-it-all hierarchies to the real learning centres in all countries where the teaching/learning experts reside, now being wrecked by the corrupting influences of kleinism – fear,  deceit and abuse.

Down under, we’re notoriously slow to examine the effects of imports from up over.  The big boys there and here do not like it, when educators reveal the truth….that the problem lies within the testing itself. We can’t expect any improvement to learning in our schools in 2017. Both places have a devil-may-care attitude towards children and their schooling; and basic timidity prevents us from sticking up for kids.

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Phil Cullen 41 Cominan Avenue  Banora Point Australia 2486    PH:07 5524 6443  cphilcullen@bigpond.com   Refer: “Who”s Who in Australia”

ATTITUDE

The future of our nation depends on our attitude towards children and their schooling
ATTITUDE

Hardening of attitudes is one one the world’s must serious diseases – Zig Zigler

 

  • ATTITUDE is a human condition defined by Jung as “…the readiness of a person’s psyche to act or react in a certain way.”  This psychic reaction is usually the result of a personal evaluation of the circumstances that surround our social experiences.   In the workplace, a person adjusts control over his/her feelings once the affective domain checks out what is being demanded by somebody else….each using his or her esoteric knowledge and experience to develop a specific attitude.  Each person decodes the messages coming through the work-a-day system in his/her own way and reacts with enthusiasm or ennui or rejection. If the motives of those in charge  run counter to the ethics of the professional operator at the work-face or their attitude is not to give two hoots about the underling’s attitude, there will be problems. Attitudes will clash. System-wide ennui is guaranteed….. prior to rejection. Systems, especially schooling ones, hope that everybody….administrators, assistants of all kinds, teachers, teacher- aides, children become enthusiastic and demonstrate positive similar attitudes to learning [the only business of schooling] per se. The Finns adopted this attitude years ago. It’s an intense, involved business….esoteric in a very real sense….. so it is important for a country’s development that everybody is on a similar wave-length about the best ways, allowing for variety  of course, to teach children how to learn. Think of Finland’s all-as-one attitude to learners and teachers.  However, if wires are crossed as to the purpose of schooling and there is a serious divergence of attitudes in the ways that schools and schooling authorities teach and evaluate , all is lost…for sure. Think Australia

Distinguished psychologist, Gordon Allport describes ATTITUDE as “…the most distinctive and indispensable concept in contemporary society”.

Let’s look at Australia’s attitude to schooling. It is sadly in need of a major overhaul as this example shows: We were, to a person, impressed by Finland’s mode of schooling because it does well at PISA tests for 15 year olds every three years; NOT because its schools value the learning habits of its children, and the country highly values what teachers do in the teaching-learning-classroom context.  We were impressed by its high scores because weprefer to use bang-crash modes of instruction and have a  penchant for using numerals to describe human endeavour. It’s a post millennium form of pagan idolatry…adoration of numerals.  That’s true, isn’t it? What is going on? How come the Finns don’t use our crash-bang-rigid techniques? What do they know, that we don’t? Do people really do better when they like learning? Fear makes people do as they are told in concentration camps, correction centres, battle procedures and the like. It should work in schools. That’s our forte…our attitude to learning. Be big and strong and commanding. Finland seems to work back-to-front. The whole country likes the idea of learning.

Monopath, Julia Gillard, representing our entrenched screwball attitude to schooling and teating when she chose the Klein system of fear-based learning in 2007, did so with confidence that Australia’s attitude to schooling and scoring is of the bang-crash-wallop-fear kind. Attitude! With her attitude embedded in looking for a malevolent solution rather than a tender, inclusive one for Australia to conduct an  evaluation of its schooling system, she only went for one extreme view. She only looked at one, using the Stuart Firestein technique of ‘farting around in the dark’; but, she grabbed the kind her friend Kevin wanted. Since then, of course, it has been shown that she boo-booed,  that the use of NAPLAN testing to judge the standard of schooling is the work of fools, but we are stuck with it because she and her political and corporate friends said that we must do as we are told….despite our professional desires to exert true ethics and esoteric knowledge that will benefit children…..and avoid the kind of  serious damage that NAPLAN inflicts.

