TRIBUTE TO PHIL CULLEN

TRIBUTE TO PHIL

Phil Cullen in his varying roles as Teacher, School Principal, Regional Director of Education in both the North-Western and Northern Regions of Queensland and later as State Director of Primary Education in Queensland certainly left his mark. He will be remembered and remembered for all the right reasons – for his love of education and for his unrelenting advocacy for kids….

Our Aussie kids will remember him and so too will we,

From the “Naplan Curse” he fought to keep our classrooms free!

A man of great statue who walked so boldly and so tall,

A legendary hero who inspired, coached and nurtured us all!

With charisma he came, bringing enlightenment and hope,

Seeding environments wherein pupils could learn and cope!

He promoted his shared vision with energy, zest and zeal,

And the culture he instilled gained widespread appeal!

Still remembered and revered throughout this great State,

In Outback Queensland he was a colleague, mentor and mate!

Of  him, people out there still so highly and positively speak,

On educational matters his trusted advice they would always seek!

Throughout the Cullen Era Queensland Education always ranked first,

From our Primary School classrooms the joy of learning burst!

“Learning How to Learn” became the catch-cry of each school day,

And Phil was always there sharing the excitement along the way!

A great communicator, orator and a tireless advocate for kids,

This man was a marvel and wouldn’t have changed his job for quids!

So blessed was the system to have attracted leadership of his kind,

How and what he achieved was simply the work of a Master-mind!

 Les Treichel.

                                                                             

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Education Readings March 30th

Sad news – the founder of Treehorn Express, Phil Cullen, passed away earlier this week. Phil was one of the foremost educators of our times, especially in his home state of Queensland, Australia, where he served as Director of Primary Education (i.e., the top dog) for 13 years. Phil’s educational vision and pedagogical knowledge was immense. He was aghast at the introduction of the Australian national testing programme, known as NAPLAN, about 10 years ago. He started his crusade against NAPLAN at that time, and his battle continued to the very day he died – his last email was sent only hours before his fatal heart attack. I consider myself very privileged to have been able to do my bit to support Phil in his endeavours, by running this website for him.

Should you wish to send condolences to his family, his email address cphilcullen@bigpond.com is being monitored by his family.

In true Phil fashion, he told his family to please celebrate his life, and not to be sad about his death.

Allan Alach


Education Readings

By Allan Alach

I welcome suggested articles, so if you come across a gem, email it to me at allanalach@inspire.net.nz

Mathematics Part 1: The mathematics pendulum

Here’s a two part series by Kelvin Smythe on the teaching of mathematics.

‘I have long wanted to have Charlotte Wilkinson, an independent mathematics consultant, set out her ideas on mathematics but, in the previous education environment, any association with me would have been dangerous for her work. With that changed, I am delighted to present two writings from her which are an overview of nearly everything in mathematics.’ 

http://bit.ly/2ugOmcy

Mathematics Part 2: Producing literate and numerate children

‘An increasing amount of information is shared in a digital format, therefore there is an ever increasing need for people to be numerate, not just able to carry out set procedures. Being numerate requires an understanding of basic arithmetic, the properties and manipulation of whole numbers, and rational numbers. It requires using number sense to reason whether answers are correct. When a point is reached in solving a problem, knowing which operation or formula is required is still essential, but completing the procedure has been superseded in reality by technology.’

http://bit.ly/2I2f6j7

Authentic Learning Begins With Student-Designed Curriculum

Thanks to Bruce Jones (via Phil Cullen) for this link.

‘But then I fought my obsessive need for control and took a giant step closer to my ultimate end goal of a fully authentic learning environment by empowering my students to generate our curriculum.’

http://bit.ly/2umnM1Q

Constructivism vs. Constructivism vs. Constructionism

‘I’d like to offer my take on the meaning of these words. I hear them used in so many ways that I often get confused what others mean by them.’

http://bit.ly/2pB7PzQ

Contributed by Bruce Hammonds:

We are at the beginning of a new educational era. The challenge now is to reimagining the school day to ensue all students’ gifts and talents are identified, amplified and valued.

Another gem from Bruce:

‘Lester wrote that 30 years later we have wasted excessive amounts of time and resources replacing approaches of the past that weren’t broken and didn’t need fixing. It’s time, says Lester “to put the shine back on teaching’ to create a nurturing environment for both teachers and students. For too long our system has suffered from those who mistakenly think they know better.”’

So what is the ‘end in mind’ for teachers in the 21stC?

http://bit.ly/2E0sKRj

Yes, Project-Based Learning Gets Kids Ready for the Test (and so much more)

‘I was worried the first time I tried a project-based learning unit with my students. As a young teacher, I had prided myself on running a challenging class and had focused much of my attention on getting my students prepared for what we were both going to be assessed on: the test.

I was not doing test prep. I didn’t believe that giving students sample test questions would make them do any better on our state standardized scores (and still don’t).’

http://bit.ly/2pD3cFy

Occupying Their Brains With Our Stupid Questions

‘They say there’s no such thing as a stupid question, but I beg to differ. We hear stupid questions almost every time adults and young children are together.’

http://bit.ly/2ulSzeO

44 Practices That Are “Fixing” Education Today

‘Here is a list of at least 44 different positive practices (in no specific order – just the way they flowed out of my head) unfolding in education today that I have seen with my very own eyes…’

http://bit.ly/2pCK1e2

‘We must stop trying to apply a sticking plaster to the gaping wound that is teacher workload’

We need a root-and-branch review of the professionalism, accountability and expectations placed upon the teacher workforce. Anything less is a waste of time. A UK article but applicable to NZ?

