A few days ago, the UK government announced that tests for seven-year-olds will be scrapped altogether. Instead, children would be informally tested when they first enter primary school aged four so that their progress can be measured when they leave seven years later. (Note: While the key stage 1 tests will be dropped, the actual content of the key stage 1 national curriculum will remain the same.)
I, for one, am delighted to hear that the burden on young minds will be lightened. In my opinion, testing at such a very young age serves no purpose other than pressurising young children unnecessarily and depriving them of the vital, carefree years of childhood.
My youngest child, pictured here, could not read until she was 8 or 9. Thankfully, the teacher who ‘interviewed’ her at 5 for nursery school admission, a Miss Hazel, did not judge her too harshly on her inability to read written words.
For Georgina knew a lot, despite being ‘illiterate’. She had by then, spent a year at a nursery in Portsmouth a few mornings a week, where she had learned much French (she is still fluent these days, despite not learning anymore French in school), linguistics, art, storytelling and having fun outdoors in all weathers.
This was also the beginning in her education in Trivium, which she learns from home, which will underpin everything she will learn in school.
Instead of learning the alphabets and numbers, G learns grammar (through comparison between English and French), logic, and rhetoric (input, process, and output) – these are essential in classical education and is still taught in some schools in the UK (see Oundle School).
I would go as far as say she gets her most important – and useful – education from home.
(Photo: being taught by her elder sister when she was about 10-11).
In an education system that is obsessed with testing, policy-makers (and subsequently parents and teachers) forget to teach children the basics (as eschewed in Trivium):
(1) Grammar teaches the mechanics of language. You must have fun with language with children, not all serious and dogmatic. Our children is fluent in Spoonerism and Roald Dahl languages, which have given us hours of fun. Children need to explore grammar fearlessly.
(2) Logic (also dialectic) is the “mechanics” of thought and of analysis, the process of identifying fallacious arguments and statements and so systematically removing contradictions, thereby producing factual knowledge that can be trusted. I.e. why you have to formulate your own thinking, not believe blindly in what you are told or what you read in textbooks.
(3) Rhetoric is the application of language in order to instruct and to persuade the listener and the reader. It is the knowledge (grammar) now understood (logic) and being transmitted outwards as wisdom (rhetoric).
G created this mind map several years back:
This is Trivium, through the eyes of a young child who had been schooled in it.
Though at 16, she does very well academically, Georgina’s greatest strength is her strong, independent mind that is able to question, analyse and contextualise the huge body of information and data that is abound in our world today. She doesn’t just believe blindly; she seeks. And you don’t get that from teaching children to follow obediently like sheep led to the slaughterhouse. This is no longer the age of Industrial Revolution where we need our young to be compliant, unquestioning workforce. We need the next generation to awaken and think.
Seen here, sorting out some complex adult stuff at about 10-11.
More information: No SATS
You can read about Georgina’s early years here.
I wrote about Georgina’s happy nursery here.