Tag Archives: Education


Gimme a soap box, and I will happily rant for 10 minutes about music.  Specifically, music in schools.

I owe my glancing acquaintance with playing the violin to the free instrumental lessons which were available in my grammar school in North Wales.

They took me to Grade 4 and a rather short-lived place in the county Youth Orchestra. I did not take my violin to university, and after leaving school I never played again. Occasionally friends will still say very brightly, “Oh, we made up a kind of informal quartet – you ought to join us – it’s just for fun!” And I want to run for cover. The grade and the official youth orchestra record hide a multitude of sins, in particular, the fact that I was never very good then and would not expect to be even half-way passable for any kind of musical ensemble now.

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Exams vs Education

Secondary teachers probably despaired at the news that universities believed undergraduates are reaching them unfit for degree courses, and needing foundation years to get up to speed.

University staff apparently believe schools are spoon-feeding to ensure children pass examinations. And they’re right – that’s what government wanted.

In fact, what else did anyone expect when the world started to judge schools by the pass rates in public examinations?

Only now have the universities woken up to protest that, without old-style education, undergraduates are not what they used to be – not sufficiently inquiring, not so capable of independent study and more demanding of more spoon-feeding and direct teaching than any researching, book-writing lecturer likes.

Tough. Live with it. In the end, schools can only deliver what the boss wants.

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How do you like your fruit?

If I asked you to talk about apples, what would you say? They grow in Kent? There are lots of varieties? They’re good for cooking? If any of these come to mind, you are probably a left-brain thinker – analytical, knowledge-based.If, on the other hand, you were to talk about the supremacy of Golden Delicious because of intensive marketing, the importance of preserving ancient varieties, the use of the apple in mythology – well, all of that indicates a right-brain thinker, less interested in facts and better able to think laterally and widely.

Next question: does it matter? Answer: probably, as the latest thinking is that people who are able to access the whole brain, who know the facts but think more widely, are likely to be the most successful in whatever they do. And right-brain thinkers have a greater chance of success as simple knowledge becomes more the preserve of computers and the internet – and thus of everyone.

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