So this has been an issue for a long time and one that doesn’t seem to get any easier despite the change in Education ministers and Governing parties.
I think this quote sums it up really well. Standardised tests are simply a tool for politicians. Being a teacher I understand the need to educate everyone but if the purpose of education is really to prepare people for work then do we need to look at the curriculum and have qualifications that are relevant for them.
I teach Maths and the content is constantly being driven harder and harder and I believe that some of the really important things are being pushed out of the curriculum. Budgeting, finance, profit and loss are all really important skills but we spend an enormous amount of time teaching rules about areas of Maths that most will never use in their adult life. I agree that Maths needs to teach problem solving and applying knowledge to a different situation but at what cost.
So once the students have devoted weeks, months or even years of their lives to preparing for these exams we sit them in a hall in silence with the rest of their peers. We take away all collaborative learning or research tools. We give them a desk and then throw a large number of questions at them in a tiny window of time and expect them to produce the best work of their lives.
Lets strip it down to it basic parts.
- All students have to take English and Maths – 9 hours
- Then there is usually a foreign language – 4.5 hours
- Science of varying nature – up to 9 hours
- Art – 8 hours
- Music – 4 hours
And the list goes on. Thousands of 16 year olds sitting in exam halls all over the country for days worth of exams all crammed into a few weeks. This definitely sounds like the best way to judge someone on their ability for the rest of their lives!