We’ve come to a new era of technology and communication. So why not…. English testing?
Well, news.com.au has reported that the Australian Curriculum and Assessment Authority have posted a series of “mini tests” on – line. One of the questions asks students to analyse screenshots of text messages, including ones that feature emojis. Students are also asked questions such as who sent the message and the meaning. Whether this will actually be a part of the NAPLAN (National Assessment Program for Literacy and Numeracy), remains to be seen.
Not surprisingly, the mini practise tests have been condemned as “dumbing down” education even further. Last year, reports revealed that Australian high school students lagged behind many developed countries in math and science. More recently, it was revealed that 1 in 20 teacher graduates in Victoria had failed or didn’t attend compulsory literacy and numeracy tests. While reasons for non attendance may be legitimate, (i.e. sickness, circumstances with family, etc), it’s still concerning. Students should be given the best opportunities, and that teachers need to have proven adequate basic knowledge and literacy and numeracy and a way to communicate that to their students.
Does education need to keep up with the times, including technology? I think so. Technology is going to be a part of everyday life – including professional life – for most people from now on. Modes of communication, including texting and sending social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc) messages are going to be important means of communication. It wouldn’t hurt the education system to remain relevant and allow kids to explore their own communication styles and their meaning. High school English, at least when I was there, focused on analysing, not just books and films, but also advertisements from magazines and other image – based texts. In this day in age, it would only be natural that social media and mobile phone communications also be included due to its proliferation in everyday life. But and this is a big, but, I don’t think these should replace analysing and comprehending traditional texts. All students from Years Seven to Twelve should have adequate spelling, grammar, writing, comprehension (something I was always bad at) and analysing skills for more traditional texts. If analysing mobile messages and emojis to find their meanings are incorporated into the curriculum, they should work with traditional texts and not replace them. This should be used to further enhance students’ overall skills in English, not further jeopardise them.
Also, if it becomes a broader part of the curriculum in high school, it should not be at the expense of students who struggle with basic reading, writing, analysing and comprehension. Surely, we don’t need more students falling through the cracks. Also, I think ACAA, the Department of Education and Training and other bodies should be held accountable for making sure that all schools in their States and Territories, meet and maintain a minimum standard of achievement for both the students and teachers. Because students deserve nothing less than the best chance to achieve their potential.
What do you think about reading and analysing text messages and emojis being assessed as a part of English? Leave your thoughts below.