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

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 only real test

Aussie Friends of Treehorn

protecting school children from nasty excesses of the greedy and misguided
encouraging adults to think sensitively, to care for kids, to make wise choices….with their hearts in gear, their pens active and their votes available.enough
The Only Real Test
“The only real test is whether children are happy and healthy writes William Doyle located at the University of Eastern Finland. He states, “…for five months, my wife, my son and I have experienced a stunningly stress-free and stunningly good, school system.”  [S.M.H. 26/03/16 P.34]
“Let children be children,” “The work of a child is to play,” and “Children learn best through play,” are well-held beliefs in Finland, he says. “Finland doesn’t waste time or money on low-quality mass standardised testing. Instead children are assessed every day, through direct observation, check-ins and quizzes by the highest-quality “personalised learning devices” ever created – flesh and blood teachers.” 
The Treehorn Express” and its fellow crusaders have been repeating this ad initio but Australian politicians, bureaucrats and testucators are so hard-wired to the Murdoch/Klein/Gillard belief that children should be kept anxious and tense and fearful when they have to learn something that is easy to test, like basic maths and English.  Treehorn, the ignored child and his cobbers, are having very little success in getting rid of NAPLAN testing, which must go if Australia is to experience any commercial, cultural or academic success is to be reached.
The use of shared evaluation, as Doyle is suggesting, cannot be overlooked. For schooling to be successful and important in the eyes of the learner, modes of shared evaluation must be used constantly. If anything at all is important enough to be learned, it’s important enough to learn how well one learns it. Self evaluation, it could be called.  Evaluation is an essential part of learning.  The use of shared evaluation, about which I’ve written elsewhere, is based on a partnership between two human beings, whereas NAPLAN is based on the creation of fear and of opposition to each others’ frame of reference, leading to dislike for particular subjects, of each other, of school, of learning.
Finland is considered to be at the top of the world pole of outstanding schooling as far as world opinion is concerned. Australia is said to be 14th [says even our testucrats] and has slipped rapidly during the life of NAPLAN. standardised testing.
Any messages in that for us, do you think?  
[See any “Treehorn Express” during the past five years or so… of learning, love, play, shared evaluation, classroom teacher expertise, holistic curriculum, professional ethics]
Why are our politicians too frightened to discuss such matters in public “?
Why doesn’t any political party provide a comment on NAPLAN, since this particular form of standardised blanket testing drives our present-day schooling?
Will any political party be brave enough to sever its links to Murdoch and Pearson and Klein  and the BCA, for long enough to discuss ‘schooling’ in depth, in public;  and listen to its experts – the classroom teachers [while we still have some quality ones left].
As one Finnish professor said, “Our mission as adults is to protect our children from politicians. We also have an ethical and moral responsibility to tell business people to stay out of our building.” Any Finnish citizen is free to visit any school whenever they like, but her message was clear : Educators are the ultimate authorities on education, not bureaucrats, and not technology vendors.”
 Phil Cullen  41 Cominan Avenue  Banora Point  Australia 2486  07 5524 6443              
07 5524 6443          0407865999


School Education. No.1 Platform

Aussie Friends of Treehorn
protecting school children from nasty excesses of the greedy and misguided
School Education
No.1 on Platform
Could be. There are some healthy indications that some of our political parties might start thinking that the standards of learning in our schools could have something to do with our future as a nation…. not the standard of testing…the standard of LEARNING….and that NAPLAN is holding us back.  While each of the major parties has supported NAPLAN testing as if it was of use, or allowed it just to have its way with the curriculum without question, there’s a chance that some election candidates might speak-up in their party rooms to discuss the effects that it has had on the learning processes in Australian schools. It’s been a big mistake as any thinking candidate will know.
Even our testucrats are losing faith in its usefulness as a motivator of learning. [Slipping down to 14th on the latest PISA totem pole and heading further down, has not been good news for them.  To add to the indignity, such results were predicted by Australian kids’ crusaders, years ago]
The contest between the Libs and the Labs at the moment is so close at present, that if either of these parties promises to ban NAPLAN….maybe leave the announcement until about May 1….it would certainly be a winner. That’s for sure. 
A lot will depend on the level of media attention in the meantime; and  whether editors of newspapers, CEOs of TV news and elite journalists feel they have sufficient autonomy to reveal what happens to kids after experiencing the curriculum horrors of NAPLAN and during test-prep.  The Murdoch and Fairfax chain and ABC TV can hardly be called ‘kids’ supporters’.  Their early support for NAPLAN and the controlled silence since, has been noted.
If the heads of News Ltd. and Fairfax in particular,  feel that they have autonomy, do they pass this along to their education sub-editors and elite commentators? 
If they did, NAPLAN is dead. Its impact on school learning just cannot be ignored as they have been up to the present.
The standards of learning in Australian schools has to improve.  
Kids have to like learning and not be so limited in their learning.
The credo of NAPLAN that mediocre is good enough has to be dismissed from the Australian psyche. 
 The questioning by parents about the enormous emotional and educational drain on their children for three long days in May has had a lot to do with the recent positive reaction from the media. The thousands of parents withdrawing their children from the testing regime is making commentators considers their words.
Which political party will be the first? While timing is important…. if both major parties decide to ban NAPLAN….. being first will be crucial.   Just getting rid of it, is what matters to all parties.
 Phil Cullen  41 Cominan Avenue  Banora Point  Australia 2486              
07 5524 6443          07 5524 6443  
proud to be sticking up for kids.

