Tougher Arts A-Levels and GCSEs - the Gove saga continues. What do you think? Watch

Sloppy Jumpers
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The Gove saga continues...

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-26937958

Yesterday and today, the controversial news of more difficult top GCSE grades (See this TSR thread) has been replaced by the news that arts A-Levels and GCSEs are going to be made tougher than they have been before.

As an arts student myself, I find this news extremely intriguing.

So I'd like to know: if you're an arts student right now, are you finding your courses easy? Do you think they could be more challenging? (Are you not an arts student, and if so, do you think they have it easier?)

Or do you think that this is another example of the prejudice against arts subjects as being soft?

Can't wait to hear what you all think!

Sloppy Jumpers
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ronmcd
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I do a mix of arts and science subjects, and I do find economics far less challenging than further maths and physics in terms of what is actually taught. The downside is that you have to deal with unpredictable marking and a very inflexible exam technique. Languages are about right for difficulty, though personally I would have enjoyed them being a bit more challenging.

In my school at least, science and language classes usually have a higher average standard of ability than history, economics, geography etc.
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Sloppy Jumpers
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(Original post by ronmcd)
In my school at least, science and language classes usually have a higher average standard of ability than history, economics, geography etc.
That's interesting - so you're observing that at your school, non-arts subjects attract less able students? (May I add as an aside that economics isn't considered an arts subject, so it wouldn't be affected here.)
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Firure
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I got 300 UMS in my Music A2 with only about a month's revision. It's one of those subjects (probably like Maths) where, if you already know your ****, it's piss easy. The listening element in the paper is a total joke. They don't even give you original compositions. The Queen of Sheba was the listening specimen the year I sat my A2, and I was immediately able to answer all of the questions without even listening to it; I know that piece like the back of my hand. The essays are significantly more challenging. The practical element might trip some people up, but if you're Grade 8, you should be able to get a decent mark. The chorale/ quartet pastiches are enormous stumbling blocks if you don't understand baroque/ classical stylistics. You just need the knack; I know that doesn't sound fair, but it is what it is.
English is what it is.
French is balls-to-the-wall hard, as, I imagine, most language A levels are.

Edit: This is (w/r/t French and Music) AQA; I can't say the same for other syllabi.
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super_kawaii
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As a languages student, I think GCSE languages should be made more difficult. They're not challenging at all and don't inspire students to take them further. The gap between GCSE and A Level is also massive, which can be intimidating for many students. If GCSEs we could help encourage students to see languages as a viable and respected qualification
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the-black-lotus
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I'm in year 11 and chose to take humanities and languages as my options but my goodness do I pity the people who chose art, they devote whole weekends to it and then might only get marked as an A. I think drama gcse is possibly a bit soft but then again it's not as if my geography gcse course is at all challenging. I thought people were meant to pick arts gcses to get to do something they enjoyed and felt passionate about, tests are not the be all and end all of life.
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georgeheal
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My mates keep telling me that art subject are hard. I alway though of rhem as some of the hardest subject to take

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Rakas21
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(Original post by Sloppy Jumpers)
The Gove saga continues...

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-26937958

Yesterday and today, the controversial news of more difficult top GCSE grades (See this TSR thread) has been replaced by the news that arts A-Levels and GCSEs are going to be made tougher than they have been before.

As an arts student myself, I find this news extremely intriguing.

So I'd like to know: if you're an arts student right now, are you finding your courses easy? Do you think they could be more challenging? (Are you not an arts student, and if so, do you think they have it easier?)

Or do you think that this is another example of the prejudice against arts subjects as being soft?

Can't wait to hear what you all think!

Sloppy Jumpers
This is a good step forwards.

Far too many people see schools as a place where children are entitled to the magic C grades when the reality is that the aim of schools is to educate pupils to the best of their abilities. If reform of the curriculum makes people push themselves to avoid the dreaded D< grades then Gove has done his job. I don't really know whether arts subjects are harder than those traditional subjects but regardless i think subjects should push pupils as far as they can be pushed.
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Firure
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(Original post by Rakas21)
This is a good step forwards.

Far too many people see schools as a place where children are entitled to the magic C grades when the reality is that the aim of schools is to educate pupils to the best of their abilities. If reform of the curriculum makes people push themselves to avoid the dreaded D< grades then Gove has done his job. I don't really know whether arts subjects are harder than those traditional subjects but regardless i think subjects should push pupils as far as they can be pushed.
It's apples and oranges. In extension to what I said above, you aren't even allowed to take Music A level unless you're proficient to a Grade 7 (I think) ABRSM standard in your first instrument.
Some people just don't 'get' the Leavis-style of literary deconstruction.
Some people just don't gel with languages.
This construction can be applied to anything, but I feel as though having an innate proclivity towards a discipline is more important in the arts, particularly Art/ illustration/ design. You can learn Maths, but learning to draw when you have no natural talent is a Herculean feat, I believe.

