Skinning Cats Alive.

I had convinced myself during the 1980s that, within twenty years, Australia would have a schooling system that was like no other…..built purely on love for learning and a zest for achievement in all things. At the time, things were on the up-and-up and school leadership was more ethical and professional and thoughtful than it had ever been. Teachers were proving their academic and professional worth in the big arena. Bureaucrats were learning to pull their heads in and were releasing the power of a truly caring profession. There was ‘Pride in Primary’ – real fair-dinkum pride in being a primary teacher -a catch-phrase that the good guys used at the time during their professional and personal activities. Classrooms looked like exciting learning places…‘Living, Learning Laboratories’ as Bob Pashen called them – inviting children to come in and join in the joy of learning. Things felt good. We had a lot of wrinkles to iron out that would take some doing and a lot more independence to be grasped … but we knew we could do it. We felt so tall and so proud of being primary.

Bugger! We couldn’t. A special form of heavy-handed totalitarian political control grew alien antennae that made some powerful politico-weirdos believe they knew everything about everything.,..and they took over the activities of governments.

A toxic form of managerialism hit the fan in the mid-80s; and we lost sight of the kids. These aliens organised and started running testing factories replacing real people who’d been-there-done-that ,organising schools of learning and mentoring others on the way. These good guys were cunningly dominated by absurdists who forced fear-laden testing on kids and have now done more damage to Australia than the Japanese could ever have done. Fear-laden swotting of a kind never known before has replaced decent teaching. The load on small pupils during normal learning time, the likes of which no previous generation has had to tolerate. is enormous. Kids are still our future, but you wouldn’t think so. 

Now we have a take-over of schooling by the most ruthless gang of kid-bashing monsters ever. Schools, intended to be the centres of schooling excellence that our children deserve, were set up on Day 1 of schooling … ,last Monday…. to be an examination centre for happy, anxious young kids who’d been dreaming of something else on their first day. 

What an introduction to a lifetime of learning!

The little ones were kept quiet and submissive, we’ve been told, waiting for a teacher to give them a series of literacy and mathematical encounters, the results of which were scored and recorded and forwarded to an all-powerful pooh-bah who will keep the data for statistical purposes. The school will be expected to keep the results until the poor little folk contest the really earnest NAPLAN test in Year 3, when they are about 7 years of age. The branding done and intellectual expectations set in place in the minds of those adults whom the child respects at this point, will mark their progress for many years, Day 2 marked the beginning of ‘getting to know you’ activities, starting to ‘down play’ the implications of the day before, and to start the pupilling….fair-dinkum schooling. No one will have time to try to see what effect the testing had on the pupil, how the pupil felt, The effects could be profound, but we big people will pretend that negativity can be patted away and all will be okay. We will also pretend on behalf of those who did not do well, that it doesn’t matter. The kids are so young. They’ll get over it. We’ve sorted them out early, as far as NAPLAN goes, anyhow. 

Remember that page in one of the most wonderful books on education :ThGeranium on the Window Sill Just Died but Teacher you went right on” by Albert Cullum : 

Where is my place in your puzzle, teach?

Do I fit?

Or am I one piece too many?

Tell me for real, teach!

I know there’s no room for me on the bulletin board,

but do I have a place in your puzzle?

When the advisers and special helpers move in to remind the slow or poor-scoring child of his or her inadequacies, we will be sure to get an increase in scores, by Year 3, because that’s what this kind of schooling is all about. By test time in Year 3 0r 5, many pupils will be saying, in Albert Cullum talk :

was good at everything

– honest, everything –

until I started being here with you.

I was good at laughing, 

playing dead, being king.

Yeah, I was good at everything!

But now I’m only good at everything

on Saturdays and Sundays…

It’s certainly useful to know how your pupil stacks up against others and against certain criteria. …and against their own views of themselves. It’s also critical , however, that the information is obtained as part of the learning operation. Those who would kill a cat by skinning it alive, would approve of the way that some schools conducted the operation last Monday. “Hello Sam. Here’s a little fun thing I’d like you to do. Bye Sam”

The media will pile on the plaudits for the kids and the teachers for the first day. It makes good copy. Parents will scurry home to learn how to do it better with the next child. After all, kids talk. The disgrace of having to seek remediation for what I did to my kid! OMG.

