I don’t know the answer to the above question………….. but I am wondering whether our current approach to assessing learning is working?
A quick web search reveals a plethora of information about the teenage brain (ok, so let’s get the predictable quips of “oh, teenagers have brains do they?” out the way and move on) and the turmoil it’s in. According to the NHS we (as responsible parents) should be advising the following:
- “Eat a healthy diet” – that’s going to go well
- “Encourage exercise” – after confiscating the computer, i-pad and mobile
- “Encourage 8 -10 hours sleep” – have you tried sending a teen to bed recently?
- “Discuss anything that might be causing them stress” – that’ll be starting with their parents then
You get the picture…….. “normal” life for 14 to 17 year olds is stressful enough. Add hormones and the opposite, or same sex, to the mix and there’s no wonder they want to spend 90% of their free time in a darkened room listening to unfathomable music.
Now obviously, I’m being a bit “tongue in cheek” about this. I love “my” teen to pieces; he can be very funny, surprisingly caring and extraordinarily perceptive, but I recognise that for a lot of the time, the adult world, as tantalizing as it is, is also a big, scary, challenging place and its hurtling towards him at an amazing pace.
So on top of this, we (that same adult world) impose 6 to 7 weeks of pure stress, to assess 12 years of learning. Don’t get me wrong I absolutely agree that kids need to leave school as literate and numerate, fully functioning members of society. But when else in our lives do we face an imposed “no alternative” series of hoops to jump through? As adults we opt for job interviews, driving tests and house moves – all over in a couple of days at the most. Surely, rather than asking our young adults to face over a month’s worth of hi-adrenaline anxiety making sessions, we would get a better picture of their academic abilities by continuous assessment and course work ?
Oh, I’ve just remembered ……………….. we’ve dropped that approach haven’t we?