Tuesday, 23 January 2018

Some testing age-related matters.

On the one hand we have people shouting about how the voting age should be reduced to 16. On the other we have those who say adolescence goes on until you are 25. Here is an article about that.

Which ones are right?

I have known some pretty well-informed 16 year olds in my time but I still have my doubts about letting them vote. Even the clever ones can lose their bus tickets through just plain silliness. But then, I know some supposedly very mature people, old enough to have a bus pass anyway, who can still be very childish.

Mind you, if we are all going to be living longer, perhaps it is understandable that adolescence should continue as long as possible. Maybe the government will introduce a test to determine when maturity has been reached. After all, they seem to like testing at many other stages of development.

Here is an article about the proposal to test reception-age children. Teachers and child-development experts wax indignant about the very idea. After all every cohort has children with birthdays ranging from the start of September to the end of August. It makes a difference at all stages of education but in a reception class summer-birthday children are very different from autumn-birthday children.

We know this from personal experience, having had to point out on a number of occasions during his first year at school that our July-born, but rather tall and very smart, son was almost a year younger than a September-born child with whom he was often compared. Our daughter, in contrast, was April-born, perhaps not quite so ideally mid-academic-year as being January/February-born but still with that little bit more emotional security that comes as they grow older.

In her case we just had to keep reminding the school that she was left-handed. A good argument in this area is to give a right-handed teacher a pair of left-handed scissors and suggesting they try to cut shapes put with them. But left-handedness is a different question again.

Anyway, it seems that even test-providers are sometimes reluctant to provide test material for pre-schoolers and reception-age children.

I rather liked this excerpt from the article on testing:

 ‘But a good start at school matters. New research from Durham University’s centre for evaluation and monitoring (CEM), published just before Christmas, showed children who do well in reception perform better all the way to GCSE.
Katharine Bailey, director of applied research at CEM, says: “It’s very beneficial. We don’t know what makes it happen – is it the teacher, the leaders, the culture of the school?”’

Did it not occur to anyone at the CEM that maybe some children are just cleverer than others and will do better at every stage of their education?

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