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Australia's testucation system

By Phil Cullen - posted Friday, 2 June 2017


Australia's unique and somewhat extraordinary testucation system is a product of its history. Starting as a subordinate and unimportant outpost of the British Empire, it was a convict colony where the entire population had to do as it was told by an imperialist hierarchy in Britain....and later by the U.S.A. for economic and security reasons. Australia is very good at doing what it is told and its citizens particularly so. As a consequence of its strong British connections, from the very start of its schooling history, pupils attended school to pass exams...no other reason; just as they did in England. It developed a society that was committed to the proposition that children learn best when tests and examinations dominate the schooling landscape. Test practice sharpens the mind and maintains the ancient British belief in 'the transfer of training'. That's why Latin and Greek survived for so long as examinable school subjects. 'Such training quickens and cultivates the memory and this transfers to other life experiences', they said.

In this colonial mode, it was essential that students, as they are erroneously described, were branded as to their capacity to remember things; because the number or letter with which they were branded following the test, was required by the industrial or higher-education elite to pick those with the best memories during their selections. We have accepted this as the dominant mode of schooling and have acculturised successive generations to believe that there is no other.

Countries that escaped the colonial processes had to develop their own views of LEARNING in a schooling context. These countries believe in education[leading pupils to learning] and each now relies heavily on creative and innovative processes and on the capacity of the learner to accept challenges and, in particular, to use the special abilities that School Learnacy itself brings. The countries that try hardest to teach such things are to the fore. Finland is only one. Test-free, learning-based countries now lead the world in all industrial, economic and creative matters because they rely on a learnacy-based education system, while Australia borrowed an out-moded New York system and seems determined to plod along with its well-worn testucation mode. So be it. The results are not ones to be proud of, but we stick with it.

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The degree-based teaching profession is at the top of the 'professionm' tree in these education-focussed countries because its ethical base is one of concentration on child welfare and advancement in learning terms not scoring terms. Australia uses its children as sources of data for counterfeit heuristic purposes only, but that doesn't worry too many people. Fear of failing is a predominant technique and dislike for Maths, Science and English is in-built in the testing processes themselves. No worry.

Children, love of learning and respect for teachers form part of the daily discussion in countries that emphasise education; and open discussion on the effects of schooling permeates the community atmosphere....the 'pub-talk' if you like. Teachers go to school feeling supported, full of enthusiasm for the job and professionally anxious about outcomes.

Australian teachers don't like doing what they are forced to do to their pupils. Principals are half-hearted about having to guide a curriculum that gets an annual battering by outsiders. The suspension of important parts of the whole curriculum during test-preparation is anathema to the pupil-oriented administrator; and classroom teachers don't like frightening children about fears of failure that eventually alter the learner's attitude to Maths, Science and English. Most would prefer to teach about the subjects rather than just practise tests with them.

It is clear that Australia runs a completely different kind of system from those that are successful at world comparative tests. The term 'testucation system' fits perfectly with us and we persist with it as part of our tradition.

If an Australian believes that children should attend school to extend their learning capacity as far as they can, in an atmosphere of pupilling which entails a serious and close learning contract between a teacher and a learner, with in-built shared evaluation techniques and freedom to go as far as possible in a climate of achievement-seeking; that person is out of step with present-day Aussie political views. Aussie-Testucation must be preserved. That's every single political party's hidden agenda.

Following a serious reconciliation between children and politicians; when children can share space at an EDUCATIONal table in the manner that Aboriginal people request, Australia will be on the way to world repute and advancement. Pupils up to Year 9 level will be able to do this without shaming politicians in the discussion too much. In the meantime....she's sweet.

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Que sera sera.

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About the Author

Phil Cullen is a teacher. His website is here: Primary Schooling.

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