Had to break from the ‘Rudimentary collection’ to show you this sculpture, a new addition to the ‘Only Human collection’ and apt for this week.
Monday morning. Our eldest was nervous. It has been S.A.T.S week. His teacher has prepared them well and positively encouraged them all year, drawing out the best in each and every one of them. She has ensured them that it is about measuring her abilities as a teacher and the school. My eldest told me that she has said that to them but he wants to do well for her because she is such a good teacher.
Thing is they don’t really measure anyone’s ability do they. The teachers or the pupils. These tests won’t show how imaginative and creative our eldest is, his sense of humour or his popularity in the class. His love of reading which has inspired an interest in Greek Myths and legends. His uniqueness. Or any of the other individuals taking these national tests which seems to me more like my GCSE papers never mind ten and eleven year olds taking them. They have been practising for these tests but what are they learning from them? Do ten and eleven year olds need to be tested and why?
We label, statement and measure abilities from a young age. Is it any different now from the past? In the Victorian era children were made to wear a dunce cap and sit on a stool in the corner of the classroom. A form of humiliating punishment for misbehaving but also if they had failed to show that they had learnt their lesson for the day.
I told my husband that two of the trickier words in our eldest test had been ‘vague’ and ‘inconceivable’. “I don’t know how to spell those”, he said candidly. Albeit that English is his second language and he learns it as he goes along proof enough that knowing a spelling, a grammatical term or an equation doesn’t mean the success or failure that testing seems to suggest.
The concept that my husband envisages for the sculpture is that it sits on a plinth surrounded by origami paper birds which if you look closely are all made from paper covered in complex mathematical problems and equations. They would be positioned in concentric circles around the plinth that ‘Dunce’ would stand on.
Thomas Edison was difficult to teach, maybe due to dyslexia but he also asked too many questions. Indeed, many brilliant minds have struggled in an education system. Children can easily switch off and become discouraged if their natural inquisitiveness isn’t tapped into. I know it is hard to have a system that fits all. You can’t. But I do think in Primary school, children should be fostering a love of learning and a desire to question, discover and more importantly play. It is so dependant on the teacher but how can you measure a teacher’s ability to do that with the scores from a test the children take.
The two reasoning papers this week were the hardest. Whilst I am a little old school in thinking they should learn reasoning, rhetoric, logic and grammar. I don’t think it is reasonable to find something so hard, to miss questions because they are complicated and then not have enough time to go back and have a go, when you are still only ten. Anyway, they are all over now for my eldest who has taken them in his stride, not knowing any different I suppose. He openly said that he could understand why they were being tested on arithmetic, reasoning and spelling. He wasn’t so sure about the comprehension though, which is probably the one he is best at.
If you are an avid reader of my blog, thank you for reading. You will have probably noticed that grammar and spelling are not my strengths and I have had to overcome the knowledge of that which has prevented me from writing in the past. Perhaps the new system, teaching 7 year olds what modal adverbs or conjunctives or all the other technical terms I was never taught will stand them in better stead?
I am not sure there is an answer to today’s Education System. I just hope that my children understand that education is life long, learning is continuous and intelligence really can not be measured. Education doesn’t remain within the confines of school. or to tick boxes. Education is ultimately for the betterment of ones own self-development.