Sunday, February 24, 2008

Winston Smith's Primary School

If Orwell had written about education instead of government:

Anyone with a child in the last year of primary school will already be keenly aware of the Sats tests to be taken in May.

But this week even more fog was pumped into the subject with the debate over a new type of primary school test, a kind of son of Sats, known as the “single-level test”.

The results of a pilot test involving 22,000 children were initially delayed, while officials examined the bewildering finding that younger children had got higher marks than older children.

Although "marks" is not the right word, because in these Alice in Wonderland-ish tests, pupils only take them when they are good enough to pass.

There is no mark, because no one who is deemed likely to fail takes them in the first place.

Pupils have not failed, they have suffered from an "inappropriate entry".

I don't know if I've mentioned this before, but I was made to attend an experimental hippie "free school" between the third and fourth grades. There were no classrooms (too confining and regimented) no teachers (too hierarchical), no curriculum (too restrictive of children's creativity) and no schedule. There were no report cards and no marks for any subjects. The very few organised games we played remind me of this testing system. There were no points and no teams; we played until we got tired of it, which happened pretty quickly. We were told, when we were told anything, that we were to explore our own strengths.

You might imagine that fairly quickly, the kids organised themselves into little feral gangs that discovered their strengths lay in preying on the other kids.

This was welcomed warmly by the staff as an example of genuine self-expression.


Mulier Fortis said...

Lord of the Flies, no less!

Hilary Jane Margaret White said...

Yeah, that book always resonated with me somehow.