Tag Archives: facts

In Defense of Grammar Schools

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There is a debate going on in the UK at the moment about education. As an ex-teacher I am interested in the arguments.

The Conservative Government wants to allow Grammar Schools to be re-established. Before the 1960s there was a system of Grammar Schools and Secondary Modern Schools.

In order to get into a grammar school, all children took an examination at age 11, in the final year of their primary school. It was called the 11+ examination. Those pupils who were in the top percentage got a place in the grammar school. I don’t know what that percentage was, but I have heard it said that the top 25% went to grammar schools.

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The grammar schools were academic schools, and they taught academic subjects. secondary moderns tended not to teach much in the way of languages, for example.

It is said that the future of children was settled at 11, and that was not good, because some children developed later. But the 11+ was not the end. There was a 12+ and a 13+ that pupils could take if they seemed to be developing in a more academic way.

At that time, the school leaving age was 15. The pupils who went to grammar school had to stay on until 16 so they could do the GCE ‘O’ level examination. A few pupils stayed on at secondary modern and did ‘O’ levels as well. If they did well in the examinations, they could then go on to the 6th form in the grammar school or at a college. I have several friends who did this.

During the 1960s, came the advent of the comprehensive school. These schools were deemed to be fairer than the old system. Each neighbourhood took in all the pupils from its catchment area. All went to the same school, regardless of their academic ability. This, it was said, was much fairer. It did not create an elite and a lot of ‘failures’ at the age of 11.

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On the face of it, this seems to be fine, only I think there are a number of flaws in this argument.

The main one, I think is this. Pupils from a given area all go to the local comprehensive school. There is no examination for entry, so no feelings of failure by those who did not pass the 11+.
That sounds fine, but if the neighbourhood school is not very good, all pupils from that particular neighbourhood are being failed.

Children do not get the chance to meet children from a different background, either. They are living with these people, have been brought up in the area, either rich or poor, and so they do not get a rounded picture of society.

The idea was the opposite of this. Pupils attending comprehensive schools were supposed to see all the different types of people. Yes, they saw all the different academic types, but not people from different social backgrounds.

Comprehensive schools were supposed to prevent the feelings of failure by some pupils failing the 11+. I don’t think you can stop pupils from feeling inferior intellectually by lumping them all together. They can see the brighter pupils doing better than them in their academic work. That will make them feel inferior just as much as ‘failing’ the 11+.

One other thing brought about by the introduction of comprehensive schools, is that the education given is a watered-down academic curriculum, which is not suited to all pupils, and has lowered the academic standards for the very brightest pupils.

Grammar schools, they say, create an elite. This is supposed to be bad. In a perfect world, I suppose everyone would have the same academic capabilities, but everyone does not. There are some people who are much cleverer than others. Some say that it is solely due to their background how some people develop, and a middle class background is advantageous. This I would not dispute, but only to a point. There are middle class children who do not excel, and working class ones who do, in spite of their background.

They say that comprehensive schools help social mobility. How? Pupils live and learn in the same area with the same people and values.

In a grammar school, pupils come from all backgrounds and all areas of a town. They mix with each other and get to know something of the lives of each other. Pupils from working class backgrounds can get an academic education, and get away from the schools in their area where ambition is perhaps not so great.

Bright pupils who live in an area with a poor school can get away from that as well.

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It is said that grammar schools have more middle class pupils than working class ones. That is something that can be worked out. ‘They’ say that the exam can be coached and middle class parents are more likely to put up the money for coaching. Well, I went to a grammar school and was coached for the exam, but not by private tutor, which is the perception, but by my primary school. Encourage primary schools in working class areas to coach. Or develop an exam where coaching is no advantage.

There’s always an answer, and in my opinion, the advent of comprehensive schools has lowered standards. When I look at the exams I took at ‘O’ level and the exams pupils take at GCSE, there’s no comparison. We had to write essays. They just have ‘structured questions’, or fill in the blanks.

I see grammar schools as promoting social mobility far more than comprehensive schools in contrast to what the detractors say, that they are elitist and prevent it.

I would love to hear what you think of the grammar school debate.

A Visit from Auden Johnson.

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Welcome to my blog, Auden. This story sounds interesting. I’m looking forward to you finishing it so I can read it.

Auden is the author of The Merging Worlds Series, which comprises The Sciell and Chains of the Sciell, and The Jura Series which comprises Visible through Darkness, Shadows Under the Light and Darkness Ignites the Flame. The books can be bought from Amazon.

Auden does her own cover art, If you want to see how she came up with the cover for The Unburned Island, visit her blog http://audenstreasury.blogspot.com/

She usually writes Dark Fantasy, so this is a new venture for her.

