Education Readings April 27th

By Allan Alach

Due to the recent sad loss of Phil Cullen, sometime in the next few weeks I will put this website into hibernation. All past articles, especially the many gems written by Phil Cullen, will still be visible but I will stop adding any more education readings. Instead these will be available on Bruce Hammonds’ LEADING AND LEARNING website.

I welcome suggested articles, so if you come across a gem, email it to me at

Hattie’s Research is False

Here’s a three part series from Kelvin Smythe, addressed to New Zealand University Vice-Chancellors, that comprehensively deconstructs John Hattie’s so-called ‘research’. As Hattie and his acolytes have done, and are still doing, great damage to holistic education, all teachers need to be aware of the falsehoods in his findings. Other educationists have also found similar issues.

‘My concern is that none of the variables in his research are validly isolated or under control, resulting in an academic shambles that, in being left unexposed, has had devastating consequences for teachers and children around the world, and especially New Zealand.’

Times tables – the phony, proxy war between traditionalists and progressives

‘These are tablets from Mesopotamia. They show a multiplication table and a practice tablet by a schoolchild. A practice that has been going on for millennia.And sure enough, the ‘times-tables’ wars have erupted again. This time, however, it has become a proxy, even phony, war between traditionalists and progressives, which in turn shows that both sides are often wrong-headed. It’s a litmus test for the whole debate.’

How to spot education research myths and read research properly

“I think it is useful for teachers to analyse and read articles, but more to get a sense of the enormous complexity and variables at play rather than trying to find a silver bullet that says ‘look, this works’ because science is incremental; we keep on building, one study will never be enough, there will never be a single study that shows this finally worked.”

How to Stop Killing the Love of Reading

‘But when I see what my kids do in school for “reading,” it doesn’t really look like reading. I ask them what books they are reading in school, and a lot of times they give me a blank stare. What they do in reading, they tell me, is mostly worksheets about reading. Or computer programs that ask them to read passages, not books, and answer multiple-choice questions.’

The Future of Education: How To Get Ready

‘I am not sure what education or the world for that matter will look like in 20 years, but I know that as educators we have the opportunity to shape what the future will be and the power to make it what we want it to be, which is, hopefully, a better place for our kids.  I implore you to join me in dreaming, in speculating, in being different, not only because it is so exciting, but because our kids deserve it.’

Contributed by Bruce Hammonds:

A playful approach to learning means more imagination and exploration

‘Play in education is controversial. Although it is widely accepted that very young children need to play, as they progress through the school system, the focus moves quickly to measuring learning. And despite the fact that play is beneficial throughout life, supporting creativity and happiness, it is still seen by many in education as a frivolous waste of time, and not really relevant to proper learning.’

Here’s What Happens When Every Student Gets a Personalized Learning Plan

‘All students can learn; however, not all students learn in the same way or at the same pace. Acknowledging this fact has driven the recent shift toward personalization in education.’

Imogen Stubbs laments ‘awful treadmill’ of UK education system

‘Stubbs is a fan of the ideas of educationist Sir Ken Robinson, who gained international acclaim for his 2006 TED talk Do Schools Kill Creativity? She despairs of the “utilitarian” approach to arts subjects and hates the jargon of the modern exam system with its “texts” and “assessment objectives”.’

How Small Steps Can Create Outdoors Experiences In Schools

‘It started with a school garden at Maplewood Richmond Heights Middle School. The garden did so well that students built another garden. Then they added native plants, where seventh-grade students learned lessons in data collection as they counted pollinators. The students wanted more pollinators, so they added a beehive. The bees made honey, and the kids used their sweet surplus to learn about the economics of commodities…’

Curriculum wars: coming to Aotearoa?

‘To grossly simplify, it’s the argument between ‘knowledge vs skills’. To personalise it, it’s E.D Hirsch vs 21st Century Skills. Or in the New Zealand context, it’s Elizabeth Rata and Briar Lipson vs Jane Gilbert and Frances Valintine. And I think it’s mostly a good thing that we’re starting to talk about this.  Sure, polarising rhetoric can be unhelpful, but it’s a disservice to our students not to think seriously about curriculum, and part of that means expressing and teasing out differences.’

From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:

The killing of creativity by the technocrats.

Bruce Hammonds has also found fault with John Hattie:

‘Somehow, just because Hattie has amalgamated every piece of ‘school effectiveness’ research available ( mainly it seems from the USA) his findings, it seems, ought to be taken for read. The opposite ought to be the case – we need to be very wary of such so called ‘meta research.’. More worrying however is that the approaches he is peddling is pushing into the background the home grown innovative creative learning centred philosophy that was once an important element in many classrooms. Overseas experts always seem to know best – or those that return with their carpet bag full of snake oil.’

The forgotten genesis of progressive early education

An example of the pedagogical knowledge that is totally foreign to the Hatties of this world.

‘Since ‘Tomorrows Schools’ ( 1986) teachers would be excused if they thought all ideas about teaching and learning came from those distant from the classroom – and more recently imposed by technocrats and politicians. This was not always the case. Progressive ideas that helped New Zealand lead the world in education, particularly in reading, were developed by creative early education teachers who were well aware of the modern educational ideas of the time.’

Education Readings June 30th

By Allan Alach

I welcome suggested articles, so if you come across a gem, email it to me at

Shifting Needs in a Digital World

‘Our kids need to learn the responsible and safe use of digital devices. They need to learn not only balance but also boundaries. And as parents and educators that means modeling limits and responsible use. What message do we send our kids when we ourselves are not present but instead distracted by the device in our hands, instead of focusing on them? Technology is a tool, and with it comes a means to powerful connectivity and knowledge, but in the end, it does not replace the importance of human interaction, face to face conversations and personal relationships.’

Thirty Minutes Tops

A nice little satire.

‘As a parent, I really cannot cover everything I want my kids to learn from me in the four hours I have them at home. I really like my kids teachers and I really appreciate all the work they do during the day, but due to the short amount of time I have my kids at home, I’m going to have to send some work back to school with my kids to complete during the seven hours they spend in the classroom. I apologize for the negative impact this work might have on the teachers and the rest of the class.’

Preaching the Value of Social Studies, in a Second Career

‘While spending anywhere from several weeks to half a year on a topic might seem excessive, she said, students are really learning not just about that particular topic, but about how to study something. They’re learning that, when studying a culture, they need to look at a variety of features, like religious beliefs, economy and gender roles. When studying a system or an organization, they need to look, as Ms. Switzer often says, at “the tools, the rules, the consumers, and the workers.”’

Is it okay for children to count on their fingers?

‘Is it OK for children to count on their fingers? Generations of pupils have been discouraged by their teachers from using their hands when learning maths. But a new research article shows using fingers may be a much more important part of maths learning than previously thought.’

7 reasons why ‘marking’ sucks

‘Inside the Black Box by Black &Wiliam, should be compulsory reading for all teachers, trainers and lecturer, so it was a delight to see him give a masterclass in assessment with solid, evidence-based advice that you can apply straight from the hip in teaching. Marking may do more damage than most educators realise. It is a summative assessment technique, all too often wrongly used in formative assessment.’

Contributed by Bruce Hammonds:

The need to place creativity central to all learning.

