Test of time

Looking back to my schooldays, I reckon many of my most valuable lessons were learnt by rote. Times tables, spelling, geographical facts and later, sorry, Latin declensions and conjugations. And how did my school teachers check that I knew them? By asking me politely to swear I’d made the effort? No. There was a test!

These days it is no longer pc, human or psychologically acceptable to demand proof of knowledge imparted. The pressure of being examined is too great for the modern child; and if you must check progress, offer multiple choice questions, to give ’em a chance.

Have you seeen the SATS papers for 6 – 11 year olds? Hardly surprising that by 16 so many children are illiterate and unable to do simple arithmetic. Ask employers how hard it is to recruit young people.

Some will blame Alex Salmond, but I think the Bliar Brigade should carry the can, believing you can make a silk purse out of a genetically modified sow’s ear and then cook the books to prove it.

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  1. May 11, 2016 at 11:49 am

    This pre-dates Tone Bliar and Ilk, but T&P, Tone and Pals, that is, made things far, far worse. Starting in the 1970s “educators” decided that tried-and-true methods that had yielded solid results for the large majority of students over many years would no longer suffice and that they needed to be “innovative”. As a direct response, the quality of education collapsed entirely and from near-full literacy and numeracy we’ve declined to semi-illiteracy. This is May, one of my two busiest months of the year as I have to mark final papers. I’m simply horrified by the cold-blooded murder of the English tongue! More and more students no longer both differentiating between proper and common nouns and adjectives.

  2. Four-eyed English Genius
    May 11, 2016 at 12:14 pm

    The real villain of the piece was Shirley Williams, who oversaw the dissolution of the grammar schools and the creation of the comprehensive system with its “all shall have prizes” culture., The Education Blob, as Michael Gove described it is still much too liberal left and is responsible for the appalling state of education in the UK. They are obviously entrenched deep in government, as when Gove started making progress against the Blob, Wavy Davy had him removed and replaced by a pussy cat. I hope to see Shirley Williams alongside Blair standing against the wall when the revolution comes.

    I hope Wavy has enough testosterone on board to defeat this lot, but I doubt it.

  3. Boadicea
    May 11, 2016 at 12:31 pm

    Alas Janus, I fear we are from a deprived, downtrodden and abused generation! Should we now be claiming compensation for the PTSD that we suffered from the education system of our youth?

    I learnt my times-tables when I was about seven or eight by having to duck from the pillow – or whatever else my mother had in her hand – that she threw at me when I got the answer wrong! I learnt two things from that experience. First – my tables, and secondly – how to duck if someone threw something at me! Both extremely useful skills!

    I, too, suffered the indignity of having to prove that I really knew my tables, spelling, geographical and historical facts, French, Latin, and German declensions and conjugations by having to sit, in silence, with no other aid but my own knowledge that most cruel ordeal – a test. How dreadful! I was obviously seriously indoctrinated to accept that abuse – because I really enjoyed showing off how much I knew.

    Dear me – what a sad soul I am!

    Don’t blame Salmond or even Blair. The rot set in many years before that. You and I are very much of an age. A friend who went straight from school in the early 60’s to Teachers Training College was forced to leave because she was “too strict”. I went to the same Institutions in the 70’s and found, to my dismay, that most of the “future teachers” there had not a clue about the basics of spelling, grammar or numeracy.

    While I’m sure that the world has gone PC-Crazy, I’m equally convinced that the present lot of teachers are afraid that proper testing of their pupils will reveal that their own teaching skills are inadequate. Maybe I’m just cynical.

    To answer my question in the first paragraph… I have no problems in the way I was taught – and neither did any of the employers who looked at my qualifications. I do not blame present employers looking askance at those leaving school with a bundle of paper non-qualifications.

  4. May 11, 2016 at 4:50 pm

    Yes, Boa, and the dumbing down was compounded by creating faux universities for under-educated school leavers. Let’s wear our victim’s scars with pride.

  5. May 11, 2016 at 8:45 pm

    huuh, how much information. I certainly find differences between what I learned at school in Germany and what learn kids these days, but I wonder, does the priority not need to adapt with the changes of society and further technical innovation? As well, I must admit the 3rd Reich was still a TABU in my hiostory lessons, this is not the case these days. Though I think, nothing stands still these days…Nevertheless I do not want to defend illiteracy or lack in numeracy either. Only it is not so easy as one might think.

