When it comes to education we all have different approach. Some would consider the traditional approach where children are given series of tests and drills to master the skills that they are expected to know according to their age. Then there are some who try to go against the norm. They prefer to do an approach where children will not follow the usual routine. Instead, they provide learning through actual experiences.
As a teacher of children I strongly believe that children learn best through experience. I grew up attending traditional school. I spend the whole day sitting and listening to the teacher, copying notes and trying to memorize so I can answer the tests to measure how much we’ve learned. But I don’t really listen so much. I always think there’s a better way to teach a lesson without spending the whole day standing and talking. So when I became a teacher I tried as much as possible to make the lesson interesting by involving the children more and teaching them on how to take charge of their learning.
Since the school year is almost coming to an end and children are moving up to another level, the parents are starting to feel anxious because they will soon take entrance exam for primary school.
I learned that in most schools or at least the schools that they plan to send their child to, the entrance exams for primary one requires the child to be able to read (as in almost adult kind of reading), write nicely and correctly and in some schools they should be able to compose a short paragraph. WHAAAAT?!?!?! Are they really applying for primary one or for middle school already?!
I respect that schools have standards to maintain. However, do we really need to require the children to “master” those skills at that age? I think it’s very important and really a must for schools to start focussing on the process and not just the outcome. We have to consider that every child is unique. As much as we want every child to learn how to read fluently by the age of 4, if they are not ready for whatever reasons then it will not happen that easily.
We have to consider that sometimes, the development takes longer than expected. But that doesn’t mean there is something wrong with the child or that they are not capable. Sometimes we just have to teach them in a different way until we are able to find an approach that will suit their learning style.
Does this mean that when the child fails to pass the test then they don’t meet the standards? And the teacher is not doing their job well? What is the use of testing?
Testing should be used to determine what areas needs to be worked on. It does not measure the intelligence of a person. If we go back to Bloom’s taxonomy, at the bottom of the pyramid is about recall. It is mainly focused on memorization which does not really show how “smart” you are when you memorize everything. Memorizing and being able to actually evaluate, understand and apply what you memorized are not the same thing. So, what is the purpose of schools when they conduct entrance exam?
As I’ve mentioned earlier, I respect that schools want to maintain a certain standards. But in order to attain that standards I think schools should consider looking at the process to be able to reach that standards even if that means they have to start from scratch. Yes, I’ve mentioned the word standards so many times in this paragraph because that’s what I’ve been hearing mostly. “They’re standard is very high. My child should be able to read otherwise they will not accept him/her.” I feel sad whenever I hear this.