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Teaching to the test

At a time of the year when examination and national test results are released and revised school profiles are published, we need to ask questions about the value of "learning to the test or the exam" and about the uses to which results are being put, whether by a government showing off its achievements or by schools producing statements for their school profiles. In his essay on schoolmasters' learning, published in 1580, Michel de Montaigne commented that "their pupils and their little charges are not nourished and fed by what they learn; the learning is passed from hand to hand with only one end in view: to show it off, to put into accounts as though it were merely counters, useful for totting up and producing statements, but having no other use or currency". How far have things changed since 1580?

Professor Colin Richards

Spark Bridge, Cumbria

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