Does NAPLAN work?

Does NAPLAN Work?

Now that the anxious period of NAPLAN test-prep dominates the curriculum landscape, the kids are worried, the teachers are flurried and the playground talk is serious, there is one question that all politicians all principals, all education associations, all educational journalists must be asked:

Is NAPLAN doing what it is supposed to do?

OR….Are you still living with the promises of increasingly high achievement rates, high teacher enthusiasm, parent satisfaction, transparent operations?

Will you answer?

Should we do something about it?

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Phil Cullen  41 Cominan Avenue  Banora Point Australia 2486   07 5524 6443  0407865999   cphilcullen@bigpond.com   REFER: Who’s Who in Australiia

Noplan claims another victim

A TREEHORN MESSAGE

NAPLAN/NOPLAN CLAIMS ANOTHER VICTIM – SCIENCE

Noplan, controller of Australian school standards, has done it again.  Determined to maintain a fear-laden testing base to Australia’s education system, it has added to a world wide school reputation that we can do without.

NAPLAN is the absolute, unquestioned, only cause of our ‘falling standards’. Yes. It is!

Once amongst the top dogs in the world-wide PISA contests and others, we are now 14th in Science, 16th in Reading, 25th in Maths out of 72 competing countries. Statisticians tell us that we are behind Asian countries, whom we once helped with their schooling problems.

What has happened to us?

Simple…..the children don’t like doing tests nor getting ready for them. It’s boring and unpleasant and not part of proper schooling. Our pupils are telling us to ‘…cut it out. We want to learn.’  We overdo it. As plain as the nose on your face, it’s clear that we are turning our kids off learning…..off schooling..

Noplan is a prismatic disaster.  It’s a failure, no matter which way you look at it.   Instead of provoking industry and scholastic effort, it creates dislike for subjects that, scholastically,  crave loving, fearless attention and spirit and challenge……not being belted around the place, used as weapons of  fear and anxiety and distaste.

Suppose you lived overseas [e.g. P.N.G.],would you, as a concerned parent, send your child to Australia for schooling?  If you wanted a complete, total, holistic, proper education for your child, would you send him or her to a school that claimed notoriety through its NAPLAN scores?

What is wrong with an education system that starts with the requirements of the child?
What is wrong with an education system that tries to satisfy each child’s zest for learning?
What is wrong with an education system that puts no limit on a child’s achievements?
What is wrong with an education system that develops learning habits that last a lifetime?
What is wrong with us?

What is learning?  What is schooling.  Don’t know?
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Phil Cullen  41 Cominan Avenue Banora Point Australia 2486  07 5524 6443   0407865999   cphilcullen@bigpond.com

As we move closer to May 9 the day of attrition

Back to ‘Comments on Comments’ soon.

NOPLAN DAY IS NOT FAR AWAY
Time for the wise to withdraw their children.

As Australia moves forward to one of the most important days on its socio-political calendar – the first day of what is now called, The Noplan Tests, we need to consider the climate in which our present system exists. A drum-roll for those who are forced to head for the learning gallows on May 9 to do the tests!

The Climate

* Schooling movements in Australia are moving further away from democratic principles and it is noticeable.

*Australian politicians do not know how to prepare for the future ….the future of work, of living; a future  of doing better at anything we do.

*Australians do not have the courage to stand up to corporate lobbyists who are now determining our  children’s future.

* The obstacles to a healthy school-learning culture are political, not educational.

* The unscrupulous domination of the greedy  controls our entire schooling system.

* Our obedience to the desires of vested interests keeps us from discussing what is important.

*The elements of the devices used to control basic principles of learning, contain their own form of decadence.  [Children fail NAPLAN because of NAPLAN.]

*The greatest social and industrial handicap to Australia’s future is NOPLAN.  Naplan is a noplan. It’s a political curse for which Australia will pay dearly.

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Keeping in mind that the most esteemed educational practitioner of the 20th century, Sir Alec Clegg, said: 
there are two kinds of education: the education of the mind by imparting facts and teaching skills, and the education of the spirit … the child’s loves and hates, his hopes and fears, or in other terms, his courage, his integrity, his compassion and other great human qualities.

