A British parent complains in The Telegraph that students are trained to write essays with no imagination, lest they lose marks on their exams.
My daughter had to do a précis of Macbeth. After mentioning Malcolm’s coronation at Scone, we encouraged her to follow her instincts. She ended her essay with: “Somewhere on a distant heath, the witches are laughing” – which we thought was a terrific insight. The homework came back with the sentence crossed out. She was told that it was not in the play and therefore not her business to suggest that it should be.
The children repeatedly tell their literature-loving parents not to interfere. One says, “No – please stop intruding. Examiners look on that kind of unsubstantiated enthusiasm as just bouncing up and down and woofing.”
Another Telegraph story reports on a headmaster who’s decided to ban homework as well as subject matter teaching. Patrick Hazlewood wants to make schooling more “relevant to life in the 21st century” by giving students responsibility for “managing their own learning.” St. John’s is testing methods developed by the Royal Society for the Arts, “which rejects the notion that a teacher’s job is to transmit a body of knowledge to pupils.”
The project aims instead to encourage pupils to “love learning for its own sake” and the project is intended to replace the “information-led, subject-driven” national curriculum with one based on “competences for learning, citizenship, relating to people, managing situations and managing information.”
The point of schooling, the RSA says, is to acquire competence not subject knowledge. It believes that exams only impede pupils’ progress.
The headmaster wants parents “to become pro-active partners in the process,” but it sounds like they weren’t consulted.