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Challenge: Back to School

Do Schools Spend Too Much Time Teaching Pupils to Pass Exams?

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All students are taught certain facts about a certain subject or area, but is there education broad enough? Are students given a thorough knowledge of a topic or are they simply taught how to pass an exam?

There has been much debate over this topic over recent years, with an increasing number of people suggesting that an education does not fully equip students with adequate knowledge to flourish in life. This is because more importance is placed on examination results than anything else. This in turn leads to people feeling that students are only being taught what is necessary to achieve good results, but is this really the case?

Teaching to Pass Exams Only

Arguments which suggest schools spend too much time teaching children to pass exams are based on a look at the future prospects of children and the retention of taught information. Many people will claim that children fail to remember most of the facts surrounding subjects after their examinations, suggesting the knowledge is only useful for a short period of time.

Schools, and pupils, invest a lot of time into ensuring exams are passed with good results. This is because those results determine a number of factors which affect the future of both the schools and the students. Such things include job prospects and university placements for the students, and funding and success rates for schools. Good results reflect well on the children, and the school they attended, and are therefore often prided above other things.

A number of people feel that teaching children enough information to pass exams is a waste of time because it is not used later in life. A common argument is that the information itself has little or no relevance within the practical world. For example, mathematics papers are often used to test children’s mental arithmetic skills. However, some of these papers will require more intricate sums to be completed without the use of a calculator and under tight time restrictions. Many argue that whilst this is designed to encourage children to perform mathematical equations mentally, it does not have any practical bearing within everyday life.

Teaching Thorough Knowledge

Alternatively, there are those who argue that education provides children with knowledge of a diverse range of subjects to as advanced a level as possible. In order to assess a child’s grasp of subjects, assessments are needed and therefore certain information has to be taught. Whether schools spend too much time focusing on making students prepared for examinations rather than focusing on overall development is another question entirely.

Another argument is that the intention of schools is to provide students with a ‘taster’ of knowledge about a range of areas. This can then be studied in further detail according to the student’s own preferences. Thorough knowledge is therefore available at a later age, when children are more receptive to the subject.

The argument over whether schools spend too much time teaching children to pass exams is one which occurs across all educational establishments and the debate is likely to rumble on.

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