Thursday, June 30, 2011

London's Evening Standard newspaper...

...has been running a campaign about literacy, with revelations about the large numbers of London children and young adults who cannot read. Just lately the emphasis has shifted away from the problems of children from deprived backgrounds and so on to the actual systems used in schools, specifically the examination systems. Did you know that a teenager can be deemed to have "studied" a Shakespeare play without actually reading it? They are taken to see a film of the play, they read perhaps a couple of scenes, and then they do things like (I'm not inventing this) making paper witches' hats because of the witches in Macbeth.

It's being suggested that the way forward fotr exams is to move towards the "tick this box" system, where a student isseated at a computer and given three options as answers to a question, and moves the mouse to tick one of the boxes each time.

"Well, does it really matter whether people can communicate in handwriting? Everything is going to be computers from now on anyway" - thus runs the argument. No need to cook, either, some say - just buy instant-meals from a supermarket. No need to acquire any skills, really. Then if we are left for any reason to cope without constantly available electricity, easy transport to large shops, access to home-computers, we will collapse.

To find out about the small contribution towards literacy and sane education that some us are trying to make in Britain this year, take a look here. And before you sneer, what are you doing to help ensure that the next generation can read and write and enjoy the great literature produced by previous generations?

1 comment:

Mac McLernon said...

Actually, Joanna, most of the exam boards have realised that the multiple-choice option exams are useless - the Science papers, at least, are returning to extended written answers!