I’M all for creativity but when it comes to the English language, or mathematics, for that matter, I’d prefer a good dose of basic knowledge for starters.
In fact, there is already a bit too much creativity shown in the areas of spelling, grammar and punctuation, adding, subtracting and multiplying, though for many practitioners this might simply be guessing rather than showing an artistic streak.
So when vocal critics of the Naplan tests are given untold oxygen (Oh too?) to complain that the national assessment scheme should be replaced by more creative pursuits, my speech becomes strangely ungrammatical and disappears into a variety of incoherent key strokes.
You don’t have to be a total adherent of a Back to Basics approach to education to appreciate that we are returning to something like a traditional approach to educational standards.
Sadly, we’ve already lost at least a generation to ‘creativity’. These are the adults and older students only taught the rudiments of their own language on a needs basis.
This ‘whole language’ approach has left us in an ‘unwholly’ mess.
Students were allowed to write what they liked without being provided with a language tool kit, that is, spelling, grammar and punctuation.
Teachers have done what they could to cover the cracks in student aptitude with red ink but over time the erosion of standards has meant variation and estimation, and just plain wrong use of language have become the norm.
In addition (or subtraction), a lack of rote learning of basic maths skills has resulted in a generation unable to do mental arithmetic (try it with a person of a certain age and you’ll see what I mean).
There is a problem with all this and not just the desire to avoid red blotches on a piece of paper.
Proper expression leads to proper communication of thoughts and ideas.
The breakdown of standards and rules ultimately causes a breakdown in our ability to adequately argue our case and rely on accepted knowledge.
Is it possible that some of the lack of coherent societal discourse and political breakdown can be attributed to this growing inability for everyone to converse in the same basic language?
Mental calculations enable a great deal of the ordinary working of daily life (much of which occurs without a calculator in hand other than the one implanted in your head).
Naplan is over again.
My child won’t do it for two years. But I’m hoping the school spends at least some of the interim preparing for it.
Not to the exclusion of everything else, of course.
But a little time on the basics would be a really creative use of my child’s educational time.