‘But it is not just teacher recruitment that is the government’s problem. Teacher retention is even more serious as wastage rates (teachers putting down their whiteboard markers and leaving the profession) are rising at every career stage – and most worryingly right at the start of teachers’ careers, after three to five years.’

http://bit.ly/2pGxHcH

Embracing the Whole Child

Fully engaging students can include using their interests in lessons, checking in on them emotionally, and being ourselves.

‘In embracing a more whole-child, humanizing approach to teaching and learning, Salazar proposes specific ways educators can express care and engage students in a more humanizing pedagogy. Among her suggestions, I’d like to explore the following four, offering suggestions for each, as I have found them particularly useful to establishing a harmonious community of learners in the classroom.’

http://edut.to/2Dz5v0w

When “Big Data” Goes to School

Alfie Kohn:

‘The data in question typically are just standardized test scores — even though that’s not the only reason to be disturbed by this datamongering. But here’s today’s question: If collecting and sorting through data about students makes us uneasy, how should we feel about the growing role of Big Data?’

http://bit.ly/2pGyL0b

From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:

The corporate takeover of society and education.

Time to ditch the corporate influence

‘Since the early 90s society has been reshaped by a neo liberal corporate ideology. An emphasis on private enterprise and self-centered individualism has replaced an earlier concern for collective good of all members of society.   As a result of this ideological shift a wider gap has been created between the rich and poor causing a number of social concerns. Schools as part of this shift have been transformed from a community orientation to being part of a competitive cut throat ideology.’

http://bit.ly/1hARUnP

Educational Books for Creative Teaching – to develop the gifts and talents of all students

‘Over the years I have a lot of feedback from teachers thanking me for drawing their attention to books that I have written about on my blog. With this in mind I have searched through my postings for some of the best books that provide courage for teachers to make stand against the current anti educational approaches of a market forces competitive ideology.’

http://bit.ly/1kxTTvt

Phil Cullen

Phil’s Last Stand

It is with incredible pain and sorrow that I have to inform you that Phil Cullen, the greatest advocate for primary education our country has yet seen, passed suddenly this morning suffering a massive heart attack and his beloved Treehorn with all the memories Phil has shared with so many are now complete.  His last mail came this morning at a quarter to six, as below.  Edna phoned a minute ago so you are the first to know of our tragic loss.  You may have enjoyed some of Phil’s jousting with the powers that have contrived to threaten the very fabric of our society through education manipulation, the horrors of NAPLAN, still so loudly applauded by those who never knew the wonders of how a child learns.  Thank you for being part of the journey with Phil as I know he would have wished to say his thanks personally to you.
 
Sincerely
Bruce L Jones


REVIEW        EXAMINE         MODIFY

REPLACE

or

BAN

WE MUST GET RID OF NAPLAN COMPLETELY

Let’s not play around any longer.

Our children’s health, our nation’s wealth demands action.

What are we afraid of ?

Who are we afraid of?

We are very, very nasty to our children.

Free the kids. Free education. Free the system.



He was still going flat out yesterday when he wrote this:

AN EXAMINATION OF THE REVIEW OF THE $100MILLION+ PER YEAR FLOP.

AN EXAMINATIoN OF THE REVIEW

Australia is a little world, it seems,  full of Mr. Creakles – sadistic creatures who take pleasure out of scaring the daylights out of children. Creakle as headmaster of Salem House, took much more sadistic pleasure  out of belting David Copperfield than he did of belting prisoners in gaols that he later supervised. Why are there so many  sadists around Australia like him,  belting kids with threats and punishments of a more severe [mental] kind? 

” I thought that that  the new century was going to teach teachers how to love and help kids to get to the top of the tree and how to pupil their learning in the best ways possible for an unknown future” said Fred the Fearless in 2008. Nope, Fred. One day.

Teaching involves nodding, smiling, praising, scolding, hinting, encouraging disapproving, playing, helping, approving but never making attacks on a child’s self-esteem nor frightening them nor labelling them with numbers as Naplan is designed to do. Teaching is real. It’s personal. It’s treating people in fair-dinkum ways, as pupils, as human beings, with teacher and pupil on the same wavelength,  not as in a Creakle-robot kind of relationship that NAPLAN testing demands. What did present-day  kids do to deserve this decade-long change of feelings towards them?

They were born at the wrong time. They are still caught up with the crazy notions of the Labor-Liberal politicians of the post managerial days and have spent the dawn of the new century as the victims of a deliberate political stunt. Unless we do something soon, this robotification form of schooling will continue.. 

The corporations’ fawns don’t care how kids feel. Children are human beings, but they ignore that. Big business prefers  to kill personal initiative in children. They see it as a threat to their power. Ordinary tax-paying citizens ill have to say NO with the fervour of Florida’s Stoneman Douglas High survivors; and they must do it soon.

Poltards [retarded pollies] believe that there are votes in condemning teacher quality and test results,  so they like to show off by calling for a return to traditional robust values of ‘bang, crash, wallop’, more testing of the very young, [and…..of course…..phonics!]  

There is nothing honourable about NAPLAN, their tool of mass destruction. A  tool, approved and sponsored by corporate managerialism, it relies on totalitarian coercion and orwellian control to get its way. For ten years now, its reliance on an authoritarian style of management, resulting from the over-exertion of  hierarchical masturbation and a congenital holier-than-thou attitude.  

Australian schooling, already stuck with relics of  its convict-age-based test belief system,  is totally under the control of one man, a lost legal eagle who has a paranoiac obsession with testing and little interest in aspects of Learnacy.  Does his co-Minister for Health conduct tests by cutting people’s skin with a blunt knife; and then make judgements about the standards of surgery?  Are there any other portfolios under the charge of maniacal wreckulators that spend our money in extravagant ways? Does Pyne, previous Head Testucator,  now pull a plug out of his submarines  once each year to see if they are leak-proof or does he trust the builders? 

