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    (Original post by grumballcake)
    It's all too late though. That approach would massively penalise the students who bridged the year of changeover and what about resits? Universities would have to modify their entrance requirements for people who took old A-levels and new, improved A-levels.

    It's why they're talking about extra levels of A+ and A++. Although, if you can get 100% UMS with 82% of the raw marks, just how meaningful will those new grades be?

    Yes, it's a tought problem. On the one hand, you don't want students to be constricted too early, on the other you want them to have some depth. I think the IB sounds like a decent solution, but I don't know how it works in practice.

    The key thing is to have a discriminator which separates the great from the good. I don't much care what it is.
    Yes, a root and branch reform of the system may be in order. Frankly, I feel the British education system has students specialise too early. For instance, how well rounded is the education of a student that does Maths, Further Maths and Physics for A' Levels and then does a physics degree? I tried to get some variety by doing 5 subjects, in the knowledge that British degrees are focussed on one or two subjects. I think the American college system, where one gains credits by studying a variety of disciplines, would produce more rounded citizens.

    I think one easy thing to do would be to consider how far a student deviates from his school's average. For instance, if you get 360 UCAS points (3 A's) at a school where the average is say 340, you've done fairly well. If you get the same result at a college where the average is 200 you've clearly had to work harder as the environment isn't catering to A-grade students.

    Of course, this would have benefited me, as I got 650 points in a college where the average was around 240, I believe. :rolleyes: :p:
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    For instance, how well rounded is the education of a student that does Maths, Further Maths and Physics for A' Levels and then does a physics degree?
    Doesn't a persons schooling between the ages of 5 and 16 make them well rounded enough?
    I do maths, further maths and biology as well as two less serious a-levels. Am I not well rounded? In your eyes does the same principle apply to someone not doing a science?

    I think the American college system, where one gains credits by studying a variety of disciplines, would produce more rounded citizens.
    I thought universities were supposed to produce people specialised for a particular type of career with a certain type of thinking, isn't over 10 years of schooling enough to round someone off?

    I think one easy thing to do would be to consider how far a student deviates from his school's average. For instance, if you get 360 UCAS points (3 A's) at a school where the average is say 340, you've done fairly well. If you get the same result at a college where the average is 200 you've clearly had to work harder as the environment isn't catering to A-grade students.

    Of course, this would have benefited me, as I got 650 points in a college where the average was around 240, I believe. :rolleyes: :p:
    Hmm that would cause contraversy. I wouldn't mind it though as the average a-level point score at my centre is 119.2 :eek:
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    (Original post by edders)
    I think the American college system, where one gains credits by studying a variety of disciplines, would produce more rounded citizens.
    Durham comes the closest that I've seen, where you can get a degree in Humanities and you can pick from an enormously wide range of subjects.
    I think one easy thing to do would be to consider how far a student deviates from his school's average.
    Cambridge do this for GCSE scores. If you come from a school with a low average, your score is elevated.
    I got 650 points in a college where the average was around 240, I believe.
    Yes, but you did make it into Imperial - I think that's reward enough, isn't it?
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    (Original post by Gaz031)
    I do maths, further maths and biology as well as two less serious a-levels.
    It's hard to tell, but I certainly was far less rounded as a result of doing 5 science-based subjects at A-level. I despised the arty types, as did most of my uni friends. Now I've jumped over the fence, I can see that some earlier arts input would have been immensely valuable to me.
    I thought universities were supposed to produce people specialised for a particular type of career with a certain type of thinking,
    Maybe for medicine and law perhaps, but English or Theology? Most careers want people who can think creatively and in a wide range of modes. I think the excessive focus on science subjects is a bad thing for medics, for example. Most of them are very weak on things like ethics, yet it's an essential part of medicine in my view.
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    (Original post by grumballcake)
    It's hard to tell, but I certainly was far less rounded as a result of doing 5 science-based subjects at A-level. I despised the arty types, as did most of my uni friends. Now I've jumped over the fence, I can see that some earlier arts input would have been immensely valuable to me.
    Yes, I think some kind of compulsory component (arts & science) should remain until at least 18. Arty students could do something like 'history of science' which would help them understand the main contributions to society of various scientific theories/technologies, and sciencey students could do something like 'British humanities', touching on British art, music, literature etc.