Bruce’s latest article.

‘Existing research has recognised that successful/creative people in any discipline use creativity to enhance their thinking but until now this has not been applied to exemplary teachers.  The study focussed on how exceptional teachers use creativity in the classroom and was based on in-depth interviews with highly accomplished teachers.’

Sir Ken Robinson: How to Create a Culture For Valuable Learning

‘“If you design a system to do something, don’t be surprised if it does it,” Robinson said at the annual Big Picture Learning conference called Big Bang. He went on to describe the two pillars of the current system — conformity and compliance — which undermine the sincere efforts of educators and parents to equip children with the confidence to enter the world on their own terms.’

How Silicon Valley Pushed Coding Into American Classrooms

Not just an American issue:

‘Last year, Microsoft and helped push for a career-education bill that, education researchers warned, could prioritize industry demands over students’ interests. Among other things, they said, it could sway schools to teach specific computer programming languages that certain companies needed, rather than broader problem-solving approaches that students might use throughout their lives.“It gets very problematic when industry is deciding the content and direction of public education,” said Jane Margolis, a senior researcher at the Graduate School of Education and Information Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles.’

There’s an essential skill not being taught enough in classrooms today

‘That skill is thinking. “Most teachers never really ask students to think very deeply…. Most of what is assigned and tested are things we ask students…“Most teachers never really ask students to think very deeply…. Most of what is assigned and tested are things we ask students to memorize,” ., a common underlying problem is this “dearth of critical thinking skills.”’

Personalized Learning Is NOT Inclusion!

‘Personalized learning must not be mistaken for inclusion. The reality is that it’s student isolation!Inclusion is generally defined as the action or state of including or of being included within a group or structure. Doing schoolwork on a digital device by yourself is not inclusion. It’s ability grouping for one.’

Alarm raised over principals’ burnout rate

I can really relate to this.

‘Rural school principals are struggling to cope with the demands of their job and the Educational Institute says it wants more help for them. The problem was highlighted at a recent meeting of principals who ran schools so small that they had to teach in the classroom as well as manage the school, the institute said.’

From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:

Guy Claxton – building learning power.

“We need, says Claxton, ‘to provide our students with the emotional and cognitive resources to become the ‘confident, connected, life long learners’; the vision of the NZ Curriculum . To achieve this is all about powerful pedagogy.The important thing, he said, was to infuse the Key competencies into every thing that happens at school and not see them as a ‘bolt on’.”

Write Now Read Later

‘These days reading, or better still the language arts ( now called by a more technocratic title ‘literacy’) seems to have been taken over by academics who are pushing a phonemic approach onto schools – ‘P’ Pushers! This is an approach that distorts the organic relationship between experience, oral language, writing and reading – all premised on a need to make meaning and to communicate.’

Education Readings October 30th

By Allan Alach

I welcome suggested articles, so if you come across a gem, email it to me at

These two articles by Kelvin Smythe have rattled a few cages in New Zealand:

For goodness sake let’s get computer use in perspective

“No matter how sophisticated the current understanding of computers and school education, no-one can sensibly predict the various directions computer use in education will take. What we should know, and we should hold on to as something real and solid amidst the ephemeral and flux, is that the fundamentals of children’s learning – if purposes are humanistic and democratic – remain substantially the same.”

A response to the criticism of my criticism of the school that saw art as a distraction to computer work

“The promise was that computers would be tools, but now rooms are being built for those tools, indeed, whole schools, to devastating effect; computers have become central, and programmes, rooms and schools are being built around them.”

Bruce Hammonds also joined in:

For and against computers in schools – Kelvin Smythe inspires an important debate.

“I have to agree with Kelvin that the ‘heart, vivacity and substance of curriculum areas’ are all too often missing in classrooms replaced by an emphasis on technology. It does seem to me that some teachers are captured by technology and, if this is the case, such technology is itself a distraction from real learning.”

The following two articles reinforce many points that Kelvin and Bruce have made:

David Greene: Teachers or Technology?

“The result? Instead of technology creating great teaching tools for teachers, teachers become the tools of technology!”

Technology Alone Won’t Save Poor Kids in Struggling Schools

“Roughly one in four children in the United States lives in a home without a computer or Internet access, and this digital divide is often cited as a factor in the intractable achievement gap between poor students and their well-off peers. Give these kids a computer, the logic goes, and you may increase their chances of succeeding in school. Entire philanthropies are built on this idea. But a jarring new National Bureau of Economic Research working paper concludes that all of this hardware may have no effect, at least in the short term, on educational outcomes.”

Moving on:

A big problem with the Common Core that keeps getting ignored

Marion Brady’s latest article for the Washington Post. His comment:

“Many unexamined assumptions prop up the standards-and-accountability education “reform” campaign. A major one is that the “core” curriculum in place since 1893 is a solid foundation for instruction and testing. Below, I explain why I disagree, and in the last sentence provide a link to others’ perception of the problem.”

Current school start times damaging learning and health of students

“Scientists have found that current school and university start times are damaging the learning and health of students. Drawing on the latest sleep research, the authors conclude students start times should be 8:30 or later at age 10; 10:00 or later at 16; and 11:00 or later at 18. Implementing these start times should protect students from short sleep duration and chronic sleep deprivation, which are linked to poor learning and health problems.”

Contributed by Bruce Hammonds:

Establishing a Culture of Student Voice

“What firmly establishes a culture of student voice is giving them charge of how they learn, including development of assessments and products for learning outcomes.”

Teach Your Child to Love Learning: Keys to Kids’ Motivation

There are few things more aggravating to parents than a kid who “doesn’t try.” Whether it’s math homework, dance class or those guitar lessons they begged for but now never practice, we want our children to be eager learners who embrace effort, relish challenges and understand the value of persistence. Too often, what we see instead is foot-dragging avoidance and whiny complaints of “This is boring!”

How to separate learning myths from reality

“Bridging the gap between popular neuromyths and the scientific insights gathered in the past few decades is a growing challenge. As modern brain-imaging techniques, such as functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), have advanced scientific knowledge, these misleading lay interpretations by business practitioners have advanced as well. Unless such misconceptions are eliminated, they will continue to undermine both personal- and organizational-learning efforts.”

An open letter to all educators…

“There is a vicious epidemic that has been spreading and continues to spread unchecked across the globe. The achievement gap that is so often spoken of is merely a cover for what is really happening.

We don’t have an achievement gap, we have an opportunity gap…”

Why the conventional wisdom on schooling is all wrong

I thought I’d posted this article by Marion Brady before but apparently not.

“Delivering information isn’t the problem. Kids are drowning in information, and oceans more of it is at their fingertips ready to be downloaded. What they need that traditional schooling has never given them and isn’t giving them now isn’t information, but information processing skills. They need to know how to think—how to select, sort, organize, evaluate, relate, and integrate information to turn it into knowledge, and knowledge into wisdom.”

