Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Uneducated Education Secretary

Our Education Secretary Michael Gove has proposed a new idea where coursework and the GCSEs will be replaced by one hard test. This is an absurd idea. Tests are what is wrong with the education system. We should have more coursework and less tests. The biggest problem with the education system is that people are taught to pass tests. They're pumped full of facts and what they actually learn is not a lot. Coursework changes this because you have to work out a lot of things for yourself and put everything together to make sense of it all. With science coursework especially. You do experiments and come to conclusions yourself and find out how things work. Not just that they work, but how and why.

I know that its because of tests that I was able to get passing grades because my coursework was sub-par. But I do acknowledge how important the coursework can be. When you're learning to pass tests you can still learn a fair bit, but its not all applicable. There are some exams that do teach you a fair amount, such as history and English literature. In both of those you study something, often a piece of writing, and then draw conclusions based on it. There are no right and wrong answers as long as you can back up and justify what you say. You can even get a point if you come to a totally incorrect conclusion, but have sound reasoning. Analytical skills are very useful.

Not every test is like this really though. Plus not everyone picks up these little things. There are some things that will probably never be in an exam. Tests are important, its good to know what people know so you can know what they might need help with, but if you teach them how to pass the exams then you're not really finding out what they know, you find out what you've told them.

There's not a great deal of stuff I actually retained from school. I think if I took my GCSEs again I'd fail. But as you can see I know enough Maths and English to get through life, which is always good.

16 comments:

  1. does it mean part of teaching them how to pass is teaching them how to cheat?

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  2. Ah yeah, the eternal knowledge vs experience debate. I'd still rather hire a self-taught mechanic with years of experience rather than one who got a degree at some university.

    Test are stupid indeed. If you ask me now, I can't recall half of what I've learned the past six years, and this is only a month after my finals. Go figure. ):

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  3. I hope you guys aren't headed to our way of teaching towards the test. I hate it for my daughter now. My daughter got straight A's until the last quarter when the teacher found out what was on the SOL (state test) and had to cram it all in - most of the math classes failed the test and had to be pulled from gym class and stay after school to be taught what was on the test. Then some of those kids still failed the second test. So sad.

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  4. Gove is a contemptible politician. My girlfriend has just finished her PGCE to become a teacher, and some of the reforms he's floating around are simply awful.

    You've probably heard of the two-tiered system he wants to bring back, where the top achievers (read, earners) get put through for a better, more recognised qualification. People who aren't expected to do as well are entered for a lower level qualification which doesn't mean as much on the job marketplace. Obviously, this creates yet more elitism in our society, and it also fast tracks kids who don't do as well in primary school to a life of mediocrity (figuratively speaking).

    Also, he's done away with grants for student teachers, unless you're doing maths or science, for which you £8000. I know they are trying to encourage people to come in and teach the more academic subjects, but this is totally unfair on other subjects. My girlfriend did a music PGCE so she didn't get anything and I had to support her. Also, because the government are scaling back on arts spending in schools, there's not even much promise of a job at the end of it.

    In conclusion, Gove is probably my least favourite politician of all time, I remember some of the Thatcher years. Don't even get me started on the Baccalaureate scheme.

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  5. The education in Malaysia too is a joke. It's already very test oriented and students score like a string of 17As or something in their SPM (O-level equivalent), but if you throw them a question that requires some thinking, I'm not sure if they'd be able to handle it.

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  6. i blame old ppl, as in old ppl im pointing at the ones in there 40's-50's. they're just fucking everything up :D

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  7. The education system in the state I live in has become so focused on benchmark scores that any sort of creative aspect of learning has been done away with for the most part. Who has time to express themselves when standardized tests are only two month away!?! It's horrible.

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  8. This is so right. With exams you dont really learn as such you just remember. Then once the exam is done you completely forget it all.

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  9. This is ridiculous. Exams aren't representative of the kind of work you face in the real world. It would be much more beneficial to have more coursework and project related work so that you can apply what you've learnt in a real life situation. I don't understand why the government still don't get this! Grrr! xxx

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  10. Teaching to the test is what we call it here in the states. Handcuffs teachers and kids alike. There needs to be a way to monitor student progress, but a standardized test clearly isn't the way to go

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  11. I totally agree with this. I much prefer the system of grading the students overall work through the year - rather than grading them by a set of tests at the end. You need to be aware of their progress of course - and need to know they strengths and weaknesses - but the tests don't seem to do a very good job of discovering what those strength and weaknesses are.

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  12. agreed, we are force fed information and made to just regurgitate it without any real thought

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  14. Sadly the people best at passing tests are often the stupidest. And you're right about what you've said, not just in my opinion but what you've said is supported by facts, science and logic!

    Your education secretary sounds like a real idiot!

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  15. Hm. Sounds like they're trying to incorporate something similar to what we have in the States, the SATs and the ACTs or, if you're in Florida, the FCAT. These exams get lots of criticism because, very often, kids excel in the coursework and then do poorly on these standardized exams, which, of course, is a low reflection of what they are pedagogically capable of achieving...

    -Barb the French Bean

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  16. I completely agree with you here. Reverting to O-levels is not really the best idea.
    But you're so right when you say coursework is the best thing. It forces you to actually learn what you're writing about. I'm not joking, but after I've sat most exams, once the exam time is up, i really cannot remember what the hell I wrote or even revised!!

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