The Silent Media

Aussie Friends of Treehorn
protecting school children from nasty excesses of the greedy and misguided
encouraging adults to think sensitively, to care for kids, to make wise choices….with their hearts in gear, their pens active and their votes available.
The Silent Media
One of the essentials for the maintenance of unpalatable programs in public schools is ‘media silence’.  The Australian well-controlled media outlets use this tactic with classic ability.
During the past week or so, there has been a splash in the press about the rise in scores for some NAPLAN tests. They had risen. It covered a couple of pages in the print press and was mentioned favourably in a few TV News presentations. But,  when it was reported this week, that Australia was sinking in its PISA [NAPLAN in world terms] results – very serious stuff – the news was mentioned in passing in the lower corner of Page 2 and never mentioned anywhere else.  This item: thatthe most recent PISA results showed that Australia had sunk to 14th place in world rankings – a flop of hara kari dimensions for dedicated Naplanists – didn’t make very far. There was no noise whatsoever.  I waited for ‘The Drum’ members to discuss this extraordinary flop…Australia’s scores dropping from around the top of the rankings to 14th place during the life of NAPLAN !
What sort of message does that convey?  Julia G. believed in the validity and sanctity of PISA results and was determined to flog teachers and pupils to get to her catch-cry target of ‘Top 5 by 25’.  Looks like we’ll be lucky to be in the 25 by then, if we persist in using  NAPLAN!  She didn’t know the secret that pupils achieve higher when they learn how to learn better, in a test-free environment.  The trouble is that Rupert and Klein cannot sell tests and books and programs nor sell computer tablets for the tests when we don’t have tests.
You will recall the combined Australian-New Zealand Conference of primary school principals held in Melbourne a few years ago that featured outstanding world speakers, each of whom condemned the use of high stakes standardised testing as a motivator for learning and as a  measure of accountability.  The conference convenor, APPA, I’ve been assured, made copies of the speeches available early as press releases. Not one was published.  The international conference passed by, unnoticed.
NAPLAN, quite obviously, has the  protection of extremely powerful people and their flunkies.  It wouldn’t exist in a normal climate of schooling that treated its children compassionately and taught them to enjoy learning and to achieve up to the limit of their God-given abilities.  NAPLAN insists that mediocre achievements are good enough as long as a lot of students get to a pre-set average standard.
 This is just not good enough for a country that wants to improve its intellectual and commercial position on the world stage. 
(Restraining children from reaching their potential by drawing public attention to personal inadequacies through one-hit test-taking, instead of encouraging self-evaluation at every step of learning all year for the full year for motivational and emotional reasons, certainly leads to social and moral degradation of the human spirit. Expect trouble from disgruntled NAPLAN contestants as they grow older….and… It’s not their fault.)  
It’s no wonder that politicians and would-be pollies have nothing to say. Who would want to antagonise anyone on Rupert’s payroll who prefers to keep NAPLAN? rolling. The pursuit of the mighty dollar is ruthless and they don’t have to clean up the mess.
 Phil Cullen  41 Cominan Avenue  Banora Point  Australia 2486              
07 5524 6443        0407865999
Why do we tolerate it?
Even the Director of the OECD, the world’s testing centre singled us out…..but nobody bothered to discuss his issue.  H said that using our teachers as widgets [

Somewhere between Rejection and Enthusiasm

Is there any great enthusiasm for the use of NAPLAN testing in Australian classrooms? It’s called a WOMBAT [Waste Of Money, Brains And Time] by most adults because it is such an enormous Waste. All schools are obliged to use it and some have to parrot the reasons to enquirers, since no sensible ones exist. They have to mention words like ‘diagnostic, accountable,and levels” and other managerial terms laid out for them.

[Last week’s reaction by parents of Kimberley College, however, where they prefer that their children spend this  time of the year learning, instead of preparing for tests, hit the ‘testacrats’ fan. The mums and dads have said NO… as is their democratic right.  If all schools were autonomous units, free to exercise their own  ways of using curriculum advice, there would be no need for dismay at this turn of events. Enthusiasm for the act of learning would be standard practice and paramount in daily activities. It has priority at Kimberley.]

Test-prep is now paramount at this time of the year in schools. Some of the stories of test-prep are horrid. There is no known enthusiasm for its use except by low-level schools whose respect for children is of the ACARA kind.

As it is, ACARA data-collection central claims that it is the only unit in Australia that knows what learning is all about; and it, therefore,  has the political power to force schools to do what ACARA wants them to do. These data-miners do great damages because they actually have little knowledge of classroom outcomes of fear-based standardised testing.   Such ignorance is overtaken by their arrogance.  It is patently obvious that ACARA believes that children learn best when they are frightened and fearful and emotionally abused and cognitively confused. That’s the way the whole system is arranged these days. Protection for vulnerable kids is being abused. ACARA still imposes its will on schools. It and its state departmental representatives forbid principals to tell parents that they have a choice. The truth is deliberately hidden from the wiser parents who would prefer that the tests did not exist – as the Kimberley College did. It openly told the parents that they could say ’no’ if they wanted to. Parents thought about the options and said NO.  What research will reveal is a startling rise in the number of parents around Australia, who are saying ‘no’; and a steep rise during the last month in attendance of 7 and 8 year-olds at psychiatrist and psychologists’ clinics seeking assistance for the children’s bed-wetting, sleeplessness, vomiting and other forms of distress. Other children are turning to bullying to express their feelings of frustration.  They have to ‘kick the cat’. NAPLAN is very unhealthy in so many ways.

Australia has a really crazy system of schooling.  In a nutshell : The belief that fear-driven tests improve learning at the Year 3,5,7,9 levels has seeped through the rest of the school curriculum. Vital learning opportunities are being dropped from school calendars. There is little enthusiasm for improving the art of teaching. Quality  teachers are leaving in droves. Recruitment does not attract child-focussed, smart applicants. Why should it?  Schools are reverting to being formal and functional organisations that children attend and learn enough to satisfy the indifferent.

There is no real leadership……..unless one calls the politically established ACARA’s testing and the Gillard-Pyne-Birmingham maintenance of the ‘robust’ features of NAPLAN: leadership. When NAPLAN was invented and ACARA established to force it on schools, no consideration of any kind was given to its effects on reactions in the work-force. The imbedded humanity of the teaching act was totally disregarded.  “Do as you are told or suffer the consequences” was the style.