When Did 19th Century Learning Become So Trendy? (8 Old Ideas That Are Actually Pretty Innovative)

“People mocked non-techie projects and now it’s “we really need hands-on Maker Spaces.” Five years ago, I watched techies on Twitter saying, “Note taking is dumb when you can just Google it.” Now everyone is posting about the power of sketch-noting. Suddenly mural projects and theater productions are okay again, since we added an A into STEM; or as I like to call it “MEATS.” I want a MEATS Lab. Maybe it’s time we abandon the idea that certain education practices are outdated and realize that learning is timeless and sometimes some of the best ideas are buried under the industrial carpet of factory schools.”

From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:

Group work and learning styles

“…if we want all students to realise their full potential ( usually written into every school’s charter) then their individual talents and styles need to be recognised. A standardized system ‘one size fits all’ does not fit anyone. All too often school failures are students whose learning styles have been ignored or neglected.”

Charter schools are not about charter schools

By Kelvin Smythe

Reposted from Networkonnet.

The education situation is dire, western economies are struggling, with one of its manifestations being the rich and powerful acting to undermine public schools. Charter schools not being about charter schools is emblematic of that dire situation.

Let us look at how this is playing out in New Zealand. Throughout our history our overriding economic plan has been to hang on to the coat tails of first England, then America, now China. We were only truly comparatively wealthy in the Korean War period when the price of wool sky rocketed. The present government is now taking the coat-tail policy to extreme: selling farm land, allowing foreign manufacturing of farm produce, emphasising tourism (with its low pay characteristics), mining exploitation, asset sales, and signing sycophantic free trade policies. Apparently we can raise capital for property speculation but not for industry.

No matter the slightly more benign period at the moment, our prospects are that we are going to face severe unemployment, reaching deep into the middle class – so where will that leave applicants from less privileged environments? And the jobs there are will be largely low paid. Genuine social, economic, and political change is required but the response by the rich and powerful to avoid this has been to scapegoat.

This  (New Zealand) government, headed as it is by a financial player, is a do-nothing government in the sense of industry and making things (and stuff). Making things is disappearing; making things is not valued. Because of ideology, how to put ourselves in position to make things is beyond this government. The only way New Zealand can put itself in position to make things is by substantial government involvement, but this government resiles from government involvement in capital raising for industry. It is in making things, in developing our research, in using the education skills of New Zealanders, in using the acknowledged imagination of its people to make things of high value, that widespread and worthwhile employment can be established.

The rich and powerful in western countries have resorted to scapegoating and distraction to protect their position. One of the ways education is being set up as a scapegoat is promoting education as the key to prosperity. This is a false argument: when a country has reached a certain level of education achievement, there can be found no substantial connection between education achievement and economic success, indeed, the argument for education as a private good gains some credence here (though education leading to good life decisions surely contributes to the public good). By linking economic success to education achievement when there is little or no link, makes education the perfect scapegoat for successive economic failures as they occur. This has three considerable consequences: first, the true path to economic success is not recognised and followed and, second, a platform from which to devastate public education is formed and, third, the vacuum left by the destruction of public education, provides an opening for the institutions of the rich and wealthy to place themselves in a position of social control over the young.

Economic success in Western countries depends on the economic decisions not on education.

(Education, though, as a human right so that individuals can compete more fairly with others for employment and for a satisfying life in other respects is, of course, undeniable.)

Connected to the promotion of education as the key to prosperity is the idea that poverty has little effect on education achievement. This is, of course, preposterous, akin to believing in the literal Adam and Eve. The rich and powerful, in the face of an obscene widening of inequality, have promoted education, virtually on its own, as the way to reduce inequality. Those from economically deprived environments have little chance of competing with middle-class children in genuine education achievement. If the link between poverty and reduced education achievement was accepted by a society it would lead to attention being given to housing, health, and income, as well as education. In education we know how to lift the achievement of children from poverty environments. We understand the need for providing compensatory environments, for instance, a stable, loving context, intensive individual attention, sensitivity to cultural aspects, school meals, allowing time for basic concepts to develop so learning can proceed on the basis of understanding, reducing harsh testing procedures to ensure a safe environment, and not seeing flexible thinking as mutually exclusive from the 3Rs.

A central way the rich and powerful have promoted the idea that poverty has little effect on education is to change and redefine it. Education has been reduced to a narrow version of reading, writing, and mathematics by focusing on the measurable and the immediately observable. This measurable and immediately observable is atomised to allow commodification and factory-style industrial ways to transmit and test it. Such learning results in a second-rate education because true education, true that is to success in higher education, high value jobs, and making successful life decisions, is about flexible thinking. The middle-class bring a cultural capital to education that children from straitened circumstances can rarely approach unless special compensatory education is put in place. But special compensatory education is not put in place because that would cost money. The rich and powerful are only interested in ‘helping’ poor children if it doesn’t cost any money, indeed, reduces costs overall by dismantling public education systems, and avoids any social, economic, and political change detrimental to their position.

So what we find is that children from poor families are being organised into schools that produce ersatz education results in an attempt to embarrass public schools. In charter schools, children will be drilled in the 3Rs at the expense of flexible thinking, meaning, and sustainable learning, and with long-term detrimental learning consequences. To introduce just two classroom learning points: true reading is about reading for meaning, so for children’s reading to develop truly, a rich variety of concepts needs to be part of children’s thinking; and drilling a narrow version of mathematics leaves children unprepared for more abstract mathematics later. Drilled education is a second-rate education, recalling Maori children doing 1900s gardening duties. But all this by-the by, it is the consequences of bringing public schools into disrepute that is the point of the charter schools.

So what we are finding, and will find, is a range of mainly small charter schools or small schools of other sorts, that produce in secret a series of impressive ‘results’, an outcome of drilling, a form of ‘coaching’ close to cheating, and test inflation. (This behaviour will extend to, indeed will be a feature of, small secondary schools.) These schools, because they are small and structured in certain ways, will not be representative of the school population, and will never have significant numbers of decile 1 children.

But there is a further ominous way the rich and powerful are protecting their wealth and power, they are entrenching international corporations at the heart of education systems. The commodification, reductionism, and standardisation of education allows national corporations to produce curriculum content, tests, products and consultancies across borders heedless of cultural differences. This has the effect of promoting the ideas and values of the rich and powerful through school systems. Decisions alien to our way of life are being made by covert groups far removed from schools and communities. Education organisation, as a result, is being turned into a form of corporate authoritarianism with sinister implications for classrooms and democracy.

It might be fitting to go over some of the points I made in an interview on charter schools for Campbell Live (a current affairs programme) to be broadcast later this week.

I was asked for my definition of charter schools. I said it was an idea – an idea promoted by the rich and powerful to avoid genuine social, economic, and political change.

I said charter schools were an idea developed in relative secrecy and introduced in a way deeply damaging to the fabric of democracy.

Charter schools are organised so that what happens in them is hidden: it looks as though the education review office has review responsibilities, but it doesn’t; parents are kept well away; the ministry has no real oversight; and corporate-type ‘public relations’ people will deny, hide, and lie.

John Key’s  (Prime Minister) charge in the 23 November  2011 debate with Phil Goff  (then Labour Party leader) that public schools were letting New Zealand down was a signal that it was going to be a free-for-all on public teachers and schools.

