6 out of 643

I had thought that my Treehorn article called ‘It’s NAPLAN time. Bring out the law book’ and a couple of quickies since, would be my swansong.  I am flattered, of course, that Professor Diane Ravitch of the University of New York [home-town of our founder Joel Klein] repeated my article in her blog which has an extensive distribution in the USA.  Professor Ravitch is the former Deputy Director of Education for the USA. She’s an icon.

https://dianeravitch.net/2017/05/08/naplan-and-the-ruination-of-education-in-australia/
https://dianeravitch.net/2017/05/08/australia-a-brief-history-of-how-americas-bad-ideas-undermined-education-down-under/
But then, 9 May was the first day of NAPLAN testing and  the Kimberley College episode hit the fan.

What happened yesterday, the first day of NAPLAN 2017, at Kimberley College?

6

Only SIX out of 343

sat the NAPLAN test.

That means that the parents of six pupils at Kimberley College have been misguided by the ramblings of testucators who reside beyond the school gate. Shame.

Kimberley College  [https://www.kimberleycollege.org/] is a private school established by a group of parents just to the south of Brisbane  in 2000.  Back then, they wanted to have their children move into secondary schooling with the enthusiasm for learning and for achievement that they had developed at Kimberley Park State Primary School.  Principal Paul Thomson was using the regular curriculum to establish THINKING as the most useful educational outcome, using multi-aged settings through to Year 10 to maximise the learning effort.  It’s a place where deep thought is given by parents to the learning habits of their children, to the richness of their happily stimulated minds and what the future holds for them. De Bono’s spirit is in the air. Creative, conceptual thinking pervades the curriculum.

There is really no place in a serious, fair-dinkum learning institution like Kimberley College for killer tests like NAPLAN.   Standardised blanket testing of the NAPLAN kind, products of testucators’ compulsive adoration of data, are anathema to the parents of this school. They want their children to learn and to achieve at higher than normal levels.  NAPLAN’s focus on mediocrity doesn’t suit them, and NAPLAN’s DNA contains that measurement virus that disposes children to hate Maths, Science, Reading Literature.  The testing regime is clearly based on fear and anxiousness. It is a repressive, stress ridden threat to each child’s mental health. It has run-on effects. It has no place on school premises.

Kimberley College would be popular at this time with Treasurer Scott Morrison.  NAPLAN itself is a really ‘bad debt’, costing Australia billions each year to administer; and it ensures the loss of an industrial and intellectual future.  Inestimable. The parents at Kimberley College have just contributed a few thousand dollars to the national welfare. I figure that $5000 is a reasonable estimate for over 300 papers, supervision, delivery,  measurement of desks from each other by visiting officials….and the million other nuisances that schools musty tolerate because of NAPLAN.

It’s such a pity that our testucators do not know what happens in schools and in classrooms, minute by minute, day by day….the things that seriously detract from the learning enterprise.  It’s a pity that they are so inexperienced at what really happens in the classroom.

NAPLAN is surely the biggest threat to learning that this country has even seen.

Sincerely. May God bless the parents of Kimberley College for showing us the way.  The rest of Australia just might learn something.

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Phil Cullen  http:primaryschooling.net    http://treehornexress.wordpress.com

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IT’s NAPLAN TIME

IT’S NAPLAN TIME

Bring out the law book.

[An essay from a Manager’s diary]

On Tuesday, May 9 NAPLAN testing will hit all Australian Children’s Factories with a ferocity that Cyclone Debbie could never match.  The level of destruction to Australia’s learning capital will be vast  and there is no way that anyone can compensate nor be compensated for the damage. Once the natural desire to learn has been decimated, reconstruction becomes a long-long-long term effort. It’s been happening for nine years now and all of Australia must know of the damage it is causing. If we don’t, we soon will.

The sooner we get rid of it, the better.  From the start of this menticide epidemic in 2008, when powerful political creatures arranged for the systematic destruction of Australia’s school learning culture for the sake of their pals’ financial profit, we have endured a system of schooling that brings no credit to any one of us. Our testucation nerds have instituted a schooling program that guarantees paralysis of the intellect from the first day of school, where, in some states, kids are tested before they start. We have been abusing our children’s keenness to learn with merciless abandon.  Only the love and compassion of the everyday classroom teacher maintains any semblance of progress these days, but their super-efforts  can never compensate adequately for the nastiness of the testucating end of town. The present generation of school attenders may never recover and the ‘fat little men will simply sit there and grin’, as Alice predicted.

This year, some testucators will be searching for modest ways to make the tests easier, in the manner that many of us reformed-testing-freaks used to do to make tests harder. The public is supposed to believe that NAPLAN is good for its children and this can only be done if the scores get better. They were shocking in 2016.  Manipulation can be part of the game.  For instance, there used to be statistical data available  that listed which  tables were more difficult than others……9+7 is much more difficult to remember than 8+4, for instance. This ‘level of difficulty’ applies to all kinds of testable items, whether it be in Maths, Science or Grammar. Teachers know this. Some are easier to handle than others for some reason.  In that earlier era of testucation, we test freaks  had to eat crow eventually; and reform our attitude to schooling.

