August 26, 2005

Yes they get good results but by God are they bored

If you want a hint at why despite the ever increasing pass rate our schools are producing less and less educated people Al Guardian has the answer.
In the spring of this year my diligent 16-year-old came back from school to tell me that she was about to start studying the Vietnam war for GCSE. "Good," I said, enthusiastically. "I've got some interesting books you could read." Her eyes widened in alarm. "I don't think I should till after the exam," she said, "because, you know that stuff you gave me to read on civil rights? Well, I did really badly on that paper in the mocks, cos my teacher said I'd put in lots of irrelevant stuff."

My daughter has learned the important lesson of today's examinees. Learn what you have to know, and not an iota beyond it. Don't pursue an interest, because a deeper understanding is not only superfluous, it is a positive disadvantage. Examination boards freely admit that people who know more than the syllabus demands find it harder to do well.
So the current school and examination system turns pupils into experts in precisely what the goverrnments wants them to know, and actively discouraged from trying anything else. In otherwords easy to be managed by our mangerial government.
How can we have ended up with such an unsatisfactory situation when we have a government that is making huge efforts to give people greater opportunities? The answer is that, in its drive to make the system more rigorous and more accountable, the government has squeezed out room for the elements that keep children involved in the process and that allow real education to take place - excitement, curiosity, discovery and responsibility.
which is exactly what you would expect when deciding what to teach is taken out of the hands of the professional teachers with a vocation for teaching their subjects and into the hands of government officials with no interest in either, but arequirement to make things easy to put into spreedsheets for soundbite friendly statistics. And what happens when you putting teaching back into the hands of teachers?
the results have been striking. Every school has seen marked improvements in behaviour, attendance, attitudes and achievement in the Opening Minds pupils, particularly among those at the top and bottom of the range. In many cases the statistics are striking: truancy halved; exclusions down by 90%; detentions down by 60%; Opening Minds children scoring 15% higher than their peers in tests.
and please note that while everybody improves it is the people at the top and bottom ends that are helped most since their needs are recognised by any haft differnet teacher as being different from the average pupil used in the government officials models and so they can tailor the teachign to their needs. So people do better when taught to their own levels, being pushed as much as their individual abilities allow and as the guardian points out most of what we know about psychology tells us that
People want to be stretched and pushed It's one of the most gratifying experiences life has to offer. It's when we are being pushed to achieve something that's just within our capabilities, but further than we have been before, that we are happiest.
In otherwords streaming, like in the grammar schools. Which also provided far better social mobility than hte current system as it allowed the many bright people from poorer backgrounds to get into schools where they would be pushed to their full potential.


Blogger apu said...

Chris, that was an interesting post. We deal with similar issues here, with many kids being so blinkered by the school syllabus that they end up being completely unaware of anything to do with our history, or culture, or for that matter, anything at all about other countries.
Have linked this to a related post on my blog.

11:40 am  

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