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33.3% - a pass?

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Tweefo
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« on: March 12, 2013, 17:38:37 PM »

This article sort of woke me up. http://www.thoughtleader.co.za/simonhowell/2013/03/12/south-africas-culture-of-mediocrity/ How do we change it?
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brianvds
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« Reply #1 on: March 12, 2013, 18:03:12 PM »

We can't change it. It is ideologically based, and ideology is simply not amenable to reason.

However, as a pal of mine likes to say, in any clash between ideology and reality, reality always wins. Thus reality will win sooner or later. But we have the same situation as we had during the long, dark era of National Party rule. The current government's power is at present virtually total, and it will likely be a long time before they will implode all by themselves, just as the Nats eventually did.

I don't worry too much: the stupider the nation gets, the more it is willing to pay the few remaining brights sparks to keep the show running. :-)
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Mefiante
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« Reply #2 on: March 12, 2013, 19:53:48 PM »

[In] any clash between ideology and reality, reality always wins.
True, but it would be vastly better if reality didn’t take so damn long about it!

I think the government’s official thinking behind such things will be that it’s an interim measure:  “We’ll drop the standards for now and gradually raise them year on year, as our people’s average educational level improves over time.”  Unfortunately, it’s a kind way of encouraging overall stagnation, perhaps even retrogression — or, as my favourite movie phrase has it, “to celebrate mediocrity”.  On the upside, the strategy retains votes by handing out easy and superficially magnanimous feel-good freebies on a grand scale…

'Luthon64
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Rigil Kent
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« Reply #3 on: March 12, 2013, 21:46:20 PM »

... as my favourite movie phrase has it ...
The Incredibles? Grin
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Mefiante
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« Reply #4 on: March 12, 2013, 21:56:02 PM »

The Incredibles? Grin
Incroyablement, oui! Wink

'Luthon64
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BoogieMonster
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« Reply #5 on: March 13, 2013, 10:26:08 AM »

... On the upside, the strategy retains votes by handing out easy and superficially magnanimous feel-good freebies on a grand scale…

Yeah but there will be blowback when all those people with freebees sit without work.
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Tweefo
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« Reply #6 on: March 13, 2013, 10:52:04 AM »

... On the upside, the strategy retains votes by handing out easy and superficially magnanimous feel-good freebies on a grand scale…

Yeah but there will be blowback when all those people with freebees sit without work.
The spin doctors will just blame it on apartheid.
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Faerie
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« Reply #7 on: March 13, 2013, 13:08:30 PM »

feel-good freebies

Not so sure about the feel-good aspect since half of my son's grade 10 class fails even to achieve 33% in mathematics.  The class average is 27% for this term.  Personally I would feel rather devastated if I couldnt even achieve a measly 33%.
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BoogieMonster
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« Reply #8 on: March 13, 2013, 13:44:03 PM »

Personally I would feel rather devastated if I couldnt even achieve a measly 33%.

You weren't raised in this "everyone is special and needs a hug" feel good culture.
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Tweefo
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« Reply #9 on: March 13, 2013, 13:53:24 PM »

feel-good freebies

Not so sure about the feel-good aspect since half of my son's grade 10 class fails even to achieve 33% in mathematics.  The class average is 27% for this term.  Personally I would feel rather devastated if I couldnt even achieve a measly 33%.
What do this whole class in common that's got an effect on their marks? Maybe the headmaster must take a look at how the lessons get delivered. 
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brianvds
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« Reply #10 on: March 13, 2013, 14:01:40 PM »

What do this whole class in common that's got an effect on their marks? Maybe the headmaster must take a look at how the lessons get delivered. 

Nowadays lessons get delivered without a length of cane, and that is often the main problem. :-)
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Lurkie
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« Reply #11 on: March 13, 2013, 20:42:54 PM »

Quote
Nowadays lessons get delivered without a length of cane, and that is often the main problem. :-

And teachers do not teach, but rather lecture. I am reminded of a particular private school where the school kids are force-fed projects and trained to get A's but are not taught the fundamentals.
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Brian
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« Reply #12 on: March 13, 2013, 22:10:52 PM »

I'm trying to think back in my days (matric class of 1962) what the % rates were; 33.3% was also a pass rate at Lower Grade while 40% at Higher grade gave you Matric Exemption. The question is 33.3% of what? I have put 4 children through school (the last matriculated 2004) and looking at their syllabuses came to the conclusion that I was the lucky one! Obviously the half-life of the content I was exposed to has died many times over and I would've found the stuff my kids learned quite challenging by virtue of my obsolescence. If however, you are saying that the 33.3% is 33.3% of a watered down syllabus, we're in for a dismal future and I fear this is what is happening.
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Faerie
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« Reply #13 on: March 14, 2013, 08:34:27 AM »

My son started a new "curriculum" this year, and for the first time in his life, he received textbooks from school, he is complaining bitterly that he has to study EVERYTHING they covered this term. I have no sympathy.

Up until now they received photocopied pages of lessons (if they were lucky) and prior to cycle tests (they apparently dont do exams anymore - the word itself is probably too stressful for kids and teachers alike to contemplate), they would receive a 2 - 3 page summary of everything they need to study. I would have breezed through school if this was the case back in my day.  I can still recite my Matric History spot essay...
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« Reply #14 on: March 14, 2013, 09:32:10 AM »

The pass mark is actually 30% for all subjects except English which is 40%. Which is shocking in all respects.

I tell my students to ignore the government mark because they are all too amazing to aim so low and that the pass rate in our classes is always 50% because at the end of the day that still means you've got half the stuff wrong.

