Monday, January 18, 2010

Carol Vorderman is not qualified to teach maths

Following David Cameron's announcement that any graduate with less than a 2:2 would be barred from the teaching profession in perpetuity, Paul Waugh of The Evening Standard has been doing a bit of research.

David Cameron on Carol Vorderman:

"Let's make Britain top of the class for Maths. It's time for change and that change starts today. I am delighted to announce that Carol Vorderman has agreed to lead a new Conservative Party Maths Taskforce. Carol is the perfect choice. She's a well-respected public figure who not only knows maths inside out, but also how to extend that knowledge to a wider audience in an interesting and inspirational way."

The problem is that she would not qualify under Mr Cameron's new stringent criteria as she only obtained a Third Class degree from Cambridge.

And yet he says she 'not only knows maths inside out, but also how to extend that knowledge to a wider audience in an interesting and inspirational way'.

If the academic threshold for the creation of an élite class of teachers is to be a 2:2, should not the threshold for entering politics be a First?

After all, how can someone who has no degree and no A-levels, despite having attended a grammar school, possibly qualify to be a politician, let alone Secretary of State for Education?

Or are gender, skin colour, disability and sexuality of greater significance when it comes to creating an élite political class?

26 Comments:

Blogger Mark Wadsworth said...

Quite right too! If she taught maths, all the lads would just sit there lusting after her and not concentrating on their work.

18 January 2010 at 18:47  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Sorry, did you say something, miss?"

18 January 2010 at 18:51  
Blogger Stefan said...

a) With a few exceptions (Imperial, UCL, etc), a Third from Cambridge is worth a 2:ii (or above!) from anywhere else.

b) I hope Cameron means NEW graduates without a 2:ii would be barred from teaching. It has become easier over the decades to get a higher grade, and I admit this as a recent graduate myself. If you get a third these days, you have either been very ill or are pretty thick.

So, yeah, Cambridge Third from those years ago = Cambridge 2:ii now = 2:i from most other places, and probably even a first from some of the awful ex-polytechnics.

18 January 2010 at 18:52  
Blogger Benjamin Gray said...

Stefan, a first from an ex-poly is still a very good degree. You'd do well to keep those sort of prejudices to yourself.

It's quite something for a politician supposed to be advocating a post-bureaucratic age to be proposing such a mind-numbing piece of box-ticking.

18 January 2010 at 19:02  
Blogger Paul said...

Of course, Carol has demonstrated an aptitude for arithmetic, not mathematics.

The two are very different things.

And she got her degree two years younger than most, which presumably would need to be taken into account.

Oh, and it depends on whether Civil Engineering would be classed as a "science".

(Not the best example, all in all).

18 January 2010 at 19:10  
Blogger Archbishop Cranmer said...

"And she got her degree two years younger than most, which presumably would need to be taken into account."

Where is that in the new policy?

Are you proposing that the Conservatives would permit third-class graduates to teach if they took their finals before the age of 21?

It was Mr Cameron who referred to her ability in mathematics. Of course, His Grace knows the difference, but he notes you use the word 'aptitude' rather than 'ability', which accords with Labour's legitimate selection criteria for their academy programme.

18 January 2010 at 19:15  
Anonymous Elliot Kane said...

I think that the main criteria for entering politics should be an ability to demonstrate common sense and a grasp of simple logic. That should thoroughly disqualify most of the current incumbents straight away, to no loss for the good people of Britain.

18 January 2010 at 19:30  
Blogger DDIM 'n HOFFI said...

Continuing from one of my previous comments about bankers trashing the economy, Carol Voderwoman also did her part with selling dodgy loans on the TV every five seconds in between margarine adds.

Cranmer....get a job and put that styrofoam cup away! Next thing you will be getting a dog.

18 January 2010 at 20:05  
Anonymous Knighthawk said...

He's already got a dog.

Unfortunately it's black.