I should like to make one point. The way that this operation was carried out, the organisational mode was a disgrace. Only cold and calculating beasts , excuses for humanity, would dream this sort of thing

Teachers will learn more about each child during the first week or two of schooling and use it for each child’s welfare; in the way things ought to operateand;, hopefully, repair some of the damage done by mean-spirited adults who enjoy skinning cats alive,

Phil Culllen, Emeritus Director of Primary Education, Q’ld.., 41 Cominan Avenue, Banora Point. Australia 2486. 07 5524 6443 0407865999 cphilcullen@bigpond.com

Datafication

THIS IS AN EXTREMELY SERIOUS TOPIC.  IGNORE ITS INTENTIONS AT OUR NATION’S PERIL; AND THEN PRAY FOR ITS KIDS.

The future of our nation depends on our attitude towards children and their schooling

DATAFICATION

It’s here. It’s the end of schooling as an interpersonal teacher-pupil interactive learning enterprise.
During this century there has been a distinct movement in schooling from Education to Testucation to Datafication.

To the everlasting credit of a remarkable work force, Australiam teachers have maintained an amazing standard of pupilling excellence, of which, despite the debilitating interruptions by blanket testing, Australians can be proud. The future of schooling will be much tougher for pupils, teachers and parents, however, if we continue on our present course.

DATAFICATION

IT’S SERIOUS. “What it simply means is this: from our actions to our thoughts, everything is getting transformed into a numerically transformed format or ‘Data’….from sports to finance and from entertainment to healthcare, everything around us is converting into data.” [Sawinder Kaur]. Get used to it.

“Datafication refers to the collective tools, technologies and processes used to transfer an organisation to a data-driven enterprise. This buzzword describes an organisational trend of defining the key to core business operations through a reliance on data and its related infrastructure.”[Technopedia]

“Datafication is the method behind the madness of Big Data.”  [Mark Sylvestor]

It’s a later day technological trend that involves the collection of data and transforming the information into new forms of value. It’s the sort of thing that Rupert has dreamed of for years.  Seen to be of benefit for core business operations, it has invaded schooling systems to destroy the vigorous spirit of established institutionalised learning and to turn its citadels into business operations and testing factories in which a gullible public will spend big money to enrol their children. The recent rise in the standard of marketing and lobbying  skills will ensure this.   Datification has been able to take over from the testucation processes attached to NAPLAN because our testing industry had difficulty in understanding the consequences of certain unwelcome schooling behaviours that were introduced rudely into Australia in 2008; and this makes things easier for schools to become digitised and datafied testing factories.  It’s more than just using laptops at school for learning purposes. It’s a debauched use of technology merely to supply data to measurers for judgmental causes and maladjusted, political control.

Data collection is driving our schools….now….and the intensity is about to increase.  The shape and infrastructure of schooling and our attitude to it have changed. We need to stop the nonsense and talk. Testucation and datafication are draining the humanity of learning from our schools.

If we want this trend to continue, we should do nothing.  We are used to doing nothing. Ignoring the plight of school children is a major Australian cultural meme.  “She’ll be right, Jack.”  We allowed managerialism to take over from experienced-based organisational designs in the 1980s, then ignored the change to testucation in 2008, now to datafication.  Are you happy with the trend? Within the school setting, it meant changing from challenging styles of maieutic pupilling to didactic chalk-talk test practice, practice, practice that pupils usually detest. It has produced mediocre results in national and international tests as expected and should continue to do so.  It’s the pupils who decide how well they will do on tests, for goodness sake. How do we treat them in a productive, learning sense?

This may not have been  the Gillard-Klein intention when they introduced fear and obsession with test scores to supplant pupilled love of learning in 2008, but it happened.  They certainly set out to be data-centric, nasty and tough, but I should think that they did not intend things to go so far. They thought that they were just testing what had been taught, as we all used to do in our schools. It all went pear-shaped and the kids are now doing worse than ever before  at basic operations, because of the tests themselves…. but the modus operandi of using NAPLAN to gather data has been maintained!  […and it’s the bogey that contains the seeds of lowering standards! It actually causes the slump!] This has suited the datafying hawks, however,  who are presently taking over  from both kleinish testucators and former educators, ‘…using rapid speed and amazing tools to store, manipulate and analyse  information”,  for other-than-schooling purposes. Almost the whole population will, in the future,  be data-nailed as soon as they enter school and be branded through  datafying routines now being used by industry.  Schooling is not what it used to be; and we should fear for the kids at the chalk-face of the 21st century.   With creativity, problem solving, thinking, decision making, zest, acceptance  of challenges and pupilling,  all removed from the school scene, the kids don’t have much chance to enjoy a happy, challenging, creative, healthy life full of satisfying achievements as they could have expected from basic pupilling conditions at a humanity-based learning school.

