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"soft" subjects conning poor students watch

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    (Original post by THRASHx)
    Showing off :confused: hardly. Media Studies is a mickey mouse subject, you may as well face it.

    They could say it, but the content in Economics is much harder then that in Media Studies, you can tell from the type of people that take it. At my college you cant even take Media Studies and Maths, that just goes to show.
    You can't take maths but you can take ict? Right...
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    I would be interested to see which Prime Minister will be the first to have a degree in Media, Performance art or Golf. They would actually be quite useful seeing politics is now a combination of beauty contest and X factor.
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    (Original post by Maker)
    I would be interested to see which Prime Minister will be the first to have a degree in Media, Performance art or Golf. They would actually be quite useful seeing politics is now a combination of beauty contest and X factor.
    Funny that considering Gordon brown's our PM...
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    I broadly agree that some 'soft' subjects become a means to con students into believing they have achieved greater success on the basis of higher grades being comparatively easier to achieve than in the traditional academic subjects. What I disagree with is the view that the situation rests entirely with students who are poor, or in state education. Those in charge of schools are not ignorant: they can see quite clearly the fallibility of league tables in general and how they can be exploited to make an institution appear more successful. This is exacerbated by the importance that is repeatedly placed upon them. Unless a particular Director of Studies or headteacher is in charge at one of the highly traditional private schools that objects to the 'new wave' of subjects that have appeared at secondary level, league tables render it highly beneficial for a school to introduce Sociology and Psychology in lieu of forcing less able students onto A Level English Literature, as the case would have been previously.

    All that the situation outlines is the current failings of league tables, and equally that some of the 'newer' subjects in secondary education need to be distanced from A Levels or the accepted syllabus. As in, I have no issue with the desirability of Music Technology or Health or Social care being studied in secondary schools, but they should be qualifications external to the traditional A Levels or the two 'sides' end up giving each other false images and it is this that cons the students.
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    (Original post by Wildebeest)
    I broadly agree that some 'soft' subjects become a means to con students into believing they have achieved greater success on the basis of higher grades being comparatively easier to achieve than in the traditional academic subjects.
    Wheres the evidence for that?

    Look at the grade breakdown for A Levels, a far lower % get an A in arts/'soft subjects' than in say Maths/Chemistry/Physics.

    Look at Futher Maths, over 50% of people get an A...
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    (Original post by Quady)
    Wheres the evidence for that?

    Look at the grade breakdown for A Levels, a far lower % get an A in arts/'soft subjects' than in say Maths/Chemistry/Physics.

    Look at Futher Maths, over 50% of people get an A...
    Yes, but the people doing the non-academic subjects are generally those of lesser ability. FM is only taken by those that are extremely good at maths though, like all A levels, it has suffered very badly from grade inflation over the past thirty years.
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    (Original post by Good bloke)
    Yes, but the people doing the non-academic subjects are generally those of lesser ability. FM is only taken by those that are extremely good at maths though, like all A levels, it has suffered very badly from grade inflation over the past thirty years.
    An A-Level is an a-level, and those taking non academic subjects and getting an A perhaps deserve more credit for their own ability. eg: Art will only be taken by those very good at art, someone who can draw like a five year old wouldn't take art similiarly to someone who isn't very good at arithmetic wouldn't take further maths.

    There aren't that many non-academic subjects at A-Level either.
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    (Original post by Good bloke)
    Yes, but the people doing the non-academic subjects are generally those of lesser ability. FM is only taken by those that are extremely good at maths though, like all A levels, it has suffered very badly from grade inflation over the past thirty years.
    I know. I could argue this either way.

    But it makes it much more difficult to argue 'soft' subjects are easier when the grade profile is so different.

    Whether the content has any value is a different question.
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    (Original post by cfc1992)
    An A-Level is an a-level
    Well, that is the root of this whole discussion. Just try getting in to Cambridge with media studies, business studies and PE. All A levels are definitely not equal, which is what the headmaster of Harrow (in the link in the OP) is saying, and schools are doing their pupils a disservice in telling them they are.

    Art is very definitely a well-regarded A level for certain courses, even by the likes of Oxford and Cambridge, and should not be thought of as a soft A level.
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    (Original post by Good bloke)
    Well, that is the root of this whole discussion. Just try getting in to Cambridge with media studies, business studies and PE. All A levels are definitely not equal, which is what the headmaster of Harrow (in the link in the OP) is saying, and schools are doing their pupils a disservice in telling them they are.

    Art is very definitely a well-regarded A level for certain courses, even by the likes of Oxford and Cambridge, and should not be thought of as a soft A level.
    The type of person taking media studies (which is more academic then some may think...) or pe I'd say isn't one that would be wanting to apply to Cambridge in the first place. No, not because they're "academically inferior" but because, they may have a different personality to your sterotypical book worm type.