In educational institutions, leaders are, mostly, appointed by someone higher up the chain of command.  It isn’t easy for the leader or the follower, having to adjust to the requirements of either role under the circumstances. While the appointed leader might want to establish a climate of enthusiasm, the reactions to the kind of control system that he or she uses can vary.  I have been extremely fortunate to have witnessed educational leadership of the ENTHUSIASTIC kind, on a large scale and I’d like to share their names.  For instance: Sir Alex Clegg [West Riding of Yorkshire]; Alby Jones [South Australia]; Hedley Beare [A.C.T.] ; Georg Iannacone [Vernon School District, NJ]. Almost every teacher in each school in each of these authorities that I spoke with,  proudly extolled the schooling beliefs of their chief officer. That’s enthusiasm.  Compare Australia 2009-16 under the control of  ACARA and its Wombat, Naplan, waiting to be rejected; as it should…  asap.

ACARA and its Ministers and political advocates have clearly flopped…..and they don’t care about the consequences, as long as the tests continue.

There is a Zone of Acceptance, applied to Leadership styles,  that ranges from Rejection to Enthusiasm. For heuristic purposes, let’s look at major levels of acceptance.

Screen Shot 2016-02-28 at 3.51.03 PM

The arrangement is self-explanatory.  Leadership skills are tested by the level of response from followers.   No matter what kind of organisation it is, a serious leader tries to have everyone enthusiastic about a special project or about ordinary operations.  The ultimate is reached when followers anticipate his or her approval and exert initiatives, knowing that what they are doing is what their leader would want them to do.

The use of NAPLAN  clearly indicates that the response to the present Australian Education System leadership style causes more ENNUI and REJECTION than any other kind of response, because it was established by folk whose orientation was test-based and ignored the human element and it doesn’t give a hoot as to how the work-force reacts, as long as the tests are done and the data collected.. Many quality operators have already claimed ‘Rejection’ status; and Australia is poorer for every enthusiastic teacher it loses. We can do better than what we are doing.

Most  schools now perform at a formal or functional stance……going through the motions….devoid of enthusiasm….. doing no more than what is expected of them. They have a formal appearance of being ‘goody-goody’ and things seem to be stable. With little heart in what is expected of them, they are due to head towards the rejection end of the vertical continuum as professionalism and ethical considerations sink in to the profession at large.

NAPLAN must be rejected before it is too late.  It will certainly happen, but Australia cannot wait too long.  The data-miners’, who run the show, using raw numbers to describe the humanity of classroom interaction and school performance have too much control and they only know how to use the inhumane elements of leadership. The whole shop needs t be closed.

How did Australia get to this state of affairs : not giving much of a damn about how our kids fare at school?  Well! Kevin 07, feeling powerful,  was told by his friends and advisers at the BCA, that some of their young employees were  in no great shape at addition or spelling or grammar. That was enough for Kevin. Who needs reliable empirical evidence? It wasn’t true, but he still instructed his trusty off-sider Julia that he wanted the whole education system reformed so that his friends in the Business Council and banking fraternity would be pleased with him. She felt the same way. Teachers were doing a bad job, so she headed off to see what the Supreme Commander in New York had to say. Coincidentally, she walked straight into a cocktail party being held by the Carnegie Foundation where Rupert introduced her to Joel Klein, a co-lawyer of renown, known for reforming/ruining New York schools by intense bullying, later to join Rupert’s organisation as head sherang.

Julia warmed to his ideas. AUSTRALIA IMMEDIATELY HAD A NEW EDUCATION SYSTEM……within minutes.  It was August 12, 2008. Foundation Day for Australia’s new brand of schooling….Kleinism.

Upon her return, out came the whip and she used the only bases of powers that she knew,  the lower-level force and fear levels ……she exerted her control through reward and coercion processes, later copied by fellow neoliberalist, Christopher Pyne when he wore the jersey.  Being Ministers for Education, both used only their hierarchical position to force others to follow. .  They Milgrammed quite a lot. She was particularly good at it.  Some teacher organisations [e.g. APPA]  followed her as quickly as Eichmann had followed his boss; but there was no way in the world would she be able to find an educational expert/leader who would or could endorse the use of fear as a motivational  teaching device.  There just aren’t any. No  Alby Jones or Hedley Beare these days.  She gladly turned to measurers to control her empire. She established ACARA, a measurers temple.

At this level of operation, we have to refer to the French and Raven’s use of power bases that are used to get people to do what you want them to do.  Let’s  arrange these in an hierarchical order of effectiveness.







Her personal leadership style was of the lower-level bases.  A known bully, she told state ministers of all political persuasions,  that they must introduce NAPLAN at the risk of losing considerable federal funding. They agreed. She bullied and coerced. They meekly responded

She knew that Principals Associations and other professional organisations always did as they were told. without question, and they did. Teachers did as Principals required, so everything was put in place, almost in a wink.  It was a piece of cake.  NAPLAN was the new system, almost overnight… fast, one has to wonder what was in the cocktail. No academic discussion, no research into Kleinism, no query about possible outcomes, no study into its effects on teaching and learning, no opposition tolerated, no real parental discussion, no deep thought, no nothing.

Ennui, lack of enthusiasm and rejection are standard responses to the use of fearful force and job threats, no matter what the circumstances. Ennui moved in and stayed.

A system gets what it deserves in terms of the way it operates.  If a leader exerts coercion and reward power and nothing else, his or her ‘reform’ will be close to rejection. [All Hail to those Mums and Schools currently rejecting the NAPLAN system]. It can be stated quite confidently that the Australian system of schooling  now lacks Spirit, Enthusiasm, Professional Daring and  Innovation,  because of these practices. It’s dead, dull and New Yorkish. It’s in a state of ENNUI….a state of listlessness and disillusion and uncertainty. It’s a dangerous place to be.

The origins are in the kind of political authority used by the powerful when they try to provoke change. Political ideologies range from Fascism through Neoliberalism to Capitalism, Liberalism, Socialism, Egalitarianism, Idealism to Anarchy and these beliefs can be aligned with the kinds of policies that the powerful develop to support their right to force people to do as required: Totalitarianism, Authoritarianism, Coercion, Despotism, Conservatism, Individuality, Disorder, Chaos.  Clearly, present-day neoliberalism, as expounded by the coalition of the Australian Liberal and Labor Parties with the Business Council of Australia, uses Totalitarian tactics in preference to any democratic form of Control. It cunningly delegates the responsibility to those who just have to carry the can : State Ministers, State Departmental Officers and Public School  principals none of whom has never been known to whimper.  Push overs. We are stuck. We need to do something as a matter of urgency.  If we don’t…….

