Underhand dealings feed the debate

23rd December 2011 at 00:00

Back in the 1960s, when O-levels and A-levels were the norm for the academic stream (the "good old days", in Mr Gove's mind), I can remember learning to the test. When exams were imminent, we scoured past papers, along with our teachers, to look at the trend for topics. We considered which topics always came up and which tended to appear every other year, and did our revision accordingly.

How different is this from teachers gleaning what hints they can to pass on to their pupils nowadays?

I learnt chunks of Vergil's Aeneid VI off by heart, in Latin, with very little comprehension, to be able to give suitable quotes in the exam and then forget them once out of the exam room.

I would much rather have done something useful that I could use in later life, such as woodwork or metalwork or agriculture (Aeneas did not help me mend a motorbike when in the Kalahari desert, but some engineering might have done).

Why this insistence on academic skills, which have little use for many people and merely brand them as failures? Oh, I forgot, those in power are there because they enjoy power and want to leave their mark.

Sic fatur lacrimans.

Jane Giffould, Teacher looking for work, Halstead, Essex.

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