150 years of Cambridge examinations: no improvement in examiner remuneration
Cambridge Assessment has garnered useful publicity for its 150th anniversary by putting together an exhibition of quaint gems from the archives. This featured on Radio 4’s Learning Curve, including a letter from a Mr A Kershaw of Morecambe who, in 1910, offered the Secretary of the Syndicate, John Neville Keynes, (father of the economist) and his wife ‘a holiday in Paris’ if his daughter’s fail grade could be found to have been ‘a mistake’ (see page 24 of the online materials for the original). No such largesse in these mean-spirited times; the best I’ve had recently is the odd chuckle over ‘youthamisms’ in Shakespeare, where Claudius, in an act of ‘fartricide’, seized the ‘thrown’ from Old Hamlet.
It’s not the first time ‘google’ has been recorded in the OED
A learned letter from David Oakey of the University of Birmingham in The Guardian points out that whilst the new meaning of the verb ‘google’ appears in the 2006 edition of the Oxford English Dictionary, it’s not the first time the word has been recorded. Earlier editions list ‘google’ as a verb meaning to bowl a googly (1907) and as an obsolete variant of ‘goggle’. But I don’t suppose that back then they’d thought of the Googlegänger.
Literacy may not, after all, be killed off by technology
An interesting article by Steven Johnson on the front of this week’s Technology Guardian says that scary reports about the decline of reading in the digital age ignore all the screen reading that’s going on. He’s even found a study (in Michigan, admittedly) that found ‘that grades and reading scores rose with the amount of time spent online’. He concludes, ‘What separates the Google generation from postwar generations is the shift from largely image-based passive media to largely text-based interactive media.’ Why, everyone’s actually writing more now they’re on blogs and MySpace. The end of the literate world may not, after all, be at hand!
The National Literacy Trust published its own findings last December on Young people’s self-perceptions as readers. They surveyed 1143 pupils who defined themselves as ‘readers’ and 471 pupils who defined themselves as ‘non-readers’. However, their findings show, in an interesting reflection of Steven Johnson’s comments, that ‘the a huge percentage of non-readers do read, just not the kinds of materials that are traditionally associated with reading.’ Take a look at the full survey findings to learn more.
Both Rank and recommendation on this site…
It’s good to receive an unsolicited plug in The Guardian, though I must say that I’m still trying to catch up with Web 2.0. Whatever happened to Web 2.1 and all the other incremental steps? Well, it turns out that ‘the technology is not enough on its own,’ which is reassuring in a way.
Meanwhile, Literary Connections has plenty of recommendations….
Prescribed reading lists or more information literacy?
After the magnificently named Tara Brabazon’s article on Bowling Google a googly in the Guardian on 22 January, there’s a more measured response to the problems of plagiarism (deliberate or otherwise) from Dr Stephen Thornton of Cardiff University. In this week’s paper he makes a plea for ‘more information literacy’ and a less ‘Stalinist’ approach than Professor Tara’s refusal to mark anything that comes from material she hasn’t prescribed for her first year students.