By Allan Alach
I welcome suggested articles, so if you come across a gem, email it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Taking the PISA
New Zealand teacher Mike Boon (aka Boonman)
‘Well, friends, today was PISA day. The day when all media outlets around the world breathlessly pronounce their education system is either “plummeting” down the tables, or, through some miraculous miracle, soaring to new educational heights.
Three years ago I ranted about this nonsensical test, run by the OECD, which tests hundreds of thousands of 15 year olds around the world on reading, maths and science. I’m listening to Garbage on the Spotify at the moment and that is an incredibly apt word.’
Academics Worldwide call for the end to PISA tests
‘In education policy, Pisa, with its three-year assessment cycle, has caused a shift of attention to short-term fixes designed to help a country quickly climb the rankings, despite research showing that enduring changes in education practice take decades, not a few years, to come to fruition. For example, we know that the status of teachers and the prestige of teaching as a profession have a strong influence on the quality of instruction, but that status varies strongly across cultures and is not easily influenced by short-term policy.’
Why Americans should not panic about international test results
Applicable to other countries as well.
‘Unlike elections, one cannot definitively prove PISA predictions to be wrong since student success later in life cannot be conclusively reported like final vote counts. But if we think of a student’s success as winning the election, and the skills and knowledge PISA assesses as voters, what the polls missed during Brexit and the 2016 U.S. presidential election provides some interesting cautionary parallels.’
“Data is the wrong driver”
Thanks to Phil Cullen for this article about Queensland, Australia, which can be adapted for other similar educationally afflicted countries.
‘To comply with the current curriculum benchmarks, you cannot do justice to children or their learning. It is not practical to run a play-based curriculum AND meet the standards. If a child finds a caterpillar outside, it if far more engaging and meaningful to talk about butterflies and write and explore that, than to read a proscribed book and ask children about how a character can change or what we could do differently.’
Contributed by Bruce Hammonds:
End of Year Student Survey: Student feedback to implement next year.
Bruce’s latest article.
‘At the end of the school year it is a good idea to gather information from the students you are passing on. Not only is this a chance for you to get some insight about your teaching but it is also a great way to value the ‘voice’ of your students. You might also like to think about developing a similar survey for the beginning of next year to give some insight into student’s attitudes that they bring with them to your class. You could include the various learning areas, what they are expecting to gain from the year with you, and what questions they would like to find out more about. You might be able to work the later into a negotiated curriculum?’
Responding to Defiance in the Moment: Why Do Children Defy Authority?
‘Children who defy us often get to the core of our fears as teachers. They make us question our abilities and provoke feelings of insignificance. But when we rise above our own feelings and find developmentally appropriate ways to respond to these students, we offer them a path to success and a model of how to get along in the world.’
Teaching Without Rewards
‘Children build on their strengths, and to do that building—to grow academically and socially—they need us to recognize and encourage their positive efforts. But what’s the best way to offer that recognition and encouragement?’
When Students Need More: Taking the Long View
‘A reality of teaching that all teachers know well is that no matter how effectively we teach, no matter how hard students try, and no matter how many good days the class has together, students will sometimes need more—more direction, more support, more teaching, more time.’
From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:
Why schools don’t educate.
‘Notes taken from John Taylor Gatto’s acceptance speech as New York Teacher of the Year 1990. Gatto was recognized in Tom Peter’s (the business ‘guru’) in his book ‘Re-Imagine’ published 2003 as an important future orientated educator.‘We live in a time of great school crises, Gatto began his presentation, ‘and we need to define and redefine endlessly what the word education should mean. Something is wrong. Our school crisis is a reflection of a wider social crisis – a society that lives in the constant present, based on narcotic consumption’
A future Vision for Education
‘We need to move beyond, ‘correcting past mistakes and attempting to improve the quality and productivity of a quasi industrial form of production in which children come in one end, are worked on by professionals and then exit at the other end with the requisite skills and qualifications’.If it only worked for all students there would not be any urgency to change but it is becoming obvious that too many students fail –and even those that ‘succeed’ leave without all their talents appreciated.’
Robert Fried on Seymour Sarason
‘One of Sarason’s forty odd books has a name that reflects his lifetime theme ‘The Predictable Failure of School Reform’. He retired in 1989 as professor of clinical psychology at Yale University.Fried calls Sarason a ‘cautious radical’ and a pragmatic idealist who staunchly defends classroom teachers in one breathe and scolds them (and policy makers) in another for their failure to make schools interesting places for teachers and children.’
Does your classroom have the ‘wow’ factor?
