Yellow Fever!

So………….. what has retirement been like so far?
* It took its time, but the Yellow Fever inoculation from the previous Friday bit with a vengeance (the nurse said: it’s a mild form of the virus that could make you mildly ill for a short while, similar to a cold.) Headaches, body aches, stomach aches, exhaustion and a total lack of appetite with regular bouts of sweating followed by shivering. If that was the mild form, I don’t want the real Macoy. It certainly spoilt the week.
* I used my GPS for the first time on Friday. Roger and I walked 10.5 km along the Jurassic Way. We walked from Harborough to Welford, stopping for lunch in a pub in Sibbertoft. On completion of the ramble, Sue kindly picked us up in the car and transported us back home.  Throughout the walk, I still wasn’t feeling great, and I paid for it on Saturday. However, it was a great opportunity to test out the GPS and so far, I think that it is a brilliant bit of kit.
* On Friday night Sue and I went to see ‘Rendition’, an excellent film about torturing terrorists (or not).
I now have time to cogitate at length:
Every year we inflict SATs onto our young workforce (children). It gives them something in life to worry about and as a bonus allows them to be measured so they are under no doubt as to their usefulness to society. We are aware that many schools concentrate on pushing the importance of SATs to their immature workforce stressing they must DO WELL, and as a consequence, they and the school will seem to shine brighter. However, I have never played that game. I have not presented my classes with endless past test papers, or supplied homework based on SAT questions for terms in advance. In fact, when they have occasionally asked when they are getting their tests, I am very vague and just reply ‘some time’. I didn’t worry about the tests and hoped the children wouldn’t as well. Over the years, I had no anxious children or parents, no pressured tears or sickness, they just learned what was in the curriculum and what I thought they needed. I believe I gave the children time to enjoy their education without ‘The Test’ hanging over them. But, what about their results? Well, over the years they were all within norms for their age. A few did slightly better, and a few did slightly worse, but most did exactly as expected/predicted. Isn’t that amazing?
Now I confess ……..  This year I did it differently. As this was going to be my last year, I quite naturally wanted to go out on a high and as I was only going to teach the class from Christmas onwards, I didn’t want to leave things to chance. So …… from February onwards I presented them with past SAT papers, gave them endless homework questions based on SAT-type problems and practised sitting a SAT paper over and over again. I didn’t find teaching much fun and I don’t think the children did too, but they didn’t complain as they were absolutely sure of how important they were. The curriculum I presented wasn’t ‘Broad and Balanced!’ Annoyingly but predictably, the results from the exam boards were late in coming back to schools (incompetence). We didn’t get ours until the day before we broke up for the summer term, and what about my class results? Well, an examiner wrote on one of the papers that he had never marked a test paper with no errors until this one (full marks 35/35). Yes, the lad was bright, but not the brightest in the class. Nine other children had more than 30 marks with three getting 34. I must confess that I did not expect this. What a rod I have created for future staff who will now have to predict and achieve progress based on these results!!!! What future misery I have now inflicted on this cohort of children. I am sorry! They are lovely children. But it does go to show that if you narrow the curriculum sufficiently, you will get results, but at what expense?

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