Exam Pressure

The exams results are out!  Tribulation and tragedy abound.

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I worry for our children.

When did we start to think that this was a good way to educate?  Focussing so completely on exams, all teaching geared specifically for taking these exams, limiting learning to a narrow curriculum, and judging everyone on how well they test during a few days at the end of it all.

It seems to me to be an education that does not serve our children.

I look at our education system and I don’t see a vibrant, exciting, learning environment.  I see children stressed by exam pressure.  Teens forced to rise earlier than is naturally healthy for them. Children having to sit for hour upon hour, studying a series of seemingly unrelated subjects, required to switch their attention from subject to subject every hour.

One exams fits all, tests all. Because we don’t trust our teachers, what they must teach is prescribed; because we don’t trust our schools, they too are tested and ranked against one another; students are coached for exam success with little leeway to explore their own interests; and despite all the research that demonstrates how much we are failing our children, we persist.  Testing everyone to tell us how well we are doing.

We are teaching them:

*  Fear.  If you don’t do as we say, you will fail – in exams and in life.
*  Compete against each other – you will be ranked against your peers.
*  Don’t collaborate – we call that cheating.
*  Everything stands and falls on how able you are to regurgitate what you know in a ninety minute period in several months time.

We are impressed when we hear a child demonstrate their knowledge by spouting facts

How does this prepare our children for adult life?

What I wish for my children is simply this:

To want to learn.
To know how they learn best.
To have confidence in their ability to learn.
To have enough free time for their own learning.

This is an approach that will serve them well

I do not want them to acquire facts and jump through hoops out of fear.

I want them to work together, using all the resources available to find information, asking guidance from experts, and helping each other.

I want them to be able to welcome mistakes as part of the learning process.

I want their own assessment of their progress to matter more than any others’ assessment.

Then I feel they are preparing well for the world that they live in and their adult life to come.

Photo: 123RF by Vladimir Voronin
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Posted on 18 August 2014
Musings: Parenting girls

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