Now, we Aussies also tend to judge a country’s world ranking only by its three-yearly scores on extreme PISA tests for 15 year olds.  That, in normal circumstances, is a pretty big ask….and a sick one….and another sample of the work of fools.  It presumes that what is tested has been taught and that each question means the same things for each contestant country.

If this was a reliable method of making judgements, Australia would never have changed to kleinism back in 2008. We were amongst the worlds best then; and have only moved down to the failing section of low-level-learning countries, since we introduced naplanish fear-based operations. Our pollies took too much notice of the local malcontents who seldom have anything nice or useful to say about the ‘present generation’; and treat ‘childhood’ as if it was someone else’s problem. Attitude.  Wouldn’t it be more reliable and valid to judge our system, not on PISA scores, but on the quality of our contributions to world science, medicine, music, mathematics, art, social sciences, world politics,  literature, sport and recreation….the kinds of things that schools do?  Don’t our measurers know enough about measurement to be able to do this?  They need to see a teacher!

The jury rests.

You will have noted…..

The fear-bang-crash attitude is now so well entrenched in the Aussie psyche, that a change of government does not make any difference.  They all join in the work of fools. Federal parliament sorely needs some politicians who are concerned about the plight of children at school. There is none in the chamber, at present,  who cares,   The atmosphere at federal parliament has been attitude-free about decent schooling for a very long time…and…our weak state pollies have handed schooling responsibilities to people at the federal level who don’t seem to give two hoots about child welfare and intellectual progress. [So much for the power of COAG!] The change from Labor to Liberal saw more of the same; and there is no political party policy at present – anywhere- suggesting any change towards a child-oriented-high achievement- learning system. Check their policy documents.  Find the word ‘naplan’, if you can. Make sure you take a good look at the policies of the Labor, Liberal, Green and National parties.  Is there any state party which is proud enough to want to go for positive change?  It  would not be too difficult to organise a state system that is prepared to think and challenge the rest of the world, but everybody is afraid. They would have to THINK first, and that seems to be a pretty difficult thing for political parties to do.

Tragically, our children cannot expect to enjoy and extend their natural love for learning while the Australian attitude towards acceptance of the fear-based, kleinish high stakes bashing of kids and teachers’ mind-sets of learning, remains.

At the classroom level, we know that each  of those children staring out the window  or fiddling under the desk or  leaning with their chins on their hands, while the teacher is trying to introduce some new topic , is saying, “I’m not interested in learning this stuff; and there is nothing that you can do to make me if you keep going this way. You can’t force me to learn if I don’t want to.” The child has attitude. Too many, like this victim of high stakes testing,  prefer to be bludgers; under present conditions of schooling, an attitude forced on our kids because our pollies don’t care what our testucrats are doing to them. Together, the pollies and the testucrats have no conceptual grasp of what happens in the classroom, They have no idea of the effectiveness of pupilling or of the importance of the intimacy and power of the pupilling contract. All pupils have an attitude to whatever happens at school.  Theirs is a healthy attitude. They want to learn.  We’d all like all school experiences to be meaningful and wholesome and effective…..but ‘there’s those NAPLAN rules’.

Think of the beautiful young seven-year-olds after two years of school learning….having learned more than they will ever learn in any other two years of their lives,  being forced into the front line of fear and mental abuse about to be used on them for the first time in their lives. This will happen in Australia in a few weeks time.  Naplan neurosis, the only predictable outcome of a testing program for children so young, is a serious social malady, highly contagious, that causes learning insecurity, anxiety, depression and fear of accepting challenges; and it remains with them for the rest of their lives.  The testucrats, suffering from delusions of adequacy, believe that they properly reflect the community attitude of a need for the stern quantification of schooling, thus  denying children of the love and support that true learning needs. Their holier-than-thou attitude to teachers wishing to pupil their classes shows that they are out of their depth…..they’re over their heads in a car-park puddle.

That, by the way, is what measurement freaks have never learned.  “You can’t teach me anything, if I don’t want to learn.”   “Negativity turns me off.”

