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Is our obsession with chasing grades detrimental to the enjoyment of learning?

Discussion in 'Education news' started by TES_Rosaline, Oct 19, 2015.

  1. TES_Rosaline

    TES_Rosaline Administrator Staff Member

    Rob Messik, a director of theatre and drama at a London school, reveals what keeps him awake at night…


    He believes that our obsession with chasing grades and getting good results is eating away at education.

    Have we lost sight of the original goal of teaching because of targets, league tables, inspections etc?

    Rob mentions that we are no longer focused on making sure that a child is learning, instead teachers’ efforts are geared to ensuring that the child gets the right grades or at least the sufficient ones.

    Do you agree, or do you believe that the goal posts have changed in education because of government policies over numerous years, and the falling value of teachers?
    TEA2111 likes this.
  2. Doitforfree

    Doitforfree Star commenter

    Yes, obviously. All children seem to know these days is what will be on the exam paper and exactly how to answer the specific structure of the (very scaffolded) exam questions. They're not allowed to fail, so cheating is rife. They're often not educated at all, but merely trained to do particulr, fairly random things, on tests.
  3. Flere-Imsaho

    Flere-Imsaho Star commenter

    But that's sometimes to ensure they get credit for their learning. I can teach a child wonderful things about language all year but if I don't also, for example, teach what the exam board means by "Explain the purpose of the sentence in line 23." all that knowledge will go unrewarded.

    I don't mond filter what pupils learn through the exam technique. Especially in a compulsory subject or one many take only because their university course requires it, it can give purpose and structure.

    But there needs to be balance. The learning should be there and then a veneer of exam technique spread on top to ensure pupils cab genuinely show off what they know, even when questions can be a bit obscure.
  4. Eureka!

    Eureka! Lead commenter

    He mentions it? Is it important or not? Learning WHAT for that matter. Is learning some magical activity that exists in a vacuum?

    This "Rob" sounds like another confused Guardianista who finally realises the education system is pants but hasn't a clue what to proffer instead.
  5. Eureka!

    Eureka! Lead commenter

    What a load of waffle to justify the status quo.
  6. BobbyPhilips

    BobbyPhilips Established commenter

    The assumption that there is necessarily enjoyment in learning is mostly confined to those who work in education or academia.
  7. JaquesJaquesLiverot

    JaquesJaquesLiverot Established commenter

    I think that the old expression, "You don't make a pig fatter by measuring it", should be trotted out more often in the modern staffroom.

    Another factor is lack of enthusiasm for the subject on the part of the teacher - it quite often seems that younger teachers in particular have no real interest in the subject they teach.
  8. hermitcrabbe

    hermitcrabbe Established commenter

    My lack of enthusiasm for my subject these days is a result of being chased for grades. I just wish I was allowed to teach.
  9. Eureka!

    Eureka! Lead commenter

    But would what you teach have much meaning or relevance without grades? Are the class only there because they get what they perceive as a somewhat valuable grade at the end?

    93.38% of educational courses are not attended for their intrinsic interest.
  10. hermitcrabbe

    hermitcrabbe Established commenter

    You misunderstand Eurika. I have been writing elsewhere about the achievable demands from my SLT that I achieve certain grades for the students and the consequent paper chase, including endless meetings, paperwork and in my case the development and writing of a constant stream of booklets to demonstrate I have done something to meet the school criteria. .

    These are clearly not in any way possible without a miracle and my working 24/7/365 - and then the students would still not get the grades the school demands ( although in fact they know the demand is unreasonable,) ....

    Something much more realistic would be that I can facilitate / teach students to understand my subject and to pass an exam ( where their ability allows). If that were the only target I had to consider my job would be much more doable. It would be much more enjoyable for me and I would be able to teach and impart my own love of my subject.

    I consider myself an exam subject specialist and I get good results in my subject ( usually better than those gained by the same students in other similar and comparable subjects ) but there are some things I cannot do - and getting a student who does not speak English a Grade C or better in a Language rich subject is one of them. Its the teaching equivalent to spinning gold from corn.
  11. Eureka!

    Eureka! Lead commenter

    I do understand Hermit, but you're only seeing it from your point of view.

    Grades are a bit like goals in football, where the object of the exercise is to win by scoring goals. Or like tries in rugby, Or runs in cricket. Goals etc are fine, but pretty useless if the match isn't won (the exam isn't passed).

    Sports managers ( equivalent to teachers in this analogy) get sacked if the team doesn't score enough of the things. As time marches on, modernity uses all at its disposal to maximise their output - endless meetings, computerised analysis of statistics and playing patterns and so forth. All to get more goals, tries and runs in order to win. Losing nobly is not an option.

    Why should schooling be any different?

    If you want a more enjoyable job, don't take a job about winning and losing!
  12. lanokia

    lanokia Star commenter

    Oh god another person comparing education to games.

    Yes, what an excellent comparison. :rolleyes:
    Anonymity likes this.
  13. Eureka!

    Eureka! Lead commenter

    Deny it with reason - if you can.
  14. lanokia

    lanokia Star commenter

    Or maybe don't make daft ill informed comparisons?
    Anonymity likes this.
  15. lanokia

    lanokia Star commenter

    Oh yeah it's all a game, score a goal man, team work, go for the win. Yeah dude all that matters is the goal.

    Sheesh such lucid insight.
  16. MrMedia

    MrMedia Star commenter

    I'm sure I saw an article on this called the defeminisation of education about how blokes who like sport see education as a game with rules and winning and goals. Unfortunately, blokes make up most of the leadership positions and have been in charge of reforms - Ofsted, Gove, SLT, etc.
    As a bloke I have to say it isn't far from the truth.
  17. Eureka!

    Eureka! Lead commenter

    I am not saying that education should be about winning and losing. Merely that is.

    Which is where you come unstuck Lan. Cos you're addicted to grades!
  18. Eureka!

    Eureka! Lead commenter

    Of course the sports analogy is inappropriate if you compare a school to a team. The truth is that grades do not force schools to "win" or "lose" - but they sure force kids to!
  19. lanokia

    lanokia Star commenter

    That's it Eureka, make stuff up... if you can't craft an argument that holds water, create a strawman ...
  20. Eureka!

    Eureka! Lead commenter

    If anything is made up it's the legion of noble losers from schooling.

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