Newsround and kitties

Oh, a few little titbits to get my teeth into today. First, though, my own news. Anni has found homes for both the cats, though it has involved splitting them up. Ed has gone to one of her friends who already has two cats. The eldest is blind, so harmless and the other gave it a bit of the old posturing (Ed tried, but it’s hard to make your tail bristle when you don’t have one) before they settled down and just ignored each other.

Anni then had a brainwave. Another friend of hers had recently had their cat – who they’d doted over – put down. It was black and white with long hair and loved attention… pretty much like KK these days! So she offered KK up, and it took them less than an hour to say “yes”.

Chances are I won’t see the cats again. I certainly can’t take them from their new homes after their umpteenth move. But I’m happy in the knowledge they’re both going to be well cared for. I just hope they don’t miss each other as much as I miss them. And it does leave me free to start the cycle over again should I ever settle my arse down somewhere.

And onto the headlines that have pissed me offcaught my eye today. First up, tales that the government are toying with ditching GCSE oral examinations in foreign languages as they’re "too stressful" for the little darlings.

For fuck’s sake. Frankly. They’ve already made the examinations in maths and science so easy that anyone with a TV addiction to 15 to 1 or Weakest Link stands a chance of a C-grade or better. But to remove the oral exam from a foreign language course? Madness!

As for stressful? It’s a fucking exam, of course it’s stressful. So is a written exam if you care about the result. So is a driving test. So is a job interview. Of course, at this rate none of the GCSE candidates will have one of those to worry about as they’ll all be too fucking thick and under qualified to be accepted for one.

One quote states that "whilst accurate in its awards against performance on the day, is not a reliable test of the candidates’ capability". So what they’re saying is that the exam result is only an indication of how good someone was at the subject at the point in time they sat the test itself. So… like any exam, then? be it Chemistry, Geography, a driving test, that job interview or the pub quiz on a Thursday night? Sometimes you have a shitter. The aim is to be good enough that it doesn’t happen very often.

The aim of learning a language is to be able to communicate. If you can’t manage for 10 minutes with an examiner covering specific areas of the language you’ve been learning for 2 years and a fair idea of what the exam with consist of, then how the fuck can you expect someone to handle being dropped into the country in question and dealing with a native speaker in a real-world situation?

And on to some good news. It seems that the plan to play a 39th Premiership game a season outside of the UK is "in tatters". Thanks fuck for that. Stupid bloody idea in the first place. Exhibition matches, fine if you can be bothered – but we already have them.

Quite a few teams take part in mini-tournaments abroad during the pre-season. I know Newcastle have done it, Everton I recall recently, as well as ManUre and Chelski. These tournaments usually involve a host team and another three from other countries so provides a real draw for the local fans. Their own team against big names from other countries. Do we really need to have League-sanctioned exhibition games as well?

Final story is about the suicide bombs in Afghanistan earlier today. The obvious finger is being pointed at the Taleban, but I think they could be mistaken this time.

The people killed were attending a dog fighting rally. There’s every possibility it could be the Animal Liberation Front or whatever the Arab world’s version of the militant RSPCA is. Personally, I’d happily kick fuck out of anyone sick enough to go and watch dogfighting. OK, blowing them up may be a bit extreme (did any of the dogs get killed?) but they definitely deserve having their teeth fed to them.

12 thoughts on “Newsround and kitties”

  1. Ahh, cats – they taste like chicken you know.only kidding.

    They will never ditch the GCSE Orals properly, they’ll just make it sooooo easy to pass that the exam become useless (speaking as a former examination board worker – this is already happening with loads of subjects).

    You think if Barrymore went to Afghanistan – he’d be attacked by a suicide bummer?

  2. Not tried eating cat (poor sexually-related punnery notwithstanding), but I’ve not been to Korea yet.

    Oh, I know about the easyness of the exams. I saw some recent GCSE papers for maths and they’re about on a par with what I sat all those years back. Then I saw the equivalent O-level paper from 30-some years ago. Bloody hell, that stuff was hard.

    You, sir, are funnier than Barrymore himself. In fairness, not the hardest of tasks.

  3. Your comments about the science and maths GCSEs are worrying coming from someone I know to be a rational person. I found the science GCSEs challenging (I didn’t find the maths one challenging but then again I didn’t find the A-level or most of the first-year degree maths challenging, so that’s not a fair test) and I achieved the mark below the top grade (an A), yet I am still studying for a degree and getting mostly firsts and 2:1s. The GCSEs and A-levels are still a fit test of candidates. I know very few people on my course who scored straight A’s and it remains a difficult thing to do, regardless of what the media say.

    Of course, if you do think that exams are getting easier, you are more than welcome to volunteer to coach kids in how to pass their exams, since if they truly are as easy as everybody says they are, most people ought to be able to see a kid through one. You can charge good money, too.

  4. The grouch I have with science exams is the removal of separate sciences and the creation of a “two-mark” Combined Science paper. Thus, three subjects being shoehorned into a 2-mark space. You’re *bound* to lose some of the detail there.

