With the arrival of the late summer hot weather in the UK, we are at that time of year when A-level and GCSE students receive their results; an event which spawns a predictable flurry of news stories reporting the annually-increasing proportion of top grades and bemoaning the falling standards of education, followed by the equally predictable flurry of bumbling excuses and ham-fisted denials from politicians who, in their infinite naivety, apparently consider it plausible that successive generations are getting cleverer and cleverer.
We are treated to the usual sycophantic cooing about the “superior work ethic” of girls — that deliciously euphemistic sugar coating for obsessive displays of inefficient, knowledge-minimising busywork — and the Loony Left are always quick off the mark with their angst about the number of university places being offered to poverty-stricken black lesbian transsexuals in wheelchairs, or whatever the oppressed-minority-du-jour happens to be this week. The powers that be will respond in kind, proposing new star grades every year in a grim inverted parody of the Spinal Tap “up to eleven” phenomenon, eventually climaxing in a singularity of incompetence where the grades run from A* through A***** and universities are bound by law to give places to anyone and everyone — provided they are not a white middle-class male, of course, or (heaven forbid!) privately educated.
Of course it is inevitable that exams will get easier and grade boundaries lower because of the unavoidable conflict of interest between the government’s power to influence curriculum content and its political gain from appearing to preside over a successful education system, and that is before even considering the noxious influence of the dangerously-powerful Parent lobby and their laughable ideology of “every child is special”. An exam year in which 90 per cent of students fail is far less likely to be seen as evidence of high standards as it is an indictment of the system as a whole, and if little Fuzzpot or Princess Smegma III don’t get showered with self-esteem-boosting validation for their deferred success it’s a fair bet someone is going to get sued.
So one can hardly blame the media for pointing out the obvious, albeit with a rather stale whiff of Good Old Days romanticism. But does it even matter to the rest of us? Value in the job market is relative after all, and if the next few generations consist entirely of unemployable illiterates incapable of communicating except through grunting, text-speak and emoticons, those of us who can actually multiply single-digit numbers or use words with three syllables could become as much in demand as nuclear physicists and aerospace engineers are today.
So instead of whining about falling standards, let’s accelerate the stultification process and ensure our job security. I’m sure that Kahlee or Harper Seven’s A** Super Double First-class degrees in Madonna’s Tits with Horse Science will be more than adequate preparation for their future careers flipping burgers and delivering pizza, which is a service we useful employed people will be needing occasionally as we put men on the moon and find cures for cancer. Meanwhile the government can pat itself on the back for its stellar educational policies, the brave new world will be kept fully supplied with Deltas and Epsilons, ditches will be dug and our bins will be emptied. And — most importantly of all — nobody’s self-esteem will ever be damaged by the thought that they are anything less than the dazzling beacon of genius their doting parents have always insisted they are.