Eagerly supported by the big corporate boys, the testucrats have set no limits to the expenditure of tax-payers’ money on new organisational arrangements.  If someone had said to you, some years ago, that education departments in Australia would, one day, spend $A24.7million dollars for computerised tablets, just to do a few tests of basic standards over a one-hit three-day period, because it’s quicker than using paper and pencil…..what would the electorate have said?   OUT!

Just to score tests faster !!!!   You can also be sure that much more than that will be spent over the next few years on increasing ‘how’ and ‘what’ we collect in our next lot of data-drives.

If you approve of totalitarian tactics, creation of fear, sleepnessness, depression and arrogant child abuse to obtain better scores on unreliable tests, that those such as NAPLAN now provide, with the expectation of more datafication procedures,   you must belong to some kind of moronic religion or terror group that ignores humanity and children and fair-play and equality.  Get outa here. Go back home to dataland.

__________________________________________
Phil Cullen  41 Cominan Avenue  Banora Point  Australia 2486  07 5524 6443 407865999 cphilcullen@bigpond.com  REFER :”Who’s Who in Australia.”

NAPLAN for Mummies. What is the purpose of NAPLAN?

The future of our nation depends on our attitude towards children and their schooling

NAPLAN

FOR MUMMIES

What is the purpose of NAPLAN?

A cynic would respond, “To line the pockets of Rupert Murdoch, Joel Klein and other captains of the Testing Industry.”

There is some truth in this. It appears that, some years ago,  Rupert Murdoch saw the future of schooling  [and other education enterprises] to be almost totally digital. Digital education was the future! Any need for schools? In 2012, through his News Corp. organisation, he purchased, for $US371 million, Wireless Generation, a company producing digitised curriculum and assessment material. He enlarged the enterprise , employed over 1200 writers, called it Amplify and appointed Joel Klein, the founder of Australia’s schooling system in 2008, to direct the business of digitising education products and services.  News Corp’s foray into the digitised education business is notable.  We aren’t allowed to talk about it much in Australia, even though we are a critical part of the empire .  It is prudent of News Corp. representatives down-under, to play-down the human stuff-ups of schooling caused by testing regimes; and not to make too much mention of NAPLAN’s failures and peculiarities. Media silence on important issues is part of the scenery down under. This has given NAPLAN and kleinism aka fear-based schooling a pretty free run since 2008. Since News Corp controls most of Australia’s media outlets and, it could be said, has a close linkage with our test-based schooling system, the cynic must have a point.  NAPLAN testing in Australia is  completely digitised this year and we are on the way to fulfilling Rupert’s business vision.  The cost of a tablet for each child completing the test has not been publicised. Financial matters are cunningly operated  by the states using federal taxpayers’ grant money conditionally tied for their diligence to NAPLAN.   It’s very tricky.

There are numerous doctoral theses that can be undertaken: : unravelling the payments made for NAPLAN, by whom to whom, how much, how planned, how organised; the whole scandal of its establishment and who wins. If students and universities are brave enough to examine the various exigencies of NAPLAN testing and they are able to obtain the information,  each thesis should provide interesting reading.

Australian measurers are about to enjoy the use of computer tablets and the purring of the CAT phase of naplanning – Computer Adaptive Testing;   and its UCD – User Centred Design from the field of datafication.  In classroom-speak, that means  the intense  gathering of a variety of data from as many pupils as possible to add it all to a pile of measurement algorithms for deep measurement seances at high levels, holding hands with the high priests of measurement who once gave statisticians their great glory.  Improvement in classroom activities and particularly in pupil attitudes towards learning is purely speculative….and unlikely.  The use of educational technology can be of enormous assistance to classroom learning, but the use of technology merely to streamline the gathering of data is a prostitution of its potential.  Why is it so?

Schooling in Australia is now big business, Mum. Schooling ain’t the well-meaning public service it once was andought to beTesting and datafication are major growth industries.  Schooling ceased being an altruistic, public spirited, humane, community welfare service when NAPLAN hit the fan and spread its testing muck in 2008.  A change of public attitude could bring testing to an end tomorrow, but we do not have the political spunk to challenge those who now tell us what to do and how to think. They are very good at controlling political attitudes. The indoctrination of a disinterested public has been very successful….until now. 