Australia has the capacity to have both for its pupils. We are willing and able to do things properly, if we are allowed.. Sir Alec’s little homily is appropriate….
When Michelangelo was going to Rome to see the Pope prior to his being employed to build the great dome of St Peter’s and paint the Sistine Chapel, he took a reference with him which said: The bearer of these presents is Michelangelo the sculptor. His nature is such that he requires to be drawn out by kindness and encouragement. If love be shown him and he be treated really well, he will accomplish things that will make the whole world wonder.

Every child is a  Michangelo  if we believe in the worth of our children.
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Sadly, the climate of Australian schooling is certainly not conducive to child  care, progress and welfare. Aussies prefer that their teachers exert fear and worry and anxiety so they can pass tests.

The Child

* There is good in every child no matter how slow, damaged, ill-favoured or despised by others.

* Children will work to the limit of their abilities.

* All children matter.

* Happy relationships between school administrators, parents, teachers and pupils are extremely important.

* The life of every child is enriched by the development of its creative powers.

* Love and encouragement and having fun at school are much more important than fear and anxiety.

* Children need care-based pupilling rather than fear-based hard instruction and repetitive test-prep.

* Teachers need as much support as pupils. Both thrive on recognition.

Australians, however,  prefer to believe that children go to school to pass tests and examinations; and play sport. Nothing else.

The School

* definitions are clear and meaningfully used

* all adults on the campus think about their place in the scheme of things.

* thinking time is part of each person’s timetable.

* all members concentrate total effort on the improvement of teaching and learning techniques.

* progress through school is marked by increasing joy in the acts of learning as new thresholds are crossed. Such thresholds are not  marked by school years but by growth in experiences.  Schooling is fun.

* there is plenty of shared opinions about activities and efforts. The sharing of helpful opinion represent the limit of evaluation processes, because increases in learning joy would be the aim of any learning conversations. Shared opinions would lead to positive forms of self-evaluation.

* Oracy is part of the every-day time-table.

* ways  are found to develop talents as part of the normal learning process.

Times for unique interests are found but not over-ritualised.

Pupils  exit school with a greater love for some skill or interest of a particular kind than they had when they started.

 When decisions have to be made [e.g. whether to do Noplan tests]  they are based on a simple Four Way Test, not unlike the Rotary Test:

1. Does it help children to learn better?

2. Does it help teachers to teach better ?

3. Does it economise on efforts in the teaching/learning acts ?

4. Does it provide the greatest good for the greatest number ?

When you have the pupil in the middle of your eye, you can’t miss describing an effective, quality institution.

You end up describing joy in the processes of learning, growth in the quest for learning how to learn, and high satisfaction in achievement.

HOW DOES THE 4-WAY TEST APPLY TO NOPLAN? WHAT DO YOU THINK? Comments?                                                                                                                                                  _______________________________________________________________________________________________                                                                                                                                                                              Phil Cullen 41 Cominan Avenue Banora Point Australia 2486  07 5524 6443  0407865999  cphilcullen@bigpond.com  REFER: Who’s Who in Australia

Treehorn: Comments on Comments

COMMENTS ON COMMENTS

“NAPLAN is an optional extra – like Religious Instruction and School Excursions – which should require the approval of parents for children to participate. Its threatening impact on children’s mental health is too serious to slap on top of a regular learning curriculum just to provide data for a politically-inspired institution…..and then ‘allow’ parents to withdraw if they want!!”

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MUST READ : https://theconversation.com/parents-shouldnt-rely-on-my-school-data-when-choosing-a-school-for-their-child-74301?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Latest%20from%20The%20Conversation%20for%20March%2014%202017%20-%2069605203&utm_content=Latest%20from%20The%20Conversation%20for%20March%2014%202017%20-%2069605203+CID_e20578e1e46fd4f0c1cf16bb09133841&utm_source=campaign_monitor&utm_term=Parents%20shouldnt%20rely%20on%20My%20School%20data%20when%20choosing%20a%20school%20for%20their%20child

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Ray Armstrong adds to the previous Treehorn Express. Please feel free to add your own.

“Serious consideration must be given to the abolition of the NOPLAN (literacy and numeracy) tests unless changes are made, mainly because  any “results” are invalid. If the tests are to be kept, then they must be administered in a scientific way, not the ad hoc system that now exists. 

For all intents and purposes, they are standardized tests which are unfortunately not administered in a standardized manner. Any Psychology 101 student could tell you this, yet the government persists with them. If you want reliable results, the way the tests are organized must be changed.

