March 26, 2012

Education and the Examination Swindle - Part 2

For the benefit of Ned Summers, the author of TheAftermatter, I am, as usual, sitting on a Boeing 737-800 on the way to Vienna, which can only mean one thing: an airplane post!

Last week, I wrote a somewhat incoherent post on examinations in England, the screwed up system and the suppressing of open-mindedness; however, I did not offer any type of solution the dire and complex problems the education system is facing, ranging from dropping exam standards to the falling value of an A-level nowadays. In this post, I would like to offer my proposed solutions and how they might be implemented into a crumbling system, bent on achieving good exam results. As ever, I am always glad to hear from the readers and will reply to most, if not all, communications over your preferred medium. Go ahead, voice your opinion and see if you can dismantle my un-succinct posts. It should not be that hard to he honest!

To start, we have the issue of having a thousand different exam boards. Actually, its only about six or seven in the UK. These exam boards set their own standards, marking schemes, courses and curriculums. AQA is different to the WJEC is different to Edexcel is different to OCR is different to, well, you get the picture. Just taking an example, the Systems and Control department in my school are changing from AQA to WJEC, because they have a better exam and different coursework standards. I paraphrase my S&C teacher, but that is the long and short of it. The problem here is that having these different exam boards turns a system that should exist to serve the students and teachers in their goal of education, into a competitive business based on supply & demand logic, existing to make money. In this way, due to the current mindset, dictating that "education = good grades", schools that may not have the same standards as another look for the easiest exam board, so that, even though they have lower standards, get good grades.

Due to the competitive nature of this highly lucrative business [I am being sarcastic there], other exam boards look at these schools looking for easier exams, which are unfortunately in the majority, and think to themselves, "let's make our exams easier so that we can get more money". We can see a vicious cycle emerging here, and it is this cycle that is making exams in the UK easier, to the extent that schools with higher standards are actively seeking out harder exams, and that a new grade had to be invented for GCSE and A-level: the A*.

March 16, 2012

Education and the Examination Swindle

It has been far too long since I have written a post here! I apologise for that from the bottom of my heart. For all of those looking for an explanation, I shall give you one. Recently, two of my friends and I entered a competition, for which one had to prototype and build an “autonomous vehicle able to navigate a course without external help or influence”. I had always thought that doing these types of things for children at our age was near to impossible; however, I am fortunate enough to go to a school that has the facilities available to make this a reality for me. Although the actual start date for the competition was in September, my technology teacher only told us at the start of January, which left us 6 weeks to complete the project!

Anyway, I’ll come back to that later, but for now, let me diverge into a slightly tangential topic of education. While it may be a tangent, however, it is becoming increasingly more involved with the new opportunities that have evolved through technology and the web. This tangent into education, I have decided to start off with a short story that got me thinking about the issues I will discuss here.