Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Getting that off my chest

Today I shove Squirrel in front of the computer in her bedroom, find the Key Stage 2 Rocks and Soils BBC bitesize, and say have a go at that.

Five minutes later after an argument that begins it depends, she's scored 9/10.

I clip her round the ear for misreading the question about rock splashing from volcanoes. Yes, Squirrel, shut up about the marble with the heat and pressure. You did not read the word FROTH. You know they want the answer pumice, so no supper for you tonight.

Of course I am quietly satisfied, but I am a hard task mistress. Squirrel got here, to this knowledge filled world, without dressing in grey and white and never being allowed near a rock face. She got here by rolling in mud, scraping her knuckles, and crushing soil under her fingernails.

Well, today's lesson proves me right. Home education gets us to the same place, with years of added freedom.

But a result like that makes me want to shout out and applaud the people over here who are standing up to Balls and saying children matter more than he does. And what is Balls' response? Bully Boy is threatening to send the Heads home with letters to their mums and a fine from their pocket money. Pathetic.

So here is the rant that I immediately took downstairs, and it fell out my mouth much as it's falling out my finger ends. Only I'm skipping the effing and blinding.

What is the SATs? It is a bunch of packaged factoids, some of which is such a low level of comprehension my eyeballs fall out. These ridiculous factoids are presented as total truths: absolutely certain, finished, done complete bits of unquestionable knowledge. And nowhere can you say it depends, which is what we are shouting here most of the time, because we know knowledge isn't complete. It is only ideas in development that ask for challenging and questioning.

What is all this SATs crap even doing via a computer screen anyhow, like is this the homework kids have to do when they get home from school?

This is weird computer-mediated knowledge which is telling kids the world can only be known through someone else's pre-packaged selection. This is like the kid next door who won't eat plums picked from his own plum tree in the garden. He'll only eat them plastic wrapped from Tesco.

For goodness sake, turn this generation out of doors, kick them into mud piles, send them running along beaches, face down into rock pools, scrambling up hills, climbing up trees. Kids should be at the world, exploring it, picking it apart, reinventing it for themselves, not sitting passively receiving bits of it because someone else made a decision that would be a quiet and neat thing for them to do.

And where is creativity in all of this SATs crap? I want people around me who observe with sharp eyes and speak aloud. No matter how ruddy uncomfortable it makes me feel. I want people to bring questions, fresh perspective, strange angles, personal tellings, because all of that inspires me and does away with everything I thought I knew and recreates everything afresh. How can the SATs crapfactoidlist do that? It offers only a disconnection from the world we live in. It invites a child to distrust their own observations, to refuse to speak them, to be passed as right or wrong. That is only a disconnection from a person's own intuitive sense; disempowerment and disengagement.

And boy, am I cross about the way knowledge is twisted to fit the final answer. What is the point of thinking anything if you know you must give the answer they already gave you? What is the point of wondering what if this happens, wondering what if that didn't happen, wondering anything at all?

Well Shark, Squirrel and Tiger can take the ruddy SATs at Key Stage effing 2 with no sodding preparation and that will stand as absolute stick-my-finger in your eye to the total idiot who said to me today that kids are disadvantaged if they don't complete those pointless facile tests.

And HIP HIP HOORAY to every teacher who scorns them, and to every Head who collects that letter to take home to mum.

So I went straight back upstairs after offloading all that spewed out frustration with the type of crap children have to live with, pouring from this anti-educational, tiny brained mentality that's been - not leading us, but telling us what we can and cannot do - and Squirrel says she just went and did the Key Stage 3 Astronomy, and scored 11/12, so now can she have supper?


Maire said...

Hear hear hear hear, there is key stage 3 astonomy!

Hannah said...

Love this post, Grit!

Angela said...

You know Grit, if you ever need a supporter, I`ll come swimming over the Channel, and I think I can talk (almost) as flamingly as you!! Agreeing to every word you are saying, and coming up with examples of the kiddies I am teaching here. Even when their moms won`t let them come to me any more after they found out what we are doing here (talking about TRUTH, for example, and afterwards 10-year-old challeging mommy to admitting that the father you told me was Daddy, surely cannot be, so who is it?!)- even those few lessons of discovery and laughter can make all the difference to a child. I wish with the new election you`d be elected for national schooling headmaster!

Kelly said...

How ironic that as I write this young Ramalamadingdong, age 14, is writing his first ever test in his life, for university English credit. I dropped him off this morning with his water bottle, sharpened pencils and little bag of Peak Freens for energy, and he was so excited to get to go in there and tell those people what he knows about Hamlet! Jane Eyre! Persuasion! Confederacy of Dunces! Huckleberry Finn! Because he loves them. He is excited to see what questions they ask him on the essays. He is engaged with the material. I have no doubt he'll do just fine. And I am so glad that the first test of his life is of his own choosing, and will give him something meaningful in return. Well constructed tests that are designed to help the taker show their competence in a particular area, and which the taker has chosen for that purpose, can be tolerated under certain circumstances. But the pointless meaningless exercises in regurgitation most young children are put through on a daily/weekly/yearly basis are a form of child abuse. And I don't believe I am debasing the term by saying that.

Grit said...

thanks for your comments folks.

angela, i would be a rubbish national schooling head. i would say 'you can all go out to play now. and don't forget to take off your muddy boots when you come back in.'

i agree kelly and hope R does well! i have not a huge problem with the exam processes that gate-keep professional areas, and which mark out creativity or individual problem-solving, because that can bring benefit to the whole profession and to the rest of us. but some of the questions in these kiddy tests are really bad. grrr. don't get me started on the balloon one. because, IT DEPENDS. if it was filled with helium, well that makes a pretty big difference to the answer. moronic twerps.

Twins plus Two said...

Seen this very belatedly having just read your most recent post. 100% agree - and this post is even more pertinent given Gove's crazy antics in the DofEd right now. My second son has Asperger's and will not score highly in the blasted SATS - he assumes the person marking will know exactly what is in his head already and would rather tell you everything ELSE he knows which has been triggered by the narrow and pointless question on the paper..... And do I care? He knows far more than a 2D SATS paper could ever prove.