Damning verdict on British schoolchildren

chinese verdict on british children

On the issue.  First we need to put aside the issues with the Chinese themselves and that of the Japanese. They certainly have issues of stress, among other things.

On the other hand, having been in Russia, I can underscore the comments. The English teachers, of course, hit back, saying that one has to tailor the programme to the student.

To a point. One has to take into account those not coping and give extra assistance, further tutoring, which the Chinese felt was mollycoddling. But by saying the material has to be mediocritized to bring it down to the LCD is an entirely different matter.

There’s no way that should be done because it is devaluing the currency, devaluing the material. Nor should teaching material shy away from the cognitive, in favour of the “find myself in this society” and “how women have always been oppressed”. Chanting tables has a positive effect, which traditional teachers have always known but now society, which threw all the good out in the late 70s, is coming back to it again:


Ho hum.

And in Britain, you can imagine how an attitude such as mine would go down with Oftsed and the leftwing teaching paradigm of today. When the Oftsed inspector saw me doing exercises from First Aid in English, he wrote that my methodology was antediluvian.

I noticed that my standard of English was far higher than that of the Oftsed inspector and that all bar about 5% of the pupils could actually read, write and count. He never criticized that aspect.

By the way, for any teachers reading – yes, I know there are issues with Maciver in places and usage has changed, e.g. on the apostrophe “s” but in general it’s still the same.

What Macivor does is introduce the rule, then the examples, then the exercises.  Just as the British teachers reacted badly to the Chinese, calling them boring, so that is the N1 criticism of Macivor by today’s teachers.

It’s all a question of mindset. I’d rather have a dozen examples and copious exercises to make sure I’d got it right than pretty pictures of how Jack and Jill are not the only sexual relationships children can have.

Our school was popular with parents from overseas – parents, remember them [?] – because we were not compromising on standards – that’s what we were selling – they called it a “British education” and it cost them a pretty penny to have something which a few decades back was pretty universal across the country.

Thus we were at odds with the inferior national curriculum when it was rammed through in 1990 to 1993.  We preferred the 11 Plus.

Question is how to reverse the shoddy education today.  Yes, I’ve looked through IB and know IELTS well, which raises even more questions about standards. If you demand these standards in the final exam but never teach towards them, then what do you expect?

Parents are being shortchanged today, let alone the fight for places at good schools.

H/T also to Wiggia.

6 comments for “Damning verdict on British schoolchildren

  1. Rossa
    August 3, 2015 at 1:35 pm

    Rossa’s Mum read an article this morning that said that some exam papers get lost in the post so the examiners guess the results!

  2. August 3, 2015 at 1:41 pm

    It may be too late to repair the damage:

    ‘West London Free School has hired [proof]readers to comb through reports.[…] spelling and grammar mistakes made by younger teachers were common because they had not been properly taught.’
    Times, 1st August

    It is now routine for schools to offer assistance to younger teachers who are unsure of apostrophe use or grammar structures. While the new curriculum indicates a resurgence of ‘old-fashioned’ grammar rules, it is a race against time to get the material into schools before all the teachers who grew up knowing how to use them are put out to grass.

  3. ivan
    August 3, 2015 at 2:16 pm

    It is not just english that has fallen standards, mathematics, chemistry and physics are almost nonexistent in UK schools today.

    Twenty odd years ago I was asked to babysit a class in a primary school (for my sins I was down as a supply teacher with the local authority). The class teacher had left notes as to where the class was but no indication of where they were to go. I had that class for six weeks and in that time they learned about geometry, conic sections went down well, algebra and plotting graphs. The kids loved it and wanted more but, unfortunately, the head found out I was teaching ‘advanced things’ as he put it and I got moved on.

    That was then, what it must be today I hate to think. As one child in that class said ‘the dummies on special needs get special lessons, why can’t we?’ She was one of those with a very high IQ in the school and got little or no help from the system.

  4. Him Again
    August 3, 2015 at 3:07 pm

    “Oftsed inspector……..wrote that my methodology was antediluvian.”

    An Ofsted inspector who can spell antediluvian? Did he know what it means?
    I am impressed!

    I am an amateur part time teacher of 12 to 18 year olds. I can confirm that their numeracy is almost zero and their spelling and grammar isn’t much better.
    My favourite example:
    I asked my class (all 14-15 years old) what 1 1/2 times 4 is. (They have “done fractions”. I checked. That is usually trotted out as an excuse.)
    Their answer, after much conferring: 8.
    Me: what is 2 times 4?
    Them(fairly quickly): 8.
    Me: how can 2 times 4 be the same as 1 1/2 times 4?
    Them: totally bamboozled.

    One of our 18 year olds was asked to write a sign to identify the cupboard where the First Aid kit is kept. She wrote “EMERGANCY”.
    It is difficult to tell which of them have been statemented for various special needs and which are “normal”.
    We feel that schools statement children to avoid effort (by both schools and pupils).
    Sexism is alive and well: I specialise in aircraft and engines. At the end of one of my classes a female told me that she couldn’t understand any of it “because I am a girl”.

    It is noticeable that some (very few) of them suddenly waken up and start to pay attention to the real world. Most don’t.

    This explains a lot of what is wrong.

  5. August 3, 2015 at 4:08 pm

    Any teachers reading this would take me to task if I didn’t mention cognitive development levels, versus chronological age.

    Whilst I believe [and tried teaching] that even relativity can be taught if broken down to the concept as a demonstration, and though we should always pitch slightly above the child, it’s not too good to aim too far ahead. Plenty of time.

    Introduce the idea though for sure. It’s not going to hurt them to know of conic sections and certainly, by 15, they should be way past simple arith. At 13, they should be able to handle “minus b, plus or minus the square root of b squared minus 4ac, all that over 2a.

    If nowhere near that by 15, why not? They should be doing trig at 16 and I mean all kids, not just specialists in maths. the other day, I had to add 95 and five eighths to 5 and three quarters – that should be automatic for anyone leaving school.

  6. Mudplugger
    August 3, 2015 at 8:03 pm

    In a previous life, whilst dining far away from home in a hotel restaurant, the adjoining table was occupied by a group which, from accidentally overhearing their conversation, became clear was a team of travelling OFSTED inspectors visiting one of the schools in that area.
    Their mealtime spoutings of utterly inane drivel, not over-fuelled by alcohol, caused me to reconsider the old adage “Those who can, do: those who can’t, teach”.
    My updated version is “Those who can, do: those who can’t, teach: those who can’t even teach become OFSTED inspectors”. All the salary, all the pensions, all the holidays but with lots of lovely expenses on top. Just don’t expect too much from so little.

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