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A-level, the merits of..


shed 16 586 England
18 Aug 2005 9:59AM
As a country we should be supporting research which helps push the boundaries and discovers new things. These are the characteristics which helped make Great Britain great, not pandering to the wishes of the political correct lobey!

Looking in the paper today I noted that for the 10th year running results as a percentage have gone up no 97% of all students pass A levels. Yes some of this is improved teaching, but a lot has to do with the 'lowering of standards'. In fact the paper is quoted as saying if it caries on this way 'in another 10 years A levels will be un-failable'.

Perhaps another case in point for the dumbing down is that most of the first year at my sister's Uni (where she is studying bio-medical sciences before medicine) was spent going over the eqivilent work of A level biology!- I thought University was supposed to be stretching people!

Andrew
u08mcb 16 5.8k
18 Aug 2005 10:10AM
yup. 1st year of Uni is a waste of time.

Socially its good though Smile
evap 15 223 England
18 Aug 2005 10:20AM
Agreed
climbing_orchid 15 321 1 United Kingdom
18 Aug 2005 11:17AM
Good luck with the teacher training Beta1, I warn you though it is bloody hard work!!!

Coming to this discussion from the point of view of someone who teaches both A Level and GCSE students I have to disagree that exams are being dumbed down, my kids all struggle with an immense workload and I commend each and every one of them for the time and effort that they put into their education - even 'thick' kids put effort in even if they don't get brilliant grades.

As adults we are likely to see some things in a different way than when we were 16 or 18, for example when I was at school I was crap at science - couldn't grasp it for the life of me, I haven't been taught it since yet I can now explain things I didn't understand then. Our intelligence develops as we age through many avenues, reading, listening, talking to others and yes even the telly!!!

By the same token, just because I'm a qualified teacher doesn't mean i'm a good one, it's only the time and effort that I put into my career that sees me getting the results from my students. By this I don't just mean good grades, if they enjoy my subject and learn something whilst they are in my classroom that will enrich them as a human being I am happy - although I did smile today when all my students got C's and above in their A Levels!!!

At the end of the day the qualification is purely a door opener, individuals should be judged on their passion, commitment and effectiveness to carry out their chosen profession, and I think many employers find these qualities just as important when considering applicants.
shed 16 586 England
18 Aug 2005 12:07PM
A very good point climbing_orchid, I don't think anybody is belittling teachers- they do a very good job! But with all this emphasis on Uni surely something has to give?

Andrew
evap 15 223 England
18 Aug 2005 1:21PM
I think this is where the discussion gets personal. I don't think the teachers or the students are to blame, you take your direction from government. You can only teach / learn what is put in front of you.

I meant to mention this earlier but forgot. My first exam at university was a shock to me. I was used to a question being broken down and suggested marks for each part (i.e how much to write). when i sat my Uni exams it was not like this. There was a long question discussing some chemistry and then a few questions, each distinct from each other. This threw me and it took me a long time to come round to this type of questioning. I presume this is what old A-level was like.

Simon
lobsterboy Plus
16 14.9k 13 United Kingdom
18 Aug 2005 1:31PM
can anyone explain to me why we now pay 16 year olds to stay on at scholl then charge them to got to university? Makes no sense to me.
shed 16 586 England
18 Aug 2005 1:36PM
Exactly seems like crass stupidity.

I do believe however that it is to give 'underprivilaged' kids the opportunity of going to university (to do that the obviously need A levels). This is an expensive process hence why the government has introduced EMA. This gives kids different ammounts of money each week/month? depending on how much the family makes. Up to 30K = 10, up to 20K = 20 and up to 10K = 30.

Presumably the government is relying on loans to get these kids through university before they can then pay it back.

Andrew

P.s. evap, this is where A levels could undoubtedly be improved, if they were set out in the way such as those in university questions then perhaps the kids would be more use to the types of layout to expect?
philwig 15 817 1
18 Aug 2005 1:47PM

Quote:I feel sorry for the students who have knuckled down and worked hard, got straight A's and are then faced with people telling them they are worthless.


I doubt very much that anyone's describing anyone as "worthless". Perhaps though you should feel sorry for the people who got their straight A-grades before the exams were dumbed down? Or feel sorry for the top 5% today who aren't able to excel, because they're well above the "A" grade level.

The problem of removing the discriminatory function of exams remains, irrespective of how honest one is about the actual standards required. Perhaps we will have to invent something else which performs the function of the old exams... entrance examinations or IQ tests perhaps, or even foreign qualifications.

I think the real question is how long will it take to write the current system off. I doubt we'll get to the point when every entrant gets an A grade before someone calls "bullshit". Still, in America 50% of people believe the earth is 10,000 years old; it could be worse.
ajm 16 232
18 Aug 2005 2:15PM

Quote:Perhaps we will have to invent something else which performs the function of the old exams


How about the old exams :o)

Whatever you do, it will pi$$ someone off, I did the 1st year of GCSE's, and we got the chance to sit an o-level maths paper. It was, as they say, a different gravy, way harder than the GCSE was going to be - and as it turned out was.

Did we get the people in power now because they were doing vocational qualifications ? no.

Perhaps our schooling is ar$e over tit, and we need to concentrate on fundemental skills earlier, languages included.

How many kids are taught grammar these days ? mental arithmetic ?
stuleech 15 210
18 Aug 2005 3:38PM
The problems with exams are that they are not a testimony of how intelligent a person is just how much they can regurgitate from the year of teaching.

There are many problems currently with society that makes most of these problems. The fact that my year (started secondary education in 1997) will be the most examined year ever this means that instead of being taught what pupils should understand they are being taught what they need to pass the exam rather than understanding the basic concepts of a subject.

Another problem is the current lack of respect and disregard for education seen by many young people who don't understand how it is to be given a top class education on a plate this leads to unmotivated teachers who basically end up not caring. This is a partial generalisation but from only leaving school after doing my a levels last year this was my perception.

The other thing I noticed was that I got a job at deloitte and touche preparing tax returns quite a complicated job, on my first day I was astounded that I had been employed because all the other ten new emplyees that day all had better A level grades and revelant subjects (me doing business, geography and photography) but after the first month these new employees were asking me for help! Which proved to me what I always thought about exams.

And I enjoyed reading this just now too.

Sorry for the long post

Stu

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