Sandy speaks on matters of life and mirth.
Monkeys are seldom present.

Monday, July 05, 2010

Dear Mr Gove, Thank You for Devaluing My Education

So I saw this today, and it kind of frustrated me. I've become used to the standard stories every July and August of how A-levels are too easy, how they don't really mean anything any more, and how the youth of today are probably stupider than previous generations. These stories, of course, come out just when students are receiving their results, so that, at the moment when they should feel proudest of themselves, they are told that their achievements should carry an asterisk.

So when I read that Michael Gove wants to change to A-Level systems, I figured it was just another July "Exams? You were lucky! When I were a lad..." kind of story, and was ready to dismiss it. On further reading though, I became intrigued:
[Gove] said he wanted to switch emphasis back to examinations taken at the end of two years of study in order to revive "the art of deep thought".

Really Michael? The art of Deep Thought? Now I have no idea what that phrase means, but I'm guessing you want it to mean 'students being able to write long essays in three hour exams potentially two years after they studied the topic the question is about'. Which to me, seems a little silly.

Regular examinations encourage you to stay on top of your learning. Modular exams allow you to focus on one topic at a time, and thus to study it in more depth. One exam at the end of two years encourages you to kick back and do nothing for those years, and then cram in a mad panic. Of course, if that's what you mean by Deep Thought, I suppose that's fine.

But hang on, Mr Gove says:
"We need to ensure that the knowledge expected of A-level students is such that they can hit the ground running (at university) and they don't need, as some have suggested, four-year courses or catch-up tuition"
His argument is that we should make A-Levels more like university exams, so that people are more prepared for university. That makes sense I suppose... until you realise that universities have exams at the end of every year, not every two! Added to the fact that many universities are moving to, yes, a modular system, and you start to wonder whether Mr Gove knows what on Earth he is talking about. Where are these universities that have two years between exams?

Oh, I see. Well, good to know where our priorities lie, right?


Nik Myers said...

It' possibly worth pointing out that not all courses at Cambridge have two years between exams - off the top of my head I can only think of a couple of examples - it's just that only the ones at the very end of the course count towards your degree. Which isn't stressful at all.

Also, I thought you might like this;

Nik Myers said...

Also, just found this;

So even if Gove is targeting Cambridge, he's not doing it very well....

Clare said...

Good picture choice :)