If there is anything more dangerous to a country’s future than testucators, it’s an elite politician  who has ‘fallen for ‘ a special kind of testucator.  Julia has confessed to describing Joel Klein as her ‘pin-up boy’.  You let him fool-ya, Julia, didn’tya?. Despite the appearance of her office wall on behalf of her corporatocracy who paid for Joel’s trip down under and whose photos probably adorned the rest of her wall, she envisaged a system of millions of classrooms where little Aussie darlings would sit still all day, each day working assiduously at tables and spelling and sums and grammar and practice tests  and related bumfuzzle with zest and ‘heils’ for their ultimate success at PISA. Her cuckservative fopdoodlers, those compliant  conservatives  whom she had cuckolded and  paddocked in the bozone layer of confusion early in the piece, then attached their own fictile associations to her apron strings to strengthen their political anti-child animus. The Australian Primary Principals Association was easily moulded into one of hers; and the whole schadenfreude business was in place to her great satisfaction; and to Kevin’s, who had told her to do it; and to BSU; and to NYCity’s finances; and to Rupert;  and to Amplify  and co-test-manufacturers and tablet-program producers who continue to ridicule the young and sneer at their declining mental distress.

As Sir Wally said : “Oh, what a tangled web we weave, when first we practise to deceive.

In Orwellian terms, cynics now comment that NAPLAN is a kind of political prolefeed that keeps the proles [proletariat] in their place in case they became too knowledgeable; which is what it is doing. However, this was not her ladyship’s intention. She is of Labor background…just doing as she was told by the big end of town….a disposition maintained by present day Labor.

POLITICS

Treehorn has conducted a crusade for kids for some years now. It has been a daily effort and the longer it has gone, the more it is clear that the NAPLAN tragedy can be regarded as an exercise in politics rather than a reform in education. Clearly UBS, the world’s largest banking enterprise controls schooling in Australia and has done so from the outset. Its control over political behaviour is monstrous. In political terms, its history of school CONTROL is pretty clear., but largely overlooked or ignored.

1. Circa 2008, UBS instructed Kevin Rudd that it wanted something done about schooling.

2. Panicky Kevin instructed his Minister for Education to do something.

3. Minister Julia Gillard headed straight for the USA [not Finland, Singapore, New Zealand or other countries that had progressive, high achievement  schooling ‘going for them’ at the time], where, after reporting to Rupert Murdoch before attending a Carnegie Foundation party, she met the controversial boss of a large New York school district, who sweet-talked her into a belief in his scheme; which was based heavily on fear….[fear of failure and disgrace for kids, fear of loss of job for teachers, fear of closure of school for parents]…and she was enthralled.  It was a pure and simple FEAR-based scheme.; nothing to do with real achievement-oriented, progressive learning as in Finland and places that developed kids’ love for learning. It meant POWER. She fell for his charm. He became her ‘pin-up’ boy and, following Julia’s  liaison with UBS, he and wife Nicole received a free trip down under at UBS expense where he spoke only with UBS connections. [He later called them ‘education officials’.]  His Immenseness spoke of ‘enacting tranformational change’ to the UBS audience in Melbourne; of ‘reporting and grading systems’  to the chosen audience at the Press Club in Canberra and about ‘relationships between businesses and schools’  at a UBS dinner in Sydney before concluding that Australia had “…a lot of understandable concern about putting together an accountability system and transparency.”

4. So….Julia and Joel and the UBS installed his scheme. This meant that  state system initiatives had to be taken over and controlled, but that was a piece of cake for our future P.M. We now have Kleinism as our national schooling system well controlled by UBS and its New York connections, who, incidentally, are making billions in the U.S. and anticipate  making more in Australia following the surge in the use of tablets in Aussie schools. Their testing programs, curriculum program, learning games are ripe for the using, and the whole project is now turning to gold.

5. Psychometrics only were appointed to conduct a rigorous testing program through an organisation called ACARA. The ‘C’ stands for Curriculum, even though teaching experts were banned from appointment at the test centre..  UBS was on its way to total command.

6. In her public acknowledgment of the power of kleinism and its mightiness, which she spruiked at the special UBS dinner for Joel Klein in November 2008, Julia Gillard sought approval from her political superordinates for her scheme, quoted Rupert Murdoch who said that “thousands of children are being betrayed ” and, he added,  there is “a gap between those who are getting an education and those who are not.” Strange words.

7. She thanked the large companies like Freehills and Corrs Chambers Westgarth for their support “…to the development of the program and their pro-bono contributions.” and encouraged others to consult their boards to contribute to the “partnership of leading employers.”  She was in with Flynn having persuaded all the big boys that this scheme meant educational improvement. All her scheme [party?] needed was more money.

