What should we test, Knowledge or Intelligence?


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If all tests simply measure the ability of a pupil to remember facts, how will we be able to truly develop citizens of the future?

My concern at present is the constant change that exists in education from one extreme to the other. A debate has been held for many years between a skills based curriculum and one that is simply focussed on providing knowledge.



By following the above link you will discover an article that discusses how we share knowledge and intelligence within a business environment. Infact I believe that teachers do exactly this on a regular basis, constantly trying to find the balance between gaining knowledge and developing the ability to adapt and challenge the knowledge. History is an excellent example of this. A key question at present is how the First World War began. Pupils need to have the facts in order to reach a conclusion however it is only by developing their thinking skills and therefore intelligence that they will be able to reach a comprehensive and relevant deduction.

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If Isaac Newton did not ask the relevant question our understanding of Physics would be greatly diminished today.

If James Dyson didn’t challenge technology we would not have many household objects that exist today.

I believe that many of his quotes about inventing and success are truly inspirational. It also makes you realise once again that in order to get the balance right in education knowledge is required but so is inquisitiveness which I firmly think is on the path to developing intelligence of a high level.

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But of course we learn from our mistakes. Our intelligence develops as we challenge ourselves to improve.


And Edison puts all of this into perspective,


To learn from mistakes is therefore crucial in the world of discovery and inventions. Were the greatest inventors the best academics? Would they have achieved A* in all their exams?

I hope that as Wales and England are in the process of change at GCSE level that we do not lose sight of the importance of developing intelligence rather than simply testing knowledge.

In all of the above there is always a key and crucial element that is often ignored,

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Where would we be without a World of pure imagination?

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One Comment Add yours

  1. Hi

    Fair points.

    I was in a meeting today with Welsh Government as we began to sketch out the new (2016) Science GCSEs and I can definitely confirm that the issue of “accumulating facts” was heavily discussed.

    With academic year 2014=2015 being branded as “Year of Science” in Wales and the push on Scientific Literacy, I know that this question is the start of a healthy debate on what we teach and how we assess such learning.

    Currently the highly modular nature of some courses prevents synoptic assessment through which you can start to assess imagination and creativity.


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