Yesterday, the Cheetah Keeper came home gutted. Close to tears and extremely cross with pretty much the entire world. Even a homemade white chocolate and raspberry blondie cupcake wasn’t really going to improve the situation. It was that bad.
The problem? He had ‘only’ got 5 out of 10 in his spelling test.
Last week he got 10/10. This week he’d worked even harder, practising, asking us to write the words wrong so we could correct them for him, getting up early to copy them out. Then, whatever happened during the test or on the day and the final score was 5/10. It may be that he could spell the word but didn’t quite form his letters clearly enough, a d or a b may have been the wrong way round (very common when you’re 6, not conducive to 10/10 scores though) or it just didn’t quite come to mind easily enough.
All that work for 5/10 = confidence shot in one easy test.
I was sad for him too – it’s not just him putting the work in to learn them – we’re helping with new ways to remember things, making up quizzes, playing games, finding new ways for him to write that also incorporate his physio and occupational therapy skills. Moving away from paper and pen to using a big whiteboard with different colour pens has been a great move.
If you’d have tested him on those words last Thursday he may have got a couple right. Education at the moment, is, so they say, all about putting the effort in. So say, if he got 2 right and then after a week got 5 right that’s an improvement of 3. Actually, a greater improvement than the child who could get 9 correct before a week of practising and then got 10 – an improvement of 1.
The thing is, society, the world in general, and, unfortunately a massive chunk of the rest of the education system, doesn’t recognise this effort to anything like the extent it recognises achievement. At SATS level, it’s about whether your child is “where they should be” according to what we’re currently told is where children are meant to be. At GCSE’s it’s about A*-C grades. It’s not whether a child was going to get an Ungraded mark, worked like mad and made it up to a D – that is still, to all intents and purposes a ‘fail’ in the eyes of society. The child who was going to get an A and upped their game a little to make it to an A* may not have had to put the same amount of effort in as the child who got a D – but it is ok, they have ‘passed’ and that is what matters.
For us at the moment it’s the spelling test each week. Children are already programmed into the need to be successful and ‘do well’ – that’s 10/10 in the test for them. Getting 5/10 is, in their eyes failure. Especially if they have worked hard to get that score. It’s a really hard concept to explain to a 6 year old. There is no tangible way to measure effort – oh yes, except that magic achievement score, so for those who’ve grafted hard but not hit that grade or score, it’s very difficult to reward the effort they’ve put in.
I wrote about how much I disliked the ‘super spellers’ concept a while back and am glad to say there are no notices on the doors this year. I am quite sure that if there were a ‘marks for effort’ score on the door each week the Cheetah Keeper would feel a whole load better about the education system and be more motivated to work hard at school. But there isn’t – it’s a subjective thing and my idea of effort may be every different to those in the teaching profession.
With the medical side of things taken into account, I am proud of the fact that he gets to school, holds a pen and manages to sit up to write because I know that takes a lot out of him. But you can’t take that into account in a test or exam, can you? How do you award marks for that?