Yesterday’s Guardian online contained a gem of an article on the stress associated with the British school exam system, with this tag-line:
Our children are the most tested in the world, and schools are having to hire ever more counsellors to help them, reports education correspondent
Now what I loved about this article was the oblivious tone with which it presented the solutions of having more psychologists available to help the children, training school nurses to help with exam stress, and even turning towards holistic medicine. Not once did the article mention perhaps going to the source of the problem, and thinking about WHY it is that Britain’s children are “the most tested in the world” and whether it’s perhaps the system itself that’s broken.
The idea of being examined in the British style is pretty shocking for someone who came through the American education system. Even in America people fret about whether we are just training good test-takers with none of the skills needed to make it in the modern world. Extreme factions try to do away with grades and all measures of merit. I am not suggesting that this is the solution, but I do think the problems in the education system here in the UK are far, far worse than in the US. The students are being trained as solo test-takers and thus being deprived of the opportunity to learn the skills needed for, and the value of, teamwork. And now, apparently, the stress associated with training as a good test-taker is starting to trickle down and deprive children of their childhood. The Brits would benefit from some harsh self-examination on this subject of testing.