No valid conclusions can be from tests that ignore accepted procedure. 

The way the tests are administered leaves them open to manipulation and interference. When millions of dollars of taxpayers’ money is distributed on the basis of the test results, a more serious approach should be given to their implementation. 

For a start, the tests should not be given by the classroom teacher who has a vested interest in the results. A suitably trained anonymous person like a school counsellor should be engaged. With teachers increasingly ‘teaching to the tests’, settings ‘trial tests’ for weeks before, it is critical that these tests be administered by a person not known to the children and from outside the school

With this in mind, I was more than pleased to observe  that Angelo Gavrielatos of the Australian Education Union, has said teachers should boycott the tests. Many schools teachers “help” their children in order to boost their own standing, their school’s and any grant increases that may result as a spinoff from the tests. Only recently there were media reports of schools that had extraordinary improvements in their results over previous poor scores with no reasonable explanation. The answer is obvious to opponents of NOPLAN. Would you all like to see the HSC tests given out by the classroom teacher? I think not.

If you want to know how your child is progressing visit your school, talk with your child’s teacher, become engaged with your child’s school

The Naplan tests should be abolished. They are a waste of money. The money should be diverted to schools and their more immediate needs. The tests damage children and there is no research that demonstrates they do any good. In fact they do great harm. The time devoted to ‘teaching to the tests’ could be used in more creative educational pursuits.

Sadly, Governments will persist with NOPLAN until? Well I will tell you! Until a few of them have their seats threatened. As soon as politicians see there is even the slightest chance of losing their seats as a result of their obsession with NOPLAN only then will they act. This will mean groups like Treehorn will have to be more organized, address parental groups, communicate with other educational organizations (Principals’ Councils, P&C’s) and seek funding. ”

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Richard Flint, former army officer,  offered some advice to teachers….

“All who want to be better teachers. Never mind the wordy talk about NAPLAN. Teach better where ever you are..

No such a thing as bad students , only bad teachers.

To improve student performance ,increase teacher skill

Good teachers are expert in skills to impart knowledge to students. Student learn little if left to themselves.

Teachers can only teach approved doctrine. Most professions determine the minimum standard for licence or registration as a practitioner.

Education is too important to be left to teachers alone. The community determines what it wants its inhabitants to know.

There has always been examinations, usually annually, to allow to students to rise to the next age level. Didn’t have a fancy name in the past.

Difficulty is experienced creating a syllabus for Australia wide use.  For example, Darwin has difference to Melbourne for ethnic reasons. Rural is different to urban.

An examination can only be successful if it tests all the salient points of a subject.

Students tested a half an hour after the teaching session only remember some of the subject, results  are worse later. Revision is essential.

Last but not least. The only way to success in learning is to instil motivation. Students don’t learn if they don’t want to.”

R.S.Flint   AM, Brigadier (Ret) – Former Director General of Army Training and Education

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Stan Price, ex-teacher, differentiates between schools.

“We have a differentiated school system in Australia.
1. There are the NAPLAN-conditioned ones which care more about the test results than about the substance of school learning.
2. There are the learning focussed schools who teach children and tolerate the nuisance interruption of Naplan.
3. There are anti-NAPLAN schools which openly discuss the effects of Naplanning on their learning philosophy , and encourage dissent.

It’s too confusing.
I’d like to send my daughter to the third kind that openly discusses issues such as NAPLAN’S effects on learning, but there aren’t any handy.”

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Connie,Assistant Principal says.
“I don’t know what we will do this year during the change-over to computerised testing.  We don’t have enough computers now, so I guess special arrangements will be made.
Our suburb is not high on the socio-economic scale and our children are not used to computers.  Will the tests be modified to  cater for the confusion to come?  If so, what use will the test results then be?

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Treehorn’s 
article on ‘Attitude’in January 2017 applies:
Monopath, Julia Gillard, representing our entrenched screwball attitude to schooling when she chose the Klein system of fear-based learning in 2007, did so with confidence that Australia’s attitude to schooling and scoring is of the bang-crash-wallop-fear kind. Attitude! With her attitude embedded in looking for a malevolent solution rather than a tender, inclusive one for Australia to conduct an  evaluation of its schooling system, she only went for one extreme view. She only looked at one, using the Stuart Firestein technique of ‘farting around in the dark’, and she grabbed the kind her friend Kevin wanted. Since then, of course, it has been shown that she boo-booed,  that the use of NAPLAN testing to judge the standard of schooling is the work of fools, but we are stuck with it because she and her political and corporate friends said that we must do as we are told….despite our professional desires to exert true ethics and esoteric knowledge that will benefit children…..and avoiding the kind of  serious damage that NAPLAN inflicts.

