Tuesday, July 01, 2008

The Limits of Absurdity and the Failure of Education Standards

I was sent an article by a Scottish friend of mine. Read The Times article here.

For non-British readers: In the English and many related educational systems, the GCSE's are a series of tests taken around the age of 16. Further schooling beyond this point (referred to as "Sixth Form", which culminates in "A-levels" testing that qualifies one for Uni entrance) is optional. Thus, GCSEs are sort of final required tests showing that one is capable of functioning in society--a terrifying concept.

The sub-title of this article reads, "Write ‘f*** off’ on a GCSE paper and you’ll get 7.5%. Add an exclamation mark and it’ll go up to 11%."

The question was: "Describe the room you are in." The student simply wrote, "F*** off". Apparently, the Head Examiner for the English GCSEs awarded the student a 7.5% because the phrase conveyed "meaning" and had proper word order. Apparently, if the student has used an exclamation point, he would have gotten a higher grade since this required a more advanced command of the English language.

Is this honestly how we prepare our young people for adulthood? What has caused our standards to drop to such appalling levels? More importantly, where is the logic in the Examiner's actions? This is where common sense should have prevailed; unfortunately for Western civilization, it failed to overcome rigid insular grading standards. Fortunately, all my friends across the pond are as appalled as I am.

Common Sense: 1 Lunacy: 1


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