Posted: Thu Aug 24, 2006 7:21 pm Post subject: The Great A-level Hoo Ha
"Never let your schooling get in the way of your education" - Mark Twain
Itís an annual event. A-level results are published, the media goes crazy. Standards are falling. The young have become indolent brain dead dolts mesmerised by idiotic reality TV stars. So the story goes. Repeat until your audience suffers from bleeding ears and atrophied eyes.
Itís the wrong story.
What is an A-Level?
The A-level is an exercise in regurgitation from memory. Nothing more, nothing less. In the humanities you remember facts, in the sciences formulae. Thatís all there is to it. The A-level is not now and never has been proof of intelligence, competence or innovative ability. It is the culmination of your school career. The point of school is not education, rather it is a professional babysitting service. As such the A-level isnít proof of anything other than a good memory. Of course, a great mystique has grown up around the A-level, a necessity in order to convince students and teachers that they were doing something useful with their time.
As such the decline of the A-level (if such a thing is taking place) is no great disaster. The media would have us believe that the decline in A-level standards or prevalence of ďeasyĒ subjects heralds the end of the British economy, science and art. Nothing could be further from the truth. A well educated population is undoubtedly an economic and cultural asset, but the A-level merely produces (and always has produced) a well schooled population. Schooling, as mentioned above, is a next to useless innovation. The product of the Victorian prohibition on child labour, a measure which posed the problem of what to do with a large mass of non-productive young people. The answer, which solved youth unemployment at one stroke, was schooling.
Even if there is a decline in A-level standards there is no need to panic. Britainís economic golden age occurred during the 19th century at a time when the majority of the population were illiterate and innumerate. Today China and India achieve impressive economic growth rates despite high levels of illiteracy and innumeracy. There is only tenuous evidence to suggest that an educated population is necessary for economic success, even sparser is the evidence that a schooled population is a requirement for economic success.
Imagine if we did away with compulsory schooling! It would be a marvellous boost to the economy. The state would save billions of pounds, taxes would be lower and young people could work in call centres undercutting the price offered by their rivals abroad.
So, why does the media panic over improved A-level results? I submit three explanations:
1. Class Paranoia
A-levels give class privilege the appearance of meritocracy. You can attend any university providing you have the right A-level grades because A-level grades prove intelligence and worthiness. How terribly democratic.
As already discussed A-levels measure your ability to remember facts. Here the upper and middle classes have a decided advantage. Extra lessons outside school, tutors and private schools with long hours aid the smart set in their quest to stuff their children full of useless facts.
By contrast the working class struggle with state schools offering short hours and poor conditions. Their children enjoy a less rarefied atmosphere than those of the upper classes. Their environmental conditions are poorer and the stresses greater. In short the conditions are less than ideal when the goal is stuffing your memory hole for a test.
Improved A-level grades horrify the media and newspapers such as The Telegraph and Daily Mail because it means that the horrid proles might be on the way to university, breaking into the world of privilege previously reserved for the nobs (and children of highly paid newspaper columnists). Hence the unreserved hostility towards improved A-level results.
Itís a sad fact that when the student movement had some backbone in this country a popular demand from student unions was the abolition of all examinations, particularly in the humanities, as a social justice measure. Unfortunately these days weíre subjected to the supine and idiotic likes of Gary Hughes and his coterie of c**t. Morons without two brain cells to rub together, better suited to selling washing machines at Currys than to public office. Practically every student union is infected with similar idiocy.
2. Racism aka The Yellow Peril
An obligatory element of the A-level broo-ha-ha is racism. The story goes something like this: ďAs A-levels become easier Britainís economy faces destruction at the hands of the lean and keen workers of India/China/Taiwan/Outer Mongolia/Generic Asian State.Ē The rotation is as follows:
(Table is based entirely on the authorís arbitrary whim)
Importantly the threat to Britain always comes from an Asian country. Apparently economic rivalry from the United States and European countries has no negative impact on the British economy.
The whole burden of the mediaís racist fantasy recalls Spenglerís Decline of the West. To whit:
The West has become irrevocably dissolute and debauched due to the activities of sundry liberals, socialists and dark skinned people on our shores. Part of their nefarious scheme is to turn our children into blithering idiots by making A-levels easier. We will then be overrun by Asian hordes.
The solution: Bring back hanging, the Empire, caning, forced heterosexuality, put women back in the home, ban public healthcare and make A-levels like they were in my day.
Needless to say itís a load of bilge.
Quite simple this one. Most editors and news producers are men. A-level results combine three elements that modern men find sexually arousing:
a. Teenage girls
b. Teenage girls in school uniform (Implying virginity)
c. Lesbianism (Note the tendency for newspapers to produce pictures of girls hugging and kissing when receiving their results.)
Hence the annual fuss over girls doing better than boys. Itís simply an excuse to film as many nymphettes as possible. All the better for fat middle aged journalists to perv over.
I think the ability to re-sit modules at A-Level, wheras you couldn't under the old system, ay have made things easier. However aside from that I don't believe they are getting easier. I would take issue with the idea that unis should keep on expanding and expanding. It's about acedemia, some people are just not suited to that. But the lack of other equivalent educational streams means it's that or you're thick. _________________ Big Brother is watching YOU!
Please note that last sentance is not what I believe, but the perception of degrees in society now. Everyone is seemingly doin one, so if you haven't got one there must be something wrong. That's what I was trying to get accross, just re-read it and realised how it looks, lol! _________________ Big Brother is watching YOU!