It’s

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Phil Cullen 41 Cominan Avenue Banora Point Australia 2486   07 5524 6443  0407865999  cphilcullen@bigpond.com REFER :Who’s Who in Australia.

NAPLAN is NOPLAN – A commentary

 

A COMMENTARY

This is an invitation to readers of The Treehorn Express to comment on the comments and examine the ‘credentials’ of NAPLAN testing in more depth than we have in the past.  First…

THE STORY

1. Former NSW primary principal, Ray Armstrong forwarded ‘Treehorn’ the copy of the interview conducted by a radio station in Victoria concerning the recently released results on the NAPLAN tests, and forwarded in the Treehorn Express on 9 March.

Ray:

……and listen to the attached audio….former school Principal John Nelson exposes NOPLAN

A national breakdown of school results shows a lack of improvement in numeracy and literacy levels of some high school level students. The data has been released today on the MySchool website, the one-stop online portal for parents to monitor schools’ performance. One former Victorian school leader who resigned over a NAPLAN controversy, thinks the flat line trend points to a need to lift both teaching and student standards.

  1. I thanked Ray in the following way…

    Phil:
    Thanks Ray…….from Treehorn.

    Looks like the State Control of Learning is a flop. Teaching is best left to Teachers, free to expand pupils’ learning to the limit…ignoring the political pursuit of naplan mediocrity. 

    Q.E.D.  “What was to be was demonstrated.”

    The Fallacy of Hegemonic Dominance certainly applies.

    3. This provoked Paul Wildman to comment in the following manner; and it is Paul’s observations that I should like to use to provoke further discussion.

    Paul:

Phil and Ray well done.  A few comments please –

Ray’s conceptual understanding of NAPLAN (and yours Phil to a point) is still quite narrow. The solution will be in our techno-utopian mind set will be More Of The Same that is more and intense NAPLAN applied by computers and discipline, funding loss, fiscal corporal punishment, so to speak, if failure occurs will expand exponentially.  Our culture is, I submit from a political perspective, only interested in the scientific-technical side of things not the socio side of things i.e. seeing schooling as a socio-technical exercise as per the late great Aust systems theorist Fred Emery.

NAPLAN is actually emerging as a complete alternative pedagogical world that is part of Big Business just like Big Pharma and Big Brother – in fact in NSW from next year you can’t sit for your senior certificate if you haven’t got an ‘8’ in NAPLAN – can you/we see how the Western Anglo mindset reproduces itself herein.  NAPLAN has now become THE pedagogical system for Australia NOT conventional subjects etc.  And this is just the beginning.

As with the EPA and FDA in the US we see what in ancient Greek is called ‘enantiodromia’ where the opposite is achieved to what is set out to do.  So these US bodies, by their decisions and actions (not their public remit) are now responsible for increasing pollution and increasing obesity and cancer in particular, respectively.  So, I fear, it is thus with Education Big Ed as it may be called.

Stopping NAPLAN and continuing say schools, centralised curriculum, hierarchical power over systems therein, Nation State based, same age cohort class groups, exclusion of community from pedagogy will solve only part of our dilemma as schools themselves are as we discussed simply antiquated machines for producing factory fodder for industries of yesteryear (indeed our whole Governance structure is similarly outdated) – now universities are the same mix – right down to Kindy curricula all decided centrally by the elite and all based on this failing user pays system.

You Phil support the work of school inspectors. I submit the inspectorate as a whole, functioned as a surveillance mechanism for the elite – which you were part of.   Systems wise the momentum was and is, in Anglo countries, only towards NAPLAN and its intensification within Anglo Nation States.

I welcome discussion of these broader issues as well as NAPLAN.

Ciao paul

Wildman, P. (1998). Biting the Bullet with Fred Emery. Futures, 30(6), Second Thoughts section: 573-583.

Wildman, P. e. (1998). A Retrospective on Fred Emery. Futures (August), 30(6), 573-584.

