Will shifting the goalposts change the way we kick the ball?
Posted January 12, 2017on:
I read this forum letter and squirmed a bit. The premise of the first half of the letter seemed to be that if you change expectations about the PSLE, stakeholder behaviours will change too.
While that is probably true, the premise presupposes that shifting the goalposts in the new PSLE format (from T-scores to achievement levels) is the same as changing expectations. But if the expectations remain largely in the academic domain, the behaviours that feed it may remain the same, e.g., hothousing, drilling, excessive tuition.
Behaviours also shape expectations. People tend to use the same old strategy when facing a new situation. If it works, or if they can bend the the new situation to their will, they will take the path of least resistance. Behaviour can entrench the status quo.
If we shift the goalposts, will the way we kick the ball will also change? After all, the goal is still to score a goal.
If the point in play is penalty kicks to tie-break at the end of the game, the high stakes tend to favour practised drills and time-tested strategies.
The ball has to end up in the back of the net enough times so that you win. Likewise, a child has to do well enough in the PSLE to get to the next round of schooling, preferably in a match that favours him/her.
Those are the rules and the rules can change. Perhaps we need to play a different game altogether.