Dumbing down education?

if youve landed here

More thoughts, submitted on an occasional basis by our Guest Blogger:  Jack Diamond.

Dumbing down education?

Over the years there’s been a lot of comment in the newspapers about the standard of education here in the UK. It’s probably true that most of what is written washes over your head or you think it’s all exaggerated by the newspapers and media. But then, if you start to look into it, you begin to wonder if all those people who talk about education being ‘dumbed down’ in recent years might actually be right.

Recently we had reason to look at a GCSE maths paper. These are all available to download online and the ones we tried were from AQA.

Have a look at a sample of the questions from last year’s (November 2014) maths paper and decide for yourself if maybe, just maybe, we ought to be trying to stretch the minds of our school children a little bit further. Remember, these are from a GCSE paper which is aimed at 16 year olds.

Screen Shot 2015-06-08 at 07.39.30

Screen Shot 2015-06-08 at 07.38.31

There is a maximum score of 66 marks for the paper, but you only need to get 75% correct to get a C grade.

With the greatest respect to anyone taking these tests, you’d have to be having a really bad day not to get a C grade from this paper.

The examples above are from what’s called the Foundation Tier exam – the maximum grade, even if you answer all the questions correctly, is a C grade. If you’re a real high flyer, apparently, you get entered for the Higher Tier exam instead. Here’s some examples of the more difficult questions in the Higher Tier.

Screen Shot 2015-06-11 at 09.22.13

Screen Shot 2015-06-11 at 09.22.35

If you’re like me you’d wonder if they might be trick questions. I mean, they give you the answers in the question – 33 men said yes, they own a car. Question: How many men said they own a car?

‘Show that 24 people were in the museum at 8 am.’ Well, I guess that would be 30 – 6.

And, remember, this is the Higher Tier, supposed to be for the brighter 16 year olds.

Dumbing down education? It looks like they might be right.

Or maybe it’s that, in recent years, there’s a expectation everyone should be able to get a qualification, even if that qualification is meaningless. The same happened with university degrees. At one time they were a sign of a certain level of intelligence or attainment but these days, when it’s expected that just about anyone can and should go to university, the whole concept of a degree gets devalued.

Or, maybe it’s just me and we should accept that 65p x4 or 30-6 are tricky sums for a 16 year old these days?


Thanks for reading.

Jack Diamond

(The views expressed in our Guest Blogs are personal opinions only and do not reflect the views of PCGraphics.)