‘The first sign of ‘wow’ is the overall first impression the room gives you. The feeling you get is that you are indeed in special place. There is a feeling of positive relationships between teacher and learners and often parents are to be seen quietly helping students. Other students seem to be working without supervision. A quick look around the walls, covered with students creativity gives an impression that this is a room dedicated to the students themselves.’
Profiteering is More Important
41 Cominan Avenue
Banora Point 2486
07 5524 6443
Refer”Who’s Who in Australia”
They will do as they told no matter what they are told by their control agents. They are very, very obedient.
Their obedience is taken for granted.
“Taken for granted” as a phrase is derived from “Taken for granite”….that inanimate, common rock. When a social contract such as making the teaching force undertake unpleasant standardised blanket tests is enacted, it assumes that the teaching force has no feelings one way or the other about the effects; too thick; too hard to comprehend the consequences; and, sadly, like Adolf Eichmann, will do as it is told for as long as the project lasts. The case in point ….when the force was not given the chance to examine the full probable outcomes of NAPLAN while Julia and Kleinie were introducing it in 2008, any unease was poo-poohed and quelled quickly. Its impact on the teaching act was not allowed to be considered nor examined. Measurement was supreme. Measurement ruled the teaching act. Constant measurement meant good teaching, our testucratic Creps opined. This was it. Why worry? Trust us. The rock face wouldn’t ‘get it’, anyhow. Conventional wisdom was out of place. Meek compliance was commanded and is now a feature of the Australian scene. It’s the sort of organisational demand that came about when this sort of testing and payment by results was first introduced; when ‘uppity teachers’ of the 1840s who had claimed a level of professional dignity, previously not tolerated, had to be kept in their place like chooks, I think the official government statement said, when Payment by Results was introduced…..that first time. You’d think that we were mature enough to learn from history, and not repeat it.
Teachers’ gumption was respected then. Two hundred years later it is on a serious decline and payment by results is back.
I know a lot of teachers in all sorts of places. I do not know one who does not love kids, nor devalues what kids do. Australian teachers can match anyone in the world for love and concern and ability. They would dearly love to work in an organisational climate as their Nordic colleagues do. They are stuck. Why? They tell you that they are working for a system that dehumanises children and mentally abuses them and only wants to use them for data gathering. Their hands are tied. They yearn to be free. What can anyone do about it ? It’s DATA DATA DATA. Must be collected.
That’s what schooling in Australia is for.
A number of quality teachers have left the service and told us why. We can’t afford the loss of one good teacher. Really. How hard did we listen to them; to their reasons for leaving? Then, what did we do? Lucy Clark has since opened the eyes of many parents who had not previously accepted the reality of how testing freaks control each one of our schools. There is no great enthusiasm amongst school graduates to become a teacher for long. NAPLAN has failed at the PISA level, if you take notice of that sort of junk. NAPLAN testing has gone completely feral. It can control obesity. It took $22m for uncertain, unpopular DI kits. Year One five year-olds’ tests are needed to set the main. School and university graduates need to do well or cop out. If the state does not do well, state funding decreases.
It has spread its nastiness across endless boundaries from its original Literacy and Numeracy demands at Year 3,5,7,9 levels. One can even anticipate that Western Bulldogs and Cronulla players will not receive their premiership awards unless that have passed a NAPLAN tests. That’s for the future. Don’t laugh. There’s money in it. That’s the rub.
It is not true that teachers have to write down ten times per day from 1 April [of course] until 11 May: “NAPLAN is a useful diagnostic thingo.” It’s just that things are heading that way.
Things have gone quite crazy during 2016. Fear 2017, kids.
Who will demand that it be sin-binned?
Malcolm? Tanya? Simon? Adrian? Daniel? Annastacia? Bob K.? or someone from the real world….
Parents? Lucy Clark provides plenty of reasons for a large scale cop-out crusade.*
Graduating pupils ? [Call them ‘students’ if you haven’t got the gist of it.] who might join Lucy’s daughter: “I will NOT be judged by the Board of Studies.” [P.280]
Politicians have too much to do, they say. What are kids? Forget them. Expect us to do something?! Huh!
We Geriatics have tried, but, too well conditioned over the years, are just no good at crusading; only cursading.
Any branch or affiliate of the APPA or the ASPA or the ACPA or the AEU or the AIU or the IEU or the ISCA could sin-bin NAPLAN on purely professional and ethical grounds, on their respect for kids, on their own turf if they wanted to, which would bring it all to a halt; and advance schooling in Australia. Their support too was taken for granted, wasn’t it?
PARENTS. You know the reality. You’ve read the book. The kids do need someone! HELP!
ONE HIGH PROFILE CRUSADER
or group thereof.
