If tests could talk
THE EDITOR, Sir:
As GSAT results are out again, we are faced with talk of rewriting the book on how kids are to be tested. There is talk of a new curriculum and a new approach to doing the exams.
Frankly, I think there is way too much testing of our children. They are overtested and undertaught. I get such a pleasant picture in my head when I try to imagine if things were in the reverse: If only 75 per cent of the time spent testing was dedicated to teaching, how wonderful life would be for everyone involved.
Most teachers think that when they teach a topic, the students have learnt it. A lesson taught is NOT always a lesson learnt, so teaching a class on, say, population, does not mean the children learnt the topic, and therefore, it is not automatically test time.
Spend more time trying to make children understand, and find different ways to maximise your reach to them, whether it be using hands-on or audio-visual methods.
Testing seems to be the easy way out. Teachers get way more time to themselves if kids have to sit quietly in a test they printed from the Internet. Back to GSAT and the results, it does not matter what format the examination is put, the parents will always shape it, and shape it they will - into a high-anxiety test.
In the last, say, 10 years, there has been a decrease of credible schools to choose from; schools that would have been viable choices are not even slightly considered again. The school I attended - an all-girls school - was my first choice and was I happy to be attending it. In 2014, I would do everything in my power so my daughter doesn't.
Why not look at having outstanding principals placed in 'failing' schools? Have them introduce the key strategies they now use in these obviously successful schools and replicate them in the underperforming institutions.
Hopefully with the right incentives, be it with money or with fame or with just the mere satisfaction of reshaping lives in a positive way, stellar schoolmasters would be willing to take up the challenge of turning around below-average high schools.
Maybe then GSAT parents would feel more comfortable with a child attaining high-80 averages (which are now considered unsatisfactory in parents' minds), and this comfort would come about, only because he or she knows that there is a place where the child can attend, and at the very least will sustain very good grades in the quest to get into college.