Are English children less able to read than years ago? No


9:30 am - July 30th 2012

by Paul Cotterill    


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In Saturday’s Guardian (Letters, 28th Jan), Schools Minister Nick Gibb defends the government’s view that phonics are the only way to reach children to read.

His central justification is that something must be done because, “International studies rank England 25th for reading – down from seventh nine years ago.”

In the very literal sense Gibb is correct. In 2000, the OECD placed England in 7th position in its table (p.53). In 2009, it was in the 25th row of a similar table (p. 56). In any other sense you care to mention, Gibb is entirely wrong.

1) Twelve other countries, nominally above England in the 2009 tables, have statistically insignificant higher scores. The National Foundation for Educational Research’s summary of the OECD findings is quite explicit about this.

2) 31 countries took part in the tests in 2000, and 67 in 2009. Shanghai and Signapore may be nominally above the UK in the 2009 tables but they didn’t take part in the 2006 or earlier surveys. This makes directl comparison between years invalid.

3) The OECD’s warned explicitly (para 2) against comparing earlier PISA results with earlier data, because the very low response rate for earlier years largely invalidated samples.

4) the 2000 and 2003 tests were conducted some months earlier in school year 11 (Nov/Dec) than the 2006/2009 (March-May) ones, as an exception to the international study (to make room for GCSE preparations).

There is simply no reliable evidence that 15 year olds in England are any less able to read and understand texts, when compared to their international peers, than they were nine year ago. Yet here we have a government minister using that argument as a key reason for a fundamental and controversial change in which five and six year olds are taught.

The Department of Education almost certainly knows perfectly well that its “interpretation” of the OECD data is entirely incorrect, but is determined to carry on peddling its untruths anyway. Michael Gove himself defended proposals for a return to ‘O’ Levels/CSE in this way:

The sad truth is that, if we look at the objective measure of how we have done over the past 15 years, we find that on international league tables our schools fell in reading from 523 to 494 points, in maths from 529 to 492 and in science from 528 to 514.

Here, Gove used the OECD raw scores for 2000 and 2009 rather than the table rankings. He almost certainly did this because he and his team realised they had been rumbled by bloggers with a mind to detail, and by a Guardian editorial of the same day, which said:

Mr Gove…. latches on to data purporting to show English schools plummeting down world rankings. The Institute of Education has meticulously documented all sorts of distortions in these apparently alarming figures, but such calming analysis fails to register. Mr Gove should go away, revise the evidence properly – and prepare for a resit.

Clearly Gove didn’t want to be caught red-handed by Labour members assiduous enough to have read the Guardian that morning. Yet just a month later we have the Schools Minister writing to the same paper with the very nonsense his boss had been wary of using.

Overall, a picture is starting to emerge of a government prepared – in its mix of desperation and ideological fervour to go one step beyond spin.

That should keep us on our toes.

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About the author
Paul Cotterill is a regular contributor, and blogs more regularly at Though Cowards Flinch, an established leftwing blog and emergent think-tank. He currently has fingers in more pies than he has fingers, including disability caselaw, childcare social enterprise, and cricket.
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Reader comments


1. Chaise Guevara

Also worth noting that even if we had fallen down the tables in a significant fashion, this might reflect an improvement in other countries more than a decline in ours.

2. alienfromzog

It’s not surprising.

They did the same thing to argue for Health reform.

This article: http://www.nelm.nhs.uk/en/NeLM-Area/News/2011—January/28/BMJ-Feature-Does-poor-health-justify-NHS-reform/ debunked Lansley’s claims. [unfortunately the full text is no longer available for free]

In the case of education, there is no doubt that both Gibb and Gove would fail an A-level in statistics.

This does beg a question; is this stupidity or deliberate manipulation? I’m not sure which worries me more.

AFZ

3. Chaise Guevara

@ AFZ

“This does beg a question; is this stupidity or deliberate manipulation? I’m not sure which worries me more.”

Ah, the old “arseholes or morons?” option. I suspect malice is worse than incompetence here.

“Here, Gove used the OECD raw scores for 2000 and 2009 rather than the table rankings. He almost certainly did this because he and his team realised they had been rumbled by bloggers with a mind to detail, and by a Guardian editorial of the same day …”

Maybe he did, but isn’t the comparison of the raw scores a valid one?