NAPLAN has a thoroughly stupid ideology. By testing only Literacy and Numeracy, it says that it tests all that a child needs to know. This nasty ideology then bullies our young ones to scare them into quack learning operations. 

There is an enormous importance in what happens in Australia this year. When we review its effectiveness, do Australians think  only ‘MODIFY NAPLAN’.  It’s to be hoped that wise reviewers will think beyond this limitation and accept the real challenge.  Which works best for our future? Can we stare down the big boys, get rid of it completely and introduce Learning?  

When do we replace Testucation with Education?  It costs well over $100million per years to run these useless tests. Teachers could use that kind of money for learning purposes.

Has anybody in authority heard about the future?

Take a look at the  map of the world. Together with our Kiwi mates we are out on our own, way down under. We are South Asia, useful to the big boys ‘up over’ for their materials and resources. Our part of the galaxy is changing  as it has never been changed before and it  is happening faster than we thought it would.  Over the next ‘n’ number of decades,  each Australian and Kiwi will become  a symbiotic advanced Asian person that has progressed through a  chosen  schooling system and learned  from contact with fellow Asians. As Aussies, we have heaps of raw materials now and are easily exploitable. The more belligerent amongst us believes that we can prevent asiafication with a few submarines positioned in mangroves across the north and some weapons carriers along the old Queensland Line. Others believe that we can retain our Aussieness by using a spirited learning-to-learn-and-cope model of learning in our schools, as the symbiosis unfolds gradually. 

You will have noticed many changes thus far. Which way do you prefer?

We don’t really know what to do,  do we? We appreciate that our descendents will have to cope with changes that are presently beyond our imagination. If we persist with present school/testucation  models that undermine learning, our children and our children’s children will be the dullards of the next century. That’s for sure……way down the bottom of any kind of  comparative  PISA results of the day, if you like.

If we would like the children of the future to enjoy this new world, this new Aussie-Asian world, it is imperative that we  have an education system that ‘thinks’; that is based on the highest codes of LEARNACY; that believes in LEARNING to LEARN and knows what Learning  is and can TEACH IT; that enjoys the high points of every school subject that they like; that can cope, can create, can innovate, can teach others; and has a genuine belief in love and happiness. Our new Australia aka South Asia will not be the simple-minded back-ward heading unit that it is now :a gigantic mine separating two oceans, with its citizens  learning by rote and practice; and gradgrinding in an atmosphere of dullness and fear that is only producing  mediocrity.  If there is a need for something to do in 2018, it is that we must know what we are doing and do better than we are doing.

We need to talk about this. We need to EXAMINE what we are doing to our schools; and do it thoroughly. 

Reviewing and modifying are for slow hack systems. We need to be bigger and do better than the ultracrepadarian sciolist presently running the show. Right?

If our system has to be run by show-offs, why not have something to show?

________________________________________________________________________________________

By the way : What does ‘ultracrepadarian’ mean?   Think Simon. Think ACARA.  Think Naplanners  with that  special kind of mentality that we can do without.

What does NAPLAN mean ?       is for the Nervousness it’s causing;       A is for the Angst it causes too;                                                                                                                                                                               P the Pointless Practice, Practice;    the Loss of Learning that we rue.     A is for the Axe with which to Axe it;                                                                                                                                                                       this Needless Nuisance we deplore;

                                                                Put them all together they spell N A P L A N                                                                                                                                                               A thing  to ban for evermore.  [Ray Kelley]

                                                                       

 

Education Readings February 2nd

By Allan Alach

I welcome suggested articles, so if you come across a gem, email it to me at allanalach@inspire.net.nz

Find Your Marigold: The One Essential Rule for New Teachers

‘Surround yourself with good people.

By finding the positive, supportive, energetic teachers in your school and sticking close to them, you can improve your job satisfaction more than with any other strategy. And your chances of excelling in this field will skyrocket. Just like a young seedling growing in a garden, thriving in your first year depends largely on who you plant yourself next to.’

http://bit.ly/2noMQyo

We are born creative geniuses and the education system dumbs us down, according to NASA scientists

‘The scientists then gave the test to 1,600 children between the ages of 4 and 5. What they found shocked them. This is a test that looks at the ability to come up with new, different and innovative ideas to problems. What percentage of those children do you think fell in the genius category of imagination? A full 98 percent!’

http://bit.ly/2nnxvyT

Contributed by Bruce Hammonds:

Summer has arrived – time to go outdoors. Some ideas to consider

‘The sooner students develop an awareness of their environment , and in the process learn to love and respect it, the sooner they will see the need to sustain and protect it. As the future generation they will need to see it as the number one world problem.’

http://bit.ly/2DPEKWw

The Feynman Technique: The Best Way to Learn Anything

How can you adapt this for your classroom?

‘The famous Nobel winning physicist Richard Feynman understood the difference between knowing something and knowing the name of something and it’s one of the most important reasons for his success. In fact, he created a formula for learning that ensured he understood something better than everyone else.

It’s called the Feynman Technique and it will help you learn anything faster and with greater understanding. Best of all, it’s incredibly easy to implement.’

http://bit.ly/2FsYWO9

When Success Leads to Failure

The pressure to achieve academically is a crime against learning.

‘The truth—for this parent and so many others—is this: Her child has sacrificed her natural curiosity and love of learning at the altar of achievement, and it’s our fault. Marianna’s parents, her teachers, society at large—we are all implicated in this crime against learning. From her first day of school, we pointed her toward that altar and trained her to measure her progress by means of points, scores, and awards.’

http://theatln.tc/2DLELuJ

‘Too much control’: Pasi Sahlberg on what Finland can teach Australian schools

Pasi Sahlberg from Finland gives advice to Australia (applies to NZ as well ?)

