The future of our nation depends on our attitude towards children and their schooling
Hardening of attitudes is one one the world’s must serious diseases – Zig Zigler
- ATTITUDE is a human condition defined by Jung as “…the readiness of a person’s psyche to act or react in a certain way.” This psychic reaction is usually the result of a personal evaluation of the circumstances that surround our social experiences. In the workplace, a person adjusts control over his/her feelings once the affective domain checks out what is being demanded by somebody else….each using his or her esoteric knowledge and experience to develop a specific attitude. Each person decodes the messages coming through the work-a-day system in his/her own way and reacts with enthusiasm or ennui or rejection. If the motives of those in charge run counter to the ethics of the professional operator at the work-face or their attitude is not to give two hoots about the underling’s attitude, there will be problems. Attitudes will clash. System-wide ennui is guaranteed….. prior to rejection. Systems, especially schooling ones, hope that everybody….administrators, assistants of all kinds, teachers, teacher- aides, children become enthusiastic and demonstrate positive similar attitudes to learning [the only business of schooling] per se. The Finns adopted this attitude years ago. It’s an intense, involved business….esoteric in a very real sense….. so it is important for a country’s development that everybody is on a similar wave-length about the best ways, allowing for variety of course, to teach children how to learn. Think of Finland’s all-as-one attitude to learners and teachers. However, if wires are crossed as to the purpose of schooling and there is a serious divergence of attitudes in the ways that schools and schooling authorities teach and evaluate , all is lost…for sure. Think Australia
Distinguished psychologist, Gordon Allport describes ATTITUDE as “…the most distinctive and indispensable concept in contemporary society”.
Let’s look at Australia’s attitude to schooling. It is sadly in need of a major overhaul as this example shows: We were, to a person, impressed by Finland’s mode of schooling because it does well at PISA tests for 15 year olds every three years; NOT because its schools value the learning habits of its children, and the country highly values what teachers do in the teaching-learning-classroom context. We were impressed by its high scores because weprefer to use bang-crash modes of instruction and have a penchant for using numerals to describe human endeavour. It’s a post millennium form of pagan idolatry…adoration of numerals. That’s true, isn’t it? What is going on? How come the Finns don’t use our crash-bang-rigid techniques? What do they know, that we don’t? Do people really do better when they like learning? Fear makes people do as they are told in concentration camps, correction centres, battle procedures and the like. It should work in schools. That’s our forte…our attitude to learning. Be big and strong and commanding. Finland seems to work back-to-front. The whole country likes the idea of learning.
Monopath, Julia Gillard, representing our entrenched screwball attitude to schooling and teating 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’; but, 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 avoid the kind of serious damage that NAPLAN inflicts.
Now, we Aussies also tend to judge a country’s world ranking only by its three-yearly scores on extreme PISA tests for 15 year olds. That, in normal circumstances, is a pretty big ask….and a sick one….and another sample of the work of fools. It presumes that what is tested has been taught and that each question means the same things for each contestant country.
If this was a reliable method of making judgements, Australia would never have changed to kleinism back in 2008. We were amongst the worlds best then; and have only moved down to the failing section of low-level-learning countries, since we introduced naplanish fear-based operations. Our pollies took too much notice of the local malcontents who seldom have anything nice or useful to say about the ‘present generation’; and treat ‘childhood’ as if it was someone else’s problem. Attitude. Wouldn’t it be more reliable and valid to judge our system, not on PISA scores, but on the quality of our contributions to world science, medicine, music, mathematics, art, social sciences, world politics, literature, sport and recreation….the kinds of things that schools do? Don’t our measurers know enough about measurement to be able to do this? They need to see a teacher!
The jury rests.
You will have noted…..
The fear-bang-crash attitude is now so well entrenched in the Aussie psyche, that a change of government does not make any difference. They all join in the work of fools. Federal parliament sorely needs some politicians who are concerned about the plight of children at school. There is none in the chamber, at present, who cares, The atmosphere at federal parliament has been attitude-free about decent schooling for a very long time…and…our weak state pollies have handed schooling responsibilities to people at the federal level who don’t seem to give two hoots about child welfare and intellectual progress. [So much for the power of COAG!] The change from Labor to Liberal saw more of the same; and there is no political party policy at present – anywhere- suggesting any change towards a child-oriented-high achievement- learning system. Check their policy documents. Find the word ‘naplan’, if you can. Make sure you take a good look at the policies of the Labor, Liberal, Green and National parties. Is there any state party which is proud enough to want to go for positive change? It would not be too difficult to organise a state system that is prepared to think and challenge the rest of the world, but everybody is afraid. They would have to THINK first, and that seems to be a pretty difficult thing for political parties to do.
Tragically, our children cannot expect to enjoy and extend their natural love for learning while the Australian attitude towards acceptance of the fear-based, kleinish high stakes bashing of kids and teachers’ mind-sets of learning, remains.
At the classroom level, we know that each of those children staring out the window or fiddling under the desk or leaning with their chins on their hands, while the teacher is trying to introduce some new topic , is saying, “I’m not interested in learning this stuff; and there is nothing that you can do to make me if you keep going this way. You can’t force me to learn if I don’t want to.” The child has attitude. Too many, like this victim of high stakes testing, prefer to be bludgers; under present conditions of schooling, an attitude forced on our kids because our pollies don’t care what our testucrats are doing to them. Together, the pollies and the testucrats have no conceptual grasp of what happens in the classroom, They have no idea of the effectiveness of pupilling or of the importance of the intimacy and power of the pupilling contract. All pupils have an attitude to whatever happens at school. Theirs is a healthy attitude. They want to learn. We’d all like all school experiences to be meaningful and wholesome and effective…..but ‘there’s those NAPLAN rules’.