Paul Wildman  (1) Our future is not ours to colonise but is loaned to us by our grandchildren. (2) Scale needs to be sensitive enough to pick up context.Go CRAFT! crafters-connect.com . Go kids and adults learning kal.net.au  . Go the Bush Mechanic bushie.weekly.com  Brisbane LETS No: 140 Mob: 0412027818   KALGROVE Pty Ltd. Attn. P Wildman. PO 73 Northgate Brisbane 4013 Australia. NB: unless specifically and previously agreed emails cannot be assumed to be confidential.

  1. Paul’s observations needs further discussion. I’d like to start.

Phil:

  Paul’s observations are accepted without equivocation. The narrowness of my [aka Treehorn’s] crusade to get rid of NAPLAN, was confined to the criticisms of the macho-seditious way that it was introduced, the meek acceptance of the scheme by ‘education’ groups, the use of fear as a motivational instrument of learning, the deceitfulness of keeping parents’ democratic rights hidden from them.   I tried to concentrate on the lack of humanity in our treatment of children and the basic stupidity of NAPLAN.  Tough luck.  I just didn’t do any good.

As Paul suggests, the use of NAPLAN tests has initiated a new pedagogical system for Australia and my thin, weak  form of argument has been too focussed on its effects on the mental health and educative progress of young children…and little else.  Indeed, I thought that little else would be necessary, to have it banned,  but I was wrong. I have received a big red F for my efforts, and my stubbornness has not helped. I overplayed the criticism of kleinist attitudes. I guess I thought that I could crack the style of Aussie casual indifference to such schooling; and that every primary school principal in Australia would adopt my point of view;  but I couldn’t and didn’t.  We should now -at this present time in history – be undergoing a monumental shift from traditional pedagogy and the malpractice of  learning/testing traditional techniques to an unfulfilled urgent need for a nation of self-determined learners who can adjust to the dark side of corporate ideologies. THERE IS A SERIOUS  NEED TO DISCUSS THIS. WE NEED A RENEWED FOCUS ON SCHOOLING. AS AN ISSUE, IT IS BIG.

Curriculum issues have been limited to accountability, diagnosis and remediation.  We have dwelt on problem-solving related only to data gathering and  the passing of  tests, instead of enabling the young to be proactive in their efforts to make sense of a rapidly changing, innovative world. We need to talk about a curriculum that will help them to cope, but we seem to be prohibited from talking about it at length.  As we move from a pedagogy based on ‘teacher knows all’  and will teach children what they should know  and an andragogy that promotes more personal responsibility for learning and liking it, through to a future of heutagogical learning styles that will be essential for survival, there is no place for stupidities like NAPLAN. It had its day in 2009 when we learned about its seductive sabotage of basic child rights and its seditious intent, well described by Paul. It’s still around doing its damage and it shouldn’t be.

Within the profession, there is a critical need for a deep discussion on professional ethics and their relationship to UNESCO’s Rights of the Child. Why isn’t there a Code of Conduct that relates to them?  Do teachers observe a professionally initiated Code of Conduct or a bureaucratic Code of Control concocted by sciolist bureaucrats?  Are we, as Paul suggests, running schools that  are “….simply antiquated machines producing factory fodder for industries of yesteryear..”

When Bill Ford [1997] said that we should prefer ‘knowledge sharing’ rather than ‘knowledge hoarding’, Hase and Kenyon* said, ” In this respect heutagogy [i.e. self-directed learning] looks to the future in which knowing how to learn will be a fundamental skill given the pace of innovation and the changing structure of communities and workplaces”

While we have always spoken blithely about the need for pupils to ‘learn how to learn’, Australia has yet to discuss the kinds of pedagogy that work to set children on their learning trail from Year 1. Australia has also yet to discuss its casual indifference to schooling and learning matters and especially its toleration of the abuse of children’s mental health through the creation of fear and anxiety in the classroom.  Why do Aussie adults prefer to ignore serious issues such as these? How can we continue to tolerate the distress and anxiety it causes to almost every pupil…the suicides and the like? Would anybody notice if fictitious Treehorn regrew to his normal height and then turned a livid green..he did, and still is..[That message didn’t get through either, did it?] …..or notice that NAPLAN is failing with Greek ‘enantiodromiac’ spirit ? Will ‘Noticing’  itself ever become a syllabus requirement?  Did Aussies notice that Paul’s ‘enantiodromia’ was the main feature of  the most recent NAPLAN results.  The fear element was supposed to produce better results, but it took control of the contestants attitude to learning.  Learning, after all, is an individual act and you will not make me learn if I don’t want to. The pupils reacted to the last NAPLAN test in a very noticeable way….but….did we notice?  They reversed the intention. The next trick is for testucating sciolists to dumb down all future tests [if we are silly enough to persist with them] to ensure better scores on My School noticeboard. Who cares? Who would notice?