Meanwhile, back at the school gate, parents are unsure.  They wonder what it would be like if schools concentrated on the usual operations  of teaching and learning and not bother with all this super-imposed bally-hoo, Those who care seriously about the full future of their child, must wonder about the effects of testing and the other extra-curricular compulsions, on their child’s overall development. They wonder what kind of person their child will become, what kind of job they will have,  how  their child will cope with doing  jobs that don’t exist yet.   What sort of schooling should they require?  Should they  only need to pass tests of basic standards and little else,  or  should they learn how to evaluate their own progress in whatever they do and be able to make serious decisions; undertake challenges with zest, achieve as high as possible; and partake of art and music and play and sport in a really enjoyable and productive way; and enjoy life,  Gaining high marks in the kind of topics that NAPLAN targets is a piece of cake, if one develops an interest in the subject…the opposite of the naplanning kind of motivation; but the use of fear and despair now built into the testing procedures as part of it, is preferred by our obedient politicians.  We can get PISA scores much higher than we ever have, if we are only able to understand what we are doing and helping schools to develop positive attitudes to learning, instead of wasting time on all this testing. muck.

ACARA describes NAPLAN as follows…

“The National Assessment Program – Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) is an annual assessment for students in Years 3, 5, 7 and 9. It has been an everyday part of the school calendar since 2008.

NAPLAN tests the sorts of skills that are essential for every child to progress through school and life, such as reading, 
writing, spelling and numeracy. The assessments are undertaken nationwide, every year, in the second full week in May.

NAPLAN is made up http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-opinion/naplan-is-driving-our-students-backwards-20130514-2jk5p.html of tests in the four areas (or ‘domains’) of reading etc.”

This  pronouncement that schools teach NAPLAN every day of the school year is a worry….but…that’s it.  It’s been a take-over of the system, without a doubt.  Has it done any good?

Sorry, Mums.  NAPLAN testing results have been flat-lining or heading down hill.  Quality teachers attribute this to the kleinist philosophy of fear and punishment pervading the intense test preparation that NAPLAN requires.  It certainly ‘turns kids off’ learning. It certainly teaches them to ‘hate’ some subjects and/or to ‘hate’ school. If you allow your child to take part in the rigours of NAPLAN test preparation, you do take a risk, Mum. Ask Lucy Clark. Children always do better at doing something that they like to do…and NAPLAN certainly discourages teaching children from appreciating the beauty of Maths., the magic of Science, the joy of enticing literature. NAPLAN is causing declining, mediocre results in its own tests and in the international PISA tests and in TIMMS!The slides are getting slipperer!

http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-opinion/naplan-is-driving-our-students-backwards-20130514-2jk5p.html

There is a field of thought that believes that children should be taught to evaluate things themselves using themselves as the rating unit….anything but a silly numeral!  It is immoral, surely,  to impose damaging  high stakes tests on individuals without their permission.  Self-evaluation is an outcome of shared evaluation and is based on the belief that anything we expect others to do requires a close, critical, encouraging audience, and the only one we should share it with is someone whom the learner respects…..teacher, mum, dad, big brother, sister, aunt…. or all of them.

The concept of pupilling is one that testucators have a problem with. They don’t seem to know what it means. They use the word ‘student’ to cover up their inexperience.   Hey, testucator!  It is the reason we send our kids to school! It is a contract between a learner….”I will learn. You will teach. We will both do our best.” and a teacher ….”I will teach. You will learn. We will both do our best.”  No need for any interference, unless requested.  We didn’t ask you to poke your noses into our decent, effective, professional, ethical learning efforts, Mr. Testucator. You weren’t invited to our daily learning fests. We evaluate as we learn. Get outa here!

Might I earnestly suggest, Mums,  that you talk seriously about such issues with a thinking  teacher, other mums and dads about NAPLAN before you make up your mind.  You have until early May, but the best advice is to remove the burden from your child’s shoulders asap.  Let him or her enjoy the good parts of schooling. Your school cannot offer you the choice. It isn’t allowed for obvious totalitarian, testucating reasons.

Please telephone or talk with your local members to determine their attitude to our kleinist form of schooling…….and they will ban it if they are fair dinkum…..and Australia will be better off

___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Phil Cullen  41 Cominan Avenue Banora Point Australia 2486 07 5524 443           0407865999   cphilcullen@bigpond.com

Refer: “Who’s Who in Australia’ 

Kleinism in Australia 2017. Will it go away?

