@5wrightstuff Modular “A”-levels.

Modular exams have the appeal of taking the final one shot or you’re dead element out of the equation but this is a false benefit.

The real purpose of modular exams, however, was not to make life easier for pupils but to cut the cost of Education of the masses and replace it with on-line tutoring, which could then be privatised.

In subjects, such as Physics, where you actually need a solid acquaintanceship with all aspects of your subject, in order to benefit in your work ( particularly if going into research), it is important that you are able to be tested in a one-off final exam. That exam does, of course need to cover the entirety of the syllabus.

As a teacher, It was obvious that those students who did well on the multiple choice paper (tested basic concepts etc. from all area’s of study), would do well on the more detailed but selective question papers. Whilst those who performed at an average level on the multiple choice, were the ones who could fail dismally on the longer questions.

When you go out to work you need to have that learning in place, without the option of going away and looking it up.  You can’t look up a concept, only facts.

I don’t know how it works in other subjects but, in Physics, you do need to learn a particular way of thinking, to see the patterns in the different areas of the subject and to draw the strands together.

I suspect that for many subjects, the factual content is not so important

For me, modular Physics is analogous to building a house, doing one wall at a time, instead of building all sides together.

One aspect of the school exam years, which is not taken into account in modern schooling, is the problem of the teen years.

For girls this is about 12 to 16, while for boys it’s about 13 to 17.

This period really screws up Education and makes the quibble about missing a few weeks of education, comparatively trivial.

Why Education is assumed to be unaffected by this period is incomprehensible.

It’s not just hormones causing moodiness. Teens can become psychotic, unable to tell from another person’s face, what their emotions are.

They can suffer extreme mood swings that can switch them from delirium to a despondency, which can lead to suicide. It’s no coincidence that even in my youth, teens often adopted black garb, reflecting this. Girls are less prone to being stuck in prolonged periods of these swings, because their menstrual cycle ensures that the swings become cyclical.

Add in that this is the period when they gang-up seek others of the same generation. A period when they learn their relative social status and form their own generational culture (often reflected in their music style)

Frankly, I think that they should be taken out of school and put in same age communities with physical tasks to learn, rather than academic ones, until they have emerged from this phase.

Educationally, my experience is that pupils in year 9 (12-13 year olds) would do better taking GCSE’s, than when they are 16. Particularly so for boys.

However, whilst we insist on the present system, then I have found that modular fails many, while they are only 17 and still in this teen phase. After 17, most seem to suddenly become rational again and show the same level of focus that they had at 13.

My own subject is Physics, which is male dominated, so this is not quite as crucial for girls. In essence, I found that girls, who took up Physics tended to do better than the lads, because, besides being above average intelligence, they have a work ethic and they have already left their teen angst behind them. Boys, being lazy, can work extra hard on that final dash to a final exam and, with Physics being more of an intelligence test, they often do better in a final exam, than with a modular form.

Bear in mind that the ages stated are typical ages and some are early developers, whilst others are late developers. Indeed! if I were in charge, I’d take people out of Society during their own specific period of puberty and give them some sort of Outward Bound, Duke of Edinburgh, Scouting type of environment, where they can learn to socialise under loose supervision by Professionals with back-up from Psychologists, Psychiatrists and Counsellors.

During this period they could form their own opinions of possible skills and careers. They could then go on to appropriate training, or education, with a better confidence and greater focus.



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