Thursday, 20 August 2009

Exam results

Today this years A level results arrive. Again, there is going to be a record amount of passes, which the government will laud as improvement in education standards and the press will assault with comments about grade inflation and "dumbing down". The same charade will happen next week when the GCSE results, including mine, arrive.
The cause of all this is simple. The exam boards are competing, and should one exam board produce a significant decrease in passes compared to its competitors, all the schools will stop using that board like a shot. So, they are forced to toe the line year on year, regardless of the quality of the results. I personally think that some years are full of brighter pupils, others less bright, but the exams don't differentiate between years. They can't, or they'll go out of business. Also, they are heavily regulated by the government to make sure that they are all totally equal.
I can think of three possible solutions to this problem. You could have one independent body that made sure that grade inflation didn't happen, so exams were never significantly easier or harder between the years, and keep the exam boards. Or you could have exam boards like universities - you display the board with the grades, and have a separate body which rates how hard the exams were for the boards, so some boards would be easier and more highly rated by employers, and others less so. Or, instead of having grades, have percentile compared to the rest of the population. So then grade inflation can't happen.

Overall, however, I feel people need to socially think that NVQs are worthwhile, and so those who are more practical can get those, and not be looked down upon. Then GCSEs should be more intense, or split like O levels and GCEs were, so that a serious level of work may be done earlier. People who would fail the GCSEs shouldn't be looking at them.

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Changing society pt1

People, particularily christians, often pick holes in our society. They're mostly right: We are too greedy, we are too impatient, we consume far too much, community has been lost (at least to a degree) and so much else besides. A lot of these factors are primarily social, as well. And the thing is, we spend so much time pointing out what is wrong, yet so few of us present clear solutions to our problems. Breathe is one positive example, but so often whatever guidance as to how to change the situation is too vague to be effective. What is needed are people who can see what is wrong, know it is wrong, and are willing to change it. There are quite a lot of those people, however. But more importantly, these people need to know what to do to actually effect the change they desire. So often there are lots of words and little action. I suppose that may partly be the result of any action by these people, who are in the minority, being resisted by the rest. Yet surely those other people could be convinced of the truth, so that action may happen. And then we get to the biggest problem. The seductive properties of Sin. Whilst most people want the harm they are doing to stop, they are not prepared to give up the pleasures which are the cause. They refuse to see the harm it does to others because then they would have to stop what seems so good and attractive to them. And many of us have fallen into that trap at one point or another. But again it comes back to the original question: what is to be done?

So... How do you change our society? With legislation? With rallys? The slow way: one heart at a time? How?

I know I'm guilty of base hypocrisy here, but I'm partially throwing out the question to people so it can be dealt with, and also, partly based on any feedback, I'm hoping to make some suggestions in later posts.

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Being with God

My best friend, who's not a Christian, whilst rambling about people, made a very interesting statement. "Just by being around other people, you are changed by them."
He was talking about how we change ourselves subconsciously when we spend time around other people.
But that, combined with an important conversation relating to spending more time with God, it dawned on me. The more time we spend around God, talking to Him, listening to Him, thinking about Him, the more like Him we become, and the clearer it becomes what to do in a situation. Every time I do spend some serious time around God, its great and I don't want it to stop, yet most of the time I always seem to have something distracting me, or taking away from the time that I had allocated to spending with Him. As emily put it, we need to try to spend time on the important, and not let the Urgent get in the way.
God is in control.
He is.
Don't forget it!

Opening post

Ok, I'm creating this blog to write down my thoughts on important things that I've been thinking about and what has been happening. If you are interested, feel free to read through it.

Whilst on the train to Lichfield from Birmingham New Street to see my girlfriend, something unusual, at least to me, happened. At the other end of my coach, a man with a guitar on his back stood up and addressed us all: "People on the train to Lichfield from Birmingham new street" and then proceeded to pronounce the gospel to us all in some detail in a monologue which ended when the train arrived at the next station, at which point he said goodbye and got off. Mostly people on the train just seemed amused, although I have no idea as to what the overall impact of it actually was, planting seeds etc. I attempted, and failed miserably, to capitalise on the situation because I forgot to ask God who to talk to. I have to admit, whilst he was speaking, I wanted to go up to him and "explain to him his error". Which is stupid, really. I have to try not to put other people down because they don't do things differently. Anyway.
But it got me thinking. He had a fairly distinctive eastern european accent, and I am guessing there may be some cultural element to his actions. But before you start scoffing, consider this. In all probability he will never again meet any of those people, and he may have a significant impact on some people. So, it seems to me, that the benefits of potential salvation far outweigh the feeling of embarrassment, and also, it gives an opportunity to all the quiet christians on the coach to start talking. Personally, I would want to be more personal, but too often there is either a total abscence of boldness, or preaching of hellfire and damnation to the masses, which on its own, only invites scorn. Perhaps more of us ought to be bold and speak out to those around us, and speak of the love of a perfect God. People are more interested than you think.