Tuesday, 10 August 2004

Education, educasion, edukashun

I was pleased to read this:

MORE and more parents are considering taking their children out of mainstream education so that they can be taught at home, campaigners claimed yesterday. Fears over bullying, classroom indiscipline, falling teaching standards and a lack of support for children with special needs are being blamed for the trend.
"Falling teaching standards"?

Perish the thought.

But, on the other hand:

EXAM pass rates are up on this time last year, according to figures released last night by the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA).
It's good news for pupils (for the moment) I suppose:
Lord James Douglas-Hamilton, the Tories’ education spokesman, said debate will rage over whether the rising pass rates mean exams are getting easier but added: "All that matters now is that those who passed their exams should be congratulated on their results."
But when Lord James - the gentleman of Scottish politics - uses the word "rage" we know that not everyone is so sanguine about the continued "improvement" in pass rates.

At least with Standard Grades the pass rate inflation can't go much higher:

Standard Grade English pass rates rose by 0.1 point to 98.4 per cent, while the Standard Grade maths pass rate stayed at 97.7 per cent.
Come on: just pass them all.


David Farrer said...

Comments made on previous template:

Alastair Ross
Squander Two, Your point is well taken. Thomas Jefferson remarked that 'democracy is a system for an educated populace, it is useless for any other'. Your cut off point of fourteen is, of course , arbitrary, but none the worse for that.

18 August 2004, 13:46:41 GMT+01:00
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Squander Two
The problem with compulsory education not being part of a free society is the very real danger that, without education, people turn away from political freedom. A high standard of education among the lower classes is one of the key factors behind the growth of the middle classes, which in turn is a necessary condition for democracy. For this reason, I regard state education funding as part of the state's remit of defending the nation -- in this case, from within. 
I think education should be compulsory up to the age of fourteen or thereabouts. On the other hand, there's no way the state should be controlling it. It should be like car insurance: you have to have it, but you can get it wherever you like.

18 August 2004, 12:46:13 GMT+01:00
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Stuart Dickson
David Gillies 
I largely accept your experienced analysis. I am no fan of grade inflation or the dumming down of university education. I am sure that your English experience is true of Germany, the Netherlands and Scotland too. 
However, I do not accept your point about the origin of your surname. Yes, indeed it is a venerable Scots monicker. However, many people with the surname Gillies are proud Canadians, New Zealanders and Americans,... and Englishmen. You qualify to be a Scot by residence, particularly childhood residence, in Scotland, not by having a Scottish granny (although the Scottish Football Association may grasp at such straws). 
Scotland is a civic nation like the USA, not an ethnic one like Japan. Mrs Khan from Tain and young Mistress Aliya from Methil are Scots. But Mr Hamish Ronald MacMaster from Yeovil is not. Miss Aliya will sit Highers, Mr MacMaster did not. 
For a university teacher you are rather shoddy with your terminology. "Can do better."

18 August 2004, 08:32:18 GMT+01:00
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Alastair Ross
In a free society ,compulsory education might be considered an unnecessary imposition. I suspect that if education was purely voluntary and a nominal sum charged at point of use, standards would improve and the teaching profession made more attractive to graduates with excellent degrees.

18 August 2004, 01:05:41 GMT+01:00
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David Gillies
Stuart Dickson, Dave Fordwych et al., I wrote from an 'Anglo-centric' perspective, since my experience of the decline in standards and the concomitant need for remedial tuition was in an English university engineering department. Aside: it's funny seeing someone playing the 'Scottisher-than-thou' card with someone called Gillies. But if you don't believe the problems of grade inflation and progressive education bodies apply, mutatis mutandis, to Scotland then I can only assume the chip on your shoulder is so heavy you can't get your head out of the sand (sorry for the mixed metaphor). 
Oh, and maybe you do take Highers in Scotland. But what do you think the very large number of English and Welsh students who attend Universities in Scotland take? There were Scottish kids in the class I used to teach. For the purposes of discussion, the precise name of the exam is unimportant. The decline in its worth is not. Do you have personal knowledge of the academic capabilities of the incoming cohort of British undergraduates? If so, please share it.

18 August 2004, 00:09:52 GMT+01:00
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Andy Wood
Which do you think is worse in general, bullying at school or bullying at home?

16 August 2004, 09:24:59 GMT+01:00
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David Farrer said...

"I'm inclined to doubt that economies of scale are significant once a school has about one or two hundred pupils. Yet aren't there many schools with over a thousand pupils?" 
Which is an argument against comprehensive V traditional schools but not against family schooling V traditional schooling.  
As a child I used to bully my sisters & younger brother, on the other hand my younger sister (who was half my size) used to, quite reasonably, bully me back.

13 August 2004, 23:49:48 GMT+01:00
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Comments from 
"Second homes and the council tax" 
"Dave Hondahag 
Sorry to be pedantic, but you missed out the final full-stop. 
Stuart Dickson | Email | Homepage | 08.12.04 - 5:24 pm | # "

13 August 2004, 09:32:08 GMT+01:00
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Stuart Dickson
Dave Vauxhallwizard 
Many thanks for your pedantry. If you peruse this blog you will find many such spelling errors. 
However, I do make an honest attempt at correct spelling. My English has detiorated slightly during the last couple of years as I am using another language as my day-to-day medium of communication. 
I do not consider a spelling mistake to be as serious as calling for the abolition of a system of quangos (LEAs) that do not exist in the country under discussion (Scotland).

12 August 2004, 22:18:04 GMT+01:00
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dave fordwych
On the subject of using incorrect terms,I believe the word you may have been looking for is "ignoramus"

12 August 2004, 16:17:37 GMT+01:00
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Andy Wood
Economies of scale should mean that, for the cost, school schooling SHOULD be much better than home schooling. 
It's not obvious to me that this is the case. School schooling incurs costs not associated with home schooling - the risk of bullying for example. I'd hazard a guess that cost per pupil of preventing bullying increases with the number of pupils - which would be a dis-economy of scale. 
Furthermore, I'm inclined to doubt that economies of scale are significant once a school has about one or two hundred pupils. Yet aren't there many schools with over a thousand pupils?

12 August 2004, 14:23:09 GMT+01:00
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Stuart Dickson
If a journalist was writing about the US economy and kept referring to the USAs "Chancellor of the Exchequer" you would think they had a screw loose. 
All countries have their own correct definitions and terms. If you consistently use the incorrect term then you show yourself to be an ignoramous or an arrogant foreigner. Which are you?

12 August 2004, 12:52:37 GMT+01:00
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Andrew Duffin
Stuart, of course I know they're not called LEA's here, but everyone knows what I mean by that term.  
Down here in South Ayrshire they are called "The Department of Education, Culture, and Lifelong Learning"; I don't think that would add much clarity. 
I am beginning to fear that you may have a chip on your shoulder.

12 August 2004, 12:27:05 GMT+01:00
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Economies of scale should mean that, for the cost, school schooling SHOULD be much better than home schooling. I don't really know much about this but I suspect there is a certain amount of middle class alternative lifestyleness to this. Even so this would leave a lot of room for bad schooling.

11 August 2004, 23:35:18 GMT+01:00
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Roland Watson
"Home-schooling is another version of withdrawal from society. Its privatisation for the middle-classes. 

Home schooling is more a case of capability than income. I know/have known several homeschoolers. None of them could be considered middle-class, especially when one income had to be sacrificed to become an educator.

11 August 2004, 14:22:43 GMT+01:00