Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Educational changes in New Zealand and a challenge for Australia

Reflections by Phil Cullen who retired from his role as Director of Primary Education Queensland and who, since his retirement,
has fought the good fight to resist the neo-liberal GERM ( Global Education Reform Movement that has infected Australian Education.
 Charles Philip [Phil] Cullen AM;  A.Ed., B.Ed.[UQ], Dip.Ed.Edmin, M.Ed.Admin (Hons) [UNE];  FACE, FACEL, FQIEL, Gold Medal ACEL;  Life Member:  CCEA, QASSP, QSPSSA, QSSSA, Bris. SSRLA;  Co-author: 4 books;  Author 1 book; Former Q’ld Director of Primary Education; Chairman:  Q’ld Day Comm, Primary Curric.Comm, Review Primary Educ’n in A.C.T. Gov’t Schools; Regional Director NQ & N.West Q’ld;  Former member:  Lismore Catholic Diocese Ed. Council,  McAuley College  [now ACU] Council,  James Cook U of NQ Council ,  Townsville CAE Council. Primary School Teacher/Principal 23 years; Regional Director & Inspector 6 years; Director 13 years.  (refer:’Who’s Who in Australia'.

May 17th 2017 In this final posting Phil, after a long battle , gives up the fight disappointed with the lack of resistance of Australian educators and  with opposition politicians to present an alternative to the current managerial test oriented  standards based approach.

New Zealand Leads the way

Phil has gained heart from the appointment of the new Labour Government led by Jacinda Adern with its return to a progressive approach to education.

New Zealand leads the way down under and maybe across the world in caring about kidsIts determination to return to 
sanity, humanity, progress, initiative and competence for its schooling system, which itself determines national progress in the long run,  is now being unpacked and, I am told that the new coalition government contains a few former teachers and active school parents as heavyweights who can talk school and lead the conversation for a better world down under. 


There's dynamic Tracey Martin, former School Board chair; Kelvin Davis, highly respected former principal and Deputy Leader of the Labour Party; and Winston Peters of NZ First and, Deputy PM who trained as a teacher.  In Australia we only have legal eagles.
Tracey Martin and Winston Peters

Parent groups in NZ are claiming that now, teaching will be returned to the teaching profession and democracy will be returned to schooling in New Zealand soon. The isles are shaking with joy for kids.

It's a country that has always been to the forefront of school improvement but then, the take-over by the irrational managerialists and corporate heavy-weights circa 1990, and the addition of GERM in 2008, has had a detrimental impact that has lasted for a decade. They've had enough, now. We still tolerate it to our shame and academic deterioration.

How come New Zealand leads the world now  in the  decontamination of the establishment's unworthy,  useless, immoral, unethical,  unprofessional testucation procedures in schools? Well, there's been a number of factors.

Fortunately, during this period, it has had  its crusaders for kids who just don't give in too easily.  It's been a long and arduous battle, of the kind that must continue next door, in Australia.

There's Kelvin Smythe, former Chief Inspector and Allan Allach, energetic, thoughtful former primary school principal, reader and writer and Bruce Hammonds, former principal, consultant and writer - a valiant trio that has been unafraid to have their say.  They set the pace. ( Phil maybe giving us more credit than we deserve but we have all done our best to share progressive ideas but we are happy to acknowledge there are many  others  who have made valuable contributions-  Lester Flockton is one who comes to mind -Bruce Hammonds ).

Chris Hipkins
There's Chris Hipkins, in particular, who has been the shadow Minister for Education whose inspirational speeches and talks have been based on a sound knowledge of schooling and who has been unequivocal in his aim to rid the country of testucation and de facto schooling.

There's the Primary Principals' Association which kept its administrative distance from the government testucrats and compliant GERMans, never properly complying .  While "The Government will never listen and nothing will change and we are just one little country." some timorous principals said, there were others of the association, especially the leader of the organisation, Whetu Cormick,  described as "The greatest teacher organisation leader of our time,:" by Kelvin Smythe.  Whetu  didn't hold back , "At the other
Whetu Cormack
extreme are those like me,"
he said "who will continue to fight to the end. We know that National Standards and all the 'reforms' that go with them are bad for our young people. Our young people have faith in us to protect their futures by continuing to fight for the best education that our young people deserve."  Looking directly into the face of Nikki Kay, the then Minister, he said, "Let's wait no longer to get our young people on the road to success. Let's put up a big stop to National Standards."  The organsation has always been fearless...