  6. May 12, 2016 at 7:12 am

    FoE, my issue is with the teaching of the 3Rs, reading, ‘riting and ‘rithmetic, nothing more. Rewriting history is certainly a subject to be banned.

  7. christinaosborne
    May 12, 2016 at 3:50 pm

    I am rather amused about Bo’s ma.
    Education by brutality always worked for the boy too.
    For some obscure reason the best way to get the times table into his head was to have it chanted in the car on the way to school. With a slap administered round the head for every wrong answer!
    I nearly put the car in the ditch one day when I slapped him for the whole of the 7xs table. Both of us used to laugh ourselves sick in later years.
    Frankly I capitulated and admitted I was neither particularly maternal or an educationalist by the time he was 7 and a half and sent him to boarding school.
    They made a far better job of all of it!
    Some of us shouldn’t be let loose on children!

    Mind you, the school did the brutality route too. He was on headmaster’s report and caned every week for two years before he finally realised that certain behaviour was not and never would be acceptable.
    Curious that he mutated into an engineer, rather good at maths and an utterly civilised human being!

    He always maintained that it never did him any harm and that he fully intended to beat his children.

    I personally worked out at a very young age to be ahead of the educational race. I could read properly by the age of 4 1/2 and knew my times tables years in advance. I always found that if you knew the school stuff you could get up to incredible amounts of mischief without being rumbled! People never credited that such an intelligent polite child could be quite so ghastly!

    I do not know what is wrong with most of the kids these days, when I see most of my friend’ kids and grandkids I cannot credit how unbelievably stupid they are and yet they are lauded as clever! Not in my book, total retards by the 50’s standards! One presumes it is mainly the teaching with a dollop of self delusion. Put them back in rows and make them learn by rote and caning them might have a salutary effect.
    Plus remove all the electronic gizmos!

    Such a great shame the UK has gone so daft and soft.

  8. May 12, 2016 at 6:46 pm

    CO, I suspected you might not be a soft parent! 😎 My grandflock are luckily in good schools with a good work ethic.

  9. christinaosborne
    May 12, 2016 at 9:28 pm

    Works for some J, others have to have it beaten into them. One size does not fit all.
    I find it most peculiar that all schools have been reduced to the lowest common denominator, no child should be admonished, reprimanded or chastised, everyone a winner and look at the results of most!!!
    Utterly dreadful.
    Bring back differing schools for differing children and get the mental cases out into their own schools as they used to be, not disrupting the rest.
    No wonder we are so low down in the world league tables. One wonders if it was a deliberate attempt to finish off the British along with flooding the schools with wogs.
    I shall subscribe to a conspiracy theory on the subject.

    Plus the removal of RE as we knew it, all it is nowadays is brainwashing about ragheads and carpet munching according to most kids I know. Nothing whatsoever about Christianity.
    Bloody disgusting.

  10. Boadicea
    May 13, 2016 at 11:15 am

    I couldn’t agree more about designing courses for horses – or children! Trying to design a lesson that stretched every child in the class when the IQs ranged from around 80 to 130+ was a nightmare – and, furthermore, impossible without writing a do-it-yourself for virtually every individual child and running around the classroom at breakneck speed ensuring that everyone did what they were supposed to be doing!

    The whole notion of ensuring that no child fails is a nonsense. I noted a few years ago that my old school was running a programme to show their students the value of failure. I suspect my old Head Mistress was turning in her grave… she made sure that we knew when we had failed the standard set for us – we had to do it all again until we got it right! And how did she know we had failed? We sat tests and end of year exams.

  11. May 13, 2016 at 9:42 pm

    Janus, I guess we have a misunderstanding, my point was not about rewriting history, it is rather a form of guilt that the schools were not ready to transport into the future generations, as it was not digested by our old folks, what they did not go into resistence for….So, all of my generation did get a quite warped idea about recent history and politic. Apart from that, of course I agree with your three r’s. I was amazed that I found some fairly basic spelling mistakes in Email exchanges with my first mentor in Airbus, a guy, who is now around 55 years old and an educated engineer. How odd. In my view, the same generation of engineers in Germany would not fail this fundamental piece of school education. But never mind, apart from that, he was a proud sports-and welshman.

  12. May 14, 2016 at 7:19 am

    FoE, your airbus fella was at school after the introduction of ‘modern’ teaching, but his parents weren’t.

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