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 Post subject: A perfect storm
PostPosted: Thu Dec 29, 2011 7:00 am 
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Thomas L Benton, in The Chronicle of Higher Education (via Small Dead Animals) comments on the dire situation in undergraduate education. Although addressed to an American audience, it has a considerable resonance here, this following passage catching my eye:

... many tuition-driven institutions struggle to find enough paying customers to balance their budgets. That makes it necessary to recruit even more unprepared students, who then must be retained, shifting the burden for academic success away from the student and on to the teacher. Faculty members can work with an individual student, if they have time, but the capabilities of the student population as a whole define the average level of rigor that is sustainable in the classroom. At some institutions, graduation rates are so high because the academic expectations are so low. Failing a lot of students is a serious risk, financially, for the college and the professor.

View full article here

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 Post subject: Re: A perfect storm
PostPosted: Thu Dec 29, 2011 11:22 am 

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It's not just the students, Richard. My son quit half way through a two year foundation degree in engineering and gaming software design, a new course for which he was one of the first recruited on the strength of his ND engineering IT achievements (he came top). To say the college (via Lancaster Uni) fucked up is an understatement.

The foundation course was taken off them because what they were doing simply bore no relevance to the curriculum whatsoever. The first semester was concerned with the "ethics" of game design. Three months wasted on bloody PC bullshit. Then they were expected to understand the marketing aspects. I do not understand why this should have been included since marketing wallas and programmers are very different beasts. The corporations funding the course wanted software innovators and designers, not frigging sales people and ethics committees.

To cut a long story short, very little programming came out of the first year of the course. Many quit because it was a massive waste of time and money (many local IT companies paid to send their employees on the course and were appalled by the waste of money and employees time). The college admitted they'd cocked up and my son was persuaded to continue the second year of the foundation course with the promise that they would make up for the loss. They didn't. They didn't have a clue what they were doing. They lost the course and my son now refuses to go back to uni because, to quote him, "Why the buggery should I shell out thousands of pounds and years of my life for a piece of low grade toilet paper?"

Quite.


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 Post subject: Re: A perfect storm
PostPosted: Thu Dec 29, 2011 11:54 am 
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I agree with you Richard, 100%.

My daughter, a qualified Solicitor, returned to work recently. There were a number of newly qualified Solicitors at the firm and she was appalled at the punctuation and spelling mistakes. She said their letters were abysmal and she spent half her time correcting them. I don't understand how they passed their Solicitors' Final, let alone their Law Degrees.

The whole system has been trashed. The mantra that all must be allowed to go to a University was totally wrong. We have second rate Universities throughout England now, churning out degrees which are not worth a light, and the sooner most of these ex-polytechnics are reinstated as polytechnics the better.


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 Post subject: Re: A perfect storm
PostPosted: Thu Dec 29, 2011 11:58 am 
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Everything seems to be heading for the sewer. We have people from the examining boards giving away hints to teachers or making exams so easy even they find it amazing how it got past the regulators. So the whole system is corrupt, from teachers, exam boards to regulators. Then of course the politicians above them. And above them an electorate who either can't be bothered to vote or who spend a minute to put a pin in one of three colours.


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 Post subject: Re: A perfect storm
PostPosted: Thu Dec 29, 2011 12:12 pm 
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Stuart wrote:
...................... an electorate who either can't be bothered to vote or who spend a minute to put a pin in one of three colours.


Can you blame them ?


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 Post subject: Re: A perfect storm
PostPosted: Thu Dec 29, 2011 12:43 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 29, 2010 2:03 pm
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Yes, and I can attest to much of the situation Benton describes. While I greatly admire the principles and standards of most teachers I've met, there's no doubt that college entry requirements for students often seem non-existent. Large numbers of them couldn't get into the First Form in one of our old secondary schools, let alone grammar schools. The situation is tragic.

The problems of these youngsters are presumably much the same as those you see at Home. Intrinsically too, it's all very multi-and not at all culti - unless you think 'back to the jungle' is, as they say, 'an advancement.' Me.. I just try not to laugh and puke simultaneously: every time I see one of them struggling to an important goal while he's managing trousers at rather more than half mast. The females are as bad, with their rolls of fat blobbing in all directions.

There is a very small light struggling through the darkness, though: many of them seem to understand that the situation is bad, and that they need help.


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 Post subject: Re: A perfect storm
PostPosted: Thu Dec 29, 2011 12:52 pm 
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Not Rocket Science wrote:
It's not just the students, Richard. My son quit half way through a two year foundation degree in engineering and gaming software design, a new course for which he was one of the first recruited on the strength of his ND engineering IT achievements (he came top). To say the college (via Lancaster Uni) fucked up is an understatement.


North Jr had a very similar experience ... on a similar course. Left in disgust with much the same sentiments. Is now a largely self-taught software developer. We are in the hands of a few of the younger generation who are bright enough to realise that their teaching is crap, and who have the ability to learn for themselves.

