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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 78

Mr. Acland on Examinations

Mr. Acland on Examinations.

Mr Acland, in addressing the Conference of the National Union of Teachers at Scarborough, was very outspoken in his denunciation of examination diplomas and certificates. He thought that anyone who could strike out five-sixths of the examinations of this country, and who would carry away and deposit on the Dogger Hank whole ship-loads of certificates, would be doing a very effective public service. We heartily agree with Mr Acland. . . . Fifty years ago examinations were good, and served a useful purpose. They have now become a tyranny, and seem likely to squeeze the life out of education. Gradually, little by little, so insidiously that the danger is hardly apparent to the worker, teachers are becoming slaves to the examination system. . . But, if a master will deliberately set himself to inquire why he has so far departed from the ideal, he may find the answer in the examinations for which he is bound to prepare his pupils to the best of his ability, and which have deadened and formalised his teaching. Many masters also are never at their best, because they are filled with hourly worry lest their pupils will not know their work and do creditably in the examination—a state of mind absolutely hostile to good teaching.