The effect of the low response rate in 2000 has been estimated in this paper:
https://www.education.gov.uk/publications/eOrderingDownload/RR771.pdf

The authors concluded that the score in 2000 was likely to have been biased upwards by about 6 points (which was about twice the standard error of the mean). But even allowing for that, the decline in the raw score between 2000 and 2009 would be highly significant, wouldn’t it?

The unscientific opinion of someone who has taught people from at least 30 nationalities, has taught in the state system here for 12 years and been heavily involved in teaching literacy (that’s me btw) is that reading standards have declined and are continuing to do so, mainly due to the fact that parents have to work so much and can’t make the time – or sometimes be arsed to spend time – to help their children learn to read. Many of those parents are probably semi-literate themselves. And given the fact that many teachers I have worked with see no point in apostrophes, semi-colons and the like on the grounds that they aren’t important, I expect little change.

Phonics can help children of ‘lower’ ability to read to a better degree than otherwise, but for those children who are ‘bright’, ‘intelligent’ and enjoy reading it’s a pain in the arse, confuses them and makes it all a big chore. These latter children are better off reading widely and seeing and hearing language/words in context. But in the drive to get everyone a ‘C’ phonics must be taught to all.

I couldn’t care less about the ministers, the survey, and the interpretations of it.

6. Chaise Guevara

@ 5 Ted Maul

“And given the fact that many teachers I have worked with see no point in apostrophes, semi-colons and the like on the grounds that they aren’t important, I expect little change.”

Seriously? I’m resigned to the existence of semicolon-haters*, but apostrophes? How do they handle possessives and contractions?

*I.E. someone who doesn’t understand how they work and is grumpy about it.

As a young lad in the 1940s and 1950s, we relied on reading books, listening to the radio and the weekly trip to the cinema for entertainment. Nowadays, watching TV and playing video games on home computers are easily available distractions.

@AFZ Under no circumstances should you allow yourself to conclude that they cannot possibly be both.

9. Chaise Guevara

@ Bob B

“As a young lad in the 1940s and 1950s, we relied on reading books, listening to the radio and the weekly trip to the cinema for entertainment. Nowadays, watching TV and playing video games on home computers are easily available distractions.”

A fair point. And we would do well to remember that, in today’s world, computer literacy is important, as well as the usual sort.

10. alienfromzog

@8 Cyclux

Good point.
Well made.

AFZ

I was struggling to make sense of your point (4) until I realised you had things the wrong way round. The 2009 test was conducted 5 months earlier in the school year than the 2000 test, not vice versa. And actually if the received wisdom John Jerrim quotes about an additional school year being worth 40 points is correct, this difference could account for most of the decrease in raw scores.

It is mind-boggling that people somehow consider it left-wing to defend the extremely reactionary educational changes of the Thatcher years, especially the abandonment of phonics in the state sector (though not elsewhere) and above all her replacement of O-levels with GCSEs, as well as her closure, while Education Secretary, of so many grammar schools that there were not enough left at the end for her record ever to be equalled.

Why are you in favour of all of that? Why are you in favour of any of that? Why? Labour certainly wasn’t at the time. Have you not seen the consequences? Probably not, because you inhabit an upper-middle-class fantasy world of pseudo-comprehensive schools unrecognisable as such by anybody else. Labour in the 1980s was not like that.

Chaise: “And we would do well to remember that, in today’s world, computer literacy is important, as well as the usual sort.”

Only very basic computer literacy is needed for many shoot ’em video games on PCs whereas intelligent and productive use of computers – eg for researching information using online search engines – stresses not only literacy and numeracy skills but research skills too.

With the cost of PCs coming down to the prices of basic TV sets, New Labour’s divide between the Haves and Have-nots partly or even mostly depends on possessing essential literacy and numeracy skills – many public libraries have PCs for visitors to use and learn.

Without literacy and numeracy skills, not much use can be made of email, word processors and spreadsheets on computers. Concerns have been raised about the quality of more than a few media and computer studies degree courses. A decade back, I went to a day course for computer presentation software. It was a good course by a professional tutor who covered the whole range of MS Office applications. We got talking during the lunchbreak so I thought to test him by asking about the Solver function in the Excel spreadsheet. He reeled off correctly the drop-down menu steps in Excel to get to the Solver function before adding that he didn’t know how to use it – the Solver function can be used to solve Linear and Quadratic Programming problems, which are more degree level maths. Computer literacy is not enough.