I said, charter schools will never be a system, they are not designed to be a system, they are designed to be a platform to discredit public schools so that more people will buy into private schools; charter schools are about privatising education; charter schools are about frightening children into private schools, transferring the cost of education to parents. Charter schools are about more privileged children going into private schools and less privileged children being congregated into public schools – schools that will be poorly funded and derided. Most of these children will be Maori and Pasifika children which should give pause to some Maori and Pasifika leaders but probably won’t.

Not mentioned in the interview, but relevant to this argument is the way John Key is promoting private schools by making huge increases to their funding: for example, the prime minister’s school of choice for his son,

Kings College, received government subsidies increased by 40% from 2009 to 20011 – that is from$1,663, 585 to $2,325,587. There is no extra money for the so-called one-in-five at the lower end – only national standards which harms these children and bully-boy attacks on their teachers – but there are huge increases in amounts being shovelled out for the one-in-twenty-five at the higher end, and implied approbation of their teachers. (Statistical information from John Minto, QPEC.)

That is why during the interview I called the prime minister a ‘slimeball’ or something like that (I’m finding it difficult recall exactly what I said at that moment of inspiration.) I hope they retain it in the interview.

I said, I was not mainly interested in what went on in New Zealand charter schools: yes – they will use reactionary teaching policies and hectoring control practices, but what happens will not be as weird as occurs in American charter school; my main interest will be on the outside effects of charter schools, that is, the use as of charter schools as a platform to scapegoat public schools and to introduce international corporations into central education decision making.

Education is becoming sleight of hand, distraction from one hand for a trick to be pulled in the other, all to the benefit of the rich and powerful. The call for one-in-five is not about doing something constructive for the one, it is about all five being taught the narrow 3Rs (a long-term conservative aim). ‘Achievement’ is not about genuine education achievement but narrow achievement for the unreflective. National standards are not for identifying children who are struggling (in fact, they are of considerable harm to them) but to commodify education to allow national corporations to take control. ‘Quality data’ is just the reverse, it is data made rubbish by tests being tampered with and high stakes’ contexts.

As for the spread of unemployment to the middle class; well, when Maori and Pasifika children line up with their NZCEA level 2 (secondary school qualification), middle-class children (Maori, Pasifika, and European) will get the few jobs available and the rest will be left with their certificates and their poverty. The point I am making is that charter schools are designed to distract and divide. Samoan and Maori (and some European) leaders to justify their taking of money for charter schools and accruing the status involved will berate public education as failing Maori and Pasifika children when, in fact, underfunded and against the odds public schools have done wonderfully well. As was intended, the position of the rich and powerful will be strengthened by this. Charter schools, as stated above, have been introduced to avoid genuine social, economic, and political change so the proper response by those genuinely concerned with reducing inequality is not to support authoritarian education policies that will strengthen the status quo but to politicise those affected by inequality to agitate for the necessary changes. Margaret Thatcher was the first western politician to realise that ignoring and penalising the poor actually provided an opportunity to increase inequality to be electorally popular as well.

The question that is charter schools does not lie in education but in preserving and advancing the position of the rich and powerful; neither does the answer, that lies in consciousness-raising and politicisation of the poor: which is why charters schools are not about charter schools.

Press Release from New Zealand Green Party

This speaks for itself and shows that, as with charter school movements elsewhere, the real agenda to is enable foreign corporates (guess which ones….) to mine New Zealand schools for their profit stream. As is also the case overseas, it is lower socio-economic children who will suffer under this.


New opportunities for foreign corporates to profit from kiwi kids

Thursday, 14 Mar 2013 | Press Release

Contact: Metiria Turei MP

The National/Act Government has just laid out the welcome mat for large foreign owned corporations to receive huge tax payer subsidies to run profit-making schools in New Zealand, with potential to take over large parts of the education system in the future, the Green Party said today.

Two clarifications released this morning by the Governments’ tendering website GETS confirm that 100 per cent foreign owned corporations can apply to run charter schools immediately, and promises more opportunities for them to set up taxpayer-funded corporate schools in the future.

“New Zealand has one of the best public school systems in the world and we will protect the right of every kiwi child to a high quality, free public education at their local school,” Green Party Co-leader and education spokesperson Metiria Turei said.

“New Zealanders will be shocked to learn that large entirely foreign owned corporates have been invited to apply for significant taxpayer subsidies to expand into our public education system, not just now but in the future.

“New Zealanders will be shocked to learn that large entirely foreign owned corporates have been invited to apply for significant taxpayer subsidies to expand into our public education system, not just now but in the future.

“Funding agreements already published show the taxpayer could pay more than $1 million to establish a charter school, and then much more than $1 million each year to run them.

“This is privatisation of our education system at its most extreme.

“The most insidious part of this plan is that the experimental first stage will be inflicted on vulnerable children in lower income areas.

“These are precisely the kind of kids who need the best education, by the best trained teachers, following the New Zealand curriculum, and to be offered the best and most recognised qualifications.

“Instead these children could be taught by unqualified people, or forced to spend hours longer at school each day as there are no limits on the school day, or even the size of their class.

“The National/Act Government pretends this is choice for lower income kids and compares it to the choice that more wealthy children have available to them through private schools.

“But they know that wealthy New Zealanders wouldn’t have a bar of charter schools.

“The group representing private schools have submitted against charter schools claiming that allowing untrained teachers threatens the entire education system.

“New Zealanders do not want untrained people teaching their kids and they don’t want to pay foreign companies to come in and erode our education system either,” Mrs Turei said.

Special Guest


The Treehorn Express

Bruce Hammonds of [ Check his  It’s great.] called my attention to Tony Gurr’s recent posting on his   We are all linked as you know.

Tony has given permission to reproduce it as a Treehorn Special . He says that Part 02 is better ….but you will find that both are excellent presentations.  Part 02 coming soon.

Do you ever wonder what NAPLAN supporters think when they read something like this?    NAPLAN is such a killer of healthy learning, one has to wonder. Are they so confused? Measurers and their ilk would be unable to comprehend, of course.

Yes, Tony. I did like the Wikipedia description of ‘engagement’.


By the way, have all Aussie Treehorn readers and their friends written to Christopher Pyne to ask him about [a] the evidence that indicates Australia’s backwardness; and/or [b] meaning of ‘robust curriculum’; and/or [c] freedom to principals, teachers & P&Cs to express their opinion; and/or [d] meaning of ‘teacher quality’ ?  On behalf of kids, please make sure that you and your friends do this. It’s so important.     A short courteous note to will do it.


Phil C.


LEARNer Engagement in a Culure of LEARNacy (Part 01)

by Tony Gurr

You can’t throw a rock into the educational blogosphere without hitting the word“engagement” these days. It’s been that way since the mid-1990s but the recent interest in 21st Century LEARNing (or the 21C Paradigm) means that it has got a much higher profile of late…


Today, in order to “compete” with the power of self-directed, edtech-enabled LEARNing, classroom TEACHers have to engageengageengage…and woe betide thee, Molly Woppy…if you are still using carrots n’ sticks to get your LEARNers to LEARN!

The problem is, in today’s brave new world of education, rapport just does not cut it – neither does a great curriculum or a great assessment matrixif we ever get round to creating these!

Engagement has become the educator’s best friend in the “war on motivation” (or the lack of it). The real problem (yes, you knew it was coming) is that we seem to throw the term around so frequently and loosely that for many TEACHers it has lost its meaning.