Australia is highly likely to remain in a state of ENNUI  for decades.  We are stuck with it while  sciolists remain in charge and work with test-crazed politicians and school-clueless  data-miners trying to tell teachers HOW to teach and keep spending  precious dollars just gathering scores.

It is very clear that any sparkle in the present system is maintained only by the enthusiasm of its teachers for the act of teaching in test-free classrooms during non-naplan-prep. This is maintained at a high level despite the low-level wild-dog forms of control exerted by naplannic educrats and testucating politicians.

Repeat : The Australian system of schooling is maintained only by the enthusiasm of its teachers for the act of teaching.  Too many great ones are leaving, or haven’t you noticed, Simon?

Governments, that care about children, need to learn more about the magic of those classrooms where enthusiastic teachers are located,  teaching learnacy;  and they should try to establish a 100% work force that loves the job….and PAY THEM WELL.  Governments  need to spread the magic of learnacy, not just create and maintain  targets of naplannic melancholy mediocrity. Good teachers have a gift for providing the self-esteem, friendship, fun-learning and security, those basic needs that are necessary before any worthwhile learning can progress, as Maslow once told us.  Our Kleinism deliberately targets self-esteem and security, to destroy them. It’s quite crazy that this should be part of any education system. It’s tragic that Australia adheres so tightly to the Klein manifesto of fear.  It’s so strange that it is tolerated. It is natural for children to like learning. There’s no need to  scare kids deliberately. Any teacher who has to teach towards the test to get better scores should not be allowed near any school that boasts of its learning program. 

Extending their learning desires in ways that complement the needs of parents and of society in right and proper ways is an extremely difficult task.  It certainly is not achieved by the bang, crash, wallop techniques of Gillard and Klein’s satanic, naplannic, ‘educratic’ notions.. 

Let’s reflect. This letter was written to the Courier mail on 31 October, 2008 [the sad year] by Catriona James-McGovern of Bundaberg to mark Teachers Day in those pre-Naplannic days.

“I’m a primary teacher. As well as teaching children English, which includes reading, writing, spelling, punctuation, phonics, grammar, handwriting, spelling and listening, I teach maths, SOSE [social studies] , science, art, health and technology.

I teach children to sing, dance and act as part of a school musical. I teach children about healthy eating and the need to exercise.

I teach children to communicate and get along with others, to value their opinions, to treat others as they would like to be treated, to use good manners, to respect the property of others and to be fair. I teach children to cross the road safely, to ride their bikes safely, to walk safely on the cement. I teach them to wash their hands, to blow their noses, to wear hats in the sun and to sit on their chairs safely.

I teach children to want to come to school, to want to learn and to develop a love for learning. The children I teach know that I will do my best for each one of them, that I like them, that I value their opinions, that I want each of them to succeed and that I am proud of their achievements.

Who am I? Just an ordinary teacher. There are thousand of others teachers just like me out there.  Thousands also pick up the newspapers or turn on the television daily to be told what a bad job they are doing.

I love my job. I love the children; I love the buzz I get when they make me proud and I love the noise of 52 of them beating down my classroom door at 8.15 am every day.

That’s what will get me through the turbulent times ahead [NAPLAN was starting at this time].

I hope that all of those teachers just like me get through them too. Have a great Teachers Day today.”

How many decision makers have ever spent quality time in the classroom of a person like Catriona, observing for a day or more all the little movements, phrases of encouragement [“Good John. That word belongs to YOU now.”], group settings, child politics, the nodding,  smiling,  praising, scolding, hinting,  nudging,  encouraging,  disapproving, approving,  playing,  patting, winking….the thousands of meaningful exchanges between a pupil and a teacher each day. The face of a good teacher, for one, does a helluva lot of work while pupilling his or her fond learners during the course of a day and will provoke much more  effective learning than, say, doing some old test papers in school time. [That’s teaching?]

An active, learning classroom is a truly magical place, there’s no doubt.

No test-prone educrat of the NAPLAN-hugging kind will ever understand. They just don’t understand such classrooms. A Naplanner does not seem to know what pupilling means….he and she seem to believe that teaching is a simple sermonising, didactic, direct talk-chalk form of instruction, followed by a test. This brain-destroying  ACARA type  has been in vogue for 8 long, long years now. The belief that primary school children are ‘students’ to be talked-at and  chalked-at and then tested, is absurd.  They are PUPILS, for God’s sake. They are human-beings.

We use the term ‘student’ much too carelessly.

NAPLAN is a Political Device used on behalf of greedy profiteers. Sadly, the Australian system’s use of fear, coercion and deception to operate its schools has deep ideological roots. The authoritarian and totalitarian policies of all of our major political parties [Greens included] reflect their deep seated belief in the power [if not the ideology] of neoliberalism and fascism and,  in particular, the use of low-level forces of the French & Raven kind, that such beliefs inspire operatives to use to control people. While their public-persona philosophy may not reflect fascism nor neoliberalism, our major political parties are not backward in using their tools of trade. Our present political state of anomie disallows decent interaction between a child and its social surroundings. It seems to be part of our ingrained capitalistic DNA that we ordinary citizens allow this; and we can’t shake it loose….even for kids.  Adults are not allowed to treat children with love or self-esteem, it would seem.. Dump them at any school or pay big bickies for someone else in another kind of school to smarten them up for you. …the results are the same…mediocrity,  slow intellectual and emotional development, cognitive damage. If anything the public system is a far superior system because of its long, deep-seated history and wealth of expertise. No Mr. Gradgrinds .

So many adults do not think seriously enough about the future of Australia through the quality of its citizenry. They remain politically pompous and turgid and politically distant because of their deep-seated beliefs. Who would want to stick-up for kids?