The future of our nation depends on our attitude towards children and their schooling

KLEINISM IN AUSTRALIA. WILL IT GO AWAY?

A REVIEW

The summer holidays are over ‘down under’, and Australia will commence the new school year under the most peculiar circumstances. We’d like to start a new year of school learning with high levels of confidence in our pupils’ abilities to do as well as they can  and with our own usual high level of teacher zest for teaching  young people how to go about it.  In the long run, we’d like to see Australia at the top of the pole for schooling excellence and our country amongst the leaders of commercial enterprise because of our business expertise in fundamentals and our ability to solve problems, innovate productively and enjoy challenges.   Sadly, these fundamental characteristics of a successful schooling system have to be held on hold for some years; replaced by a testing regime invented by a New York curriculum incompetent, teacher-hater, ex-lawyer;  once in charge of a school district there.

We aren’t allowed to start the school year down under with high hopes and positive attitudes. We are obliged to maintain the ridiculous; to start as early as possible with heavy preparation and intense practice for our annual standardized blanket testing program called NAPLAN, held each May.  Its clone is called NCLB in the US. As educators at the chalk-face, we have no option, no choice, no say. Our system is controlled by testucators, disciples of Kleinism….a fear based system of schooling that was imported in 2008 by Julia Gillard, later our Prime Minister; then federal minister for education. It was one of the biggest mistakes a government representative  ever made.

Following the 2007 federal elections, she was charged by her senior colleague Kevin Rudd, new to the job as PM, to reform the Australian education system almost immediately, because his fellow neo-cons were telling him that teachers were making a mess of it and that most Australian children couldn’t spell or calculate. He used serious threatening language in his instructions to the teaching force and to her, to find something better than what we had. The  Business Council of Australia and the ‘Four Pillars of Australian Banking’, both organisations of neo-liberal persuasion, roundly approved, despite both politicians being known within their temples of wisdom,  as ‘lefties’. It was a peculiar liaison….and became a weird time in our history.  Dutifully, she booked her flight to find a place somewhere in the world that had a reputation.  Actually, Australia had a reputation itself for being amongst the world’s best at the time, but anti-school fanatics were the preferred mouthpieces of the local press – especially the Murdoch press. No. She didn’t select  Finland, South Korea or nearby New Zealand whose schooling achievements were beyond the ordinary. Her first stop was New York. As macabre as the scenario appears, on her first day, she visited Rupert Murdoch, a requirement of all Australian leaders when they travel overseas….. to get their riding instructions.  He arranged for her to attend a cocktail party being organized by the Rockefeller Foundation where she was introduced to Joel Klein, a fellow lawyer who, as strange as it seemed to Australians, was in executive charge of a large school district in New York. His system had a reputation. Indeed. It had a really bigreputation – not for learning or teaching or anything to do with the realities of schooling, but for threatening learners and teachers and principals and schools to do as they were told and, if they didn’t measure up to his requirements, they were out of a job or the school was closed. He sweet-talked our Julia into the effectiveness of this sort of approach to school leadership and,…..within minutes…..Australia had a new system.

She didn’t request a study of the effects of high stakes testing on schooling, nor check the credentials of the New York operators.  She was conned, big time. Rupert and Joel Klein rubbed their hands with glee, because they were in the publishing, programming business, worth billions.

Not long later, Klein  openly boasted to the world that his test-based scheme was well established in Australia. He was correct. Although it is based on fear and deceit and child abuse, Australia still has  it.  The big boys, of the kind that were at the cocktail party, will not allow our government to have any other kind. Their colleagues in the BCA and banking fraternity keep vigilant. That’s clear.  Julia felt that she had found the ultimate touchstone of school control, and was able to persuade the Australian banking community to pay the cost of a visit by her ‘pin-up boy’, as she called co-lawyer Klein,  to speak to them in their own fortresses in Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra. Despite some ethical uncertainties which she later modified by capturing the ‘approval’ of the principals of all Australian schools with a very  swift, cunning and deceitful maneuver. They had to carry the can for professional ethics, once they pronounced their approval of kleinist naplan.  Indeed, they dutifully suspended their professional ethics and still do….adopting an attitude that disappoints proud principals of the present and past wondering how this happened to organisations that were once stalwart and proud of their protection of children’s rights.  Federal and state education bodies, once citadels of wholesome schooling,  succumbed to the use of fear and the abuse of mental health of children for whom they are supposed to be responsible…..and….as Aussies say: “She was in with Flynn”. No blood on her hands.

