Saturday, 14 December 2013

Tests Don't Reveal Half As Much As They Claim


The recent furore about the so-called under-performing UK children at school (the Pisa tests reports) may be an accurate indictment of British children compared with their so-called academically superior Asian counterparts, or it may be a drastically exiguous and ineffectual appraisal of the state of our young. Whichever it is, you won't find it in the report because it omits the most important part of the enquiry.

Now I'm all for our pupils attaining the highest scholastic achievements possible, but what fails this report is the absence of two important questions that those involved either forgot to ask, or deliberately omitted because they knew they couldn't answer.

Here's what they should have asked as the fulcrum of their enquiry:

1) What is the optimum scholastic level for a child in complementarity with other non-scholastic skills and abilities within the context of their country?

2) Are the UK children anomalously under that optimum, or are top-performing Asian pupils anomalously over that optimum?

Factored into the answers to those two questions are the signposts to every other important question about the state of the world's youth - parental love, emotional intelligence, emotional well-being, not being over-pressured to attain high academic achievement, standard of living, freedom of thought, levels of repression, contentment, happiness, perspective, social ability, friendships, creative abilities, enjoyment of youth, ratio of jobs to skills, and ability to develop in the most psychologically fruitful way.

Without asking the two important questions above - there is no prelude to considering the other things that matter. No one is denying the importance of reading, writing and arithmetic - but it's a shame all of these other highly important factors above were missed in an attempt to focus only on test scores.

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