It’s a mistake IMO to stress the importance of computer literacy over basic literacy and numeracy. Better rather to dig out and use the best of the computer software for DIY courses on literacy and numeracy.

Year ago, I was browsing in the local computer superstore (the first in Britain btw) and came upon the sight of two small girls where one was reaching up to manipulate the mouse for an infant’s number programme running on a demo PC to show to the smaller tot skills in basic addition. And she was getting the sums right.

I think the government like using those statistics because it tricks commentators on the left into arguing that things are already good enough in our education system, something that the electorate are unlikely to believe.

It’s not a good statistic. So what? The question is whether the teaching of reading needs improving or not. No harm is going to come to the government for saying it does, regardless of whether the statistics offered to back that up are inaccurate.

15. Chaise Guevara

@ 13 Bob B

I should point out that I’m not saying that computer literacy has benefits *over* literacy and numeracy. I’m simply saying that, when we lament that a lot of kids prefer computers to book, we should not forget that the time spent on computers does have at least some benefits.

16. Shatterface

I think you only have to observe a 10 year old with a laptop and you’ll appreciate their computer literacy at least far exceeds their parents, while their grandparents probably can’t even operate their Sky+ box.

Assuming, of course, the kids have access to a laptop – and that’s a matter of equality that needs addressing.

Kids also write for fun. Granted they often use text-speak but you need a high degree of literacy to strip words and sentences to a minimum while still remaining comprehensible. There’s a great deal of redundancy or just plain waffle in the English language that children will have no truck with. The Russians managed to get people into space without arsing around with ‘the’ and ‘a’, or bothering to have seperate words for ‘hand’ or ‘foot’.

17. Chaise Guevara

@ 16 Shatterface

Regarding text speech, you’re right about the “know the rules so you can break them” thing, and there’s nothing inherently wrong with text speak in itself, even if personally I hate it. The one concern worth talking about is that it means kids spend less time using the spelling and grammar of the conventional English in which essays and CVs are written. The solution is to ensure that these things are properly covered in school.

@ted maul,

“Phonics can help children of ‘lower’ ability to read to a better degree than otherwise, but for those children who are ‘bright’, ‘intelligent’ and enjoy reading it’s a pain in the arse, confuses them and makes it all a big chore.”

I thought so — I read it somewhere but couldn’t find the source. Also I read that though children taught with phonics learn more quickly, children taught in other ways are better at actually understanding written material.

I could read before I went to school (I suppose I taught myself) so probably sitting in class saying “Ah Buh Kuh” didn’t do any damage! But compulsory synthetics phonics is surely also an example of the “one size fits all” approach Gove etc, allegedly don’t like?!

I’m not sure what ‘computer literacy’ means. Being able to use a WIMP environment is plainly useful, and a skill that can be taught. What you do with that skill matters. Using Facebook is no great achievement.

Basic literacy and numeracy are fundamental, ‘computer literacy’ cannot substitute for these basic skills. I also doubt that you can really be ‘computer literate’ if you are illiterate and innumerate, no more than you become a cook because you can turn on the oven.

20. Albert Spangler

Good article, and comments as well. Nice work, internet hive mind.

Sorry for adding nothing to the conversation, but since most things nowadays seem to be uniformly depressing, I thought a bit of positive reinforcement might help.

21. Chaise Guevara

@ Pinkie

“I’m not sure what ‘computer literacy’ means. Being able to use a WIMP environment is plainly useful, and a skill that can be taught. What you do with that skill matters. Using Facebook is no great achievement.”

Being able to count to 10 is no great achievement. I can count way higher than that! The point is that it’s part of a set of essential skills. So yes, using WIMP, plus the basic Office set, and knowing your way around the internet are probably the main parts of basic computer literacy. Intermediate probably goes beyond my own abilities: Sunny can do things to maintain this blog that are a mystery to me, but are probably considered elementary by anyone with serious tech skills.

“Basic literacy and numeracy are fundamental, ‘computer literacy’ cannot substitute for these basic skills. I also doubt that you can really be ‘computer literate’ if you are illiterate and innumerate, no more than you become a cook because you can turn on the oven.”

Speaking as the guy who introduced the phrase to this thread, I don’t think anyone’s saying that literacy and numeracy are irrelevant. My point is just that computer skills are *useful*, not the trendy waste of time many see them as, so while you’re lamenting the fact that a young person spends more time on his computer than reading, and hence doesn’t know “compliment” from “complement”, you may be missing the fact that he’s developing skills that will set him up for a lucrative and happy career.

