Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Thumbing Down the Schools

Many Americans probably think that the perilous decline in the quality of public education so manifestly visible in the U.S. over the past few decades is simply an American problem. But it isn't. Many of the same idiotic ideas that have become fashionable in the U.S. educational establishment also took root across the Atlantic. This should not be surprising, since those ideas all share common left-wing roots.

In Britain, the educational theorists took aim, decades ago, at the practice of segregating classes by levels of acheivement. It had been traditionally assumed that smarter students should be given their own classes so that they could pursue their studies at a pace more consonant with their own abilities, leaving average students to proceed at a slower pace, and steering the below-average students away from higher education toward productive, but less-intellectually demanding trades.

But, begnining in the 60s and 70s, educational theorists declared those practices to be elitist! Racist! Classist! An unacceptable reminder of the borgeois society they so despised. So they eliminated classes for the gifted (whom they despise above all) and mainstreamed all students, to be taught at the same speed. They claimed that doing so would increase social cohesion and raise the scores of the lesser-abled students. Naturally, it didn't. Like everything else the modern educational establishment has touch, it has failed.

At least 120,000 bright children are effectively going backwards in secondary schools, prompting fresh fears over the way top pupils are taught.

One child in five who was doing well in some core subjects at the end of primary school failed to make any further progress in the first three years of secondary education, according to figures obtained by the Conservatives. Many of the top performing pupils at 11 actually did worse by the age of 14.

The findings come as the Government issued fresh threats to hundreds of "coasting" schools that they face closure unless standards improve. Local authorities are being told to issue notices to schools that fail to boost pupils' grades warning that they will be turned into privately-sponsored city academies if improvement is too slow.

But last night the Tories blamed poor results on the continued use of mixed ability classes at many state secondary schools, which they say is dragging bright children down.

In a report, they analysed test results gained by 11-year-olds in 2003, then compared them with scores gained three years later, half way through secondary school.

Thousands of children deemed to be high achievers at the end of primary school had made little or no progress when they moved on to secondary level. According to the data, some 65,100 pupils, one in 10, obtained the same score or a worse in English tests sat at 14 than they did at 11.

In maths, 18,000 were at the same position after three years of secondary school. Science, where few lessons are set by ability, showed the worst results.

Some 121,200 children, or one in five, who passed national curriculum tests in science aged 11 were at the same level or worse at 14.

Further analysis shows that many exceptionally bright children were at a lower level after three years of secondary school than they were at the end of primary.

Those holding "education degrees" both in America and Europe tend to be intellectual mediocrities, who would have had great difficulty obtaining any other type of degree and go on to impose their disdain for high intelligence and academic excellence on the educational institutions they ultimately come to infest. Rather like political bureaucrats, who thrive on creating mindless regulations meant increase their own standing and protect their own jobs, while accomplishing nothing particularly productive, the educational theorists have managed to create their own fiefdom in the public schools (in American and Europe) in which achievement, discipline and distinction had been shoved aside in favor of multiculturalism, political correctness and the patently false (but fanatically held) idea that everyone is equal in abilities. The results have been the same on both sides of the Atlantic.


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