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Posts Tagged ‘teaching to the exam’

Storing apples for winter- a painting a day

October 25, 2010 Leave a comment

 Click here to bid   size 7 in x 9 in 17cm x 22cm, charcoal and wash on Fabriano paper

On Friday I started to investigate the problem of what happens to the GCSE curriculum as it seems possible to me that local schools are only teaching a part of the syllabus; they may not be alone in this.

I started with OFSTED as they have given the school, where only part of the GCSE syllabus was taught to my son, a good report. They have not heard of the problem and tell me that it is not really within their remit. They suggested the Department of Education. The D. of E. said that they were not aware of a problem and it was not the sort of thing they dealt with. They suggested two more organisations, OFQUAL and QCDA, the people I spoke to here had casually heard of teaching to the exam but they saw it as something the media went on about. They finally said that it could only be dealt with in writing, so now I must wait up to two weeks for a reply.

Meanwhile I am contacting an academic who has said something about this in the press and I will try and find a journalist who can shed some light on the matter. No1 son thinks I am nuts; if a GCSE can be got by doing half the work he believes that can only be a good thing…..in the short term son, in the short term.

I was waiting for the paint to dry on my painting of the day and shaking out some clean washing when something started buzzing in it…it was the biggest hornet I have seen this year it must be a queen. I got it into a wine glass in the end and took it out to take it’s chance in the cold wintery night out there.See picture below:-

Recently painting of the ceiling has been more to the forefront of our minds than watercolour but we ran out of brilliant white and what with the twittering and the lumpen teenagers on half term I didn’t remember to get another pot. Anyway DIY Dad has retired to bed early with a cold after a miserable day negotiating time sheets with colleagues who want to bill 31+ days a month……

I have finished putting apples away now and just have the remainder left to get juiced on Thursday. The picture is charcoal and wash of fruit nearly ready to store, I just wrap each good fruit in newspaper and put it in the shed which is cool( but not very cool yet on sunny days like today). The garden is full of jobs that need doing lots of things need rescuing from the cold before it does for them.

#147 a painting a day by Alison Warner on her lemon a day art blog

The body as thick, no thicker than my drawing pencil…shudder.

A Vase of late flowers – a painting a day

October 12, 2010 Leave a comment

Click here to purchase    approx. A4 watercolour on heavy weight rag paper

Inspiration for the painting goes to ejorrs twitter pic of the last garden flowers of the year in a vase. The photographs are autumn jewels in the garden.

Today’s blog will be mainly dedicated to a large moan about the education system. However I wanted to start by rubbishing an idea, an urban myth of sorts which is thought to occur in many family homes. It is said by many that mothers put on weight when they have children because they hoover up the leftovers on their children’s plates. They are really just being tidy it is implied and therefore virtuous (sort of); next they say “oh dear, I’m 14 stone (200lb, 90 +kg) “. You feel sorry…until you do a reality check, how many chips would you have to put on a child’s plate to get any leftovers to scoff? How fat can you get on the normally rejected cabbage, onions, salad, and brown bead crusts? It’s the healthy non-fattening foods that kids leave. Mothers are not getting fat on the kids leavings, no, they are getting fat on the treats hidden from the kids at the back of the cupboard, the pizza bought for the kids but eaten by all, the chocolate chip cookies left in the packet after it has been snatched from hungry offspring (what did the dentist say darling?), or the treat of a chocolate bar to enliven a regular journey. It’s a brave woman who owns up to this but as my (deceased ) diabetic friend said when her doctor told her that it was fine to have one or two biscuits, ”I’m not a one or two biscuit sort of woman, I’m a one or two packet sort of woman”. She can’t have been the only one. I know for myself that it’s the eating what I enjoy that keeps me over the weight I should be but that’s my problem and it doesn’t help me to push the blame towards my kids. This thought came to me last night as I was gloomily surveying what they had left on their plates …100% healthy….I binned it.

Mina lobata finally finds its form,the Aconitum is a deeper blue in real life.

Now education: we could all be forgiven for thinking that a child who has a good grade in a GCSE would have a reasonable balanced knowledge of the subject and be well placed to take the subject on to’ A’ level. Not necessarily I have discovered.

Every year there are reports in the press where industry laments the sorry state of school leavers and complains about their meagre knowledge, poor writing skills and general capacity for employment.

Yet every year there are articles in the press saying that it is incredible but grades have gone up once again and school websites puff with pride about the ever upward trend. However when I take a look at the work being done I worry about its quality, I get told that I don’t understand and the copy of the mark scheme is waved at me as the thing that matters today. My notion of learning a subject, I am told by my son, is outmoded. I thought that it was only my sons Geography department that was being so skimpy with the teaching that they only taught two out of four questions that could come up on the exam. Now I have discovered by talking more generally to teachers at another school that this is so widespread that it has a name. The name I would give it is cramming, the modern name for it is “teaching to the exam”.

This means that if you are doing Geography and the syllabus covers say mountains, rivers, urban planning and rural landuse , the exam offers a question on each topic from which two must be answered; an educator would teach all four subjects and advise the pupil to choose the subjects to answer in the exam according to how the question looks and their own strength in the topic. A crammer checks past papers, judges which topics are easier to teach and answer questions on (out goes anything with a tricky concept at this stage) and sticks to these two subjects. So rivers are studied but not mountains, Urban Geography but not Rural; the problem for me here is that the formation of rivers and the formation of mountainous landscapes interlink.

Now, this has been hard to understand for me because I am sure that when I was slogging through my exam years there was no real certainty about what would come up on the exam paper. Therefore you revised everything only leaving out Dr Drennan’s incomprehensible (to me) Plant Physiology. Things must have changed. If the exam papers were still unpredictable the teachers who’ teach to the exam’ (i.e. cram) would come spectacularly unstuck some years. We all know that is not happening so we have to accept that exam papers are very predictable. Possibly they vary a little in their predictability, and it is at this stage I remember that the schools are able to pick and choose their exam boards and will change them at will. I will come back to this subject after I have checked a few things with other teachers and schools etc.

#142 a painting a day by Alison Warner on her lemon a day art blog

These Cobeas are unreal in theirslightly mad perfection

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