Virtual Teacher


WHY do we tell 80% of children that they are “AVERAGE.”
WHO wants to hear this, EVER?

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My heart breaks for the kids that will have to suffer through so many moments of boring, unengaging, irrelevant lessons, squashing creativity, collaboration, communication, critical thinking, community, and fun because they’re doing tests or prepping for tests.
Kids who sacrifice all this boringness, only to take the test and then be told:-

“You are “AVERAGE.” Nothing special here, nothing to see.”

I don’t want to tell my kids they are AVERAGE.

I want them to know they are great at drawing.

That I love their enthusiasm for the weather. And by the way, how is it looking for today?

That I enjoy reading their latest novella. Especially the description of the protagonist.

That I love the way they keep trying to find solutions and don’t give up. Did they count the tries? I bet it was a very big number.

That I can see they are really trying to improve.

That I am impressed with their effort.

HERE'S what I know about the kids, that a test will NEVER tell me.

K (Stage 1) loves the weather. He checks the BOM site every day.
He understands the “F” scale for tornadoes and currently is particularly keen on looking into tornadoes.
He is reading all about it, quite complex and detailed texts, explaining it to anyone who will listen.
Writing about it and looking to complete a digital presentation to show his classmates.
He loves to be asked for updates on the weather forecast, his eyes sparkle, and he remembers everything.

F (Stage 2) loves drawing. She is quiet in class and focused in class.
She is practising her drawing and finding that she is getting better and better.
She has started making HowTo videos for her classmates.
Her ideas are expanding as she adds rigour to her passion, her passion grows daily and the audience for her work increases.
She has started investigating Stop Motion and also writing voice-over scripts for her HowTo videos.
She has inspired quite a few of her peers who have become passionate about drawing as well. It’s contagious.

J (Stage 3) enjoys writing and literacy. She has started her own website on literacy, and also a subscriber-based newsletter.
She has published her narratives for the school library.
J has investigated proper book formatting(pages divisible by 4) including copywriting and editing.
She enjoys the collaborative process in book writing and has set up a club for website design during recess.
She loves discussing and critiquing her work.

T (Stage 3) loves sport, building and particularly building with motors. He is restless in class and finds it hard to concentrate.
Life is tricky for him. If you asked him he would say he doesn’t have many friends.
Given the opportunity, he chose to construct a double DC motor-driven propeller toy car, and then build a basketball scoring court outside,
from garbage bins, masking tape and chairs. Developed a scoring system based on distance thrown, and kept score for all the players.
He wasn’t restless and had no trouble concentrating, he had plenty of friends to play his game.
A small comment for T – this is so cool, makes his day.

K (Stage 2) didn’t make friends easily. She was quite strong, and could be pushy, mostly because she was very capable.
K was a born leader, and actor. She could explain just about anything and enjoyed explaining.
She was so good and off the cuff, that she had little use for planning and coordinating with her peers.
Then she found she needed to plan and coordinate her efforts if she wanted to work with others.
This was a way to build friendships for K.
She loves to hear:- “These kids are really enjoying working with you, great job.”

No test will ever give me this information about my students AND YET, it is the most important information to have,


TESTING is now at an all-time high and is part of the data collection/entry requirements for Education Departments.

a. NAPLAN - Shown to have negative effects. It is expensive and a hands-off approach to learning.
The time it takes to administer a test, is time taken away from face to face teaching.
Kids aren't learning when they are being tested.
You cannot improve learning without regard for the distorting effects NAPLAN has on the actual time that remains for rich, student-centred learning.

b. Formative, Summative, Pretesting and post-testing occurs in most schools at the beginning and the end of each of the 4 terms.
The first week and the last week of term are given over to these tests.
This reduces the learning term from 10 weeks to 8 weeks.
This learning time can never be made up.

c. Running records(for reading in lower primary) - required in many schools is done generally once every 3 weeks.
This requires the teacher to work 1:1 with each student and takes 10 mins per student.
This amounts, if you are lucky, to just over 4 hours of testing, basically a whole day of testing every 3 weeks.

d. Add to this other mandated tests such as Essential Assessments, Writing Prediagnostic, Narrative Assessment, Maths Diagnostic,
Star Reader Assessment, and SENA.
And testing has taken away so much of the teaching time that it is no wonder kids are falling behind.

These tests are given to PROVE kids are learning.
I asked a teacher recently whether this changed her Semester reports or indeed her teaching in the classroom.

"No," she said, "I already know where my kids are with their learning."

Teachers are no longer trusted, testing is prolific, and teachers must gather data to prove their own evaluations of students.
A good teacher knows where their pupils are.
This is a waste of time, Finland is proof it doesn't improve performance, so is the latest research and
nothing crushes kids more than tests and being graded constantly against their peers.
No kid ever went home and said,

"Wow! I had a great day today. We did tests."

TESTS kill enthusiasm. They are not fun.


RichardFeynman Twitters

Richard Feynman - One of the greatest thinkers of the 20th century.

I am not here as a teacher to tell kids what they don’t know and tell them they are “AVERAGE”,

I am here to show them what they need to learn next and discover what they ENJOY AND LOVE TO DO.

To encourage them and build a place where everyone, can grow and do better, to be their best,
to find something they are passionate about, grow it and share it.

To encourage kids to be insatiably curious and brave, to be adventurous and solve problems,
to make mistakes, lots of them, to have a sense of wonder and humour and to love what they do.

Because, what follows is an INSANE COMMITMENT TO LEARNING. This is remarkably powerful and amazingly effective.


just so you know, I have never taught a kid who is AVERAGE.

They are all capable of the most amazing things.

How education can save the world | Gavin McCormack | TEDxSydney


Studies into NAPLAN have suggested an overall negative impact on curriculum and wellbeing. Dulfer, Polesel and Rice, (2012)

The high-stakes nature of NAPLAN results have been described as ‘“metapolicy” steering early years pedagogy “from a distance”
(Lingard, Martino & Rezai- Rashti cited in Roberts-Holmes and Bradbury, 2016, p. 120).
Young students are seen as the “school’s statistical ‘raw materials’ that are mined and exploited for their maximum productivity gains”
(Robert-Holmes & Bradbury, 2016, p. 124).

The “focus on academic skills changes the pedagogical practices and the learning becomes more teacher-directed and instructional” 
Jay and Knaus (2018)  (p. 115).

The Bureaucratisation of Public Education in NSW Money won't fix the problem.
Since the implementation of The Gonski report particularly but since 2002 specifically, Educational Bureaucracy has increased 87%

Pixabay Image of Hands
 - great images.

© Cathy Brown 1998 - 2023 © All images & Videos Cathy Brown Located in Sydney NSW Australia all rights reserved.
No unauthorised reproduction without written permission. Website design by Cathy L. Brown

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