That’s where Australia’s office-bound testors have completely buggered-up the system. They think that frightening kids, threatening teachers, making kids practise, practise, practise test-taking; sanctioning after-school attendance at tutoring shops, doing plenty of homework is what schooling is about and enlivens the learning psyche.  Bulldust. That’s a testucator’s attitude. THE ATTITUDE OF OUR QUALITY, EXPERIENCED TEACHERS IS MILES AWAY FROM THIS.   ATTITUDE.  Quality teachers don’t like abusing children and turning them into robots to get a score. They prefer to treat children as pupils…… pure teaching.

Testucators don’t care how kids feel.  Their attitude, based on the fundamentals of measurement and statistics, is that hard data must be collected at any cost. Measuring is their profession….and they rule the roost. They think that heavy blanket-type, three-days-long collection of data every second-year  from pupils who prefer to be learning, is a legitimate pursuit. Children can be treated as robots. The testor’s  God ,’Statistics’, reigns. Rigidity is supreme.

So, Australia is  now in a very precarious position. Testucrats only want children  to learn what can be recorded on a piece of paper.   Teachers want to teach  their pupils all that they need to know, while testors only want them to learn only what can be  tested by PISA and other unreliable instruments.    Kids want to learn. Sadly, Aussie teachers must do as testors require.  Kids must do as they are told by both. No choice. Parents have to be the adjudicator. if they ever learn that they have plenty of  power. ‘  in their hidden right to say ‘NO’. ….even though federal politicians make the most of parents’ gullability by hiding the option of choice from them.  Attitudes, during this naplan period of history, are so far from a healthy teaching-learning reality, that things are  positively dangerous for Australia’s future. There are no expectations of change or of discussing the need for change during 2017.  We can’t shift the PISA guideposts, so we must accept that the inevitability of our official attitudes through forced NAPLAN testing will remain the same. As parents, we have been told to shut-up. We are all cooked, buggered, flattened, finished, done, however, if we continue with  such antique attitudes in 2017.

The only sensible attitude is to go back to tors – to 2007 – and do what should have been done then. Give back the decent professional ethics to real school administrators and scrap stupid NAPLAN.  Talk about the purposes of schooling.  I repeat. TALK. We are getting further and further away. We are slipping further down the gurgler of international repute; and our nastiness to children [Read “Beautiful Failures”?] is widely known and internationally deprecated.  Australians continues to adopt a very, very, very unhealthy attitude to schooling. On the world stage, that’s the kind of people we are becoming…..nasty bastards.

‘Experts’ from beyond the schooling hemisphere….especially those Aussie journos and commentators and Institutes, with out-of-context opinions and no firm  schooling attitude …..have some way-out solutions. *Bring in Gonski or any needs-based model  quickly!* Leave everything to COAG! * Do whatever Finland, Germany, Singapore or the US is doing! *Let’s talk about something else to do with schools. They seem to be saying :”We don’t know much about schooling, but we’d like to express an opinion. We are the elite. We set the agenda for discussion every day. and we prefer to be blase about school things…..pretend we know all about it.   Such opinions will be useful , however, if ever we get around to talking seriously with The Lucy Clarks, the Kathy Magolis and Gabriel Strouds of this world, who know what is going on; and don’t mind telling it as it is. You and I know dozens of worthy educators who have ‘been there, done that’ – from Kununurra to Collingwood – who can help us sort out our attitude to learning while at school.

Do we have an identifiable, united Australian attitude towards schooling as the Finns and other progressive countries appear to do? No.

It a mixed mess at present, reflecting only the attitude of Julia Gillard, Joel Klein, Chris Pyne and Simon Birmingham and their measurement hard-line disciples who would only suggest the following….

DON’T  bother asking Australian teachers what effects NAPLAN has in the classroom.  Don’t risk finding out about their attitude to fear-controlled schooling….nor the results of this. Teachers must be kept silent and obedient.

DON’T ask parents if they want the choice of saying “Yes’ or ‘No’ to their children’s endurance of the test-prep period each year. January to May.   What is their attitude to being left out of it all? Must we continues to keep the real truth from parents?

DON’T ask the community-care professionals or the general public if they see NAPLAN as a form of child abuse.  What is the attitude of the mental-care-professionals to the fear, anxiety, sleepnessness and depression suffered by NAPLAN victims?  Don’t mention what it can lead to.

Feel sorry forthose about to enter Year 3 and the world of testucation.

