From The Telegraph (U.K.):
Bright students 'cannot write essays', say Cambridge dons
Some key excerpts:
"Robert Tombs, professor of history at St John's College, Cambridge, warned that students were 'drilled into writing' in a formulaic manner between the age of 11 and 18, leaving them unable to articulate their ideas on degree courses."
"'One of the things that one notices in student essays is how much damage has been done by the imposition of artificial structures for essay writing,' he said.
'''They've been drilled into writing a particular way, making particular kinds of arguments in a particular order and not writing their own ideas or responding to questions in a fresh and original way, and that's very damaging, and it's very visible.'"
"Speaking on Monday, Prof Abulafia said that writing essays involved 'making judgments' but too many pupils struggled to cope because of the emphasis on chasing decent exam grades.
"He said that pupils often 'knew the mark scheme by heart and that is how you ensure you get an A'.
"'That is not what education is about,' he said.
"'What we've got to do is educate students and also examiners in handling the sort of work which involves making judgments, trying to say something that's slightly different about familiar topics.'"
"'We are where we are, partly because, I have to say, of the national curriculum [emphasis added],' he said.
"'I find that teachers have become increasingly robotic, they have worked slavishly to the national curriculum [emphasis added], to the prescribed curriculum [emphasis added], they have worked slavishly to the demands of the league tables etc and a lot of the teaching is not very sort of, instrumental, and children are taught a lot of facts, completely out of context often, simply the minimum required for whatever the next test or examination will be.'"