Tuesday 3 April 2012

Pupils' terrible English 1921, 1955 shock horror

I am very grateful to Will Littlejohn, a twitter acquaintance who has sent me these.
He points out that they are mostly about Grammar School pupils ie this the 20 per cent or so children who were creamed off as a result of taking the 11-plus exam at the end of primary school.

So when present day commentators, policy-makers and politicians try to imply that the problems pupils have with reading and writing are new, and that employers' complaints are some recent phenomenon, you can show them this.

Another way of looking at it is that there is a special appeal of what's been called the 'narrative of decline'. In the mouths of reactionary politicians this is their ammo to prove that all went wrong when 'liberals' took over.

1921 Newbolt Report:

Vickers Ltd – “…there is difficulty obtaining junior clerks who can speak and write English clearly and correctly, especially those aged 15 to 16 years”.

Lever Brothers – “…it is a great surprise and disappointment to us to find that our young employees are so hopelessly deficient in their command of English”.

Boots – “…teaching of English in present day schools produces very limited command of the English language”.

JMB Examiners’ Reports:

“Many candidates cannot bring themselves to say what they know or think in comprehensible terms arranged in a clear, correct prose form”. (S Level English literature 1955).

“The root cause of a serious decline in competence; out od well over 900 scripts all but a small number showed that the candidate could not understand the plain sense of Englisj words singly and in combination (with) weak, loose vocabulary and appalling punctuation”. (S level Literature 1960).

“Too many scripts contain flippant spelling and punctuation”. (O level Language 1955).

Scripts contain, “slang, colloquialism (as) part of their natural, limited vocabulary”. (A level Literature 1965).

“Ignorance of parts of speech and of elementary grammar”. “Narrow range of vocabulary”. “General inability to use language accurately and concisely”. “Superficiality of ideas”. (All extracts from O level language 1960).