Underneath the smiling, I was secretly horrified at what my teachers used to get away with in regards to marking. Through the pointing, I was extremely embarrassed at some of the mistakes I had made. But behind the giggling, my brain was coming to an odd conclusion; "this all looks very familiar!"
All of these photographs are taken of my secondary school Maths books, ranging from Year 8 to GCSE level. I finished compulsory education in about 2006 (I think) and I'll caption these photos with direct quotes from the Standards of the 2014 National Curriculum. You'll see my point quite quickly.
I was sitting on the floor at the time when the penny dropped; I was intending on teaching my own class some of these things in the coming weeks. Thanks to my forward planning, mapping out how much time was available to teach, I'd read the expectations for my year countless times; yet I was seeing evidence of it in the pages of my own books as a teenager!
My conclusion is simple; at some point, what used to be expected of a 14 year old, has become the intended outcome of a child (on average) 5 years younger! Incredible. Have brains got bigger? Is there some new implant at birth that has allowed these modern day children to acquire more knowledge? Are there suddenly fewer steps to learning such things in order to get to the same place earlier?
Give your learners some credit and protect them from the pressures they can't control; teach them to manage their distractions and the emotional fall-back of failure in order to work towards these shifted targets.
Someone decided that 'this is no longer for the teenagers. Let's give it to the little people.' More is expected of them now than ever before and, in my opinion, for them to even begin to understand and apply it (5 years before they USED to be expected to) is an astonishing achievement; no wonder we all find it tricky at times!
It shows our young people to be more resourceful than ever before and more resilient in the face of challenge.
Learners, keep doing what you're doing, because apparently it's going really well! You might not feel like it sometimes and you'll rarely get a public mention (exams are always getting easier after all), but you are going further at your age than any child older than you. It's the only excuse for so many aspects of your education shifting 5 years backwards, alongside the unreasonable expectation for you to catch up with at least 1 year of these new standards, while also attempting to master the skills in your own programme of study; a minimum of 2 years worth of learning in a single 12 months!
Teachers, keep doing what you're doing, because apparently you're doing splendidly! It's the only logical explanation for many aspects of the curriculum shifting half a decade! You might not feel like it sometimes and you'll rarely get a public mention (likely due to all that holiday we get), but you are working harder than any teacher before you, signified by the rate at which your children are progressing! Helping these children make up the difference between both curriculums is a huge task; the difficulty is proving the improvement in the middle ground between 2 sets of expectations.
Looking through my old secondary books, and noticing the new primary curriculum, is both a blessing and a curse. It's a scary realisation about how high the target has been set, based on no real objective other than greedy bosses wanting to beat other nations. However, it's also a pleasing challenge and fresh reorganisation. When interpreted in the correct way, by those who engage with it the most (US!), it will pay dividends as long as we are given the time to implement it properly.
It was never like this in my day!