What do they mean...

10th October 2003 at 01:00
These are mostly applied to other people, particularly pupils, colleagues and those in a higher pay grade. Just about everybody, in fact. They may lead to glowing praise, as in 'After careful consideration, I have established that my headteacher is perfect in every way.' This often coincides with hopes of promotion. Once those hopes are dashed, and the post of head of department has gone to That Prat Who Can't Teach For Toffee, And Deserves To Die Horribly (another example of critical skills in action), this assessment may be revised downwards. Applied to Johnny in 2B, critical skills may show that he will go far, and the sooner the better.

They may also be applied to pupils' work, on the rare occasions when they have done any, and here they can be safely indulged. In this context, humanities fare better than sciences. While the maths teacher can merely say 'very goodpoor work', the English teacher can really get stuck in to an essay on The Lord of the Flies, and comment on the virtues or otherwise of the exegesis in elegant prose. Unfortunately, this will probably need to be done 35 times between the end of Hollyoaks and the beginning of Coronation Street.

For official purposes, however, we are meant to engender critical skills rather than exercise them. These are the skills our young charges will need in life, such as decision making, creative thinking and curiosity. But what we know, and those who prescribe these strategies do not, is that the little treasures have these skills in abundance already. This is why we have to lock everything up and keep putting people in detention, thus missing Hollyoaks again.

Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?


To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar, Buyagift.com, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today