She established a special unit called the Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority a sort of third level of government power, a sort of bundestag that now completely controls schooling;  and  she made sure that it was staffed with expert measurers whose experience in schooling and teaching and learning was severely limited.  This incongruous mis-match between knowledge of testing and knowledge of learning between people running the show, has had profound consequences.  After all, whoever controls the schooling system, controls the country’s future. The outcomes of constructing testing devices that contain inbuilt pupil dislike and distaste for particular school subjects and for school itself …and doing so in a most rigid manner….has had  effects that run counter to the faith that she and ‘pin-up’ Klein had in improvement of PISA and NAPLAN raw scores. They flopped, failed, flunked all neo-con expectations as schools are doing in countries that are overdoing the fear base; and, it must be noted, run counter to the expectations of parents for schoolies to do the right thing.  Despites their attitude to childhood, they’d like their kids to do well. Australia, after eight years of kleinism is heading downhill fast.

The last few years in the US and in Australia have clearly demonstrated that no schooling system can progress while its most outstanding features at the chalk-face, each capable of gynormous damage, include

Fear of failing

Deceit

Abuse of mental health.

all deliberately imposed by forces beyond the classroom. Office-based testucators of known kleinish measurement calibre have no idea of what happens in the classroom. They just mass-produce tests, send them to schools, gather the data, pat themselves on the back, blame teachers when things don’t go so well.

But, hold! Now, a breath of fresh air. A hopeful start has been made in the US education circles, our major mentors, in December 2016, by reducing the ponderous effects of centralised control. Releasing states from their fearful obligations is a small step, but it is a step in the right direction. Maybe, one day, control of the learning act will seep down through the numerous know-it-all hierarchies to the real learning centres in all countries where the teaching/learning experts reside, now being wrecked by the corrupting influences of kleinism – fear,  deceit and abuse.

Down under, we’re notoriously slow to examine the effects of imports from up over.  The big boys there and here do not like it, when educators reveal the truth….that the problem lies within the testing itself. We can’t expect any improvement to learning in our schools in 2017. Both places have a devil-may-care attitude towards children and their schooling; and basic timidity prevents us from sticking up for kids.

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Phil Cullen 41 Cominan Avenue  Banora Point Australia 2486    PH:07 5524 6443  cphilcullen@bigpond.com   Refer: “Who”s Who in Australia”

