(not satire – it’s UK education today)
Have any government ministers ever actually spoken to a 4-year-old child?
Because formally testing children at that age has got to be the stupidest idea the coalition has come up with yet.
This is what a formal test of a 4-year-old is likely to look like:
EXAMINER: Hello, what’s your name?
EXAMINER: Hello, Tom. And what’s your surname?
4-YEAR-OLD: I like sausages. Do you think we’re going to have sausages for tea today?
EXAMINER: Erm, I don’t know. Your surname?
EXAMINER: Trump’s your surname?
4-YEAR-OLD: He he he …. (blowing raspberries and laughing hysterically) … that’s what a trump sounds like.
EXAMINER: Right. OK. Well maybe we can forget the surname. Let’s have a look at these shapes and can you tell me which one is the square?
4-YEAR-OLD: (without moving) Yes.
EXAMINER: Can you show me by pointing?
EXAMINER: Why not?
4-YEAR-OLD: My mummy says it’s rude to point.
EXAMINER: Right, I see. Can you show me without pointing?
4-YEAR-OLD: No. But did you know I can blow bubbles from my bottom?
I’d love to see a grading and marking scheme which can cope with answers like those.
But apart from the practical problems of formally testing children at such a young age, there is absolutely no evidence that starting formal teaching at an early age leads to more successful final outcomes.
In Scandinavian countries, for example, children are still playing in kindergardens at the age of 6 – and the outcomes for 18-year-olds in those countries are generally much better than ours when it comes to education.
And every parent knows there is also a huge difference in abilities at the early stages of educational development – children develop in leaps and bounds and there can be as much as a 2 or 3 year range between abilities of individual children at that age.
Comparing individual 4-year olds and rating them by their abilities is pointless and could even be damaging by making late-developing children feel like they’re failures.
I’ve got a much better idea than testing 4-year-olds.
Perhaps we should introduce more rigorous, formal testing of prospective government ministers before we allow them to get their hands on our children’s education?
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