Indignez Vous

The Treehorn Express

Prepared and presented by Phil Cullen,

proud anti-NAPLAN geriactivist thinking of kids.

  __________Hi EsteemedPolitician : Quiet lot aren’t you?________

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Treehorn story? http://www.onlineopinion.com.au/print.asp?article=11697

The Treehorn Express Theme song: ‘Care for Kids’

April 25

175

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Indignez Vous

“Time for Outrage”

This week’s Time mentions a popular French pamphlet called Indignez Vous [Time for Outrage] which exhorts folk to recapture the spirit that had made their country great; to mount a “peaceful insurrection” against injustices and decries the electorate’s convenient and ”general amnesia”. The theme of the booklet reminded me so much of the injustices against the likes of little Treehorn and his school friends; and the need for an Australian “peaceful insurrection”.  The convenient memories of our school children’s parents, teachers, principals, political representatives and their numb-mind silence on an issue of such national importance is disgraceful….and… The lamestream press is too busy with the easily handled. Most, really, just do not give a stuff about the assaults on our children’s future perpetrated by NAPLAN and other GERM forms of blanket testing. As rude as it sounds, let me repeat…Most of us do not give a stuff about the future of Australian children. 

But.  Take heart, Treehorn. There are others. Anti-Germ educators are starting to say something here in Australia and in the U.S.A. There is small group of child-oriented, learning-knowledgeable, teaching-focussed, curriculum-concerned, family-friendly folk in Melbourne who want to ask the Australian population to “SAY NO TO NAPLAN”. Let’s join them.

If one is concerned about their own children and whether they should contest the test,

or if one does not know what to do in the face of pandemic mindlessness,

or if one wonders if the test has any relevance to learning and teaching;

or whether the test is a reliable measure of achievement that can be used to make statements about the academic worth of their children or the teaching prowess of their child’s teacher,

….they should check out what the group has to say.

SAY ‘NO’ TO NAPLAN

If the population takes notice with an open mind, NAPLAN is finished… and Australia will start to progress in achievement terms, creative terms and cultural terms. There is no risk about this.  If the cessation of testing is accompanied by  some Finland-like planning, with an even  higher-level long-term vision, the world becomes an Aussie oyster. Make no mistake! We have made enough colossal blunders since 2008. Let’s think about positive blame-free progress.

On Tuesday next in Melbourne, teachers, parents and academics will foregather to launch “SAY NO TO NAPLAN”. A special small book is the focus of the launch containing articles that deal with :

* Inappropriate Use of NAPLAN tests.

*Teaching to the Test.

*Holistic Reading vs NAPLAN Reading

*The Problem with NAPLAN testing of Spelling

*Your Children and NAPLAN

*What NAPLAN ignores

*The Age of Absurdity

*Evidence-based Assessment

Each article is short and easy to read. It will be made available online for downloading and copy.  It can be easily spread amongst teachers, parents, university, high-school  and university students for their deliberation. The lead-article will be presented by Professor Margaret Wu. There has been a keen interest expressed by journalists from the  press. It will be a most important day in the history of Australian schooling, the first of peaceful insurrection and the beginning of the end of fear-based NAPLAN testing.

More details to come.

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THE BEGINNING OF THE END

Meanwhile back in New York, the birthplace of fear-driven schooling and testing, conspicuous educators are also restless. The New York State Professors Against High Stakes Testing have released an on-line petition [see Treehorn 17-04-12], because “...it undermines creative classrooms instruction and because it puts teachers and students under intolerable stress.”  You can join the people to help New York children and our own, by doing this…

1. Click  on    http://www.change.org/petitions/new-york-state-regents-end-the-reliance-on-high-stakes-standardized-testing

2. Make a comment.

3. Follow the suggestions to contact your Facebook friends who might be interested in schooling issues.

{I did this and was overjoyed to learn than every single one of my Facebook friends also joined the petition. It is a great feeling.}

The anti-GERM movement is growing and sharing. We are all starting to ‘care for kids’ while hopeless politicians will not. It’s the beginning of the end for GERM-based testing in many countries. Let’s hope that Australia gets the gold in the contest.

