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Education / Michael Gove


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#61 Trojan

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Posted 19 May 2013 - 02:07 PM

They were for some. My mother went to a Grammar school, her family were very working class. These days someone in an equivalent situation would have no choice but to attend the local comprehensive.

 

There are always going to be some. But generally it was the kids of the better off parents who went to the grammar school. My wife went to grammar school, as did her sister.  They were the daughters of the editor of the local paper.  As a generalisation, if you lived in rented accomodation, very common in the sixties, and your parents had a manual job, my dad was a van driver, my mother scrubbed floors at the local gas showrooms, you failed the 11+ went to a Secondary Modern and got a manual job. 


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#62 Maximus Decimus

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Posted 19 May 2013 - 04:14 PM

I have some sympathy for the grammar school idea but I'm far from convinced either way. I always saw grammar schools as an antiquated system that had been put in the past by forward thinking countries. It wasn't until a debate I had with my father-in-law (Northern Ireland is only just stopping the grammar system) that I found out that a number of countries such as Germany still have them.

 

It is a far reaching question that comes down to what we actually want our education system to be. At the moment, if you succeed in our system you have acquired the skills to become an academic of some sort. I don't think this is necessarily the right way to gear our whole system towards. Labour had this crazy idea to try and get 50% into Universities which has led to a large number of useless degrees and watered down genuine degree qualifications. From this way of thinking it makes sense that those suited to academic studies should be put in schools that serve that side of things and children not suited to academic studies should be steered elsewhere.

 

I do speak from some experience. Me and my group of friends at the time were the sort of children that would have passed the 11 plus and gone on to grammar school. We were top of our class in Year 6 and generally bright. We certainly didn't flourish in the local comprehensive secondary school. Despite being setted and still being amongst the brightest, for instance two of us achieved the only level 8's in the Year 9 SAT's out of a group of 300, we were hardly in an environment that supported such achievement. As I'm sure you would expect, it didn't go hand in hand with popularity either and it was the norm to play down any degree of intelligence. I often wonder how we would have got in an a grammar school system that at least to some extent celebrated achievement and encouraged intelligence. Also despite our academic success, none of us has really achieved what would have been expected from our Year 6 grades. Would a grammar system have given us a better starting point to achieve something?

 

However, I do know that this is a relatively selfish and idealistic viewing of things and to an extent is a convenient excuse for any perceived failings. I've never been comfortable with the idea of effectively writing off children at a certain age either and think it would inevitably create division and a degree of snobbery. I have a brother in law that failed his 11-plus and felt like a second class citizen in the town. My mum also made it to the grammar only to feel out of her depth and never really settled. As did my dad who made it to the grammar and basically dropped out of education.

 

I think the fundamental issue is what we want our education system to do and whether it is in fact an achieveable goal.


Edited by Maximus Decimus, 19 May 2013 - 04:16 PM.


#63 Trojan

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Posted 19 May 2013 - 07:23 PM

I have some sympathy for the grammar school idea but I'm far from convinced either way. I always saw grammar schools as an antiquated system that had been put in the past by forward thinking countries. It wasn't until a debate I had with my father-in-law (Northern Ireland is only just stopping the grammar system) that I found out that a number of countries such as Germany still have them.

 

It is a far reaching question that comes down to what we actually want our education system to be. At the moment, if you succeed in our system you have acquired the skills to become an academic of some sort. I don't think this is necessarily the right way to gear our whole system towards. Labour had this crazy idea to try and get 50% into Universities which has led to a large number of useless degrees and watered down genuine degree qualifications. From this way of thinking it makes sense that those suited to academic studies should be put in schools that serve that side of things and children not suited to academic studies should be steered elsewhere.

 

I do speak from some experience. Me and my group of friends at the time were the sort of children that would have passed the 11 plus and gone on to grammar school. We were top of our class in Year 6 and generally bright. We certainly didn't flourish in the local comprehensive secondary school. Despite being setted and still being amongst the brightest, for instance two of us achieved the only level 8's in the Year 9 SAT's out of a group of 300, we were hardly in an environment that supported such achievement. As I'm sure you would expect, it didn't go hand in hand with popularity either and it was the norm to play down any degree of intelligence. I often wonder how we would have got in an a grammar school system that at least to some extent celebrated achievement and encouraged intelligence. Also despite our academic success, none of us has really achieved what would have been expected from our Year 6 grades. Would a grammar system have given us a better starting point to achieve something?

