If you know about Yertle The Turtle, you know about the perils of dictatorship and the pain of bureaucracy. For those who aren't familiar with Yertle The Turtle, a children's book character created by Dr. Seuss in 1958, he's a turtle who lives in Sala-ma-sond and "Yertle the Turtle is King of the Pond".
Yertle is dissatisfied with his rule of the pond and wants to be higher than all he can see. He commands all the turtles in the pond to make a single great turtle stack for his Lordship, Yertle, to sit and rule.
Meanwhile, sore turtle backs and hungry turtle tummies down the line, particularly from a turtle named Mack, saw pleas for mercy and respite disregarded. Eventually, that dear little turtle named Mack "decided he'd taken enough and HE HAD". And Mack BURPED. Down came Yertle and each turtle holding him up. Yertles reign was over.
Let me introduce you to a Teacher named Helly who has lots in common with a Turtle named Mack. Faithfully, for 20 years a Teacher named Helly has experienced the slow stack up of increasing bureaucracy within society and her career and that sweet little Teacher named Helly is showing 'great pains' from conditions that can make success seem impossible.
Since the National Curriculum was introduced in 2012 there has been a 'blanket' level of expectations on students of the same Year level nationwide.
So, students from green leafy high socio economic schools are assigned the same work as the schools with greater disadvantage where statistically, unemployment is rife and family units are more fractured.
So Teachers like Helly are now expected to present - as a benchmark - content and learning experiences, which do not reflect the extreme diversity of differences within our classrooms throughout our nation.
Now, I can hear some of you saying "we differentiate for our classes". Well, yes, if you have a Principal or leadership that can listen for long enough to comprehend that needs within your class don't match the national educational menu for that age group.
Or, if you are brave enough to ask for help that you don't get told to 'change your teaching practice'. Oh dear, like Mack, teachers like Helly just get told to be quiet and change because they need to, and so they continue to wear the brunt of unbearable pressure.
In defence of Principals, they too have bureaucracy hounding and pounding them from afar, to lift levels of literacy and numeracy within their schools. Principals are over scrutinised by turtles, I mean people like Yertle, who most often have very little understanding of the intricacies and workings of classrooms and more importantly the people within them.
Let me tell you, the price Teachers are paying for the Yertles of the world is immense. Teachers have a constant sense of failure because that 'stack of bureaucracy' which they are expected to hold is just too immense. Cramming in content that is often much too complex, abstract and unnecessarily complicated curriculum gives children a sense of hurriedness and disbelief in their ability as a learner.
The sweet little Teacher named Helly wants all the Yertles to know that CHILDHOOD IS SACRED. They get ONE chance at it.
They don't care what the latest expectations of teaching and learning are, or what the data says. Children just want to succeed and get better with their learning each day. Simple. Day by day, small step by small step, celebration of successes and support for failures, children need less complication, less stressed teachers and more happy, spontaneous and fun learning times. Happy children learn.
Assessment. Data. Are these things more important than actually being taught in a meaningful and age appropriate way? This sweet little Teacher named Helly has so much more to say, but that will have to do for today. Pardon me, I just BURPED.
Helen Nicholson is a wife and Mother to three children and lives and works in Ipswich, Queensland. Helen is an experienced Primary School Teacher and has gained her Masters of Education. Helen loves her family and friends and nothing more than walking her two pet poodles and busting out her favourite moves on the dance floor.
Helen Nicholson's previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/helen-nicholson.html