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Or 'A War of the Worlds' Or 'Compare and Contrast'?
I'm following up Tuesday's Diary item with an illustrative selection from this week's UK news and related papers about current UK Education policy 'leanings' and plans (with links to sources):
"British (actually English) school children could be guinea pigs for controversial new tests being described as a "pre-school PISA" for five-year-olds, despite other nations rejecting the trials. The move is disclosed in a contract document published quietly earlier this month by the Department for Education. " The Daily Telegraph 31 January 2017
WHAT IS 'the pre-school PISA', you ask? Here is a briefing paper (extract) from Prof. Peter Moss:
"Since its first outing in 2000, the Programme for International Student Assessment, widely known as PISA, has become highly influential in the education policy world with its three-yearly assessment of 15-year-olds in a growing number of countries around the world. Now the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and development (OECD) is moving on to new ground, with plans well advanced for an international assessment of early learning outcomes among young children. …
This photograph and reflection of Aimee's is from a project which we'll discuss at our day in March, in which early childhood educators will be introducing some of their struggles, questions and successes in developing an education which sincerely listens to children's enthusiasms and intelligences.
Suddenly the words of Loris Malaguzzi came to mind: "Children show us that they know how to walk along the path to understanding."
We - grown-up educators and parents - certainly benefit from being reminded of this, and encouraged to keep thinking and working for our children and for education.
I had earlier today been dumped in spirit, having read a recent statement on education policy by a UK Chartered Accountant: "It is imperative that pupils are taught a knowledge-rich curriculum. And the body of evidence on effective teaching practice is now overwhelming. The PISA results from last year serve to confirm the ever-growing body of international evidence on this point, that teacher-led instruction is more effective than child-centred, enquiry-based approaches." Why did this 'dump my spirit'? Because this was not just a 'man in a white-collar pub', this accountant is the current UK Schools Minister, Nick Gibb, in a high profile presentation to the Education World Forum a few days ago.
Here is Loris Maluguzzi again to remind us educators and parents to work for our children: "Once children are helped to perceive themselves as authors or inventors, once they are helped to discover the pleasure of enquiry, their motivation and interest explode. To disappoint the children deprives them of possibilities that no exhortation can arouse in late years."
I think we are all trying to 'walk the path of understanding': Aimee, Loris Malaguzzi, all of us who are listening, enquiring, making places of education for enquiry, joy and knowledge. (Primary educators, do come join us on our discussion day at the 'outstanding' - and creative - Trimdon/Bluebell Meadows school, and meet one such remarkable place, embedded and treasured by children and the community.)
Mr. Gibb, I find your words utterly chilling, dark and even sinister. Would they provide inspiration in Aimee's world, I wonder? I am more than sorry that you are against us. However, I am convinced that you cannot crush the spirit of enquiry.
Our parents campaign colleagues are making this appeal to the Secretary of State for Education - do please support this campaign: it is an important step in the broad efforts to achieve an education fit for human imagination and enquiry.
"We believe that the DfE is damaging the mental health of children through its excessive testing and is devaluing education by promoting rote learning of age-inappropriate grammatical concepts.
If we do not suspend tests this year then we are setting our children up to fail by forcing them to be part of a system that does not consider them individuals, but instead data on a page to be analysed.
We are creating children who are stifled and demotivated due to continuous and unnecessary teaching to the test. We are setting schools up to fail and leaving them open to academisation ...
We want teachers, unions and mental health experts to be able to work together with the Government to create a curriculum that encourages our children to develop inquiring minds and a love of learning.
This takes time... We are very concerned that adequate time has not been taken in the current political climate to ensure another assessment 'car crash' does not take place in 2017."
Read their full statement and sign their petition HERE.