rules, regulations and policies
Recently Darcy Moore wrote a post on his blog regarding a significant blog post by another educator, Mal Lee. A component of Darcy’s post reverberated for me and I quote as follows:

In a period of constant political and media babble about educational reform very little is effectively happening in systems to truly address the gargantuan social changes our societies have experienced. The reality is that 16 year olds commence their senior studies in Year 11 doing what their parents and grandparents did, preparing to write fast in exams. The truth is that technology may be used to assist students prepare for these tests or even, if they’re lucky, be used for school-based assessment tasks but is not needed at all (except to get your results by SMS at the end of the process). The Australian Curriculum will make no difference to this HSC system that rules education in our state.

I responded to this with a comment on Darcy’s blog as follows:

The sooner the HSC is dumped the better. It has changed little since 1976. It does not meet the needs of that ever increasing cohort of students that once departed school at the conclusion of Year 10. They struggle with the gargantuan and almost prehistoric beast that is the HSC. The HSC is an artefact of a bygone era. Time to kill it off.

If parents and/or principals want an examination at the end of Year 12 then offer the IB as an option.

I wonder how the current crop of Year 11 students will manage when they attempt the HSC in 2014? They are the first cohort not to undertake the School Certificate. The HSC will be their first and probably last major external examination.

Dumping the School Certificate has liberated teaching in Years 9 and 10. Dumping the HSC can have a similar impact in Years 11 and 12 in NSW.

Russell (who had commented on the trickle down effect of the HSC) is right. The rules and assessment regulations of the HSC have trickled down to Years 7 to 10 with assessment schedules, penalties, submission receipts, complicated policies, meaningless outcomes, concrete deadlines, and other bureaucratic idiocies.

On a pragmatic level dumping the HSC will also save the NSW State Government millions of dollars each year. Spend the money on something more useful in education.

This is how I feel. The tertiary and corporate sectors can develop their own entrance examinations. The HSC has evolved into a baggy monster, in the Dickensian sense, and it has spawned a plethora of rules, regulations and requirements that have ripped the very heart and soul out of education as they filter down to the earlier years, down to Years 7 and 10 in particular.

Assessment tasks have robbed education of its joy. The policies and the policing that are associated with formal assessment tasks cater to the wishes and needs of the few… bureaucrats, litigious parents and others ensconced in a cubicle. Education is supposed to be a joyful experience and not a fearful existence for students that find themselves stressing about the minutiae of assessment regulations.

In an effort to create a supposedly egalitarian, and incontestable, test for all, assessment tasks are constrained by ridiculous parameters and precise outcomes that do not allow students to shine or excel using the differing talents and styles that they possess. They must observe the same guidelines as every other student in the cohort. Assessment tasks are an anathema to the expression of creativity and individuality.

Year 12 everywhere has suffered. Government regulations that mandate children attend school till they are 17. Not all 17 year olds are geared for the HSC and its obligations. Reduced subject lines and limited subject options for students can impact a student’s capacity to choose appropriate subjects and thus to excel. Archaic examinations that have changed little in 30 years. The HSC is largely a pen and paper examination with a ticking bloody clock for goodness sake! How incredibly draconian is that?

For many students in NSW the HSC will be the most stressful and difficult moment of their entire life. Some students even commit suicide due to the pressures of the HSC*. They devote 13 years of their life to compulsory education only to conclude it with a monstrous experience known as the HSC. This applies to all students regardless of their abilities, skills and talents.

The world has changed. Students have changed. The way students learn has changed. Teaching has evolved. Teachers are changing. The HSC is not. The HSC is a lumbering, limping old beast that needs to be taken out to the paddock, shot with a .303 rifle in the head and buried in a deep hole. A very deep hole.

*Parents warned: Don’t nag students over HSC. Accessed March 26th 2013.
*Suicide linked to pressure of HSC. Accessed March 26th 2013.