Wednesday 22 October 2014

New poem: Exams

A lot of time is being wasted in schools trying

to teach a whole lot of unnecessary stuff. The

point of schools is to pass exams. Exams are

tests in who can write fast. Or put another way,

exams find out who can write slowly. That’s

what they’re for. So, instead of wasting loads

of time muddling this up with writing answers

to questions that no one cares about, school

can concentrate on the business of learning to

write fast. And of course, it’s not just about

writing fast. It’s about writing fast for over an

hour. In hard exams it can be for two hours.

And when I say ‘writing’ this has to be writing

by hand. This is really important. I’m out and

about in the real world, and all the successful

people I meet spend several hours every day

writing fast by hand. So my school of the future

will be full of children writing fast by hand.

And, here’s the innovation: they won’t be

thinking at the same time. To be really fast,

they’ll be copying. In front of them will be iPads

or laptops, with a lot of writing up on screen.

It can be anything, ads for soft drinks, poems

that celebrate a well-known fast food,

instructions for self-assembly wardrobes...and

the children will be copying these. Teachers -

or teaching assistants, or assistants to teaching

assistants can come round and if a child is

slowing down, they can give them a little nudge

to remind them to speed up.

Then at the end of the year, when the child’s fate

is to be decided, the big exam will discover who

can really write fast, who can write not-so-fast,

who writes slowly and who writes really, really