Sir Anthony Seldon, Vice Chancellor of the University of Buckingham, in the Times this week returned to the theme of our flawed exam and accountability regimes. Schools are not incentivised to provide a rounded education for their pupils and instead teachers teach to set criteria and schools game the system, with grade inflation endemic.
‘Our schools’ he wrote ‘should focus more on developing creative, entrepreneurial and problem-solving skills. The world has moved on but our exams haven’t. Education in medieval times was based on the “trivium”, with students learning facts (grammar), the ability to argue (logic), and how to communicate (rhetoric). What we have now is not only ill-balanced and irrelevant. We have also forgotten what the very word education means.’ Martin Robinson’s book Trivium 21C  is worth reading if you warm to  this approach.
A large penny has dropped, thanks to Sir Anthonys astute analysis, on how our education system (‘rather than our teachers) is failing our children . Our pupils are now so poorly prepared for the cut and thrust of intellectual debate in schools , and the exercise of logic and rhetoric, that by the time they hit university rather too many of them are now demanding protection , in the form of trigger warnings and safe spaces, from ideas, arguments and speakers who might offend them. Not only do we seem unable to provide a rounded education for our young people but arguably we are in the process of infantilising them.


2 thoughts on “A RETURN TO THE TRIVIUM?

  1. When I read reference to ” Our schools’ should focus more on developing creative, entrepreneurial and problem-solving skills. ” I detect a Pisa-type international ranking test being promoted regardless
    of the source.
    It is not without noticing that my irony meter is in the red zone do I highlight the UK universities rejection of any such system being imposed upon them while they remain content to have it applied to the schools whence their undergraduates emerge. The universities examination system is hardly the model to emulate.

  2. I am happy the world is waking up to a reality. We have forgotten that we DO NOT go to school to acquire knowledge, skills and disposition for TESTING. Instead, we go to school to be educated in knowledge, skills and disposition of a subject matter and use TEST as a tool to help achieve effective teaching and separate trainees into the level of learning they did. So we correct and discuss classroom tests without certification while we do NOT correct nor discuss certificate examination outcomes with the student. They may never see their scripts.
    If these facts are considered alongside the fact that we may use certificates to look for job but we use knowledge, skills and disposition to do our works and paid as such, the it ironical to find that the tool has become the means.

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