The Binge Learning Myth


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#.1 Failing Welsh Education - The Pisa Farce

#.2 The Taboo that Children' s  Learning Potential is Not Equal

#.3 Binge Learning 

#.4 What Children Should Leatn


# 1. Failing Welsh Education - The Pisa Farce 

     The Pisa international school assessments are presented by the media as the World Cup of education. The assessments are not high stakes for 15-year-old children, but they are high stakes of educational ministers across the world. Pasi Shalsberg, who is a Finish educationalist, who is not at Harvard Graduate School of Education, describes pizza is that it is a germ that kills schools.

       The fundamental problem with Pisa is that politicians and the media do not understand Pisa’s results. The Pisa ranking of a country is merely an order. The difference between the two ranked countries could be a single Pisa or, technically 500. It would be impossible for every country in the world to be top-ranked. No country wants to be bottom-ranked.

          Pisa points, for some mysterious reason, are presented in thousands. If the G.C.S.E results were scored in thousandth, a child would be viewed as a superior result with 499 marks than a child with 489. It is the equivalent of measuring a carpet size in millimetres. The difference could not be visually detected. It is difficult to conceive what a millionth difference in school performance is.

           Pisa average is around 500 Pisa points, which is 50%, and providing the results in thousands exaggerates the difference in the results. The political bunfight that arose in Scotland over the Scottish 2018 Pisa because of a drop in their maths and science over a couple of thousandth of Pisa points. Their reading score increased.

       There is only one Pisa Score and ranking for the United Kingdom. The Pisa results for Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and England are all unofficial scores. There are two scores for each United Kingdom country. In the United States, there are 49 states in the United States, and if each state obtained an individual score, there would be a myriad of different Pisa scores. If England obtain regional scores, they would not be equal.

          Whilst educational ministers across the world are castigated by their media when they obtain perceived low rankings. Pisa rankings are a highly political issue in the United Kingdom because of the devolved Governments. The English Government enjoys criticising Welsh Government down because it is governed by different political parties.

        South Korea was featured in the BBC Wales school swap Korean style in 2016 program because it was a high-ranking Pisa country. Children from Wales went to learn school in Seoul, Korea. Children binge learning for up to 14 hours a day in school and night classes there. What is interesting is that Finland, which is also a high-ranking country, is children’s school hours is the opposite. Their school hours are much fewer than in most countries.

            here have been plane loads of educationalists travelling to Finland around a decade ago to ascertain. Pisa scores are like assessing the time of a train arriving from Penzance to Aberdeen. If a country underperforms in Pisa, it is not clear where down the line the problem has arisen. If there changes are made at the start of the journey, this does not mean that future trains will be late.

           Most interestingly, Finland’s Pisa ranking and score is gravitating towards average. South Korea Pisa rankings and scores are declining. What is interesting is that Finland is satisfied with its educational system despite the decline and they have not made the ‘knee jerk’ reaction reforms that countries are making to improve their Pisa performance. The problem with education it takes years to educate a child, not hours.

        There is a myriad of weaknesses in the Pisa assessments. where it could instantly improve its Pisa results by abandoning obtaining a separate school for Wales, then the official Welsh score would be the United Kingdom Pisa one, which is inclusive of Wales. What this means is that if Wales never had an individual Pisa score, then there would be no evidence of the underperforming claims about Welsh Education. If all the countries of Europe obtained a whole Pisa score, which would be equivalent to the United States, then there would be different scores to the individual countries’ scores.

      Children’s learning potential is not equal. It refers to a Bell shape curve, where in common with physical characteristics like height, most children are around average. The public does not normally appreciate that higher-performing Pisa countries have the same basic distribution of children’s attainment. Socio-economic status has an influence on children’s attainment across the world.

      Averages are a crude measure educationally. If a sack is filled with potatoes of different sizes, the average sizes of the potatoes can be achieved in a range of different ways. A country can have a range of high-performing children and a range of underperforming children. There can be a normal distribution of most children around the mean.

      If the Welsh Government decided to obtain individual Pisa county scores, then the counties that would perform would be highly predictable. The areas of social deprivation will be known. It will not only apply to the quality of children’s education but also the lack of employment opportunities for children. There is unlikely to be an incentive for children to work hard at school if there are no future opportunities for them.

      There is the issue of culture in the Pisa scores. In the Far East, children are taught to contribute to society, and parents are viewed as being responsible for their children’s attainment. They are intensively assessed and prepared for them, often in after-school cramming schools as in Singapore. Pisa does not even give feedback to children taking the Pisa assessment. This even conscientious children cannot be embarrassed about. Children in the United Kingdom complete their non-specialised education at 16 years of age in the United Kingdom.

    Despite the doom and gloom about schools in the United Kingdom, as Professor David Reynolds, a retired authority on school effectiveness, claimed children succeed in our education system. It is not a disaster area. Chinese students are attending universities in the United Kingdom.

      There is an issue with language. One of the reasons why Finland performs has been claimed to it having a very regular language. Research suggests that it takes twice as long for children to learn to read in English because it is an irregular language. Dyslexia is more prevalent in English than in other languages. Around 10% of English-speaking children are dyslexic.


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