Archive for August 17th, 2005

Are we getting stupider?

It’s exam results time in these parts, and that means the annual ‘debate’ about educational standards will rage momentarily, only to be extinguished by reports of unconfirmed sightings of ‘puma-like large cats’ stalking the moors and sheughs of these isles.

Lavish profiles of diligent and precocious students – aspirant astronomers, nuclear physicists and even theologians- and their proud parents adorn the newspapers.

Son: “No, not much really, just six hours every night, and I found the subjects all really interesting, but my only problem was that I found Quadruple Advanced Further Maths classes really dull, because my parents taught it to me in Japanese at home, and it was a bit of a comedown having to listen to it in English in class. Also the fact that there was no George Steiner on the curriculum was a source of lingering disappointment. But I’m really normal, really. I like all the normal things, like texting my mates and drinking Sunny D. But I’m really looking forward to studying at MIT. I’m sure I’ll be able to assimilate well, and my mummy’s concern about having her 13 year old son so far away from home will prove utterly unfounded.”

Meanwhile ‘dumbing down’ will keep coming up. The fact that the phrase itself is too much of a cliché to enlighten anyone seems curiously lost on those who use it.

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August 2005
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