Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Unhappy Children in England

An interesting  article on the BBC website today suggests children in England are among the unhappiest in the group of  15 countries surveyed in the Good Children Report 2015

The primary reason given for the findings is the extent of bullying to be found in English schools but there is another, I think, more compelling explanation for the situation eloquently expressed by  Kevin Courtney, deputy general secretary of the National Union of Teachers in which he "blamed poor mental health on the "narrow curriculum" and "exam factories" culture in schools".

I find this the more compelling and alarming explanation because it's something that is also happening in US schools where the curriculum seems to be focused almost exclusively on those subjects, topics and ideas that can be easily tested, scored and used in the teacher accountability process. The recent growth in "opting out" of testing in New York State is a sign that people have had enough of the endless testing that is afflicting our schools.

If we put the same effort and financial resources into professional development and material resources that we put into the testing process our children would benefit enormously. An SBAC test costs around $35 per student to score depending on the source you use. The Smarter Balance website lists the cost of a test at 33 cents which is somewhat misleading.

I wonder where US children would rate on the unhappiness scale as defined in the Good Children report?

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