“Maybe the key for Australia is loosening up a little bit, less top down control and a bit more professional autonomy for teachers,” he says.  Maybe the problem is that things are tied up in a system that is not able to be flexible enough for teachers. “Maybe there is not enough trust in Australia in good teachers.”

http://bit.ly/2DTgm9R

After 100 Years of the Same Teaching Model It’s Time to Throw Out the Playbook

‘The transmission model of education is still the name of the game, although in some circles there are signs of its erosion.

I would like to take you on a journey in this post, starting from the 1950s banking model (Freire, 1968) of instructional design, before comparing it to my own schooling experiences as a digital native at the turn of the century. Then, finally, I would like to share my vision for C21 learning, and propose some ways that we can move forward so that we are meeting the needs of today.’

http://bit.ly/2BBEiJy

It’s OK to Say No

For those of you starting off in a new school:

‘Because the first year in a new role is a whirlwind, it’s easy to lose track of why you decided to take on the challenging role of educator. It’s easy to get discouraged with the many tasks and the overall state of being busy. I’ve learned to take time to center myself and remember why I’m doing the work I’m doing. Some might do more formal mediation or even reflective journaling.

Sometimes teachers take on so much work that they lose their sense of purpose. Here are a few steps you can take to avoid that.’

http://edut.to/2nk2R9k

Students Share The Downside Of Being Labeled ‘Gifted’

‘When growth mindset was still a fairly new concept in the education world, many teachers of gifted children saw its potential with that population, who often feel they’ve gained a special status for being smart. It’s not uncommon for gifted students to fear failure more than other students because they feel they have more to lose.’

http://bit.ly/2DItQlb

From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:

Placing in depth inquiry learning first!

‘Creative teachers have always placed developing authentic realistic and first hand experiences followed by creative expression through the arts central to their programmes .Important to such teachers was the need to provide opportunities to develop all the innate gifts and talents of their students.’

http://bit.ly/2E65DZO

What the modern world has forgotten about children and teaching, and solutions to ensure all students learn

‘Modern Western learning and teaching based on ‘collecting data on human learning of children’s behaviour in school is like collecting data on killer whales based on their behaviour at Sea World.’

http://bit.ly/2bUnAZW

The rise and fall and rise again of teacher expertise

‘To see changes sometimes you to have to stand back at a distance and look for patterns. It is the same as with the difference between the weather and a storm – when you are in the middle of a storm it is hard to work out what is the weather pattern is. The same applies in education. Many people think major educational changes started in 1986 with Tomorrow’s Schools. This of course it not true. It was more just another nail in the coffin of creative teachers.’

http://bit.ly/2zbYi8a

Education Readings September 22nd

By Allan Alach

I welcome suggested articles, so if you come across a gem, email it to me at allanalach@inspire.net.nz

Don’t Say “Times” When Teaching Multiplication (And What to Say Instead)

‘Choosing our words carefully can have a big impact on student understanding, especially when it comes to multiplication. Make this small change to your multiplication vocabulary today, so students can better visualize and comprehend this important concept.

The word “times” doesn’t mean anything to students.’

http://bit.ly/2xkf8Pa

Should we ‘pupil’ kids or ‘NAPLAN’ them?

Phil Cullen:

‘Australia’s casual indifference to the effects of mass testing on the learning progress of its school children, and its penchant for using children for excessive periods of school time for ‘test-prep’, as if they are mere  inanimate objects available for the collection of  data, contains the seeds for its developing inabilities as a nation to mix with the world at large.’

http://bit.ly/2hhXmbl

Most primary classes ‘get less than two hours of science a week’

If I had my way, Science would be a major part of children’s learning experiences at school. The article is about England but I fear it applies all over.

‘Three in 10 primary teachers did not receive any support to teach science last year, according to Wellcome Trust study Many UK primary schools are teaching science for the equivalent of less than two hours a week, according to a study. A report commissioned by the Wellcome Trust argues that the subject is not being given enough priority or time by most of the nation’s primaries.’

http://bit.ly/2xgHnAK

Cooperative Conflict: Neither Concurrence Nor Debate

By Alfie Kohn.

I’ve been to a workshop run by the Johnson brothers – one of my best professional development experiences. I strongly recommend exploring their work.

‘The good news is that we aren’t forced to choose between creating a classroom in which students must arrive at an artificial consensus and one in which conflict is present but manifests itself as an adversarial exercise.  The alternative is to invite disagreement but nest it in caring and a framework of shared goals. This has been called cooperative conflict, constructive controversy, or, in a poetic turn of phrase by the brothers and social scientists Roger and David Johnson, “friendly excursions into disequilibrium.”’

http://bit.ly/2wHTwtR

Opinion: The value of ‘slow schools’

‘The “slow education” movement, was founded by Maurice Holt in the UK, who advocated that schools should provide students with time to engage in deep learning, curiosity and reflection. This led advocates of this approach to oppose the use of high-stakes testing and rapid improvement in favour of more time spent developing collaborative and supportive classroom relationships for learning.’

http://bit.ly/2xnTACD

A textbook dilemma: Digital or paper?

‘Do we learn better from printed books than digital versions? The answer from researchers is a qualified yes.’

http://bit.ly/2wHuXxq

Contributed by Bruce Hammonds:

Learning Goals… Success Criteria… and Creativity?