GETTING RID OF HIGH_STAKES TESTS

Stop! The News Gets Better.  On Tuesday [24 April] Valerie Strauss wrote in The Washington Post of the growth of anti-high-stakes aka anti-Germ aka anti-NAPLAN movements in America:

National resolution against high-stakes tests

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/post/national-resolution-against-high-stakes-tests-released/2012/04/23/gIQApRnNdT_blog.html

Within the article make sure that you click on the reference ‘latest in series of recent initiatives taken’ and you will find : Education reform protests pick up steam.  Both are great articles.

PLEASE READ THEM AND EVERY REFERENCE WITHIN  – You can even frame the National Resolutions for your own encouragement. Share the articles around. They are so full of promise for our children’s learning freedom. 71 national organisations have signed the resolution mentioned in the article. See http://www.timeoutfromtesting.org./nationalresolution/orgs

Pam Grundy of Parents Across America says: “Parents are fed up with constant testing. We want our elected leaders to support real learning not constant testing.”

Robert Scott, Republican Commissioner for Education : “The mentality that standardized testing is the ‘end-all and be-all’ is a perversion of what quality education should be.” [Joe Brown, Governor of California said the same thing last year.]

A New York school official: “A Principal should not ever be in a situation where ultimately their judgment gets trumped by a mechanistic formula.”

The articles are enlightening. Is there a Valerie Strauss somewhere in Australia?

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Trevor Cobbold of Save Our Schools asks 16 poignant questions in What is NAPLAN Doing to Your School?  They will intrigue you. For example

5. Does absenteeism increase on test days?  7. Are some subjects missing out from increased times spent on NAPLAN? Which subjects?  13. Has the public reporting of NAPLAN results affected the ability to attract and retain experienced teachers?  16. Do schools inform parents they can withdraw their children from NAPLAN?

No.16 is NOT a trick question. See  http://www.saveourschools.com.au

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Allan Alach, the world’s most avid reader of books and articles about schooling, supplied  yesterday’s article by Valerie Strauss and almost every article that has appeared on Treehorn. We have begun to exchange casual letters, much in the way Diane Ravitch and Deborah Meier exchange, but with a down-under, antipodean flavour and style. Allan, the guardian of https://treehornexpress.wordpress.com, has listed the first one in the side-band and head-band of the website. It’s my letter to him that was intended to say thanks for his amazing efforts. The new column has been called Bridging the Ditch and it is appropriate that we first mention it on 25 April – Anzac Day. They’ll come in random order at any time. Join us if you wish.

OtherTreehorns ? :   Check Recent Posts and Archives in the sidebar.

Maintained by outstanding NZ educator, Allan Alach

Phil Cullen

41 Cominan Avenue

Banora Point

Australia 2486

07 5524 6443

cphilcullen@bigpond.com

http://primaryschooling.net

NAPLAN or NAPALM?

The Treehorn Express

Treehorn story? http://www.onlineopinion.com.au/print.asp?article=11697

The Treehorn Express Theme song: ‘Care for Kids’

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NAPLAN – SOME COMMENTS

It’s NAPALM, says Ken

For almost every Treehorn Express that I send,  I receive at least one comment or question, like : “When are they going to wake up to the damage that they are doing?”  ‘They’, of course, refers to the power elite [to use Kelvin Smythe’s term] consisting of  ‘politicians, bureaucrats, quantitative academics, newspaper editors’ and pro-NAPLANNERS ,who have ‘hermetically sealed’ the Australian schooling system; and taken little notice, deliberately, of the toxic problems that they have created and/or supported.

As Kelvin Smythe said in his honest-to-goodness treatise: “…while non-solutions to complex social issues are being slowly pursued to political advantage, actual solutions are being ignored, leading to the complex issues becoming more intractable and the ostensible beneficiaries of the non-solutions even more disadvantaged.”

