24 May ’10 – Goldie Hawn & Julia Gillard – OLO

Goldie Hawn says, “School children need to be happy and productive and more optimistic than they are at present. Quite frankly the U.S. is not the best in the world at showing children how to learn. We need to shift the focus to children and not to the tests. Children need to shake hands with their brains and develop their emotional literacy in classrooms that are joyful.”

Australian children in Years 3,5,7,9 have been forbidden to shake hands with their brains during two months of forced school labour until May of this year, in preparation for testing and grading. Normal school learnings and parts of the syllabus have been suspended and all school work confined to a few sections of the curriculum. Authentic reports indicate that half of all school time available for these Year levels in Australia has been devoted to test preparation until May. This intense preparation has been encouraged by State Ministers and departments, outsourced by them to ‘expert’ educrats with little knowledge of the effects on the overall curriculum, on a child’s natural desire to want to learn, on each school’s evaluation routines and on child-fear with its subsequent effects on family life. Practice, practice, practice has narrowed children’s learning at school and impoverished the need to learn how to learn; just for the sake of a result during the second week in May.

You know what?  Goldie Hawn knows a lot more about learning and schooling than Julie Gillard does.

You know what? She also knows that joyful, purposeful, challenging, high-achievement learning is better for a country’s future than fear-driven didactic instruction. Julie doesn’t want to know that.

Julia’s politicking is a serious assault on children’s progress and on Australia’s future.  These ‘hardening of the categories’ restricts children from developing their learning potential and reduces schooling to a testing contest.

Postman & Weingartner described the use of such tactics as the Vaccination Theory of Education: “English is not history and history is not science and science is not art and art is not music; and art and music are minor subjects and English, History and Science are major subjects; and a subject is something you ‘take’ and when you have ‘taken’ it, you have ‘had it’. You are immune and need not take it again.”

Goldie may not know much about politics – that’s Julia’s game. Julia is an expert politician, and she can crumble school teachers any time. She commanded the introduction of national blanket testing without any reference to practising teachers from the variety of Australian schooling situations available. She listened only to a lawyer from a completely foreign culture and promptly hired boffins from a measuring firm in Melbourne. Kleingate is one name for the period that this messy business outcome was imported. They now control schooling in Australia. Not an Aussie schoolie in sight at the time. The introduction itself was as totalitarian as any political operation in Australia. Worse, it aimed at using school children for pure political purposes only.

You know what ?  Her close friend who says ‘You know what?’ a lot, is steering clear of the  mess. He has now realises that it’s a long way to walk from Birdsville to Bedourie when one wants to change schools.

You know what? Julie cheated big-time and started an interpersonal civil war – Principals versus Parents versus Teachers. Yes, by cheating.

Encouraged by her New York mentor, she brazenly stated at the outset that she would totally ignore any dissent from schoolies and other educators. Pulling rank on such a large scale when the cause itself is rank, is cheating on a really large scale. Then, with little to no hard evidence, she stated that her web-site was popular because so many visited it. Such curiosities are always popular, and to maintain that it is useful for parents is to maintain a very large porky.  It has a curiosity factor and is of little use in the pursuit of total school learning. It cannot take the place of school evaluation programs that can be shared. The material that the tests contain might be useful to schools as indicators of general standards, certainly for pupils in that one-teacher school out the back of beyond or that community school further out. The information could be posted to them and not cause such disruption.

You know what ? Ms Gillard is a remarkable politician….quite remarkable.

She has been able to control Principals’ Associations and State Ministers of Education to be noticeably effected by creeping Eichmannism: the spiritless, mechanical and thought-free functioning that relies on unquestioning orders from above and the introduction of routines without question or dialogue. Professional ethics have taken a back seat. She is remarkable, no doubt….dangerous, but remarkable. I remember someone else like that. The kids have very little chance of a learning-challenged future. One day the spirit of learning will return; and kids and schools will not be so afraid. The world has been through such testing madness before but not as viciously in Australia.

Sanctimoniously condemning those who seem to have tried to beat the tests in this all-out war with accusations of cheating and threats of dismissal is rich. Surely it’s no holds barred. If those who lead us can cheat why can’t the rest of the work force ?

You know what? There is a need for more creative cheating, because the tests as tests  must go, for the sake of children. The sooner the better.