Ideological belief systems, through various forms of social intercourse, become political parties and pressure groups so that they can  exert authority over others. They write policies that provide a pretence for their control over the electorate, establish a network of control and decide how they will treat the plebs. The kind of control system that they establish through their wired-on party policies is crucial to the state of a nation. Fear and coercion have never formed part of a liberal conscience, nor that of a worker-reform  conscience but both so-called Liberal and Labor parties in Australia exert them on the defenceless. A big question is whether present day parties, in fact, observe their own ideological base? No matter. Unless politicians live up to basic social responsibilities and take a good hard look at their control mechanisms, our school system will continue to reflect a lack of educative spirit, an absence of true enthusiasm;  and mid-level or worse standards of achievement. And the fault lies in the silence of your local member.

Here’s another self-explanatory design…..

Screen Shot 2016-02-28 at 3.45.10 PM


That’s Australian schooling in a nutshell. Grossly undemocratic. Grossly undermining a great future.

In summary…

NAPLAN, according to these basics, is a device that originates from an extreme neoliberalist/corporate base using low level control systems  to induce fear in all Australian school personnel, especially in children. Lack of classroom knowledge means an absence of educative leadership, which in turn, leaves only coercive, bullying and deceptive forms of management. That’s Australia now.  Then…. Malcolm spoke of all the grand things that Australia needed – INNOVATION, for instance.  Innovative practices are impossible in a country where there is no freedom to learn.  Things started to look good for kids when he said what he said. NAPLAN would just have to go. Even he would know of its evil outcomes when one has to consider creativity, thinking, zest for learning as components of Innovation.  The anticipated new-Malcolm democratic rhetoric would hopefully re-energise the professionalism within the classroom force; and the time now given to NAPLAN-prep will be replaced by productive teaching, supported by genuine professional ethics. Some of us thought that he might declare an end to NAPLAN and other inhibiting forms of teaching and learning as a ‘captain’s call’.  Some hope now! It has been such a sad few weeks.

What happened ?

Have you ever dreamed of a national system where every neighbourhood school is a test-free, inviting, non-threatening happy place loaded with the kinds of teachers described above, treating each child as a person/pupil [not as a student],  where teachers have been enabled and empowered [Theory Y style liberation],where parents are involved and trusted to make decisions about their own children; and where progress to teen-age subject-oriented learning is as seamless as possible?

Wouldn’t you like to talk with some of the political decision-makers about these sorts of thing ? What do the candidates now being chosen by the Lib.-BCA-Lab coalition think. Will they be brave enough? What do they think about our present standard of schooling, about our teachers, about professionalism, about ethics, about cognitive abuse., about teaching techniques, about testing and public examinations, about kids?  Do they care? Do you?



Screen Shot 2016-02-28 at 3.52.31 PM


CRUNCH POINT is within the Control  System… the operational centre, now matter what its orientation,  uses its source of power . 

There is no direct connection between terms  horizontally.  However, there is some sort of connection and I have used arrows, for my own convenience,  to indicate a Treehorn point of view of the present Klein schooling aka Corporate Education… emphasise that neoliberal corporations are using totalitarian  policies to create fear and concern through state and national governments by  the use of coercive devices, because they know no other way of doing things. It’s not that they are fascist. They just like to use fascist devices to get their way.  Connect your own pathway if you see some other pathway to the zone of acceptance. One can hardly deny that ENNUI [listlessness, disinterest, languor] is the most accurate description for present day schooling in Australia.

Please make sure that you read the paper immediately following by Kelvin Smythe, Kiwi primary school educator, who says that “ Some terrible things have been perpetrated – close to evil.” 

Phil Cullen  41 Cominan Avenue  Banora Point  Australia 2486  07 5524 6443           
07 5524 6443          0407865999

NAPLAN and political parties


Aussie Friends of Treehorn

encouraging adults to think sensitively, to care for kids, to make wise choices….with their hearts in gear, their pens active and their votes available .

NAPLAN has nothing to do with learning. It has nothing to do with teaching. It has nothing to do with real schooling. It has to do with finding fault and making money. It’s an ineffective, unreliable and invalid device that makes the most of young children’s vulnerability and it deliberately threatens their emotional and cognitive development.


NAPLAN and Political Parties

The ALP played its cards first. Bad move, Bill.  Your statements showed your party’s enormous disregard  for what goes on in Australian schools. You didn’t mention NAPLAN at all…don’t give a fig? [Did ACARA prepare your paper?]

Your twin neo-con party, the Liberals, followed the Gillard line and all that it has to say about NAPLAN is that the results should be returned to schools within 12 weeks, instead of the present four or five months….as if they were of some use.

The Greens are usually much more realistic, even though they don’t dare to make esoteric statements  They like starting inquiries so that the esoters can fight each other and schooling  never gets anywhere. Their only comment on NAPLAN is that the tests should be conducted at the start of the year. Quite profound for a party that stands a real chance.

If an Independent says that he or she will get rid of NAPLAN, he or she is on a winner. No doubt. They’ll get a job. Mums and dads will make sure.

So……. if the parents of this great [Education] country want some betterment to the system […since NAPLAN controls it], we must

Ignore the effects of NAPLAN on schooling [ALP]

Run the tests at the beginning of the year. [Green]

Get the [useless] results back within 12 weeks. [LNP]

That’s school improvement 2016 style!!

That’s real thinking about how well our kids are treated at school!!

That’s what happens when politics rules a schooling system!!!

Quality teachers will agree with the definition of a test score as provided by Professor John Settledge:

A NAPLAN result is an inadequate judgement by a biased and variable data-miner, of the extent to which an undefined level of mastery of unknown proportions of an inadequate amount of material has been completed on time. It is operated by a New Mafia, more engrossed in the accumulation of dollars and cents than in concern for child welfare and progress. Its Frankenstein outcomes, the creation of a monster that destroys everything around it, has no boundaries within the curriculum. 

It is the product of a cane-toad ‘intellectual’ persuasion,  Just as scientists were told that some Hawaiian toads ate beetles, without reference to any other sidelights [such as how high they could jump or how high beetles could fly or what else toads ate.], NAPLAN  was introduced because some bankers thought that fear was the best way to make young children learn. No further thought. Politicians then took over.

