20% pass

“Kids must get a pass with only 20% in maths”. My wife, an education psychologist, recon that the department is going about it all wrong. By setting the standard too high, kids find it too difficult, they don’t try and therefore fail (or know that they got through only because of this 20% rule). So now they think that “maths is not for me” and next time they try even less - a downward spiral. By not setting the standard too high they can get the opposite result. Ok, it will take a year or two longer, but so what? We will end up with a higher standard in the long run. Was maths in the old, pre-1994, days easy? Was the jump from school to university to high for the average student?

The average student shouldn’t go to university in the first place, at least not to go study math-heavy stuff. I suspect we have way too many students at university.

Not too sure what you are saying above. As I understand it, 40% used to be enough for a pass; are you saying that is too high? With math, if you don’t get at least 60% or 70% at a given level, you are actually not really ready for the next level.

Not too sure what you are saying above.
Maybe Gr10 maths should be what Gr8 is now. Every grade should come down a year or two. The idea is to make it easier in the lower grades, build confidence, pass rate at 50% or higher. Then they know some of the work at least, instead of passing without knowing. Then increase the level towards the end of Gr12 to come up to university standard. Maybe also 3 maths grades to leave school. 1: Math literacy, 2: Math for uni, but at a lower level, 3: Math for your rocket science students.

Ah, okay, I see what you mean. They already do it this way in some places. Some years ago, I tutored a grade seven kid who was from Sweden, and his mother told me our grade 7 standard is way higher than it is in Sweden. But apparently they eventually catch up and I would guess their matric standard is likely higher than ours.

I don’t really have any particularly passionate opinions on the matter. I have pretty much given up on South Africa’s public education. The problem isn’t even just a problem with the schools either; it starts at home, and there is preciously little even the best school in the world can do about brain-damaged children with no ambition, personal pride or work ethic.

Apparently the old “streaming” approach has been abandoned? Seen as being discriminatory or what?

Probably. Ideally, one should do something like what they do in Germany: by around grade three or thereabouts, kids are put into one of several streams. Thus kids with the necessary mental equipment to become scientists and engineers and doctors are put into a more purely academic stream, kids who are more technically oriented are taught accordingly, and so on. They want the kids to end up with a skill they can sell, and as little unemployment as possible, instead of being obsessed that everyone should get a Ph.D.

This is exactly what South Africa needs, but two things prevent it. One is that we don’t remotely have Germany’s socio-economic equality: unlike in Germany, the difference in salary and living standard here between someone who did vocational training and someone who became a lawyer or engineer is huge. Thus, nobody wants to be in the more technical or vocational streams.

Secondly, and even worse, because of our history, for the next generation or three, inevitably, the academic stream will contain mostly whites and the other streams mostly blacks. This is politically unacceptable.

At the same time it is really the only realistic way to go. So for the sake of political correctness, we simply ignore reality and instead sacrifice the future of most of our children, thus ensuring that the inequality and dependency on government welfare will stretch even further into the future. Perhaps this even suits the current government fine, because a population dependent on it will keep right on voting for it.

I’m fresh out of sympathy. In a democracy, the majority voting block richly deserves its leaders.

On that note… The plain fact is that as scientific and technological sophistication increase, society’s capacity for sustaining a proportion of ignoramuses also increases because scientific and technological progress invariably facilitates and/or provides solutions that make life easier in some way. The nett effect provides the necessary space in which Dunning-Kruger and feel-good windbaggery can thrive.


And isn’t it funny how the very people who most benefit from society’s long-suffering patience also seem to be the most anti-social? In America, the very people who benefit the most from welfare programs vote for politicians opposed to such programs. The people who most benefit from science tend to be the most anti-scientific. Very weird.

Alas, sooner or later the chickens come home to roost. I have this feeling all of western civilization is presently in a slow but certain decline, and like all civilizations edging toward the abyss, we are at the height of our confidence and arrogance.