    (Original post by grumballcake)
    Maybe for medicine and law perhaps, but English or Theology? Most careers want people who can think creatively and in a wide range of modes. I think the excessive focus on science subjects is a bad thing for medics, for example. Most of them are very weak on things like ethics, yet it's an essential part of medicine in my view.
    While I think we obviously need specialisation, if we did it at a later stage in the educational system we would produce people of a broader perspective on life, which would be of benefit to their specialism (for instance, I think as a physicist I gain a lot from my interest in philosophy) and to civil society. In America it takes 4 years to get your bachelor's then you do a Master's to really specialise. However, I would create technical colleges for those who were less interested in academia and more in applied trades (technicians/engineers etc).

    Of course, this is more time-consuming and expensive, but ultimately would be of great benefit to living standards, both in terms of individual self-actualisation and for the so-called 'knowledge economy'.
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    (Original post by edders)
    I would create technical colleges for those who were less interested in academia and more in applied trades (technicians/engineers etc).
    Funnily enough, that's exactly what they started in the 60s and 70s with the new 'polytechnics' as they were known. They were seen as second class for a long while and theire degrees weren't seen as directly comparable, but gradually began to compete with the older universities. They then lobbied for, and eventually won, equality. Most then dropped the old label so Bristol Polytechnic became the University of the West of England etc.
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    (Original post by edders)
    individual self-actualisation
    Hmm. Somebody's been studying Maslow.
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    Yes, I think some kind of compulsory component (arts & science) should remain until at least 18. Arty students could do something like 'history of science' which would help them understand the main contributions to society of various scientific theories/technologies, and sciencey students could do something like 'British humanities', touching on British art, music, literature etc.
    Even I wouldn't like to do something like history of science/math. I actually like understanding the discoveries rather than just knowing who made them.
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    (Original post by Gaz031)
    Even I wouldn't like to do something like history of science/math. I actually like understanding the discoveries rather than just knowing who made them.
    You're missing out. I'd recommend Kuhn's "Structure of Scientific Revolutions" a work on the way science develops, or perhaps "Guns, Germs and Steel" by Jared Diamond. Maybe even "The Lady Tasting Tea" by Salsburg on the history of statistics. All fascinating books and worth a read for any scientist.
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    (Original post by grumballcake)
    Funnily enough, that's exactly what they started in the 60s and 70s with the new 'polytechnics' as they were known. They were seen as second class for a long while and theire degrees weren't seen as directly comparable, but gradually began to compete with the older universities. They then lobbied for, and eventually won, equality. Most then dropped the old label so Bristol Polytechnic became the University of the West of England etc.
    Hm, while I think it's good for universities to expand in number, perhaps that process went a little too far. We clearly need to retain some technical colleges, just looking at the skills shortage.
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    (Original post by grumballcake)
    Hmm. Somebody's been studying Maslow.
    lol, I first touched on him in GCSE Business Studies on his 'Hierarchy of Needs'. He was mentioned again at A2 as part of the 'humanist' school of psychology.
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    (Original post by grumballcake)
    You're missing out. I'd recommend Kuhn's "Structure of Scientific Revolutions" a work on the way science develops,
    Ah yes, I read that to put it on my UCAS Personal Statement. It's certainly an interesting theory of the 'sociology of science', but I don't know how far I'd agree with some of it.

    (Original post by grumballcake)
    ...or perhaps "Guns, Germs and Steel" by Jared Diamond. Maybe even "The Lady Tasting Tea" by Salsburg on the history of statistics. All fascinating books and worth a read for any scientist.
    They sound interesting. I'll add them to my Amazon wishlist.
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    (Original post by grumballcake)
    It's all too late though. That approach would massively penalise the students who bridged the year of changeover and what about resits? Universities would have to modify their entrance requirements for people who took old A-levels and new, improved A-levels.

    It's why they're talking about extra levels of A+ and A++. Although, if you can get 100% UMS with 82% of the raw marks, just how meaningful will those new grades be?
    Yes, I think any attempt to revamp A-Levels at this stage is pointless. A-Levels as they stand do very little to distinguish between the upper quartile. UMS marks merely give you comparative scores so which system is in place to separate the candidate with the whole exam paper correct and the candidate with 85% correct but with 100 UMS?

    I disagree with the addition of A*at A-Level unless there is an introduction of even more stretching, in-depth questions near the end of the paper. Otherwise we'll run the risk of distinguishing upper candidates merely on pedantry and not ability.

