Dumbing Down of UK General Certificate of
Secondary Education (GCSE)
Date sent: Sun, 18 Jan 1998 14:37:35 -0800
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To: Stewart Deuchar
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Subject: Re: Copy of: Dumbing down GCSE
Does this by any chance sound familure to anyone else besides me?
Sure sounds like the 'new' proposed 'National' 'Assessment Based' tests
in Math, English, etc..., being pushed right now in american by the so
called 'education experts', does it not?
Will we never learn?
Stewart Deuchar wrote:
> ---------- Forwarded Message ----------
> From: Stewart Deuchar, 106136,1714
> TO: IFNEC, INTERNET:IFNEC@admin.humberc.on.ca
> DATE: 17/01/98 06:07
> RE: Copy of: Dumbing down GCSE
> Dear all,
> In an ideal world everybody would be equally good at everything. Well, on
> second thoughts, perhaps not. But in the field of education, if we face
> reality, we find sooner or later that there is a basic incompatibility
> between equality and excellence. In general it may be said that people on
> the 'left' are more concerned with equality, while those on the 'right'
> emphasize excellence. For the past few decades the education system in
> England and Wales has been more concerned with equality, and this has
> resulted in dumbing down the the system to the point where even avowed
> socialists are becoming alarmed.
> The Daily Telegraph of 16th January carried an article describing a study
> by Tony Gardiner, a socialist mathematician at Birmingham University, in
> which he compared a maths exam paper set last year by an English exam board
> for sixteen-year-old pupils in Britain with a paper set by a similar
> English exam board for sixteen-year pupils in the Caribbean. The paper
> taken by the English pupils was far easier and 'fuzzier'. It is no wonder
> that families moving here from the Caribbean complain that the standards in
> English schools are unacceptably low.
> How has this situation come about? The answer is that back in the early
> Eighties Sir Keith Joseph, a man of proven courage and integrity, accepted
> the arguments of the egalitarians and abolished our O-level ('ordinary
> level') exam, which was said to be 'divisive'. Of course it was divisive;
> that was the intention. In place of the O-level Sir Keith introduced the
> General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE), which was supposed to
> cater for the entire ability range. The more able pupils would 'pass'
> with the higher grades, while the less able ones would 'pass' at grades D,
> E, F and G. Hey presto, excellence for all! In fact, in order to enable
> the less able pupils to register on the scale at all it has been found
> necessary to dumb down the whole exam in various ways, including allowing
> the candidates to use calculators and setting out the formulae needed for
> each problem. Also, the questions themselves lack mathematical rigour,
> saturated as they are with fashionable dogma.
> But, from the first, countries overseas were not impressed by this
> wizardry. They insisted on taking the old O-levels with their proven
> track record, and how right they were! So Caribbean, Nigerian and
> Singaporean children have had the benefit of being taught real Maths, real
> English and real everything else. But this created an awkward situation
> in England. What if the English schools took the same line and rejected
> GCSE? To their eternal shame, successive Tory governments resorted to
> compulsion and made it illegal for English schools to take O-levels. It
> is possible for individual English children to take O-levels by private
> arrangement without being thrown into prison, but it is prohibitively
> expensive. This still applies, and so long as it is allowed to continue
> there is little hope of real improvement in standards, whatever Blair or
> Blunkett or anybody else may say.
> Blessings, Stewart
> EDUCATION CONSUMERS CLEARINGHOUSE
EDUCATION CONSUMERS CLEARINGHOUSE