However, when we analyse results - a child cannot pass the grade if they have 30% in all subjects and 40% in English.
If they have more than 2 30% marks out of their 7 subjects then they technically fail the term or grade.

What happens quite often though is that kids get "passed with support" meaning a free pass into the next grade even if they didn't meet the criteria. This could happen in Grade 10 and 11 and then all of a sudden people are wondering why school didn't get 100% pass rate at matric.

In general what I see in education at a national, provincial and local scale is an absolute lack of any joined- up and systematic thinking and no forward  planning whatsoever. The standard of communication is awful with people still just announcing things like meetings or deadlines at a whim and then changing things last minute.

There is always talk of systems and policies but then micro-management due to lack of skill in actual management takes over.

The standard of the NCS questions papers was pretty bad - terribly worded questions and sources of statistics, data and images were just labelled with "Source: Google" I marked Matric exams for WCED last year and all of our feedback and evaluation was recorded but we were told by centre managers that markers have been saying the same things for years.

The mediocrity is top-down everywhere.

The new CAPS system is better, the resources available are significantly better but the schools, the principals and many teachers are not moving on with it.

The pass mark hasn't changed with the new system but the level of learning is higher in that the content that was in Grade 12 is now in Grade 11 so hopefully eventually matrics will leave with a slightly higher level of understanding. The only problem is because technically content has got more difficult then matric marks may slide as school adjust to the new system.

I think the major problem is that teachers are not treated, considered or paid as professionals here. It's been a major adjustment for me coming from the UK. As a result - many do not act or conduct themselves as professionals either and I am sometimes amazed at teacher's attitudes towards their subjects and learners. The other problem is teacher training is not subject specific so most teachers are not specialists in the subject they teach - for me the passion you have for that particular subject is what fuels your need to help other people understand and achieve in it.

I often think of my school's front gate as a time machine where I get transported back in time.

Phew
That felt like therapy!! Smiley

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BoogieMonster
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« Reply #15 on: March 14, 2013, 09:39:41 AM »

I was at a house a while back where the kids were making fun of the school syllabus.

One kid, a smart one since early childhood who is dreadfully bored of school, was showing me their "textbook" (BIG air quotes) and pointing out all the inaccuracies and ridiculous Q/A's. At one point he said that in maths there is a "word" question about flights of stairs and how many stairs you had to walk total.... (something like that)... He explained that one of the answers they had to accept was "All of them". I was shocked.

But what shocked me more, and I reprimanded the boys slightly, was their attitude that this was all a joke. I gave them a stern talk about not letting this set their standard for them, LEARN MORE than what the book tells, this shit is actually important!.... You know... "you'll thank me when you hit varsity" kindof stuff they'll probably ignore. The parents also seemed apathetically resigned to the whole thing. "Oh well".

This maddens me no end.
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beLIEf
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« Reply #16 on: March 14, 2013, 10:23:55 AM »

Yes although textbooks have improved a lot - for those that get them that is - the editing and compilation process is still not to standard. I'm involved with an online project compiling errors and feeding back to publishers. They are very open for improvement and so are the writers - there are huge glaring errors in some and this is apparently despite a rigorous process and largely due to times pressures for publishing - no excuse.

The other problem is often the writers might have a pHd in some branch of their subject field where they are highly specialized- let's say in my case for Geography -a Climatologist - but in terms of writing accessible material for a 16 year old and constructing questions and activities then they are very mismatched for the job.

For unqualified and non-subject specialist teachers the problem is that they probably won't pick up on the errors and then the misinformation will be taught and learned.

With each solution there are new problems at every turn it seems....
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beLIEf
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« Reply #17 on: March 14, 2013, 12:08:37 PM »

Attached is very interesting reading... "Taking the shine off the School story" From SA Institute of Race Relations
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Hermes
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« Reply #18 on: March 14, 2013, 13:38:44 PM »

Attached is very interesting reading... "Taking the shine off the School story" From SA Institute of Race Relations
The above link states the requirements for NSC as:
Quote
The minimum requirements are that a candidate ‘achieves’ 40% in three subjects,
one of which is their home language and 30% in three other subjects
.
Concluding that an educational system promotes mediocrity on the basis of percentages required for a pass would not necessarily be a valid argument.  One would have to assess syllabus content and the level at which the examination paper is pitched as well.  The proof of the pudding lies in the level of literacy and numeracy that the schools produce and in the number of students achieving adequate knowledge to enter the job market or tertiary education.  Here our education system fails badly.
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beLIEf
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atheistinafrica
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« Reply #19 on: March 14, 2013, 13:52:00 PM »

Yes totally agree - it says enough that universities do not count matric as enough to enter and learners also have to complete entrance exams. It shows higher education has no faith in the standard of secondary education.
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BoogieMonster
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« Reply #20 on: March 14, 2013, 14:09:22 PM »

When I went to varsity I did do one test for entrance, that was under the "old system". Back then my degree also took 3 years, it has since become minimum 4 years and a bevy of tests for every required subject to make it in, and after that a load of "bridging courses" that are compulsory for candidates who don't pass a second round of tests. This takes the total time of the course up to 5 years for some. 5 years! To do what I had to in 3! Atrocious! I finished a post-grad quicker than today's kids can graduate, and I imagine that drains a lot of money and potential workers out of the economy.... All through no fault of their own.

I also imagine this lessens the number of people who would even contemplate a post-grad, seeing as they/their parents will be financially bleeding by then.
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