CG @ 1:

“Also worth noting that even if we had fallen down the tables in a significant fashion, this might reflect an improvement in other countries more than a decline in ours.”

But even a relative decline should be cause for concern.

CG @ 6: “How do they handle possessives and contractions?”

With difficulty. Last weekend, I was walking near the boundary of the National Trust’s Wimpole Estate, and I stopped to read a NT notice about the history of a nearby building. The text contained several examples of the use of ‘it’s’ when ‘its’ was required. Quite depressing.

23. Chaise Guevara

@ 22 TONE

“But even a relative decline should be cause for concern. ”

Agreed. But not a wonderfully convenient excuse for bringing in your pet changes.

“With difficulty. Last weekend, I was walking near the boundary of the National Trust’s Wimpole Estate, and I stopped to read a NT notice about the history of a nearby building. The text contained several examples of the use of ‘it’s’ when ‘its’ was required. Quite depressing.”

It is indeed! I work in editorial and probably have a similar Pavlovian reaction to you in cases such as these. What really annoys me is that there must be plenty of literate people unable to find work.

I think this misses the point slightly.

This is not a question of test results, but also the standard of the tests that are being sat. Education in this country has changed, that is beyond a doubt. The real question is has it changed in a positive way. I think not, because it has become a matter of cutting the examinations to the lowest common denominator to show ‘progress’.

There seems now more than ever to be a push for box ticking type learning. The abolition of having to take Maths and Science is terrible. Lets face it, little of what we learn at school is useful, but two situations strike me. Firstly, subjects like maths and science teach a person, not to remember, but to learn. They are far more important than simply learning formula for later use. They are vital for good brain development. Secondly, I have seen grown adults (23-30) who have come through the education system who are unable to calculate percentages (for instance the original price before VAT was added), the most simple of mathematical problems.

As a result I feel that we have a tendancy to produce box tickers. People who crammed things into their brains for exams without any consideration for the value which that information may hold, or in subjects that hold any use whatsoever.

25. Chaise Guevara

@ 24 Freeman

“The abolition of having to take Maths and Science is terrible.”

Whoah, what? Those subjects were compulsory 12 years ago when I was in school, and according to the following they still are today: http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/parents/schoolslearninganddevelopment/examstestsandthecurriculum/dg_10013877

So what are you referring to? Is this an incoming change, or are you talking about private schools or something?

In the late 1980s during the lead-up to the introduction of the national curriculum for schools in 1988, Granada TV hosted a series of Sunday lunchtime seminars on education.

I remember especially well one episode where a woman professor of maths – a Professor Brown, as I recall – was saying that maths doesn’t depend on rote learning.

To illustrate, she showed a video clip of a class of 11 year-olds which had been divided up into small teams with each tasked to find a solution to the following problem: Take a square sheet of paper – say 15 cms square – and fold up the edges to form an open-topped box. What are the dimensions of the box with the largest volume that can be made from the square of paper?

This is basically a simple engineering problem which can be solved in several different ways. The video clip showed one group in the class making up boxes of various dimensions from the paper squares, filling each with rice and then weighing the rice. Another way is by the spreadsheet modelling of boxes of different sizes. The problem can also be solved with a paper and pencil using a bit of algebra and calculus. The Solver function in the Excel spreadsheet can slove the problem. The essential point is that rote learning cannot solve the problem.

27. Chaise Guevara

@ 26 Bob B

I’m trying to figure out what “rote learning” even means in maths. Times tables, ok, and being able to rattle off certain rules like “the square on the hypotenuse…” and so on, but what else?

Surely, in a system where the rules can be applied to anything, understanding the rules and how to apply them is vital? If your education on multiplication is limited to memorising the times tables, you’re screwed as soon as you have to multiple something by a number larger than 12, or a non-integer.

Chaise: “I’m trying to figure out what “rote learning” even means in maths. Times tables, ok, and being able to rattle off certain rules like “the square on the hypotenuse…” and so on, but what else?”

Absolutely. But in the public debate, much stress is put on learning times tables. OK, most will likely agree that times tables are hugely useful – perhaps especially later in life! – but there is much more to maths thinking than that. I’ve even heard the value of Pythagoras’s theorem – the square on the hypotenuse etc – questioned even though much maths crucial for engineering would collapse without it. I’ve read complaints online from adults saying why is it necessary to do useless trig at school – which is strange, given the continuing concerns about the persisting shortages of technical skills.

