Exams now and then

November 13, 1998

Can Penny Tucker (THES, Letters, 6 November) be serious in suggesting that in the 1960s schools taught to exams more than now? We hardly knew the format of exams let alone the kinds of questions that were going to be in them. And it never occurred to us to ask. We relied, strange as it may now seem, on our knowledge of the subject. It is nowadays that every possible angle on every possible part of every possible exam has to be explained to every student. Otherwise we are not doing our job properly.

The integrity of the subject, personal thought, study and knowledge for their own sake can all go hang. And they do. Any university teacher who has taken on a new cohort in the past few years knows that.

I do not know where Ms Tucker is coming from, but she has got the form-over-content Ofsted/Teaching Quality Assessment jargon down to a T - "wide range of subjects", "more flexibility", "good practice", "quality", "teaching assessment", 'feedback".... Dear reader, doesn't it make you feel quite ill?

Howard Moss School of European languages University of Wales Swansea

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