8. The Labor Party, Liberal Party and Greens all took note and decided never to examine the context of NAPLAN, its effects on schooling nor on the mental health of children [which became quite startling by 2011], nor the connection to ‘the establishment’. The Libs conducted a couple of fizzer Senate inquiries which used-up time and paper and delayed any serious examination of NAPLAN as an educational device. Not one political party has shown any interest in the plight of kids at school during the past decade nor bothered to question what is going on.  They seem to be too afraid. NAPLAN has yet to be used as an election issue, which is what it should be. If any party uses it, it’s bound to be a boomer…and its banning of Naplan a clear winner….but the forces of evil…

9. The Australian Education Union voted unanimously at its January, 2010 Conference to ban NAPLAN, then suddenly changed its mind….no reason given…..and the barber kept on shaving.

10, The government took over the control of the once-doggedly-determined professional society, the Australian Primary Principals’ Association and some like organisations in case they remembered their duty of care to kids and returned to their ethical principals.

11. The Murdoch and Fairfax Press, believing that discretion is the better part of valour,  have never conducted any serious ‘investigative surveys’ of the NAPLAN EFFECT ON SCHOOLING. They’d need to be brave, wouldn’t they? Even the ABC has been super-cautious as have respected journos who were once open and forthright. Things are very tight and totally controlled.

This unified pro-NAPLAN force is much too formidable for any care-for-kids campaign.  Australia is stuck with a mediocre system trailing other countries by a country mile.  The cock-up with its present operations does not provide parents with any promise for a reasonable future. You will know so many of them being regularly actioned…..

LAWS OF MANAGEMENT

In management terms, NAPLAN has had an obvious Cobra Effect or Rat Effect [aka Rule of Perverse Intentions] on Australia’s schooling system “…which occurs when an attempted solution to a problem makes the problem worse as a type of unintended consequence. The term is used to illustrate the causes of incorrect stimulation in economy and politics.” 

Principals associations, usually seen as the protectors of Child Rights, school standards and professional ethics were the first to fold and to illustrate, by their reactions to the reality behind  known, unwarranted laws of management as applied to educational administration. These laws [see below]  became unwarranted and unnnecessary replacements for the basic  administration  of schools that enhance the  conditions of freedom and dignity for children.

Campbell’s Law clearly applies to the NAPLAN disaster and has been noticeably  ignored since the outset….

The more any quantitative social indicator is used for social decision-making,

the more subject it will be to corruption pressures and the more apt it will be

to distort and corrupt the social processes it is intended to monitor.

[Use of tutoring shops, extra homework, post-school classes are instances of cheating the system and corrupting the results.]
as was the Settlage Definition of a test score also ignored……

A mark or score on a blanket test represents  an inadequate judgement

by a biased, inexperienced and variable non-schooling judge,

of the extent to which an undefined level of mastery of unknown proportions

of an inadequate amount of material has been completed

under tense conditions that render the outcomes useless.

[Indeed! How can distant testing ever replace shared evaluation at the point of learning?]

That’s NAPLAN testing. It’s the wonder of the age that it has lasted as long as it has. The efforts of the mythmakers and their low-level, coercive, politico-totalitarian forms of control seem to have convinced a gullible public that its diagnostic credentials magically turn NAPLAN into a learning motivator and, at a cost of millions of dollars annually, kids will get smarter, quicker  It is a downright furphy. Such measures of control get what they deserve: low levels of response that are just formal, bordering on rejection. The low level of teacher enthusiasm and pupil dislike for the subjects combine to produce the weak results that the hyper-political scheme deserves. Insecurity and uncertainty ensure the exposure of established credos of management…

1. Eichmann’s Plea.  We do as we are told without regard to humane requirements.

2. McGregor’s Theory.  Theory X is better than Theory Y.  Fear, mistrust, deceit and a punitive atmosphere motivates operators better than does humanity and trust and normal ethical behaviour.

3. Stockholm Syndrome. An irrational psychological alliance  [e.g. A.G.P.P.A] between captor and captured, leads to total capitulation of ethical principles by the captured.

4. Hawthorne Effect. Behaviour and mental attitudes alter, depending on the level of personal interest taken.

5. Goodharts Law. When a measure becomes a target, it ceases to be a measure.

6. Streisand Effect. Attempting to hide important information, like parents’ right to say ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ to testing, sometimes has unintended consequences by increasing the number who will say ‘No’.

7. The New Stupid.  A condition that occurs when excessive data, expensively gathered, is misused to draw conclusions that entice powerful politicians to make erroneous decisions.

8. The Boondoogle Effect. Doing useless, wasteful or trivial work as a consequence of The New Stupid; like wasting time on excessive practice, teaching to tests, neglecting a wholesome, holistic curriculum.

