Barnaby Lenon’s interesting article ‘Exams put pressure on children: that is their virtue’ raises some pertinent issues about the importance of school examinations although, as is often the case, the devil of the article is in the detail.
Much of what is written is predictable, identifying examinations as the best way of assessing children’s learning and asserting that examinations encourage children to strive and to perform, all of which I concur with. Just to make sure I am not seen as one of the author’s ‘enemies of good education’, apart from the value of examinations, I would also stress that discipline, (especially self-discipline), competition, a sense of purpose and a good work ethic are also essential ingredients for a ‘good education.’
Yet while examinations are an important tool, they are not the only measure of what constitutes a ‘good education.’ To have any value, learning needs to be sustainable, if not in the memory, at least in the habit. To see exams as the essential building block of education makes one wonder what happens when the props are pulled away, as they will be in time.