Michael Gove has announced that he is bringing back old-style O-Levels. This "back to basics" type approach has been warmly welcomed by those who like to hark on about "how much harder we had
to work in our day" but has infuriated many in the teaching profession. Who's right?
Probably neither side, completely. Yes, I must confess that, like many of the "older generation", I
have occasionally pontificated on how very hard I had to work to get my O and A Levels, and expressed amazement that, for example, today's students can even take their text books into an exam to answer questions on English Literature. But I
have also helped (or hindered!) my four oldest grandchildren with their homework from time to time so I can see that they study subjects in a totally different way from the way I did in my far-off schooldays. While much of my learning was by rote, theirs
is much more about exploring for themselves. While much of my homework used to consist of writing long essays on a whole range of subjects, theirs is more likely to consist of putting together a Powerpoint presentation, complete with pictures, diagrams
and tables all sourced from the web.
I suppose the proof of the pudding will always be just how "fit for life" education leaves us. Time will tell. And, as Mark Twain said: "I
have never allowed my schooling to get in the way of my education."
I was really pleased to hear the announcement of the new Gift Aid Small Donations Scheme. I can't be the only person who
likes to support the charity street collectors - I find it's one small way of donating easily to a wide range of good causes. But the fact that, up until now, there's been no easy way of Gift Aiding these small donations has always seemed a pity.
The new scheme announced yesterday cuts through the bureaucracy and could mean a £100 million boost to the coffers of many charities.
Finally, I wonder how many people went out to buy the new
paperback version of "The Quantum Universe: Everything that can happen does happen" after seeing its authors, Brian Cox and Jeff Forshaw on Breakfast TV this morning? I have to say I was hooked. You will be able to find out if I manage to
read all 242 pages and what I understand (or not) about quantum physics as a result when my review of the book goes up on my Book Page. However that may take some time......