Broadcaster argues ‘best university system in the world’ is being carelessly destroyed
Melvyn Bragg has said Britain is becoming a stupid country, in part because its university system is being destroyed.
The broadcaster and Labour peer criticised the state of British higher education in an interview with the magazine Radio Times.Continue reading...
What are we doing to our children (Pupils tell of new GCSEs’ toll on their mental health, 23 June)? My daughter is part of this year’s GCSE cohort, the first guinea pig year of the government’s new “hostile environment” for secondary students. Having revised her socks off, she is now thoroughly demoralised. Questions in every subject paper taken so far seemed designed not to allow her to shine, but to frustrate; to highlight what students couldn’t know rather than what they have covered in depth. In their pursuit of a statistical drop in higher grades, examiners seem to have intentionally set questions that either fall outside the expected material or are so ambiguously worded that it becomes a lottery how many will interpret them correctly. This “Lady or the Tiger” trial by ordeal, certainly in the case of my daughter, is a loss of love for the subjects she was looking forward to at A-level. The instilling of passion is the most important role of an educator. The examination system now seems intent on doing quite the reverse.
• Reading pupils’ comments, I found I was weeping by the time I got to the end because I know the stories are completely true and not down to teenage hysteria. My granddaughter worked so hard throughout this long exam period, shutting herself away and suffering from migraines and stress-related withdrawal. To think that this experience was multiplied in families across the country is heartbreaking. My son and daughter-in-law became anxious to the point that their own lives became difficult. Should we be subjecting our 16-year-olds to this torture? Might we weed more gently? I note at the end of the article you give a contact number for the Samaritans. Shame on you, Michael Gove, I will never forgive you!
My father, Peter Gordon, who has died aged 90, left school at 16 but became an author and a professor of history and humanities at the Institute of Education, UCL. A popular head of department in his nearly 30 years at the IOE, he pursued his twin fields of expertise, political history and the history of education, and wrote or edited more than 30 books as well as numerous papers.
He was a meticulous researcher, and his biographical work was also characterised by narrative talent. Written with warmth and respect, his monographs on the 5th Earl Spencer (The Red Earl), the Wake family (tracing 30 generations of the Northamptonshire family), and his history of royal education reached popular as well as academic readerships. Co-authoring one of his later works, Musical Visitors to Britain (2005), I had first-hand experience of his outstanding skills as teacher and mentor.Continue reading...