It’s impossible to be on social media or following the news currently to not be aware of how many parents are unhappy about the SATs tests, and many have voted with their feet and kept their children out of school to avoid the exams.
As a scientist, I often question my views based on the prevailing science, so that I can make sense of thinks in a way that makes sense to me. My first degree was chemistry, my second Chiropractic. So I got to study neurology in depth and how the body works and also have an understanding of quantum physics and healing.
Having read a blog about the content of the English SAT exam I was amazed by the depth of knowledge required in grammar to pass this exam.
From a neurological perspective (one of my main interests as a chiropractor is the brain and how it functions, because the brain coordinates health in our body), if the focus is constantly on learning facts, the parts of the brain responsible for memory, processing facts, associating facts, comprehension are all stimulated (though if it is just about learning facts, the comprehension part is less important). Children learn that recall of facts gets them rewards. But also, as pressure on our children to perform increases, the parts of the brain wired for anxiety are being stimulated. Are we wiring our kids for anxiety in the long term? (I can’t answer that yet…)
But we are so much more than our ability to pass exams and recall data. To even survive in our increasingly challenging world we need to be able to interact socially, to read and understand other people, to have the physical stamina to lead busy lives, to have a developed emotional range, to be compassionate and passionate about life. The list goes on and on.
Our current education system (and I’m not criticizing teachers at all here) has moved further and further towards learning facts and away from the bigger picture. A recent study showed that the best education system in the world was in Finland, where the hours are shorter than anywhere else and there is a big emphasis on social skills, exercise, fun and then learning facts.
To have a healthy functioning brain, which in turn will create a healthy functioning adult all aspects of learning need to be addressed so that children can grow up and be ready to function in the world.
So personally, I’m against SATs and the increasing emphasis on learning only facts. I would like to see more physical exercise in schools, a return of domestic science and teaching kids about food, more art and music. The subjects that make a rounded human being who can chose whether they study for a Maths degree because they love it, or pursue a career as a car mechanic because they are amazingly good with their hands, or to do something creative because that’s where their talents lie. A fact based education system doesn’t allow many to work out what they are good at and what they love because it is neither valued or included in their “growing up experience”
With the huge increase in the use of technology, in my opinion the adults of tomorrow are likely to have neck and back problems from constant stooping (see text neck article), they are going to lack the social skills learnt from personal interaction (including the emotions of winning, failing, succeeding and being average) and the dexterity and physical skills needed to survive and thrive. So scrap the SATs and get back to educating our kids, that’s my vote.