27 August 2009 (Thursday) - Street Art, and a Rant

Today was one of those dull days. Get up, go to work, and come home again. Dull, dull, dull. Mind you, the house up the road has now become a gallery. There is a lump of concrete with a green ball balanced on it outside their house. And there is a sign saying “Art for sale - £2000”. I wish I’d thought of that get rich quick scheme.

Meanwhile the latest school exam results are announced. And for the ten thousandth year running, the results are the best ever. This mirrors the success at A level announced a few weeks ago. However the same pundits who praise how well the children have done have no explanation for why half the universities in the country have to run remedial courses in maths & English for their first year students. Either the university courses are getting harder (which wouldn’t be my experience from my involvement with undergraduate tutoring), or the unthinkable has happened – GCSEs and A levels aren’t what they used to be. (I remember a group of us considering doing a GCSE in Star Trek a while back – the thing existed at the time!)

There are those who say it is wrong to run down the GCSEs and A levels, because this undermines the students who have just obtained these results. If these students are truly as bright as is claimed, then they would be able to see the dumbing-down for themselves.

However we are stuck with a self-perpetuating system. Obviously it looks good for those running schools to be achieving more each year, and it looks good for the politicians overseeing the schools to have a system which is seen to achieve more each year. It would take a brave Secretary of State for Education to bring in a system which doesn’t automatically get better year-on-year…

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