Phil Cullen, 41 Cominan Avenue, Banora Point, Australia 2486 o7 5524 6443 0407865999 email@example.com
Refer: ‘Who’s Who in Australia’
* When you write your note to your teacher about your child dropping out of all NAPLAN testing please be clear. At the present time, with KGB/SS kind of intensity, the government is checking out those schools and classes that claim large numbers of opt-outs last May. Can’t trust schools, of course. Be warned.. Some unfortunate folk in ACARA are lumbered with checking out a few million notes, probably checking them for grammar errors, spelling mistakes, errors of syntax.
If Australian schooling followed democratic principles and used some down-to-earth democratic smarts, all parents would be asked to give their permission before the test. If a parents did not respond to the request, the child would not be tested. Simpliciter. NAPLAN is a health risk and its operations carry heavy legal responsibility and culpability for the government . The federal minister [or one of his operators like the school principal or teacher] can be sued for damage to children’s mental health. Yes. Our intelligent pollies and their Creps may regret that they took school parents for granted too!
Might I suggest, by the way, Parents, that you write your note to your teacher NOW? Get away from it as quick as you can. It’s growing and morphing and morphing and morphing.
“NO to my kids doing NAPLAN” is enough to write. Don’t forget to sign or they’ll get your teacher….or the principal….or the school funding…or the state department….or the state treasury.
Play safe and get as far away from NAPLAN testing as you can.
They are not nice people. Anyone who treats children the way that testucators do, can be a threat to society’s welfare.
It is said that you can judge a country by the way that it treats its children. Most countries provide schools and teachers to help children cope with the world. Then….it happens.
There are some basic tenets that become embedded within a country’s culture and are reflected in what they do with their children. Each one, each country is different. Australia’s organisation culture is quite unique, in an unpleasant and shameful kind of way, being much closer to the US minimum competency culture than to any other, much closer to a shared declining maverick kind than to successful schooling.
Our school system is not based on UNESCO principles and arrogantly breaches aspects of UNESCO’s Rights of the Child. Says the UNESCO Convention: “The importance for the Convention of the general programmes of UNESCO should not be overlooked. Human rights are indivisible: the promotion of individual rights cannot be pursued in isolation from the advancement of social and economic rights nor will the rights of children be fully respected in situations where adults are denied fundamental freedoms.” Australia clearly and deliberately breaches these democratic conventions. It keeps its adults in the dark in regard to the nature of NAPLAN testing, for instance, and has no inclination to change the rule. Parents’ fundamental rights to know that they have a choice for their children to do the test or not do the test are deliberately hidden; and schools are expected to keep this information secret unless they are asked. It is a shameful state of affairs.
On a scale that runs from “Care for kids” to “Abuse our kids” , Australia is much closer to the ‘abuse’ end than to the other. It abuses children by attacking their yen to learn, which is a natural instinct for children; and to make them uncertain about their abilities. Its centres for learning aka schools, are being operated using non-love tactics and dirty tricks . Fear has replaced Love as a motivator for learning; and is not working well.
Fear and its connection to wide-scale high-stakes testing, as introduced by the sandal makers. are embedded in school routines and the bunkum-based morphing of NAPLAN. Its use barks at basic child rights.
We can, therefore, add another dimension to Treehorn’s ORGANISATIONAL CULTURE table of Australia and compare it to democratic principled places rather than to Finland alone . If we stick to true-blue Aussie principles, we can donkey-lick the rest of the world in providing the richest life-style that there is, whenever we like……It’s such a pity that we have allowed the present state of affairs to happen.
WORLD : Love children. Respect childhood. Care for Kids. Provide holistic curriculum. Teach well. Do not abuse children. Educate them
AUSTRALIA: Gather children together. Keep critical information away from parents. Test pupils for literacy and numeracy levels. Keep testing and widen its influence. Hire people to check for and attend to shortfalls in achievement and mental health. Use every testucator available to maintain outcomes at the normal mediocre level.
We cannot afford to be proud of our efforts during the past decade. We should feel ashamed; and attempt to provide a decent schooling based on high levels of human rights and ethical behaviour. We need to take pride in the way we care for kids.
We know that the attempt to control schooling by fear has not worked.
Phil Cullen, 41 Cominan Avenue, Banora Point, Australia 2486 07 5524 6443 0407865999 firstname.lastname@example.org
Refer: ‘Who’s Who in Australia’
The hottest places in hell are reserved for those who, in times of moral crisis, maintain their neutrality. [Dante]
The Moral Crisis
How do we treat our children?