‘While I am aware that setting clear standards are important, making sure we communicate our learning goals with students, co-creating success criteria… and that these have been shown to increase student achievement, I can’t help but wonder how often we take away our students’ thinking and decision making when we do this before students have had time to explore their own thoughts first.’

http://bit.ly/29WT7tf

Portfolios hold new promise for school

‘Decades ago, portfolio assessment—using samples of classroom work to document students’ progress toward learning goals—meant finding room for bulging binders stuffed with paper. But digital technologies that make it far easier to collect, curate, share and store student work have dismantled the physical barriers that once made portfolio assessment daunting. Schools are now taking a fresh look at the practice.’

http://bit.ly/2xgKLeR

10 Surefire Ideas to Remove Writing Roadblocks

‘So you want to teach writing well. It’s not as hard as you think. Yes, it’s a challenge, but it can be exhilarating.I believe writing – more than anything we teach – has the power to change students’ lives, for them to see themselves, sometimes for the first time, as smart thinkers and writers across the curriculum.’

http://bit.ly/2fbiGei

From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:

Time for a rebirth of the creative spirit

‘In the early 50s primary education was a very formal and inflexible affair. By the 70s a major revolution had occurred and today we take for granted the colorful child centred classrooms of our primary schools. Early educational innovators came to believe in ‘education through art’. Such teachers embraced enthusiastically: the writing of poetry, movement, dance and drama, story telling, myths and legends, social studies and natural science, the making of creative music, and of course a wide experience of the arts and crafts, including clay and paint – and at the same time the arts of the Maori were introduced.’

http://bit.ly/1Vh3awH

Henry Giroux – lessons for New Zealand educators. Revitalizing the role of public education.

Time to call an end to neo liberal free market drivel before we ruin our country.

‘There is no doubt that current political leadership, influenced by a neo –liberal philosophy of small government, individualism and the need to privatise of all aspects of living has led to the erosion of the belief in the common good resulting in a growing gap between so called ‘winners and losers’.The winners are the financial and corporate elite – the one percent.The corporate and financial elite, right wing think tanks –and extreme fundamentalist political groups (the Tea Party in America and the ACT party in New Zealand) are increasingly focusing on privatisation.’

http://bit.ly/18ntJX8

Experience and Education – John Dewey 1938

Time to listen to John Dewey again?

Maybe, as the self centred greedy capitalism of the West is crumbling, the time is right to develop a new democratic vision for the 21st Century. John Dewey’s book Experience and Education provides idea to think about for the century ahead of us? Dewey wrote extensively about the relationship between education and democracy (1916) – a link that those in power today choose to ignore but what better place to establish democratic ideals through example than the school.’

http://bit.ly/17J12HR

Bye Treehorn

I love primary education.  I love primary schooling. I love primary school kids.  When I left school in 1944, I just wanted to get amongst the whole mix of teaching and go bush to teach young kids. My big brother would bring home stories about the kids at Nogo River in rural Queensland and it all sounded so fascinating.   I eventually made it to Teachers College, and by 1947 I was the Head Teacher, of all things, of a one-teacher school. I loved it. My dream achieved.  For eleven years, I did my  apprenticeship in four  different localities. All of my one-teacher schools are closed now but I still remember the names of the pupils. Many have passed on and some are in their eighties. You see,  when I first started as a Head Teacher cum Principal I was eighteen years of age.  My two or three ‘scholarship class’ members were fourteen or fifteen years of age.  I now have a lot of former pupils. Love each one of them.

The years went on and the love for primary schooling and kids just grew and grew.  I now love nostalgia.  I love catching up with former pupils who remember me for the right reasons. It’s the sort of feeling that only schoolies enjoy but can’t explain; and is unique to those who care about kids. I thought that I shared these feelings with an endless number of others. I was sure that every primary teacher was the same way. I kept this belief for sixty years….that everyone in primary schooling loved kids and teaching them, as much as I did; and would go to the ends of the earth for them.

I was wrong.

2008-17 has revealed that many employees in the field of primary schooling in Australia don’t care much about kids. They care deeply about some kids, but not the universal kid. I had accepted, early in the piece, that Australian every-day adults, generally speaking, prefer to have as little as possible to do with kids, apart from coaching the local under-eights footy team.  Treehorn, when I found him, validated the view that all adults, including parents, teachers and principals prefer not to be bothered too much by what distresses kids.   I was disappointed [‘floored’ is a better term] to learn, in particular that Australia’s  school principals don’t have much interest in the ‘generalised’ school child, at all. They like their job and do it well and that’s it. They  meekly and  publicly approve of the extreme. heavy, burdensome NAPLAN testing device because Julia Gillard told them to do so after she returned from New York, overdosed on Klein bullshit, which, they know all very well, destroys the learning spirit of the curriculum in the interests of data-gathering – just for the sake of data-gathering.  Principal’s associations know that. APPA was blatantly ‘Stockholmed’, replaced by AGPPA and then  ‘Eichmannised’ .  They should have known that NAPLAN, under the pretence of being diagnostic and motivational, would destroy our system;  a system that once had the potential to be great. Sloppily, near tearfully,  I must say : They broke my heart by their desertion from reality.

When Julia Gillard introduced this crazy New York system of schooling based on the deliberate creation of anxiety and fear, they had a chance to say to her : “We don’t do that sort of thing to school children.” They didn’t.

I now know what disappointment is.

Then, in January 2010, the Australian Education Union that represents the chalkface operators, unanimously supported a motion at its Sydney Conference that NAPLAN be banned!   I was over the moon. I was so proud of my association with some of the attenders. Amazed that such a thing had happened and so proud that Aussie teachers collectively, it seemed, recognised the implications of naplanising school children ….that they had assured the welfare of little Aussie learners to progress in a child-centred environment, that I did something that I had never done before. It seemed to me like it was the wonder of the age….that our classroom teachers could be so wonderful, so glorious, so up-front.  I could see Cloud 9 way down below me; so I went to Mass on the following day to say thanks. [I’m a Mick. ] I am usually asking for a favour, but here I was doing something that I have reflected upon, often, since:  Going to church just to say ‘Thanks’!!  That’s not normal. Maybe I’ll get the chance to do it again sometime…maybe when politicians  start thinking about what they are doing to children  and ban the stupid thing.  You see…ouch….The motion was at the AEU Conference was withdrawn on the same day and the notion of freedom abandoned.  Never learned why.   Very little mention of NAPLAN by the AEU since. Did the big boys capture Him, or was it the AEU? The big end of town seems to believe that it is  dominant enough  to do either. I may never learn what happened to the original motion.

