Saturday, August 15, 2009

British School Student Given Certificate for Catching a Bus

Bobby McHale will go far in his life. At least as far as the 8:35 to Downtown bus goes.

The 15-year-old school student received a certificate for catching a bus. His 13-year-old brother, Joe, did not fare so well. He failed this simple task.

According to an article in London's Metro website, Bobby didn't even realize he was being graded on this rather difficult and arduous task, so you can imagine his family's pride and joy at the letter he received.

A certificate from the Assessment and Qualifications Alliance (AQA), a British exam certification board, arrived in the mail one day, notifying Bobby he had completed the "Using Public Transport (Unit 1)" assignment.

I don't know which is more frightening: that someone actually monitors these kinds of assignments without the student knowing it, or that there may be a Unit 2.

Completing the assignment included:
  • Walk to the local bus stop.

  • Stand or sit and wait for the arrival of a public bus

  • Enter the bus in a calm and safe manner.

  • Be directed to a downstairs seat by a member of staff.

  • Sit on the bus and observe through the windows.

  • Wait until the bus has stopped, stand on request and exit the bus.

You can see a copy of the Using Public Transport (Unit 1) certificate with these tasks at the Metro.co.uk website.

Apparently, Bobby took the test during a two-week summer vacation "scheme" called Bury and Rochdale Active Generation.

The Bury City Council apparently spent £20,000 ($33,000) to organize the project, which is supposed to improve students' self-reliance in getting to their different activities.

"Scheme" is right. I would also add the term "wacky," "hilarious," or "crazy, mixed-up."

Youth support services director Barbara Lewis told the Metro newspaper, "For some, it may be the only qualifications they get."

An unnamed spokesman for the AQA said, "We would expect centres to ensure candidates are entered for units that are appropriate to their needs and abilities."

I know I knock the British government from time to time, but there are times they deserve it.

Like now.

How stupid are British teenagers that freaking bus riding is not only a unit of study, but is "appropriate to their needs and abilities?" I think England needs to take a long hard look at the quality of their educational system if they're creating 15-year-old students whose "needs and abilities" have only risen to the level of sitting on a bus and observing through the windows.

What self-respecting young person is going to get his certification in bus riding, shout to his mom and dad, "Lookit! I got my O levels in buses!" (O levels are the "Ordinary Levels," which is similar to passing high school with a basic understanding of a subject, but not enough to go to college.)

"Congratulations, son, we always knew you had it in you," they would say. "We knew you would get a qualification in something one day."

"I know, I was worried after I failed Walking and Chewing Gum (Unit 3), but this is all the motivation I need to tackle my next big qualification: Looking Both Ways Before Crossing the Street (Unit 2)."


Photo: Konqui (Flickr)
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