My twilight years are fading and my preciously held dreams of a schooling system where children will love learning for its own sake and be anxious to get to a school each day because of the wonderful, happy, play-ridden and challenging activities that the school provides, and that they would exit school with much more enthusiasm for learning than they did when they started, seem to have disappeared. Their teachers, I had foreseen, which we already have, will form a warm bond of cooperative learning, that is embedded in the true meaning of PUPIL, with each child anxious to learn because of the special bond with a person anxious to teach them. There would be no fear of learning, no restrictions on the limits, no stress that might effect anyone’s attitude to learning each and every day. Teachers would be trusted to teach in their own way and each school would be free to do the sorts of things it wanted. There would be ‘Freedom to Learn’
I had hoped to leave the place in better condition than when I entered it, but, bugger, the Australian system of schooling is declining rapidly….and it doesn’t give a fig about the way it treats its children. I’m truly saddened by what I see and hear. Its nasty, politically-driven way of ordering schools around is perilous. NAPLAN’s corruption of all the goodness in the curriculum is grossly immoral because it deliberately threatens the mental health of millions of young Australians. Recent extensions of testucation to the very young, to graduands and beginning teachers are ludicrous and downright stupid. They grow every year, madly uncontrolled.
The morality of the way our politicians tell schools how to treat children is gross. We must free our kids.
Our pollies can re-set the course tomorrow if we tell them to do so.
They need to cancel NAPLAN as a first step only.
We have the children and the teachers who want to share happy, effective learning experiences. They are there now in happy groups ready to GO; and they try hard despite the commands of those who still live in the dark ages, who prefer emetic methods of instruction and ‘tough love’ exchanges…all so that each ‘student’ [vis-a-vis ‘pupil’] can reach a mediocre standard in selected topics that are easily measureable. Data. Data. Data. That’s what teachers are expected to do these days…..generally, doing as they are told….. by the politico-corporate duopoly whose intentions have been suspect since the Testing Industry, as a separate entity from the Schooling Industry, assumed power over schooling processes in a number of western countries. Pollies have selected testucation over education.
The Testing Industry established itself in Australia in 2008 as a serious business enterprise, after Joel Klein, the New York lawyer who invented fear-based Kleinism, visited Australia as a guest of the banking industry. [Yes, the same big four!] Banks want to employ geniuses on their counters, not those from the lower base of the bell-shaped curve. Since they are stuck with selections from the honest school plodders, they applaud the use of crash-bang-wallop techniques in schools to force-feed higher measureable scores in numeracy…in the manner that Klein advocated. That kind of force, added to the Rudd-Gillard press for a new election trick, was exerted on the standard timidity of the teaching profession which succumbed very quckly. They produced NAPLAN…. a blunt weapon of the testucrats and their ‘godfathers’. To the ‘ho-hum’ of historians, they dug-up the old reliable tormentor: ‘Back to Basic Standards”, with a new face : More fear. Cunning parental deceit. Slick rhetoric. Cooperative media. Deafening media silence on important topics. Sham professional groups selling their souls for sponsorship. Unlimited public money for testing. Moral degeneracy was in the very air.
While ‘Back to Basics’ lobbies emerge every few years, this one is lasting much longer than usual….much longer than it should. I had thought that School principal groups and professional associations would have refused to have anything to do with it on ethical grounds from Day One – the maltreatment of children – and, having had a trial, the force of ethical opinion would cause NAPLAN to disappear at least by 2010. I was wrong….very, very, disappointingly wrong. The style of ‘client capture’ by managerialists had been refined; and some groups now remain hard-wired to willing corporate sponsors. Kids don’t matter any more.
[When I first heard of the NAPLAN requirements I suggested to the President of APPA that he should have said at the outset, “No way, Julia. We don’t do that sort of thing to children.” Great bloke. He had an answer, but …….]
The biggest effects of the GERM movement have been on child welfare. Never before, in modern times, have children been so maltreated by governments. Illness, depression, bullying, suicides, family disruption, diminishing family coffers…. all part of the 2016 school landscape, thanks to NAPLAN. The increase in the timidity of those who should be most concerned is mind-blowing; and the scandal that it is more than basic timidity, is mind-blowing.
The willy-nilly use of fear-based standardised testing – on 5-year olds in Year 1, 7 year-olds in Year 3, all pupils to Year 9, the linkage of Year 9 tests to Year 12 graduation; on neophyte teachers; on public money allocated to states……all in the interest of “getting more bang for the buck” [Bimingham] is a despicable, destructive way to conduct an education system.