18 January 2010 at 20:19  
Anonymous GTGTWG said...

“After all, how can someone who has no degree and no A-levels, despite having attended a grammar school, possibly qualify to be a politician, let alone Secretary of State for Education?”

Ask a hairdresser or a taxi driver! Education to uni level can be overrated. More often than not, all one gets is the biased opinions of college professers, and those professors who would prefer to be more open minded risk losing their jobs…they are TOLD what they can teach. University can make one less educated than a person who has been allowed to dig and make up their own mind. However, I'm not opposed to education but it shouldn't be classed as the be all and end all. My grandfather had no degree and little ‘controlled’ education. He was a labourer all his life, worked hard. He was one of the most gentle, caring people ever. He was brilliant in mind. He was self taught, could answer many questions on many subjects. We used to call him Bamber Gascoigne because he answered most the questions on Uni Challange. He had more about him than any of the clowns in politics these days.

“Or are gender, skin colour, disability and sexuality of greater significance when it comes to creating an élite political class?”

We all know politically correct bullshit plays the biggest role in most walks of life.

Most politicians are far removed from the people. For the most part they've had privledged upbringings and live in crime free "posh" areas.

18 January 2010 at 20:28  
Blogger Alfred of Wessex said...

Blogger Benjamin Gray [18 January 2010 19:02] said...

"Stefan, a first from an ex-poly is still a very good degree. You'd do well to keep those sort of prejudices to yourself."


Presumably because people like you, Mr Gray, would be the first to denounce Stefan or myself to the Stasi (sorry, "Equality and Diversity Unit") for having the temerity to think, let alone utter such an "offensive" remark.

People like you with first-class degrees in some social pseudo-"science" from second-rate ex-Polytechnics who have wormed their into positions of power and influence are one of the main reasons this country is in such a hideous mess.

18 January 2010 at 20:32  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

1. The math you get taught at UG level has almost nothing to do with what you need to know to teach children at all. The 2.1+ obsession is like saying that only bishops and above rannks should be allowed to tend the local godshop and it's flocks.

Also note: mathematicians are not good teachers either in most cases, they are geeks..., not socially gifted pedagogic talents in general.

2. Getting a crap degree means nothing, plenty of very smart and capable people have one (and no-one cares). Also, a 2.1 means nothing anymore either, too many unis hand them out as a standard grade nowadays, same goes for firsts. If you want to be sure who is really competent, set them an exam yourself and be very surprised.

3. Where will Mr. Cameron take the money from to pay the going rates for the caliber of employee he is looking for? Most of those guys he is talking about can easily earn multiples of what a teacher earns with a fraction of the work and dangers involved.

Seriously, if you want the good teachers, offer proper pay and good working conditions, and choose people with good teaching skills, then teach them the surprisingly small skill set of math and the philosophy behind it that they'll need to lecture kiddies.

18 January 2010 at 20:50  
Blogger Frugal Dougal said...

I think it's time for Mr Johnson to show his commitment to classless education by congratulating John Major for making it to Prime Minister with a clutch of O-levels.

18 January 2010 at 23:39  
Blogger francis said...

I don't know about Cambridge, but Oxford used to award Firsts, Seconds (without further division), Thirds and Fourths (and then Pass degrees). Nowadays they have allowed themselves to be coerced into following the ways of other (lesser) institutions in awarding First, Upper Seconds, Lower Seconds and Thirds. Presumably this means that an old Third is equivalent to a new Lower Second. Is Dave's policy going to take these kinds of things into account?

Incidentally, my utterly inspirational head of Classics at school had a Third from Oxford, and his deputy a Fourth. It is thanks to them that I ended up reading Greats (Classics) at Oxford. Dave would have excluded them both from the profession.

19 January 2010 at 00:15  
Blogger Bill Sticker said...

Maybe we should set the bar higher for politicians too.

Having said that, Harold Wilson had a double first from Oxford, and look what a mess he left behind.

19 January 2010 at 02:45  
Anonymous Oxbridge intellectual who read greats and believes polytechnics are dumps for the working classes snob said...