Is it just topics that LEARNers find “interesting” or activities that they “like” or work that allows them to “express” themselves – even…shock-horror…“having fun” in the classroom and “working with friends”?


Of course, it’s more…a lot more.

Check out this summary from WikiI must admit these guys are still impressing me with some of their stuff…but do not tell anyone I said that! This time, however, I’m going to focus on those elements that impact LEARNers and TEACHers…in the classroom.

And, what better place to start than with Carl Rogers…and his insight into the “real” meaning of engagement:

…he elaborates:

…he gives us even more:

Now, I have to admit…when I first saw this (as a younger teacher), I thought “No way…no way is that possible in the classroom”!

I guess I am not alone…


Rogers’ comments highlight many of the key elements that educational researchersstarted to hone in on in the mid-1990s:

…a holy trinity that seem to fuel a visible delight in the LEARNers – and a persistence orresilience that allows these LEARNers to “see things through” to “success” and “achievement”.

Now, you see why this scared the bejeebers out of me!


Now, some of you – familiar with the work of Dan Pink – will have picked up on that last word, the title of his 2009 book. Dan writes a great deal about the changing work of work or what he terms “21st century work”. His book, Drive, was summarised in a“twitter post” he made at the time the book was published:

Carrots & sticks are so last century. Drive says for 21st century work, we need to upgrade to autonomymastery and purpose. 

By which he meant (but could not fit into a 140-character tweet):

  • Autonomy – the desire to direct our own lives.
  • Mastery – the urge to get better and better at something that matters.
  • Purpose – the yearning to do what we do in the service of something larger than ourselves. 

Drive, of course, refers directly to “motivation” (more indirectly to “engagement” – the product of high levels of motivation), and Pink suggests that the keys to unlocking and sustaining this type of (intrinsic) motivation (at work, school and home) lie in focussing in on autonomymastery and purpose – the exact same thing that Carl Rogers was talking about.


Now, you might say – and would probably be very right to do so – Tony, surely this type of “engagement” is only possible out-of-school – when kids choose to “tune out” school and focus on things they “love”their “real” intereststheir own hobbies? 

The thing was that early research into classroom engagement did actually show that itwas possible in school…in the classroom. 

We started to see that those students that were “engaged” in their school work seemed to be “engergized” by successcuriosityoriginality and satisfying relationships.Richard Strong, Harvey Silver and Amy Robinson, for example, picked up on this and highlighted four core needs that these students seem to have – and explained them a bit more (we did not have twitter then):

  • Success – the need for “mastery” (not just grades or exam passes)
  • Curiosity – the need for “understanding” (not just “information” that has to be memorised)
  • Originality – the need for “self-expression” (not just be a “good student”)
  • Relationships – the need for “involvement with others” (not just be a “vessel”)

Obviously, all these elements basically touch on the issue of “motivation” and manyTEACHers realised that it might be a good idea to start looking at the things that they were already doing “right” – and discover a few more ways to build on these things. By asking questions like:

…and more reflective (and disorientating) questions like:

…that only the bravest of us ask!


All of them…great questions!


What these teachers were realising was that student engagement also came fromTEACHers engaging with their own TEACHing!

John Hattie, noted this:

He is right – on both counts!

BUTthere is another element!


TEACHers can improve LEARNer engagement by engaging LEARNers in conversations about what engages them. They can ask LEARNers to LEARN them! 

…through direct approaches vis-à-vis “motivation”: 

…and, also taking this…further: 

It is exactly these types of questions – suggested by Julia Flutter and Jean Rudduck (in this instance) – that start to pull LEARNers out of their more traditional role of“outsiders”…and help them assume the role of an “insider” – an insider in the very process of their own LEARNing…


Julia and Jean also take this a step further – in their 2004 book – when they describe a great model that captures the very essence of engagement. They maintain that schools have been getting it wrong for years and suggest that children at school are “hungry” for the 3Rs – responsibilityrespect and reality…and that teachers and schools can meet these needs by focussing on the 3Cs – choicechallenge and collaboration.

These 3Rs and 3Cs can be adapted into another group of questions that TEACHers can ask themselves:

…again, TEACHers engaging with their own TEACHing!


OK…so far, I have been doing most of the heavy-lifting in this post (or was that “heavy-asking”?) – let’s try a little task. Ask yourself those six questions inspired by Julia and Jean’s thunking – just give a “yea” or “nay”.


If you answered “yes”, try evidencing those answers with two other sets of questions:




…’cos we all need to LEARN how to do this better!


Now, I have just realised I have gone over my self-imposed word limit (again!)…and we haven’t got to LEARNacy…let alone the notion of a CULTURE of LEARNacy. 

I did say, at the very start of the post, this was Part 01 


I’ll leave you with one last question…a question that might hint at where we are going with this: 


…after all – we teach LEARNers, not COURSES – right?


Bedtime Reading:

Bedtime Reading (saved for Pt 02):

Comment    See all comments

Tomorrow’s Primary School

The Treehorn Express

Treehorn’s story : Open attachment.

[Maintained by NZ educator Allan Alach]


“Apes and maggots appearing in Hollywood films are better protected from stress than are children in public schools today.” [Susan Ohanian]


 Jan Moroney


Classes commence at 8.30 a.m. sharp and finish at 4.00 p.m.

The four-hour morning session will be devoted to Numeracy; the two and one-half hour afternoon session to Literacy. These allocations will alternate week by week.

There will be heavy concentration during these hours on the kinds of questions that NAPLAN testers ask. The focus is on doing well on the tests.

Traditional non-testable subjects will be on a voluntary after-school basis. [See below]


Tests of Literacy and Numeracy, on NAPLAN lines, will be conducted during the last three days of each calendar month, including May. Every class, including Year 1 and Prep classes, will be tested at these times. Results [both student and teacher] in order of accomplishment, will be published on the school’s website. The tests themselves will be available for practice at home.

Substantial achievement rewards will be given to the captains of the winning school houses – Kemp, Nelson, Gillard, Garrett – named after Australia’s Legends of Learning – at the end of each term.

On the first Friday of each month, State Department patrol officers, local banking personnel and business executives will be invited to conduct numeracy and literacy tests of Years 3 and 5. These tests and results will be published on the school’s website.

The names of the class teachers, in order of class scores achieved, will be published on a special honour roll each term. The contracts of those whose names appear in the lower quarter will be terminated at the end of the school year.

The school considers NAPLAN tests as a special contest between the school and the examiners. Extraordinary steps may be taken to  beat the testers.

School excursions are not allowed and  no ‘special days’ nor festivities are conducted within classrooms or in Revolution Hall. Anzac Day is an exception.

In line with the desires of our esteemed leader, our aim is to be constantly in the ‘top 5’.

The school takes no responsibility for the effects of high-stakes testing on children’s health.


Classes will be allocated to a teacher for the full school year. Each teacher will carry full responsibility for the test scores of their classroom.

There is no integration of teaching effort nor of subjects at this school. Maths is maths; Grammar is grammar; Spelling is spelling.

Activities are restricted to class rooms as much as possible.

Play-way and child-sponsored techniques that require the shifting of furniture are forbidden in the rooms. Teaching is test directed.  Silence is golden.

