If God says it stinks; it stinks

Alan Jones says, “I’m scared of NAPLAN.”

How about those kids whose captured parents let them do the test!
How about those scardy-cat testucators in schools and organisations  [e.g. APPA, AEU] who have been pavloved and keep supporting the political initiatives behind the testing program!
They’re everywhere….. ‘selling’ kleinism….well-conditioned by elite testucrats,,,,,,,,.pounding the sensitive feelings of children to do better at the tests in a few weeks.

That quick-visiting, unwelcome 457 from Scatoland, N.Y. sure sold us a pup back then. Kleinism took over;  and things don’t look too good for our kids’ mental health and school progress if we keep following the crazed ideas that he left for our present-day politicians to advocate. .

Alan Jones is right   Those ‘rich’ and ‘wonderful classrooms’ pursuing a rich and wonderful holistic curriculum don’t exist any more. They’ve been naplannized.

An observation
NAPLAN results ‘flatlined’ last year. Then Australia lined up towards the end of the PISA queue, getting poorer results than most other countries like us
We learned that the reason for the failure at PISA was contained in the DNA of NAPLAN that teaches kids to dislike particular subjects and schooling in general.

Yep. Undeniable. Unforgiveable.

At the same time, the creative, imaginative and useful aspects of schooling are left to flounder.
It seems as if the only way for the scores to get better is to manipulate the tests. So. Why not?
Admit failure. Make them easier.
The magic has gone. We keep treating kids as robots.

OR
Revive…
1. Make sure every parent knows that they can say ‘NO to NAPLAN’ and encourage them to do so.
and
2. Get rid of every politician who has not ‘come out’ on the side of children’s rights…..kids’  rights to proper, productive schooling.

Phil

P.S. Wouldn’t you like to be Alan Jones for a day, during this pre-Naplan period?

ALAN JONES HAS MADE IT CLEAR.   DUMP NAPLAN AND GET BACK TO MAGIC, WONDERFUL, HAPPY, PRODUCTIVE CLASSROOMS

February 2016 -Things Looked Good for a While

FEBRUARY 2016 saw the continuation of heavy NAPLAN-test-prep in those schools that have to rely on test results for their reputation. Holistic learning requirements , shared evaluation and real teaching were discussed and operated behind closed doors during this period, while regional officers in some states heavied [aka ‘mentored’] their teachers to be more naplanish and deliberately encouraged didactic modes of instruction among the unsure. Some even tried to ‘sell’ the ubiquitous direct de/instruction packages.These data-collectors can claim success. They have the naplan-based system firmly in their clutches.

The NAPLAN testing’s paranoia for the collection of scores was being properly defined : “ A NAPLAN score represents an inadequate judgement by a biased and variable testucator of the content to which an undefined level of mastery of unknown proportions of an inadequate amount of peculiar material has been completed on time. It is a device controlled by the New Mafia in the upper reaches of the banking and big corporate businesses, more engrossed in the accumulation of dollars and cents than in any concern. for child welfare or learning processes. It has the Frankenstein Effects of monstering as many learning abilities as it can, of abusing children’s mental health; and its control over decent curriculum and Australia’s intellectual future is extremely dangerous. As a mode of accountability and encouragement and system improvement, NAPLAN is pure crap.”

The importation of NAPLAN’s form of fear-based kleinism was, and remains an insult to the Aussie ‘way of life’. Instead of focusing on the basics of teaching, the importers’ fascist-inspired modes of teaching and learning turned our democratic options to a new low. The usual Aussie fair-play attitude to life actually contains the seeds of unrivaled achievement through a fair-play credo. We have neglected this attitude as it applies to school children for eight long years. It will have to be re-installed if we want to secure our future and a positive Aussie ‘way of life.’

The impact on political parties was varied at this time of 2016. An election year was coming up. Although the interest in schooling was minimal, each party hastily made up some quick policies. The Greens wanted the tests run at the beginning of the year. The LNP wanted better results within 12 weeks…forced, if necessary…May, of course! The ALP, it lay low. It, as usual, ignored the plight of kids under NAPLAN conditions and allowed their neo-con colleagues to have their way. The education policies of all parties and independent candidates demonstrated a clear disinterest in the guts of schooling. Independents and minor parties didn’t give two hoots. No political party or group indicated any interest in re-installing the high achieving, have-a-go, fair-dinkum, Aussie fair-crack-of-the-whip kind of education system we can have…if we want it. We seem to have lost the plot on the natural connection between fair-dinkum aussieness and productivity of school achievements. Our fixation with testing and data-collection, of New York origin, obscures the vision of Australia.s ability to becomeamongst the world’s most progressive countries. …depending on how well it treats its children.

OUR CANE-TOAD MENTALITY
Political parties’ attitude seemed to be based on a ‘cane toad’ mentality. THAT IS: Release an untested foreign ‘solution’ , without too much thought, to solve an invented problem and our school system will improve.{You will recall that the non-thinking scientists at the time of the cane-toad, overlooked the fact that toads could only leap so high and cane beetles flew higher.] .

Also… The New Mess, as the proposed use of computers for persuasive writing tests was called, hit the fan. The cane toad mentality was in full leap.

The concierge factions of each political party [the lobbyists, facilitators and door-openers] were busy , especially in the LNP, making sure that the candidates for the forthcoming elections were of the ‘right’ frame of mind. As it turned out, the electorate was starting to get sick of our pollies being controlled by the Gordon Gekkos of this world and turned to Pauline. She was chuffed and the longer neo-con un-seen operators control our politicians and systems, the happier she’ll be; the longer she’ll remain. The big Lib-Lab boys, probably paying for their sins of ignoring children, only have a slender lead over each other., now….and the more their indolence neglects the mental health of school children, the more slender any lead should become for the both parties.

During February, 2016

Concern was expressed by elite media commentators as to why states did not reclaim their control over schooling and treat children as human beings. Nothing happened.

