Take kids out of schools: Yipirinya’s new head

p2208-Lance-Box-1By ERWIN CHLANDA


“Deschooling” will apparently become the objective of the Aboriginal Yipirinya School, a process that, by “the rule of thumb,” takes “one month for every year a child was in school. Some kids ‘detox’ sooner, but it’s rare”.


This is quoted in a thesis by Dr Lance Alan Box (Jangala) “jikirrilypa” (pictured) who appears to have been appointed CEO and principal in a management committee coup over the holidays of the private school that gets most of its funding from the public purse.


Dr Box has declined to comment. An NT Government probe into school is about to start.


A reliable source says the previous long-time principal, Ken Langford-Smith, has now been sacked by the school board.


p2208-Geneva-Academy-2In August last year Dr Box submitted a thesis titled “A Proposal to Deschool, then Unschool Australian Biblical Christian Education” to the New Geneva Christian Leadership Academy in Appomattox, Virginia, USA.


His proposition is this: “Given the current plight of schooling in Australia, both state schools and private schools, Biblical Christians must deschool themselves and their children, then educate their children in life for life, through an unschooling approach, with a discipleship emphasis, to ensure that the members of their covenant communities are educated in a God-honouring way, and to a level that will ensure that they can fully obey the requirements of the dominion and gospel mandates – the Great Commission of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.”


Dr Box writes: “Unschooling does imply that there is no government compulsion, there is no set curriculum, there is no removal of children from their natural family setting, and that the students are permitted to discover and pursue their God-given gifts and passions as fully and as passionately as the family’s resources will allow.”


In the thesis Dr Box describes his connections with the NT: “I would like to acknowledge the purlka-purlka (Old Men) of Lajamanu, who taught me many things, and in the process convinced me that God the Holy Spirit, sometime in the past, visited the First Nations Peoples of Australia, and helped them to preserve in their jukurrpa the truth that Jesus Christ is Lord of all the nations.


“I particularly want to thank Wanta Jampijinpa Pawu-Kurlpurlurnu, a precious friend and the one who is growing me up in the ways of the Warlpiri people.”


p2208-Geneva-Academy-1Dr Box says in June, 2013, he resigned “from an education administration position” he had held since 1988: “twenty-five years of expending myself in Christian schools (most of the time for around half the pay of my “secular” peers), serving home school families (for no pay), running a private tutoring business to help children let down by their state and Christian school experience (for barely enough to survive on), labouring in state schools, and a profane private school (well paid, but harassed and bullied).


“I was exhausted, disillusioned, sad, and had a hunch that schools and schooling were the common problem across each of the sectors that I had worked in.”


PHOTOS from the website of the Christian Leadership Academy in Appomattox, Virginia, USA.



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19 Comments (starting with the most recent)

NB: If you want to reply to a previous comment, start your comment with this notation: @n where n is the number of the comment you want to reply to.
  1. Another Observer
    Posted February 3, 2015 at 7:27 am

    @ Davies (January 31, 2015 at 7:56 pm): Thanks for those statistics. One wonders if future generations will be called on to apologise for this appalling waste of money.

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  2. Collins
    Posted February 2, 2015 at 10:46 am

    I recall Crikey and various anti-intervention campaigners promoting this nutter as an expert on education policy a couple of years ago.

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  3. Davies
    Posted February 1, 2015 at 12:34 pm

    The following is from the Alice Springs News June 12, 2002:
    The constitution was drafted in 1978. The necessity of its reform was put to DEST by former principal Fiona McLoughlin, following her resignation towards the end of 2000. The constitution allows only parents of students enrolled at the school to be council members.
    According to Mrs McLoughlin, this had enabled certain members “to take great control of the school operation” and students’ education and well-being “were not always at the forefront of decision-making by the council”.
    As reported in last week’s Alice News, Mrs McLoughlin’s advice was not even acknowledged, let alone acted upon.

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  4. Evelyne Roullet
    Posted February 1, 2015 at 11:05 am

    2 Davies: The Yipirinya School is a two-way (bilingual and bi-cultural) school.
    It caters for students from child care to Year 10.
    It is a school primarily for Indigenous students, but is willing to take enrolments from non-Indigenous students whose families want their children to become more acquainted with Indigenous languages and culture.
    Therefore this “prestigious school” is opened to all … send your kids, if you have any.

    View Comment
  5. Janet Brown
    Posted February 1, 2015 at 10:08 am

    The experiment has failed and every government decision that promotes segregation has been and continues to be failures.
    Segregating kids based on race is promoting racism.
    Kids like to assimilate and interact, have fun and pick their role models. Human nature is based on competition.
    All school should have canteens for breakfast and lunch provided it is proven that this gives a visual of how kids are interacting and their social integration.
    Parents on Centrelink payments can be complying for voluntary work in part by assisting at the feeding kids, learn skills and and socialise.
    More interaction with teachers and assist kids.
    There are a number of kids who require clean uniforms and showers so that they are not isolated.
    Provide it at the schools. I have sent to ministers a copy of my assignment done as part of my community services certificate at CDU.
    It will work. It will improve socialisation and community harmony and most of all give our kids real hope for a future of opportunities and benefits to the Territory without race based isolation and division.

