Naplan and Fear

The Treehorn Express

Treehorn story?

Theme Song :

The Treehorn Express is dedicated to the cessation of Kleinist NAPLAN testing in Australia.  Kleinism is a New York version of fear-driven schooling which uses the blanket-testing ‘wmd’ called NAPLAN [its only learning-motivational weapon] to destroy the   reputation of teachers and schools. This weapon was forced on schools in Australia in 2009. It disrespects school pupils, devalues teachers’ professionalism, threatens Australia’s developmental future and is just no good.  Although some ‘education’ groups support it, ideologically, NAPLAN is immoral, unprofessional, politically driven, unrequested by the profession, curriculum destructive, extremely costly, wasteful and divisive. It has a background of malicious intent.  IT WILL REMAIN UNTIL ENOUGH GOOD PEOPLE SAY “STOP IT”.

For further information, click on the official description



DEEWR strikes

Yesterday, Thursday 10 November 2011 offered a ‘first’ for me. I had read in the back pages of the morning newspaper that the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations

[For OS readers, that is the Department that belongs to an Australian Federal Minister, Peter Garrett, former leader of pop group ‘Midnight Oil’] was conducting a conference for principals from all parts of Australia on Literacy and Numeracy, and the article  provided  a website with public access for the afternoon presentations and plenary session.  There was an opportunity to make a comment or ask a question in side boxes on the web-site. About five, including one of mine, were made. None scored.

I have been to conferences of the kind many times in many places [you know…Minister sets the theme, keynote speaker, group sessions, general get-togethers, plenary session, great camaraderie, talk, talk]. As a co-attender once said, “You come to these conferences, confused. It’s a good one if you go away confused at a higher level.”

This was something new to me. It gives one a chance to sit in one’s lounge, laptop and all, partaking of the conference while watching Tiger Woods  and Adam Scott do their best, make a cup of coffee at any time, cheer loudly and applaud [or otherwise] at sage remarks or Adam’s ‘albatross’, make a note or two [“rotate your hips more”; “target slow students”] to finish right on beer o’clock. For Old Fellows like me, useless has-beens, it’s a wonderful world we live in.

I managed to catch some early comments from some principals, justifiably lauding the BER building program…a truly great political/educative and highly beneficial initiative. Hail Julia and Peter.

The later discussions were about the ways and means of improving Naplan test scores, and the difficulties of promoting improvement in a vast land with very diverse clients. Scores and improvement in scores as the result of deliberate activities were displayed and distributed.  Assessment, as an operation, was described in percentages and marks. If it was meant to be part of an indoctrination process for neo-naplanners, Peter would be gyrating today.

I thought that I might have heard the word ‘pupil’ used. Didn’t happen at this session; perhaps in the groups.

I had hoped to hear of ways to develop a love for mathematics and its place in the creative arts; how pupils might learn to be keen about writing punchier prose and peppier poetry; and speaking proper. It was called a Numeracy and Literacy Conference.

I hoped to hear the words LOVE and PLAY and LEARNING used often. Perhaps in the groups.

I asked the question. “If fear of testing and failure is adopted as an officially endorsed motivator, what effect does the panel believe this will have on curriculum coverage and the development of a positive attitude to learning?”

Nice try.  I was expecting responses like “…no need to promote fear”; “maybe concern”; “only in April and May”; “students [not pupils] don’t get distressed”; “what teacher stress?”. “Fear driven ?”. Didn’t happen. Not dealt with. Maybe later.  Forrest Gump had a phrase for it. Then John Daly  spat his dummy.

Part of the panel discussion was on ways to improve the scores in aboriginal schools. I attach the description that I wrote for a local magazine about one located on the Gulf of Carpentaria way back when teachers were trying to promote achievement by helping pupils to love learning.  Click here to download..

By the way. Peter Garrett is trying this again on Monday [14 Nov.]. Check here. You might have to register. Can’t be too careful.


Let’s try for a Re-form of Compulsory Schooling.


Start at the classroom.

There IS a rational, workable design.


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[There were 78 ‘hits’ on the October 17  blog  “Looking Back from 22”]    

Phil Cullen

41 Cominan Avenue

Banora Point

Australia 2486

07 5524 6443