The ALP started a peculiar petition for more resources in schools!!! It went flat.

THEN THINGS STARTED TO LOOK GOOD…..

A letter from Gabriel Stroud received resounding applause from real professionals and from the local media for a little while...” For many years I was privileged to be a teacher in primary schools. I knew I was a good teacher and my classroom was a place where pupils felt happy, confident, challenged and valued……But after 15 years of primary education in Australia I’ve had to admit defeat.” What a loss to the teaching profession. Nothing happened….except one other significant letter to the Courier Mail hit the fan.

Kathy Margolis wrote a letter that went viral. Kathy, who was a dedicated teacher for over 30 years was forced to seek another job. “Never have I experienced a time in my professional life where teachers are this stressed and in real fear for the mental health not only themselves, but the children that they teach…..I have never seen so many children suffering from stress and anxiety. It saddens me greatly. Teaching at the moment is data driven……I write this in the hope that we can spark a public discussion. We need the support of parents, who I know, agree with us. I love children and can’t bear to see what we are doing to them.”

A street march was held in Brisbane, and an interview with the state minister….then…zero activity.

The letters from Gabriel and Kathy …and Lucy Clark’s wonderful book….gave great heart to thousands of frustrated teachers wanting to teach their pupils to learn. For the first time since the measurement vandals started trespassing in classrooms of learning in 2008, someone was speaking out from where the action is! Enthusiasm was quickly quelled. Silence returned.

Treehorn wrote to Minister Birmingham suggesting that he initiate a study by a group of teachers such as Gabriel Stroud and Kathy Margolis of the effects of NAPLAN testing on the classroom atmosphere in Australian schools. He replied in April and referred to the fact that the new version of the Australian Curriculum “should assist teachers, thereby, improving morale.” !!! ‘Scuse me…..

He repeated what his dutiful officers had already told me as if I was a rookie or an impatient parent who needed reminding, that “….the purpose of NAPLAN tests is to help determine whether the students have the literacy and numeracy skills that provide the critical foundation for their learning.’

(“Ties and slurs It all sounds like…” ) Later in the year, the tests proved to the world that NAPLAN was not working…in fact, things were getting worse. The only conclusion to be reached was that the tests themselves were destroying the yen to do better. Kids how how they are being treated. It might have been a good idea to talk to the likes of Gabriel and Kathy, after all, to find out why this was so, instead of his making a unilateral decision to intimidate the states with threats of funding ‘arrangements’. if they didn’t exert more pressure on kids with more of the same. That’s what the poor fellow did! Too busy to think about schooling! He could even have checked how the original model was going in the USA [It has since collapsed] as any prudent assessor would do. He won’t believe that the fault is in the tests themselves. He doesn’t seem to like the Treehorn suggestion that children should be treated with dignity and care and develop a personal belief that they can achieve at the highest of levels, if they are taught to like Maths. Science, Literacy. He much prefers the state-threatened, fear-based, parent-deceited, press-silenced, teacher-timidified original Klein model. So, things remain the same. States were conned and still do as they are told. Teachers tolerate it. Kids suffer. Since our system’s aim is to pursue the mediocre through the continued use of fault-ridden tests, we will certainly continue as a flat-lined system on the way to nowhere.

It was in February that I had an accidental crew cut by the local hairdresser. She is still there, if you would like a crew cut. Just say: “NAPLAN.”

I was having a haircut and happened to mention ‘NAPLAN’ to the lady with the clippers.

The clipping speed increased rapidly. “That bloody thing! When my lad was in Grade 3, he didn’t sleep for weeks. He hated school and did not want to go. On the day, he threw up and I had to make him go.”

The clippers went into another gear, and hair flew off in my many shades of gray. “In Grade 5, same bloody thing.happened. He hated it and was really worried.”

Now, clip, clip. clip at breakneck speed. “He’s in Grade 7 now and I don’t know what’s going to happen. It’s on again now. Everyone is getting ready.”

Appeals to political candidates through The Treehorn Express to scrap NAPLAN based on UNESCO’s Rights of the Child, or on its inherent nastiness, and further pleas for them to think about their personal attitude to the purposes of schooling, and on the uselessness of the results, continued through February. The simple question was :”Why do we send children to school?” The unfortunate neo-con political robots were deaf or dyslexic. The month concluded with a clear expose from political science that countries get what they deserve from their attitude to the treatment of all human beings by their pollies. The neo-con attitude to getting what they want is to demand it. That’s the prevailing Australian attitude. The leaders of the Lib-Lab parties in particular, prefer to use coercion and reward power to get their way. I’m angry. Of course, I’m angry. I’m angry that no [political party in Australia cares enough about children to think about what they should be doing. I hate to see kids treated in the manner that our parliamentarians endorse.

Ideologies based on the yen for big money begets the use of reward and/or coercive powers to try to get people to do what they want. Such anxiety-driven, fear-based operations generally result in lower-level responses from the operatives at the work-face or chalk-face, ranging from rejection of the operation to enthusiasm for the enterprise. Australian schools are close to the rejection end, but not close enough. The problem is that the caring professions are more sensitive than others, trying to ride out the oppression but failing to stand up for the ideals and ethics of their work [which are shelved] because coercive activities are built into their chain of command…..as they are these days in Australian schooling. Fear and intimidation prevail.

NAPLAN testing can never rely on any enthusiasm from any dignified teaching service, for the task of blanket testing. It is bound to fail. Serious caring teachers can only take so much. The arrogant toxicity of the testing industry, in which love and care are denied to the humanity of the task, ignores the colleagueship between a teacher and a learner. Both teacher and learner know that NAPLAN is a very dangerous operation that should be dropped as soon as possible. Before the testing factories swing into action in February 2017, some wise politicians might anticipate parental and teacher revolt before reality hits and they might have to do something about it. People don’t like the suggestion that their schools are operated by fascist-oriented people, but it’s the truth. Schools can do without FEAR, ANXIETY, DECEIT and GREED. All four factors are too firmly embedded in the Australian system of schooling at present. ….and…..they can so easily be replaced by zest, enthusiasm, accomplishment and achievement. Just get rid of the menace that is holding Australia back.

