Saturday, June 6, 2015

Life should be more Benjamin Button.

Teaching Gets Testing –
Life should be more Benjamin Button.

It’s the time of year that students and teachers alike dread doing the end of year assessments and reports. And as per usual it has left me exhausted and my students stripped of their mental agility, all of us ready to collapse into holiday mode just as soon as the last bell has rung. Then suddenly there was a surprise twist to my end of term meltdown and I find myself revitalised and ready to enjoy my vacation, instead of using it as a period of recuperation.

I recently began teaching business English to company professionals and discovered they were totally inspired and even eager to do their evaluation tests-such a contrast to kids, who spend the whole year doing tests and cannot help but be fed up with them.

Continual assessment has its merits, but I feel testing has become so common place that no one bothers revising anymore and they never have long enough to practice the new information and retain it before they are tested on what they can remember.
Such a joy, however, to be doing constructive evaluations with a group of adults who are as nervous as teenagers about their results and enjoying the feeling of being back at school after so many years.

Life is back to front. We spend the first twenty years of our lives working hard and studying, when all we want to do is play. Then we spend our adulthood honing our skills and interests, only to be told when we are old and experienced that we have passed our sell-by date- all that knowledge essentially goes to waste.

We would be better off as Benjamin Buttons, exams would never be a waste of time, no one would be forced to learn, most would begin life gluttonously absorbing as much knowledge as possible. By the time we regressed to fifty years of age, we would still have years ahead of us before being unborn, to go out in the world and put to use and share all that we had learned on the way down- a case of winding up and not down towards the end of our time on the planet, while paradoxically it would be the biological opposite.

Ten year old children walk into my school with backpacks bigger than them and loaded down like mules with books. This is after a long day at school and with plenty of homework still to do. Kids are stressed, we are teaching them that life is going to be one long hard slog, there is little inspiration, it is only creating mass depression, or rather a mass lull on vitality, which in turn will produce subdued versions of every person on the planet.

Society is banning creativity and free thinking and stripping the human race of its identity, hoping to eventually turn us all into machines- and they still say The Matrix was just a film!


Gerald Freeman