9. The Mushroom Effect. Keep the public in the dark and feed it on bullshit.

[If you don’t believe the last one works, just listen  over the next few days to the platitudes and waffle diverting our attention  from the real business of schooling  to the Gonski reforms.

Observers of the NAPLAN debacle have noted  many instances of each of these laws and their effects in action during the past few years.The busy presence of these laws and the dark history of Australian schooling over the past decade, surely indicate that  NAPLAN has nothing to do with schooling or the learning business.  It is a gross, ugly political gimmick  and the forces that support it, such as USB and the Murdoch empire,  are much too powerful  for sad little children….like Treehorn.
Bye.

As we pontificate over Gonski reforms, we’ll just  let the kids in the classrooms continue to suffer.
000ooo000ooo000ooo000ooo000ooo000ooo000ooo000ooo000ooo000

Two cows were grazing in a paddock as a large Milk Tanker drove past.  On the side of the tanker were three large words: PASTURISED – PURIFIED – HOMOGENISED.  One cow looked at the other and said, “Makes one feel inadequate, don’t it?”
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Phil Cullen  http://primaryschooling.net       http://treehornexress.wordpress.com

NAPLAN maintaining mediocrity

 

NAPLAN

MAINTAINING MEDIOCRITY

“It’s not the kind of education system that one envisages for the 21st Century. Schooling in Australia has lost its way.”

Clearly, Australia has reached the stage that its polically-controlled schooling system is satisfied with maintaining a level of schooling that is statistically [i.e. bits that can be measuered] mid-way.  In preparing our future citizens for a world that no longer exists, we are not doing a very good job of it.  It uses a testing system to see how well it is going; and pretends that the use of this one device will motivate pupils to try harder so that Australia will be amongst the top of the class in international tests such and PISA and TIMMSS {Maths}.  We used to be up there amongst the first half-dozen in the PISA results but we are seriously moving back down on the list of the 72 countries that participate, well behind most Asian and European countries and a few obscure others as well. We started to slide down the rankings from 2000, as Managerialism established itself in government and schooling operations……  and seriously increased the rate of slide following the introduction of NAPLAN in 2008.

There must be….there is…. something wrong! Very wrong.

Both Managerialism and Naplanism are products of neo-liberal, big-corp., alt-right ideologies that have taken control of schooling, more dedicated to ‘control’ than to ‘schooling’. NAPLAN is its weapon of control and it impairs rather than improves schooling as such. How come?

Australia uses NAPLAN testing as a motivator and an evaluator.  It controls the system.  In failing as a motivator, it has provided clear evidence as to why the system is now “failing and getting worse” on PISA international rankings.

The most recent tests results have provided clear evidence as to the reasons for our failure. There are messages.

There is a root cause that is so obvious. By using the well-known stress-ridden naplan testing techniques that are well-documented, we are teaching Australian children to hate maths and science and reading and literature with a passion that previous pupils have never possessed.  NAPLAN is a thoroughly nasty brute.  Instead of trying to introduce children to these really beautiful and magic subjects with an enthusiasm that their normal learning talents desire, we simply turn up the pressure and make things worse. Of course it means that our nation’s progress on all industrial, intellectual and entrepreneurial fronts will be limited in the future; and we don’t seem to care. It’s all  more of the same.

At this time of the year NAPLAN preparation dominates the schooling landscape. The wholesome, holistic curriculum is shelved,  time-tables are adjusted, homework is test-based and unexciting, parents panic and each child’s mental compass gets screwed.

It’s not the kind of education system that we once envisaged for the 21st Century.  Schooling in Australia has lost its way.

Some countries have got it right by thinking. THINKING! Our system is a simplistic, worn-out New York model, based on a Bronx mentality that believes that fear is the best learning motivator known to the island of Manhattan and its satellites. especially Australia. Schools are forced to maintain it. You’d have to wonder why, wouldn’t you?

And by the way, Scott. Costing millions and millions each year, it’s a bad debt…..a very bad debt.

We seem to be struck with it.

C’est la vie

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Phil Cullen  41 Cominan Avenue Banora Point 2486  07 5524 6443  0407865999  cphilculen@bigpond.com   http://primaryschooling.net

NAPLAN. It’s all systems go!

NAPLAN – 9 May

IT’S ALL SYSTEMS GO!

The intensity of preparation for the tests is evident in the extreme measures that schools are taking to confront the evil in a few days. [See The Treehorn Express 19 April]. School administration teams will be busy arranging for the rooms, the invigilators aka security guards appointed, what to do with the rest of the school during the three days, sorting out those who have requested not to do the tests and the endless tasks that NAPLAN brings with it. The normal curriculum teaching will have been adjusted in classrooms some time ago and there will be heavy concentration on the examinable bits expected in the tests; plenty of test practice and homework.  Teaching and learning will have been suspended until Friday, 12 May when celebrations for the conclusion of the sweat swot will be joyous.

Australian Schooling – the teaching and learning part – commences on Monday, 15 May.