WHEN WILL WE EVER THINK OF THE KIDS AND HOW THEY LEARN AND HOW THEY SHOULD BE TAUGHT…AND TALK ABOUT THESE THINGS WITHOUT FEAR … how happy they are at school, how much joy they find in learning, how ‘lasting’ their school experiences are, whether they leave school with much more interest and joy and zest for learning than they had when they started, whether the period leading up to and including NAPLAN week in May is as much learning-fun as the rest of the year. Schooling, after all, is about KIDS.
These are very serious issues.
Have you ever thought you would see the day when a mother would be so concerned about the effects that our test-crazy system of schooling was having on her child that she would do extensive research and probing and thinking and talking and pondering and then write a book about it? And that book would become a best seller? Even her article about the book received tens of thousands of ‘hits’ on Facebook. Yes, there have also been some stirring articles written in recent times by expert insider teachers that have drawn the attention of the public to the kind a schooling that has been introduced to Australia, but when have you ever read such a comprehensive description such as Lucy Clark’s on the experiences of her daughter? Its insight into schooling activities in this day and age is exceptional.
The public is awakening, Treehorn. Take heart.
The book, Beautiful Failures, is a classic. The author has remarkable insight into the subject of schooling. Some of her chapter headings are intriguing: Square Pegs, round holes. Darling, we just want to make you happy. Where’d I come from? The pressure pyramid. Adolescence, lost. Stealing childhood. A wedge between generations. What should education be? Welcome to Education Theory High. Because I say so. The mythical place down the road. Teachers, kindness and making time for compassion.
If you haven’t read it, do yourself a favour.
If, when you have finished it. and don’t think that we are on the edge of a deep national moral crisis, I despair totally.
Phil Cullen, 41 Cominan Avenue, Banora Point, Australia 2486
o7 5524 6443 0407865999
Refer: ‘Who’s Who in Australia’
AUSSIE FRIENDS OF TREEHORN
Australia could have the best schooling system in the world, but doesn’t want to try.
Why doesn’t it talk about schooling ? Why does it force children to be institutionalised and then be nasty to them? Is it some sort of mystical belief that our politicians follow …that fear and coercion as part of an all-powerful and all-encompassing testing routine really motives people to learn better? Why does it neglect the great parts of the curriculum?
Australia plainly wastes heaps and heaps of money on testing. It costs billions to conduct NAPLAN testing and it knows that the program is a total waste and is dangerous, but it is reluctant to examine the financial [and human] costs.
Why does it waste so much on such useless junk? The damage that is being done is staggering. We persist. Why? Where’s the benefit? ‘Scuse me…..WHO benefits?
Some Australians believe that scores on test are indicators of educational standards. Please explain!
Why can’t we discuss what happens in schools and what ‘standards’ are all about and what we do to promote confidence in child learnings?
Why Australia runs an ordure, fear-based education system, copied from one of the weakest systems of schooling in the world.
Why is this so? More successful authorities concentrate on love and encouragement and interest and challenge and dignity and pupil-based evaluation techniques. Why can’t we ?
Why state-governments are so toady and fictile when the feds tell them how they should run their schools.
Don’t states ‘own’ their schooling systems? Haven’t states got any school educators who can run systems as learning systems, say like Finland, that are based on pupilling, instead of testing? Must they comply so easily and just add duplicitous test clones of the worst kind of standardised blanket testing : NAPLAN?
Why do some states want to brand children as young as 4 years of age as failures?
They might as well tattoo “Failure” on kids’ chests straight after the Year 1 probe . The smear lasts forever, in any case. Can’t we give the young-uns a fair crack of the whip and help them to learn?
Why parents are deceived into believing that NAPLAN tests are mandatory? Few realise that they can ‘opt out’. Please!! Tell them.
This is unctuous fascism at work isn’t it? After nine long years, the freedom of choice has yet to be announced or mentioned in the public arena. Schools are forbidden to announce that children have a choice. The media seems to be forbidden as well.
Why so many quality young teachers are leaving the work force, feeling degraded by the expectations and the demands of testucating charlatans?
When will Australian teachers be allowed to teach properly again? When will their ethical principles be realised?
Why teachers, who were once the leaders in the caring professions and respected for their ethical and prodigious output, have lost their mensch and are now regarded as feeble flunkies, ethically weak at the knees doing what any ‘hired political gun’ wants them to do.
Is it because it’s now just a job? Maybe, one day they will stick up for themselves. In the meantime the pressure on them from the obscurant ‘friends of NAPLAN’, hired to prevent the spread of knowledge, is scary. After all, our cohort consists of those amongst the best in the world. Let them teach properly.
Australia wants to prevent its young from learning as much as can be learned and to enjoy the experience. PLEASE EXPLAIN!
Australia persists with a standardised, mediocre schooling system, maintained for questionable purposes when the sky is the limit.
PLEASE EXPLAIN !