That’s how we left February, 2016…..confused, battered, hopeful for a while thanks to Kathy and Gabriel, busily preparing for the May tests, imposing extra homework, enrolling at after-school NAPLAN-focused back-yard shops, not giving a tinkers about the mental health of our kids, knowing full-well that the emphasis on getting good test scores actually inhibits learning, hiding parental rights, infringing the Code of Moral Conduct https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Code_of_conduct , with our tongue in our cheek; and learning to say dutifully, with louder ‘test-speak’ that “we don’t like NAPLAN, but…..what can we do?”……

Why do some people and caring institutions, bother to write definitive Moral Codes, Rights of the Child, Freedom to Learn kind of documents?

As Aussie pollies and administrators we cannot be too proud of our timidity . Why can’t we do the job properly? Why don’t we CARE FOR KIDS ?


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In which Piglet looks for a 21st Century Education Part 1

By Kelvin Smythe

(Originally published in Networkonnet)

One day, when Christopher Robin and Winnie-the-Pooh and Piglet were all talking together, Christopher Robin finished the mouthful he was eating and said carelessly: ‘I saw a 21st Century Education to-day, Piglet.’

‘What was it doing?’ asked Piglet.

‘Just lumping along,’ said Christopher Robin. ‘I don’t think it saw me.’

‘I saw one once,’ said Piglet. ‘At least I think I did,’ he said. ‘Only perhaps it wasn’t.’

‘So did I,’ said Pooh wondering what a 21st Century Education was like.

‘You don’t often see them,’ said Christopher Robin matter-of-factly.

‘Not now,’ said Piglet.

‘Not at this time of year,’ said Pooh.

Just as they came to the Six Pine Trees, Pooh looked around to see that nobody else was listening, and said in a very solemn voice: ‘Piglet, I have decided something.’

‘What have you decided Pooh?’

‘I have decided to catch a 21st Century Education.’

Piglet asked, ‘But what does a 21st Century Education look like? Then continued thoughtfully: ‘Before looking for something, it is wise to ask someone what you are looking for before you begin looking for it.’

What follows is something I look at as a kind of written doodle thus subject to continual revision (contributed to by what you have to say). In such a matter it is difficult to be comprehensive or fair; if I tried strenuously to be so, I would probably never get going.

We are, it seems, getting ourselves tied in knots about something called 21st century education – before looking for it, as Piglet suggests, it might be wise to find out what we are looking for.

This could be done in respect to how it might differ from what went before, how it might be the same as what went before, how it might be worse than went before, who is supposed to benefit from it, who is calling for it, does it exist, should it exist, what are its aims and, being education, how much is career- or self-serving bollocks.

I intend this posting to be a search for something called a 21st century education.

As part of that I declare my prior understandings about the concept – a concept because there has never been any discussion about something called 20th century education, it was never conceptualised in that way, so why for 21st century education? The formation and high usage of the concept label suggests powerful forces at work – forces, I suggest, taking control of the present to control the future. Those active in promoting the concept of 21stcentury education are mostly from political, technology, and business groupings, also some academics: the immediate future they envisage as an extension and intensification of their perception of society and education as they see it now. And in the immediate future, as well as the longer term one, they see computers at the heart of 21st century education, which is fair enough as long as the role of computers is kept in proportion as befits a tool, a gargantuanly important one, but still a tool.

Neoliberalism is dominant in current economic, political, and education thought so to understand what 21st century advocacy is about, there is a need to recognise the nature of that philosophy. But because it is neoliberalism we are dealing with a complex of abstract and polysyllabic words that need to be uncovered to reveal their true reality, a control, market-oriented, and anti-democratic one. But it is a Russian doll. Those words do more than cover anti-democratic, control ends; they also express a colossal ignorance of our best education understandings about how children learn, which, however, is not irrational, because that ignorance is partly a self-serving slipped-into ignorance.  And the reference to our ‘best education understandings’ is a highly qualified one, because neoliberalism has been hard at work under Tomorrow’s Schools undermining our best understandings and replacing them with their own, meaning the number of people ‘our’ refers to is a dwindling one.

Children have no choice as to what century they reside in, 21 carries no more significance to how one should approach the education of children than 20. I believe that people in education, or around education, should stop looking over the top of children to look at those before them: the best way to prepare children for the future, no matter the century, is to meet their needs now. Those needs would be along the lines of empathy [of which reading should be seen as a key contributor], fairness, independence, collaboration, creativity and imagination, problem-solving, commitment to democratic principles, critical thinking, ways of thinking [for instance, for science, arts, drama, history, mathematics], key knowledge [everything in education or life is by definition value-laden but that doesn’t mean children should be denied access to culturally important and cohesive knowledge – computer advocates are for skills and spasmodic knowledge based on children’s often passing superficial interest which is paraded as some kind of 21stcentury transcendental insight].

School education is being pressured to inappropriate purposes by groups who claim a hold on the future and from that hold generate techno-panic to gain advantage in the present.

Another prior understanding is that the inappropriate use of computers for learning has contributed to the decline in primary school education (though well behind the contribution of national standards and the terrible education autocracy of the education review office). For all the talk of personalising learning, of building learning around the child, of individualising learning, the mandating question for 21st century education seems to be: how can we build the digital into learning instead of how can we best do the learning? And even further: how can we build schools for digital learning instead of what is best for children’s learning environment? Large open spaces are not the best environment for children’s learning, meaning that in combination with the heavy use of computers to make large open spaces ‘work’, a distinct problem is developing. Computers and large open spaces are being promoted by 21st century advocates as the two key ideas to carry us forward to the education for the 21st century.

