Letter: Exams are a test of memory, not of thinking capacity

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The Independent Online
Sir: Lincoln Allison makes two points. The first is that education is all about teaching thinking. Then why does not education teach thinking? How many educational establishments actually run a course on 'thinking'? It can be done quite easily.

The second point is that exams are the best way of testing thinking. Because that may be true, it is the strongest argument against exams. Exams only test the pathetically inadequate view of thinking held by most academic institutions. Analysis, judgement and stating arguments are only one part of thinking. There are many other parts: design, creativity, interaction, possibility generation. These other parts are even more important in the real world but are largely neglected by education and by exams.

It was silly old Socrates who believed that 'knowledge' was enough and that everything would flow from this. This view is hopelessly outdated. Action needs thinking. The major problems of the world will never be solved by yet more analysis. There is a need to be able to design the way forward. For that our education systems have never prepared our thinkers.

Yours sincerely,


London, W1

2 June

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