Profiteering is more important

Profiteering is More Important

“Profiteering is more important to Australian people than helping children.” said the lady on TV, representing children in foster-care. It was a general statement that applies, not only to kids in foster care, but Australian kids generally.
We are certainly not very good at caring about children. Indeed, it is safe to say that all political parties dislike children. One thing is clear.  Each goes to some lengths to  approve of child exploitation and abuse through testucation stupidity.
Yes. Profits before child welfare is becoming more and more  endemic to the Australian way of life than we care to admit…..especially through the schooling system  The schooling system is now on the edge of a tsunami of money-making rackets… oops…small businesses……. relating to ‘fixing’ learning traits.
We don’t care much about children at school any more. Anything goes; and we can now lay claim to  a world-wide reputation for a negative attitude towards children,  for  our declining test  results in our schools, for  our fiddling with school curricula and for  our immature crush on private schooling; and….. as the lady added “We care more about animals than we do about children.”, presumably referring to the Griffith by-election, and the success of the shooters party. We sure are a weird mob.
Our slump in standards and our sloppy attitude to curriculum matters is not caused by the schools, neither private nor public.  There is no difference in the quality of schooling nor in their achievements. It does not matter what kind of school to which parents send their children. The government parties believe that private schools are better, despite the studies of ‘pathways and future success’  that reveal otherwise. A good school is one that cares for pupils as pupils and as people; and has a link with every pupil’s home.  That’s available at all schools.  If you want a good schooling at the right price, send your child to the local high school. If you want a good schooling – mutton dressed as lamb – and have lots of spare cash, try a private school.
To compensate for the devastation to learning,  caused by the peculiar testing antics of today’s forms of schooling, there will soon be thousands of money-making grab-it firms vying for the rest of your spare coin. Apart from Tutoring places that concentrate on test success, there should be a significant growth in Maths Specialists, Literacy Specialists and Science Specialist of doubtful background who will help you at a price. Some will sell the elixir in packaged form. For instance there are, presently,  some ‘literacy experts’ exploiting the age-old debate about the ‘teaching of phonics’ or the ‘teaching of whole word’ [The Australian 25/11/16] when, in fact, our teachers teach reading [through using these components and others]….and it works very well, thank you.
Both major political parties believe that they know more about curriculum than professionals do and so use inexperienced personnel to advise it on what to do.  They usually recommend that we test.  Australia is amazingly test-fixated. Each test sets a mediocre limit on what has been learned.  It has to, to fulfil the rationales of measurement. As a consequence, we have one of the most rag-tag systems of schooling on the planet.  Our government’s educational termites try to force schools to achieve the mediocre  through its wild testing programs, instead of aiming for the moon in terms of learning. And when they don’t get what they want – mediocrity – they turn on the screws with greater force. It all just so crazy.
There is nothing, however, that can replace a classroom teacher and talking with him or her as much as possible about your child’s welfare.
Australia has to go through these weird machinations because notable profiteering-supportive politicians force their colleagues to assist them in their assault on childhood.  They, in the first place, have been told by media barons and those who profit from school testing regimes, to make sure that education means testucation or there will be no more media support or hefty donations at election time.
The capture of child-centred politicians and figures-in-authority is essential to the cause of profiteering.  Some people have difficulty in comprehending the scale of such an operation.  Julia Gillard performed a major coupe with great neo-liberal aplomb. The success of the manner that kleinism was introduced into Australia is an intriguing political science expose.
It will have to be something very serious to reveal the present day chain of command for profiteering. It does not look like a parent uprising will occur. What will choke it as it deserves? ? Trumpism? Maybe! Things just don’t look too good, no matter what solution one looks for.
Think about it. The fact that such political skulduggery aka kleinism happens in America too, is more than coincidental. After all, we imported it from there in 2008.
The lady [‘profiteering is more important’ lady…] is not wrong…profiteering is more important to Australian people than helping children. To be rid of it, there is a clear need to create an atmosphere of thinking about what’s best for Australian children and how we can enrich their childhood, instead of deliberately stultifying their love for learning so that big business can increase their profits.  We need to keep talking about this sort of issue.  We need to…..Talk. Talk. Talk.
Question. Question .Question.
What do tests do to children?
What do tests do for children?
How do tests lead to improvement….. in preference to spending the time instilling a love of maths or literacy or science?
What do testucating managers know about classroom interaction and the variety of teaching/learning processes being used by teachers?
[For instance, Direct Instruction  -costing taxpayers $37m at last count – that bunch of teaching strategies at the far L-H end of an extensive teaching continuum – seems a little bit over-the-top]
Who decides that children should disregard music and art and health and sport and creativity and challenging problem-solving activities and spend endless hours and days and weeks on dull thought-less testing practice instead?
Why can’t Maths and Science and Literacy be regarded as beautiful subjects instead of being brutalised by being used as fear-based tests?
Who decides?  
Why do keen observers draw cartoons such as this ?  What is it revealing to us?
There are so many questions that need to be asked.
Phil Cullen
41 Cominan Avenue
Banora Point 2486
07 5524 6443
0407865999
cphilcullen@bigond.com
Refer”Who’s Who in Australia”

The Moral Crisis

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.

Somebody cares.

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
cphilcullen@bigpond.com
Refer: ‘Who’s Who in Australia’

Serious alert. Gonski & NAPLAN unite.

“The hottest places in hell are reserved for those who, in times of moral crisis, maintain their neutrality”  Dante

 AUSSIE FRIENDS OF TREEHORN

Gonski and NAPLAN unite

Serious alert

Gonski changes from its needs-based ethos to test-based.

NAPLAN increases its levels of debauchery.

 Australia’s sick obsession with numbers applied to the status of the country’s learning habits will certainly continue to push us down towards the lowest of the international ‘achievements’. It’s on the way now. The fake concern of our erstwhile politicians for child welfare and progress continues to be exposed. 

 Tests create disengagement. Disengagement creates failure in test results.  Failure creates mental health problems. Mental health problems create stress for pupils and parents.

The whole system gets sicker and sicker.

 One observation remains constant: Our politicians and their testucrats do not like public school kids.

 Now…..

 The federal minister of education has recently indicated that the levels of Gonksi needs-based funding from the Commonwealth to the States, will be linked to each state’s results on the previous NAPLAN  tests. 