*Google: From Andragogy to Heutagogy by Stewart Hase & Chris Kenyon (2001) USC

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Phil Cullen 41 Cominan Avenue Banora Point 2486 07 5524 6443  0407865999 cphilcullen@bigpond.com  REFER: ‘Who’s Who in Australia’
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The politics of testing.

Oh, what a tangled web we weave

When first we practise to deceive.
         [Sir Walter Scott]

It’s NAPLAN season

The longer Australia persists with the notion that we send children to school to pass tests and public examinations, the worse things will get.

The result of using the NAPLAN system of testing within the Klein system of execrable schooling, imported from the United States in a most deceitful manner, has resulted  in a structured climate of threats to the mental health of Australian children and has exposed the dangerous prejudices and misologies of our political masters, notably Gillard, Rudd, Pyne and Birmingham.  It has failed.  The killer DNA within the tests themselves that forces children to dislike school learning,  has proved to be  degrading to our beautiful children and unworthy of its proponents and users. It has retarded the progress of Australian schooling very seriously.

Since such a system threatens the health and well-being of Australian citizens, shouldn’t it be incumbent on a federal minister who initiates such changes,  and on those who, following a change of government, continue with the unwarranted crudity, to demonstrate unequivocally to colleague ministers in the states, from whom the right to conduct such tests has been captured, that the new system is superior to any other? What hard evidence or indisputable empirical evidence do testucators have that would convince normal concerned citizens to support the continuation of this toxic device?  Forget the boganaire view that children will learn after teachers ‘Diagnose’ and “Remediate.” That went out with slate pencils. We’re talking about teaching and learning, about being happy and determined and confident while at school.  Diagnosis is part of the teaching/learning component…not something that is done to children some months later.

It is incumbent on our politicians occupying education portfolios to prove, beyond doubt, that this mode of schooling to which they expose  our children is far superior to any other kind……that NAPLAN works and how it does…..if it does. The patriachal control of education by the Institute of Public Affairs and the Australian Bankers Association is not helpful. The public must be told why our schooling relies so heavily on NAPLAN tests. The serious crushing results in the international PISA results and the TIMSS international  tests last year confirmed children’s and teachers’ extreme animus with anything Naplannish. Pupils flat- lined these local results, having already flopped the international ones, because the tests themselves contain HATE and DESPAIR and UNNECESSARY TENSION .  So, what do adults do? With casual disregard for children’s rights and with Treehorn-type negligence, they,  just as casually, dismiss all interest and allow the torturers to turn up the heat and keep trying old ways .. fiddling with test processes and modes of testing…not better learning habits….to get better scores. It’s not fair to kids. You know what, honourable members of IPA and ABA….and your political flunkies?  Kids hate having  to test swot and to sit tests. THEY PREFERLEARNING.

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“When the affective is secure, the cognitive is inevitable”  was the way that John Settledge described this basic teaching/learning dilemma.

Here’s a certainty. Drop NAPLAN. Just drop it, encourage school-based evaluation techniques; and watch PISA & TIMSS test results increase.

An alternatuve is to dumb-down the tests themselves – as is being widely predicted – so that public confidence is restored. That can work, but it will not remove the tension and fear of that testing moment and the damage that it does .

Message received, Mr. B ?  When will we ever get to talk about learning?……about schooling?….about pupilling?

No. You will keep subjecting our kids to the terrors of NAPLAN  again this year…….9 -11May……unless someone does somethings about it.

We know that NAPLAN is nasty, cruel, unnecessary, immoral, expensive, abusive, mentally crippling operation and a big waste of time.  It’s genesis is in the search for someone to blame for children’s lack of enthusiasm for being pushed around by your mob.

