Ooh lovely - another test for Primary children?!(12 Posts)
Oh great. Think I'd pushed this to the back of my mind hoping that someone somewhere would chuck it out as a stupid idea....
So I don't have an issue with children needing to know their times tables per se...but putting in yet another bloody test?!! Do me a favour. And expecting every child to achieve 100% is lunacy. What about children with SEN? Or the many children who will crumble under pressure? (Of which there are a growing number year on year). How many adults could get 100% on a timed test? How many Tory ministers?
Yep. Just what primary education needed - another sodding test to check that teachers are not shit. Let's face it, that's what this is about - not 'introducing rigour' or 'improving standards.' Horse-shit.
Again, I reiterate that, yes, children should know their tables by Y6 as it's the basis for so many other mathematical concepts. But yet another test? Really? Why? Why put children through another process that will increase stress and pressure? And 100%???! This is do have an issue with. No margin for error whatsoever???!
Reading between the lines, yet again, this isn't about improving standards, more like finding another way to 'check schools', measure them and berate them.
And before we get lots of people saying that schools don't have to teach to tests and it's down to the school, of course this is what's happening and what will happen to an even greater extent. Only a very brave school will not be putting in boosters / extra lessons / sacrificing other non-core subjects if this is what they will be scrutinised on surely?! (Yep, I know it's the school not the children being tested here...so what do we DO about it?)
Shall we just go the whole hog and sit them in rows, rote-learn everything and beat them with canes occasionally? Perhaps this is the next phase of the master-plan to go back to Victorian education...
I am so glad I am leaving teaching at the end of the year. I resigned on Tuesday. 16 years. I'm not doing this to children any more.
It depends what they mean by "all". I'd be very surprised if it was 100%. The Guardian reported that: "On the definition of “all” pupils, the criteria would include mainstream schools but would take into account a school’s intake and variations in ability between cohorts." What "Whitehall sources" said 15 months ago could easily turn out to be rubbish, or just forgotten about.
Shall we just go the whole hog and sit them in rows, rote-learn everything and beat them with canes occasionally?
There's a time and a place for more traditional learning. It's swung too far the other way as having to be fun. Of course, physical punishment is out of the question, but "rote" learning isn't a bad thing if it's done alongside other way of learning.
It's like prime numbers - some teachers use convoluted techniques to teach the kids how to work out what the prime numbers are. That takes longer and is more likely to be over the heads of some kids that just sitting and learning the damn things! Let's face it, there aren't that many to learn.
I would rather my children had a true understanding of what a prime number is and why it is unique and important, than be able to recite a list of them.
The world has changed. Knowledge, as a practical concept, has changed. 15 seconds on Google will bring up a list of prime numbers, should they ever need them. What is more important, to me as a parent, is that they understand what they can do with those prime numbers and what they are used for in the real world (internet security, for one!)
15 seconds on Google will bring up a list of prime numbers
Which is no use at all in a GCSE or A Level maths exam, or even in classroom lessons when such knowledge is needed, just like reciting of the times table. It's no wonder that lots of kids struggle with maths such as factorising, algebra, fractions, etc., if they can't just "see" the answer by virtue of knowing the basics, having previously taken a short time to actually learn them. Kids can't google every time they need to simply an equation in a maths class.
Which is no use at all in a GCSE or A Level maths exam
I suppose that's my point. In my mind, education is to enable people to learn the skills they will need for life beyond school, not to acquire a set of knowledge that they will need to regurgitate successfully in order to pass exams. That's not to say that acquiring certain sets of knowledge is not important, but a lot of this is career-specific learning. For example, I'd want my pharmacist to have a fairly solid knowledge of doses, medications and ailments, but I don't much mind if he/she has to google their prime numbers
It's the education system itself that I believe needs a rethink. What is the purpose of education in 21st century Britain, and how is it arming the future generations with the skills they'll need to run this country/planet? I don't have those answers (although the Nordic system and social pedagogy are both worth looking at), but I suspect problem solving, knowing where and how to find/evaluate knowledge, creativity and critical evaluation skills are all in there somewhere. I know these are all taught in UK schools, but I'd argue they deserve greater weighting. As the OP and others have said, more standardised testing tends to have the effect of stealing valuable classroom time away from this sort of innovative 'learning to learn' type teaching.