 

However, I do know that this is a relatively selfish and idealistic viewing of things and to an extent is a convenient excuse for any perceived failings. I've never been comfortable with the idea of effectively writing off children at a certain age either and think it would inevitably create division and a degree of snobbery. I have a brother in law that failed his 11-plus and felt like a second class citizen in the town. My mum also made it to the grammar only to feel out of her depth and never really settled. As did my dad who made it to the grammar and basically dropped out of education.

 

I think the fundamental issue is what we want our education system to do and whether it is in fact an achieveable goal.

 

The grammar school system was great - for those who went to the grammar school. But it wasn't so good for those that didn't. On the other hand most grammar school (round here anyway) played Union, and many Secondary Moderns played League.


"Your a one trick pony Trojan" - Parksider 10th March 2013

#64 tonyXIII

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Posted 19 May 2013 - 07:35 PM

What an interesting post, MD. I have often wondered about schools' ability to provide students with what they need to become 'successful'.

 

Firstly, I suppose it depends on what you mean by success. That is really an individual concept - my idea of success won't be the same as yours. I don't really think schools can be held responsible for an individual's failure to achieve his/her goals.

 

Secondly, when it comes to success, there are many factors which are impossible for schools to teach. For example, I think risk and luck play a part in all our lives. If you really want to be a success, you have to be willing to risk failure. Schools are particularly ill-suited to instilling this concept because they are, essentially, conservative establishments. They are doing risk analysis now, but even I didn't see this until I was in my 50s. Luck? Of course we all need luck. You revise a particular topic and then there it is on the exam paper. You go to a party and are introduced to someone who ends up offering you a job. Your band play a gig in a pub and a recording company manager is in the audience. There are millions of little incidents like this that happen in our lives. Sometimes you get the lucky break, and sometimes you don't.

 

Success is hard to achieve and, though hard work helps, the many intangibles make it more or less impossible to teach. We just need to keep striving to become the best we can. All of us.

 

Sorry if that was a bit rambling.


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#65 Maximus Decimus

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Posted 20 May 2013 - 07:21 AM

What an interesting post, MD. I have often wondered about schools' ability to provide students with what they need to become 'successful'.

 

Firstly, I suppose it depends on what you mean by success. That is really an individual concept - my idea of success won't be the same as yours. I don't really think schools can be held responsible for an individual's failure to achieve his/her goals.

 

Secondly, when it comes to success, there are many factors which are impossible for schools to teach. For example, I think risk and luck play a part in all our lives. If you really want to be a success, you have to be willing to risk failure. Schools are particularly ill-suited to instilling this concept because they are, essentially, conservative establishments. They are doing risk analysis now, but even I didn't see this until I was in my 50s. Luck? Of course we all need luck. You revise a particular topic and then there it is on the exam paper. You go to a party and are introduced to someone who ends up offering you a job. Your band play a gig in a pub and a recording company manager is in the audience. There are millions of little incidents like this that happen in our lives. Sometimes you get the lucky break, and sometimes you don't.

 

Success is hard to achieve and, though hard work helps, the many intangibles make it more or less impossible to teach. We just need to keep striving to become the best we can. All of us.

 

Sorry if that was a bit rambling.

 

Thanks for the reply Tony.

 

I completely agree that there is so much more to it than academic success and that risk taking, confidence and luck are probably bigger factors in achieving economic success. As you also said, it depends on how you measure success. Personally, I feel like I have been quite fortunate and largely despite my secondary education. It wasn't until much later (and with a bit of luck) that I suddenly woke up to what I needed to do.

 

I also agree with Trojan also, I'm not advocating setting up a whole system to benefit the children that were like me. I was suggesting that the comprehensive system potentially fails those better achieving pupils. For instance, many of my friends succeeded in the British school system but the pay off was that they spent much of their time classed as social misfits by the majority of their peers. They subsequently haven't succeeded in work like their grades would have suggested and we're talking 4 or 5 of my friends including easily the most intelligent person I know. Instead of pushing these brighter pupils, the comprehensive system promotes a race to the middle for the sake of fitting in.

 

I have an 11 year old nephew who lives in Northern Ireland and is exceptionally bright for his age (100% despite his primary schooling). They have just dropped the grammar system where he lives and I haven't really expressed to the family my real concerns for him in the next few years. He will suddenly be thrown into a situation where his achievement is not celebrated, in fact far from it. I worry that as puberty hits he will also find himself in a very awkward situation.