What is Australia’s attitude towards fair-dinkum schooling?  REALLY!

We failed PISA. How to fix it.

 

WE FAILED PISA-ONE ISSUE ONLY

PISA results down.     TIMSS report damning.   WHAT?  

WHAT HAS HAPPENED?  WHAT CAUSED IT?   WHO’s to BLAME?

HOW DO WE FIX IT ?

Media experts have examined the results and know how to fix it…..well……

Make funding more equitable.                                                 

Restore strict discipline.

Banish smart phones  

Employ only quality teachers.

Improve entrance level to teacher preparation

 Fix our cultural and economic inequality.       

 TEACHERS ARE TOO FRIGHTENED

PAY TEACHERS BETTER.

More after-school tutoring, like Singapore                            

More homework.

Stop funding private schools.                                                  

Make Maths & Science a prerequisite for all Uni. courses.

IMPORT GOOD MATHS & SCIENCE TEACHERS

ooooooooooooooooooooo0000000000000000000000000

Schooling in Australia is now a farce; thanks to the one issue only.     Only one thing has caused the decline. 

NAPLAN

Kill-learn NAPLAN

Julia said, in 2008, that PISA results would improve once  NAPLAN got under way……”TOP 5 BY 25”, she said. 

And her NAPLAN  has been the only one major alteration to the system  since that time; since we have been going down hill.  The curriculum – how and what  children are taught at school – has been taken over by crazy assessments; and testucators have replaced educators in the halls of power; and results continue to plummet.

As Joan said, “Anybody with a brain half the size of a starfish’s must see what caused it.” She must have noticed……that……

THE ONLY CHANGE TO SCHOOLING IN RECENT TIMES HAS BEEN THE USE OF 

NAPLAN TESTS. THEY ARE DESIGNED TO KILL LEARNING.

It hasn’t worked.  It never will. LET’s TALK ABOUT THE REAL CAUSE

The Great One – Simon himself – has proposed that we import better Maths and Science teachers.  {There’s one from left field.  ?!?! ]

We can import Socrates, Plato, Pythagoras, Fibonacci, Frobel, Rousseau, Steiner, Madame Montessori,  Friere, Confucious, Froebel, Rousseau, Einstein, Piaget, Jesus but , for sure, there will still be a decline  in Australia’s results on the PISA tests and any other tests of its kind, while we have NAPLAN in our schools.  There can be no doubt about this. It’s deadly stuff.  It kills the love for learning.  It’s fear-based credo is just too much for our Aussie kids.  They can give the pundits world shattering high scores if they are allowed to learn how to learn with love and encouragements and challenge and to enjoy learning for its own sake and if they treat Maths and Science as really beautiful subjects full of amazing interests and challenges. They’ve proven it in the past. Kids do better without the NAPLAN kind of child abuse.

NAPLAN prevents that kind of attitude, that kind of attention, that kind of positivity.  Kids  are taught to hate Maths and Science.

How many ‘experts’ have noticed the growth in wasteful assessments and the enormous increases in the gathering of data and the impact that it is having on teacher-pupil contact time for learning purposes?

Isn’t it time that one of our political parties started to think ‘kids’ and ‘learning’ and ‘fair go’?  I certainly cannot vote for a party that allows NAPLAN to continue. How can you…if you like kids?

Can we do without it?  Can we afford to keep it going?

What’s wrong with democracy as a way of life? Why can’t we forget about NAPLAN and PISA and get on with learning?

_______________________________________________________________________________________

Phil Cullen, 41 Cominan Avenue, Banora Point 2486.
07 5524 6443  0407865999 
cphilcullen@bigond.com
Refer :”Who’s Who In Australia”

The Most Important Things Schools Don’t Do – A challenge to Australia’s Educatio MinisterThe Most Important Things Schools Don’t Do – A challenge to Australia’s Education Minister