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 Post subject: Re: A perfect storm
PostPosted: Thu Dec 29, 2011 1:47 pm 

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Over here on the west side of the Pond, the situation is better explained by Preferred Species. Their presence is required both by government edict and academia preference, and our "Supreme Court" has affirmed that the Constitution's 14th Amendment does NOT apply if its application would work AGAINST a Preferred Species. Not sure if you have that issue on your side of the Pond as well, although I do remember an article not long ago about The Boy bemoaning the limited number of Preferred Species in your institutions of higher education. Maybe he just wants to follow the fine trail we have blazed over here?


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 Post subject: Re: A perfect storm
PostPosted: Thu Dec 29, 2011 2:17 pm 
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Location: EU Region of West Midlands in the former UK
RAENORTH wrote:
I won't say we are domed, but it is difficult to see a way out.View full article here

O course we are domed. The entire education system (of which I have some inside knowledge) is slipping downwards, with this as a symptom: Kids now take as many A-levels as they used to take O-levels. O-levels no longer exist: GCSE is an amalgam of GCE O-level and CSE; the top three grades being allegedly equivalent to the old O-level grades. O-level was taregeted at the top 40 percent of the ability range of the population. But the idiots who pretend to govern us now say that a high proportion of kids should be getting grades A-C. In fact, though, the 'child-centred', topic-based approach to education ('learning'), where kids do projects instead of being taught things, is now the approved method for A-level coursework, to say nothing of GCSE.

So we see 16-year-olds now doing things that were originally expected of 10-year-olds, and 18-year-olds doing what used to be expected of 16-year-olds. Don't be surprised, then, if we also find undergraduates doing work at a level that used to be expected of sixth formers. And at what level are the ten-year-olds now working?

Just as the EU has hollowed out the nation states, leaving in place a shell of the former governmental systems, so now education has been hollowed out by child-centred, Americanised non-teaching. For nearly thirty years 'didactic teaching' has been a swear word. Surely people have noticed the way in which 'teaching' has been replaced by 'learning'? The teacher has largely become a resource manager and facilitator for 'learning'. The farce of Ofsted scrutinises only in the corrupted terms that validate maodern 'education'. It is a worthless waste of money.

And under all this the corruption of de-skilling in basics has spread throughout the entire system so that even at graduate level people can no longer be depended on to be able to read, write, etc.

And the reason we are deferably domed is that an entire generation of 'teachers' has been de-skilled and therefore cannot put the system into reverse.

Our education system, which was once admirable and admired, has irreversibly destroyed itself from within. Every single aspect has been hollowed out. We still have schools and teachers, but they are such things in name only.

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 Post subject: Re: A perfect storm
PostPosted: Thu Dec 29, 2011 2:46 pm 
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Not Rocket Science wrote:
The first semester was concerned with the "ethics" of game design. Three months wasted on bloody PC bullshit.


Yep, and from what I understand from graduates in the last few (more than a few years actually) years, anyone who doesn't buy into the PC/revisionist rubbish and expresses a contrary opinion soon find their marks dropping rapidly.

Bluemerle wrote:
There were a number of newly qualified Solicitors at the firm and she was appalled at the punctuation and spelling mistakes. She said their letters were abysmal and she spent half her time correcting them. I don't understand how they passed their Solicitors' Final,


It is because examiners are no longer allowed to mark down papers for bad spelling, grammar etc.

Stuart wrote:
Everything seems to be heading for the sewer. We have people from the examining boards giving away hints to teachers or making exams so easy even they find it amazing how it got past the regulators. So the whole system is corrupt, from teachers, exam boards to regulators.


It's not the exam boards, it's the system. It's about league tables and high percentage passes, not about producing highly educated people. My wife works for an exam board. The teachers are under pressure to produce results, therefore they put the exam boards under pressure. Currently they have an exam paper for a certain subject which is not selling, because one of the other exam boards has made their easier. Then their rep goes to the schools/teachers and tells them it's easier and that they'll get higher pass rates/marks.

What do you think the teacher will do? So, the other exam board has a choice, stick with a reasonably high standard of exam and hardly sell any, or dumb theirs down? What do you think they will do? It's a race to the bottom.

It's the old adage, KPIs breed lies. I remember reading about some of the tricks that were used in the NHS to 'achieve' targets. A couple I remember were, number of patients on trolleys left in corridors. The solution? Remove the wheels and then they could be classified as beds. Waiting times in A&E before being seen. The solution? Hire a triage nurse (some junior nurse) who would come out with a clipboard, take a few details and disappear off again. This counted as the patient having been 'seen' and then they could be removed off the waiting times list.

Shakassoc wrote:
O-levels no longer exist:


Oh yes they do. It's just we don't use them in the UK anymore. They're still produced and sold by the exam boards for the international market. They're quite highly regarded.

http://www.cie.org.uk/qualifications/ac ... l/overview

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 Post subject: Re: A perfect storm
PostPosted: Thu Dec 29, 2011 4:09 pm 
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A deliberate destruction of the education system to churn out unemployable kids who will end up either turning to crime or on the dole (or both) who become the future client base of whatever party is offering taxpayer funded freebies.