The holistic curriculum that aims at high achievements in all learning matters will be commenced for the year  on Monday, 15  May.

IN THE MEANTIME…..

Parents will be taking their children to tutoring shops, purchasing those “NAPLAN for Dummies” kind of books from the newsagents, supervising homework with serious concern,  planning the rewards for ‘jobs well done’ and, maybe singing songs like “It’s Not on the Test”

to their own ‘little third graders’ The wise parents will be writing their notes to the teacher or the principal or the school indicating that they do not want their child to be subjected to the traumas of NAPLAN testing.

The teachers will be using up their supplies of vallium and tears and ‘kicking the cat’ that frustrations bring when they want their pupils to succeed in something that they did not ask for, can do without, doesn’t work, and is abusive to children’s mental health.

Principals will be doing as they are told as well as helping their teachers to ‘feel good’ under difficult circumstances

At the top tiers of government, Simon will have, by now consulted with his war cabinet [The Australian Government Primary Principals’ Association [ http://www.agppa.asn.au/ ], as they caste their ‘unified and authoritative’ eye over ACARA’s management of NAPLAN 2017, especially following the messages from the 2016 disappointment. This think-tank’s contribution to the maintenance of mediocre standards in our schools is pivitol.  One cannot expect much higher than mediocre, of course. It’s in-built. It is, indeed crucial for 2017, since the most recent PISA results, where the effects of NAPLAN were evident, and Australian scores were worse than some third-world obscure authorities that Australia gets back to the middle or better in world terms. The very nature of NAPLAN assures the world that Australia is heading the wrong way in PISA terms. Our kids and their teachers do not seem to like doing NAPLAN nor PISA [for 15 year-olds]; that’s for sure.  PISA is THE litmus test for how well NAPLAN works; and the evidence to date clearly shows that our kids are ‘turned off’ to learning maths, science and literature; and the stress and anxiety that they cause to individuals, parents and homes is much too high.  This government think-tank, AGPPA, would have discussed, in some depth as to the 2016 calamity and whether it is worthwhile pursuing this kleinist mode of mass evaluation, called NAPLAN. We would expect no less, even though the discussions have not been made public.

Will NAPLAN be different this year and did AGPPA approve of the differences?  Simon’s group will be au fait with the difficulties of the change-over to mechanised testing and satisfied itself that all is okay, except for the difficulties in Queensland, but ACARA will surely be required to assure the Government’s group that all is fair and square before it makes any public statements.  How good are the keyboard skills of the victims? Anyone know?

The effects of this sort of testing program on the mental health of children must be of serious concern  to AGPPA, if Simon’s loyal group  cares for the government’s welfare.  The governments drive for ‘Values’ seems to be a serious one, even though Australia does not have a serious stance in the way it treats its children. The tales of PTSD and versions of it, the suicide rate, the unhappiness in families at this time of the year must surely have been on the agenda of this government think-tank.

All will be well if sufficient parents are prepared to say ‘NO to NAPLAN’.  It’s not too late.

By the way, does the government have its own  Australian Government Council of State School Organisations that it has captured? If so, watch out kids. You’ve been  well and truly treehorned.

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Phil Cullen   http://primaryschoolng.net/    http:treehornexpress.wordpress.com

If God says it stinks; it stinks

Alan Jones says, “I’m scared of NAPLAN.”

How about those kids whose captured parents let them do the test!
How about those scardy-cat testucators in schools and organisations  [e.g. APPA, AEU] who have been pavloved and keep supporting the political initiatives behind the testing program!
They’re everywhere….. ‘selling’ kleinism….well-conditioned by elite testucrats,,,,,,,,.pounding the sensitive feelings of children to do better at the tests in a few weeks.

That quick-visiting, unwelcome 457 from Scatoland, N.Y. sure sold us a pup back then. Kleinism took over;  and things don’t look too good for our kids’ mental health and school progress if we keep following the crazed ideas that he left for our present-day politicians to advocate. .

Alan Jones is right   Those ‘rich’ and ‘wonderful classrooms’ pursuing a rich and wonderful holistic curriculum don’t exist any more. They’ve been naplannized.

An observation
NAPLAN results ‘flatlined’ last year. Then Australia lined up towards the end of the PISA queue, getting poorer results than most other countries like us
We learned that the reason for the failure at PISA was contained in the DNA of NAPLAN that teaches kids to dislike particular subjects and schooling in general.

Yep. Undeniable. Unforgiveable.

At the same time, the creative, imaginative and useful aspects of schooling are left to flounder.
It seems as if the only way for the scores to get better is to manipulate the tests. So. Why not?
Admit failure. Make them easier.
The magic has gone. We keep treating kids as robots.

OR
Revive…
1. Make sure every parent knows that they can say ‘NO to NAPLAN’ and encourage them to do so.
and
2. Get rid of every politician who has not ‘come out’ on the side of children’s rights…..kids’  rights to proper, productive schooling.

