I had an Interesting drive to work today. I’m already hearing rumblings on Radio 4 that the English GCSE results are worse this year than in previous ones due to “harsher marking”.
Is this really the case? We shall see what the day brings but it has made me think.
I read quite a lot of entries on forums, blogs, twitter and even on good old Facebook. Some of these make me realise that the standard of our written English is plummeting and it’s about time that something was done about it. Maybe this is the starting point.
Let’s not blame the “harsher marking” for the failings of the educational system (I’m not necessarily blaming teachers per se) in not insisting that the quality of the written word be taken as an important part of all written work regardless of the subject. The fact that the teacher ‘knows what little Johnny means’ does not equip him for a life in the real world. When I read something that is written in English by a native English speaker, I do not expect to have to translate it before I can actually start reading it.
I don’t believe that I will ever make a career out of the written word as I accept my command of it is not exactly up there with Stephen Fry or Sir John Betjeman, but it’s not that bad. This is the reason why “50 Shades of Grey” is not making me a fortune right now. Of course there is also the fact that I didn’t write it to be taken into account.
As I’ve said, we shall see what the day brings but perhaps this will give some opportunities. There are a few.
The first opportunity is to blame the exam board(s) for changing their marking strategy to bring the overall standard down. My understanding is that they are working to the same standards that were introduced a couple of years ago.
The second opportunity is to blame the teachers for allowing standards to fall. Whilst this could be a possibility, I don’t favour it. I believe that teachers continue to work to the same guidelines that they have had for some time. So that probably isn’t it.
The third opportunity is to blame the kids. I’m not a parent (well I have a seventeen year old step son but I’m not convinced that counts) so this is harder for me to comment on. I will say this though. When I, like many of you reading this, were younger I (sadly) didn’t have the multi-media based distractions that abound today. So, I read and watched documentaries with my dad and did any number of other things that gave me wider exposure to our great language. I don’t know if this is still the case for the majority of kids out there or not. With that in mind, I wouldn’t be prepared to blame the kids either.
However, there is certainly something wrong with the way the written and spoken word is being treated – and maybe today’s results mark the beginning of the stop of the rot. Maybe.
There is a fourth opportunity. It is that we assimilate these results into our collective consciousness and all use this opportunity to forge a change in how we treat our great language.
Let me leave you with these.
Imagine you are on holiday tomorrow, taking advantage of the bank holiday to extend your weekend. Are you really having an extra day “of” work?
Is it really “there” ball?
You will not see me in “abit”.
There is not “alot” of them.
It is not taller “then” me.
It is not me “to”.
Good grief I could go on and on but then a no dat u fink i is rantin. And when it comes down to it, perhaps I am, but God knows someone should.