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Debating Competition – Rothschild-Pearce

1st March 2013

During the debate on Thursday 14th February 2013, Rothschild-Pearce put forward an excellent display of intelligence and fortitude. The select members of the team were; Lydia Crosher, Theo Cox and Sam Wallace along with ten other members of the house in the audience. 

Lydia started the debate with an excellent speech using impeccable persuasive English which worries Mann-Sommervile. Theo Cox then followed reinforcing how strong an argument the house had and gave the opposition little chance to respond. Sam Wallace finished the debate with an impressive summary which led to a grea victory for the house in this semi-final.

The research completed by the team before the day made all the difference. The organised meetings and commitment from the team gave our house the best head start they could have asked for which helped them seal victory on the day.

Many thanks to all the audience members, in particular Lara Barnett whom, among others, put forward some very thought provoking questions which left the opposition tongue tied!

Below is the speech written and performed by RP in the debate against MS. The final is due to take place in the next few weeks – best of luck to the team!

Hello! We are here this morning to argue that “Students are over assessed in school”.  

The quality of our work at school has been assessed throughout the twelve or so years we have spent in education so far, and no doubt, our learning and performance will continue to come under scrutiny throughout further education and, later, employment. 

I would like to point out that we are not against the existence of assessments in school.  On the contrary, it would be very difficult to prepare for important exams, such as GCSEs, if we don’t know our strengths and weaknesses in a subject because our progress has not been assessed throughout the course of learning.  However, for reasons we hope to explain to you this morning, our opinion is that we are assessed too much. 

As teenagers, and as students, we are under a lot of pressure.  There are twenty-four hours in a day, and the National Sleep Foundation says that ten to seventeen year olds should be getting roughly nine hours sleep each night.  We are at school from eight forty until three twenty-five – that’s approximately seven hours.  In the remaining eight hours of the day, not only do we have to complete homework for the several subjects we study (subjects we have already been studying in the seven hours we spend at school), but also, we need a bit of time to relax and unwind, to spend time with our families, and dare I say it, have a social life. 

Nowadays, it is not always enough to do well in exams.  Universities and employers look for people who have something different to everybody else.  Any extra-curricular activities which we are urged to participate in so as to set ourselves apart from others also must be undertaken in our “spare” time. 

In addition, as we undergo the transition from being children to becoming adults, we are learning a lot about ourselves, and life can be very complicated and confusing. 

It is obvious that to lead a balanced life is therefore challenging.  When you add in revision for lots of assessments, something’s got to give.  Although we could probably all identify that we should sacrifice the activities which we choose to do for enjoyment, we are not robots, so it is difficult to sustain a lifestyle where we constantly work towards assessments, and have no time for recreation.  As a result, other things suffer, and we are effected by the lack of vital activities such as sleep.  So, in the interest of our mental and physical wellbeing, assessments should be kept to a minimum, as they only induce more stress. 

We are taught how to pass exams – how to give the answers we know the examiners will want to hear – instead of being taught how to be good at what we are learning.  Therefore, although the current education system trains us well for the world of work, it does not teach us how to be well rounded individuals and members of society. 

Perhaps this point is best explained by John Lennon in his well known quote:

“When I was 5 years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down ‘happy’. They told me I didn’t understand the assignment, and I told them they didn’t understand life.” 

It seems at the moment that exams are the be all and end all for us.  Exams are very important, but the sheer number of assessments we have makes it hard to remember that, in the long run, there’s more to life than exams. 

In the late 1800s, there was a boy was didn’t speak until he was four, and couldn’t read until he was seven.  He was expelled from school.  However, Albert Einstein went on to win the Nobel Prize and change the face of modern physics. 

I will reiterate that we are not against assessments altogether.  Nevertheless, being successful in assessments has become the most important thing about our education, which we suggest does not fully prepare us for later life.

Perhaps this is due to the competition between schools to achieve the highest scores.   

  1. Exams have become the most important thing, they’re not

Education has become competitive – between students, and schools

Someone who struggles then improves greatly, someone who gets good grades but could have done better if they put in effort, latter recognised as an achiever with potential

Lots of pressure to get good exam results – as results have been improving, there have been claims that the exams are getting easier – we can’t win, can we?

  1. Assessments do not necessarily give a good show of our ability

Education system educates every child in the same way, but every child is different and learns in different ways. 

We learn everything systematically not in our learning style, students who work well with current system do well

Ignores natural learning styles, we work at a specified pace

No one learns every subject at the same pace or in the same way

Some students singled out as achievers, some students singled out as under achievers, pressure begins; under achievers have to work extra hard to catch up, those who do well are under pressure to do even better, be the best. 

Self esteem

  1. We are assessed in the wrong way

If we fail exams, we retake them by learning everything in the same way as the first time – how will we improve?

Not that we take so many exams, just how we take them – intense time period where all are exams are concentrated, pressure, other assessments are pointless if exam pressure means we underperform. 

Life/ the world of work is full of assessments and pressure, we need some pressure at school because otherwise we won’t know how to cope. 

How can one exam paper show to a university what sort of student we are?

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