Phil

P.S. Wouldn’t you like to be Alan Jones for a day, during this pre-Naplan period?

ALAN JONES HAS MADE IT CLEAR.   DUMP NAPLAN AND GET BACK TO MAGIC, WONDERFUL, HAPPY, PRODUCTIVE CLASSROOMS

February 2016 -Things Looked Good for a While

FEBRUARY 2016 saw the continuation of heavy NAPLAN-test-prep in those schools that have to rely on test results for their reputation. Holistic learning requirements , shared evaluation and real teaching were discussed and operated behind closed doors during this period, while regional officers in some states heavied [aka ‘mentored’] their teachers to be more naplanish and deliberately encouraged didactic modes of instruction among the unsure. Some even tried to ‘sell’ the ubiquitous direct de/instruction packages.These data-collectors can claim success. They have the naplan-based system firmly in their clutches.

The NAPLAN testing’s paranoia for the collection of scores was being properly defined : “ A NAPLAN score represents an inadequate judgement by a biased and variable testucator of the content to which an undefined level of mastery of unknown proportions of an inadequate amount of peculiar material has been completed on time. It is a device controlled by the New Mafia in the upper reaches of the banking and big corporate businesses, more engrossed in the accumulation of dollars and cents than in any concern. for child welfare or learning processes. It has the Frankenstein Effects of monstering as many learning abilities as it can, of abusing children’s mental health; and its control over decent curriculum and Australia’s intellectual future is extremely dangerous. As a mode of accountability and encouragement and system improvement, NAPLAN is pure crap.”

The importation of NAPLAN’s form of fear-based kleinism was, and remains an insult to the Aussie ‘way of life’. Instead of focusing on the basics of teaching, the importers’ fascist-inspired modes of teaching and learning turned our democratic options to a new low. The usual Aussie fair-play attitude to life actually contains the seeds of unrivaled achievement through a fair-play credo. We have neglected this attitude as it applies to school children for eight long years. It will have to be re-installed if we want to secure our future and a positive Aussie ‘way of life.’

The impact on political parties was varied at this time of 2016. An election year was coming up. Although the interest in schooling was minimal, each party hastily made up some quick policies. The Greens wanted the tests run at the beginning of the year. The LNP wanted better results within 12 weeks…forced, if necessary…May, of course! The ALP, it lay low. It, as usual, ignored the plight of kids under NAPLAN conditions and allowed their neo-con colleagues to have their way. The education policies of all parties and independent candidates demonstrated a clear disinterest in the guts of schooling. Independents and minor parties didn’t give two hoots. No political party or group indicated any interest in re-installing the high achieving, have-a-go, fair-dinkum, Aussie fair-crack-of-the-whip kind of education system we can have…if we want it. We seem to have lost the plot on the natural connection between fair-dinkum aussieness and productivity of school achievements. Our fixation with testing and data-collection, of New York origin, obscures the vision of Australia.s ability to becomeamongst the world’s most progressive countries. …depending on how well it treats its children.

OUR CANE-TOAD MENTALITY
Political parties’ attitude seemed to be based on a ‘cane toad’ mentality. THAT IS: Release an untested foreign ‘solution’ , without too much thought, to solve an invented problem and our school system will improve.{You will recall that the non-thinking scientists at the time of the cane-toad, overlooked the fact that toads could only leap so high and cane beetles flew higher.] .

Also… The New Mess, as the proposed use of computers for persuasive writing tests was called, hit the fan. The cane toad mentality was in full leap.

The concierge factions of each political party [the lobbyists, facilitators and door-openers] were busy , especially in the LNP, making sure that the candidates for the forthcoming elections were of the ‘right’ frame of mind. As it turned out, the electorate was starting to get sick of our pollies being controlled by the Gordon Gekkos of this world and turned to Pauline. She was chuffed and the longer neo-con un-seen operators control our politicians and systems, the happier she’ll be; the longer she’ll remain. The big Lib-Lab boys, probably paying for their sins of ignoring children, only have a slender lead over each other., now….and the more their indolence neglects the mental health of school children, the more slender any lead should become for the both parties.

During February, 2016

Concern was expressed by elite media commentators as to why states did not reclaim their control over schooling and treat children as human beings. Nothing happened.

The ALP started a peculiar petition for more resources in schools!!! It went flat.

THEN THINGS STARTED TO LOOK GOOD…..

A letter from Gabriel Stroud received resounding applause from real professionals and from the local media for a little while...” For many years I was privileged to be a teacher in primary schools. I knew I was a good teacher and my classroom was a place where pupils felt happy, confident, challenged and valued……But after 15 years of primary education in Australia I’ve had to admit defeat.” What a loss to the teaching profession. Nothing happened….except one other significant letter to the Courier Mail hit the fan.

