I went to see my 9 year olds school work at his school this week, much to my dismay I found they were training him up to work in Performance Management. This is what he is learning.
This is a plan for a child to monitor themselves against, about applying aspects of literacy that are taught elsewhere, to a story they are writing. I am guessing it is to tie together theory with them actually doing it. I have no comment to make on that, as I am not an educational professional, and it seems plausible.
But just as you can’t only ever do ONE thing, you can’t just learn one thing too.
He is also learning how to…
Monitor progress against achievement of SMART objectives
Not only that, but that doing that is a good thing that will be rewarded. More ticks in those boxes=better achievement of purpose.
What else is he learning? Clue: look at the very last box.
Achieving targets is what matters
Above is the thing that caught my attention. Not only was it a box on a page, it also was the thing that was learnt. I read his story about Anansi and the snake, and the sentences DID start differently, as he had correctly ticked on his SMART objectives. From conversation with the teacher I knew that this is about learning not to start every sentence as “and then” which is what children go through.
Reading the story though, we could see he had started every sentence not as “and then” but using the name of the character, exmple, “Anansi then” or “The snake then”. So we prodded, “so, now you’ve learned how to do start sentences differently, how else could you do it, not just using the name of the character?“. Gave a prompt, something like “After a few moments thinking, Anansi then...”. Nothing the 9 year old is not doing when writing stuff in spare time, comics and the like.
The reply was, brace yourself,
“But I have achieved my targets, so why should I?”
Well done Ofsted!
Knowing that only what SMART objectives can be ticked off, and that targets are what matters, is only a small part of training that a putative performance management officer needs. The below pic is from another subject, “Personal Social & Health Education”, and is also a ticklist of achievements, this time around using Powerpoint. For a 9 year old.
What is performance management without Powerpoint!
I have stopped using Powerpoint wherever possible, and have started learning about communicating with people instead. Really vital things, like if you sit next to someone instead of standing up in front of them, it is a conversation instead of a theatrical show and tell, where the presenter gives things to an audience, a 1-way only affair.
That listening is much more important than a slide-deck of bullet points, and that people will sigh with relief if you just stand there and talk engagingly about something that matters, instead of inserting movie clips and using clip-art. This is not the icing on the cake of communication, it IS communication.
I wish I had learned this years ago. Sadly my 9 year old will have to unlearn a lot when school is over, I really hope that the one thing that school is for, hasn’t been reduced to a check-list of learning objectives. That learning is fun, life-affirming and vital, and can’t be reduced to a list of learning objectives ticked off for Ofsted.