In respect to computers, learning about them and using them is both necessary and inevitable, how could it be otherwise, but from that necessity and inevitability comes the responsibility to protect schools from their disassociating effects. The neoliberal advocates of a computer-laden future are putting at risk the potential of human thought, behaviour, and imagination. Their judgement, based on what computers can do, remains undisturbed, it seems, by any understanding of what the best of learning can be. Computers are going to be everywhere, beyond the imaginations of most of us; all the more important to appreciate the decisive contribution of learning beyond and apart from the computer and the need to challenge the social control that pervasive computer use brings to bear on school and beyond.

The use of computers should not become the defining characteristic of what is called 21stcentury education but it has, and an education and social tragedy is unfolding.  The defining characteristics of 21st century education should be the same as the defining characteristics of 20th century education (expressed above) before the neoliberal philosophy took hold.

In the following paragraphs I will refer to trends deriving from the greatly increased use of computers, also the effects of the neoliberal changes to the education system such as national standards, the narrowing of the curriculum, the fear-laden functioning of the education review office, and the government control of education knowledge.

The particular form of learning most associated with computers is inquiry learning. For all the talk of discovery, creativity, and thinking claimed for that approach precious little seems to be forthcoming. Inquiry learning is the main curriculum practice developed to suit computers and neoliberal education. No matter what a teacher does, if it is called inquiry learning, the teacher is safe; the use of any other name puts the teacher at risk – the system likes conformity, even more obedience, and throughout a teacher’s practice and records the authorities are looking for those little signs of deference that communicate the teacher has got in behind.

Despite a lot of cute tricks and manoeuvres, inquiry learning is simply swept up old-style projects using google and computers. It is considerably an empty shell – yes, children are often interested, but what is missing is the development of the vital ways of thinking particular to a curriculum area. An empty learning shell is a prime characteristic of 21stcentury education.

Another 21st century prime education characteristic is the priority of skills over knowledge – meaning for ends any knowledge will do.  As stated above ‘everything in education or life is by definition value-laden but that doesn’t mean children should be denied access to culturally important and cohesive knowledge – computer advocates are for skills and spasmodic knowledge based on children’s often passing superficial interest which is paraded as some kind of 21st century transcendental insight.’

Because the neoliberal education system puts a low value on the arts, drama, and dance there has been a diminution in their quality and quantity, also contributing to that diminution is the cramping effect of national standards which, admittedly, is just another expression of that lack of valuing. In open space schools, which in some respects one would think ideal for the arts, drama, and dance a further diminution derives from the pressure to avoid the noise and activity that typically comes from children’s participation in those activities. The shush factor of the newer open space schools is not as noticeable and inhibiting as in the older ones, but it is still there.  And I miss the independent advisers throughout the curriculum but in the arts their absence is particularly painful. It was a team of art advisers dropping in at odd times that was the crucial stimulus to Elwyn Richardson – oh that they could come knocking again.

Open space schools lack the spontaneity available in conventional classrooms, for instance, allowing the varying of the timetable and being able to carry on with a programme, say for most of a day – a cherished part of the primary school tradition.

A heavy use of paper templates is common in schools today, with iPads providing digital ones, and exerting a decidedly deadening effect on learning. Another deadening effect is derived from an idea imported from America for use in open space classrooms in association with computers, but is also being used in some conventional classrooms as well. It is called ‘the wall’. Its purpose is to have children work independently on activities from a range of curriculum areas but especially the basics. Activities are displayed on ‘the wall’ and a place for the children to sign off when completed. In New Zealand, a direct duplication of the practice has largely been avoided but many classrooms especially open space ones, employ something like it. The crucial pedagogical point is that to avoid organisational confusion and a lot of demands on teachers, the activities provided are routine and a little below the level of challenge for children. If the activities are ability grouped, the activities for the top group are closer to being OK than the lower groups. The practice is unstimulating and limiting in all curriculum areas but especially in mathematics.

Twenty-first century education has also become associated with two harmful language practices – in reading, a trend to more phonics and words in isolation – oh champion; and in writing, on the basis, it seems, that primary children should be prepared for university from early juniors, the emphasis in writing has shifted to the expository and argument and away from children writing imaginatively and expressively. This combined with the use of templates and the asTTle emphasis on using adjectives and adverbs willy-nilly, is resulting in writing in New Zealand schools being smashed.

Another prime characteristic is the way the role of the teacher is defined. The role of the teacher as carried out in the past is first belittled, pouring water into bottles apparently while standing at the front holding forth (which seems quite a trick). And having established that, the 21st century teacher is then defined as being a facilitator (my hunch is that if that facilitator worked out from what to where and how, the facilitator would, in fact, be a teacher).

One of the substantial problems with computer use and learning is the way it encourages or allows teacher to forgo their responsibilities (as I see it) to deepen and extend children’s learning before they go out on their own (so to speak). Learning experiences need an introduction (with all sorts of open questions and activities), gaining of knowledge (interestingly and pertinently), use of that knowledge (with investigation or activities), and a conclusion (presentation and discussion). But the 21st century way is to quickly hand it over to computers and inquiry learning, with the teacher congratulating him or herself on the independence being encouraged.

The reason why the Treaty of Waitangi is hardly touched is because teachers are unwilling or unable to take children into such a topic, to build up the knowledge, to develop a feeling for what happened, and to identify the issues for the children to investigate from there. And a reason why teachers are so fixed on inquiry learning (leaving aside hierarchical insistence) is a lack of knowledge of alternatives. It is important for teachers to know, even if they don’t feel able to change, there are.

Where is the social studies thinking? that is, the comparative thinking based on the interaction of knowledge with the affective.

Twenty-first century social studies is children choosing their own topics or being asked to investigate large, abstract impersonal topics like communication. There is very rarely a true social studies challenge in a topic like that, or a source of empathetic development.