Kathy Margolis wrote a letter that went viral. Kathy, who was a dedicated teacher for over 30 years was forced to seek another job. “Never have I experienced a time in my professional life where teachers are this stressed and in real fear for the mental health not only themselves, but the children that they teach…..I have never seen so many children suffering from stress and anxiety. It saddens me greatly. Teaching at the moment is data driven……I write this in the hope that we can spark a public discussion. We need the support of parents, who I know, agree with us. I love children and can’t bear to see what we are doing to them.”

A street march was held in Brisbane, and an interview with the state minister….then…zero activity.

The letters from Gabriel and Kathy …and Lucy Clark’s wonderful book….gave great heart to thousands of frustrated teachers wanting to teach their pupils to learn. For the first time since the measurement vandals started trespassing in classrooms of learning in 2008, someone was speaking out from where the action is! Enthusiasm was quickly quelled. Silence returned.

Treehorn wrote to Minister Birmingham suggesting that he initiate a study by a group of teachers such as Gabriel Stroud and Kathy Margolis of the effects of NAPLAN testing on the classroom atmosphere in Australian schools. He replied in April and referred to the fact that the new version of the Australian Curriculum “should assist teachers, thereby, improving morale.” !!! ‘Scuse me…..

He repeated what his dutiful officers had already told me as if I was a rookie or an impatient parent who needed reminding, that “….the purpose of NAPLAN tests is to help determine whether the students have the literacy and numeracy skills that provide the critical foundation for their learning.’

(“Ties and slurs It all sounds like…” ) Later in the year, the tests proved to the world that NAPLAN was not working…in fact, things were getting worse. The only conclusion to be reached was that the tests themselves were destroying the yen to do better. Kids how how they are being treated. It might have been a good idea to talk to the likes of Gabriel and Kathy, after all, to find out why this was so, instead of his making a unilateral decision to intimidate the states with threats of funding ‘arrangements’. if they didn’t exert more pressure on kids with more of the same. That’s what the poor fellow did! Too busy to think about schooling! He could even have checked how the original model was going in the USA [It has since collapsed] as any prudent assessor would do. He won’t believe that the fault is in the tests themselves. He doesn’t seem to like the Treehorn suggestion that children should be treated with dignity and care and develop a personal belief that they can achieve at the highest of levels, if they are taught to like Maths. Science, Literacy. He much prefers the state-threatened, fear-based, parent-deceited, press-silenced, teacher-timidified original Klein model. So, things remain the same. States were conned and still do as they are told. Teachers tolerate it. Kids suffer. Since our system’s aim is to pursue the mediocre through the continued use of fault-ridden tests, we will certainly continue as a flat-lined system on the way to nowhere.

It was in February that I had an accidental crew cut by the local hairdresser. She is still there, if you would like a crew cut. Just say: “NAPLAN.”

I was having a haircut and happened to mention ‘NAPLAN’ to the lady with the clippers.

The clipping speed increased rapidly. “That bloody thing! When my lad was in Grade 3, he didn’t sleep for weeks. He hated school and did not want to go. On the day, he threw up and I had to make him go.”

The clippers went into another gear, and hair flew off in my many shades of gray. “In Grade 5, same bloody thing.happened. He hated it and was really worried.”

Now, clip, clip. clip at breakneck speed. “He’s in Grade 7 now and I don’t know what’s going to happen. It’s on again now. Everyone is getting ready.”

Appeals to political candidates through The Treehorn Express to scrap NAPLAN based on UNESCO’s Rights of the Child, or on its inherent nastiness, and further pleas for them to think about their personal attitude to the purposes of schooling, and on the uselessness of the results, continued through February. The simple question was :”Why do we send children to school?” The unfortunate neo-con political robots were deaf or dyslexic. The month concluded with a clear expose from political science that countries get what they deserve from their attitude to the treatment of all human beings by their pollies. The neo-con attitude to getting what they want is to demand it. That’s the prevailing Australian attitude. The leaders of the Lib-Lab parties in particular, prefer to use coercion and reward power to get their way. I’m angry. Of course, I’m angry. I’m angry that no [political party in Australia cares enough about children to think about what they should be doing. I hate to see kids treated in the manner that our parliamentarians endorse.

Ideologies based on the yen for big money begets the use of reward and/or coercive powers to try to get people to do what they want. Such anxiety-driven, fear-based operations generally result in lower-level responses from the operatives at the work-face or chalk-face, ranging from rejection of the operation to enthusiasm for the enterprise. Australian schools are close to the rejection end, but not close enough. The problem is that the caring professions are more sensitive than others, trying to ride out the oppression but failing to stand up for the ideals and ethics of their work [which are shelved] because coercive activities are built into their chain of command…..as they are these days in Australian schooling. Fear and intimidation prevail.

