Sunday, August 8, 2010
Skills for life??
In the past week I have had the pleasure of attending my two sons parent teacher interviews, overall the comments were positive and productive as much as 5 minute slots will allow but there were a couple of things that got me thinking.
A number of the teachers said things like ...
"He knows the content, he just has to be able to write a good essay to show it in his writing"
"We are really trying to get the content finished - then we will get onto the skills of how to write an effective essay and short responses so he will do well in the external exams"
"Hopefully we will have enough time at the end of the content before the exams to go over the skills required to write the essay in the style required"
My thinking was - should skills come before content, content before skills or, should they be taught in tandem? My feeling is that they should be taught in tandem - there should not be separation if the requirement is to write an effective essay to include sufficient content. Both areas are as important as the other.
I brought this up with my husband and he mentioned from a non educators point of view "Why do they need to know how to write essays? How many occupations require essays to be written as part of the job description or role?" And, thinking about it - why do we need to know how to write an effective essay? Is it for university courses? Then the universities have determined what skills should be taught in school ...
Essay writing does allow you to organise your thoughts, arguments and clarify opinion, however, is it really necessary to learn how to write a good essay to do this? How many occupations do you know that require essay writing? Off the top of my head journalists, lawyers maybe, people who are publishing research and other commentaries, bloggers? Is essay writing really a life skill that should have as much emphasis on assessment as it does in exams and assignments? If a student knows the reasons behind why, where and how, why should they penalised if they cannot write it in an effective essay especially in the current climate of differentiation in education.
The current external examination process my sons are sitting certainly benefit those who can write a good essay but discriminates against those who can't. Why should this be the case? Thoughts???