The social studies thinking will be absent.

Where is the science thinking? that is, thinking based on science investigation.

The question: The question that guides the investigation.

 

What I know now: The child records all he or she knows about the question. If the child already knows the answer, then there is no point in investigating it further. The teacher can also at this stage make a judgement as to whether it is possible for the child to investigate it in the time available. Many topics like volcanoes and dinosaurs lend themselves to study-skills rather than investigation processes.

What I did: This is the vital stage and what differentiates science from point-of-view? It is a step-by-step record of what actually happened; it can be in diary or note-taking form. It records the observing, testing, and trying out of the question. The failures as well as the successes are recorded. Others can read what went on and may suggest ways to revisit the investigation by another route. It may help show others not to go along that path. The child also includes references about those who helped and testing methods used.

And so on.

The science thinking will be revealed.

Where is the language way of thinking? that is, sincerity expressed in writing.

Imagine: the discussion, encouraging but not obtrusive to the child’s thinking; the child knowing how previous writing had been used and that imagination was valued; the art that had occurred or might follow; the urging to intensive observation and accurate expression that preceded the writing by the nine-year-old girl who decided to view the world through the grass not toward the grass:

Small balls of rain fall down and spit up in tiny streaks of white.

Leaves knotted by strings of weeds.

Leaves like cups hold blobs of water.

Drops of water trail down leaves and peak at the top.

Bird’s wings doubles as it flies.

Twigs uneven like a fork.

The dripping tap splits into tracks.

‘Did you find what you were looking for? asked Piglet.

‘Yes,’ said Pooh in muffled tones.

‘But I have decided something.’

‘What have you decided Pooh?’

‘This honey pot is a lot more interesting.’

Continued in Part 2

The battering of schools by a mega-meme.

“The Plowden Report was an official study, not a brain-fart exchange by two testucating child-mind-bashers at a booze-up in New York.”

“Joel Klein and Julia Gillard would have been tarred and feathered and rail-roaded out of town if they had tried their fear-based stunts then.

Mega Meme-Storm Continues

Devastating Damage

A meme is a vogue-word that covers the description of  an idea or a movement or a behaviour or a style that seems to have come from nowhere, but establishes itself in a culture, then self-perpetuates or mutates or adjusts. Some are strange. Some last longer than others. Think of torn jeans, tattoes, rock music, rap, bad language, school examinations, standardised testing’.  Someone starts something somewhere and it spreads.

Education systems get more than their fair share of memes that are sometimes called ‘fads’. Their origins can be traced and their upkeep can be followed but, in the worst cases, their obliteration can be slow. Others, like zest for learning, mini-skirts, good manners and child-centred learning disappear too fast!

A time line of useful and destructive educational memes can be drawn by any enthusiastic historian, which I am not. I have lived through some extreme ones and they were devastating. Within the limits of my experience – the post-war period to this point  in time-  a little over 70 years – this latest destructive Meme – NAPLANISING – for want of a better term,  has been the worst and most destructive, by a long shot. Why?  Because it aims directly at the mental health of children in a very deliberate way to try to force them to engage in robotic swotting behaviour of the most damaging kind.  It’s also a serious threat to responsible government, because it is killing the magic of learning and potential leadership of international negotiations.

The best meme in this  70 year period was described as ‘child-centred schooling’ or ‘open learning’ or ‘freedom to learn”.   It’s disappeared now, but when it was in vogue, the times were just wonderful and the school atmosphere was magic.

MEME-STORMS,

This is a short personal story about welcomed and unwelcome memes that would be of little interest to present day testucators. The oldies, the has-been educators,  might find something of interest. Let me start at the beginning. I was the most test-focussed primary school principal the world had ever known, and I would never have taken much notice of the crack-pots of the time who were talking about ‘freedom to learn’, ‘integrated days’, ‘alternative schools’, ‘subversive teaching’, allowing children to talk to each other in class, to think beyond the set syllabus, to enjoy learning, even to enjoy school…and all that nonsense of the post-war fifties.  Apart from monthly and terms tests I held tests of Arithmetic [Tables, Mental, Notation, Sums and Problems – as they were called] every Friday and I was working on some Grammar tests when I joined ‘them’.  I ‘heard’ spelling of every child in the school each day, over the intercom.  I was ‘test crazy’….until a little girl cried in front of me, when her main academic rival beat her on one of my monthly tests. I woke up there and then.  I hadn’t joined the teaching profession to make children cry; and I  realised that I must have been upsetting the real learning of hundreds of others in the scramble for better test scores.   Even though my inspectors liked what I was doing and I kept getting promoted, I knew that there was something better that I should be doing, but, despite duodinal ulcers, Bells Palsy and the rest, I couldn’t figure it all out.

I was born at the right time, as it turned out.  It was, almost suddenly,  the sixties; and I was right age to sort myself out. I was in the mood; and the books of the era were the most thought provoking ever. I read voraciously as did my divergent mentor and neighbour, principal Oscar Bell.  Miss Walker, owner of the largest bookstore in Cairns said that we were her best customers,  Cuisennaire was in vogue as was ‘individualisation’, structured reading using S.R.A. packaged reading kits [Shhh!], Reading in Colours, Reading for Understanding [a divergent thought at the time]. Piaget’s theory of social development was No.1 on the charts and  was even discussed at those inservice gatherings at the pub each Friday. He was a hero. Classrooms started to become ‘child-centred’ rather than ‘subject-centred’.  It was the sexy sixties.  Things were changing.  Joel Klein and Julia Gillard would have been tarred and feathered and rail-roaded  out of town if they had tried their fear-based stunts then.

