Posted by: John Colby | Friday September 19 2008

Teaching to the Test

It’s what I’ve been saying for some time, and now someone else has said it – and that someone is OFSTED. The BBC News report on the matter, Too much maths ‘taught to test’ expresses what I’ve been saying for years, but now they’ve put figures on it. Quote: “The effectiveness of work in maths was judged to be outstanding in 11%, good in 44% and satisfactory in 40% – by an inspectorate which regards “satisfactory” as not being good enough.” So not only do we have the 40% of schools being labelled as “satisfactory” but the English Language has changed somewhat. In my youth, admittedly which was some years ago, we used the dictionary definition of the word, and that meant “Giving satisfaction sufficient to meet a demand or requirement; adequate.” Now we’re told it’s not good enough. Do we change the language to meet the politically correct definitions that now seem to be in use or do we add two letters to the front? In other words, for “satisfactory” read “unsatisfactory”.

The other thing is that the CBI recognise the efforts of some universities to instil into their students the value of simple things, like being there. Another BBC news item – Graduates ‘short on skills’ – CBI stresses that to them employability mean being employable and taking part. Another quote “…Liverpool John Moores University which trains students in basic office skills – including turning up on time.” It is politically correct to ask why that should be necessary?

I often use a Woody Allen wisdom when teaching: “80 percent of success is just showing up”. I wonder why we now need to teach this. What have schools been doing for the past 40 years?  I use this timeframe because 40 years ago is when I left school to go to university. Unfortunately I don’t know how many of them know who Woody Allen is.

Anyway, new term, new students – next week.

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