In your own time - Footy failure, grammars revisited and baffled on Beckett

9th July 2010 at 01:00
The World Cup, the selection debate and the allure of the absurd dominate forum debates

Doubtless there are still those that are mourning the fact England won't be appearing in Sunday's World Cup final, but there was precious little sympathy among colleagues in the online staffroom. Indeed, some positively celebrated England's defeat against Germany last week.

"We're going home, we're going home, we're going, England's going home", crowed yorkshirepud2010. She provided a blow-by-blow account of England's loss, cheering Germany on all the way.

"The sooner we get kicked out of the World Cup the better," she explained. "It's taking up too much TV time."

Cuteinpuce was not convinced by this logic: "Er ... the wall-to-wall TV coverage will be there whether England are in or not."

"Yeah", replied yorkshirepud, "But at least I will get my TV back from the men in the house once England are eliminated."

The general consensus was that Germany deserved to win, dodgy goal decision or not. Some teachers were aghast at England's inability to play as a team. "If my school team played like that I think I'd sack them!" wrote curlygirly.

Lilyofthefield said the match made her proud to be Welsh. "I am delighted that my national team didn't even get the opportunity to look so completely useless in the international arena."

Football can inspire passion, but if you want to see rabid fervour among educationalists, get them talking about grammar schools.

The selection debate, which has been raging in the pages of The TES for over 60 years, was restarted after Buckingham University research suggested British pupils would receive a better education if they sat tests at 14 to get into grammar schools.

"Why not save loads of aggro and select by ability at 4?" suggested lurkmuch.

"Or 11 - we could call it the 11-plus?" ventured squashballs. "If you pass you could go to a school for clever people - we could call it a ... grammar?"

Memories of the 11-plus still smart, for some. "My dad failed his 11-plus in the 1950s," wrote kennyshere. "He was then sent to a secondary modern school. When he left the only job he could get was in the Army, and that was only because he could box. The man has an IQ of 168, but because of a decision made when he was a child his life was not all it could have been. Don't talk about creating a meritocracy or levelling the playing field."

PlanetX agreed: "The nonsense that created the 11-plus is long dead. Someone should bury the corpse."

AdmiralNelson was appalled by these arguments. "On the contrary, the existing grammar schools are over-subscribed and opinion poll after opinion poll shows that parents would support the creation of more grammar schools. Your views are reminiscent of the tosh spewed out by so-called 'educationalists' in the 1960s and 1970s."

On the topic of debates that have gone on for more than half a century, some teachers still don't see why anyone likes the plays of Samuel Beckett.

LeCoqSportif issued a cry for help, saying he could not fathom why English departments idolised the playwright and why he had been given a Nobel Prize. "I feel I should make an effort to understand his work. But it makes no sense." "You've understood it then," replied Grunwald.

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