sigh, it is another school year. and here we are again, getting ready for the tests to come in winter and spring… In looking for a quick fix, something to help teachers along so they get moments here and there to enjoy their lives this year, unlike next, I dug up in my old Norton Anthology an excerpt by Matthew Arnold that describes it so much better than I could. Mind you, it dates back to 1852… but one should find it far more trustworthy than the pretend experts we have now, who were hired to push a certain point of view.. At least we can trust Matthew Arnold…
“PAYMENT BY RESULTS fosters teaching by rote. The school exams are a game of mechanical contrivance in which the teacher will and must more and more learn how to beat us. It is found possible, by ingenious preparation, to get children through the Revised Code examination in reading, writing, and ciphering without their really know how to read, write, and cipher.
To take the commonest instance: a book is selected at the beginning of the year for the children of a certain standard. All the year the children read this book over and over again, and no other. When the inspector comes they are presented to read in this book. They can read their sentences or two fluently enough but they cannot read any other book fluently.
Yet the letter of the law is satisfied and the more we undertake to lay down to the very letter, the more do managers and teachers conceive themselves to have the right to hold us to this letter. The circle of the children’s reading has thus been narrowed and impoverished all the year for the sake of a result at the end of it and the result is an illusion.”
Even back in 1852 they recognized educational reformers were bunk.