Think of the beautiful young seven-year-olds after two years of school learning….having learned more than they will ever learn in any other two years of their lives, being forced into the front line of fear and mental abuse about to be used on them for the first time in their lives. This will happen in Australia in a few weeks time. Naplan neurosis, the only predictable outcome of a testing program for children so young, is a serious social malady, highly contagious, that causes learning insecurity, anxiety, depression and fear of accepting challenges; and it remains with them for the rest of their lives. The testucrats, suffering from delusions of adequacy, believe that they properly reflect the community attitude of a need for the stern quantification of schooling, thus denying children of the love and support that true learning needs. Their holier-than-thou attitude to teachers wishing to pupil their classes shows that they are out of their depth…..they’re over their heads in a car-park puddle.
That, by the way, is what measurement freaks have never learned. “You can’t teach me anything, if I don’t want to learn.” “Negativity turns me off.”
That’s where Australia’s office-bound testors have completely buggered-up the system. They think that frightening kids, threatening teachers, making kids practise, practise, practise test-taking; sanctioning after-school attendance at tutoring shops, doing plenty of homework is what schooling is about and enlivens the learning psyche. Bulldust. That’s a testucator’s attitude. THE ATTITUDE OF OUR QUALITY, EXPERIENCED TEACHERS IS MILES AWAY FROM THIS. ATTITUDE. Quality teachers don’t like abusing children and turning them into robots to get a score. They prefer to treat children as pupils…… pure teaching.
Testucators don’t care how kids feel. Their attitude, based on the fundamentals of measurement and statistics, is that hard data must be collected at any cost. Measuring is their profession….and they rule the roost. They think that heavy blanket-type, three-days-long collection of data every second-year from pupils who prefer to be learning, is a legitimate pursuit. Children can be treated as robots. The testor’s God ,’Statistics’, reigns. Rigidity is supreme.
So, Australia is now in a very precarious position. Testucrats only want children to learn what can be recorded on a piece of paper. Teachers want to teach their pupils all that they need to know, while testors only want them to learn only what can be tested by PISA and other unreliable instruments. Kids want to learn. Sadly, Aussie teachers must do as testors require. Kids must do as they are told by both. No choice. Parents have to be the adjudicator. if they ever learn that they have plenty of power. ‘ in their hidden right to say ‘NO’. ….even though federal politicians make the most of parents’ gullability by hiding the option of choice from them. Attitudes, during this naplan period of history, are so far from a healthy teaching-learning reality, that things are positively dangerous for Australia’s future. There are no expectations of change or of discussing the need for change during 2017. We can’t shift the PISA guideposts, so we must accept that the inevitability of our official attitudes through forced NAPLAN testing will remain the same. As parents, we have been told to shut-up. We are all cooked, buggered, flattened, finished, done, however, if we continue with such antique attitudes in 2017.
The only sensible attitude is to go back to tors – to 2007 – and do what should have been done then. Give back the decent professional ethics to real school administrators and scrap stupid NAPLAN. Talk about the purposes of schooling. I repeat. TALK. We are getting further and further away. We are slipping further down the gurgler of international repute; and our nastiness to children [Read “Beautiful Failures”?] is widely known and internationally deprecated. Australians continues to adopt a very, very, very unhealthy attitude to schooling. On the world stage, that’s the kind of people we are becoming…..nasty bastards.
‘Experts’ from beyond the schooling hemisphere….especially those Aussie journos and commentators and Institutes, with out-of-context opinions and no firm schooling attitude …..have some way-out solutions. *Bring in Gonski or any needs-based model quickly!* Leave everything to COAG! * Do whatever Finland, Germany, Singapore or the US is doing! *Let’s talk about something else to do with schools. They seem to be saying :”We don’t know much about schooling, but we’d like to express an opinion. We are the elite. We set the agenda for discussion every day. and we prefer to be blase about school things…..pretend we know all about it. Such opinions will be useful , however, if ever we get around to talking seriously with The Lucy Clarks, the Kathy Magolis and Gabriel Strouds of this world, who know what is going on; and don’t mind telling it as it is. You and I know dozens of worthy educators who have ‘been there, done that’ – from Kununurra to Collingwood – who can help us sort out our attitude to learning while at school.
Do we have an identifiable, united Australian attitude towards schooling as the Finns and other progressive countries appear to do? No.
It a mixed mess at present, reflecting only the attitude of Julia Gillard, Joel Klein, Chris Pyne and Simon Birmingham and their measurement hard-line disciples who would only suggest the following….
DON’T bother asking Australian teachers what effects NAPLAN has in the classroom. Don’t risk finding out about their attitude to fear-controlled schooling….nor the results of this. Teachers must be kept silent and obedient.
DON’T ask parents if they want the choice of saying “Yes’ or ‘No’ to their children’s endurance of the test-prep period each year. January to May. What is their attitude to being left out of it all? Must we continues to keep the real truth from parents?
DON’T ask the community-care professionals or the general public if they see NAPLAN as a form of child abuse. What is the attitude of the mental-care-professionals to the fear, anxiety, sleepnessness and depression suffered by NAPLAN victims? Don’t mention what it can lead to.
Feel sorry forthose about to enter Year 3 and the world of testucation.
What is Australia’s attitude towards fair-dinkum schooling? REALLY!