That’s a powerful statement. So true….it’s the nature of western cultures, as demonstrated in schools since the arrival of managerialism’s carcinomatous testing pandemic.

Sadly, contemporary schooling is now being bullied by those, devoid of useful schooling experiences, who will not learn themselves and even seem proud of their destructive efforts – the ‘undead’, as Bruce H. calls them, deaden. One Treehorn reader, a former principal, spoke of a member of our Australian power-elite: “What he knows about schools can be written on the back of a used postage stamp in large font.”  That applies to all of them, I suspect, John.  It’s a truly sad state of affairs.

Another, Fred, a practising teacher, read of the plan to clear the deck of inept teachers.  “There goes the hierarchy and the test-focussed.” he said.

In another return comment, Ken, home-schooling parent, said, “ I note NAPALM has grammar etc. on it, when research [including York Uni.,2005] shows  no correlation between grammar knowledge and writing skills. NAPALM has no consideration for the humans burnt along with the buildings. I muse that if teachers had to take the equivalent of a Hippocratic oath, then most would now be forced to leave their jobs….The kids will survive NAPALM. Even at Auschwitz, as they were waiting to be gassed, children were observed playing in the dirt. I feel sorry for the adults [teachers and parents] whom I know are feeling more and more depowered. They are not asked their opinion. They are told what it will be. If ever the tale of the Emperor’s new clothes was appropriate.”  Yes, Ken. As resilient and play-some children are, the effects of our NAPLAN, our present-day mental gassing, will affect them for quite a while longer, of course.

Former principal Bruce said, “It  was on a visit to Virginia that I saw the destructive forces of computer generated testing take place. A dedicated computer lab room received a classroom of pupils every 45 minutes who filed in, logged on with their personal password and hammered like mad for thirty minutes. As they filed out the teacher pressed the print button and left with the full class results to improve upon till the next session. I think that’s when I saw no place for me in education. I’m glad we got through when we did, as the present rot has certainly caught up and kids will be the long term sufferers but they won’t know what they have missed and why.”

Avid reader Allan, school principal, provided the following articles, worthy of your reading time.

http://www.listener.co.nz/current-affairs/the-researched-child-in-early-education/

Author, Helen May, former dean of the University of Otago College of Education, worried about the passing of the era of progressive solutions, concludes the article : ‘If we can produce children who have a disposition to be learners, to take an interest, to become engaged, to take responsibility, to become good communicators, to become explorers – then we are setting a great foundation. It’s going to take a brave teacher to really challenge National Standards [aka NAPLAN in Australia], but if there is sufficient freedom and innovation, skilful teachers will make it happen. They always have.”

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http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/maths-reform/9060005/Teenagers-failing-to-study-maths-to-a-good-standard.html#disqus_tnread

Professor Sparks, chairman of the British Advisory Committee on Mathematics Education [ACME] is concerned about the growing disinterest in school Mathematics because “…few pupils take maths beyond the age of 16. They are being ‘put-off’ by test-driven lessons in primary and secondary school. Classes often focus on the dry ‘procedures’ behind sums to make sure children pass exams instead of passing on a well-rounded understanding of the subject. Currently, only one-in-eight teenagers study maths to a good standard in the sixth form – leaving Britain behind many other developed nations. It’s a problem of attitude – being no good at Maths is a badge of honour.”

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http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/post/education-departments-obsession-with-test-scores-deepens/2012/02/06/gIQAP7yuyQ_blog.html

Valerie Strauss, Washington Post journalist and editor of The Answer Sheet writes of the U.S. Federal “Education Department’s Obsession with test scores deepens”.  She writes of the screwball Departmental belief that the scores “…tell us something important about how well a teacher does his or her job. They don’t, assessment experts say [over and over], but why let facts get in the way?” She concludes her article : “ Here’s my comment.  Please stop wasting our time and money on nonsense.”

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To summarise :  If you  want our Aussie children to become keen learners  with a firm foundation of schooling, with love for the beauty and challenge of Mathematics; and you want our government to “stop wasting our time and money”, you will insist that the nonsensical, damaging blanket testing called NAPLAN ceases NOW.