Now. Our kids need help. Politicians can get rid of the menace. Ironic, isn’t it?

Let’s see how fair dinkum they are when they talk about kids and NAPLAN during the electioneering.

Phil Cullen  41 Cominan Avenue  Banora Point  Australia 2486  07 5524 6443              
07 5524 6443          0407865999

What’s going on with Australian schooling?

CARE FOR KIDS                        IS YOUR VOTE AVAILABLE?        

Aussie Friends of Treehorn

encouraging adults to think sensitively, to care for kids, to make wise choices….with their hearts in gear, their pens active and their votes available .

NAPLAN has nothing to do with learning. It has nothing to do with teaching. It has nothing to do with real schooling. It has to do with finding fault and making money. It’s an ineffective, unreliable and invalid device that makes the most of young children’s vulnerability and it deliberately threatens their emotional and cognitive development.

  2016 – The Real Big Year for KIDS?



When the Australian education system was hoodwinked into copying the New York testing-based system in 2008, it did not know what it was letting itself in for.  Our leading politicians at the time,  Kevin Rudd, Julia Gillard and their neo-con. followers just accepted the word of a New York lawyer who assured them that fear-based techniques in schools worked best. He, Joel Klein, and his wife were staked to a travel down under by Australia’s  banking and large corporate high flyers to persuade  other high flyers and their attendant politicians that his ideas worked. Politicians dared not question.

Put simply, his scheme was based on tests of those parts of the school curriculum that are easy to test.  It had no legitimate educational, learning nor teaching basis beyond the ancient British Grammar School cum Gradgrind bang-crash-wallop gathering of data in a way that is sometimes described as ‘instruction’.  There would be punishments for those teachers, principals and schools who did not measure up . The NY organisational set-up made it easier for the fear-based-mode to work  in that city,  than the system did in Australia; that’s why Mr. Klein could sweet-talk our Minister so easily. It also meant that the Murdoch press, and his ambitious neo-con politicians and hybrid testucators had to plan and scheme cautiously for Australian conditions. There was a risk at the time of introduction to Australia that the ethical members of the teaching profession would come out fighting with good old-fashioned Aussie spirit, but ‘client capture’ worked well on them. They were a push-over.

There was no protection for the full holistic curriculum, the life-sustaining, aesthetic, creative, mental and physical-based subjects. They are now ignored or down-played from January to May each year.

Things have worked well on all fronts for these Gordon Gekkos of the world. The raison d’etre for the system was that the sales of computers, testing papers, routine test-passing procedures, test-practising booklets and well as copious allied curriculum material would be on sale far beyond Manhattan. NAPLAN testing has nothing to do with school reform nor improvement nor does it have an Aussie teaching flavour of the kind recently described by quality teachers such as Kathy Margolis and Beatrice Stroud on recent talk-back shows.  It is purely a money-making system, now kindly described in current literature as corporate education.  Many people believed that it was a good way to smarten-up the system as it was; and would make schools and teachers work harder and become more accountable.

It is doing its job well on behalf of its owners, particularly Rupert Murdoch, who hired the founder of the New York and Australian systems of schooling, Joel Klein, to take over the running of his test publishing empire called Amplify. [His salary: $2.4 m p.a.] It has made billions of dollars for his organisation since it was incorporated, but cracks are starting to appear and there will be ramifications for Australia. Make sure you read this blog. or google “Bloomberg Klein”

The expected New York collapse of its fear-based schooling could have a positive impact on Australia as it should now no longer restrain News Corp outlets in Australia from printing the whole truth nor prevent its journalists and commentators from speaking out. This mushroom strategy has worked well for businesses like Amplify and Pearson, up until now.  The absence of views expressed by dominant educators and learned societies from all over the world has, up until now,  allowed the hundreds of paid lobbyists in Canberra to tell politicians whatever they like;  and to leave the general public uninformed. The lack of media comment on the ‘virtues’ of NAPLAN has been noticeable. For instance, at no stage has the press informed parents that they have a choice. Principals of schools are under orders not to do so; and even the scandal of this kind of administrative misbehaviour  has not received a mention. The press have clearly  supported the lie that the Tests were ‘expected’ to be done and that they were part of school routine, when, in fact, they were rudely dumped on schools by arrogant politicians. Very few present day parents know that they have a choice. As well, the media have been slow to lead discussion on  the credentials of computers, said to be introduced  to increase the speed of data processing. Someone might ask the cost; whether the money was a waste.

The ‘controlled silence’ has not encouraged the kind of debate which must occur before any further genuine learning-inspired steps are made.

Some genuine teachers have been shaking the captive chains. Unions and ‘professional’ groups are too frightened.  Quality teachers, such as Kathy Margolis and Gabriel Stroud each with a strong professional conscience are coming out and expressing their ethical feelings.  Now, the public might start taking an interest in the Treehorns of this world whose condition is ignored by Australian adults.

It’s a good time for parents and teachers to have their say. It’s election year . Politicians who ignore the present condition of children at school should start looking for another job.  If they are not interested nor vocal about Australia’s future …its children…they should not have any such decision-making role.

 Phil Cullen  41 Cominan Avenue  Banora Point  Australia 2486              
07 5524 6443          0407865999

Client capture.

Aussie Friends of Treehorn

encouraging adults to think sensitively, to care for kids, to make wise choices….with their hearts in gear, their pens active and their votes available.

Client Capture

We are all familiar with the term “Client Capture’ when applied to organisational behaviour. You will recall that remarkably perceptive quadrant constructed by Richard Carlson that portrayed the differences in administrative style required for those of us operating in hard-wired ‘domesticated’ societies as compared to those in hard-wired ‘wild’ societies. We were different from each other with different system and role operations because of the nature of our clients. The design was quickly modified for those of us who worked in various kinds of educational administration……primary schooling, secondary schooling, TAFE, College, University management. Each section was sufficiently different to have its own unique ways of doing things.

The design helped us to come to grips with the nature of our task and cope with its vicissitudes.

