Monday, April 10, 2006

Choosing a University or a University choosing you

Points of View - The Herald

I recently had this letter published in the Herald newspaper and again it covers the mess that education is in. Now it's about Universities and their choice of students. Parents are getting their knickers in a twist over the fact that their child is not getting into the uni of their choice despite their offspring getting 5 A's in their higher results.

What do these Higher results tell us about that student? Is it that they are super intelligent and should be offered a place of their choice because that's what they deserve or does it tell us that they have been hothoused through their exams and are able to retain enough knowledge to pass an exam?I believe that in many cases it's the latter. I believe we have to trust the universities to take a look at the proposed student as a whole and not just the exam results. In that case many pupils from state schools will impress more than a privately educated child who's parents have paid for tutors as well as their education at school. After speaking to an Oxford Don about this he did confirm this was often the case because of the work ethic of somebody from a state school who has proven they can achieve impressive results in spite of many drawbacks.

This is not the same as my letter which was trying to point out that in the beginning there is no difference between a state or privately educated child. the prejudices that exist are taken from parents on both sides who have either something to prove(state) or because it's being paid for there is a right to whatever University they choose(private).

The truth is neither and the sooner parents can see a level playing field the better. There is no right for anybody to advance to University but those that do have be considered there on merit not privilage.

Some of this may sound simplistic but why is that so wrong? Over complication of issues are often the reason we get ourselves into a mess, keeping it simple is prize philosophy

Monday, April 03, 2006

The crisis in schools music

Telegraph Arts Discord that drowns out the real crisis in schools music

This was an article I found written by Jullian Lloyd Webber. I actually discussed this with him when we met last month and interestingly people in the audience at the workshop asked about this subject.

It is one very close to my heart and I do despair at the standards that are being required for examinations in Scotland despite Julain's very complimentary remarks on the health of music in Scotland. We are lowering the standard all the time and the latest example of that is you only need play to an ASS. Board level grade4 to pass your higher music. Most children who start in Primary school and are well taught will reach that standard by the end of their time there. What is the point in them doing music as a subject. Most schools will not now teach them any theory of substance and the rules of harmony have just been forgotten. If you are an at all talented musician and are wanting to do this for a living then there ios no point in taking music as a subject. This lowering of standards is self-perpetuating thing as well. There is a need for music teachers in schools but because of the standard of the music students now we have teachers who are less musically able than half of their pupils!! The teacher refer to excerpts of melodies by the "Greats" in such terms as "The tune from the Hovis advert" instead of Dvoraks "New World Symphony". This is, much to my horror because that teacher was told the same thing when they were at school!

This does not happen in other subjects such as Maths and English. That is no easier now than it was when I was at school. Why is it? My belief is that because Maths and English are core subjects that all children must do then it is properly taught and to a high standard. Music tries to attract the lowest common denominator and the result is rubbish!! My view as well as Julian Lloyd Webber and other good musicians is we are failing our children by not exposing them early enough to the great music of this world when the child, as in my eldest son, can then go on and develop their own tastes but by having a little understanding of the subject they can make a much better, informed choice.