Then came 1967 – The Plowden Report. It’s Golden Jubilee year this year.  50 years. Things started looking up. It was the time when “the hot knowledge of the practitioner and the practical administrator were put into practice”. Its messages are still ignored by testucators even though it was the best thing to hit England since the railway.  It was an official study, led by Lady Plowden, not the outcome of a brain-fart exchange by two testucating child-mind-bashers at a booze-up in New York. Child-centred education looked like being here to stay, putting into  practice what the war and  post-war experiences had taught those at the chalk-face.    I managed to visit the more notable LEAs in England…Bristol, Hertsfordshire and the West Riding of Yorkshire. Oh, what a feeling! The zest for learning was incredible. Sir Alec Clegg [https://alecclegg.com/plowden/and Eric Hake were absolute masters of the craft, sharing their experiences with a former test-freak from down under!  Magic.  It was 1970 and Australia was already opening its doors to welcome better ways of doing things in the classroom.  South Australia, the A.C.T. and W.A.  were quick off the mark and went so far as to completely alter the architecture of their classrooms to allow for more activity, more cooperative teaching, more opportunities to use the full range of strategies between the didactic to the maieutic that teachers used, to suit the subject and the pupils.

Children were treated as pupils not students.  Openness started to become a state of mind and not just an architectural term. Teaching and learning hugged each other in meaningful progress. What a wonderful period for a teacher to have lived. Wonderful. Wonderful to be a teacher in such times, under such circumstances.

Then came a severe questioning of what was going on in schools in ‘back to basic ‘terms, led by the fake press [especially The Bully in Australia], in the late 70s. It was mischief-making by casual observers of classrooms where children could wander around, talk to each other and share.  The uninitiated thought that it was chaos, because the children were not spending the day, sitting in their seats looking towards the chalkboard and reciting things. This meme-storm, originating  from a low-level series of  academic ‘Black Papers’ [1]in England that hit our shores with the intensity of a Category 5 cyclone. The press made the most of it with special magazine issues, nation-wide TV debates, public meetings, government inquiries and the like. Queensland was a special hot-spot because of its maverick style of governance. The unease was tactile until a special government committee [Ahern 1978-80] tidied up the mess and substantiated the kind of progress being made in teaching and learning terms.  Teachers , in those days, stuck to their guns when their professional ethics were threatened. Despite the appearance of classrooms, they knew what real learning was.

If school leaders of 2008 had remembered any part of this Back-to-Basics Super-Meme, they would never had allowed NAPLAN anywhere near the front gate of their school when it was proposed. .

The ease of influencing political decision, however,  as crazy as they were in the pre-Ahern period, gave heart to groups of moral crusaders who had been hanging around on the sidelines, waiting to clean out the teaching profession  of social justice adherents,  child-centred advocates, readers of subversive books and viewers of doubtful films. All of these atrocities were caused by state school teachers. Schools were promoting immorality. This gross meme had its origins in the U.S. in a large numbers of ‘Southern Baptist’ type institutions but especially the John Birch Society, a bulwark of conservatism and the the Moral Morality, run by Jerry Falwell[whose son is now an advisor to Donald T], a moneyed-up,  extreme right wing group that had established clones in Australia {Committee Against Regressive Education, Society to Outlaw Pornography, Council for Community Standards, Community Morals in Education, Campaign for Responsible Education, Conservative Club, Evolution Protest Committee  were some]. In Queensland, moral crusader Rona Joyner took command of schooling and of the cabinet and managed to ban M:ACOS, a social science program for primary schools and a commonwealth-sponsored social education project,  SEMP, in secondary schools. The teaching profession was a close-knit ethical unit in Australia at the time and the agitation disappeared…as did the Queensland dystopic government.

Then the smarties from the emerging discipline of business administration thought that they knew more about the various kinds of administration, even schooling, than those who’d practised it for ever and had excelled at the academic pursuit of the specialty. These managerialists were allowed to take over the band-wagon.  While it is said that everyone has the right to be stupid, but politicians abuse the privilege. Ours got it all a-about-f and played havoc with the basic principles of organisational structure. They tried to stick square pegs in round holes. Didn’t work, but, as usual, they kept it up. They appointed sciolists and pretenders into important positions and they  buggered things up, big time. The managerialists thought that the possession of a degree meant that the possessor knew more about everything than anybody without one. They thought that a well-prepared CV was a form guide and that the thespian skills demonstrated at interview time meant that he applicant could do anything.  Plumbers were put in charge of nurseries and, worst of all, testucating measurement freaks were put in charge of schooling. The managerial movement of the 80s and 90s was a calamity for Australian education. It was a meme-storm  of hurricane proportions. ‘Debbie’ would be a puff of wind by comparison. We have yet to recover. Maybe never. But. One day, after the cyclonic damage is being tidied up,  in the long distant future ,there is a slight chance that we will have education departments run by the teaching fraternity with curriculums and curricula  knowledge based on children’s needs. One day.

MEME-STORM. CAT.5

We couldn’t stop the Cat.5 meme-storm of 2008. It’s still raging.  Its destructiveness is legendary.

In political terms, what sort of government spends millions of dollars on an abject failure and then spends millions more to continue it?  Our political representatives surely test the standards of stupidity with casual indifference.

  

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1. All five Black Papers – supported by the right-wing press – attacked the concepts of comprehensive education, egalitarianism and progressive teaching methods. They deplored the lack of discipline in schools and blamed comprehensivisation for preventing ‘academic’ students from obtaining good examination results. ‘Education in England: a brief history‘ by Derek Gillard.

Our schooling is a commie plot.

Treehorn newsbreak.

Here’s an extract  about the way that our schooling system is being conducted by you ‘products of Marxist oriented universities’ and ‘purveyors of government sponsored socialist brainwashing’. You have caused the dilution of PISA scores!

This is  extracted from a longer treatise by a 21st century thinker postulating about the way our country is going to the pack . He is not a happy chappie.

“Don’t know if you know ex RAAF’ie Allan Essery but he writes a good burst for the southern papers…..