Those old maths texts with dozens of problems to solve – like: how many paving stones are needed for a path around a rectangular lawn . . ? – had a real value.

Recap on this news report from 2006: “Up to 12 million working UK adults have the literacy skills expected of a primary school child, the Public Accounts Committee says. . . The report says there are up 12 million people holding down jobs with literacy skills and up to 16 million with numeracy skills at the level expected of children leaving primary school.”
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/education/4642396.stm

In the mid 1970s, half of Britain’s adults had no education qualifications. By the mid 1990s, that had dropped to about a quarter.

@25. Chaise Guevara

I am talking about A-level. Last two years of schooling.

30. Chaise Guevara

@ 29 Freeman

Well, firstly A-levels are in voluntary education (although I believe there’s talk of making it compulsory), so it’s questionable how much any subject can be “required” when you don’t have to attend college in the first place.

Secondly, most people only take three or four A-levels (at my college the standard was to take four then drop one in second year, giving you three A-levels and one AS-level). So if you force such a person to take Maths and Science you’ve made two of the three or four choices for them. This seems somewhat domineering and the sort of thing that would see fewer people bother with college.

I suppose you could redesign the whole system and, for example, have everyone do 6 to 8 AS levels with English, Maths and Science being mandatory components.

You said it’s been abolished – when was it mandatory?

31. Chaise Guevara

@ Bob B

I think a lot of people who don’t go on to study physics, engineering etc. think of the maths they learned at school as a purely intellectual pursuit beyond the simple stuff like percentages. I expect they don’t appreciate the real-world application.

32. Chaise Guevara

@ Freeman again

Come to think of it, I don’t think “Science” is even available as an A-level. Biology, chemistry and physics maybe.

Chaise: “I think a lot of people who don’t go on to study physics, engineering etc. think of the maths they learned at school as a purely intellectual pursuit beyond the simple stuff like percentages. I expect they don’t appreciate the real-world application.”

Several points:

There’s no substance to the complaints about Britain having too little manufacturing – especially higher-tech manufacturing able to withstand competition with manufacturers in lower cost countries – if we can’t produce enough workers who are up to the standards necessary to attain science or technical qualifications. I’m prepared to believe that reading attainment in school isn’t falling but this makes pretty grim reading:

Just one in six pupils in England has achieved the new English Baccalaureate introduced by the government, England’s league tables show.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-12163929

Note: Schools in England are now being measured according to how many pupils achieve grades A*-C in five core subjects – maths, English, two science qualifications, a foreign language and either history or geography. Applicants for regular technical apprenticeships usually require at least 5 GCSE A*-C grades including maths, English and the three sciences.

Rightly or wrongly financial and business services is now our major industry and the maths requirement for senior posts in hedge funds, portfolio management in investment banking and for project appraisal is steep. Try the Wikipedia entry for: Black-Scholes. The standard texts on maths for finance are quite daunting. At least those old school maths texts from my school experience decades ago had a sprinkling of financial problems to solve.

34. Charlieman

@27. Chaise Guevara: “Surely, in a system where the rules can be applied to anything, understanding the rules and how to apply them is vital?”

The one to comprehend is calculus. If you are 18 years old and you do not understand calculus, you are going to find it hard to follow any degree course in science and engineering.

Comprehension of calculus is a mind implosion (that was so obvious, carry on with the lesson) or a mind explosion (why are they nodding? I don’t follow!).

Reality is that calculus is the foundation of science and engineering. You MUST be able to do it.

Calculus is bloody hard to learn, along with a lot of applied physics. When you understand, the basics are bloody obvious.

Oh, Chaise. It is not about rules, but about principles or methodology.

35. Chaise Guevara

@ 34 Charlieman

“Rules” was short-hand: I mind well that it’s about principles and methodology. The point was you don’t teach kids good mental arithmatic by simply teaching them the answer to every sum you can think of (so instead of working out that 4.5 x 6 = 27, you search your memory for the entry “4.5 x 6” and discover “27” filed next to it).

I don’t think that’s what’s being suggested, of course, because it’s ridiculous. What I’m trying to find out is what an emphasis on “rote learning” even MEANS in the context of maths. It’s not like history, where you can choose between teaching kids to regurgitate facts and teaching them to analyse sources (or a mix of the two).

