Conservative Commentary
"the blogger whose youthful effusions have won him bookmarks all over Whitehall ... horribly compelling" - The Guardian
Great Weblogs
The Enemy Within

Most recent posts ...

Wednesday, August 18, 2004
The stage where being unable to spell English Literature is no impediment to earning an A* for it ...

As exam results come in this week, inevitably showing, Soviet style, yet another record pass rate, any sceptic will surely be screamed down by the government and the teachers unions for making kids feel bad. The emotional blackmail that says no matter how much exam standards deteriorate, it is wrong to talk about it because pupils feel better believing they haven't been cheated of the sort of education their parents or grandparents could have taken for granted, is perenially successful, so don't expect any progress this year. Meanwhile, the debasement goes on. Here is one GCSE examiner's letter, printed in today's Times.

"A* grades are given out like sweets at a children's party to youths who not only cannot spell or punctuate to save their lives, but who cannot do something much simpler than that, namely copy words which are printed in front of them. I marked nearly a thousand English Literature papers. Of those, over a hundred wrote 'Literature' wrongly (e.g. litriture) on the front of their answer-sheet, in spite of the fact that it was there in big letters on the question paper.

I marked approximately 700 essays on An Inspector Calls, by J.B. Priestley. The candidates had the book with them in the exam-room, and the name Priestley is in large letters on the front of the book. It was also printed as part of the wording of the questions. Yet over 95 per cent of my candidates wrote either Priestly or Preistly.

A similar number misspelt the characters' names Sheila and Arthur. Yet these words are printed on almost every page of the text which they have on their desk.

I was also forced to award ludicrously high marks to candidates whose command of English grammar and/or sentence structure was simply non-existent. Upwards of 150 candidates will have been awarded a C (or better) who wrote 'could of', 'might of', 'should of'. The pronouns I and me were used interchangeably by large numbers of candidates (as in 'Me and Mr Birling have done nothing wrong' or 'The Inspector was so rude to Mr Birling and I'). Neighbours-speak was quite common, as in 'Then Shelia (sic) was like, what?' (meaning she was surprised, I supposed).

I don't want to award A* in a subject called 'English Literature' to a person who knows no English and cannot spell Literature even though it's printed in front of him/her. And yet I had to, again and again and again. I was told repeatedly, explicitly, and unambiguously, that I was to mark only the ideas expressed, and not - not even a tiny bit - the way in which those ideas were expressed."
Great Sites
Tory Party
Reading ...