Poor Fella, My Country . . .
Jack Cade  (AllanEssery) – 22 February 2017

What an embarrassing disappointment it was to learn that numeracy and literacy in our schools rates last on a list of 27 countries and is put to shame by Kazakistan in central-west Asia between Russia and China.  When we have a good look at schools in this day and age we find that our children’s minds are not being filled with the basics of the ‘Three R’s’ but rather they are being thoroughly polluted with despicable socialist rubbish such as the perverted ‘Safe Schools Programme’ and other social engineering foolishness.

Criticism of teachers is met not with a credible counter-argument but instead generates raucous howls of leftist abuse.  The truth is that it is obvious to all but the socialist left that today’s teachers are a product of Marxist orientated universities and that reality reflects in the quality of their teaching and the falling standards in basic subjects.  A report published in the Daily Telegraph in 2013 said that around 75,000 students in Years 3, 5, 7 and 9 who sat the NAPLAN tests in the previous year didn’t meet national minimum standards.  Who would you blame for that?  The students?

There is a move by many concerned parents to remove their children from schools that have become purveyors of government sponsored socialist brainwashing into the home schooling environment.  The former NSW Education Minister, Adrian Piccoli, meddled dangerously with education in that state and forced ‘safe schools programme’ into the schools as did the Victorian small ‘p’ premier turned dictator, Daniel Andrews.  Andrews goes even further as he and his arrogant Education Minister plot to introduce new laws with a view to disrupting home schooling and forcing parents to revert back to sending their children to state government and private schools where they will yet again have their minds scrambled by socialist left degenerative mind poisoning products of leftist social engineering.”

ooo000ooo000ooo000ooo

 

 

 

 

So there.

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Scroll down…..

Phil Cullen 41 Cominan Avenue Banora Point Australia 2486  07 55246443  0407865999  cphilcullen@bigpond.com  

         It’s good for the garden…

Humanity-free Education.

“When the U.S. Chiefs of Staff meet, their chests are emblazoned with colourful medals that they give to each other for killing people.  While our leaders want us to treat children as the enemy and keep trying to destroy their intellectual and creative spirit, our leaders should do the same.” (Susan O)

HUMANITY-FREE EDUCATION

In the test-prep run up to the Noplan Tests in May, observers of how we run our schools won’t get a better example of Humanity-Free Education than we have before us, now. The season is open on children’s intellectual and creative talents.

Child-care and welfare are ignored. Schools must make a concerted attempt to destroy children’s natural zest for learning.  Of historical origin, the collective conscience of Australian voters seems to support our politicians in their drive to acculturise our children to hate school and ignore learning, but maintain an abiding interest in passing tests.  There can be no other reason for the tests. Testing controls the Nation!  Our schools must be run in the best traditions of our model testucator, Mr Thomas Gradgrind.

Mr Thomas Gradgrind is the notorious school board Superintendent in Dickens‘s novel Hard Times who is dedicated to the pursuit of profitable enterprise. His name is now used generically to refer to someone who is hard and only concerned with cold facts and numbers…..according to W-pedia

 While some fair-dinkum educators try to ignore the nastiness, the Gradgrinds in Australian schools are already geared up to observe the rituals of  Naplanic Testucation.  Testucation is an outcome of Kleinism, a fear-based system introduced in 2008 and continued by formal decree.

 The creation of high levels [some extreme] of anxiety, fear, sleeplessness and mental illness is a form of child abuse that is encouraged as a teaching method during this Noplan period of schooling. It can only cease when enough parents say ‘No’.

1. The test starts on May 9, but schools have not sought permission from parents for children to undertake these experiments on their children. Humane schools can offer this choice…nothing to stop them…but they don’t…they  do as they are told and thumb their noses at parents…scaredy cats they are, too cautious of the bureaucratic consequences.  Yes. It is an EXPERIMENT. What else ?  It keeps failing. We keep going in case it works

2. Because of this, parents assume that Noplan is part of normal school routine. IT IS NOT AND NEVER HAS BEEN. State authorities, threatened by loss of revenue,  have given their permission to federal authorities for all state and private schools to use their children to gather data. It takes 3 days of learning time each May. Completing the tests is , clearly, an optional extra, nothing to do with learning the traditional curriculum.

3. Parents have to inform the school that they do not want their children to take part in experiments that risk their attitude to and their aptitude for learning. Some parents don’t even know that they have this democratic right io say ‘no’. Schools are instructed by federal and state authorities  not to tell the public……to ‘keep mum ‘ .

4. When parents do inform the school that they do not want their child to participate, the Gradgrinds of this world still continue to force all children to participate in the venomous test-prep, in clear breech of honour and integrity and dignity and ethics.  No means NO in other institutions.

5. Journalists and columnists are not allowed to inform the public of their rights; and none has yet been brave enough to buck the system and reveal the truth. Control by  the Murdoch/Klein enterprises scares the whole media force. In ten years there has not been a newspaper article nor TV commentary that informs the public of its rights under NAPLAN. Not one.

6. The established holistic curriculum covering as many life- enhancing learnings as possible,  is allowed to be fiddled. Subjects such as Phys.Ed., Music, Art, Health are denied to pupils.

7. PISA and TIMSS international results to date have provided no joy, but authorities continue as if nothing has happened. Noplan should be stopped forthwith. It’s failed.

We all allow these things to happen right under our noses. n

We don’t care much for kids. “The environment you live in, is the environment that lives in you.”  We are perpetuating a schooling environment of fear, deceit and mediocrity.

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Phil Cullen  41 Cominan Avenue Banora Point Australia 2486  07 5524 6443   0407865999  cphilcullen@bigpond.com

If the affective is secure, the cognitive is inevitable.

         WHAT ELSE DO YOU NEED TO KNOW TO RID US OF THIS NAPLAN CONTAMINATION?