 

Of course I also accept that I have no experience of the realities of the grammar system. I'm not suggesting that some of my friends would have suddenly become social butterflies in a grammar system, they would probably have still been classed as social misfits. I'm also not suggesting that it would be a paragon of high-brow learning, I'm sure there would have been many of the same problems as in a modern comp. However, I just wonder whether it might have been better for the geeky students but also those that aren't socially awkward but feel pressurised to play down their talents for fear of being branded a misfit.   



#66 Severus

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Posted 20 May 2013 - 09:01 AM

The grammar school system was great - for those who went to the grammar school. But it wasn't so good for those that didn't. On the other hand most grammar school (round here anyway) played Union, and many Secondary Moderns played League.

 

I've always felt I missed out by not being able to go to a grammar school. Like MD's experiences, the school I went to it was almost as if they didn't want the pupils to have any academic ambition and you just couldn't seen to be interested, keen or even good at the academic subjects without getting a good kicking at break time. It may seem selfish but sometimes I think that schools should allow those who want to get ahead and learn to do so in a grammar school and those who want to mess about and waste a wonderful opportunity that is free education and go to a school and do subjects that they may have an interest in and will be more suited to their aptitude. 


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#67 WearyRhino

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Posted 20 May 2013 - 09:23 AM

Education is wasted on the young!

#68 tonyXIII

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Posted 20 May 2013 - 09:55 AM

Education is wasted on the young!

 

I like that, Weary. And there is just enough of 'an element of truth' in it to make you stop and think.


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#69 Northern Sol

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Posted 20 May 2013 - 09:55 AM

There are always going to be some. But generally it was the kids of the better off parents who went to the grammar school. My wife went to grammar school, as did her sister.  They were the daughters of the editor of the local paper.  As a generalisation, if you lived in rented accomodation, very common in the sixties, and your parents had a manual job, my dad was a van driver, my mother scrubbed floors at the local gas showrooms, you failed the 11+ went to a Secondary Modern and got a manual job. 

Whereas now the same kids get to go to a low-standard comprehensive school with no possibility of going to the posh schools. We've swopped merit-based systems for ones that are solely about your parents ability to buy a house in the exclusive catchment area or about their willingness to play the God card. 



#70 Maximus Decimus

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Posted 20 May 2013 - 02:44 PM

I like that, Weary. And there is just enough of 'an element of truth' in it to make you stop and think.

 

There's more than an element of truth in it. I'm far more interesting in the things that I was forced to do now than I was then, things like art and reading music. I was taken to cubs and scouts as a child and absolutely hated it but now I love all those Bear Gryllis, Ray Mears bushcraft stuff and would love to be able to camp and have many of those skills.

 

It's the same with things like Science and French. Out of interest I've self-taught myself far more in these topics than I ever knew coming out of school. Take something like evolution, despite a B in GCSE Science I had no real understanding of it whereas now I'm fascinated by the topic.



#71 Maximus Decimus

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Posted 20 May 2013 - 02:46 PM

Whereas now the same kids get to go to a low-standard comprehensive school with no possibility of going to the posh schools. We've swopped merit-based systems for ones that are solely about your parents ability to buy a house in the exclusive catchment area or about their willingness to play the God card. 

 

There is a very real point here. Let's not pretend that we have a 100% fair for all system, we have a system that gives a better education to those that can afford to either live in a good area or pay for a private education.



#72 hindle xiii

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Posted 21 May 2013 - 11:12 AM

Not entirely the right thread but at work I don't ever recall "those" being used, it's "them", as in "I hope them cups are clean", "I'm off to pick up them plates", "them drawings". Is this just a Lancashire thing?


2826856.jpg?type=articleLandscape

 

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#73 Northern Sol

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Posted 21 May 2013 - 11:20 AM

Not entirely the right thread but at work I don't ever recall "those" being used, it's "them", as in "I hope them cups are clean", "I'm off to pick up them plates", "them drawings". Is this just a Lancashire thing?

It's also a Yorkshire thing.



#74 Wolford6

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Posted 21 May 2013 - 11:23 AM

It's a slang thing.


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#75 hindle xiii

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Posted 21 May 2013 - 11:29 AM

It's also a Yorkshire thing.

Fair enough, never really noticed it until a few weeks ago. A bit like Manchester has a penchant for using "dead"? Like "that was dead good".


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