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Monday, January 19, 2009

Hard Times

Dear Ivor

Make that 7 o’clock! Have just read the BBC article on scrapping SATs essay questions. On reading the full report that the piece refers to am filled with an all too familiar sense of gloom with regard to our education system.

Not that I am totally against exams based on multiple choice questions as without a doubt it does test facts! At this point Hard Times springs to mind and the indomitable voice of Mr Gradgrind:

Teach these boys and girls nothing but Facts. Facts alone are wanted in life. Plant nothing else, and root out everything else. You can only form the minds of reasoning animals upon Facts:

It appears that the regurgitation of facts at the expense of the ability to form and record a coherent and individual thought is what is required of our young people. The think tank’s report features an excerpt from The Guardian by an exam marker, who states that:

...after marking GSCE exam scripts for a major UK examining board for the past two weeks, I can honestly say that not only are standards dropping, but also they are unbelievably low... In relation to the GCSE candidates' general standard of writing, as a part-time lecturer at a university, I had already become aware that many undergraduate students had abysmal reading and writing skills. However, even that did not prepare me for the written skills of your average GCSE candidate. The handwriting, most of the time, resembled that of a five-year-old toddler or a drunk (grotesquely simple or an illegible scrawl). A lack of basic punctuation, such as full stops, commas, capital letters etc, was commonplace. There were countless inarticulate, immature sentences, which did not make any sense to the reader.

Why can’t our young people transfer their unique thoughts onto paper any more? What is being taught in our schools? Is it one dimensional Gradgrindinian regimental spouting of information to pass tests, or the excitement of free thinking and self expression resulting in new ideas and facts?

Poll x (literally confused)

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