Skip to main content

Hare-brained utilitarian doctrine

Once again the policymakers at the Department for Children, Schools and Families have seized upon what could have been, in the right hands, a potentially progressive and fruitful idea, namely, assessment for learning (AfL), and proceeded to adulterate it beyond all recognition through its utilitarian "audit-culture" spectacles ("Every school to get a champion of assessment for learning", TES, June 20)

Once again the policymakers at the Department for Children, Schools and Families have seized upon what could have been, in the right hands, a potentially progressive and fruitful idea, namely, assessment for learning (AfL), and proceeded to adulterate it beyond all recognition through its utilitarian "audit-culture" spectacles ("Every school to get a champion of assessment for learning", TES, June 20)

Once again the policymakers at the Department for Children, Schools and Families have seized upon what could have been, in the right hands, a potentially progressive and fruitful idea, namely, assessment for learning (AfL), and proceeded to adulterate it beyond all recognition through its utilitarian "audit-culture" spectacles ("Every school to get a champion of assessment for learning", TES, June 20).

When are our children going to be set free from this anxiety-driven, hyperactive intrusion that demands every child knowing what they're doing? It threatens to subject every last hapless one of them to the quite deadly-sounding "ambitious trajectory of improvement". And even worse, the inherently conservative, status quo-preserving idea that it is necessarily appropriate for children "to understand their next step and how to get there" simply shows that ministers are incapable of understanding what true creativity and innovation really consist of, obsessed as they are with their futile and damaging drive to micro-manage children's learning process.

As the old joke goes: some wise sage was once asked how to make God laugh. "Tell him your plans," came the reply. If this kind of sensibility could successfully be impressed upon the DCSF's collective psyche, and reinforced by putting Professor Guy Claxton's Hare Brain, Tortoise Mind on its compulsory reading list, then - who knows? - perhaps a little policymaking sense might even then begin to emanate from the department and its leaders.

Dr Richard House, Senior lecturer in psychotherapy and counselling research, Centre for Therapeutic Education, Roehampton University.

Log in or register for FREE to continue reading.

It only takes a moment and you'll get access to more news, plus courses, jobs and teaching resources tailored to you