Dear US educators: for a hard look at the logical extreme of teaching to the test, watch the news from here.
We've been too hard on the dears...
Stating that the current exam system in Turkey is turning students into workaholics, The Minister of Education Hüseyin Çelik said this week that (roughly translated)
of course we are preparing our children for higher education, but our goal is also an education that prepares them for life, provides opportunity for play, and ensures their happiness (literally, love and kindness).
He asserted that the Ministry's Counseling Research Center is researching exam trauma to find solutions to the problems that, admittedly, the education system itself has created. He added that the Ministry intends to improve the quality of education, which means introducing new educational methods, since "wrong methods don't bring right results."
... but they can't ALL go to university, you know
I suppose the reporters at that press conference forgot to ask the Minister about the news from two weeks ago, that reported an alarming increase in the enrollment at after-school exam prep courses. Traditionally, exam anxiety becomes a marketable commodity during 7th grade, as students get prepared for the post-8th grade OKS exam that determines their options for high school. This mania accelerates during high school as students prepare for the dreaded ÖSS university entrance exam (more precisely the university elimination exam), which I've written about here, here, and here.
The notorious 8th grade exam has been abolished, but in its place are new exams given over three years, whose average will be just as weighty as the old OKS. Enrollment at weekend exam prep courses has nearly doubled as students from 4th, 5th and 6th grades are now being registered by nervous parents. Word is spreading that many schools are still teaching to the old test, and that without outside help, unprepared 4th graders might miss their chance for the right university and specialization.
The increasingly detrimental exam system here is an administrative --not educational-- solution for the university openings available for only a fraction of the number of students who want to continue their studies. The purpose of the exams may be different from the US, but from here we can see the how 12 years of teaching to the test takes its toll on curiosity, creativity, and learning skills for self-directed learning. Take heed.
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