Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Meanwhile, in Education News

Josh writes:

Students discover how education works; say "hang on..."

"When you know you will pass anyway, why study? And after you have 80 credits there is no motivation to do better."

OK, the realisation that you can get through your education by putting in the minimum required effort is not a new one. The phrase "C's get degrees" has been around a lot longer than NCEA, so I don't see why this "there's no incentive to do more than just pass" stuff is news -- surely the motivation to get an Excellence instead of an Acheived is the same as the motivation to get an A instead of a C (or 90% instead of 55%)? You don't do it because you have to, you do it because you have a bit of pride in your work*. (Well, I did.) The attitude that all you have to do is pass says more to me about the students expressing it than it does the system.

Now, this isn't to say that there aren't some legitimate issues here:
  • If the real complaint is that the minimum requirement is too low, then fine -- that would warrant fixing. I wouldn't have a clue if this is the case or not -- Jack could probably shed some light.

  • Furthermore, if what these complaints are really highlighting is the fact that getting an Excellence or a Merit isn't valued by students, it would be worthwhile asking why. If this is the case, though, it suggests more of a cultural issue (as in the culture of education) than a systemic one.

  • It's also possible that the way things are presented to students makes this realisation easier to come by, so even the ones who are a bit thick catch on.
None of which change the fact that once again, a complaint is made of NCEA which is just as true under pretty much any other education system, and was certainly true of the system I went through school under. So... um... so there.

* And then there are the potential issues of a prospective employer looking over your grades, and higher minimum requirements for getting into certain courses at university/tech, so there is a bit of self-interested motivation there, too.


span said...

Didn't Jack already use up Brain Stab's quota of so's for the month?

Surely a C is the most efficient pass, according to the market - it shows you are competent but didn't waste any time or effort trying to be excessively good.

Apathy Jack said...

Basically, Josh is right - the current attitude ("I got an Achieved, why try harder?") is just the old attitude (I got a C, yay me I passed") hung on the new system.

The current minimum requirement is too low - a monkey could pass NCEA, and I don't mean one of those super-intelligent space monkeys, or the ones they teach lots of words to, I mean a normal one.

That having been said, that isn't what this kid was complaining about.

john said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Josh said...

In the interests of brevity, I deleted John's cut'n'paste of an entire Kiwi Herald article -- you can find the real thing here.

susan said...

I was round at a friend's house the other day and her 17 year old was in tears about having only got an Achieved for a movie she'd made. People vary what they care about even if they are young.

Me, I always wanted to be liked and getting good marks wasn't a good idea for that.

RSJS said...

As I recall Josh was top of English at my old school and no-one liked him for it. That and his fecal incontinence. I'm pretty sure he learned everytig he needed to conquer the English department from reading the graffiti in the bathreoom stalls where he whiled away his days...

The point is, I'm not hiring anyone who got put the "C" into NCEA. Ity indicates someone who will do the bare minimum to get by. However, kids don't seem to either a) realise or b) care that they are being weighed and measured and found wanting. And for that, they should be harvested for useful organs and sold to the zoo to feed hungry hungry hippos, who as I recall like to eat balls.

Herr Dummkopf von Kranken-Brainen said...

Christ, in hindsight 5th and 6th form were a complete waste of time, and 7th form's only use was acting as a entry tool for University. Otherwise, the grades I got were only good for measuring my progression in the geek hierarchy. Of course of teachers hyped the crap out of each set of exams at the time - and we bought it, because at 15 you are clinically stupid (exhibit A, the kid in the Herald article).

Anyway, on to the substance of her complaint: why would you try to get a Merit or Excellence since they all equal the same amount of credit? Well aside from perhaps a sense of pride at personal achievement it's pretty simple: when it comes to NCEA lvl 3 and entry to University it matters a great deal. Why? Because each module has a points value and each grading above achieved gives you a multiplier (off-hand I don't remember the exact amount, but let's say x2 for Merit and x3 for Excellence); and the more points you end up with the better your chance of getting into your chosen degree.

Anonymous said...

That's only true for limited entry courses at Auckland University. Which, while certainly applying to a significant number of students, is still a minority over all.

Generally speaking Merit and Excellence don't count for much in terms of university entrance.

Still, the qualification, unlike Bursary, is not supposed to just be for university entrance. If you're not going to uni, and you're using your NCEA results when you're applying for a job, it does tell your potential employer that you weren't one of those slack-arsed bastards who just did the absolute minimum required to pass.