I can't draw for ****.
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Rakas21
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(Original post by Iridescenzo)
It's apples and oranges. In extension to what I said above, you aren't even allowed to take Music A level unless you're proficient to a Grade 7 (I think) ABRSM standard in your first instrument.
Some people just don't 'get' the Leavis-style of literary deconstruction.
Some people just don't gel with languages.
This construction can be applied to anything, but I feel as though having an innate proclivity towards a discipline is more important in the arts, particularly Art/ illustration/ design. You can learn Maths, but learning to draw when you have no natural talent is a Herculean feat, I believe.

I can't draw for ****.
I can't draw either but then art is an optional subject in most places. In addition, while not liking a subject is a fair argument for not achieving an A you should still be able to push yourself to at least a C. Education is supposed to be strenuous and at a time when China is churning out students who view a B as akin to an F we no longer have the luxury of adopting the libertarian 'nurture' approach, students need to pushed and hard. I myself achieved all B and C grades with not a single page of revision at GCSE, while i am brighter than average that does not change the fact that the ease of those subjects was simply wrong in the context of educating me to the best of my ability.
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Sloppy Jumpers
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(Original post by Sloppy Jumpers)
That's interesting - so you're observing that at your school, non-arts subjects attract less able students? (May I add as an aside that economics isn't considered an arts subject, so it wouldn't be affected here.)


(Original post by ronmcd)
I do a mix of arts and science subjects, and I do find economics far less challenging than further maths and physics in terms of what is actually taught. The downside is that you have to deal with unpredictable marking and a very inflexible exam technique. Languages are about right for difficulty, though personally I would have enjoyed them being a bit more challenging.

In my school at least, science and language classes usually have a higher average standard of ability than history, economics, geography etc.
Oh and apologies, it will include Economics A Level (sorry, I misread.)

But yes, what everyone is saying here is extremely interesting.

(Original post by Iridescenzo)
I got 300 UMS in my Music A2 with only about a month's revision. It's one of those subjects (probably like Maths) where, if you already know your ****, it's piss easy.
English is what it is.
French is balls-to-the-wall hard, as, I imagine, most language A levels are.

Edit: This is (w/r/t French and Music) AQA; I can't say the same for other syllabi.
With Music, I can see what you are saying! Most of the learning is done outside of class - if you can play an instrument, and have been taught to read music, then a lot of what Music GCSE teaches you is already completed. Can't comment on A-level though as I haven't studied it!

However, when it comes to English, it's a little different. I do think that critical analysis is something that can be nurtured and taught - after all, English Lit isn't writing stories, but analysing text! And the form of GCSEs and A-levels has been about ticking very rigid boxes, or showing specific competencies: AO1, AO2, AO3...so in some ways, doing well is formulaic...
Does anyone agree?




(Original post by super_kawaii)
As a languages student, I think GCSE languages should be made more difficult. They're not challenging at all and don't inspire students to take them further. The gap between GCSE and A Level is also massive, which can be intimidating for many students. If GCSEs we could help encourage students to see languages as a viable and respected qualification
I agree here too! Do any other language students feel the same? Especially when you consider how much encouragement British students should be getting to learn other languages - we do have a language deficit after all! http://www.theguardian.com/education...sts-uk-economy

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Firure
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(Original post by Rakas21)
I can't draw either but then art is an optional subject in most places. In addition, while not liking a subject is a fair argument for not achieving an A you should still be able to push yourself to at least a C. Education is supposed to be strenuous and at a time when China is churning out students who view a B as akin to an F we no longer have the luxury of adopting the libertarian 'nurture' approach, students need to pushed and hard. I myself achieved all B and C grades with not a single page of revision at GCSE, while i am brighter than average that does not change the fact that the ease of those subjects was simply wrong in the context of educating me to the best of my ability.
I didn't do a lick of GCSE revision, either (which I sorely regret), and came out with 13 GCSEs, only one of which was a C.
I think one thing we need to address is the stigmatisation of vocational subjects. Not everyone should feel the need to go to university if academic study isn't for them. We still view people who do school leavers' programmes as intellectually inferior, and it isn't fair.

Japan and China have vastly different approaches to education; the academic push starts from the beginning and just doesn't stop.
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Rakas21
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(Original post by Iridescenzo)
I didn't do a lick of GCSE revision, either (which I sorely regret), and came out with 13 GCSEs, only one of which was a C.
I think one thing we need to address is the stigmatisation of vocational subjects. Not everyone should feel the need to go to university if academic study isn't for them. We still view people who do school leavers' programmes as intellectually inferior, and it isn't fair.

