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..There's a little Samuel Pepys in all of us..

Sunday, June 10, 2007

A couple of interesting points today..
It had been said for years, that the British education system was one of the best, if not the best in the world. That those who graduated with Degrees from British Universities, had some qualifications..
But, it seems the worldwide trend towards the effects of 'stress'.. and the movement towards making the lowest common denominator the norm.. has hit the Education Ministry..
The suggestion is that all testing be done away with, for students under the age of 16.
Now, we're talking about regularly scheduled major exams.. designed to see what the student has absorbed over a protracted period of time..
The government, in it's wisdom, has decided that this system is too 'stressfull'.. and I repeat that word because it is the word the legislation itself will contain..
Now, this begs a question.
What has happened over these past few generations, that now, we are one, faced with the problem of 'stress' among our general student body, and two, why it would require government legislation to 'dumb-down' our entire education system..
And they say History has no value..
A precis of the past 50 years.. shows a male workforce returning to find their jobs taken by those who used to run the homes.. Women entered the workforce, and stayed there.. this led to family disruptions on a scale which prompted the rebellion of the 60's.. the beginning of questioning by an entire generation, the values their parents had abandoned.. and this questioning continued through the middle 70's.. when the 'me' generation appeared.. and into the 80's and early 90's when on one hand there were those who had never left the 60's, or the 70's.. and those who became part of the 'Yuppie' movement..
Now these transitions.. these 'movements' were fuelled by one medium, that being television..
The world had become a place of what it believed, at the point, to be instantanious transmission of information. And those who's childhood and adolescence had been formed by the graphics of VietNam.. The Six Day War.. The Iran-Iraq War.. had lost their taste.. one might almost had become innured.. to International Affairs..
One other facet of society changed, one which is integral to the cause of the proposed government legislation, and that was the art of reading.
Only 50 years ago, parents used to read their children to sleep at night. Books, especially encyclopaedia, were a status symbol..
And then, in the mid- '90s.. came the Internet.
Not something immediately available to either individuals, or institutions, it soon became part of normal household goods.. the fridge.. the cooker.. the computer..
And this medium has indeed opened an entire new world, to the world.
One would think this a good thing..
It promotes reading.. provides an immense source for research for students..
But it also makes that which is happening around the world, truely instantaniously available..
Stress.. they say.
Perhaps the relative ignorance of life 50 years ago is proof of the maxim 'ignorance is bliss'..
If that is the case, the government is aiming at just that, with the elimination of examinations..
Yet one also wonder how those who are entering Higher School at the age of 16.. never having faced an exam.. will deal with that 'stress'..
It seems the function of a government to make a Gordeon Knot of every societal problem, by trying to please everybody.
The student seems to be getting lost in this game, somehow.. especially those with some degree of talent or intelligence..
There is the real danger that they will be swept away in the tide of mediocraty.. developing habits, because the work comes so easily to them, that will not serve them well in Higher Education..
What might also be seen as somewhat disturbing, is the weakening of a work ethic.. a phenomina which might well be described as a pandemic throughout the West..
We, as a country, are facing an economic threat which is potentially as great a threat to our way of life as the Second World War.. and we are concerned with 'stress'..
Perhaps it might be, that whose who exhibit such symptoms might be moved into classes which will better serve their natural abilities.. thus reducing 'stress'.. and instilling a sense of pride in doing that which they can do well..
That regular examinations, meant to reveal that which has actually been absorbed, and can coherently be put onto paper, or demonstrated in a shop.. could perhaps give a student something to aim for.. a goal..
Encouraging our student population to actually do some work when their not attending classes.. Earn some money.. Eliminate some of the boredom that invariably creeps in..
Case in point.. British strawberry growers are crying out for 'pickers'.. They figure about 45% of their crop with rot on the vine, because the government has cut down on quotas of migrant workers from non-EU countries.. and those from EU countries can find much more lucrative work than picking strawberries..
But a student.. doing it for a month.. could bank over £thousand..
The thought also crossed the mind, that to save these businesses, those convicted of petty crimes, and sentenced to Community Service, could be used for the same job..
Nevertheless.. back to the point of all of this.
The elimination of set examinations for those under the age of 16 is a ludicrous idea.. and to make one more point.. what it points to is the inability of the teachers themselves, to deal with the thoughts and observations of those under 16..
That they cannot see what they themselves have taught, in any other terms than that they themselves percieved it..
That it takes a flexible mind to distinguish whether a student that young, writing an essay answer, has grasped the point of, and answered the question posed, in their own way..
The Teachers Union supports the Government's idea..
No surprise in that, really..Oddly enough.. just to end this with an interesting study.. It's been shown that those children most addicted to both television, and video games, and who have the most problems with weight, are those from second or third generation immigrant families.. from Asia and India..
Seems the British, or perhaps indeed Western indifference, is exceedingly contageous..

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