There is no collaboration nor friendly contest with neighbouring schools. They are opposition.


All test scores will be available to parents on the school’s web-site after each test.

The school will provide referrals to selected  tutoring firms that can provide extra help for low-scoring individuals.

Enrolment Procedures

Parents, whose children have previously attended another school, must supply previous NAPLAN scores. School premises are off-limits to parents who refuse to make them available.

An undertaking must be signed at the time of enrolment that no criticism of NAPLAN testing nor of the school-based assessment procedures will be made. If such a criticism is made, parents will be refused access to school property.

Traditional Pre-NAPLAN non-testable subjects

Revolution Hall, sporting fields and parts of the school building will be available for groups to conduct lessons in Singing, Art, Band or Orchestra practice, Sports, Religious Instruction, History, Geography and  LOTE. in after-school hours.  Conditions apply. A roster will be available in early February as to times and allocation of space. No school staff will be available for instructional purposes.

No equipment, including musical instruments and sporting equipment, can be housed on school property.

Applications for the use of dedicated sections of the school environment for instruction in subjects such as those listed above and approved by the school’s administration, close before the Christmas vacation commences.


K.Lein [Head]


Thank you, Jan. Seems like the ideal Gillard School. Your exaggerations have indications of the probable. You’ve ‘cut to the quick’.

If you started a school [Charter ?] with these rules in place and gave it a flash ‘learning-type’ name [e.g The Etonian Academy], there are parents who would flock to it.  So, make sure that you charge fees much higher than the most toffee-nosed one in the region, and you would end up richer than Murdoch.

I ‘appointed’ a principal to your school. Hope you don’t mind.

A fine description. Mission statement? Mission possible!

Phil C


Kids matter.                               Vote Kids  –  NOT Tests                              Ban NAPLAN



This site mentions The Bartleby Project, which encourages American students to refuse peacefully to take standardised tests or to participate in any preparation for such tests. It’s working. Year 9 students, mostly, are writing on their test papers, when they are handed to them: “I prefer not to do this test” and to be quietly good-mannered and pleasant when queried about their reasons. The name “Bartleby” has interesting origins as you will see [ ]. The project asks students to act ‘…because adults are chained to institutions and corporations; these tests pervert education, are disgracefully inaccurate, impose brutal stress without reason and poison the future of the nation.”


“The testing fox is in the education henhouse and it is having a wonderful time.”

Australians and New Zealanders are slow to accept the notion that test publishers control our curriculum and our way of teaching/learning.  Marion Brady & Susan Ohanian predict that “Future historians…will have a difficult time unravelling the tangled weave of ideology, ignorance, hubris, secrecy, naiveté, greed and unexamined assumptions that contribute  to the [reform] catastrophe”. “Why would [an education system] hand its system of education to corporations, politicians and a wealthy guy who went to private schools?”

“Bill Gates. The Gates theory? America’s schools were ‘soft’; they needed to be ‘hard’ – rigorous.”  “His sales pitch for tough love has been phenomenally successful.”

“The message: ‘America is in big trouble. Be afraid. Scores must be raised.’ [Heard that song before, Aussies?] How? Well ACT,Inc. sells test prep materials…” 


                     “Teaching for test results tampers with the nature of childhood.”   [Chip Wood]

Sure does, Chip.





41 Cominan Avenue

Banora Point 2486


07 5524 6443

Spreading progress or regress by memery. Pt. 3

Treehorn Express

Maintained by NZ Educator, Allan Alach]


Spreading School Progress/Regress Part 3.

Control of scato-memes.

The scato-meme: “fear-based teaching encourages learning” is now endemic to the politically controlled, publisher-supported G.E.R.M. [Global Education Reform Movement ] in a few unfortunate countries. Called NAPLAN in Australia, it is known to be cruel, immoral, unnecessary, expensive, curriculum destructive, development inhibitive. It is a notion that is so destructive of the teaching/learning process, that it requires strict political cum totalitarian control for it to be maintained in school systems that do not really believe in it, did not ask for it, are now finding it crippling; and pray for the day when it will disappear.

The world knows that the use of the meme is the brain-child of Joel Klein, a sad peg in a round hole, who found himself in charge of a New York school district where he tried it out. Fear is a motivator. It’s sadistic. We all know that. He says that his fear-based ideas work. They don’t and never have. Alas. His future employer saw pay dirt. Although it was proving to be a curriculum ruinator, publishing titan Rupert Murdoch promptly hired Klein at an exorbitant salary. The warehousing of standardised tests and computer programs produces more money faster than mints can, once the politicians are on side to establish control and maintain the helotry. Rupert knows this from previous experiences. So….the scato-meme spread, applauded by incompetent politicians of all persuasions, even though this meme has no home in any known educational endeavour connected with learning.


It spread to Australia because clear and recognisable totalitarian methods were employed to introduce it. The Minister at the time having met the sweet-talking Klein and intoxicated by her own new-found power, arranged for like-minded humanity-free Australian bankers to bring him down under to tell them how wise their new Minister was; and that they should support her when the school-inclined academics, caring teachers, thinking principals and concerned parents objected. It worked pretty well. Soft targets.

The appointment of a well-regarded academic to run the show was a good move. He was short on school knowledge, but understood the art of measurement backwards. Surrounded by fellow measurers, the gullible public thought that the basic meme must be pure and they respected the way in which pronouncements were made….. without appreciating its bovine characteristics.

Principals groups, teachers’ unions and educational fraternities all fell for it and co-operated. The forces were too great for them to display any collective voice and, in any case, their collectivities were corralled with the gate locked. Professional ethics that applied to caring for kids were put to one side and left there, by fiat. That “Care for Kids” theme is not tolerated under present circumstances. It interferes with corporate greed, the aim of NAPLAN.

Managerialism. The 1990 scourge of experienced practitioners is recognised as the history-making finish of child-based schooling and learning progress in Australia. The managerial knowledge of the big controllers at the time [e.g. K. Rudd, adviser to Q’ld premier] were limited to very basic organisational themes. They knew little of the effects of their crude beliefs on administrative outcomes. For instance, the devaluing of experience is probably the greatest error any organisation can make. Its value is a basic administrative tenet. Now, Australia’s crude use of managerialism per se is overdue for devaluation.

All organizations want to get things done in the best possible way. The term ‘managerialism’ is a naive term that believes that any person can manage anything, once organisational charts have been drawn and people are told what to do. Amen. That is what governments believed in the 1990s and they ignored the esprit of the public services that they are supposed to provide….the cultures and sub-cultures that keep the show on the road and engender the notion of pride, progress and improvement….and service to the public. They overlooked a simple dictum that true administration starts when people start to inhabit the positions on the charts. Schools are the most people-oriented places on earth and those who over-see school activities for them, have to know what such people-based administration in them requires….at ground level….in the classroom….in the school office……for an extended period. As well, ordinary organisational Management from its 1990 induction is ‘FORMAL’ and ‘Personal’, whereas true Administration is ‘PERSONAL’ and ‘Formal’.  Leadership in both fields is ’PERSONAL’ and ‘SITUATIONAL’. A leader has to know what is going on. Experience.