If  you want the opposite, don’t take any notice.

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If you have 4 minutes 17 seconds to spare from your busy schedule, click on the theme song “Care for Kids” above, relax and ‘take in’ the words. Meditate on the plight of today’s Aussie kids.

OtherTreehorns ? :   Check Recent Posts and Archives in the sidebar.

[ Sincerest thanks to the outstanding NZ educator, Allan Alach, for maintaining this widely-read site.]

Phil Cullen

41 Cominan Avenue

Banora Point

Australia 2486

07 5524 6443

cphilcullen@bigpond.com

http://primaryschooling.net

Treehorn Stop Press: Lessons for Australia

Treehorn  Express

STOP  PRESS

A couple of articles that appeared a few days ago in The Washington Post led to some conclusions [see bold type below] that Australia needs to note urgently , despite its slow [up until now] grasp of what school classroom learning is.

   SOME LESSONS FOR AUSTRALIA

A simple exercise conducted by a school-board member in Florida was published this week. The story went feral. It was about a school board member of nine years, former teacher and counsellor with a science degree and a master’s degree in education and psychology, who sat a version of the standardised test called Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test. He reported, “I won’t beat around the bush. The math section had 60 questions. I knew the answers to none of them, but managed to guess ten correctly. On the reading tests, I got 62%. In our system, that’s a ‘D’, and would get me a mandatory assignment to a double block of reading instruction.”

The huge response saw the exercise as an indictment of standardized testing. Diane Ravitch tweeted, “Why stop with a school board member? Governors, state legislators, and Congress should take the tests and release the scores.”  When one commentator tweeted, “Why not media folk? Maybe let them warm up taking an 8th grade test”  Outstanding US columnist Valerie Strauss, reckoned that she would not try.  “This one fears she couldn’t pass it. Standardized tests, well, they aren’t my thing.”

In her famous column The Answer Sheet [Monday, 19 Dec.] Valerie included an article by Marion Brady, who noted a few salient points that Australians need to take to heart seriously :

“WHAT’S WRONG WITH A WHOLE COUNTRY WHEN IT ISN’T IN OPEN REVOLT AGAINST THE ASSUMPTION THAT SCHOOLS SHOULD ONLY TEACH WHAT MACHINES CAN MEASURE?’”

“STANDARDIZED TESTS HAVE HAD NO ‘SUCCESS-IN-LIFE’ PREDICTIVE POWER.”

“LOTS OF KIDS ARE SMARTER THAN THE PEOPLE WHO WRITE STANDARDIZED TEST ITEMS, AND TIE THEMSELVES IN KNOTS AT TEST TIME TRYING TO SECOND GUESS WHAT WAS IN THE HEAD OF THE WRITER OF A PARTICULAR TEST ITEM.”

“153 EDUCATION, CIVIL RIGHTS, RELIGIOUS, DISABILITY, PARENT AND CIVIC ORGANIZATIONS THINK AMERICA’S ADDICTION TO STANDARDIZED TESTING IS DRAGGING US IN THE WRONG DIRECTION.”

“IN THE OPINION OF RESPECTED RESEARCHERS, TODAY’S TEST-BIASED ‘REFORMS’ DON’T HAVE MUCH TO DO WITH QUALITY EDUCATION.”

“ THE TAIL IS NOW WAGGING THE EDUCATION DOG – STANDARDIZED TESTING.”  [aka NAPLAN in Australia]

To check further:-

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/post/why-an-anti-testing-post-went-viral/2011/12/18/gIQA8ZGH30_blog.html#pagebreak

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet-post/what-weve-got-here-is-a-failure-to-communicate/2011/12/18/gIQALb7E30_blog.html

Blessings of Christmas. Stay alert.

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Phil Cullen AM

’41 Cominan Avenue

Banora Point

Australia 2486

07 5524 6443

cphilcullen@bigpond.com

http://primaryschooling.net