Wednesday, 18 May 2011


In teaching, there is this thing called P.E.E. It's used by students to help them write in a coherent and logical fashion, and it stands for Point, Evidence and Explanation. Ergo, if you make a point in your writing, you have to then provide the Evidence with which to back it, then Explain how one relates to the other etc etc blah, blah, blah.

When you first introduce the concept of P.E.E to students, they all laugh like drains and say things like, 'I'm going to put some P.E.E in my writing,' and 'Are we P.E.Eing today, Ma'am?' but believe me, as a teacher, the hilarity wears off after, oh, the first half-term or so, and ten years down the line you find yourself wishing some educational consultant would come up with a new acronym meaning more or less the same thing, I mean, aren't they paid huge sums of money to do this??

Anyway, there has been a lot of P.E.Eing of late because this week has been GCSE English Language for the Year 11 and they are in a state of frenzied panic because Point- they have suddenly realised they might not have done quite enough serious work over the last two years to achieve that precious 'C' grade minimum because Evidence - they have been appearing at my office door in droves at breaks, lunches and tutor times asking if I can 'just go over a couple of the exam poems with them' and my Explanation being- perhaps if they'd spent less time hitting each other over the heads with dictionaries and texting each other beneath the desks, they would be in a better position to write about the exam poetry without nose-diving into a blind panic an hour before the exam is due to begin.

But you can't tell them that. Not without a hint of irony and a smile that suggests you might be joking and no, of course you didn't mean to imply they've been lazy little b***ers and will get the grade they deserve, ahahahahahahahahaaa!

Anyway, I've been trying to get the idea of P.E.E home to my Year 9 tutees who should've grasped it in Year 7 but hey, Year 9 can't remember what they did last lesson let alone two years ago. And today, one of the best pieces of Evidence I was given to back up the point that primary colours are used in children's picture books was because 'small children don't understand colours like purple.'

'Don't understand colours like purple??' said I. 'What sort of evidence is THAT?? I demand further proof, scientific if necessary.'

The lad in question had the good grace to laugh and say his evidence was of the variety that flits quickly in and out of the brain and comes from no proven source, and that it seemed like a good thing to say at the time. I think he grasps the term 'evidence' more clearly now.

But sadly, listening to the exam post-mortems of the Year 11s, I don't think they have. It'll be the same next year as it was this. Year 12s appearing for tutoring because they've got to retake their GCSE, all bleating the same tune - 'I wish I'd worked harder in Years 10 and 11.' It's an age old story that I suspect applies to more of us than would care to own up.

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