There are too many realities of education that are accepted without being properly challenged. One such reality is that pre-school kids generally love learning whilst older kids don’t. Pre-schoolers like to ask questions, think creatively, learn new things and take risks with their learning. Preschool teachers seldom experience the negativity we Primary school teachers see on a daily basis.
A few years later that same Pre-school class will become a Middle-Years Primary class. Invariably things will be very different. Academic and social pressures start to show, the kids become self-conscious about getting answers wrong, are less likely to put their hands up and don’t enjoy their learning as much, if at all. What has happened in such a short time period? How did such enthusiastic learners become so dispirited and negative so quickly? What is the system doing wrong?
In my opinion, part of the blame falls on the endless obsession of benchmarks and accountability. Whilst it is important to make schools accountable for the quality of their teaching and as important as it is to provide parents with current data about their childs’ progress, look at the price the students have had to pay for this to happen.
The child is subjected to frequent rigorous standardised testing where they are pressured to perform not only to preserve their own self-esteem but also to bolster their school’s reputation. Innovative, fun and creative lessons are being replaced by pre-tests, practise tests and formal tests. Trial and error and experimentation is being replaced by methods, short cuts and rote learning. Curriculums are overloaded, dead boring and politically charged.
And so severe is the pressure from schools to comply with these rigid expectations, that naturally, some are going to unethical lengths to restore their reputations:
Some teachers feel pressurised into altering pupils’ marks to imply they are making good progress in class, research suggests.
Three separate studies suggest teachers are changing assessments after pressure from senior school staff worried about making the school look good.
The government said it trusted schools to make correct judgements when grading pupils.
And all three, being presented to the British Educational Research Association on Wednesday, suggest that some teachers feel pressure from school management to show that their pupils are steadily hitting targets.
Teachers typically have to provide information at least once a term on which level of the national curriculum a child has reached as they move through the school.
The author of one of the studies, Professor Martin Fautley of Birmingham City University, said assessment was being used for an entirely different purpose than was intended.
“Assessment has become a measure of school effectiveness rather than simply a measure of how pupils are performing.
“Management are telling teachers that pupils should be achieving at a certain level, and some teachers are then feeling forced into saying that they have achieved it, whether or not this is appropriate.”
What this article and many ones like it don’t tell you is what implications all this pressure has on the students and on the way teachers teach.
The sad reality of all this is the creative child that buzzes about their experiences on the way back from pre-school later becomes the child that refuses to talk about their day only a few years later.
Tags: Alice Bradbury, Birmingham City University, British Educational Research Association, Children, Department for Education, Education, kids, life, Parenting, Professor Martin Fautley, Roehampton University, Standardised Testing