Gervase Phinn

I went to an evening talk by Gervase Phinn last night. He’s a former teacher and school inspector who writes warm and gentle stories from his experiences. His books are filled with humour and compassion about the schools, children and the characters he’s met over the years. And he’s a very entertaining speaker too, had the audience all laughing.

What was most surprising considering his former role, and what moved me the most, was that he, like me, abhors the current practise of endlessly testing and examining our children. And judging by the teachers in the audience who were all nodding there’s many more who think the same.

He said there’s a Yorkshire saying; in order for it to grow you should be feeding the pig not weighing it all the time. He’s dead right – especially if you apply that to our children’s schooling. In other words; constantly testing them does not enhance a child’s achievement or education. It’s a similar idea to that of John Holt who maintains that children never grow any taller for being measured. Obvious really!

He went on to say that an inspector in Sweden once said to him that we should be prosecuted in England for abuse with what we put kids through in schools by continual testing.

I couldn’t agree with him more!


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