Most Australian parents and almost all Australian teachers dislike, even  hate the whole business, but feel that they have to ‘go with the flow’.  No political party is brave enough to mention it.  School principals dislike it, except for those who see a quid in it or believe that better scores provide better promotional opportunities.  If there was a public rally arranged to march on federal parliament to “STOP NAPLAN”, Canberra would not be big enough to contain the numbers.  Of course this wont happen while our indifference to the way kids learn remains at such a high level; and while greedy corporations maintain their control over the politics of testing.

Only passionate individuals and groups that worry about the way kids are treated, are prepared to stick up for them. “Nuggets’ was a once famous nickname for the meek, but that’s unkind. There are very few  groups of game, knowledgeable nitty-gritty teachers and parents in Australia who are prepared to stand up and keep pushing.  Too few,   Members of so-called learned groups like the Australia Primary Principals which was captured early in the piece,  enwrapped now in an impenetrable bozone layer that prevents individual members from speaking out or organising the parents of their school to refuse en bloc to do the tests or even to tell them of their rights. It’s understandable. It’s what Dan Kahan calls the Identity Protective Cognition : “As a way of avoiding dissonance and estrangement from valued groups, individuals subconsciously resist information that threatens their defining values.”  It then becomes easier to parrot the words of the controllers than to espouse ethical principles out loud.

While NAPLAN may not be a top issue on the usual election calendar because things are arranged to keep it so, it still remains a significant part of  each electorate’s disenchantment with the major parties. As quiet as it remains, any party that calls for its abandonment is on a winner.

Far too many Australians believe that we send children to school to pass tests and examinations in Maths, Science, Grammar and anything that is measurable.  What would happen, do you think, if authorities insisted that our kids be taught to like learning Maths and Science and  anything else that their school does for them…..presuming that the school knows what it is doing, of course; and that our authorities remain in that totalitarian neo-Fascist frame of mind to demand it. That Finnish Maths teacher, whom you saw on the Michael Moore clip, said that his pupils have to be “happy with Maths”.  Australian pollies don’t like that sort of thing.

Our schooling system is arse-about-face. Totally arse-about-face. Predicated on the belief that school kids will do better in life when they are threatened with failure and tested and tutored and ‘homeworked’ as much as possible, the system is just not working. There is no evidence anywhere in the history of the world that any fear-based system has ever worked for too long. Stagnation is the best outcome that fear can promote. Sure we all try harder when we are scared but the end-point varies.This descriptive crudity [a-about-f] of it clearly expresses our rear-vision predilection [‘worked for me’ sort of thing] that can only assure us of mediocrity and further failure. It is soooo arse-about-face. Amen. A more moderate description might be: ‘a dog’s breakfast’.

Put even more gently, it is at the wrong end of the effective-teaching-strategy continuum that ranges from pedantry to maieutic. 

Although many of our most efficient and dedicated teachers have left the profession because of the crudities of NAPLAN, there are sufficient left who make sure that children enjoy the curriculum left-overs – those aspects that can’t be measured.  We cannot rely on this state of affairs forever. Besides, the unknown future keeps reminding us that we need citizens who are adventurous in their learning habits, inquisitive, forward-thinking, innovative, zestful, excited by learning , compassionate, electronically charged,  tolerant, but we Australians are unconcerned about the future nor what is imperative for our schools to do.   How can Naplannic test-freaks help children to prepare for these essential requirements?   Teachers can, and oft-times do teach these developmental enhancers and produce true scholars, as part of their natural teaching genius,  but the system presently prohibits any emphasis on them.  Measurers focus on robotic test responses and do not see the yen to learn  as being of any use. The ‘yen to learn’ compnents of schooing have to be  caught not taught. Our masters believe that as much time as possible must be spent on test preparation for NAPLAN, HSCs and other learning inhibitors. Practice. Practice. Practice. It’s all so robotic and nasty and mediocre and negligent….and wasteful.

The Frankenstein monster has had its head inserted back to front.

YES! It’s all so back-to-front. so S-A-F.  The trend must be stopped. Progress in Australia’s ability to think laterally and innovatively is absolutely essential for its survival and progress. We need to pupil pupils so that they will like learning forever.

Why don’t we try?

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Phil Cullen  41 Comnan Avenue  Banora Point 2486 Australia  07 5524 6443   07865999  cphilcullen@bigpond.com 

Heads Down: Abandon Naplan for the abandoned.

Heads Down

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NAPLAN For Abandoned* Kids

10 Weeks only to May 9

It’s swot time.

