Friday, December 06, 2013

UK education; Spanish show trials; The Ponters retail scene; Bankruptcies; Expat types; and Grimpers.

I mentioned yesterday that the UK had not done well in the 2012 PISA evaluation of educational standards in both state and private schools, though the latter were considerably better than the former. Alison Pearson has an entertaining article on this, of which this is an extract: "The uncomfortable fact is that most kids in this over-entitled, under-boundaried, celebrity-obsessed culture of ours simply do not have the hunger that drives their Asian counterparts. Nor, by and large, do they have “tiger” parents. They watch Joey Essex in I’m A Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here and they see a youth of such epic dopiness that, at the age of 23, he needs a beauty queen to teach him how to tell the time. Never mind. Joey owns a watch worth thousands of pounds and is on the telly. What better symbol for our age than a reality TV star with a Rolex who doesn’t know what time it is?"

Just going back to the 2009 mental problems of the woman accused of murdering her adopted daughter . . . Her psychiatrist of the time has now said she booked herself into and then out of a private psychiatric hospital but that she never should have been discharged because "There was something there. She was a very strange person". I wonder if this is standard psychiatric jargon. But, anyway, we're now told she's to undergo a psychiatric examination in prison to ascertain whether she has any mental health disorder(s) which could affect her responsibility, if found guilty. Which is good, as it's hard to believe a verdict of guilty is anything other than a racing certainty, given her trial by media. Of which this psychiatric guff is a major part.

I've mentioned a couple of times how confused I am by Pontevedra's ever-changing retail scene, where a good percentage of closing shops are swiftly reopened under new owners - usually offering items for ladies, frozen yoghurt (in December!) or sweets/candies. The latest of these is an ex-estate agents (realtors) which is now yet another place selling geegaws for women - in a street that's outside the main shopping area. Yesterday it was occupied by a woman in a fur jacket reading a newspaper. When I mentioned this to a friend over tiffins, she said she knew the owners and they specialised in fascinators, which they'd previously made at home. Neither of us gave it much hope. Especially as winter is not exactly the peak of the wedding season.

Talking of closures . . . Here's an article from The Local on the rate of bankruptcies in Spain over the post-bum years. Salutary reading.

And here's another Local list, which'll be of interest to you if you're an expat here in Spain. The Galicia entry is hokum, by the way. Can't speak for the others.

Finally . . . The tool which removes staples has a variety of names in the Anglosphere. That said, in the UK it only appears to be called a 'staple remover', though folk in some ex British colonies call it a 'decleater'. Which confused me until I saw it as 'de-cleater'. The Americans, of course, are far more inventive and use the following terms:-staple remover, staple extractor, staple puller, destapler, staple taker-outer[er], staple monster, stable biter, staple muncher, destaplizer, staple serial killer, jaws or crocodile. None of these, I venture to say, are as good as the word I invented for the tool in my first year in business - 'grimper'. Sad to say, this has yet to make the dictionaries. Or even Wikipedia. Perhaps I should edit the entry. 


Phil Adams said...

I know first-hand that in English schools the standards in some academic subjects are not as high as they used to be, and that should obviously be a concern. But I suggest that the 'Pisa' exercise in international comparisons be treated with great caution. There was a very interesting Radio 4 programme recently in which statisticians and educationalists exposed big holes in it, and there are further doubts expressed here:

Perry said...

Learn by (w)rote shall be the whole of the law. I was in primary school in New Zealand from 1940-53. The teachers dictated & the pupils scribbled, thus acquiring the skills necessary for future progress.

When we returned to the UK, I passed the 11+ (no problem) & attended an RC grammar school, then Harrow Tech. for A levels. Raw intelligence is everything; the rest is commentary.



Anonymous said...


When you say “I mentioned yesterday that the UK had not done well in the 2012 PISA evaluation”, you mean Wednesday, doesn’t time fly? Pay attention boy, take 50 lines.

Allison Pearson’s article – Entertaining as you say, albeit without substance. Do you see a PISA education rankings chart anywhere in her article – With Shanghai listed as a country or not?


You speak of “evaluation of educational standards in both (UK) state and private schools, though the latter were considerably better than the former.” – Where did you see that?

UK teachers, when not having a relaxing summer holiday, will interpret the all too vague British national syllabus in such a way as to make the lessons as palatable to the lowest common denominator in their class. This requires minimum teaching effort while ensuring the minimum in class disruption. Both make for a quiet life for teachers and both defensible by the NUT.,_Wales_and_Northern_Ireland%29

Geegaws – Do you mean gewgaws? Oh dear. Double that to one hundred.

Phil Adams - Most interesting article.


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