PLEASE SEND THIS ON TO YOUR STATE MINISTER. TREEHORN DOES NOT HAVE READY ACCESS TO THEM OR THEIR DEPARTMENTS.
Treehorn Express
A CHALLENGE TO STATE MINISTERS
This week, the collective wisdom of Australia’s education system gathers to consider what can be done to ensure that Australia has the world’s best  system of schooling.  It’s a tough  task considering the direction in which we seem to be going and the unseemly mess we are in.  All those with the title of Minister and their advisers will discuss school funding, the depletion in PISA scores and various issues that have been raised through pre-meeting correspondence. 
The Treehorn Express and its faithful readers maintain a genuine concern for the standard of schooling in Australian, New Zealand and the US and anywhere else that shares a love for school kids and a passion for helping them to learn how to learn. The standard and type of schooling in the western world, controlled by measurement freaks,  is a big worry. Australia is the most test-crazed country in the world  It allows little time for teachers to teach. 
We are supposed t be here for kids, not institutions and measurement manufactories. 
Below, fellow advocate for kids, Marion Brady reckons that the aim of schooling is : MAXIMIZE LEARNERS’ ABILITY TO  MAKE SENSE. Same aim, different expression. All experienced educators are on the same wavelength.
With Brady’s comments in mind, Treehorn would like to challenge each minister to read his article below and leave the meeting 1. Still using NAPLAN; 2. Still having unequal funding for private and public schools and 3. Failing to instigate a serious, wide and open discussion on the best ways to care for Australian kids in a schooling environment, during our children’s  natural search for excellence over 13 years or so of schooling.
If they are fair dinkum Aussie educators, we can expect 1. the end of NAPLAN;  2. Gonski- funding or better; 3. plans for an intense, extensive public discussion.
We don’t want Prime Minister Pauline having to tolerate a bigger  mess than her previous female PM left .  No kind of misogyny intended.
It’s a short article – one of his best – and it deserves to be carefully read with an open mind and pleasant thoughts about school children.  Treehorn has added a short comment at times and highlighted some statements,. You’ll be able to tell.
The original is located in the Washington Post ….
Washington Post, “The Answer Sheet” blog by Valerie Strauss
Posted December 9, 2016:
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The most important thing schools don’t do
By Marion Brady
Prepare the young for  tertiary education and careers; promote democratic citizenship; keep Australia  economically competitive; master the core subjects; transmit societal values; instil a love of learning—those are six of about 30 aims for schooling I’ve found in academic journal articles.  Treehorn can add:  ‘care for the mental health and learning attitude of young people.’ That’s seven.
On my list, one aim is paramount: “Maximize learner ability to make sense.”Not only does it enable
every other legitimate aim of educating, it gives schooling its proper focus—maximizing human 
potential. 
No one needs to be taught how to make sense—to think. We’re born equipped to do it. The challenge is to do it better, to radically improve what are sometimes called “higher order” thinking skills, particularly those involved in tracing complex causal sequences and anticipating possible unintended consequences of well-intended policies and actions. We know how to build nuclear power generating plants, but not how to dispose of the waste they create. We know how to produce enough food to feed the world, but not how to distribute it equitably.We know how to start wars, but not how to end them or avoid them altogether. We know how to warm the planet, but not how to navigate the political complexities that stand in the way of adopting measures to stop the process.We know how to frack the aquafers and empty each nation’s underground water tanks and despoil the landscape and oceans, but not how to replace it all. 
Unfortunately, schools—the institutions modern societies have created to help the young maximize their ability to think—have never been able to present well-thought-out strategies for actually improving sense-making. Beyond the primary and elementary levels, the emphasis has instead been on delivering the content of subjects considered “core”—math, science, language arts, and social studies. As those subjects are traditionally taught and tested, “thinking” is primarily a matter of recalling information delivered and, to a lesser extent, applying that information in abstract ways.
