Newspaper article Coffs Coast Advocate (Coffs Harbour, Australia)

Learning Lost through Tests

Newspaper article Coffs Coast Advocate (Coffs Harbour, Australia)

Learning Lost through Tests

Article excerpt

Byline: School of Thought Dr Ali Black

IS THE purpose of education to measure children's academic achievement?

It seems like this has been the focus for years. How is that working for us?

Our NAPLAN scores have flat-lined and our kids are stressed and anxious.

Our politicised and bureaucratic forms of accountability are not working for our children or our teachers.

Measurement has become an end in itself, instead of being one of many tools for supporting understanding about children and young people.

Last month, New Zealand decided to stop focusing on national standards and to stop the barrage of simplistic tests and comparison scales that were accompanying these standards.

Instead of policing their teachers, New Zealand is deciding to go back to trusting teachers to use their professional judgement.

Australia needs to do the same.

Professor of Education Gert Biesta believes we need to spend some time on the question of the purpose of education and consider what is at stake.

What do we want for our children and young people? Currently our focus as a nation has been solely on the transmission of content.

Our education system has forgotten something very important: education involves human beings.

We have forgotten the people.

We have forgotten the importance of the good teacher: the teacher who works in relationship with the child every day; the teacher who knows the importance of nurturing the whole child including well-being, interests and thinking.

We have forgotten the whole child and forged on with an excessive emphasis on academic achievement, which in turn is causing severe stress for our children and young people.

Biesta says "one-sidedness always comes at a price and the current emphasis in many countries and settings on just enhancing academic achievement comes at a very high and potentially too high price".

It is time to give some thought to how our education systems and ways of working are supporting, or in Australia's case challenging, our children's formation as human beings. …

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