This week has been SATs week for year 6 pupils across the UK and these unfortunate individuals are under high levels of stress at the mere age of 11. I stumbled across this post by a woman called Abi Elphinstone and feel that she has summed it all up so well.
For all the kids sitting their SATs this week 😘 (My academic records show that I got A*s in English Literature and English Language at GCSE, an A in English at A level and a 2.1 degree in English from Bristol University. I taught English in secondary schools and I am now a children’s author with multiple book deals. But despite this, I scored 40% on an English SATs test last week.
I am not against exams nor am I against working hard. In every school visit my message is one of resilience, perseverance and grit, both in exams and life. But I am against the pedantic, restrictive and irrelevant testing of children. The SATs papers demand a knowledge of fronted adverbs and subordinating conjunctions and I feel that with this mechanical approach to learning we risk warning a generation of children off writing.
Accurate spelling, grammar and punctuation are important. Precision and confidence in expression empower us. But getting children to parrot back complex grammatical concepts is education at its most futile, and its most depressing. It is reminiscent of the Gradgrindian education system Dickens satirises in Hard Times and a system that champions modal verbs over creativity stifles imagination and individuality.
I am not a writer because I knew what fronted adverbs were at school. I am a writer because the wild landscape of my childhood filled me with wonder. I am a writer because learning made me curious and adventurous. I am a writer because books carried me to new worlds and language filled me with delight. I am a writer because I refused to quit when my books were rejected.
Language is fluid and playful (thank you Roald Dahl for snozzcumbers), and I learnt invaluable lessons about empathy, courage and hope from the stories I read as a child. Lyra Belacqua taught me to be brave and Mildred Hubble taught me that you don’t need to be the brightest or prettiest girl in the room to be the heroine of a story. So, kids, your worth is not quantified by your SATs scores. Learn the power of language but remember the best writing is original and brave. Like Shakespeare’s – who also wouldn’t have passed that test.
There are basic needs in life. One of which is water. Although, for most of us water is nothing special. There is nothing grand about it. We run our taps and it’s there. If you’re fortunate to live in England it falls from the sky most days. However, this isn’t the case for all individuals. Water can be so much more. Next time it rains, don’t complain. Just enjoy the moment and remember that actually it isn’t all bad. Childhood and water, what could be more beautiful?
I was scrolling through Twitter this evening and amongst the tweets about how they they are feeling, how stressful people’s lives are and how expensive make up is, I stumbled across this. A picture drawn by a child that really shows how hard, difficult and cruel life can be.
I feel this picture needs no explain other than it is born by a child. Not from her imagination but from her memories of what happened to her entire family. Life is cruel. There is no reason that anyone should face such situations but children? Really? What a sick world we live in.
In the western world we complain. I can’t deny the fact I’m guilty of moaning about minor inconveniences like my train being delayed or Tesco running out of my favourite sandwich but why don’t we stop and think? I urge you to tackle each day without whingeing. We really have nothing to complain about. Life really isn’t that bad for us.
When thinking back to my childhood or even my early adolescents I never even really knew about the world. I had no idea that there was such hatred and unkindness in the world. But, there are children in the world who are not as fortunate. What the children of the third world face on a daily basis is not ok. We can’t ignore it any longer. Something must be done.
Once again Finland have made a step in the right direction in terms of the way they educate their children.
They have announced that they are scrapping traditional school subjects and instead focusing on one topic and bringing subjects into the topic. Children will no longer sit row by row in desks but rather will have discussions together in groups.
I have always praised the Scandinavian/Nordic education system and I feel this new move takes it from strength to strength.
Well done Finland!
Have a read of the article below:
In this day and age it’s common to see children texting their friends, tweeting their followers on Twitter or spending time writing status update on Facebook. However, have you ever considered how much time the children of the 21st Century spend with a pen in hand actually writing on a piece of paper?
Well, the BBC have produced an article which speaks of this exactly. They have found that a quarter of all pupils write only for school. This is a shocking statistic. It saddens me how such few children write outside of the school setting. Perhaps technology really is taking over. The children of the 21st century seem happy texting and typing but don’t seem so keep on actual physical writing. The real question is will putting pen to paper ever be something that fades out entirely? Will typing on a keyboard replace hold importance over the pen?
I guess we’ll have to wait and see…
(I personally feel that writing is something that should be enjoyed in any shape or form, for fun, for pleasure, for school and in the home. Children should be provided with the opportunity to express themselves through their writing and should have access to writing equipment).
I’m not sure where this quote is from but, I think the wording is perfect.
It seems all too common nowadays that children are compared against one another from a very young age. The British education system is all about reaching targets, getting good grades and excelling in either Maths, Science or English. Children are made to feel like failures if they do not achieve highly. If they don’t read at the age of 4 then a wave of panic flashes through parents.
We must remember that each child is different. They are unique and special in their own way. Whilst some can count at the age of 2 others have outstanding social skills and good communication abilities. We shouldn’t compare children against each other, or compare them against targets for that matter. Instead, children should be respected. Childhood after all is only a small window of time.