Japan and China have vastly different approaches to education; the academic push starts from the beginning and just doesn't stop.
Agree with all that.
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Firure
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(Original post by Sloppy Jumpers)
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Don't get me started on GCSE Music. It's just...

I do English at uni, so I know the type of Eagleton-esque analysis which is required. I obviously dislike the rigidity of the way in which English is taught at GCSE and A level; I think we should retrospect upon the way in which it was taught in the 60s.

In my opinion, you have two options. You either go the way of Japan, and incessantly monitor and set meticulous assessments, or you take a more free-form approach, as some European countries do. I think Finland does this, perhaps? I could be wrong, though.
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Sloppy Jumpers
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(Original post by Iridescenzo)
Don't get me started on GCSE Music. It's just...

I do English at uni, so I know the type of Eagleton-esque analysis which is required. I obviously dislike the rigidity of the way in which English is taught at GCSE and A level; I think we should retrospect upon the way in which it was taught in the 60s.

In my opinion, you have two options. You either go the way of Japan, and incessantly monitor and set meticulous assessments, or you take a more free-form approach, as some European countries do. I think Finland does this, perhaps? I could be wrong, though.
If English were taught at school in the way that it is taught at university, I think students could really excel. I think the answer is a sense of freedom - I guess that that is what you're hinting at with the 60s.

Funnily enough, when it comes to schools in some countries Europe - like Italy and France - they tend to be more in line with a Japanese, knowledge based rigidity. The UK is surprisingly up there for 'critical thinking'! But I think the Scandinavian countries, like you say, are different.
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Firure
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(Original post by Sloppy Jumpers)
If English were taught at school in the way that it is taught at university, I think students could really excel. I think the answer is a sense of freedom - I guess that that is what you're hinting at with the 60s.

Funnily enough, when it comes to schools in some countries Europe - like Italy and France - they tend to be more in line with a Japanese, knowledge based rigidity. The UK is surprisingly up there for 'critical thinking'! But I think the Scandinavian countries, like you say, are different.
Shame Critical Thinking is such a doss. :rolleyes:
Into the bin it goes, along with General Studies.
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Sloppy Jumpers
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(Original post by Iridescenzo)
Shame Critical Thinking is such a doss. :rolleyes:
Into the bin it goes, along with General Studies.
Haha. I mean teaching to critically analyse information, rather than just regurgitate it. If you think about it, most questions we face in arts/humanities exams are "Discuss" or "To what extent..." - all about interpreting.
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Firure
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(Original post by Sloppy Jumpers)
Haha. I mean teaching to critically analyse information, rather than just regurgitate it. If you think about it, most questions we face in arts/humanities exams are "Discuss" or "To what extent..." - all about interpreting.
In English, maybe. With things such as Music or History, they're always just trying to use the exam questions to get the syllabus-stipulated knowledge out of you, in one way or another.
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Sorrel Hershberg
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The Sorrell Foundation welcomes any move that helps creative subjects like art and design to be given the recognition they deserve for the rigour, commitment and talent they demand from young people.

We know from our own programmes like the National Art&Design Saturday Club, that many talented young people with a passion for their subjects are willing to go the extra mile to support their studies. The 14-16 year olds taking part in 33 Saturday Clubs in colleges and universities around the country are spending 100 hours over 30 Saturday mornings exploring their creativity and developing their skills.

Young people deserve to have their work assessed thoroughlyy, fairly and in a manner appropriate to the subject. The way their passion, skills and potential are examined needs to be carefully designed - art and design demand a different approach to subjects such as maths, English and science. We look forward to finding out what the nature of the new assessment will be. If these new qualifications help the right people find their routes into further study and careers in the creative industries then they are to be supported.
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ifyouseelaura
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(Original post by Sloppy Jumpers)
The Gove saga continues...

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-26937958

Yesterday and today, the controversial news of more difficult top GCSE grades (See this TSR thread) has been replaced by the news that arts A-Levels and GCSEs are going to be made tougher than they have been before.

As an arts student myself, I find this news extremely intriguing.

So I'd like to know: if you're an arts student right now, are you finding your courses easy? Do you think they could be more challenging? (Are you not an arts student, and if so, do you think they have it easier?)

Or do you think that this is another example of the prejudice against arts subjects as being soft?

Can't wait to hear what you all think!

Sloppy Jumpers
i would like to see Michael Gove do some arts a levels - if he finds them as dumbed down as he says they are and he easily gets A*s, then fine, make the courses more difficult. if not, don't make changes, they're clearly challenging enough.
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