I’m having a bit of a rant about targets this week. My beautiful and intelligent 6 year old grandson has been telling me for days that he hopes to meet his literacy target and get a certificate. It has filled his life and caused him irritation. Last Friday he told me he had hit the target twice. Yesterday, he came out of school clutching his certificate, a sticker on his sweatshirt and an ‘outstanding achievement’ bookmark in his hand. He had got his TARGET. Naturally, as a doting grandmother I lavished praise on him. But the teacher within was seething. He is only 6. He should be honing soft skills like problem-solving, risk-taking, socialisation. He should be developing a love of play and learning with pleasure. He will have to meet targets for many adult years but he will never have the chance to be a child again. I don’t blame his school or his teacher. It’s a great school and he has a lovely teacher. But the system is pushing schools into this route and they will be ‘judged’ on these numbers and letters.
I mentioned this to my daughter and she wasn’t happy about it either. Then she dropped a bombshell. His 2 year old little brother will also be allocated a level from his childminder soon too. She has been sent for training to show her how to level him for literacy and numeracy. WHAT????? He is TWO! What on earth are we doing to these children?
Just to add further anger, I also encountered a comment on a school blog recently. The children do creative writing which is then commented on by adults and children from other schools. It is a great idea and works really well. On Sunday I logged in to do my usual allocation of comments and was dismayed to see a child comment on another child’s work ‘Wow….this is a 2a sentence’. A 2a sentence? What on earth does that mean unless you are a teacher? Why not say it was an interesting sentence or a descriptive sentence?
A twitter friend describes it as ‘teaching by numbers’ – an apt description. The numbers and letters become a label for that child. Speaking of which, the younger grandson went shopping with me last week and I heard him tell me ‘This sticker says I’m a good boy’. When I looked at him, he had peeled a label from a T-shirt and attached it to himself. He was wandering around the area wearing a black sticker with £5 in bold white letters. Naturally, I wouldn’t have accepted £5 for him…..after all, he is already level 1d for literacy and 1e for numeracy.