PLEASE NOTE: the events set out below are fictional. Any similarity to a discussion at a meeting of GCSE examiners is purely coincidental.
Teacher 1: Now are we all clear that children need to learn to describe, to explain and to justify?
Teacher 2: Indubitably. They should describe, they should explain, and they should justify.
Teacher 3: And it is also clear that explaining is harder than describing, and that both are exceeded in difficulty by justifying.
Teacher 4: And when they have produced their explanation, they ought to describe that explanation to the class.
Teacher 3: Well of course – obviously they will describe their explanation. But they will also justify their explanation.
Teacher 1: This is what we want them to do – but we also want them to justify their descriptions. They must learn to justify their describing!
Teacher 2: So we are clear that the children will describe and justify their explanations, and justify their descriptions?
Teacher 4: Yes, but also that the children will explain their justifications.
Teacher 1: And should this include them explaining the justification for their description?
Teacher 3: Of course it should! It is vital that children learn to explain the justifications for their descriptions.
Teacher 2: We can all agree, I hope, that these children of ours will be able to describe to us these explanations of their justifications that we have just outlined?
Teacher 4: Do you mean describe the explanations of their justifications, or describe the explanations of their justifications of their descriptions?
Teacher 1: I think we shall have to agree that both are worthwhile aims for the pupils: they ought to learn to describe the explanations of their justifications and describe the explanations of the justifications of their descriptions.
Teacher 3: Yes, this makes sense. Although I think we should also be clear that any child who has truly learnt to describe the explanations of the justifications of their descriptions will be able to both explain and justify the descriptions of the explanations of the justifications of the descriptions.
Teacher 2: Oh of course! It goes without saying that children ought to be able to justify the descriptions of the explanations of the justifications of the descriptions.
Teacher 4: And lest we forget what might otherwise be assumed as obvious, it follows naturally that as well as justifying the descriptions of the explanations of the justifications of the descriptions , we might also expect that those very same students gain the capacity to justify the explanations of the justifications for their explanations?
Teacher 1: Of course, could it be any other way?
The teachers shake their heads, safe in the knowledge that they have most clearly articulated the conceptual structure of their discipline. But then something seems to occur to Teacher 2.
Teacher 2: It does occur to me that we might perhaps just ask them to write an answer to the questions we set, without specifying whether they ought to be describing, explaining or justifying.
Teacher 2 (sounding nervous): I mean, we coul…
Teacher 1: Why do you hate children?