Monday, 18 May 2015

NAPLAN or Napalm?

I've been out and about in schools during what teachers call "NAPLAN" week.

The first thing you notice when visiting a school at this time is that everything (and I mean absolutely everything) gives way to the testing regime. Normal operation (teaching and learning) quite simply is suspended for all those involved - students, teachers and administrators.

Because I work mostly in small schools lacking in additional infrastructure to support the process, they pretty much shut up shop to administer and supervise the tests.

 Something is badly haywire.

When working in schools, I ensure that if I'm in a classroom, I contribute to whatever is going on, and avoid, like the plague, distracting the teacher from his/her work, which is, as far as I'm concerned, almost sacred.

The testing regime completely abandons this principle.

 I guess you could compare Literacy and Numeracy testing to system maintenance. To extend the metaphor, it could be seen to resemble maintenance checks carried out by airlines on their aircraft.

What airline would ground all its aircraft for about three days once a year to carry out these checks and audits? Not one that wants to stay in business, I hear you say.

Why then, cannot the various education bureaucracies in this country institute a testing regime which doesn't completely shut down the core business of schools? And whilst they're at it, why can't they include other important aspects of the curriculum (say Music and Art) in the same testing regime?

Perhaps, if they did, these life-enhancing aspects of scholarship would be restored to their rightful place in the curriculum. They're not tested, so they're relegated - ask any music or arts teacher.

As *Albert Einstein is reputed to have said - Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts. 

 No wonder many practicing teachers refer to the programme as "Napalm". It burns everything and everyone it touches, and leaves only ashes in its wake.

* It was actually William Bruce Cameron

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