Friday, October 06, 2006

Exams: winging it v swotting

When I were a lad at school, newspapers were still of stories about the inherently patriarchal nature of exams - proved by the fact that boys did better than girls. Accordingly the way exams were done was changed to make them more attuned to the way girls work: more coursework, more opportunities to re-sit, and therefore less riding on the final exam. The only set of exams that still work in the old way is University Final Examinations (at Oxford anyway) and even here elements like dissertations/extended essays are encroaching.

But here's the thing. When boys out-performed girls the motif was always that this proved the inherent unfairness of the exam system. Now that girls out-perform boys at every level (except Finals interestingly) the motif is that boys are inherently useless and anti-intellectual. Well, as far as preparation for life and work is concerned (says he with the magisterial authority of one in his second month of paid employment) the ability to wing it and cram at the last minute is every bit as useful, and often more than, as diligence and swottiness.

But then, since they are scalign back coursework, we can expect a rash of stories over the next few years about how our education system systematically discriminates against girls. Ho hum.

1 Comments:

Blogger Fabian Tassano said...

"As far as preparation for life and work is concerned the ability to wing it and cram at the last minute is every bit as useful ..." Excellent point. Not only that, but for the intelligent it may be a better test of ability than something that requires tolerance of tedium. They're only scaling back coursework because it has proved impossible to mark fairly in the age of the web. Ideologically, the educational establishment continues to have little sympathy with exams. Probably because they have little sympathy with the idea of innate ability. A symptom of mediocracy.

2:15 pm  

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