NAPLAN testing can never rely on any enthusiasm from any dignified teaching service, for the task of blanket testing. It is bound to fail. Serious caring teachers can only take so much. The arrogant toxicity of the testing industry, in which love and care are denied to the humanity of the task, ignores the colleagueship between a teacher and a learner. Both teacher and learner know that NAPLAN is a very dangerous operation that should be dropped as soon as possible. Before the testing factories swing into action in February 2017, some wise politicians might anticipate parental and teacher revolt before reality hits and they might have to do something about it. People don’t like the suggestion that their schools are operated by fascist-oriented people, but it’s the truth. Schools can do without FEAR, ANXIETY, DECEIT and GREED. All four factors are too firmly embedded in the Australian system of schooling at present. ….and…..they can so easily be replaced by zest, enthusiasm, accomplishment and achievement. Just get rid of the menace that is holding Australia back.

That’s how we left February, 2016…..confused, battered, hopeful for a while thanks to Kathy and Gabriel, busily preparing for the May tests, imposing extra homework, enrolling at after-school NAPLAN-focused back-yard shops, not giving a tinkers about the mental health of our kids, knowing full-well that the emphasis on getting good test scores actually inhibits learning, hiding parental rights, infringing the Code of Moral Conduct https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Code_of_conduct , with our tongue in our cheek; and learning to say dutifully, with louder ‘test-speak’ that “we don’t like NAPLAN, but…..what can we do?”……

Why do some people and caring institutions, bother to write definitive Moral Codes, Rights of the Child, Freedom to Learn kind of documents?

As Aussie pollies and administrators we cannot be too proud of our timidity . Why can’t we do the job properly? Why don’t we CARE FOR KIDS ?


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What is Naplanitis?

NAPLANITIS is a psycho-socio-politico-neurological condition, spread by corporatised murdochean politicians in a vain attempt to increase scores of Australian school children in the biennial international PISA tests of a few selected fundamental parts of a normal school curriculum. It is sure to be listed, one day, on the ‘danger list’ of mental health conditions.

The cold administrative forms of mass-measurement, designed for Australian conditions for the use of high-stakes NAPLAN testing…as part of the PISA plot… manifests itself in a genuine dislike even hatred by pupils for the subjects selected  and for schooling itself.   All school children in Australia suffer from some measure of it; and its results in measurement terms have seen its PISA results diminish spectacularly; and its NAPLAN scores stagnate. .

Now endemic to Australian schooling systems, its eradication can be started only by serious public discussion and focused parliamentary attention to the worth of such externally imposed, politically based, extra-curricular forms of schooling. Who will stand up first?

Based on the black pedagogy of fear and the creation of anxiety at crucial learning stages in a child’s development, it attempts to dispel the notion that learning can be a pleasurable and worthy  undertaking. NAPLAN adherents believe that  high achievements are created only in an atmosphere of neurological discomfort.

The logic of NAPLAN is centered in the belief that intense testing of children between the ages of seven years and fourteen years, and occasional high-stakes side tests, spiced with a surfeit of practice testing,  will produce scholars who will depart from the regular schooling system with  previously unknown levels of competency.  Didactic jug-to-mug forms of instruction, that do not require profound nor esoteric forms of professional preparation at tertiary level of education, have precedence in financial governmental support and encouragement;  while developmental, child-centred maieutic styles that produce higher quality outcomes, including higher levels of achievement,  are ignored.

Discussion on whether the teaching profession can be allowed to exercise its own kind of professionalism and its own setting of  ethical behaviour or whether Australia continues to conduct its schooling according to instructions from political ghettos, based on lawyers’ lore and unethical political pollution…… using totalitarian modes of control, is an urgent imperative.

NAPLANITIS has  replaced the Australian ‘CARE FOR KIDS’ attitude with a vengeance.

  Despite its historical penchant for examination and testing routines, Australia just cannot continue with a schooling system in the manner that it does, using a curriculum so explicitly controlled by an unreliable , immoral, ineffective, heavy piles of tests dumped on schools and their kids for three days every year ,as well as seriously interrupting carefully considered school routines that the school considers to be important, in terms of an holistic curriculum.

NAPLANITIS as a medical term is not used. Lacking dopamine, child despair and stress and anxiety morphs into a serious mentally abused attitude that stays with them for the rest of their lives. It is serious mental health  stuff, usually lasting a life-time.

,At the same time, the increasing numbers of children being sent to school counsellors and psychologists with various disorders at Naplan time, is of concern; and the literature on ‘test stress’ is growing rapidly.  The use of TEST STRESS in the teaching of NAPLAN-passing is actually counter productive. Each tests contains its own flop-gene.  Check this :

http://brainconnection.brainhq.com/2000/07/12/tests-stress-problems-for-students/]  and

https://thepsychologist.bps.org.uk/volume-21/edition-12/examination-stress-and-test-anxiety

We tolerate all this nonsense.  We’re a pretty silly lot of people, aren’t we?

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Phil Cullen  41 Cominan Avenue banora Point Australia 2486 07 5524 6443  0407865999 cphilcullen@bigpond.com