Scoreboard

Latest NAPLAN results :  Stagnation. Flat-lined.

                Latest PISA results:  Slipping back, relative to other countries

Relative to the promise of higher PISA results (‘top 5 by 25’), once NAPLAN has supposedly fixed the phantom Rudd/Gillard fantasies:  NAPLAN has failed miserably. See PISA results.

Cause : NAPLAN’s high success rate at ensuring that kids dislike Maths., Science, Reading as well as hate general learning and schooling.

‘Political’ cause: Poor teaching.

Political plans for the future : Get tougher. Create more anxiety. Keep blaming teachers. Keep parental choice secret.

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Statements concerning the NAPLAN era

At  a cost of billions of dollars over the past decade, NAPLAN has been a miserable failure.

It’s not about money or disadavantage. It’s about the way we treat our young.

Despite its failure and dire consequences, we continue with it. We used to be amongst very the top in PISA result before NAPLAN was introduced

Political and media spin try to maintain  the furphy that its diagnostic fantasies can point the way to improvement in test results.

Machiavellian cunning has corralled influential education associations and deleted their codes of professional conduct so that they now do as they are told, despite professional ethics.

SCHOOLING and LEARNING in our schools have never been regarded as decision-making imperatives by our politicians and their testucrats.They are consumed by an intense political predisposition towards testing only.

NAPLAN operations de-dignifies the humanity of the teaching-learning exchange.

Abuse of children’s mental health is part of the ethos of NAPLAN testing. The creation of fear and anxiety are essential elements of the entire process.  They will continue since both are part of the dna of the testing process. .

UNESCO’s Rights of the Child are being ignored. The dignity of the child is not respected under the required conditions.

Part of Australia’s penchant for the ancient British traditions of maintaining  a surfeit of public blanket tests and examinations, it is causing consternation in the medical and other caring professions by its close connection to serious social  and mental p and to the increases in teen suicide.

Parents can refuse to participate in the NAPLAN processes, but schools are not allowed to tell them that they can do this.

Conducted under the auspices  of the Murdoch press, the Institute of Public Affairs and the Australian Banking Association with their links to major political parties, there is little likelihood of any change for some time.

Change can only be enacted by large numbers of parents refusing to have their children ‘treated’ by NAPLAN; or by principals’ associations refusing to participate in such unethical political activities; or a push by a political party – for votes or for altruistic reasons which will earn it votes.

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To be noted

If NAPLAN continues this year, betcha there’s a panic about which schools have sufficient computers to cope with the tests and the level of proficiency of the various Year levels for  those who use them.  

During this test-prep period, official notices from various authorities to their schools will emphasise the importance of better NAPLAN results this year, with little mention of other more important curriculum issues.

If our NAPLAN and PISA reults continue of the present downward paths, what does our government do?

The kids are rejecting the modus operandi and they will reveal this in the results, despite the testucating ‘Tactics’ that are being planned. The pupils prefer to enjoy learning and to learn as much as they can about the whole curriculum…. in which  they are supposed to be properly pupilled during school hours.

There is now panic amongst the unclean testucators :“We need to focus on evidence based measures that will get results for our students because  results once again show that, despite significant funding growth, we are not getting sufficient improvements in student outcomes,” said Minister Simon Birmingham.  Whatever that means. It’s obviously a childish crack at funding by someone who knows little about schooling, of course. Someone should tell him that love for learning particular subjects ensures significant increased outcomes for any school subject….and that the banning of NAPLAN will bring great joy to his colleague Scott Morrison.  Billions ! [now being wasted on a once-per-year unreliable test] saved. Wow. Win-Win. More in success terms for kids; more in dollar terms for Scotty.

AND…Simon, you have sufficient evidence, young chap.  If you don’t know what causes test results to fall and how to make them rise, you’re in the wrong job. NAPLAN stinks and causes terrible outcomes in test results, disenchanment with learning, mental health, teacher unhappiness and parental concern, friend Morrison’s budget and general professional wreckage,  Haven’t you noticed? 

Get rid of it. Our kids’ schooling welfare has been abandoned for too long, now.

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*Abandone”:  Those left to contest  NAPLAN after all others have been pulled out.by concerned parents.

Phil Cullen  41 Cominan Avenue Banora Point 2486  07 5524 6443  0407865999  cphilcullen@bigpond.com  REFER: Who’s Who in Australia.

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