A Poem on Education

A slight cheat today. I have been going through all mum’s emails today and came accross one she sent me with this poem by Michael Rosen. Rereading it, I think it says a lot about the distortion of learning in the US as well as the UK education system.

Moving to the US my kids really struggled with multiple choice tests, especially in English, that allowed only one answer. They often have their own unique way of looking at the world. I love that about them but it doesn’t help you get a high grade point average!

This poem made me laugh but makes a serious point. The kids and I would probably say something wierd like lichen grows on apple trees!

So here it is.

Guide to Education

by Michael Rosen

You get education in schools.

To find out how much education you get,

the government gives you tests.

Before you do the tests

the government likes it if you are put on

different tables that show how well or badly

you are going to do in the tests.

The tests test whether they

have put you on the right table.

The tests test whether you know what you’re

supposed to know.


don’t try to get to know any old stuff like

‘What is earwax?’ or ‘how to make soup’.

The way to know things you’re supposed to know

is to do pretend tests.

When you do the pretend tests

you learn how to think in the way that tests

want you to think.

The more practice you do,

the more likely it is that you won’t make the mistake

of thinking in any other way other than in

the special test way of thinking.

Here’s an example:

The apples are growing on the tree.

What is growing on the tree?

If you say, ‘leaves’, you are wrong.

It’s no use you thinking that when apples are on a tree

there are usually leaves on the tree too.

There is only one answer. And that is ‘apples’.

All other answers are wrong.

If you are the kind of person that thinks ‘leaves’ is a

good answer, doing lots and lots and lots of practice tests

will get you to stop thinking that ‘leaves’ is a good answer.

Doing many, many practice tests will also make it

very likely that there won’t be time for you to go out

and have a look at an apple tree to see what else

grows on apple trees. Like ants. Or mistletoe.

Education is getting much better these days

because there is much more testing.

Remember, it’s ‘apples’ not ‘leaves’.



2 thoughts on “A Poem on Education

Add yours

  1. yes quite and it can make you feel a bit empty at the end .
    I was just helping my cleaner (who is also a dancer!) find some poems for a performance she is doing next summer and was surprised that I could remember so much from o-level English literature -Keats Ode to a nightingale etc etc .All in there somewhere .It is so rich and means much more when you recite it out loud .There are some things that make life worth living even though they see worthless to getting a job


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