Charlieman: “The one to comprehend is calculus. If you are 18 years old and you do not understand calculus, you are going to find it hard to follow any degree course in science and engineering.”

You can add to that degree courses in economics and finance.

Trig is necessary for many science and tech degree subjects, for some vocational subjects such as surveying and for understanding the transformations in video games. How did they estimate the height of high mountains, such as Everest, before aeroplanes and before the mountains were cliimbed?

Try this on the Japanese writing system: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Japanese_writing_system

Yet Japan is regularly reported as having a very high rate of adult literacy although elementary school begins later than in Britain with 6 year-olds.

There’s a literacy check for adults at elections because voters need to write in the names of the candidates they want to vote for. As there are many multimember constituencies, this requirement is demanding.

38. Chaise Guevara

Regarding Japan, does anyone know whether the fact that English is probably one of the hardest languages to learn (what with all our synonyms, counterintuitive spellings and inconsistent grammatical rules) is relevant to these statistics?

Chaise

An awful lot more folk speak English than almost any other language – the exceptions are Mandarin and Spanish – so I take it that basic English, with all its foibles and irregularities, is not that difficult.

English has a large vocabulary, which allows nuance and subtlety in expression, and that has been conducive to a rich literary heritage – in those large 2 volume dictionaries used by professional translators and academics, the English-French volume is thicker than the French-English volume. But the Japanese-English dictionary is much thicker than the English-Japanese dictionary.

Japan has a longer but not a larger literary heritage: The Tale of Genji, a tale of courtly romance and intrigue, was written by a lady of the court in rhe 1040s, before the Norman Conquest of England – for comparison, Chaucer was 14th century.
http://www.taleofgenji.org/

In Japan, not only are the three character sets in regular use but it’s not unusual to encounter English words as well spelt with the Latin alphabet. I can but marvel at the ability of the Japanese to maintain a grip on all those characters.

Somewhere in the news is a report that fax machines are still widely used in Japan for hand-written messaging whereas email has largely superceded the use of fax in most other places. Dot matrix printers were developed in Japan to cope with printing all the Japanese characters but the keyboards are complicated so many Japanese find it quicker to write out the script in hand calligraphy and fax the message.

40. Chaise Guevara

@ 39 Bob B

“An awful lot more folk speak English than almost any other language – the exceptions are Mandarin and Spanish – so I take it that basic English, with all its foibles and irregularities, is not that difficult.”

English is the Lingua Franca. Unlike Spanish and Mandarin, its usage is very high because of second-language speakers. People have more motivation to learn English as a foreign language than possibly any other tongue. And even if English is relatively hard to learn to a high literacy level, picking up the basics as a second language may be easier than most due to all those US films and shows playing on TVs the world over.

Furthermore, speaking passable English does not mean you qualify as literate under the OECD’s standards. For a start, you could speak it fluently and not be able to write a word. I don’t know what the OECD’s standards are, which is why I asked, but certainly one does not demonstrate the other.

In short, the absolute numbers of English speakers tell us little if anything about how hard the language is to learn to a certain literacy level.

41. Charlieman

Japanese school children usually learn English as a second language. Whatever methodology they use doesn’t seem to work particularly well.

Japanese people who do speak English — using it conversationally or for business — are often fluent. Japanese people who speak basic English with confidence are rare — one bloke who sticks in my mind was a Japanese former Prisoner of War who told me off in Australian for taking photos in a museum.

Coming from the other side: I worked with a couple of UK people who tried to learn Japanese. A decent A level in French sets you up to converse in French (with a lousy accent) with French adults. A decent A level in Japanese enables you to talk with children.

@35. Chaise Guevara: “What I’m trying to find out is what an emphasis on “rote learning” even MEANS in the context of maths.”

Assume a Pure Maths A Level question, which requires two steps to get to the answer.

The old fashioned way of writing the question might be to ask the question with minimal hints. A rote method might be to break it out into two explicit steps, eliminating the difficult jump in the middle.

42. Chaise Guevara

@ 41 Charlieman

“Assume a Pure Maths A Level question, which requires two steps to get to the answer.

The old fashioned way of writing the question might be to ask the question with minimal hints. A rote method might be to break it out into two explicit steps, eliminating the difficult jump in the middle.”

Is this not the “dumbing down” of which the right so often speaks?

Is there an equivalent for infant/junior/secondary school maths?


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