Never Allow Pupils Learn Anything Necessary

Education Readings March 9th

By Allan Alach

A day earlier this week, as we’re moving house…

I welcome suggested articles, so if you come across a gem, email it to me at allanalach@inspire.net.nz

Networkonnet education manifesto for the 2017 election

Kelvin Smythe has produced this document setting out his vision for education for the coming New Zealand general election in September this year. There’s much in this that could be adapted for other countries.

‘The propagandising and spinning of education ‘achievement’ that dominates our current system, the scapegoating, disenfranchising, privatisation, and financial and spiritual impoverishment is not government whim or a series of unrelated actions, but ingrained ideological policy as part of global capitalism and a shift against democracy.’

http://bit.ly/2mzD7Gt

Five Reasons Why Performance Pay for Teachers is Dangerous Territory

Here’s a discussion paper from New Zealand’s newest political party:

‘The New Zealand Initiative’s new report calls for performance pay for teachers. It is an alluring concept, and one that intuitively appeals, after all we can all agree that good performers should be rewarded for their effort. However, when it comes to teaching that idea falls down on a detailed examination. Here’s 5 reasons why.’

http://bit.ly/2mhmPQB

‘To retain our best teachers we need to stop killing them with planning, marking and meetings’

‘Just about every teacher will recognise the sad truth: they are working longer and longer hours week after week. (It would appear that this is now recognised by the Department for Education, too). The most profound question to address is whether these extra hours spent in the school are actually improving the quality of teaching and learning. Sadly, it would seem, this is not the case. It is rather more likely that we are spending endless hours perfuming menial tasks because that’s just what is expected of us…’

http://bit.ly/2mkaEEc

The good, the bad and the ugly: Technology and 21st Century Learning

There are many in the world of education (not to forget the corporate powerhouses in the technology industry) who believe that the world was re-created on 1st January 2000 but it is necessary for educators to recognize that there is not a single story and to think critically about the place of technology in our schools. Tom Bennett, the recently appointed advisor to the UK government on issues relating to behavior in schools, has pointed out that schools have been “dazzled” by computers.’

http://bit.ly/2mzI6XF

A Pedagogical Shift Needed for Digital Success

On a similar theme:

‘I get the fact that technology can increase engagement, but if that engagement does not lead to evidence of learning then what’s the point?’

http://bit.ly/2mW8bBr

Three Myths About “Reading Levels”

And why you shouldn’t fall for them…

‘However measured, reading levels can be a generally useful guide to whether a particular text is going to be far too difficult for a particular reader. For example, the student who scored at 4.6 on a recent, valid reading test will probably have significant difficulty reading and understanding that text at an 8.1 reading level.  Unfortunately, though, the ubiquity and precision with which these reading levels are now being tested and reported has led to their increasingly inappropriate use, especially in schools.’

‘Such misguided policies and practices are based on three very prevalent myths about reading levels.’

http://bit.ly/2mkeahQ

Contributed by Bruce Hammonds:

‘You somehow imposed your own prejudices on education’ – one primary teacher’s extraordinary open letter to Michael Gove

Letter to former UK Minister of Education, which also applies to New Zealand, USA, and Australia.

‘The most shocking thing about Michael Gove’s reign as education secretary was that one individual was able to change the system so much for the worse, writes this primary teacher.’

http://bit.ly/2mh7T4Z

Teaching as a Subversive Activity

‘If you were educated to be a teacher in the 60’s – as I was – you were groomed to see “teaching as a subversive activity” after the leading education prep book of the time by the same name, authored by Charles Weingartner and Neil Postman. Their approach to schooling, known as inquiry education, emphasized student questions more than teacher answers. Teaching was characterized as a tool for questioning the status quo, as a means to talk truth to power and as a salvo against the all too often stultifying effects of the establishment.’

http://huff.to/2n43en4

Lesson in stupidity: Savage chop in classroom as schools face first real-terms cuts in 20 years

Does this seem familiar in your country?

‘School budgets are failing to keep pace with inflation, meaning rising prices outstrip the amount of cash they have to spend. A new funding formals will also see some schools robbed of hundreds of thousands of pounds. And experts have warned classrooms could see more pupils while the number of teachers drops and the loss of teaching assistants altogether. Subsidised school trips would face being axed and equipment budgets could also be slashed, forcing kids to study old textbooks and education chiefs to impose a freeze on buying new computers.Schools are already scrapping music lessons, turning off heating and planning to charge parents for children’s sessions with mental health counsellors.”

http://bit.ly/2mzGkFY

In an age of robots, schools are teaching our children to be redundant

‘In the future, if you want a job, you must be as unlike a machine as possible: creative, critical and socially skilled. So why are children being taught to behave like machines?

Children learn best when teaching aligns with their natural exuberance, energy and curiosity. So why are they dragooned into rows and made to sit still while they are stuffed with facts? We succeed in adulthood through collaboration. So why is collaboration in tests and exams called cheating?’

http://bit.ly/2mWdAsn

From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:

Pride through personal excellence

‘It seems these days teachers rush through tasks to ‘deliver’ or ‘cover’ the curriculum.The idea of doing things well has been lost in this rush yet we all know that pride of achievement comes from succeeding so well at a task we even surprise ourselves.As a result students produce little of real substance. Teachers are too busy proving what they have done to focus on the more important need to see each student does the very best work they can.’

http://bit.ly/2eSotEs

Environmental awareness for pre-schoolers – from ‘On Looking’ by Alexandra Horowitz

On Looking – Eleven walks with expert ideas. A wonderful book that reflects the multiple intelligences of Howard Gardner and the importance of different frameworks to interpret the environment.  Love the walk with the four year old and the dog. Or culture fosters inattention but this book will help you uncover the unbelievable things to observe in your environment.

‘Alexandra Horowitz, who trained as a cognitive scientist, explains the startling power of human attention and what it means to be an expert observer.’

http://bit.ly/1xo3Ndi