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  6. Davies
    Posted January 31, 2015 at 7:56 pm

    Yipirinya School is a goldmine.
    According to the My School website each of the 155 enrolled students at the school are funded at $25,462. That’s the cost of sending a child to an elite private school.
    By comparison, students up the road at Gillen Primary School are funded at $5,056 each. So Yipirinya students get five times the funding even though Gillen also caters to many in the same Aboriginal cohort of students.
    The attendance at Yipirina is very low, on an average day around 50 students are at school.
    Participation in NAPLAN, (national testing) averages just 36%, the lowest of any school in the NT and probably the nation. The results are appalling.
    By comparison, almost all Gillen Primary School students regularly attend their school. They have an average participation rate in NAPLAN of 94% with outcomes to match.
    The $4,124,892 annual funding for 50 kids attending Yipirinya amounts to $82,497 per attending student.
    This taxpayer funded expenditure delivers some of the lowest outcomes in the nation.
    If this was not an Aboriginal school it would have been defunded years ago.

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  7. Evelyne Roullet
    Posted January 31, 2015 at 6:19 am

    13. Alex Nelson, 5 Maya:
    Well said, my thoughts entirely! Yipirinya is an Aboriginal School and not and fundamentalist religious laboratory where children will be used as guinea pigs.
    The words of Dr.Lance Box: profane, secular etc … demonstrates his fundamentalist views.
    As a financial supporter, I will have no other option than to withdraw.

    View Comment
  8. Ann Watson-Brown
    Posted January 28, 2015 at 11:44 am

    Good on you Erwin for exposing yet another scandal affecting indigenous education in the Territory.
    I certainly feel sorry for the children at Yipirinya and for the headmaster Ken Langford Smith who has worked long and hard to provide an all-round education at the school.

    View Comment
  9. Matt Lemmens
    Posted January 28, 2015 at 11:10 am

    The Yippy board are well versed in selecting 3M heads.
    Should they, the board members, miss out on certain benefits, there is always another 3M to be introduced as principal.

    View Comment
  10. Another Observer
    Posted January 27, 2015 at 2:37 pm

    At what point will people who receive government (taxpayer) funding to conduct these experiments be held accountable for the lives they stuff up?

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  11. Maya
    Posted January 25, 2015 at 11:37 am

    Yip school was founded in 1986 as a “two-way school,” by a group of strong and clever men and women who wanted their kids to grow strong and proud for the years to come. This meant to learn and be able to function in both cultures and ways.
    Read-write-sing-dance-be yourself and be happy.
    Dr Box should go back to the roots of Yip School and its philosophy. His “thesis” may lead to disaster.

    View Comment
  12. Bronte Zadow
    Posted January 25, 2015 at 7:26 am

    Just a thought: God helps those who help themselves.

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  13. Charley Lewis
    Posted January 25, 2015 at 6:00 am

    Sounds to me like the ‘Boko Haram’ (translation: Western education is forbidden) of Aboriginal schooling. When religious fundamentalism and crackpot educational experimentation take over, it’s the children and their life prospects that are trodden underfoot.
    Are these nutters hellbent on hijacking Yipirinya and turning it into the new Jonestown?

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  14. D Maynier
    Posted January 24, 2015 at 10:44 pm

    If Dr Box had such problems in such a wide range of educational roles as he describes it suggests to me that the problem lies with Dr Box rather than with education.
    I heartily endorse Bronte’s sentiment about basic literacy but perhaps it starts by getting the students (and staff!) to school in the first place.

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  15. Howard Davies
    Posted January 24, 2015 at 6:18 pm

    I am an editorial quipper from way back, a teacher who worked at Lajamanu for a fair while and a Baptist.
    I hope no one thinks this Howard Davies wrote this comment.
    I wish people would properly identify themselves with everything they put in the public domain.

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  16. Davies
    Posted January 24, 2015 at 3:30 pm

    If readers take the time to read Lance Box’s monograph they will be surprised and reassured. He is not a religious nut when it comes to Aboriginal education but he is a visionary who has developed a well grounded approach.
    Those who have taught in Aboriginal communities will relate to what he says.
    It may be idealistic, and certainly a big ask, for teachers to relate to their students in kinship relationship terms but it’s a sound idea.
    Aboriginal education everywhere in the Territory is not doing well so, if the board wants him as principal, he deserves a chance.

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  17. Bronte Zadow
    Posted January 24, 2015 at 1:18 pm

    Just teaching the children to read and write would be a great start.

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  18. Richard Lim
    Posted January 24, 2015 at 12:59 pm

    Hey Erwin … it is not April 1st for a few months yet .. so an April Fool’s joke is a bit premature.
    [Hi Richard, It’s not an April Fool’s joke, but I can imagine what you mean.]

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  19. Posted January 24, 2015 at 11:12 am

    Oh, God help us all!

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