Applied to the Australian government’s view of personnel management, it has made a big mistake. It was recently examined. [ ] School ‘productivity’ cannot be described by measureable test scores. Schooling is a totally human operation…children and teachers interacting…nothing more, nothing less.


Control-central at the national level, just hasn’t done its managerial homework. By following Machiavelian principles to create Orwellian conditions it treats its schools’ workforce as dumbclucks. Its managerial manipulations fracture so many basic rules of productive leadership, its determined pursuit of the ridiculous is plain crazy and dangerous. Let’s look at some concepts that never lose their currency.

  • French & Raven’s “Bases of Power” with ‘Expertise’ born of experience at the top rung and ‘Coercion’ at the bottom of the ladder- table of motivations, surely indicates that the government’s inversion of these dimensions is not healthy.
  • “The Self-fulfilling Prophecy” should have told the government’s managers that teachers do not appreciate being insulted, shamed, punished, blamed and threatened by them and Joel Klein and Rupert Murdoch and Bill Gates and the media and corporations; and can lose their zest. Everybody responds to positive stimuli.
  • McGregor’s Theory Y applies to teachers rather than Theory X. Given sincere beliefs in what teachers can do and giving them the freedom to ‘have a go’, the results in terms of pupil achievement will have no limits.
  • Richard Carlson’s distinction between managing a “firm” in a ‘wild society’ and one in a ‘domesticated society’ can help operators to understand where they are in the scheme of things.
  • The Hawthorne Effect would have told them that the social situation and its social interactions are of greater consequence than governments believe. A superordinate’s sincere interest in what is going one, motivates.


Our government presently ignores such indicators. It has no respect for people as people; for children as children.. Alas, it prefers to follow totalitarian conditions of control revealed by…..

  • The Milgram Experiment. This ensures that the teachers groups and principals do as they are told. Comparatively easy to Eichmannise, they tend to obey authority figures without too much questioning.
  • The Stockholm Syndrome. Once made captive and held for long enough, they convert to the will of the oppressor. Watch out kids.
  • Stalinism. Repressive action begets repressive action. Governments repress principals. Principals repress teachers. Teachers repress children.


There is hope, however. Campbell’s Law. “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 the social pressures it is intended to monitor.” Campbell adds “…when test scores become the goal of the teaching process, they both lose their value as indicators of educational status and distort the educational process in undesirable ways.”

It’s happening.

Hang in there, teachers and kids. Let’s pray that we will get back to proper teaching and learning earlier than we think, when enough people of good-will, experience and knowledge have their say.


Spreading progress or regress by memery. Pt.2

Treehorn  Express

Treehorn Story:

Home:   https://treehornexpress.wordpress.coms
[Maintained by NZ Educator, Allan Alach]

Spreading School Progress/Regress

Part 2: Memes~ “Ready. FIRE!  Aim.”

What is the Aim of Scato-Meme 2008?

It was, I think, Professor Galbraith, who recently said something to the effect that one of the advantages of living in the same world as the United States was that one could see some of the horrors that might attack one in the near future and this has proved to be manifestly true in the field of education.

It was the Americans who popularised the objective test whose value no one can deny. But, it was also in the United States that such testing so deteriorated as to produce knowledge in pellet form tested by underlining, blank-filling and ticking alternatives and we, in this country, have recently made progress along this unfortunate path. There is a cult of management which is getting a firm grip on our schools; a head without headmasterly qualities can and does get kudos for posing as a manager. There is the whole business of education technology which when ill understand is used to drive home the kind of knowledge which fills the mind but does little to strengthen it. And now Robert Lowe’s lamentable technique of payment by results which did half-a-century’s damage to this country is to come back to us from America in the form that they have labelled “performance contracting.”

This was 1972 – yes, 1972. Sir Alec Clegg, a practical practising educator from the West Riding, was commenting on the effects of blanket testing on reading in England’s schools. A vicious scato-meme had been developed by the non-school academic authors of The Black Papers, the first two of which appeared in 1969, written to demonstrate their superior intellectual knowledge of the nature of man and childhood by citing crude dichotomies between ‘traditional’ schooling, which was good; and ‘progressive’ education which was bad. When boiled down, the academics could not understand what was happening in a classroom in which all chairs and desks did not face in the one direction with all occupants using paper and pencils for a full day. They thought, as many parents thought at the time, that the disarray indicated a lack of learning rigour. Their ex cathedra manifestations, based on their own adherence to sit-stilleries, spread across the Atlantic; and Americans handled them in the customary manner:- The testing of minimal competencies took off …….and has remained as part of their schooling psyche ever since.

This UK/US meme theme, based on the tawdry ‘Black Paper back-to- basics’ stridency was expressed through their  ten commandments the first two of which state…

  1.  Children are not naturally good. They need firm, tactful, discipline from their parents and teachers with clear standards. Too much freedom for children breeds selfishness, vandalism and personal unhappiness.
  2. If the non-competitive ethos of progressive education is allowed to dominate  our schools, we shall produce a generation unable to maintain standards of living when opposed by fierce rivalry from overseas competitors.”

The papers were described by Education Secretary Edward Short as “…scurrilous documents, quite disgraceful…the publication of which …was one of the blackest days for education in the past century.” That didn’t worry the testucators of the period. Here was their chance.

  America’s dominance of educational thought and its predilection for hard data, ensured that all English-speaking countries followed this testing theme rather that the school-based Plowden 1967 Report’s  messages of good-will and sound advice, which had recommended that schools should attempt to broaden a child’s vista of learning and achievement through a fondness for learning and achievement. Passive school folk just lay low.

This black scato-meme that lauded discipline, competiveness and testing, spread across the Pacific. So, ACER, the Marilinga of Australian schooling, undertook “The Australian Study of School Performance” in 1974 by seeking “…to measure performance in reading, writing and number work of 10 and 14 year-old students in normal schooling throughout Australia.” Measurers don’t like to miss too many chances. The vision of Plowden was being crunched in Britain and its former colonies.

As is the wont of measurers, only negative scoring results were emphasised in the ACER’s Report to Schools.  A measurer’s code of conduct doesn’t extend to the encouragement of  teachers to be pleased with their achievements.[e.g. “On the average, one child per classroom (at 10 year-old level) and one child in 100 (at 14 year-old level) is unable to read the simplest of school books.” said the report.  In these pre-remedial teacher days of large classes, one would have thought that this result might be celebrated.] The measurement hacks’ negativity caught  on, and a Standards Debate of monumental proportions was initiated. TV documentaries, newspaper editorials, The Great Debate raged. Journos loved it. Publishers of The Bulletin made a killing.

This particular ‘back to basics’ movement then grew tired and irrelevant in Australia by the end of the seventies, but it left a legacy. The reputation of the teaching profession had suffered and it has remained a soft target until the present day. The maintenance of professional ethics has proved difficult, and is now nobody’s concern.

