An Anachronism... Discuss!

Updated: Nov 9, 2020




noun: anachronism; plural noun: anachronisms

1. a thing belonging or appropriate to a period other than that in which it exists, especially a thing that is conspicuously old-fashioned."the town is a throwback to medieval times, an anachronism that has survived the passing years"

In my recent Opinion piece for The Independent I argued that Covid should be a catalyst for wider changes in the way in which we approach learning…

In addition to suggesting that technology needs to be a ‘conerstone’ of revised provision and a new and creative curriculum offer, a central theme in my argument was the anachronistic nature of our system for assessing what young people know and can do. Public exams, in other words

Terminal. In every sense.

This summer’s grades debacle has shone a light on the fitness - or unfitness - for purpose of a system which is almost expressly designed not to assess the knowledge, skills and attitudes that will shape success in today’s world: what can you remember, and record by hand on paper, without any collaboration or communication with others or access to technology!

So what to replace it with? Let’s be clear. I’m not arguing against assessment. Or it’s rigour. Just its current configuration. We need another form of rigour and a mechanism for capturing that knowledge and those skills, attitudes and values that young people can and now need to show.

In this respect, the separate work currently being undertaken by the United World College and OECD on learning and assessment frameworks are particularly interesting:

I guess that I’m moving toward is some sort of ‘learning portfolio’ within which students concurrently record their progress in thematically organised areas of competence. Probably the closest we have here at the moment is the EPQ - Extended Project Qualification - where a student sets, explores and presents on his or her own research question on a topic of personal choice...

Our current assessment regime. An anachronism. Discuss...

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