If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.

- George Washington

Thursday, 13 August 2009

Dumbing down? Naaah ...

A boy in Greater Manchester has been given a certificate (validated by AQA) for getting on a bus.

You read that correctly.

He attended a Council-run scheme in the summer holidays, and at the end he got a certificate. For getting on a bus. Here's the detail:

A teenage boy, Bobby McHale, has been awarded a certificate from a holiday scheme in Bury, Greater Manchester - for getting the bus. The teenager, from Bury, Greater Manchester, wasn't even aware he had sat the test and admitted he was surprised to be awarded the certificate.

Entitled "Using Public Transport (Unit 1)" it recognised, amongst other skills, his ability to:

*Walk to the local bus stop.
*Stand or sit at a bus stop and wait for the arrival of a public bus.
*Sit on the bus and observe through the windows.

"It just seems really silly to me," said Bobby, who is set for A grades at GCSE. "At first I thought I'd got some sort of GCSE early. When I read out the details to the family we all fell about laughing."

As you can imagine.

Now I know that modern education runs on the principle that nothing happens unless it has a certificate at the end, but this is just beyond parody.

The full AQA certificate reads:

Bobby McHale (date of birth 22.5.94) a student at Bury Youth Service has completed the following unit of work.

Using Public Transport (Unit 1)
In completing the unit the student has demonstrated the ability to:

1. Walk to the local bus stop.
2. Stand or sit at the bus stop and wait for the arrival of a public bus.
3. Enter the bus in a calm and safe manner.
4. Be directed to a downstairs seat by a member of staff
(what, he wasn't even allowed upstairs?)
5. Sit on the bus and observe through the windows.
6. Wait until the bus has stopped, stand on request and exit the bus.

Anyone who has worked in education will read this and feel depressed. Not because it is surpising, but because it is entirely unsurprising. It is exactly how things are done by a certain literal-minded body of 'education specialists'. I don't call them 'teachers'. Teachers teach, lead, develop and inspire. Education specialists just bring everything down to the level of tick-boxes and lists. Guess who is in charge these days (and guess why I got out of it all).

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