    A mate of mine did this course when I was doing the three separates (we’re the same age – his school was one picked as a guinea pig) and some of the questions were frankly ridiculous. The exam boards decided to jump on the “Green” bandwagon at the same time and some of the questions were… well, technically science but so flipping politically correct as to be unreal.

    Sorry, I confess I can’t remember them – it was a long time ago. But I just remember that even way back then I was staggered with the pointlessness of their inclusion on an exam paper.

    I don’t care what the government try to make us think. See if you can get hold of some old O-level papers from, say, 20 years ago. Or A-levels, in fact. Compare them to the equivalents you sat (and indeed that I did). And then tell me that the exams are no harder than they were in fairly recent history.

    As for coaching kids… I am still seriously tempted to retrain as a teacher. Only not in the UK. I know enough teachers to be aware that they feel stifled and frustrated by non-teaching staff (ie bureaucrats) trying to tell them how best to do their jobs. Besides, by the time they get to their GCSEs, kids are nasty and horrible. I want to teach primary where they’re cute and malleable so I can start planting the seeds of revolution in their tiny heads at an early age 😉

  5. But the sciences are still, in the vast majority, seperated – sciences were taught seperate even when we were awarded a two-GCSE ‘Double Science’ qualification, and only those students who are less able at the subject are being offered the integrated solutions now, at least at the schools I’m aware of.

    I can get hold of some O-level papers but it’d prove precisely nothing because I haven’t been taught that material. The syllabus changes – part of the reason it’s so amazingly stupid to suggest that exams are getting easier. Have YOU done a GCSE paper versus an O-level paper, to back up your claims? If you do both, and video yourself doing them, and you finish the GCSE paper substantially more quickly than the O-level paper whilst getting a similar mark, then I’ll consider your arguments valid, but nobody has EVER submitted proof to me that ‘the exams are getting easier’.

    To be honest, the whole thing is hilarious, since the adults are wondering why the children in Britain are so unconcerned about getting an education – why bother when the entire country is telling them that the education they’ll end up with is shit anyway?

    It’s a farce. The media should be encouraging kids, not telling them they’re useless. I know I felt fucking demoralised when I got my A-level results and got into uni simply to be told that ‘they’re easier than they were’. What’s the point in doing the exams if the whole country tells you your achievements are worthless?

  6. If exams are not getting easier, why the need to lower the standard of A level exams because pupils are finding them too hard?

    OK, perhaps as you say, they are not getting easier but I would argue that the reason so many kids seem to be passing with flying colours is that maybe they have lowered the mark you need to achieve to obtain a grade.

    When I took exams, you needed to achieve at least 70-75% to attain an A grade, 65% to get a B, 50% to get a C.

    I read somewhere that 30 odd % could get you a C grade these days, so when people of a certain age say achievements these days are worthless, then perhaps they are.

  7. Well, I have seen the exam problems from both internal and external sides (former worker in an exam board), currently taking OU degree.
    I may have been out of education for many years, but I foolishly used some essay questions from past a-level and gcse papers to take a look at the standard required and they bear no comparison with the info that a degree course needs.

    Still, that may just be my experience but from my time in the exam board when they marked down an entire groups coursework because the standard was too high!

  8. John – sorry, meant to reply to your comments before but I’ve been away a couple of days. I agree that kids should be encouraged, not knocked back but take it a step further *up* the ladder and see how far the confidence-knocking goes. I’ve been told umpteen times that a degree is worthless in virtually any walk of life outside of the professions. Getting a degree in, say, IT does not necessarily improve your chances of getting a job afterwards or earning a higher start wage.

    Which is pretty much a downer, and not exactly likely to convince someone to spend 3-5 years studying for one. However, I got my *current* job simply because I do have a degree. I applied for a rep / chalet job and was plucked out for this new IT role because they saw my qualification on my CV.

    However it *can* be true. Start an apprenticeship as a plumber at 16 years old and I can almost guarantee you’ll be earning more per year than 80% of graduates by the time you’re 23.

    Weenie – the other problems with exams are that there are simply too many of the damn things. They’re on about examining kids at 6-7 years old now, for crying out loud. Madness. Can’t they just trust teachers to be able to judge how the children under their watch are doing? Isn’t that part of the skillset required? Or are the bloody pencil-pushers just so bloody intent on assuming they know more about children and education than people who’ve studied to be able to do that exact job?

    Damo – marking on the curve is a stupid idea, although I can see where they get the thought from. If everyone does poorly at a course, then the pass mark is dropped on the assumption that the course that year was harder than usual. If everyone gets good marks, then the passmark is higher making it a bit of a shitter for those who otherwise might just have made it.

    After all, how do you know that course was easier? It’s also possible that they just happened to have a large bunch of bright pupils that particular year, so the handful of average ones just lose out – tough shit.

  9. Funnily enough, my degree has only really had relevance in my job over the last few years.

    I think the social aspect of uni had more of an impact on my life, shaping me as a person, exposing me to different types of people, opening my mind and of course, some great friends I continue to keep in touch with.

  10. I think the main purpose of a degree is to prove you can learn, that you can work around structure, that you can be independent, etc etc. *What* you learn is largely irrelevant. Again, as I said, except for the professions. A Women’s Studies degree will *not* get you into obstetric gynaecology.

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