Such studies of administrative behaviour were over-looked by the Managerialists of the eighties. For them, ‘client capture’ meant the gathering by managerial, ‘Harvard-type’graduates and the big-time power people of mostly school principals’ leaders in groups and indoctrinating them with the new ‘force’. Coralled by this New Mafia [Hired, appointed or elected body more engrossed in dollars and power than in the education of children- Horwitz] the important school-based targets were easy-meat when it came to believing in Klein and how to bark and saliva together. They believed that a playschool in South Birdsville could be run in the same manner as a Chinese mega-city in Outer Mongolia. When things get tough: downsize. When a job needs to be done, don’t trust your own: outsource. When you need a leader, look for one with a university degree, especially a doctorate. A doctor is a superhuman and can do anything. ‘Experience’ can be outsourced or researched…..or ignored.

I’d like to add, at this point…..A very proud moment for the officers of the Queensland Primary School Division in the 1987, was when the Division told their Director-General that, based on their collective school experience, they would not indulge in the managerial deceit and skulduggery that was being organised around the state at the time, that was aimed at down-playing the importance of schooling as a departmental operation. When your cause is true, you can say “No.”

Organisations that have a close connection with governments – health, education – in the supply of care for a nation’s citizens must always act warily, but honourably. Governments frequently make outrageous decisions, some unpalatable to the professionals within the organisation. Governments usually insist that they have complete control of such services and in totalitarian, fascist type countries they tend to force the providers to do as they are told to provide it. [The introduction of Kleinism to Australia is a prime example.] Not so in democratic places where it is known that the services are superior because there is a climate of shared good-will and trust in the provision of services. When the government pretends that it knows better than the professionals in the field, especially when intrusive elements are forced by influential politicians and corporate barons into government operations, there is unproductive conflict.


The client capture of almost all professionally well-known organisations, using the Eichmann/Pavlov method of control in Australia in 2008-9, especially of Principals’ associations and so-called Learned Societies [ACEL & ACE] was completed early in the Murdoch take-over program and each has remained faithful to the cause of Klein, Murdoch, Pearson and Gillard ever since. Subject Associations, those who know what is happening in the classrooms, such as the Australian Literacy Educators Association, peopled by down-to-earth teachers strongly oppose NAPLAN. Their cause is honourable, indisputable, just and honest, but they lack sufficient influence. Only dumbed-down political clout now controls the Australian school curriculum.

An expected outcome of all this NAPLAN nonsense has been the ‘playing out’ of certain laws of human behaviour with remarkable validity……..

Campbells Law leads the pack: “The more any quantitative social indicator is used for social decision-making, the more subject it will be to corruption pressures and the more apt it will be to distort and corrupt the social processes it is intended to monitor.” How true. Professional corruption is rife…every single teacher is affected…..unworthy of a place like Australia.

Stockholm syndrome, or capture-bonding, is “a psychological phenomenon in which hostages express empathy and sympathy and have positive feelings toward their captors, sometimes to the point of defending and identifying with the captors.” The support of NAPLAN by Principals’ Associations and so-called professional groups is testimony to this cruel outcome. The ‘job’ on them in 2008-9 was brilliant.

The Milgram Experiment showed that “people will, when prevailed upon, perform acts that would, normally, offend their conscience.”

Creeping Eichmannism : “Doing what one is ordered to do because one is ordered to do it; involving suspension of professional, educative and moral beliefs.” Australia school principals were the first to claim, “We did as we were told.”..


All of these laws are firmly in place on our shores, [as is Mrs. Murphy’s Law : “Murphy was an optimist”.].….working together to collect unreliable scores and marks using NAPLAN Tests that are known to be inherently faulty and useless…..and cruel…..and for the sake of the greedy rich.

It’s a neo-liberal mess. Time for some liberal thinking.

A mark or score, by the way, is an inadequate report of an inaccurate judgement by a biased and variable judge, of the extent to which an undefined level of mastery of unknown proportions of an inadequate amount of material has been completed. [J.Settledge].

Phil Cullen 41 Cominan Avenue Banora Point Australia 2486
07 5524 6443       0407865999

Corporatized the Movie – #Education

Treehorn: It’s been a long time. Quo vadis, School Learning?

Aussie Friends of Treehorn
encouraging adults to think sensitively, to care for kids, to make wise choices….with their hearts in gear, their pens active and their votes available .
It’s NAPLAN MEASURING WEEK..time for the pundits to write their editorials and letters to the editor with advices on how to improve NAPLAN  scores.
NAPLAN has nothing to do with learning. It has nothing to do with teaching. It has nothing to do with real schooling. It has to do with finding fault and making money. It’s an ineffective, unreliable and invalid device that makes the most of young children’s vulnerability and it deliberately threatens their cognitive development and emotional stability for the sake of a score. 

Treehorn – Still Going?

It’s been a long while since Allan Alach and I issued the first email copy of The Treehorn Express on in July 2011 to combat the stupidity of NAPLAN and its like being imported from New York..  Multi-talented former N.Z. primary principal Allan’s regular Friday readings are now extremely popular around the globe and we also have tried to give inspiration to primary and other teachers through regular and irregular email comments. We’ve been appealing to the hearts of adults. Here are some short extracts from those early days.

Alfie Kohn, widely respected author and educational commentator was asked what he thought of kleinism [fear-based learning]. Part of his response was…

We are living through what future historians will surely describe as one of the darkest in education history– a time when teachers, as well as the very idea of democratic public education, came under attack; when carrots and sticks tied to results on terrible tests were sold to the public as bold “reform”; when politicians who understand nothing about learning relied uncritically on corporate models and metaphors to set education policy; when the goal of schooling was as misconceived as the methods, framed not in terms of what children need but in terms of “global competitiveness” – so that large corporations can triumph.

There will come a time when people will look back on this era and ask “How the hell did they let this happen?” By speaking out, we’re saying that we need to act before we lose an extra generation to this insanity. The corporate-style school reformers don’t have the research on their side. All they have is the power to impose their ignorance through legislation. We must now make sure that the conversation about the how’s and why’s of education are driven by real educators.

In short, we [schoolies] have to take back our schools.”

