Emotions and personality not measurable

6th November 2009 at 00:00

I would like to take the opportunity to thank Richard Woolfson for succinctly demonstrating everything that is dangerous about A Curriculum for Excellence (Letters, last week). It would appear that, for Renfrewshire's principal educational psychologist, "all human behaviour is measurable". This is one of the most terrifying things I have ever read in your paper. You can measure Auschwitz, Rwanda and Kosovo in terms of the numbers killed, but that tells you nothing about suffering.

We know the arguments: when does the "responsible citizen" stop being the public transport-using, organic-buying, energy-efficient, carbon footprint-reducing automaton and become the anti-socialite, the hacker, the protestor, the (whisper it) non-participant? Or let's take the infant equivalent: I wonder what possible criteria could be used to measure the "responsible citizen" who has the guts to question why Kevin has to go to the Lego again?

Renfrewshire Council's reported "baseline of expectation" is equally frightening, and I can't help but wonder what will happen to all those social misfits and deviants who don't make the cut. Our brave new world cannot really have five-year-olds who are labelled "unsuccessful", "unconfident", "irresponsible" andor "inefficient" - can it? Let's be absolutely clear: labelling children this way is not the same as saying a child has yet to attain level A in reading at the end of P3.

The real danger for teachers lurks at the very end of your report, which notes the concern expressed by teachers in Dr Woolfson's study about "workload increases and the measurement of emotions and personality". We cannot afford workload to become the over-arching issue, allowing it to blind us as to what is really important. I don't know about others, but I will not measure emotions and personality. That's somebody else's job.

Alan Nicholson, research student, faculty of education, health and social sciences, University of the West of Scotland.

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