With all the chat around curriculum and assessment reform, I thought it timely to blog about something that’s been irking me for a while.
Far too often, politicians and commentators are guilty of an over-reliance on their own experience of school. It’s the whole ‘I did XYZ assessment/exam, and IT DIDN’T DO ME ANY HARM’. Despite being simplistic, I think politicians see it as a useful device to come across as passionate, experienced and in touch with ‘normal people’ since it’s harder to argue with someone’s personal experience. That’s all fair enough, but what about those that aren’t heard?
I mean I don’t think that your view of education should be entirely isolated from your immediate experience of it. But that it needs to be balanced with evidence (not cherry-picked international evidence) and strong input from practitioners and students.
Of course, the latest example of this is Gove’s plan to scrap GCSEs that came out yesterday. Gove went school and he had a pretty difficult background. But he did O Levels, and he got good grades. That means that O Levels work, right?
But what about those that aren’t heard?
The point is that we rarely hear from those that the system has failed. What about those who it did actually do some harm to?
They’re not the ones in Sanctuary Buildings, on the benches of the Commons, or shooting the s*@t with Portillo on This Week.
I’m keen to hear more about Gove’s plan, the substance behind it and the link with the Singaporean model. But let’s take personal experience for what it is, the view of the (very successful and influential) individual and not more than that. Sadly, that may be all that counts.
Greg – @gregisanderson
BTW – like the one exam board idea. Professor Frank Coffield was laying into the exam board industry at a recent NUS event I was presenting at. Interesting how Gove’s idea on this is kind of ‘anti-market’.