I was always the Kid with the Questions. You know: that really annoying one. The one you wish would just shut up. I wouldn’t take ‘it just is’ as an answer. Sorry about that. At secondary school my maths teacher got quizzed relentlessly about how we could possibly take one away from infinity; my physics teacher got an endless barrage of ‘but why?’ questions. Eventually I learned to shut up. (Until I left school, at which point I very quickly started up again.)
I haven’t really changed. And right now I have some questions about the latest ‘hot topic’: the role of research and testing in education. I’m really hoping that the ResearchEd conference this weekend allows me to find answers to my questions. Best of luck to everyone involved.
1. How do we prioritise what we want to test?
2. How do we manage the role of commercial interests, both in deciding what gets tested, and also in what gets produced in response to the testing? As an author I’m especially concerned about the impact on books.
3. How do we avoid political interests or desires defining what gets tested and used in schools?
4. How far do we want to mandate the ‘how’ and the ‘what’ of the classroom? Who are the ‘we’ who are going to be doing any mandating?
5. How do we ensure that finding a ‘highly effective’ approach doesn’t hold us back from looking for ‘even better’ ones?
6. How do we take into account the nature of different educational contexts – communities, schools, families?
7. How can we value and collect the wisdom that comes from long experience in the profession, which surely is a kind of ‘testing’?
8. Do intuition, creativity and commonsense have a place? For instance, do I need ‘evidence’ that ‘being calm’ is a good idea for teachers or I am allowed just to know it instinctively?
9. How do we ensure that children and parents get a say? Or do they not?
10. Given that the outcome of any test depends on what question you ask at the start, how do we agree on what the purpose of education actually is? What is our ultimate aim: best, most efficient, fastest, value for society, value for the individual?
I was always the Kid with the Questions.