Archive for March, 2008

When parents can’t say “no”…

Sunday, March 23rd, 2008

As an avid watcher of the German version of “Supernanny”, I found this article from the education section of the BBC News website particularly interesting.

I think there used to be an idea, that it was underprivileged children that were disruptive in schools. This article suggests something else: that spoilt children are disruptive because their parents cannot say “no” at home.

In particular the story about the child who broke is own Playstation and then pestered his mother for a whole week until she bought him a new one.

I read such stories almost in horror, as I don’t want to make such mistakes with my own daughter. Indeed, much of the “Supernanny” episodes here deal with children who have never learnt that there are limits to what is acceptable.

I hope to strike the right balance between showing my daughter how much she means to me without going so far that she learns to use this against me (or her teachers) later on.

The secret Indian army of WWII

Wednesday, March 5th, 2008

I’m always fascinated by lost tales from World War II – small unknown facts that have only now been made public.

Such stories are not becoming rare, so I was interested to read this report on a secret army of recruits from India that had trained in Germany.

The information had originally been locked away for 75 years, having been deemed too sensitive to be made public any earlier, but now it has been and it really does stun me as to the countries involved.

When you learn about the British Raj in India and the time around WWII, you learn about the threat from the Japanese army. The thought that Nazi Germany was training Indian recruits in secret is something completely new.

I have certainly never heard of the “Free India Legion” defending the Atlantic Wall before.

I wonder what other secrets are in the archives, waiting to be discovered before the people who were alive then can no longer enlighten us to their personal experiences.

One example are the documents concerning the occupation of the Channel Islands – these were sealed for 100 years!  Will these now be available earlier as well?

I’ll leave the 9th May 2045 in my diary for the moment.

Pupils and tests in English schools

Wednesday, March 5th, 2008

A recent BBC News article reported that school children in tested more than many other western countries.

Knowing that testing has been perceived to be on the increase, I thought back to my school days. We did have quite a bit of testing, even then.

I think that maybe it is not the amount of testing that has changed, but the value placed on it.

For example, I remember regularly being tested on French and German vocabulary, even Latin. But these tests were at most only noted by my teacher and used to award assessment grades once each term. They may have also been commented on in my end-of-year report.

At the end of each year there were exams, but with the exception of GCSEs and A-Levels, these were internal exams. The results were passed on to my parents, the report showing what I had scored and the overall range of scores so that they could see roughly where I was compared to other pupils in my school year.

None of this information was used to compile league tables. At no time am I aware of my results being passed on to any other institution – until my A-Level results were shared with my future University.

So perhaps the Government should consider reducing the pressure on schools and pupils by getting rid of the league tables again – or at least not publishing them so openly. Let the pupils be tested without the threat of their results appearing in national newspapers!


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