Which came first the knowledge or the skills?

It has been SATs week in the Juniors and for Infant 3.  The children have taken assessments in English, Maths and Science and this year, for the first time, a Grammar paper was included.  A great deal of debate has raged over the separation of grammar and writing assessments.  Some believe that grammar ought to be assessed within the context of longer pieces, others that pure grammar knowledge (i.e. a separate test) would underpin improvement in writing.  But then, it is countered, there is less of an opportunity to apply knowledge if it is not seen as key to writing assessment.

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For me, there has to be balance in all things.  We have articulate, bright children whose grasp of language is strong.  We also value the knowledge of things, Mrs Elson’s Key facts for example, that provides a foundation for further enquiry about the world.  Yet we never lose sight of the need to apply knowledge gained to practical activity and especially to investigation.  We have a trophy awarded at Speech Night each year which is all about knowledge leading to curiosity.  It is for the Junior pupil who has scored the highest over the year in the weekly Key Facts test.  It is our belief that developing a firm knowledge base gives children the confidence to enquire about the world around them, to find out whether the facts are correct and to use enquiry to develop their knowledge further.  There is no knowledge without discovery and no discovery without knowledge.

On my desk I have a paperweight with a quote attributed to Albert Einstein.  For me, it puts into perspective the place of knowledge in learning.  Knowledge is essential, undoubtedly, however there is more that must be ignited in young children that will carry them forward in their lives, never losing sight of the voyage of discovery.

Imagination is more powerful than knowledge

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