{By the way, did you listen to all that Budget Yak-Yak in the Federal Parliament?  “We will spend billions and billions on schools and our kids will be the best in the world! We will improve education standards by giving more money to this, that and whatever” The baloney from both sides of the house was vomitous.  NAPLAN, the extreme destroyer of schooling, introduced by Labor  and maliciously ‘fiddled’ by Liberals and Nationals, now supported by their common neo-liberal viewpoints, did not get a mention, even though it wastes billions per year.. the worst ‘bad debt’ in on the landscape……and it was budget time!}

Those who know me, know that, back in the eighties I held super-normous hope for the future of primary schooling in Australia. I could see super-dooper schooling happening and, for some reason, I always thought that by about 2010 [no good reason for picking that year], Australia would enjoy an enormous network of public schools, to which children would burst a boiler to get to each and every day BECAUSE OF THE LEARNING HAPPINESS THERE….for no other reason. Enjoying a thoroughly holistic tailor-made curriculum, each would find real joy in extending their own abilities as far as they could and enjoy every moment of learning at their local community school.  They would not need any sexy inexperienced measurement sciolist from outside the school gate to judge their capacity,  and brand them with a number. Schooling would be real schooling, real learning. School leavers would not need an HSC score or NAPLAN score. Hirers would ask the school about their applicants and be given the full picture.

Garn. No matter what you might like to say, a progressive exam-free system is possible.

Well, things didn’t live up to expectations. Once managerialism and the restructuring fad hit the fan in the eighties, one could see what was happening. We were destined to follow the path ‘back to drastics’.  The last paragraph in my “Back to Drastics” [USQ Faculty of Education, 2006. P.87] was prophetic : “Hope persists. There are some great schools around and classroom teachers still have the real power. Once the teacher and the pupils move into their room together, the educational processes begin. Nobody in any self-important holy of holies has yet thought of starting from such a premise. Structural changes are usually imposed from the politicial apex, downwards. We keep starting at the wrong end. Education 3000?   At all times, the large and dangerous changes have been initiated by sciolistic ne’er-do-wells, who have had their decisions confirmed by the kinds of political party decision-making, for whom absurdity is not a handicap.

Clearly, the managerialism era was the start of Australia’s demise as a world power and of the standards of schooling that were once on the up and up. They are related; so, when Managerialsim and Restructurism made an easy path for the rabid Standardised Blanket Testing routine called NAPLAN because the wrong decision-makers were in the wrong positions, our system went haywire and has been that way for a decade. We cannot claim any growth in world stature in financial, industrial or political terms nor is there any indication of improvement in overall intellectual performance of any kind. We are waiting for the big boys to sort things out.  We maintain a mediocre ranking in world affairs, even though we have the ability [now being crushed] of fighting above our weight.

The forces that keep us in this mid-to-low-level position are powerful, extremely powerful. WE NEED THEM TO GET OFF OUR BACKS. We need them to talk with Rupert and tell their mates, Malcolm Turnbull and Bill Shorten that they are allowed to discuss schooling  openly, and not deliberately hide the mention of NAPLAN. Bring it out in the open! Schooling is not about money. The 37 kids from my railway-fettlers’ one-teacher school at Baking Board have contributed significantly to Australia’s welfare as has every other school. Schooling is about the promotion of learning and that banking corporation called UBS, needs to let go of the hooks on our institutions that they use to control our schooling system, our politicians and our media. The cone of controlled silence is too thick, as well.

NAPLAN is now discussed as a generality, a part of schooling, a thing that happens at school, a thing to be feared or wondered about. Rupert and UBS have had their way.  UBS, controlling our top end of town might care to think more seriously about the real meaning of the word SCHOOL.  What is it? What is it supposed to do? Is it doing it? Do kids like learning? Do they do  well at all parts of the curriculum? Why blanket test them when they progress faster and better when teachers share the evaluation of their efforts with them at the time of learning?  If you want to know how well they are doing, why not have a system of mentoring and reporting by highly qualified, experienced experts with a yen for excellence and with pollen on their wings? Why not just give the profession back to teachers?

The Australian education system, without any fear or doubt, is controlled by UBS and Rupert Murdoch [the schooling industry, in testucation mode, is worth $300 billion per year to him…at his last count].  UBS [this  banking corporation that paid the fares of bull-shipper Joel Klein down-under to show us what to do] seems motivated by a lack of appreciation for the ethics of the education profession. Big Bankers don’t like us teachers. [We shouldn’t have given up doing  school banking for them] It does not seem to understand that  a profession can be based on altruistic principles.  UBS, a respected organisation within thee money-making professions, could do so much good for children if it was able to adopt a moralistic view of the treatment of children and a responsible view of the work of the caring professions.

In any case, I’ve tried for quite a few years with the help of little Treehorn and a remarkable Kiwi educator, Allan Alach, to try to help restore normal conditions for Aussie school children through the columns of The Treehorn Express. We didn’t do any good. Treehorn is still that vivid green colour, because no one with any wit, has noticed him.

The two superordinate forces [UBS, Murdoch] are just so enormously powerful and our decision-makers are so very easily persuaded and so very well controlled……

They do not allow ANY political party to discuss NAPLAN.  The party doors are closed to reasoned discourse.

The mainstream press and the ABC aren’t brave enough to investigate the history or worthiness of NAPLAN.  [Kids. You can rely on shock-jock Alan Jones for support, however. He’s just got going.]

Shaky state governments [e.g NSW] believe that, by adding to the ferocity of the NAPLAN notion by screwing around with a relationship to the HSC, something or other will be improve.  Fat chance.

