New A Level Grade Announced

The Prime Minister, having for years strenuously denied that A level examinations are getting easier today announced a new grade higher than the A grade as everybody gets a grades just for turning up.
The A* grade, to be awarded we guess to pupils who score above 110%, is just the usual New Labour ploy of covering up their cluelessness by doing something utterly irrelevant in order to be seen to be doing something.
The most significant change announced in the speech is that the International Baccalaureate qualification, so far not used in the British education system will be introduced.
The International Baccalaureate is mainly used in private, fee – enterprise educational establishments where it is accepted globally so that rich folks can move from tax haven to tax haven without having to worry about their kids education suffering.

Hmmmmmmmmm.

Is this the preliminary hint that The People’s Party intends to privatise education after it has finished with health, roads and The Bank of England?

Remember, you read it on Machiavelli Blog first.

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Devaluation by Degrees

A senior educationalist said this week that though qualifications offered by many Universities recently upgraded from College of Further Education status are regarded as “Mickey Mouse” degrees, such vocational qualifications as degrees in plumbing, brewing beer, leisure centre management and rock music studies are proving their worth in society.
This man must have a degree in talking bollocks.
The degrees awarded by traditional universities are not and were never intended as vocational qualifications, they were evidence of an ability to think creatively. To talk of vocational degrees is to reduce the degree to a glorified school leaver’s certificate. Medicine was ever something of an exception being a hybrid, while sugeons and physicians must have gained proficiency in established techniques, skill in diagnosis is something that cannot be taught.
Now I have never been one of those traditionalists who thinks Universities should only award degrees in fusty old subjects like mathematics and geography. All things must evolve including education. But a degree is surfing techniques? Eff off!
Plumbers and Brewers to pick up two trades mentioned in the article, traditionally prepared for their careers by serving formal apprenticeships. These, by the late twentieth century, involved a mix of hands on experience and classroom education to combine theory with practical skills. A perfect blend for tradesmen and craftsmen. People who managed leisure facilities had usually been successful in their chosen sport although I remember at the Golf Club where I used to caddy for pocket money in school holidays the Secretary, effectively the CEO of the club, was a retired solicitor. He looked after finances and ran the administration of the club while the professional gave lessons and sold equipment, the head groundsman looked after the course and the steward ran the bar and catering. All were experts in therir own field. Only the retired solicitor had a degree, in law rather than Golf Club Management.
Would somebody with a degree in Golf Course Management do a better job than that team. I doubt it somehow, all were experts in their own trade and had a wealth of experience.
Does a Rock musician need a degree in Rock studies? The usual career path goes: learn to play (sort of), join a band, get some gigs, be in the right place at the right time.
It worked for the Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Paul Weller, Suggs, The Gallaghers of Oasis and the lads in the Kaiser Chiefs. “Just Fucking Do It” as Bob Geldof says.
How does one earn a degree in plumbing anyway? The purpose of a degree is to establish the ability to bring a new approach to a subject, not to prove a certain level of knowledge.
I was once asked why I hadn’t done a degree in history. I quipped that there was nothing new to study in history. But I have to say my literature BA is a joke. The techniques is exactly as explained in Alan Bennett’s The History Boys; turn the question on its head and come at it from an unusual angle. The answer doesn’t have to be right (in fact at degree level there are few right and wrong answers merely different ways of looking at things) so long as it is original.
Now call me old fashioned by I would rather employ a plunber with a few years hands on than one who is so original I get covered in shit when I switch on the shower.
The degree factories that recent governments have turned colleges and Universities into simply turn further education into an industried. Thus the goal is not to advance human civilisation but to create more degrees, attract more students, earn more fees, increase profitability, maintain growth and improve market share.

Religious Education in schools is a cornerstone of secular society

Noticed this story at Comment Is Free. Well worth a read.
Religious Education in schools is a cornerstone of secular society as it puts children off religion for life
I am a big fan of the “intelligent design” teaching packs that the god-botherers are sending out to our schools. I hope the government makes them compulsory. They will be incredibly useful in teaching kids the single most important lesson that anyone learns in school.

