No Time for Playtime
U.S. teachers aren’t the only ones concerned about the potential negative effects of too much standardized testing. In Britain, the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, a 160,000-member union, is warning that trickle-down testing pressures are taking the joy out of learning for students as young as five. Among other things, the group says that important educational play activities are being crowded out by formal class time—which, according to one teacher, is a “good model for how to switch children off and create failure.” Children in England are tested in English and math at age seven, and in English, math, and science at ages 11 and 14.
The English teachers’ concerns would not be lost on some doctors here in the states. In January, the American Academy of Pediatrics issued a report emphasizing the importance of play in children’s cognitive development. It cited the No Child Left Behind Act as one factor potentially limiting playtime for students in the United States.