Monday, November 15, 2010

History repeats (or does it?)

I found this article in the Scotsman newspaper by Andrew Whitaker. This is the perennial commentary around schools today where one generation thinks it is superior to the next, even though the society that schools are working in is vastly different that the 40 years before. Today's markers might like to find out what it really was like in their day. One thing that intrigues me is when was the point that we judge the declining standards against? A perfect example lies beneath as we compare media examples from 1964 and 2011.

AN EXAMS authority has launched a scathing criticism on the lack of basic reading and writing skills among pupils in Scottish schools.
The Scottish Qualifications Authority highlighted poor spelling and grammar among teenagers sitting Higher English exams in 2010.

A key finding from the report said that handwriting was so poor that teachers are being encouraged to allow some pupils to use computers or to let them dictate the answers to exam questions to staff - facilities normally only used for pupils with dyslexia or other learning difficulties.

The report said: "Many markers commented on the poor handwriting of some candidates, which sometimes made it extremely difficult and time consuming to mark the essay.

"This is a serious problem in a critical essay, which might extend over five or more pages, making it hard to follow and concentrate on the candidate's line of thought."

They stressed that no candidate's work was, or ever has been, left unmarked for this reason. The report suggested that pupils whose handwriting is seriously weak are given alternatives, such as using computer technology without spellcheck to write their exams.

BUT IN 1964 this story appeared as a headline in an August, 1964 edition of The Glasgow Herald:

"Examiners are once again complaining about the poor standard of grammar and spelling of candidate's in this year's new Scottish Certificate of Education examinations."

"Many educationalists and examiners claim that since the Scottish Leaving Certificate and Junior Secondary Certificate were abolished only two years ago, bringing in the new Higher and Ordinary Grade certificates, candidates work has deteriorated markedly. Suddenly, reading skills and good handwriting are no longer important to the young?
Grammar, also a very important part of the English language, has also slumped."

"Scottish Home and Health Department educationalists are putting this lowering of standards down to the advent of television, and more leisure activities in the post-War period, leading to less reading amongst the young."

(Source: The Glasgow Herald Archives)

So it begs the question - when was spelling and grammar satisfactory in schools?

1 comment:

Mrs R said...

Puts me in mind of this quote..
"Nostalgia is like a grammar lesson: you find the present tense, but the past perfect!" ~Owens Lee Pomeroy