 For many voters that’s raw fascism at work; and those politicians who remain silent on the issue need to be called to account in the public arena. Do they support this change of Gonski ideals….from needs-based to test-based? It’s a despicable way to fund schooling and will do nothing to repair our broken system. This use of fear as a weapon of social activity was a feature of the 1930s, as Pastor Martin Niemolier pointed out at the time.  It was introduced to Australia in 2008 with the intrusion of kleinism.  It destroys a country’s reputation and any learning ethos that it has.

 It’s fear-imbedded ideology is certainly getting out of hand in Australia….now.

 The latest extension to NAPLAN  is the decision to test the 4 and 5 year olds when they enter school [NSW], so that pollies can have a benchmark for all subsequent data gathering. They’ll brand each and every pupil with a number [unless a parent objects to it].

Then they will use NAPLAN tests for 7 and 8 years olds in Year 3…..at the same age as advanced countries lovingly introduce children to play learning at a school….and our testucrats check the brand  [unless a parent objects to it].

 Then they do the same for Years 5,7,9 encouraging professional teachers to provide  plenty of practice and tutoring and homework and  useful modes of cheating and pharmaceuticals for each two-year section of schooling [unless a parent objects to it].  

 One of the craziest is the recent official suggestion of a linkage of NAPLAN results at Year 9 to HSC graduation at Year 12.  That’s a doozy of creative testucation.

 AND

 NOW OUR TEACHERS HAVE TO CONTEST NAPLAN BEFORE  THEY CAN ENTER THE PROFESSION.  PROFESSION !!  WHAT A GREAT PROFESSION! WHERE IS THE TEACHING  PROFESSION?

 WHAT A MESS.         ( ♬ We’ll meet again….  ♬)

 It’s a provocative statement to make, but it does appear that, after nine years of sinking standards of all kinds,  only sensible parents consider the effects of true schooling, compared to those who participate in the artificial schooling according to numbers; and the more alert ones opt out of the use of NAPLAN,  the agent of schooling destruction. Many get in a real tizzy, take their kids to tutors, purchase mind-altering pharmaceuticals, hire counsellors,  pay enormous amounts of money to send their kids to a private school, where, they believe, schooling is better; and generally panic about the place of their kids  in the competition stakes.  Every child should be a winner, shouldn’t each one?

 That’s our system. Yes, Julia. Kleinism has certainly revolutionised schooling in Australia!

 Sadly, at standardised schools, those children, freed by their alert parents from the rigours of being tested and numbered, will, as a rule,  go through the same heavy test-prep routines as the others until the number of learners replaces the number of testees, as they do at advanced schools like Kimberley College where almost all the parents will not permit their children to contest NAPLAN. They, more than most, seem to be able to see through the stupidity and dangers of  standardised blanket testing and the school can get on with the business of learning. The NAPLAN system is absolutely crazy as it exists; and it exists because of the government’s obsession with scores and numbers and data. “No wonder kids keep getting more messed up.” says Lucy Clark –P. 20. “It’s because we judge every inch of their worth by a silly number.”  It’s true. Caring parents opt out.

 {By the way. Weren’t you impressed by the dramatic ending to Lucy Clark’s Beautiful Failures ?  What a remarkable young lady her daughter!}

 If NAPLAN continues, the time is coming when standardised schools will have to provide two levels of schooling.  One level establishes the passing of tests as its centre-point. The ‘fat controllers’ demand it.  The other level recognises the supremacy of the child’s holistic development and the pursuit of learning as its centre-point.  Their parents have pulled them out of the rat-race. Both groups will have to exist in each school, side by side.  The Naplanners and Non-naplanners.  Spare a thought for management.  Staffing arrangements will be tricky.

 Finally. …..while we are flinging NAPLAN tests around everywhere,  how do you think our politicians would  go on, say, the Year 7 NAPLAN tests, prior to selection . Join the teacher neophytes.

 Now. There’s a thought.

________________________________________
Phil Cullen  41 Cominan Avenue  Banora Point  Australia 2486  07 5524 6443   
cphilcullen@bigpond.com            
http://primaryschooling.net                     http://qldprimaryprincipals.wordpress.com

 

“They came first for the Communists,

and I did not speak up, because I wasn’t a Communist.

Then they came for the Jews,

and I did not speak up, because I wasn’t a Jew.

Then they came for the trade unionists,

and I did not speak up, because I wasn’t a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Catholics,

and I did not speak up, because I was a Protestant.

Then they came for me,

and by that time, no one was left to speak up for me.”

— Pastor Martin Niemöller