This is why standardised testing is hurting our children

Two children, brothers, just a couple of years apart.

The boy on the left is a reader. A writer. An artist. Take the mathematical proficiency out (not his jazz), and you’ve got yourself a pretty typically academic kid who is quite happy spending time at a desk. Or, at least, sitting quietly in one place.

And then there’s the boy on the right.

He can read, competently, but doesn’t often – it comes in fits and starts, and usually only happens when the thing he needs to know can only be discovered in that moment by reading something.

He’s not a fan of writing – simply, I think, because he doesn’t enjoy the physical mechanics of it. He has a vivid imagination and loves telling stories, but finds actually putting pen to paper to get them down laborious and boring. You will not convince him there’s any value in writing down what he did today.

He is physically electric. He needs to move to be happy. More than ten minutes at a desk or table and he’s done. He learns by doing, tinkering, exploring, testing, breaking, fixing…making noise.

If you were to measure our two boys against normal academic standards the one on the left would crush the one on the right. He’d write you a beautifully constructed story, illustrate it, and then produce the stack of novels he’d consumed that week for inspiration.

But if you needed something taken apart and fixed, a healthy smoothie whipped up, or a totally unique and creative perspective on a problem you can’t get your head around…you’d turn to the young boy on the right. Hands down, he’d be your guy.

So how should we measure the ‘progress’ of these two children in life? Whose inherent approach to learning is ‘right’?

Which boy needs to change?


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