OMG. The place has really gone crazy and the standard of the whole gamut of learnings at school is fading – not just the naplan subjects. Kids just don’t like school much…..for good reasons.

We could end all the anguish in our schooling system if primary and secondary principals’ associations flexed their ethical muscles and told the feds that their members will return to their professional code OR if ACSSO (Australian Council of State School Organsations)  suggested to their members that they say NO to ‘NAPLAN’ OR  more mums and dads at home, thinking seriously about their child’s future, would  refuse to allow their children to participate……. like the parents of those 337 out of 343 pupils at Kimberley College, Brisbane have done OR some political party members would just sit down and talk about the meaning of school.

We all know our test-crazed system  stinks, but who am I [with some aligned colleagues and friends ] to test the might of UBS, Rupert and Co. and tolerate sloppy politicising. We don’t make the slightest impression,  it seems. They’re too powerful. Little Treehorn looks like staying a vivid green colour for a long, long time. We live in an era when there is a serious disinterest in childhood.

I can’t stand it any more. I quit. Thanks Allan and friends. Bye.

Phil Cullen

https://treehornexpress.wordpress.com

http://primaryschooling.net

Finally to those who don’t mind or don’t care how much NAPLAN is used to bash young children : “May the fleas of a thousand camels……”

The Liberals’ War on Learning

In the early days of his prime ministership,John Howard shared with some a private view about universities: don’t spend money on them, the people there don’t vote for us.

It is hardly novel to suggest that conservatives have always been troubled about the consequences of allowing the masses to be educated.

Ignorance advantages the hard right.

Book learning is a real danger for right wing politics. Numerous studies show that the more educated a person is – the more developed their analytical faculties – the less likely they are to vote for a party of the right. The uneducated vote right because they can easily be indoctrinated, scared by slogans and believe anything they are told. Not so those with any education. They easily see through political tricks and slogans. They use their advanced thinking skills and higher order learning. They also read much more widely on all issues before they form an opinion.

Conservative leaders are well aware of this, which is why they have historically sought, by one means or another, to limit the provision of education to the masses. They also are aware, though, that in a modern, knowledge-based economy, education is the key to growth. And so they face a dilemma: how to harness the brainpower of the masses without losing their political support.

NUMEROUS STUDIES SHOW THAT THE MORE EDUCATED A PERSON IS – THE MORE DEVELOPED THEIR ANALYTICAL FACULTIES – THE LESS LIKELY THEY ARE TO VOTE FOR A PARTY OF THE RIGHT.

Popular political wisdom holds that economic division led to the election of Donald Trump as United States president last year. Wrong, according to the analysis of America’s leading psephologist, Nate Silver.

He studied the county-by-county shifts in voting between the election of the rational progressive Barack Obama in 2012 and the populist right-winger Donald Trump in 2016. He found that in 48 of the 50 best-educated counties, more people voted for Hilary Clinton than had voted for Obama four years previously. Conversely, she got fewer votes in 47 of the 50 least-educated counties.

It was not economic disadvantage that drove them to move their votes to Trump; it was intellectual disadvantage. Education, not income, concluded Silver, was “the critical factor in predicting shifts in the vote between 2012 and 2016”.

The uneducated had their world view reflected back at them by Trump, and voted for it.

The same thing is happening  with Pauline Hanson.Those who vote for her are mainly the over 60’s and those who have not had much education.

The standout demographic characteristic of One Nation voters was their lack of education. The typical One Nation voter didn’t finish school, much less “set foot in a university”.

Following this week’s announcement that the government planned to save $2.8 billion through cuts to university funding and increases to student payments, Researcher McAllister was asked crunch the numbers again, this time not on the voting patterns of the uneducated, but of the tertiary educated.

Sure enough, they showed that the more education people received, the more progressive their politics became. These were thinking people who did not take up what was served to them without questioning it.

At the 2016 election, the Liberal and National parties got 39.2 per cent of the vote overall, but less – 38.5 per cent – among those who held bachelor’s degrees, and less again – 36.1 per cent – among those with postgraduate qualifications.

The big beneficiaries of the educated vote, however, were the Greens. Some 13.2 per cent of those with an undergraduate degree and 16.1 per cent of those with postgraduate qualifications voted for them.

“The total Green vote was just under 10 per cent, so they’re getting about half as many again among the tertiary-educated,” McAllister says.

Those figures include voters of all ages. When one refines the data further, to look at younger voters, the progressive skew is far more dramatic.

For those under 30 with bachelor’s degrees, just 22.6 per cent preferred the Coalition, compared with 28 per cent for the Greens and 39.8 per cent for Labor.

More startling yet is the voting pattern of those in that age group with postgraduate degrees. In that cohort, the Greens were by far the preferred party. Almost 40 per cent of people – 39.8, to be precise – voted for them. Labor got 31.5 per cent and the Coalition parties a miserable 22.2.

No doubt some of these people will change their votes as they get older and richer. Nonetheless, the trend is ominous for conservatives.

No wonder the political right is concerned about the consequences of having an informed and educated electorate, and that many Liberals yearn for a dumbed-down society.

In May 2013 the then-opinion editor for The Australian newspaper, Nick Cater, launched his book The Lucky Culture at a Melbourne function sponsored by the Institute of Public Affairs, the hard right-wing think tank with great influence in conservative political circles.

The biggest response to Cater’s speech came when he noted that the number of people with university educations was climbing ever upward in Australia. The IPA crowd booed loudly. Those boos tell the truth: underlying it is the desire to restrict education to a wealthy and conservative elite.

Indeed, the IPA’s executive director, John Roskam, a former senior adviser to John Howard’s hard-right education minister David Kemp, also an IPA alumnus, argued in a piece for Fairfax in 2006 thatstudents who did not qualify on merit for a university place should be able to buy their way in.