 

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The-Unburned-Island-by Auden Johnson

The entire island burned. Everyone disappeared. Somehow, one building remained unscathed. This building, a schoolhouse, is haunted. It and the island remained abandoned for years.
One day, Kiran, En and a team of magical investigators travel to the island to banish whatever haunts the schoolhouse. It takes them no time to realize the building isn’t the problem. The island is.
Add to Goodreads- https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/34629301-the-unburned-island

 

Writing The Unburned Island has been a ride. Not always a fun one. I got stuck so many times. It was beginning to get frustrating. The story started as an entry for a magazine. I was barely halfway through writing it when I realized it was going to be too long to submit.
Then an idea hit me. This could be the start of a new series. Magical characters investigating haunted locations. The series is set in a fantasy world so these aren’t known haunted locations. I prefer it that way. Writing fantasy gives me the freedom to make my own worlds and give my characters cool powers.
Unlike most of my stories, this one isn’t apocalyptic. I know, strange. Don’t know what’s gotten into me. I don’t foresee the world ending anytime soon. The series will focus on relationships and creepy places. Of course, both themes gave me problems.
Kiran and En are partner investigators with an interesting history. At first, I didn’t know if I wanted them to be in a relationship. When I realized I did, I couldn’t figure out what their relationship would be by the end of Book 1. They start the story as good friends. Kiran and En told me what they wanted near the end of the story.
As for creepy locations, I wanted this story to have atmosphere but I struggled with how to do this. I created a Pinterest board for Haunted Buildings/Islands and collected images of abandoned buildings and creepy lands. While writing this story, I was able to visit a catacomb. It was so cool and so scary. The images and the catacomb visit helped me give The Unburned Island a nice chilling atmosphere.
I’m looking forward to seeing where Kira, En and co. will take me. They’re already telling me how they want Book 2 to start.

Thank you for appearing on my blog. Auden. I’m sure my readers will appreciate you sharing your writing process with them. Good luck with the rest of the series.

 

Comments on a disturbing blog post I read recently.

I’ve just read a disturbing post from soulfultroubadourdotcom. It deals with the case of two boys who were badly beaten for wanting to leave the church. So badly beaten, in fact, that one of them died. I think most people would consider this a dreadful crime. Unfortunately, the people whod did this must have felt they were fully justified.

This is what’s scary. These people thought, and I suppose continue to think, they were fully justified in what they did. This did not happen in Syria, or Iraq, or Libya or any of those countries that we think of as being barbaric, but in the USA. These people were not extremist Muslims, but Fundamental Christians.

By what right they think they have to call themselves Christian I really do not know. Nothing they did is what I understand to be following the teachings of Christ. These extremist ‘Christians’ are just as bad as the extremist ‘Muslims’, and yet we in the west seem to ignore them.

OK, they don’t go round bombing people (yet), thinking you can force people into believing as you do, but are they really much better? Beating young men because they don’t like the message you are preaching is just as bad in my eyes.

Extremism is dangerous, whether it’s religious or political, whether Muslim of Christian, Right or Left. People ignore these folk because they call themselves Christian, and that is the religion of the west. Of us, even if we are non-believers.

So we tar all Muslims with the same brush. They are all wicked people who chop of the heads of non-Muslims, but we ignore those Christians who think to force people to their religion by other acts of brutality.

Jesus said (Matthew 7:5) How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ while there is still a beam in your own eye? You hypocrite! First take the beam out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

I have written a poem about hypocrisy. I’ll post it later next month, possibly.

 

I would love to hear what you think about this. If you would like more details, go to https://soulfultroubadourdotcom.wordpress.com/2016/10/

8 Over-used Words and Phrases

I am going to take a rest from my usual second Tuesday subject of Commonly Confused Words to talk about a few words and phrases that I think are very overused in today’s world. The unfortunate thing is that the overuse dilutes the meaning and/or impact of the words.

 I am talking from a UK point of view, here, of course. These words and phrases may not be in common use in other parts of the English speaking world. They may interest some of you. though.

1.  ICONIC or ICON.

Everything nowadays seems to be iconic. An icon was originally a religious picture. They were used in the Greek and Russian Orthodox churches and were usually pictures of Christ, the Virgin Mary, saints or angels and were used as aids to worship.

Another meaning of the word is a small picture or symbol that links to a program in computing.

Neither of these seem to fit the use of it as used commonly these days. It has come to mean something that represents something else.
‘The Eiffel tower is an iconic building.’ It represents Paris.
There are so many icons around these days! Nearly everythibng and everyone is an icon.

2. AWESOME.

I’m afraid our American friends are largely responsible for this one. While there are some truly awesome sights and events in the world, much of the time this word is used, the users mean something really good. It won’t fill them with awe and wonder, just make them feel excited and possibly surprised.

Having used the word ‘wonder’ above, it occurs to me that the word ‘awesome’ is going the same way as ‘wonderful’ and having its meaning diluted. What are we going to say to something truly awesome?

3. AT THIS MOMENT IN TIME.

As opposed to a moment out of time? where else is a moment except in time?

What’s wrong with ‘NOW’?

4. One beloved by football commentators. I’m still not sure how it came about.

EARLY DOORS.

This means that someone is going to do something , well, early! Why the ‘doors’ has been added, your guess is as good as mine. Are doors early? How are doors early? It irritates me.

5. VARIOUS DIFFERENT.

As opposed to various the same? Tortology, I think. Can you have a variety of things that are the same?

6. There are a couple of variations on this one.

THE REAL TRUTH, or THE TRUE FACTS.

You can’t have either an unreal truth or untrue facts. It’s either true or not, or it’s a fact or not.

7. UNIQUE.

‘Unique’ means there is only one. It does NOT mean that something is unusual or rare. You cannot have things that are ‘fairly unique’, ‘very unique’ or any other modifier. Something is either unique or it’s not. Period!

8. EPIC.

This word has come to mean some large event. We, in the UK have apparently been having floods of epic proportions. (Or else, if not epic, then of Biblical proportions!)

Epic is supposed to mean a monumental struggle of some kind, or something monstrously huge.

It originally meant a heroic story.

It is another use of a word being downgraded.

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