Marathons getting easier

Statement from CBI

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26/08/2005 at 09:07
The CBI chairman Sir Digby Jones has calimed that there is compelling evidence that running the marathon is getting easier.

He bases his claims on evidence that the number of runners breaking the 4 hour barrier has increased by 30% over the last 10 years.

"This improvement cannot be explained by improved training methods, and independant surveys suggest that marathon courses are being made easier by organisers. there is some evidence that organisers are providing compititors with extra help (ie rollerskates) to help improve times and that in some cases courses are being shortened by several miles".

Yes its a joke.

So why do we put up with the annual denigration of the academic achievements of our young people by these over fed chinless wonders??

Why is it that no sooner have the A level and GCSE results hit the streets than we're reminded by the "great and the good" that in fact its all a worthless exercise, and our kids are nothing more than a bunch of feckless skiving layabouts who are unable to spell or add up, and that they give GCSE's away in cornflake packets these days??

Are we the only country in the world that insists on insulting our young people in this way??

Seems to me that there is more than a little envy in this annual outpouring of scorn. Seems to me that double chinned Digby and his mates, far from seeing the "Ideal" employees of the future (you know the forelock tugging arse licking sort) see a bright brash young bunch of folks, who might just be after their seat on the gravy train.

And yes I do have a vested interest this year , as I did last year.

Discuss in not less than 100 words - extra credit will be given if they make sense.

[30 marks]
26/08/2005 at 09:26
I sympathise with the view that kids get a raw deal in some ways these days but if you try an A level these days you'll find that it is a piece of piss compared to the standards 20 years ago. If you've taught in one of the lesser universities you'll also see that a significant minority of the students are barely literate.
26/08/2005 at 09:27
gud point Digby I did mi a levels wen they wear reelly hard...

26/08/2005 at 09:32
Fair enough FR, plenty of peeps work very hard and the qualifications aren't worthless, but equally, there are plenty of non-businessy types saying that the qualifications have got easier. Like teachers, and universities who can see what knowledge and skills the students come to them with.
26/08/2005 at 09:32
I'm in the fortunate position to have done both O levels and GCSE's......and GCSE's are far, far easier if you are unscrupulous - you can cheat on the coursework very easily.

What the stats don't show are which subjects the scores are in....as usual it's stats being used to make headlines. They are stats that don't really mean anything.

I'd like to see the pass marks per subject - then I think you'll find that they're no different in the sciences etc.
26/08/2005 at 09:33
I thought Digby Jones was rather insulting of young folks, stating the majority can't read, write or add up. Well I guess my kids are in the minority as they both have a far broader knowledge base than I ever did when I left school.


but

My English is not perfect but it does rather grate at times some rather bad examples typed every day on this forum. While things like BTW and LOL is okay, shortening of words like u for you I find irratating.
26/08/2005 at 09:35
My point being popsider that if the exams have indeed got easier (and I remain to be convinced of that)then thats hardly the fault of the kids is it ??

26/08/2005 at 09:38
That's hardly their fault, but it needs to be pointed out.

1 - it's worrying for the future of the country.
2- it's giving the kids a raw deal.

Or shall we just pretend the problem doesn't exist and give out meaningless prizes for all?
26/08/2005 at 09:40
Well those who took the good old "Gold standard" exams haven't exactly made a great job of running the country have they ???
26/08/2005 at 09:41
I thnk stuff like "u" for "you" and similar text speak is good - it's no different to BTW or LOL is it?

I wouldn't want to be judged on what I write on this forum though Jane - it's just throwaway conversation - plus I find the fact you can edit stuff on a computer can leave it reading a bit odd unless you read it through.
26/08/2005 at 09:42
Biff, my argument is, is there a problem at all? and is it any worse today than it was when I was at school. My school did have the one class in each year where the kids having attended school, and were very poor at reading, writing and adding up and they left school with no qualifications and as soon as they were 16.
26/08/2005 at 09:44
LozF, the point you make about coursework is very valid. I know someone who does all her daughters English course work. She will do very badly in her exams and her mother wants to ensure she gets a decent grade. Its blatant cheating.
26/08/2005 at 09:44
like missing out the i in think for example ;)

No I agree it isn't the fault of the kids FR and I do think kids today have far more confidence than most of my generation did.
26/08/2005 at 09:45
On the radio yesterday, the newsreader quoted someone as saying that schoolchildren (sorry, but I flatly refuse to refer to children as 'students') were picking 'easier' subjects like religious studies and P.E. instead of 'difficult' ones like French and German. What a load of subjective claptrap!

I've heard that examiners can no longer deduct marks for poor spelling, punctuation or grammar. Something to do with the examinees being free to express themselves without being hindered by pesky details like using the language properly. That is a definite lowering of standards.

I'd bring back capital punishment for spelling mistakes (and hope I've not made any typos in this post).;-)
26/08/2005 at 09:47
popsider we all make typing errors, I guess I am old fashioned about English and after all English is a changing, living language so maybe I will just get use to all these u type words.

26/08/2005 at 09:52
It must be extremely dispiriting for a bright kid who has worked hard to find that the qualification they have pinned their hopes on is being devalued. Similarly it must be depressing for teachers to hear that all their efforts have produced young adults with qualifications that people look upon with some scepticism.

I'm afraid, though, that that scepticism is rooted in bitter experience for a lot of people. I regularly interview graduates and post graduates for a job which, above all, requires academic ability in the sciences and it is noticeable that it is becoming *impossible* to tell from someone's exam grades whether they will have the raw brainpower required to do our job.

To a certain extent we can rely on other aspects of their qualification (including whether they have been to certain universities, because we know those universities have a selection process that will weed out the 'underserving' A graders - sorry to be harsh - from the real McCoy) but in terms of providing a useful differentiator for this employer, A levels are less and less reliable.
26/08/2005 at 09:52
I don't know whether the exams are easier. When I was at school and we were given O-level papers as practice papers as well as GCSE papers, we always found the O-level papers harder. But I think that was more about the way we were taught and what we were taught. In chemistry I learnt far more useful stuff for GCSE than on the O-level syllabus.

In French, we learnt useful, colloquial phrases for GCSE rather than convoluted literary terms.

I'm a great fan of traditional subjects (my degree was in Classics) but I don't think GCSEs are about dumbing down but about making relevant to today. So someone who's done Latin O-level might be able to tell you about the subjunctive but someone who's done the GCSE will be able to tell you about why it's relevant to us now.

And I just feel sorry for the kids who've worked hard and get their achievements knocked down.
26/08/2005 at 09:56
<train of thought rumbles relentlessly on>

However, I guess it depends on what A levels are for. You could argue they're not there to signal who are the cream of the crop academically (if they ever managed to do that accurately!) but rather to rubber stamp those people who had had a a certain level of education and demonstrate how well they had understood that education.

I'd be interested to hear Barnsley Runner's views on this - what are A levels for, BR?
26/08/2005 at 09:57
But BB is it wrong to take advantage of your environment in that way.

For example my son (who got his results yesterday) often asked Mrs FR (who haa a Phd in Maths) about his coursework. She didn't actually do it for him, but she certainly gave him an insight that his teachers were unable to.

26/08/2005 at 10:00
FR asking for help and making use of your parents knowledge is fine. If Mrs FR had done the coursework for him I think that is wrong.

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