She Was Sat in the Stress

For those of us who have been there, and more so those currently in it, the idea that the stress caused to students and teachers by the exam factory at primary and secondary levels [and beyond, perhaps] is somehow easy to ignore, or an exaggerated assertion, or any other form of casual denial of its impact and effects, is as absurd as it is rude.

Seeing this reality written about doesn’t of itself make it any more true, but doubters should take note. This article today by Zoe Williams in The Guardian articulates the problem carefully and with supporting evidence and I encourage readers here to read.

I simply also want to post one paragraph from the article about a test for 6 years olds that Williams quotes as having seen. This should be absurd, but sadly I believe it must be another truth.

In parental quarters, what you notice most about the new curriculum is how joyless it is, how little of it makes sense on its own terms. I have seen literacy questions for a six-year-old in the past week that I couldn’t answer. (You think I’m exaggerating. Of course you do. So try this: “‘Kajal looked at the time and jumped out of the chair she was sat in. She had just enough time to meet her friend Julia at the cinema across town if she caught the bus. She ran out of the house towards the bus stop, just as the bus began to drive away. ‘Stop!’ she shouted. What do you think happened next? Why?” Never mind that the text itself is drivel, and strips out any gift of interest, wisdom or magic that a paragraph has ever bestowed upon a reader. I don’t have a clue what happened next.)

And I shouldn’t be seeming to put pedantry before astonishment, but surely sat in ought to be sitting on? I am mentioning here my concern for accuracy in the interests of a balance I always try to maintain in my criticisms of educational matters. I visited the TES resources pages again yesterday, looking at what is on offer for teaching Writing [usually at GCSE level] and yet again I have found material, written presumably by teachers, that seems to me quite appalling. I’m not going to mention by resource, but one PowerPoint being offered for free [and that shouldn’t make any difference] is littered with errors in its own writing. Inaccurate spellings [in one ‘narrative’ exemplar, there is quite for quiet – easy error to make, easy error to check and correct before publishing!] and absence of apostrophes are two consistently common problems. One persistent error comes up with an error-indicating red line on one of the PowerPoint slides!

I know, pedantic and pompous. But 1 mark for the apt use of alliteration…..

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