Recalling and applying are, of course, thinking skills, but what makes us fully human, and what gives humanness so much potential, is our ability to infer, hypothesize, generalize, categorize, relate, compare, contrast, correlate, describe, abstract, extrapolate, predict, sequence, integrate, synthesize, interpret, translate, empathize, value, envision, imagine, intuit.
That’s 24 thought processes, most of them more complex than recalling and applying. Add to them other thought processes of which I’m not aware. Add the extremely powerful role emotions [like fear of failing NAPLAN]and the place of play in shaping thought. Add the fact that the actual process of sense-making integrates the processes systemically to create a whole greater than the sum of parts. Considering these complexities, the human potential being wasted by teaching to machine-scored tests that can’t evaluate the quality of sense should be obvious.
The failure of traditional schooling to significantly improve thinking skills stems primarily from its emphasis on delivering “pre-processed” information. The contents of textbooks, teacher talk, reference materials, the internet, and so on, are products of the thinking of others, leaving learners with nothing to do except try to store information in memory long enough to pass a test. That’s about as interesting and intellectually stimulating as memorizing completed crossword puzzles.  That’s NAPLAN 
Traditional schooling’s emphasis on recalling exacts a heavy price – boredom, discipline problems, reliance on extrinsic motivators, the rapid disappearance from memory of information once taught, decades of flat academic performance.
That list of problems having its roots in the neglect of all other sense-making processes could be extended.
Thinking skills can be significantly improved by coaching that focuses learner attention directly on immediate, “unprocessed” reality, on primary sources from past realities, and on imagined probable, possible, and preferred future realities. Learning teams can investigate their school’s energy efficiency, compare attitudes toward authority of early  settlers in Australia as manifested in the records they kept, analyze waste disposal procedures in their neighborhoods, predict likely consequences of Australia’s  inevitable cultural change from the western [US dominated] economic culture to those requirements of the Asian  [China dominated] economic galaxy. Those kinds of activities engage because they respect and make active use of the ability to think.*
The complexity of the sense learners make when they’re intellectually engaged in real-world work makes it clear that quality of thought can’t be evaluated by commercially produced standardized tests. Do two “good” hypotheses equal four “fair” or seven “poor” hypotheses? What’s the difference between “good” and “fair”?  Does a kid’s inference show insight or startling insight? Is a learner’s description of an event beautifully succinct or merely sketchy?  Computers can’t answer these questions.
There’s no getting around the inherent complexity of original thought, and no getting around traditional schooling’s failure to stimulate and nurture it.
Today’s reformers dream of low-cost schools where technology does the telling and  technology does the testing, That’s NAPLAN….plain dumb.
“Civilization,” said H.G. Wells, “is a race between education and catastrophe.” Perpetuating the misguided education policies put in place by politicians at the urging of wealthy but educationally clueless campaign contributors doesn’t just invite societal catastrophe, it assures it.
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The links below access free explanatory materials and ready-to-use secondary-level courses of study illustrating instructional activities that routinely require learners to engage in a full range of cognitive processes.
At all times, the caution issued by John Settledge when he toured Australia, needs serious heed : “ When the affective is secure, the cognitive is inevitable.”
Other than the fact that learners’ exercise of those processes produces thought too complex to be evaluated by standardized, machine-scored tests, the activities themselves fit within traditional bureaucratic boundaries and expectations.
Thinking about thinking: http://www.marionbrady.com/CIR .asp
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Phil Cullen
41 Cominan Avenue
Banora Point 2486
07b55246443
0407 865999
Refer: “Who’s Who in Australia.”