    Cool, I don't think I suggested it was a soft subject (although it is 'blacklisted' according to a tsr article, although fine for Architecture) but using it as a comparison with a very academic subject, to show depending on peoples different qualitites, people get A's in different subjects and they should be valued as high as eachother.
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    (Original post by cfc1992)
    have a different personality to your sterotypical book worm type.
    There are so many assumptions in your last post that you should be embarrassed. Do all Cambrdige students fit a sterotype? Are all Cambridge students typical bookworm types? What has personality to do with what you enjoy studying? I know both extroverts and introverts who enjoys both maths and English, and the same goes for non-academic subjects.
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    (Original post by Good bloke)
    There are so many assumptions in your last post that you should be embarrassed. Do all Cambrdige students fit a sterotype? Are all Cambridge students typical bookworm types? What has personality to do with what you enjoy studying? I know both extroverts and introverts who enjoys both maths and English, and the same goes for non-academic subjects.
    Hence why I said "may" rather than "they do".

    No. That's why I said it was a stereotype - not all people fit that stereotype, but a section do.

    Cool, glad you know people.
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    Some facts:

    * There have been a dozen studies of the relative difficulty of different A-Levels using a variety of different methodologies, and they all came to the same conclusion that some A-Levels are harder than others.

    * Universities favour some A-Levels over others, many are very explicit in stating this.

    * Universities don't always favour "difficult" A-Levels, for example ICT has generally been ranked as one of the hardest A-Levels (in-part due to the coursework requirements) but is regarded as "soft" by many universities.

    My opinion:

    There is a major problem in this country that the government advocates that all A-Levels are equal, despite the fact that numerous universities don't consider this to be the case.

    This has a disproportionate impact on students from lower socio-economic groups who are much less likely to know any graduates other than their teachers, a significant proportion of these students come from families without university experience and are completely unfamiliar with university applications (i.e. aren't aware of the existence of prospectuses, etc.) and take their primary guidance in choosing A-Levels from their teachers and college/sixth-form prospectuses which predominantly carry the official viewpoint about the equality of A-Levels.

    This has a horrendous impact on students. Many will find themselves unable to do the courses they wish to apply for at university. A few years ago I was told by an admissions tutor that his most common reason for rejecting an UCAS application wasn't grades, but the fact that the applicants didn't have the appropriate A-Levels because at age 16 no-one told them what A-Levels they need to get onto their dream degree.

    Even if a small minority of students realize that their teachers might not be giving them an accurate picture they often have no better source of information. Try googling to find advice on which A-Levels to take, you're not going to find any official government source giving you good advice. By and large the best on-line source of information on which A-Levels to take is TSR.

    As much as we all love TSR, that's just not good.

    I'd encourage everyone everyone who thinks this is important not just to post on TSR, but rather write a letter to your MP expressing your concern (you can do it online at http://www.writetothem.com/). It can make a difference.
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    (Original post by ttx)
    * There have been a dozen studies of the relative difficulty of different A-Levels using a variety of different methodologies, and they all came to the same conclusion that some A-Levels are harder than others.
    Where?
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    (Original post by Quady)
    Where?
    http://www.cemcentre.org/documents/n...2008report.pdf

    Provides a good meta-analysis of pre-2008 research on the topic.
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    (Original post by ttx)
    http://www.cemcentre.org/documents/n...2008report.pdf

    Provides a good meta-analysis of pre-2008 research on the topic.
    Thanks, looks like a good read for tomorrow. Curious Gen Studies is the hardest.
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    (Original post by Quady)
    Thanks, looks like a good read for tomorrow. Curious Gen Studies is the hardest.
    GS is interesting because it doesn't fit any of the standard models that apply to the other A-Levels. Performance at GS doesn't correlate to performance in other subjects. You had plenty of straight A students doing badly at GS and plenty of weak students getting As in GS.
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    (Original post by ttx)
    GS is interesting because it doesn't fit any of the standard models that apply to the other A-Levels. Performance at GS doesn't correlate to performance in other subjects. You had plenty of straight A students doing badly at GS and plenty of weak students getting As in GS.
    Makes sense, clever kids not caring as its a pointless subject they are doing on the side, weaker kids actually trying.
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    (Original post by Maker)
    I'm sure Einstein got a Nobel prize for his good spelling and essay writing and physics was quite secondary.
    You have no point?

    If maths / science graduates are under-developed in such areas, it is particularly unfair to pick on essay-based arts subjects as being 'soft'. They are clearly difficult and worthwhile in different ways.
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    (Original post by Good bloke)
    I agree with him as that is my experience too, but these basic English skills should have been taught long before the A level stage and, of course, were so taught in years gone by. This lack of communication skills (which, actually, doesn't just apply to science students) is another fundamental problem with education in Britain today.

    People don't describe essay-based subjects per se as "soft": English, history, economics and RS, for instance, are all seen as respectable, highly academic, subjects.
    I have, in my time, heard History, Politics and English called "soft" - albeit by those doing sciences who didn't have a clue what they were talking about.

    And you have a point, but if you look at how much writing skills are developed at university by these subjects then I think it is a bit moot. I can write essays and develop arguments at least ten times better than I could beforehand. With international students on my masters, their basic written English is sometimes poor but they have been forced to develop it to a high standard.

    Fact is, science subjects OFTEN don't require significant development of writing skills.
 
 
 
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