Efficacy hawks with quack medicine views believe that children will learn if they are threatened. It works to a degree but it removes all sparkle and joy from the learning process and limits the range of things that can be learned . Test constructors hold tenaciously to bash-them-with-tests view.
In 1982 Bassett, Jacka and Logan compiled The Modern Primary School in Australia [Allen & Unwin]. It included comments from a number of practitioners, providing a general orientation to students of primary education. I was privileged to write the foreword.
‘The every day primary school child does not have many advocates, and there are insufficient descriptors of the life of the Australian child at his or her school. Children, during most important stages of their development come together at a primary school and mix with others from various backgrounds for seven years. Each child is unique, with different needs, interests, levels of achievement and special abilities. What is consistent among children between the ages of five and twelve is that:
*they are naturally curious and interested in the world around them;
*they enjoy play and prefer to be happy;
*their curiosity disposes them to handle things, explore situations and attempt something;
*they usually feel thrilled and motivated by achievement as much as they feel disappointed and rejected by failure;
*they learn effectively when their own interests are being satisfied;
*they learn by doing, observing, imitating and teaching other children.
For them, learning is an active, pleasurable occupation.
Despite these similarities, they grow and develop at a rate that is not closely linked to their chronological age. Each child determines the appropriateness of each learning experience for her or himself, and no attempt at standardisation will seriously alter the differences between them.
Schools attempt to satisfy the wide expanse of the needs of children as best they can, and they link with parents and the wider community in their efforts. In the period of the day that children attend school, each is the object of an organisational milieu that is based on a complex set of principles that seeks to determine what is best for each pupil. Although focussed on learning how to learn, it is a ‘Care for Kids’ operation.
Classroom learning how to learn procedures become based on some philosophical determinants that the school has reached, backed by the professional orientation, dedication and experience of the teachers.
It can be seen that the modern primary school is one of the most complex social institutions on earth. To trace only the philosophical, curricular, evaluative, developmental and procedural aspects would fill many large libraries.”
Therefore…once an authority develops a mindset about the consistent aspects of childhood learning and the eccentricities of individual needs; and uses people who have hard-yarded them in the control and running of schools, that authority is up and away.
QUO VADIS, Minister ?