Clearly any one who has not read classics at Oxford or Cambridge is so stupid they do not deserve to have an opinion. They should simply go and work as dustbin men; the vote should be restricted to those that have degrees from Oxbridge (and possibly Imperial College, providing they take an "oxbridge is best" test) and heaven forbid that we have some one who does not come from Eton or Harrow or Oxbridge to run the country!

[ Quite a few Tory Prime Ministers didn't have a degree from Oxbridge]

I mean, the Queen's got a degree from Oxbridge and we all love her and does her job well!

[She doesn't have a degree from anywhere]

People need to remember who their superiors are and I will not speak to anyone unless they have a degree from Oxbridge to a minimum of a third, if I am feeling in a good mood an upper second (which as Francis says is a vulgar American term- wretched colonials!).

[We do not live in the 19th century guys and people can get on in life without a degree via hard work and determination]

19 January 2010 at 07:58  
Anonymous martin sewell said...

It is worth mentioning that Universities are very varied institutions and their Departments can vary considerably. A good Department in a "lower" institution may well far exceed a poor Department in a more prestigious institution.

Some who know rate Durham's Geography or Lancaster's Religious Studies as more prestigious than their Oxbridge counterparts.

Some of the old Polytechnics, for example, grew out of specialist training schools for hard-edged subjects such as aeronautics, and you would have to be particularly snobbish or foolish to look down your nose at someone well qualified in specialist science which is so necessary to the prosperity of the country. There may be a limit to how many really self superior Cambridge spies the nation needs.

19 January 2010 at 09:32  
Blogger andy said...

It's time that the government - and society as a whole stopped thinking tha qualifications make for good teachers and medics, etc. Often, the best teachers are those who have struggled most to understand the subject they teach because they appreciate the problems that learners face. Rather than requiring teachers to have a particular level of academic achievement before being allowed to start teaching, perhaps the academic qualification should be introduced AFTER someone has proved that they have the aptitude to teach and enthuse pupils.

19 January 2010 at 09:43  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your Grace - thank you for exposing the foolish comments
of Cameron.
I expect there will be myriad future opportunities to do this , too.

19 January 2010 at 09:51  
Blogger ultramontane grumpy old catholic said...

What about a degree in the University of Life and a PhD in hindsight?

Do those count?

19 January 2010 at 10:12  
Anonymous Mark Blades said...

It's good to see Mr. Cranmer questioning the Conservatives and Mr. Cameron about policies. But, I'm afraid that, until we come out of the EU, all that the Conservatives [and the other two main parties] will do is to resemble the proverbial crew on the Titanic re-arranging the furniture.

19 January 2010 at 10:44  
Blogger scottspeig said...

It is such a silly argument to make - If you look at the millionaire entrepeneurs, most of them failed at school and dropped out without qualifications.

They should re-think this concept. An interesting thought I had once was that to teach a subject, you should only require the qualification above that - so to teach GCSE Maths, you would only require an 'A'-level in maths.

19 January 2010 at 11:22  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Shes Welsh aswell.

19 January 2010 at 21:21  
Blogger Miss Snuffleupagus said...

'If the academic threshold for the creation of an élite class of teachers is to be a 2:2, should not the threshold for entering politics be a First?'

Erm... why?

19 January 2010 at 22:01  
Blogger Archbishop Cranmer said...

Because it may be posited by many that the academic demands of the business of government are a little more demanding than teaching.

19 January 2010 at 22:54  
Blogger Miss Snuffleupagus said...

Your Grace
But surely not by His Grace? Surely His Grace's thoughts do not equate with those of the masses?

Those idiot politicians could not do my job (well) for 6 months, let alone a lifetime. Their jobs are not difficult. Mine is so challenging that most people fail at it most of the time... (including me - well, some of the time!)

Why do I love teaching? Because of the challenge - it is HARD to succeed in it. And I like climbing mountains. Politicians like hearing their own voices.

20 January 2010 at 19:08  

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