Just had a quick Google and found this article which explains my case much better than I have!
I don't see how anyone can properly understand prime numbers if they have to look them up: not in the sense of having a deep understanding, anyway, as opposed to having memorised a definition.
This is an example of why the "you can always look it up on the Internet" idea that knowledge is now somehow 'different' is concerning to me. Cognitive psychologists have written about this quite a bit; for example, Dan Willingham:
"Knowledge enhances thinking in two ways. First, it helps you solve problems by freeing up space in your working memory. Second, it helps you circumvent thinking by acting as a ready supply of things you've already thought about (e.g., if you've memorized that 5 + 5 = 10, you don't have to draw two groups of five lines and count them). To simplify the discussion, I'll focus mostly on research that explores the benefits of knowledge for problem solving, which is essentially the type of thinking that students must do in mathematics and science classes. But keep in mind that in much the same way, knowledge also improves the reasoning and critical thinking that students must do in history, literature, and other humanities classes."
The above article is a good discussion of this topic.
It's all well and good pontificating about what a good education system looks like. We all have our own ideas. But, in reality, we have to deal with the here and now as the education system won't change fundamentally for at least a generation even if there was consensus and a will to change it (which there isn't).
Here and now, is that higher education and employers work predominantly to GCSE and A levels. Whether that's right or wrong is irrelevant - it's how it is. Someone with a poor grasp of times tables and who doesn't know their prime numbers is going to struggle through secondary school and struggle to get a decent grade at GCSE Maths and a poor/average Maths GCSE grade WILL impact on their future education/career choices. My son's best friend's dad is Maths HOD at the local comp and he regularly criticises the poor standard of maths education from his intake primaries, meaning he and his staff have to spend the first year doing remedial work on the basics before they can start on proper secondary school topics.
I have my own opinions how to improve the system. Firstly, I'd abolish the year-by-year nature of UK education and change it to a system where you progress through the levels according to ability/achievement not age, so if you have a "bad year", you don't move up. I'd have a "house" system where you belong to a house for your entire school life which is an equivalent sense of belonging to a year-by-year form. Secondly, I'd abolish many of the actual subjects. Obviously, you have to keep the basic core, i.e. literacy, numeracy, science, language, but rather than having, say, History or geography or chemistry or language lessons, covering separate elements, you'd have modules on say the industrial revolution which would cover all aspects, i.e. the sciences involved (chemistry of coal, iron, rock), (physics of how they used gravity and energy), (geography of why the UK was suited for industry and location of mill towns, etc), (history as to it's historical context, reasons wars before during and after, etc). That would lead to a GCSE-equivalent in the industrial revolution. I'd also have a general "foreign languages" module before proper teaching of specific languages, to teach the stuff that used to be taught in English, but that you need to know for a MFL, i.e. tenses, imperatives, imperfects, etc. - at the moment, that kind of thing is being taught as part of MFL lessons. Also to teach the common basics, such as that other languages have masc/femn/neut words we don't have in the UK, that Spanish, Italian and French have common origins, etc.
Like I say, we all have our opinions. I know my "perfect system" will never happen and others will be aghast at some of the ideas. But I can dream. But the reality is that GCSEs and A levels are THE benchmark for many FE and career options TODAY, so the primary and secondary education systems of TODAY have to work towards that, rather than any "perfect world" scenarios we'd like to see.
It's like prime numbers - some teachers use convoluted techniques to teach the kids how to work out what the prime numbers are. That takes longer and is more likely to be over the heads of some kids that just sitting and learning the damn things! Let's face it, there aren't that many to learn
There are infinitely many prime numbers, you could never learn them all!
Misses point of thread
There are infinitely many prime numbers, you could never learn them all!
Indeed, but there aren't too many that you NEED to learn for Sats and even up to GCSE Maths. Even the Maths GCSE questions I've worked through only require the first few, say the first 5-10, but to be sure, the first 25 should see you right and cover all eventualities. I'd say it's A level when you may need more and that's a good time to learn the techniques.
Join the discussion
Please login first.