As I've said before, parents have to shoulder much of the blame in this for allowing their children to be used by the destroyers as a social engineering experiment.

When my Grandson started 2nd school the first few weeks were taken up on AGW/climate change, smoking & the EU. When he told me I did my best to enlighten him in the ways of the non-education system, I think it worked, whenever AGW, smoking or the EU is on the agenda he will challenge them, it doesn't go down well. PDT_Armataz_01_22

Sadly for future generaions the winners in this are the immigrants/migrants, and it'll be worse still when the Indians start arriving en-masse, courtesy of the EU and our own non-government lickspittles.

I wonder how many politicans kids are/will be uneducated, jobless or on the dole.


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 Post subject: Re: A perfect storm
PostPosted: Thu Dec 29, 2011 4:24 pm 
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rosie wrote:
Sadly for future generaions the winners in this are the immigrants/migrants, and it'll be worse still when the Indians start arriving en-masse, courtesy of the EU and our own non-government lickspittles.


Well, Mode 4 can't be that far away. Then the Indian corporations will be able to bring in as much cheap labour as they want, because none of it counts against our immigration figures.

And it is reckoned to be a legally binding irreversible deal. I'm glad I'm not a youngster.

http://www.politics.co.uk/comment-analy ... cy-they-tr

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 Post subject: Re: A perfect storm
PostPosted: Thu Dec 29, 2011 4:56 pm 

Joined: Tue Apr 11, 2006 9:17 pm
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Changing the polytechnics into universities was a turning point, but the origins were in the early 60s when the Labour Party became interested in a new and unrealistic idea of fairness and turned their guns on the grammar schools. As I see it, they were simply creating another sort of class system, just as rigid as the old one but more to their liking, and they didn't sweep away all of the old one anyway, because it suited both them and the Tories.

I don't think the grammar/secondary modern system was perfect at all. The most obvious falling was that there was supposed to be a third section of technical schools which generally wasn't implemented. It was a lot better than the mess which succeeded it though.

It really became about fantasy politics, fantasy ideas of fairness and prestige awarded without merit. Bogus prestige has driven a lot of this. Universities were considered to have more prestige than polys, and polys were given prestige by calling them universities. Part of it was also kidding people that they were better than they are for the present, at the tomorrow's expense. We're a small nation in a competitive and hostile world in which we are not paying our way, but we've money to waste on bogus prestige and comforting fantasies; the Olympic games, military adventures, overseas aid, tackling climate change, sorts of rubbish, and plenty to waste on things to pacify the home crowd who will be paying for it later. I'd say there's a fair dollop of corruption chucked in as well, the right sort of people making a fortune out of it and them and theirs pretty much insulated from the 'fairness' which is inflicted on the rest of us.

I'd say say the pursuit of bogus prestige and fantasy, ever mutable ideas of fairness, have a lot to answer for and explain much that we have seen over the past 50 years. We have to have a seat at the top table and play a leading role in world affairs, and all this is possible by political jiggery-pokery informed by various fads and the debts can be run up and not thought about. The fact is that if you have a strong economy and a cohesive society where people can get on by merit, you can't be refused a seat at the top table.


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 Post subject: Re: A perfect storm
PostPosted: Thu Dec 29, 2011 5:05 pm 

Joined: Tue Apr 11, 2006 9:17 pm
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RoadHog wrote:
Well, Mode 4 can't be that far away. Then the Indian corporations will be able to bring in as much cheap labour as they want, because none of it counts against our immigration figures.

And it is reckoned to be a legally binding irreversible deal. I'm glad I'm not a youngster.


We also have a very high rate of unemployment among UK IT graduates - 15 to 20% from memory - and the government has been allowing high numbers of Indian IT workers in under Inter Company Transfers, taking the very entry level jobs they need.

So much for the Knowledge Economy. So much for the justification of expanding universities because graduates would be much higher paid and economically productive over their careers. So much for all these ludicrous feel-good fantasies.

Still, these people needn't be downhearted, they can change career before they've started and take up green jobs.


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 Post subject: Re: A perfect storm
PostPosted: Thu Dec 29, 2011 5:08 pm 
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RoadHog wrote:
Shakassoc wrote:
Quote:
O-levels no longer exist


Oh yes they do. It's just we don't use them in the UK anymore. They're still produced and sold by the exam boards for the international market. They're quite highly regarded.

I think you may be misunderstanding the nomenclature here. The international qualifications are designated differently by the examination boards (awarding bodies). Edexcel's equivalent is IGCSE, and even though it is more robust than those taken in most English schools, it is still a GCSE, with the range of grades spanning those of the old GCE O-level and the old CSE. I suspect the Cambridge qualification you have referenced is an IGCSE, despite being called O-level. Tell me if I'm wrong.

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