A march on the capital was being planned at the time. Thousands of teachers and parents then marched on the capital, led by the likes of the Optout Association, NY Professor Diane Ravitch, Matt Damon [actor] and others. They were met by White House officials…all to no avail. The child-bashing, money-grabbing counter-forces are far too powerful up over….and they control us just as efficiently, down under.

At about the same time, Treehorn reported:

“Our Australian PM, when she was Minister, wanted to gain kudos for  her education efforts. Education is always a soft target,especially when one mentions ‘basics’,  ‘failure’. ‘kids on the check-out-counter’, ‘can’t spell’, ‘bullying’….all junk terminologies used by the uninformed. Off to the U.S. for answers she went. At her first cocktail party, she happened to speak to a New Yorker who ran a fear-driven school district that, he claimed was a successful school district. She fell for it.  Her collaborator claimed that the district was better-off because he was there; and that he really enjoyed running tests and scaring the pants off teachers. A very boastful chappie, he was, and, as she was, totally disrespectful of children’s feelings, parents’ concern and teachers’ ethics. Julia bought his scheme.  [We should have sent Bronny. She’d have cost less. All told, Julia is still costing us billions and billions in a lost future of sparkling cognition, creativity,  initiative and financial development]. She became quite determined and, subsequently,  introduced the Klein system of schooling to Australia without any meaningful consultation with Aussie Schoolies. With Aussie Bankers, yes. They paid his way down under. Joel Klein knows best, she claimed! He now proudly boasts of having introduced a “…hard data system into Australia. Come and talk to me about it.”  It’s his. [This is a direct quote. He proudly claims ownership of the Australian system of schooling….and…  NAPLAN operatives can now claim to be devotees or followers, at least,  of the Joel Klein mode of schooling. ]  

Academic measurer Barry McGaw put the scheme together for Julia and measurers continue to run the show.  Collegial, experienced, studious, child-conscious schoolies were not head-hunted nor were consulted. Parents are not allowed a choice in the present scheme of things.  They might prefer their kids to be taught instead of measured.

* Who’s Joel Klein”? He’s a lawyer who likes money. He later left the NY school district [in some chaos] and took a job with Rupert Murdoch. Worth $4.5m a year to Joel. His task is to run a recent acquisition of Rupert’s, the Wireless Generation.

* What’s Wireless Generation? This is a New York company that produces software that  “…tracks student test scores amongst other things.” The  ‘other things’ included digital instruction.  Rupert has said that he can see this investment as a move into “…a $500billion sector in the US alone.”  Yep.

“Kleinism” is the best description for Australia’s present system of schooling. This kind of mechanical, instrumental  schooling is now well on the way in the US and in Australia and, oh, how the money rolls in………to pockets in New York.  We seem to have plenty of money to throw around. Education is now a big business enterprise without any altruistic purpose whatsoever..

That means a very sad future for those who live down under. Just how ridiculously heartless can Aussie adults get?  Nobody cares except, perhaps a million or two Mums and Dads [the opt-out thinkers]  who won’t have a bar of hard data abuse-based testing in schools and are refusing to have their children contest the mechanical tests. They are opting out in droves.  Bully for them. But….there are too many Mums and Dads not caring either whether “the cat calves or the cow die’’, so to speak.

Well over 1200 Treehorn Express copies have been emailed over the past few years…… no avail. Unable to be read in government schools and deliberately rebuffed by red-necked testucating advocates,  some folk like them, just the same. We are proud that the testucators are afraid of them and will not discuss ‘child learning in schools’ openly. . 

Our efforts were directed to changing the hearts of adults towards children. That’s why the communication  was named after ‘Treehorn”.  Poor lad failed to get the attention of adults, even those who were important to him…. despite his obvious need for help. We just wanted adults to think seriously about the world of children and to try to improve their social and emotional condition because NAPLAN is, plainly,  an instrument of child abuse.  No luck. The story of Treehorn became just another children’s story. We overlooked the fact that adults are too busy or too something  to take notice of the social condition of school children. We have failed to this point…as Treehorn had.  Tough. 

Did we think that adults in the antipodes had softer hearts than those who lived in northern climes?  I reckon we did.  But…we were wrong….the contrary prevails.

Allan Alach  is one of  three great musketeers fighting relentlessly for the enhancement of public education in the South Pacific. Bruce Hammonds and Kelvin Smythe  are his companions..  There are few people in the world who go to such great lengths and spend so much time working for children as this trio. Unfortunately for them, the most school-knowledgeable politician in New Zealand is the child-oriented shadow Minister for Education who is in opposition. He  is quite different from Australian politicians. When it comes to schooling and child learning, he knows what he is talking about.  If Chris Hipkins ever becomes part of the NZ government benches, one can confidently predict that  NZ will develop a home-grown system of schooling that would leave the rest of the world in its wake. For sure. 

Australian adults seem too afraid to try to help our kids at school in need of encouragement, not condemnation. . They find other ways of dodging the issue. Our kids can cop it better and sweeter, we big people think. “We had to go through this stuff at school” , so why  shouldn’t they? . Yes. That’s the main excuse. We tend to bash the emotions and dignity of our children around  harder than most because that’s supposed to be good for them. The fact that most of the test-takers will be emotionally and cognitively crippled for life, doesn’t matter. They’ll be tough. 

As radical as it might seem to us down-under bogans, I believe that the following is possible.

1. Each Australian state can create an education system that is unique and productive. The myth of federalism has shown what can happen when one misguided viewpoint [e.g. Kleinism] can control a whole country. Every citizen’s future is in now in jeopardy. It’s very, very serious.

2. Lessons can be learned from other countries whose hearts are with children and with their learning abilities.  e.g. Finland treats its primary teachers, because they supervise the most critical aspects of human development,  as professionally superior to members of the medical and other ‘recognised’  professions. They  train them beyond Masters Degree status and pay them accordingly. There is a climate of progressive learning.

3. We just need a bit of fair-dinkum Aussie spunk to get rid of the stupid bloody nonsense asap.


       Phil Cullen  41 Cominan Avenue  Banora Point  Australia 2486  07 5524 6443