That lesson is, obviously, that adults in positions of power and responsibility often talk the most extraordinary bullshit. Either because they are kidding themselves, or because they think it is OK to mislead you in order to persuade you to behave in some desirable way, they will look you in the eye and lie to your face.

read full story

WMD in Mayfair

Recalling yesterday’s Machiavelli Blog which commented on events surrounding the unfortunate death of the alleged former Russian agent Alexander Litvinenko, it seems the murder investigation has nor found evidence of many caches (well OK, traces) of radio active toxins in various fashionable establishments in London’s West End.
Far more evidence of weapons of mass destruction than was found in the whole of Iraq.
So when can we expect the Bush / Blair axis of stupidity to occupy the area of expensive shops and restaurants bounded by Oxford St. Regent St. Park Lane and Piccadilly with a view to imposing regime change?

Government by Fear and Panic.

Quick, hide! The Russians are coming, the Russians are coming!!!!!!

It takes me back to the heady days of the cold war.

Wee Johnny Reid, having run out of things to crack down on, as Boggart Blog pointed out a few days ago, has exhumed that old trick of Governments in Deep Poo. He is spreading fear and panic.

Now its tragic that the Russian guy died, but he was a former spy. Former spies tend to have a higher chance of getting bumped off than the rest of us.

So why this talk of Russian assassiains stalking the lanes of Britain waiting for a chance to kill each and every one of us by putting Thallium in our beer, sausages, pork pies (who’d notice that?) and other things that have a special place in the British collective psyche.

Now as I said its tragic that the man died, especially in that way. But its not a big deal. The Russian like bumping each other off, its what they do best, they have been at it ever since Ivan the Terrible murdered all his rivals (and a few of his close relatives and best mates) to secure the throne.

The fact that the murder agent was a radio active toxin is being used to great effect in stirring up fear and panic, among Daily Mail readers especially. Is this the fabled dirty bomb? Are radio active corpses the latest weapon of mass destruction?

Well the Russians aren’t coming. The radiation emitted by Thallium has a very short range and will threaten nobody even if they had contact with the dead man.

And we do not know that the Russian government was involved. Just as likely it was some gangster with a grudge. So we can all get on with our lives.

Unless of course you, like me, are more worried by the fact that questions surrounding the untimely death of a British Government scientist a couple of years ago have never been satisfactorily answered.

Mickey Mouse B Sc.

One of this blog’s favourite hobby horses is the state of the education system. Schools are chaotic, qualifications are ludicrously easy to get, bogus statistics are presented in a futile attempt to convince us kids are getting smarter every year when anyone in business or public service knoiws the secondary school system is turning out illiterates and the “Street corner” Universities that are popping up everywhere are a joke, their only funcrion being to keep school – leavers off the unemployment figures for another three years.
But we keep hearing the system is functioning superbly.
On Trevor McDonald’s programme this week we were given several glimpses of the truth. The best was the casse of an investigative reporter applying for a University case in the name of Michael Mouse from Ladnneydis and citing a fictional school career and bogus qualifications.
He was accepted.
Q.E.D.

Tory Toynbee

The Boy David thinks that his party should be stealing its social agenda from Guardian columnist and dangerous leftie Polly Toynbee rather than from the political philosophies of world’s greatest pissed politician Winston Churchill.
And why not? After all Toynbee is the writer who has consistently praised Fuhrer Blair’s great successes in reforming the NHS and Social Security and trumpeted the triumphs of New Labour’s education reforms which have statistics showing pupils getting a million A level passes each while at the sharp end of reality employers complain that school leavers are illiterate. Favourite Toynbee territory for eulogising Blair is crime. Crime figures are falling she proclaims even as Little Nicky is reporting that there is no point phoning the police when your neighbour is having the shit kicked out of him as they can’t be arsed turning up.
Earlier this week Polly wrote a column panning the curmudgeonly attitude of doctors and nurses in not getting behind the Governments wonderful reforms.
On the day after DC appointed Pol the head of the Tory think – tank The Guardian’s letters page this morning featured a complaint from a working nurse (well she was still working when the paper was put together last night – today, who knows?) that the government’s success in reducing waiting lists has been achieved by the simple expedient of arranging “interim appointments” for patients waiting for treatment. Which means the patients are waiting longer to actually get the treatment they need but they are getting their blood pressure taken more often while they are waiting. and of course nobody can complain that they have been waiting 12 months to see a doctor.
If this is Cameron’s version of caring conservatism I wonder what odds Ladbrokes are offering on UKIP being the second biggest party (behind the Monster Raving Loonies) after the next election.