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Should we 'pupil' kids or 'NAPLAN' them?

By Phil Cullen - posted Wednesday, 20 September 2017


Australia's casual indifference to the effects of mass testing on the learning progress of its school children, and its penchant for using children for excessive periods of school time for 'test-prep', as if they are mere  inanimate objects available for the collection of  data, contains the seeds for its developing inabilities as a nation to mix with the world at large.

Presently distrustful of those who lead us, and sceptical of their abilities to lead, many believe that the standard of politics does not look like improving over the years to come.....and it may be the wrong time to crusade on behalf of kids to have NAPLAN banned. It seems like kids won't get much consideration while the immature standard of political exchange remains as it is. Personal political animosity to each other is at a high level just now. Crude right and left wing epithets are overused and chucked at each other; and there seems to be a lack of willingness to conduct discussion on matters of great importance, like schooling, at the mature level of discussion that it deserves.

It is difficult, therefore,  to see any worthwhile national progress while politicians treat each other the way they do, too busy with party politics and low-level-personal exchanges to care for our kids and unwilling to talk about what is best for them.

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Australia's  fixation with testing, set in place by a grumpy bigot with no knowledge of the effects of schooling on national progress,  is one of the biggest stumbling blocks to our nation's development, ever. We need to talk about it......and, especially the effects that it has on our society as a whole...but.....will we do so in an ordered purposeful mature manner? Can we?

We need to start talking about our future, with the learning needs of the child and the construction of  a system of school education that means something, paramount in our discussion.

Treehorn has long advocated that Australia needs to stop all the nonsense parts of its operations and concentrate on an Aussie style of pupilling.  The word "Pupilling" is not a standard part of our lexicon, but it's meaning is obvious. We need a system where teachers can get as close to individual learners as possible and share the learning act with high levels of enthusiasm that are generated from both of them.....teacher and pupils......with the sky being the limit.

Wouldn't it be great if the word 'pupilling' became recognised as the Australian word for 'schooling'.....that the world understood what we were doing and the seriousness of our intentions when it comes to loving kids instead of using them, when it comes to loving foundation subjects instead of using them as data bins, when it comes to honouring teachers for what they do instead of suggesting that diminishing results might be their fault and not the measurers, when it allows its principals to pull their heads out of the sand and express their special intimate knowledge about schooling?  The word says so much about attitudes to school learning.

Is there a better word to describe 'learning at school'?  Schools are for learning purposes for goodness sake.

We should not be delayed in this learning pursuit by any kind of negative interference called testucation,  that has only been successful, to date, at inhibiting the learning act and maintaining a diminishing level of mediocrity by the use of a blunt weapon of nastiness called Naplan.  Our dwindling status on the world stage ...now very obvious to the world....is being maintained  by people, who are external to a school's curriculum designs for its pupils, who just don't know enough about 'teaching and learning in the classroom' to claim the status and level of control  that they do.  In other words, measurers  should stay away from schooling processes. It's an outrageous assumption (that schools will do better if more testing takes place) being made by such measurers who only know about measuring and, because of their superior position on the Australian education  hierarchical ladder, are able to keep turning tighter on the measurement screws to make children get better results....not to learn anything new...to get better scores. The stupid presumption that testing improves outcomes is way over the top; and the effects of childism [treating children an inanimate units] in place  of self-fulfilling prophecies, shared evaluation and three-way togetherness are ignored. We're a crude mob.

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Pupilling certainly does work hundreds of times better than kleining [Fear-based] and branding. Loving subjects and loving learning are parts of pupilling...and parts of loving kids who, themselves, love to learn, when given the freedom to do so; when their affective domain is a happy one, when they know what they are supposed to do and approve of it and even like it. "Where the affective is secure, the cognitive is inevitable" said John Settledge. It has been long known that ensuring that once the affective domain [i.e.no naplanic fears or threats] is established in a classroom, and pupils naturally come to like and appreciate the fundamental subjects of mathematics, science and literature , long-term memory is established and enhanced.  Standardised blanket testing requirements used for test preparation are designed to distress and worry as many pupils as possible, are of short term duration;  and just don't have any positive effect on learning outcomes.

Surely, Australia can find a way to install a system that starts with kids.  We are upside down at present, aren't we? We have a school curriculum, controlled by a testing regime that determines the level of learning, the learning styles and turns most of our pupils off their natural zest to improve themselves.   Schooling needs to be re-invented, returned to our teachers and their pupils, to rediscover the joys of learning.  Why girt it with stupidity and nasty childism?

We need a fair dinkum learning system, a system that highlights 'pupilling' that is not girt and choked by NAPLAN, a system that works.

Education must replace Testucation.

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About the Author

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

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