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August 12, 2008


Stephen Collins

Harriet, Connect.ed will be a reality soon as Brownwen and I get it off the ground. We have a lot of ideas and need sparkly troops to make it happen. Please come and play!


I have tears in my eyes over this.

I am frightened for my nephew who is due to start school in a few years. I am sick to death of testing being the only yardstick by which to measure achievement. And I'm disgusted that teachers get the brunt of it. They start off sparkly too and get squashed by the cynics.

My background isn't in education, it's communication. I don't have kids -- but I know that I want the young people I care about and the future leaders of my world to know how to think for themselves, not to learn how to suck up and fit in a mold to "get through the system".

And the sausage factory thing -- yuck. Another educator reportedly said that he was in the job of cranking out "test passers".

There's got to be a counter revolution that puts more value on re-structuring mindsets and systems than in boxes.

And to the "educator" that said schools are sausage factories - ask him/her what percentage of crap is allowed into the sausages his/her school cranks out?


The sparkly boy is lucky to have parents who can see what the problem is!


Ah, one more through the industrial grist mill.

I was thinking of you this weekend and wondering how you would raze and rebuild an educational process that is no longer based on industrial training, but allows creativity and imagination (two critical skills in the post-industrial, creative-class age) to flourish.

I'm always alert to the indoctrination of my wee ones and (like you) see my intervention at home to be key in their proper education (making up for what the school doesn't teach). Key component at home is dialogue, mainly the sacrosanct teaching nature of a full family dinner.

Sigh. A luta continua!


Wow. I know a small boy who makes wonderful complex drawings about how things work that are not as easy to engage with as a human figure with a rainbow in the sky. These drawings require the intricate explanation. I hope the sparkle that is still apparent stays! Wishing you the best in finding an educational solution that you all feel excited and confident about the future again.


I completley understand where you are coming from. I have a child with special needs (autism) and to the school and education department it is fine if he is 'meeting benchmark' but my kid is super smart and it isn't fine that he simply meets benchmark. He needs to be able to express all that he can think about and all the problems he can solve. He just doesn't fit the mold. So he is babysat at school as no one knows how to educate him. The funny thing is that this kid thinks worlds apart from where the teachers and the bureaucracy are coming from. This kid is an amazing thinker. He just doesn't have the support that he needs to get his ideas out of his head.


Wow.....this sounds like a replay of our son's primary school years. We went through hell....had every test done, special diet, we were told to medicate... and the list goes on. We were perhaps a little naive at the time and thought the teachers had it right! When we were told to Medicate him, that was the last straw, our fight had begun, as we were certainly not going to squash this boy's heart! My story is fairly lengthy so I won't go on...but all I can say is stand up for your boy and what you believe in. Our beautiful,witty,friendly boy is in Yr 9 now and flourishing in his youth. He still has difficulty concentrating on "boring" things, but if presented with something he finds interesting - he excels. He just doesn't fit the education mould! He has extremely supportive parents who were nearly railroaded by the "system" I really feel for those parents who could be put in that same situation.

Harriet Wakelam

Thanks everyone - some of your comments were so poignant, and I feel so much better knowing that we're not the only ones - actually, unfortunately this seems to be the norm rather than the exception. I for one am looking forward to doing something about it. Thank you for your thoughts, comments etc.


Ohhhh... this is so sad and scary... I have my own sparkly kids... they have all been lucky to have had some inspiring and open teachers - open to the fact that they are free to explore a range of web "stuff" at home, and free to bring these skills to school and share. I worry with my oldest starting high school, that the love of exploring may be bored out of him... but I will keep encouraging from home. I guess that's sad in a way as I am a secondary teacher... funny situation though as I just did a big survey of how the students at my school found technology, what they would like in a perfect world... As I was working through the responses one little year 7 boy's thoughts hit me as being very mature, and I wrote down his name so I could follow him up. I have had a few chats with him, and he is so excited about showing me what he can do, stuff way beyond my tech skills. Sadly when I mentioned his name to teachers who taught him.... ohhh he is such a naughty boy was the response... hmmmmmm.... naughty or bored out of his tree I wondered... I hope we can change some things, so these disengaged students become reengaged.


This very frightening story is frustratingly true for all our sparkly children. Conformity is the first lesson to learn at school and conformity is what we take into the workplace. Conformity is rewarded. Non-conformity is punished.

Kindergarten seems to have it right. Lots of encouragement to explore, lots of support to try new things, lots of praise over tiny achievements.
What can we learn from this? What "kindergarten style learning experiences" can we use in other educational environments both formal and non-formal. It should be so simple.
What has happened to take us so far from the learning principles that we know work best? Where so we go from here? How can we make a difference?

Sandra R

I have two sons who this story was written about, one 29 and one 34. They haven't recovered. And my daughter has an extra chapter...she refused to attend a year 5 class cos the teacher threw a duster at a kid....I got called up to intervene and make her go back!!!

David Talamelli

I am sure this story hits home with a lot of people. I myself have 3 kids under 4 who will all in turn start school over the next few years.

I may be blissfully ignorant at this stage, but I look at all the opportunities for people out there and think that kids can grow up to be anything. The days of going to school to work one job and then retire are gone.

I know the school systems are hampered by funding constraints, I think being involved in a child's education as much as possible will help keep them from losing that sparkle. It won't guarantee success (what ever your definition of that is), but it may help them from tuning out.

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