He advocated full deregulation of fees, writing: “The fact that some students might have their fees paid for by their wealthy parents while others will be forced to take out a loan is irrelevant.” How cruel is this argument?

The Howard government was notable for its attacks on the standards of public schooling as well as universities. It responded by vastly increasing the funds allocated to elite private schools that their sons and daughters attended. Under the Kemp–Howard funding model, the money allocated to private schools increased six times as much as that for public schools between 1999 and 2006.

Allocating more school resources to kids who already have the advantages of well-educated, supportive, well-off parents is like providing food aid to the well fed. It’s superfluous. Meanwhile, disadvantaged kids, increasingly concentrated in disadvantaged schools, are left intellectually hungry.

Coincident with Howard’s funding changes, Australia began to slide down the global rankings for school education. Why? Because most of the funding was going to the rich private schools. A comprehensive OECD survey of 76 countries in late 2015 ranked Australia 14th, behind places such as Poland, Estonia and Vietnam.

The top Australian school students, both public and private, compare well with the best internationally, but the gap between them and those at the bottom of the educational heap has widened to be among the biggest in the developed world.

GONSKI:- Abbott opposition’s response to Gonski was deceptive. He was deeply suspicious of it from the start as he was the NBN. First the Liberals opposed it, and encouraged conservative state leaders not to sign up. Then, just before the 2013 election, Abbott declared the Coalition to be “on a unity ticket” with Labor on school funding. Immediately after winning, he abandoned the unity ticket and committed to drastically reduced funding. His cuts represented about $29 billion less according to the government’s own figures.

The first budget under Abbott and his treasurer, Joe Hockey, also proposed a 20 per cent cut to base funding for universities.

The government could not get its changes through the senate, despite many tweaks, threats and finessing of the policy by then education minister Christopher Pyne – the famous “fixer”. And so we have had several years of funding uncertainty for both school and tertiary education.

The bottom line associated with Gonski 2.0 is that the government is shifting some $2.8 billion of the cost of higher education from its budget and onto universities and ultimately to students and their poorer parents.

How you feel about this cost-shifting depends on whether you consider a university education to be a private or a public benefit. Deloitte Access Economics valued the contribution of tertiary education to Australia’s productive capacity at $140 billion in 2014, of which $24 billion accrued to the tertiary educated themselves. The “spillover effects”, it found, meant that for every one percentage point increase in the number of workers with a university degree, the wages of those without tertiary qualifications rose 1.6 to 1.9 per cent. That is good for families and good for the country.

So much for the claim by conservatives that it is not cause for concern if university fees deter people from studying. It is a concern not only in terms of equity, but in terms of the broader economy.

Now to schools. Labor went to the last election promising what it called “full Gonski”: $30 billion more in extra funding than the Coalition.

Turnbull’s announcement this week cuts that differential to $22 billion. But the new policy does at least make a start on tackling the huge elephant in the room – reducing the taxpayer subsidy to overfunded non-government schools. If Labor did this there would be cries of “class warfare”.

Education Minister Birmingham announced that initially just 24 of the richest schools would see “negative growth”. But he also confirmed that 353 other schools would also lose money-many of them Catholic schools. The protests of the non-government schools were predictable. They have always argued that they should get government money because they take pressure off public schools. It’s akin to arguing that if you drive your Mercedes-Benz to work instead of taking the bus, you should be subsidised for taking the pressure off public transport.

The Australian system of giving public money to private schools is unique in the developed world. Everywhere else, if you choose an elite education for your child, you pay for that choice.

The Greens, who oppose funding for private schools, welcomed the change and offered tentative support – in advance of consideration of its detail – for the government’s funding package, on the pragmatic basis that it was better than what was previously proposed. Weren’t we always told the Liberals would never do deals with the Greens? Well they have on many occasions. The backpacker tax,changes to superannuation which have cost pensioners thousands of dollars.

The Labor deputy leader and shadow education minister, Tanya Plibersek, argued that by directing attention to the changes in funding for elite schools, the government was playing a “smoke and mirrors, pea and thimble” trick. “I mean, truly, we’re talking about a couple of dozen schools, out of more than 9000 across Australia, and some pretence that this will actually make a difference to $22 billion of cuts across the system,” she said. “It’s laughable, it’s absolutely laughable.” She has a good point.

We’ll see if the conservatives in the government think it laughable. Tony Abbott already has warned it will be “pretty vigorously debated in the party room next week”. He further said that it was “almost an article of faith in our party since Menzies that we were the party that promoted parental choice in education”. Which, of course, is code for supporting funding for elite education.The education of the sons and daughters of the very rich by poorly paid taxpayers.

Aislinn Stein-Magee, president of the Student Representative Council at the University of New South Wales, sees the funding cuts as part of a broader budgetary attack on low-income earners and young people. She cites the cuts to penalty rates, the tightening of Centrelink compliance and the robo-debt fiasco as other examples.

Faced with a budgetary problem on the one hand and the electoral problem on the other, the easiest targets are people who are less inclined to vote conservative anyway. Ian McAllister’s election analysis supports that view. He notes there were “big age effects” at the last election, “driven by older people moving away from the Coalition because of the superannuation changes and pension cuts” passed by the Liberals and the Greens.

The government cannot afford to further alienate its most reliable supporters, wealthy and over the age of 55. So it’s looking down the age and income scale for cuts.

The trouble is about 50 per cent of people under the age of 40 now have tertiary qualifications. They value education and it’s very dangerous to alienate them. McAllister notes that it is now Labor Party policy to reduce the voting age to 16. “If Labor gets in at the next election, you’ll suddenly have a much bigger cohort of people aged 16 to 22 or 23, all in school education or higher education,” he says. “That’s a much bigger education voting bloc than you have now. And much more inclined to vote for leftish parties.” Book learning is a real danger to conservative politics.