Sunday, June 10, 2007

Homogeneity looms.

When I was at school, we moved from junior school up to either grammar or secondary school based on the eleven-plus exam. It was called that because you took the exam when you were eleven or over.

Later, grammar and secondary schools merged: you still took the exam but went to the same school anyway. The exam determined which class you went into. That was the beginning of things like 'no child left behind' and other ridiculous anti-intelligence legislation.

Now, it seems, the logical conclusion is upon us. No child is to take any kind of exam until they are sixteen. There will be no differentiation, no nurturing of future Einsteins, no diversion of those who just can't do academia into more applied (and incidentally, often more profitable) lines of work.

True homogeneity awaits. IQ tests will go next, along with organisations like MENSA, which will be deemed elitist. The future is bland. The world anthem will be 'I am the Walrus', with its prophetic opening 'I am he as you are he as you are me. . .'

John Lennon saw it coming. Soon we will indeed be the eggmen.


drsharna said...

Don't look now, but Mensa is already considered an elitist organization. Disclosure of membership in Mensa or similar clubs like TOPS, et cetera on a curriculum vitae, resume or job application is considered an almost sure-fire way to ensure that one does not obtain an interview. One would think that employing inordinately smart people would be beneficial to a company's overall functioning, not to mention its bottom line. Unfortunately that isn't the case. Managerial types fear hiring the brilliant because they fear being replaced or being made to look stupid by them. I don't even mention it unless someone asks me directly, then I minimize it by adding something like, "Yeah, well it just means I did really well on a test one time."

Gotta scoot - it's time to milk the laopwoaj...

Romulus Crowe said...

I've taken several IQ tests, sober and drunk (drunk takes about 20 points off my score!). I did take the MENSA test, but they didn't give a score. Instead they sent a nice message saying something to the effect of "Congratulations, you are smart enough to give us money."

Turns out I was even smarter than that.

Their website boasted that 'only 1 in 50 people are in the top 2%'. Surely circular-logic statements like that should drive the intelligent away? Or are they pretending not to be too smart?

I know a conspiracy nut who'd have a lot o fun with that.

tom sheepandgoats said...

Like Drsharma, I, too, never mention MENSA on any appications for employment.

Of course, my reason is not the same as hers.

tom sheepandgoats said...

A trifle more serious this time, in the land of the "no child left behind." It sounds great, who can knock it? But is it really feasable? Has it ever been done in the past?

One practical manifestation of the law is increased testing, a lot of it, so as to make sure no child is left behind. Thus even those children who were never in any danger of being left behind are, nonetheless, tested all the time.

Testing in no way benefits the students. Instead, it makes learning hateful. Every teacher knows the class that cares about nothing but "is it on the test"? Thus, learning, which used to be enjoyable, is reduced to stuffing select facts in a sack, knowing someone will come along to check that sack, and it better have the right stuff in it.

Testing benefits only the administrators, as a way that learning can be measured. The smaller the class, the less even the teacher needs testing to know who's getting it and who isn't. Does anyone think Socrates gave his students written tests?

Southern Writer said...

Tom makes a good point. I also think how well a child learns depends on the teacher. In 7th grade, my English teacher, a tiny black woman whose spectacles were bigger than she was, had us reading Guy de Maupissant, and I loved her class, so I paid attention. As a senior in high school, my American History teacher was a better than average looking (and knew it) athletic coach whose mind was really on the game, not history. I failed the entire year. Yep, straight F's all the way through. But when it came time to take the fnial exam, I sat down and read the text book the night before. I made a 98 on the test - the highest grade of anyone in any of his classes, and he had to pass me. Go figure.

What you're saying is one of the reasons I'm against the enforced school uniforms that are city wide in Memphis. We want our kids to learn tolerance for diversity, then force them to wear uniforms so they'll all be just alike. Gah.

Romulus Crowe said...

The testing actually doesn't benefit the children as much as it benefits our micromanaging government. Schools with poor test results go down the 'league tables', they get reduced funding, so they get worse. Our government likes to meddle with things that weren't broken before they came to power.

I still think children need to be tested. Children should not be wrapped in cotton wool and finally let out into a world where they think they're invulnerable. They need to know what they're capable of, and what they can expect in the real world after school.

Let's face it, many people are stupid from birth. It's not their fault, but they are not going to be nuclear physicists and it's just silly to tell them they're as smart as Einstein Junior at the next desk. They'll become frustrated and resentful when they go out into the real world and find that intelligence does count for something.

There are jobs where intelligence is a curse. A bricklayer whose mind wanders from the precise placing of bricks will build unsafe houses. He cannot let his mind drift into abstract concepts where quantum walls only appear when observed, and bridges are only required to support weight when something stands on it.

Imagine a production line job where you fit bolt A into hole B. The belt moves, you grab another bolt A...

You don't even tighten it. That's the next person's job.

Someone with intelligence will go screaming mad in a day at this job. They'll lose concentration on the task because it's repetitive and dull. This does not demean the people who fit bolt A into slot B at all.

If they're building a car, bolt A might be the one that holds the axle on. It has to be right. Put me in that job and within minutes I'll have lost interest in it. I'll be thinking about other things. Holes B will pass me by, unbolted. Cars will fall apart on the road. The job requires someone with manual dexterity but no imagination, preferably extremely limited mental processes.

In some jobs, idiots are essential.

Oh, and my English teacher was a fearsome woman. Nobody failed her class, but there were rumours about what might happen if anyone ever did. Rumours that involved heads and spikes...

Scary Monster said...

As always there be a multitude of good comments some that me agrees with and others that me takes a different view on. Me believes that testing is indispensible in the class room. Not for grading children, but for helping a teacher pin point the areas that need to be addressed in a child's education. No different than having a practice game before a match. When you are dealing with dozens of students it is nearly impossible to observe the individual all the time and still manage a class. The problem with testing is not only the evaluation method but the construction of tests.

Me be all for school uniforms and furthermore Me is for increasing the students responsibility in maintaining the appearence of a school. There is an overwhelming disrespect for educational institutions that children attend. Uniforms don't take away the individuality of the student it brings them together and provides a souce of pride; just as team uniforms do. Can you imagine what the NY Yankees or Real Madrid would look like if they decided to shuck off their uniforms and wore whatever they wanted?
Socrates might not have given his students any written exam, but I be pretty certain that he tested them constantly.

Iffin ya want better students ya have to give them outstanding educators with the freedom to teach utilizing imagination and love. Without the constraints of a national syllabus that constricts them and puts them in a box. A good teacher can enlighten even the dullest of minds.

There! That be making up fer all the posts me has been missing recently.
P.S. Got any vids of the Derren Brown skits. Me thinks they be funnier than the Scotts Innkeeper.

Romulus Crowe said...

I don't know Derren Brown, but I have been wondering lately whatever happened to John Cooper Clarke.

His best-ever line, back in the eighties, was in his poem 'Twat'. A three-minute barrage of novel insults, it included this gem: "Speaking as an outsider, what do you think of the human race?"

I must consult YouTube...

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