Why Are Teachers Taken For Granted?

Over the past few weeks your attention would have been drawn for the umpteenth time to Finland. It’s a world away in distance and in attitude to schooling. Treehorn has outlined the major differences….
screen-shot-2016-11-04-at-10-32-21-am
 I have been asked “Why are we so different?”
A credible answer is clearly : “Because our clever politicians and corporate managers and other kinds of status-claiming ultra-crepidarians believe that teachers and principals are stupid.” There can be no other reason.
Pollies and testucratic outliers of the profession, in particular, regard the down-to-earth practitioners as easily manipulated, readily compliant, nice people who feel that standing up for kids is someone else’s job.

They will do as they told no matter what they are told by their control agents. They are very, very obedient.

Their obedience is taken for granted.

“Taken for granted” as a phrase is derived from “Taken for granite”….that inanimate, common rock. When a social contract such as making the teaching force undertake unpleasant standardised blanket tests is enacted, it assumes that the teaching force has no feelings one way or the other about the effects; too thick; too hard to comprehend the consequences; and, sadly, like Adolf Eichmann, will do as it is told for as long as the project lasts. The case in point ….when the force was not given the chance to examine the full probable outcomes of NAPLAN while Julia and Kleinie were introducing it in 2008, any unease was poo-poohed and quelled quickly. Its impact on the teaching act was not allowed to be considered nor examined. Measurement was supreme. Measurement ruled the teaching act. Constant measurement meant good teaching, our testucratic Creps opined. This was it. Why worry? Trust us. The rock face wouldn’t ‘get it’, anyhow. Conventional wisdom was out of place. Meek compliance was commanded and is now a feature of the Australian scene. It’s the sort of organisational demand that came about when this sort of testing and payment by results was first introduced; when ‘uppity teachers’ of the 1840s who had claimed a level of professional dignity, previously not tolerated, had to be kept in their place like chooks, I think the official government statement said, when Payment by Results was introduced…..that first time. You’d think that we were mature enough to learn from history, and not repeat it.

Teachers’ gumption was respected then. Two hundred years later it is on a serious decline and payment by results is back.

I know a lot of teachers in all sorts of places. I do not know one who does not love kids, nor devalues what kids do. Australian teachers can match anyone in the world for love and concern and ability. They would dearly love to work in an organisational climate as their Nordic colleagues do. They are stuck. Why? They tell you that they are working for a system that dehumanises children and mentally abuses them and only wants to use them for data gathering. Their hands are tied. They yearn to be free. What can anyone do about it ? It’s DATA DATA DATA. Must be collected.

That’s what schooling in Australia is for.

A number of quality teachers have left the service and told us why. We can’t afford the loss of one good teacher. Really. How hard did we listen to them; to their reasons for leaving? Then, what did we do? Lucy Clark has since opened the eyes of many parents who had not previously accepted the reality of how testing freaks control each one of our schools. There is no great enthusiasm amongst school graduates to become a teacher for long. NAPLAN has failed at the PISA level, if you take notice of that sort of junk. NAPLAN testing has gone completely feral. It can control obesity. It took $22m for uncertain, unpopular DI kits. Year One five year-olds’ tests are needed to set the main. School and university graduates need to do well or cop out. If the state does not do well, state funding decreases.
It has spread its nastiness across endless boundaries from its original Literacy and Numeracy demands at Year 3,5,7,9 levels. One can even anticipate that Western Bulldogs and Cronulla players will not receive their premiership awards unless that have passed a NAPLAN tests. That’s for the future. Don’t laugh. There’s money in it. That’s the rub.

It is not true that teachers have to write down ten times per day from 1 April [of course] until 11 May: “NAPLAN is a useful diagnostic thingo.” It’s just that things are heading that way.

Things have gone quite crazy during 2016. Fear 2017, kids.

It’s so out-of-hand, the public needs to play silly-buggers with it to relieve the tension..Julia cracked the first joke: ‘5 by 25’.
NAPLAN is a sick joke.
Who will demand that it be sin-binned?
Malcolm? Tanya? Simon? Adrian? Daniel? Annastacia? Bob K.? or someone from the real world….
Perhaps some…

Parents? Lucy Clark provides plenty of reasons for a large scale cop-out crusade.*
Graduating pupils ? [Call them ‘students’ if you haven’t got the gist of it.] who might join Lucy’s daughter: “I will NOT be judged by the Board of Studies.” [P.280]

Academics have tried but, like teachers, they are also just taken for granite.
Politicians have too much to do, they say. What are kids? Forget them. Expect us to do something?! Huh!
We Geriatics have tried, but, too well conditioned over the years, are just no good at crusading; only cursading.

Any branch or affiliate of the APPA or the ASPA or the ACPA or the AEU or the AIU or the IEU or the ISCA could sin-bin NAPLAN on purely professional and ethical grounds, on their respect for kids, on their own turf if they wanted to, which would bring it all to a halt; and advance schooling in Australia. Their support too was taken for granted, wasn’t it?

PARENTS. You know the reality. You’ve read the book. The kids do need someone! HELP!

WANTED
ONE HIGH PROFILE CRUSADER

or group thereof.

Oh dear.

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Phil Cullen, 41 Cominan Avenue, Banora Point, Australia 2486 o7 5524 6443 0407865999 cphilculen@bigpond.com
Refer: ‘Who’s Who in Australia’

* When you write your note to your teacher about your child dropping out of all NAPLAN testing please be clear. At the present time, with KGB/SS kind of intensity, the government is checking out those schools and classes that claim large numbers of opt-outs last May. Can’t trust schools, of course. Be warned.. Some unfortunate folk in ACARA are lumbered with checking out a few million notes, probably checking them for grammar errors, spelling mistakes, errors of syntax.

