Time for a new blog, well it is Saturday after all.
This week I will discuss qualifications and the need for them. As an individual I do not believe in the need for qualifications as we have them today, there is too much emphasis put on the need to reach certain grades in a variety of subjects. I do think there is an argument for understanding and comprehending, knowing how to use the information you are taught at school. But ultimately what do the qualifications do for us?
Some of you reading this will know about my graduation ceremony on Thursday, and now may be wondering why I did a degree if I don’t believe in the qualification structure. It’s a good point, with a simple answer. When I left school I had a handful of CSEs nothing very impressive or worthwhile, I drifted through school and have to some extent drifted through life. I always knew I could have done better but even at the age of 15 I knew the qualifications were not the answer to life. As I grew older and realised that pieces of paper were important I had none so started again. The latest degree was something to keep me busy (I get bored very quickly with nothing to do) I didn’t do it for academic gain or employment advancement, just to stop me getting bored.
I remember a few years ago talking to a young girl on a train, she was about 13 I think, we started talking about school, future, college, university and work. She was telling me that she had to sit some exams the following day but that she hadn’t done any revision as was worried. Thinking about this I began to think about the need to pressurise young people into believing that if they fail now then their lives will be forever awful. This just is not true. In my opinion the exams you sit can help you on to the next step of your journey through life. At 16 if that journey differs from the path you intended it will not end your life but take you on a different journey with possibly a different destination, this may be a better one.
During the ceremony on Thursday I was sitting next to an older gentleman who thought he would be the oldest person to graduate, he wasn’t. He asked me if my qualification would help me in my work. I said that it might but probably wont other than by having a few more letters after my name some people may be more inclined to employ my services, and that the research I have done has given me more understanding of a range of subjects.
To end this very unorganised thought process of mine I can easily sum up the need for education and the need for qualifications as two separate points. Yes we need to educate people in all sorts of topics and ideas, not just academic. Yes we need to assess capabilities and understanding of those topics and ideas. Yes employers need to have some way of gauging the knowledge of prospective employees as do some educators. No we do not need to pressure children into reaching targets set by others and that do not reflect the child’s growth in all areas. No we do not need to put young people on a path to failure if they do not achieve. No we do not need to assess ability based on the results of a one or two hour exam.
Allow children to learn at their own pace, ensure they learn the important points of life and accentuate the positives. Do not allow children to feel they have failed at the age of 16, life is just beginning not ending at this age.
I don’t have the answer to the problem of assessing knowledge and understanding in a way that suits everyone, they may be no answer, but testing and examining children form the age of seven is not the right way. Allow children to cherish their childhood and do not allow them to fail from a young age.