“Back to Basics”, “3 Rs”, “Standards”, and similar sterile movements arise in all societies from time to time.  Robert Lowe’s “Payment by Results” [now resurrected and called ‘merit’ pay] introduced in 1861 all but destroyed school standards in Britain until they were rescued by the efforts of Kay-Shuttleworth and Matthew Arnold. However, it did lead to the entrenchment of public examinations. There have been shorter periods of back-to-basic movements every few years since, enlivening internecine disagreement between crash-bang-wallop, didactic-teaching testucators and child-centred learning-based educators. While the aforementioned differences of opinion have been notable and are fine illustrations of how a malicious scato-meme can dominate any discussion, there is a profound difference between those of yester-year and the source of the present NAPLAN. This  national standards fascist-style hegemony, the manifestation of the meme, had its origins in profit and its introduction by political clout, through which it continues to be powered. It did not travel by the open discussion route as did its predecessors. It spread to our southern shores by totalitarian political manipulation and fiat to the benefit of greedy publishers.

The spread of this most toxic educational scato-meme that the world has ever known has now found a safe-house in Australia and New Zealand. It was moved into residence in 2008 in Australia, by a conspicuous politician with more clout than most. It has taken permanent residence. This assertoric belief that ‘blanket testing in a school culture of fear enhances learning’ is now the prevailing orthodoxy of South Pacific school systems as it is in the USA…..and it exists only  to satisfy greed for money. No school-keen educator of any complexion has had anything to do with its forced introduction in Australia, New Zealand, U.S.A. or the U.K.. It is a scandal.

Fear of the kind that NAPLAN generates, has no place in any school; in any social institution that caters for children.  The whole world knows this. Our little part of the world is too frightened to do anything about it and no politician has shown enough spunk to contest its existence with any gusto. Greed rules.  The rich get rich….richer…richer.

That is the predominate AIM of the 2008 scato-meme. There’s money to be made out of it.

Maybe parents should be told.

More soon.


Links:     http://opttoutofstandardizedtests.wikispaces     

41 Cominan Avenue
Banora Point  2486
07 5524 6443

Spreading progress or regress by memery

Treehorn  Express
Treehorn Story:

Home:   https://treehornexpress.wordpress.coms
[Maintained by NZ Educator, Allan Alach]

Spreading School Progress/Regress
Part 1 – Adopting memes

There are periods in the history of schooling when an innovation or teaching movement gathers momentum and spreads around the world in pandemic fashion. It follows the pattern of fashions and styles that mark the spread of oddities such as crew-cuts, long hair, mini-skirts, kaftans, ‘long’ shorts, tattoes, rap music. The popularity of particular  fads, fashions and avant-garde social notions is so noticeable that their existence is irrefagable, whether they contribute to human welfare or not. There is an identifiable reaction by the population. It lasts for an indeterminate period and then it goes away, leaving some remnants.

These movements are called memes. Although difficult to nail empirically, they can be identified, described and categorised in cultural terms.

Some memes have a positive outcome for the population that welcomes them. Child-centred education, for instance, developed in bomb-ravaged Great Britain during WW2 when children were schooled under difficult circumstances, having to undertake learning activities in all sorts of places, with wide mixtures of ages in class groups, with subjects losing their strict boundaries, and by using material that was left lying around and by supporting each other in all learning activities. Although steeped in the strict traditions of David Copperfiled & Tom Brown schools and their stern adult controlled classroms, Britons warmly welcomed this open approach to schooling: starting with the child as the base for learning instead of the subject. Such a dramatic social change had never occurred before.

The Good Teaching Super-meme  Outcomes were so positive and so successful in achievement terms for the post-war progress of Britain’s scientific, technological and industrial pursuits, that other countries wanted to copy this open style education. It obviously worked.  In the immediate post-war period, teachers were, to a large degree, left alone to teach their class; with official and professional encouragement to be different, to be brave, to try strategies beyond the traditional, not to set a limit on pupil achievement. Progress was not inhibited by labelling achievements in bits of the active, live, locally based curricula.  LEARNING per se was ‘in the air’ through all age-groups, and became pandemic. Educators, officials, researchers and scholars flocked to England to examine the phenomenon that was causing this light of learning, shining from LEA [Local Education Authorities] lighthouses at Bristol, West Riding of Yorkshire [Sir Alec Clegg], Hertsfordshire [Eric Hake] and others.

The 1950-1970s’ liberal-style schooling became the most exciting, most progressive and most productive period in the history of schooling. Never before had teaching-learning strategies influenced the architecture of school classrooms. Instead of rows of locked-in single rooms with fixed desks facing a chalk-board, schools were deliberatley patterned for multiple ages and groups and teachers to experience family-style learning, with space for creative activities, for special withdrawal and other spaces so that children could be active learners, using as many of their senses as possible. The shape of the building catered for open-minded, multi-strategic teaching styles.

Unfortunately, educators labelled the movement;  and some tried to ‘package’ parts of it. It was labelled ‘open plan’, ‘open area’ or ‘multiple area’. Those teachers whose personal development and professional reading were limited – the remnants from the pre-war influences –  were frightened by the extra work, planning and preparation and more active teacher-pupil interaction required. They called themselves traditionalists and were uncomfortable.  It was, however, – put simply – good teaching.

As a super-meme, it spread because the professionalism of teaching around the world had grown enormosuly during this period and sound ‘care for kids’ ethics were observed. Teachers started to share their excellence; and a world in which respect for children would become each nation’s boast,  looked like becoming a reality.

However, something serious happened about 1985. What happened?

Another meme – a business-based meme – a scato-meme came from left-field. Managerialism infested the work-force – businesses, corporations, public service, government enterprises.

The Managerial Scato-meme  Managerialism had found credence in tertiary studies.  MBAs, as entres to large corporations and businesses became very popular as courses of study. ‘Business Studies’  invented an esoteric language and invented the myth of standardised control techniques. Influential appointment-makers  were conned into believing that generic forms of leadership and administrative skills could be applied to any organisation irrespective of its ethos. In their bogan view, all structures were similar…so…. the world set about putting plumbers in charge of garages; the kind of operation that would place an Admirable Creighton, a butler,  in charge of the Dirty Dozen instead of Major Reisman [Lee Marvin] or vica versa.  Management clones were assigned to leadership roles and tried to usurp the codified bodies of knowledge and know-how that on-the -job experience brings to efficiency and effectivenss. It just doesn’t work that way. The managerial scato-meme deliberately devalued experience as an administrative factor.

This managerial scato-meme has created monumental mess-ups that are now part of history. Lawyers, Army Officers, University Professors, Railway Managers and the like have been appointed to run school systems in various parts of the world; and the systems have regressed.  With the best will in the world, nothing useful can happen when this scato-meme is followed. The vital ingredient is missing.  Then, some authorities have to introduce big-time gimmicks, such as charter schools, middle schools, LOTE, anything, to indicate that they are doing something useful. The messes compound.

The acceptance of this managerial scato-meme has now placed all school authorities in Australia in vulnerable positions. When another scato-meme in the form of unexamined  and uncontested education change was introduced to Australia just for the sake of change in 2008, there were no gate-keepers to insist on professional behaviour. Copied by a lawyer from another lawyer’s school district in New York, a fear-based blanket-testing-riddled school system was able to be introduced with little murmur. Scato-memes conjoined. Educators were overwhelmed by testucators.

Our unfortunate Australian pupils, parents and teachers are left with NAPLAN – the monumental blunder.  There is a sad future for Australia if allowed to exist.

More soon.

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