Mike the Psych's Blog

What if psychologists ruled the world? In real life?

French government in cloud cuckoo land about new ways to mark pupils’ work

fluffy_cloud_text_11026The French spend €150 billion a year on their educations system but schools don’t perform well in international league tables so the government has come up with a plan to improve things.

Are they planning to improve the quality of teachers or upgrade the learning environment? No they’ve been listening to critics who say an obsession with school marks is to blame as it stifles creativity and leads to low self-esteem among pupils who fail to get half marks.

I could go off on my views about the over-emphasis on self-esteem but it would detract from what I want to report about what the government has proposed.

Namely that in future teachers should drop the traditional marking methods with different colours, Smiley faces, suns, and clouds for those who get the wrong answer!

The French Education minister has said “The marking scale in France is not the most attractive in the world. French pupils are much more afraid of failure than those from other countries“. Apparently almost 90% of families in the impoverished suburbs say they would like a different system.

So a panel of experts is to hear from parents’ associations, academics and teaching unions before they finally agree a scheme.

smiley_face_pc_1600_wht_5118The suggestions for different colours – green, yellow, orange, or red – and smiley faces, suns and clouds came from the General Inspectorate of National Education. They did also suggest grades from A to D.

A teachers’ union leader is unconvinced and said “bad marks are there to show that the puli has not learned something and that, yes, it’s worrying, because it’s likely to create problems later on. (but) teachers should be honest with pupils and their families and not lie by telling them that everything’s fine when it’s not”

I never thought that I would be in agreement with a teaching union given how they behave in the UK but I have to agree with this spokesperson. You’re not doing kids any favours continually trying to boost their self-esteem.

And I’m not sure what age groups we’re talking about here but surely it’s not going to apply to pupils taking final exams. Can you imagine being asked what grades you got and you have to say 3 smileys, a sun and a cloud!

And we have had simiar discussions in the UK about what colour you are allowed to use to mark work (and red is not banned by the Government)


Author: mikethepsych

He says he's a psychologist but aren't we all?

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