A Conversation for AS Exams
Personal opinion - About time too
You can call me TC Started conversation May 8, 2001
Why wasn't this done ages ago?
When I took A levels 30 years ago, I was keen on both arts (particularly languages) and sciences and it took a lot of back-breaking timetable-juggling to allow me (and one other girl) to mix English, French and Maths. I would have loved to do History and Chemistry, too, and to this day, regret what I missed in those subjects. (There was just no time for more than the three main subjects.)
Here in Germany where I live now, when my husband finished school, all subjects were taken for the full time (9 years of secondary education here!!). Nowadays a lot of subjects are dropped, but there is still a system of majoring and minoring, so that everyone at least has German, Maths, a further language and a social science. This has become too specialised, people are deciding, and the movement is - similar to the idea described here for England - back again towards more general and broader education.
Germany has, however, always had a greater degree of continual assessment, and also has kept the concept of oral exams in all subjects. (to my mind antiquated, but may be of advantage to some who have trouble expressing themselves in writing and can express themselves verbally)
Industry tries to get the message through to the teachers and the education PTB that they are not necessarily interested in maths aces, or IT geeks, but people with a broad education, i.e. material they can build on. Specialised skills are learned at work, school is the only place where real solid general education can be acquired. As usual, everyone is just doing their own thing and no one listens to the other side's arguments.
As you can see from my own choice of subjects mentioned above, while the mixing of arts and sciences was unusual, no one could find any argument against doing this, and it even gave me the advantage that I had offers like BCE from universities because if I was going to study languages, my ability in Maths would not count. (had I chosen, say, History or Art as a third subject, I would probably have had to produce BBC or BBB) Unfortunately, as I was not taking physics as well, I lost track of maths somewhere along the line and didn't even make the BCE. But I do not understand why you say that some students were choosing their extra subject from the same field because they felt the universities would think they weren't serious about their subjects.
Even in my day, courses were being offered such as "Chemistry with German" and, at Bath, which had the best-reputed course in Applied Languages, they were very adamant that language students should attend a certain number of seminars in scientific subjects such as Nuclear Physics or Biochemistry, whatever. Was this trend not continued?
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