There's Diane Kahn and the Save Our Schools organisation whose prime target has always been ]
the elimination of 'national standards' and was heavy and  constant with dynamic opposition . [

There's  an influential Kiwi sciolist  [aka schooliolist - one who pretends to be well informed about schooling] and academic testucator who played a significant role in the introduction of testucation into NZ.....who left the country at the right time. ( Just in case you can't guess who Phil is referring to it is John Hattie -Bruce Hammonds)

There are some messages for Australia.

In world schooling terms,  it is the boondocks of failed political schooling, the backward West Island of learning progress, the most over-tested country in the world.

A political party needs to think. Does it believe in providing the best schooling possible, or doesn't it give a damn as Aussie political  parties do?

Time to leave standardised learning Australia
Listening to schooliolist academic know-alls,  qualified testucators, loud-mouth politicians, corporate unions inhabited by conservative capitalists, neo-libs and delcons, which still rule the roost on the west side of the ditch, continues to lead Australian schooling in the wrong direction. New Zealand has now told these cocky roosters what to do with their distasteful attitude to children.

"Australian schools are in dire need of some Finnish-ing tactics." said Wendy Knight in The Age....and we can now add: 'and some Kiwi tactics'. What really happens in a good school system?

Why don't Australian politicians look around and learn?

An example of off-the-hip, loud-mouth political interference is contained in suggestions made in Treasurer Morrison's Shifting the Dial, another imported kind of measurement.  It presumes that will improve  standards in schools. It overlooks the reality that real teachers teach real pupils....real people!  The secret is in the interaction. They teach them about mathematics, to like mathematics. They don't get up in front of a class and pontificate about what they themselves know. Effective teachers of anything  operate from the learner's level. Socrates was a better teacher of Maths than Einstein and a better teacher of literature than Shakespeare. His pupils learned how to learn.
the hiring of skilled subject specialists like mathematicians

Importance of Principal's organisations

A strong and outspoken principals' association can be truly influential as they are in NZ. Protection of children and their future as well as the provision of a rich holistic curriculum, undaunted by fearful interruptions to positive learning, should  dominate the spirit of every principal's personal  professional code. Laxity, timidity, compliance and silence have no place in their organisations when the chips are down for they are now  in Australia.

Labour  Party in Australia

What happened to Ned Kelly spitit?
 . The lib-lab neo-con conventions will probably continue as they did in the passing of klein deforms Neither political group, Labor nor Liberal, ever expresses any thoughts  about the continuance of the Klein system of schooling, now almost a decade old ; and which should go because it is proving useless. Neither party knows much about schooling and hides its ignorance by talking only Gonksi and funding and teacher quality. For them, the plight of children lies in the dollar sign, not in compassion and humanity and learning and in experience and excellence. Each  remains ultra-complacent by making do, making silly schooling decisions, maintaining the mediocre, and supporting private schools before helping public schools.
It's looking more evident every day that the lower half of the existing Lib-Lab delcon group viz. Labor under Shorten, will be the government after the next federal election in Australia
Joel Klein
from Labor to Liberal.

A country that treats its children the way that Australia does, is in for big trouble....really big trouble.  .

 It relies on the cockeyed Gillard Theory of Testucation, using Kleinism to control operatives and operations, to no end except to gather data; then ignores the basic laws of administrative order and effectiveness  and treats the electorate as if everyone is a dill or doesn't care what happens to kids.

The present government will go while it maintains these attitudes to schooling and doesn't have the capacity to think.  The Labor Party will replace it and not do any better. Both need to think seriously about schooling...very, very seriously.

I'm deliberately apolitical and have voted informal at the last few federal elections because I've  been offered only lower-order policies  in general and crazy views about schooling. ...nothing that really suggests that there is  a  healthy future for this wonderful country.

Schooling is the most important issue of this century for Aussie citizens. If it is not rejuvenated, Australia has some big problems coming up.

I'll vote for any party -Pauline's, Bob's, Nick's, Jacqui's, anybody who says that it will get rid of NAPLAN.  I'll know by its standard of advocacy that such a party likes kids, that it is thinking and will do something about our future. Our present klein system relies on child abuse.  I'll study the detail of course, but no party can be so blithely ignorant of schooling as our major parties are at present. Their mentors can only bark Gonski, data, scores, testing, funding, teacher quality with schooliolist pedantry and no regard for the real spirit of learning at school.

Seriously - rejuvenation of schooling from the mess of mass testucation will be very difficult.  Unscrambling an egg always is. Since New Zealand will have to do the job before Australia wakes up, it might be wise to locate some observers there to learn how to go about it.

We need to do what New Zealand has done : Declare Ourselves

It's rejuvenation time down under!


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