If Australian schooling followed democratic principles and used some down-to-earth democratic smarts, all parents would be asked to give their permission before the test. If a parents did not respond to the request, the child would not be tested. Simpliciter. NAPLAN is a health risk and its operations carry heavy legal responsibility and culpability for the government . The federal minister [or one of his operators like the school principal or teacher] can be sued for damage to children’s mental health. Yes. Our intelligent pollies and their Creps may regret that they took school parents for granted too!

Might I suggest, by the way, Parents, that you write your note to your teacher NOW? Get away from it as quick as you can. It’s growing and morphing and morphing and morphing.

“NO to my kids doing NAPLAN” is enough to write. Don’t forget to sign or they’ll get your teacher….or the principal….or the school funding…or the state department….or the state treasury.
Play safe and get as far away from NAPLAN testing as you can.

They are not nice people. Anyone who treats children the way that testucators do, can be a threat to society’s welfare.

Basic Human Rights for Kids

It is said that you can judge a country by the way that it treats its children.  Most countries provide schools and teachers to help children cope with the world. Then….it happens. 

There are some basic tenets that become embedded within a country’s culture and are reflected in what they do with their children. Each one, each country is different. Australia’s organisation culture is quite unique, in an unpleasant and shameful kind of way, being  much closer to the US minimum competency culture than to any other, much closer to a shared  declining maverick kind than to successful schooling.

Our school  system is not based on UNESCO principles and arrogantly breaches aspects of UNESCO’s Rights of the Child. Says the UNESCO Convention: “The importance for the Convention of the general programmes of UNESCO should not be overlooked. Human rights are indivisible: the promotion of individual rights cannot be pursued in isolation from the advancement of social and economic rights nor will the rights of children be fully respected in situations where adults are denied fundamental freedoms.” Australia clearly and deliberately breaches these democratic conventions. It keeps its adults in the dark in regard to the nature of NAPLAN testing, for instance, and has no inclination to change the rule. Parents’ fundamental rights to know that they have a choice for their children to do the test or not do the test are deliberately hidden; and schools are expected to keep this information secret unless they are asked.  It is a shameful state of affairs.

On a scale that runs from “Care for kids” to “Abuse our kids” , Australia is much closer to the ‘abuse’ end than to the other. It abuses children by attacking their yen to learn, which is a natural instinct for children; and to make them uncertain about their abilities. Its centres for learning  aka schools, are being operated using non-love tactics and dirty tricks .  Fear has replaced Love as a motivator for learning; and is not working well.

Fear and its connection to wide-scale high-stakes testing, as introduced by the sandal makers. are embedded in school routines and the bunkum-based morphing  of NAPLAN. Its use barks at basic child rights.

We can, therefore,  add another dimension to Treehorn’s ORGANISATIONAL CULTURE table of Australia and compare it to democratic principled places rather than to Finland alone . If we stick to true-blue Aussie principles, we can donkey-lick the rest of the world in providing the richest life-style that there is, whenever we like……It’s such a pity that we have allowed the present state of affairs to happen.

screen-shot-2016-11-04-at-10-12-38-am

 WORLD : Love children. Respect childhood. Care for Kids.  Provide holistic curriculum.  Teach well.  Do not abuse children. Educate them

AUSTRALIA: Gather children together. Keep critical information away from parents. Test pupils for literacy and numeracy levels. Keep testing and widen its influence. Hire people to check for        and attend to  shortfalls in achievement and mental health. Use every testucator available  to maintain outcomes at the normal mediocre level.

We cannot afford to be proud of our efforts during the past decade. We should feel ashamed; and attempt to provide a decent schooling based on high levels of human rights and ethical behaviour. We need to take pride in the way we care for kids.

We know that the attempt to control schooling  by fear has not worked.

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Phil Cullen, 41 Cominan Avenue, Banora Point, Australia 2486   07 5524 6443  0407865999 cphilculen@bigpond.com
Refer: ‘Who’s Who in Australia’