Home > Statistrickery > Traditional ‘where’s your grammar?’ line

Traditional ‘where’s your grammar?’ line

(“in t’front room watching telly, what’s it to you?”)

An apparently valid study has shown that 25-34 year olds are best at using apostrophes correctly, while over-55s are worst. While this doesn’t fit with the traditional narrative of ‘it’s all gone to the dogs since trendy liberals took over teaching’, it does fit with the available evidence on functional literacy rates: it’s clear that the comprehensive system has provided its alumni with a more effective education than the grammar and secondary modern system did.

I’m aware that ‘bring back grammar schools’ is a dogmatic, rather than an evidence-based, position – but one might have thought the fact that older people are demonstrably worse-educated than younger people might impinge on their consciousness somewhere down the line…

Categories: Statistrickery
  1. November 12, 2008 at 4:14 am | #1

    It is not your reading skill that needs attention, Mr. Band, but your stamina level. If you had managed to persevere to the end of that tedious report you would have read this:

    "International adult literacy consultant Thomas Sticht produced a critique of the Skills for Life survey on behalf of the Basic Skills Agency. He stated that the Department for Education and Skills was wrong to conclude that the survey indicated success for the Skills for Life strategy. He wrote: "There are major differences between the International Adult Literacy Survey tests used to determine the estimate of 7 million adults with poor literacy skills in 1997 and the estimate of 5.2 million adults with poor literacy skills in the Skills for Life survey of 2003 which render comparisons of the results of the two surveys invalid."

  2. November 12, 2008 at 4:23 am | #2

    And the relevance of that fact to the 2003 survey's finding that older people have poorer literacy skills than younger people is what, exactly?

  3. November 12, 2008 at 7:57 pm | #3

    John, some of us who think grammar schools were a pretty good idea, also think that the secondary moderns were shafted through chronic underfunding. One size fits all isn't a great education policy but neither is creaming off the top and throwing all the resources at them to the remainder's expense. I've been saying for ages that it's ideologues of all stripes that have bolloxed up the UK's education system and the best policy is just to let schools and parents to get on with what works for them.

    There is nothing good about the "good old days" except in that they offer us the chance to learn from our mistakes.

  4. Tom
    November 12, 2008 at 10:18 pm | #4

    Does this mean that being now 34 I'll lose the ability to use apostrophes from next March?

    Anecdote Warning:

    Suffolk, some time in the 1970s. Scene: primary school where my (very old-school martinet) grandfather is teaching. Visiting the school is his old friend from Germany. Friend examines child's work, discovers misplaced apostrophe and exclaims 'Mein Gott, don't you know ze difference between a genitive und a plural'?

  5. Charlieman
    November 16, 2008 at 3:00 am | #5

    The only thing that is proven is that teaching methodology has improved. When you compare contemporary workbooks with twenty or thirty year old text books, you see how more easy it is to learn. But teaching methodology is independent of the selective versus comprehensive argument.

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