    I read about the new diploma style courses the government proposed a while ago which cater for all abilities but I haven't heard anything since - whether or not this has brushed under the carpet by the government or not noticed by myself remains to be seen.
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    David Miliband said in 2002 about those whom he called "the standards are falling" lobby:

    "Their deeply pessimistic view of human potential pitches excellence for the best against achievement for the many,"

    Whilst I'm not sure about the pessimism bit, I agree wholeheartedly with the second. Nowadays roughly 20% of people get A's, which to me seems logical. There are five grades, after all. Why is it necessarily better for a system to be able to distuingish between "the great and the good" (eg. the top 10% and the second 10%) than it is for it to be able to distinguish between the second 10% and the third 10%?

    I think that having a system like the IB would be fantastic, but that's perhaps becuase I'm a bit of an all-rounder anyway. Perhaps a lot of tension about the A level exams would be stopped if it were made normal to quote UMS marks? That way would certainly be able to tell between those whom the exams deemed "great" and merely "good".
    Talking on the subject of the IB, I think it's worth noting that nowadays an awful lot more people take more esoteric choices of subjects than when you did your A levels, Grumballcake. Whilst it can be argued that A levels are getting easier, it doesn't necessarily mean that we have an easier time of it.
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    (Original post by edders)
    Yes, I think some kind of compulsory component (arts & science) should remain until at least 18. Arty students could do something like 'history of science' which would help them understand the main contributions to society of various scientific theories/technologies, and sciencey students could do something like 'British humanities', touching on British art, music, literature etc.

    While I think we obviously need specialisation, if we did it at a later stage in the educational system we would produce people of a broader perspective on life, which would be of benefit to their specialism (for instance, I think as a physicist I gain a lot from my interest in philosophy) and to civil society. In America it takes 4 years to get your bachelor's then you do a Master's to really specialise. However, I would create technical colleges for those who were less interested in academia and more in applied trades (technicians/engineers etc).

    Of course, this is more time-consuming and expensive, but ultimately would be of great benefit to living standards, both in terms of individual self-actualisation and for the so-called 'knowledge economy'.
    1)That is a good idea.
    2)In the USA a universtiy student takes 32 to 48 courses being worth 3 to 5 units each. One could cut that down to 24 to 30 courses.
    3)Maybe.
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    (Original post by Miles)
    as they stand do very little to distinguish between the upper quartile.
    That's the great shame, as they were designed to do exactly that. Only the upper quartile could cope with A-levels at all and the A-F grades would then split them out into bands. The problem is that there are political reasons why people whould get better A-level grades every year and that's what's been driving the process.
    I disagree with the addition of A*at A-Level unless there is an introduction of even more stretching, in-depth questions near the end of the paper.
    I agree. The big worry is that you could drop a grade on a very simple error. As you say - it might favour candidates with lower knowledge but higher attention to detail. Much better to have questions which are far more taxing, that only the better students could tackle at all. Ultimately, that's why they've added AEAs I think. I looked at some AEA questions and they were far more like the A-level questions I took. That is, they set a problem, but it was up to you how you might tackle it, with no short answers or heavy hints to get you going.
    [/QUOTE]
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    (Original post by coldfish)
    "Their deeply pessimistic view of human potential pitches excellence for the best against achievement for the many,"
    Indeed, but the sad fact is that it's exactly what's required to compete in a world arena. If Britain wants to win an Olympic gold we need one runner who can cover 100m in 9 seconds, not 10,000 people who can run it in 15s. It is the excellent people who usually make a real difference to a society, not the lumpen proletariat.

    I'm completely in favour of having good education for all, but we need to nurture top intellectuals, just like we do top athletes. The traditional route for this was by grammar schools, where the best pupils could have an elite education, irrespective of social background. They were largely abandoned in the name of progess, but those which survive dominate the league tables today.
    Nowadays roughly 20% of people get A's, which to me seems logical.
    But only 1% can go to Oxbridge, so how will you select them? If you add another qualifying exam, what was the point of A-level grades? people could take A-levels for education, they don't need to have an A to validate themselves, do they? If so, why stop at 20%. Aren't you then telling 80% that they aren't good enough?

    I don't think that prizes for all works as a motivator (I won't bore you with the theory of why it's so). It's like using euphemisms for 'disabled' or 'crippled'. How long did it take children to mock others with words like 'special' or 'challeneged'?
    Perhaps a lot of tension about the A level exams would be stopped if it were made normal to quote UMS marks?
    Maybe, although I'd also like UMS marks to be like they're supposed to be in the AQA manuals, with a close correspondence to raw marks.
    awful lot more people take more esoteric choices of subjects than when you did your A levels
    Very true, but I really haven't said that you have an easier time of things. The stresses are different. For example, in my day, only the top slice of my grammar school were considering going to university at all. Given that we took the top 20% of the population, it's one more way things have changed.
 
 
 
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