Adult-illiteracy-ratesExperience in writing.

What a wonderfully ambiguous sentence.  Does it mean experience writing something or does it mean writing your experiences?

The English language is a wonderfully versatile tool, some say it even empowers an individual, the pen is mightier than the sword sort of thing.  Unless you’ve managed to get your head lopped off by some psychopath wielding a sword.  I would imagine it would be a tad difficult to behead someone with a pen, no matter how sharp it is.  But I digress.

I was shocked to learn that the UK scored 21st out of 26 developed countries for numeracy and literacy skills.  The majority of 16 to 24 year olds have the reading and numeracy skills of an 11 year old and that 65% of the country scores likewise.  We are basically one of the dumbest developed country in the world.  Considering our literary history, Dickens and Chaucer will be doing drill impersonations in their respective graves.

I have always maintained that the education system in the UK at primary and secondary levels have been dumbed down.  After the ‘O’ level was stopped and the General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE) was introduced to replace it, the number of students with astronomic grades increased year on year.  It either had to be down to the fact that the UK was creating geniuses or that the GCSE wasn’t worth the paper it was written on, assuming that someone was able to write correctly on the certificate without too many spelling mistakes.  Anyway, it appears that the latter was the case and the English were getting dumber by the year.

All this happened during the long Labour majority in the government.  Now we have a coalition government and the Minister for Education has been of the same opinion as me and has made moves to re-introduce the ‘O’ level back into secondary education.  Labour are screaming and being more brattish that normal.  They do that a lot as they are to blame for everything that went wrong in this country.  Them and Alex Salmon.

When I was younger, more than a few decades ago, there was an exam called the 11+.  Basically an examination to determine whether you went to a comprehensive school (common) or a grammar school (posh).  I sat the 11+ when I was 9 or 10.  It was an exercise in futility as I was the son of a soldier and we were educated in service schools in Germany, Belgium or wherever our father’s were posted at the time.  So there was no choice in schools for me.  However, for the children in the UK, the 11+ was a potential stepping stone up the social ladder.  Bearing in mind we had a definitive class system in the UK, the chance for the son or daughter of a working class family to go to grammar school was something to be proud of.

As I mentioned, the 11+ was an exam for children between the ages of 9, 10 or 11.

A number of years ago a study was conducted by some university or other (obviously with nothing else better to do!) where they took a number of volunteers who had over five A star plus (or whatever they are called) GCSEs.  These were the brightest children from comprehensive schools (there are very few grammar schools left and most of them are now public schools) around the country.  They had volunteered to take part in an experiment and the experiment was to sit an 11+ exam.

Do you want to guess what the outcome was or do I need to tell you?

That’s right.  Not a single one of them passed an exam that used to be sat by children still in primary school.  Not a single one of these five star, uber meteor, sun bright GCSE grade As.  Dumb Fecks!

It’s sad but true.  I’ve already mentioned that when I was an instructor many of my students had terrible literacy and numeracy skills.  These were young people with university degrees!

I’m going to leave this post at that, for the time being.  I will be revisiting the subject of writing and of speech.  For the time being, if you are some of the few who can actually read and understand what I have written, then it should give you something to ponder.  Well, you’ll ponder for a few seconds before something more important pops into your head and then you’ll completely forget about this.


Nobody loves me, everybody hates me.  I think I’m gonna eat worms.  If I can find them.  And I probably won’t.  Not that you’d care.  I’m going now.  Bye.