The Futility Monster

He'll pointlessly derive more enjoyment out of your resources than you

It’s That Time Again

Posted by The Futility Monster on August 20, 2009 @ 07:08

Argh! Shiny, happy people! Curse you R.E.M. for such a haunting song!

Argh! Shiny, happy people! Curse you R.E.M. for such a haunting song!

Yes, we have reached the final two Thursdays in August so that can only mean…

It’s Condemn The Youth Day! Woohoo!

In honour of it, I have provided you with a rough schedule to how today will go. Enjoy!

8am-9am: “live” televised openings of results envelopes. And, whaddaya know, everyone got what they needed for university! That’s because they have already checked their results beforehand. No one wants to go on telly if they’ve failed, and no one takes that risk.

8am-12 noon: BBC and others take to the airwaves praising children and their achievements, while launching their helpline for those who struggled. Radio 1 lauds its DJs for taking “hard” A-Levels and getting miserable results. Chris Moyles will claim that it proves A-Levels are hard after all and we should stop knocking kids. He would say no less, of course. Children and young adults are the majority of his audience.

12 noon: Meanwhile, Talk Radio, callers on Five Live and “Professor” Chris Woodhead will join battle and tell us how the education system is a total shambles and we are “schooling failure”. The exams are “getting easier” and students are leaving education with “fewer skills and shallower knowledge than at any time in the modern era”.

3pm: headteachers emerge – after fully digesting the results for their school/college – and start telling us how their schools have achieved 141% pass rates this year, with not a single student getting less than a B for every single module they sat. “Hurrah for my school!” they will say, while demanding the government turns over the FE funding they promised and saying that such good performance can’t be sustained unless they comply.

5pm: more “experts” start telling us that students can’t read or write; while others tell us that they’re smarter now than ever before; teaching unions tell us we have the best teachers in history, while the government jumps on the bandwagon by telling us that these results show us just how successful Labour’s “reform” of the education system has been.

10pm: first editions of the morning newspapers include much hand-wringing about “lamentable” education failure while sitting next to several pages of attractive young ladies “celebrating” their A in Media Studies. I knock media studies in jest; I apologise. After all, I have my very own A-Level in it. At grade A, no less!

And it certainly wasn’t easy.

This whole episode will be repeated next Thursday when GCSE results emerge.

It’s all so boringly predictable that no one ought to avoid the sneer of my cynical side. I do send my congratulations to everyone who succeeds today, because they fully deserve it. They have been set hurdles by the system, and they have worked hard and jumped over them. That’s no easy task, and fully worthy of praise.

Meanwhile, there are wizened hacks who enjoy nothing more than putting the youth down unnecessarily. They don’t understand how times have changed, and that educational standards are both quantitatively and qualitatively different these days.

Nevertheless, they do have a degree of worthiness. We do need to look at our education system to see if it’s doing all it can for our youth. Is it serving them well by wanting to send most of them to university? My experience is mixed, and maybe I’ll return to this at a future date. How exciting!

But days like this just depress me. The cyclical nature of news and politics does that because it shows me that nothing ever changes.

Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

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