Sunday, 21 August 2011

British Humour

I have had my ear glued to the radio during my brief stay back in the UK - some of my favourite programmes are still broadcast, some of which have been going since the sixties viz  the quick-witted "Just a Minute" in which panel members must speak for 60 seconds on random topics of which they have no prior knowledge. They can be interrupted and lose points for hesitation, repetition etc. and the next person takes over.  There has been much debate on the radio about university entrance as A level results came out recently. There is now so much competition for places that universities do not interview any more, and in addition to good marks, prospective students now have to submit a 500 -word "Personal Statement".  Naturally, many are tempted to cheat with this and stealthily search the net for help - which naturally abounds.  One company offers to "help" construct the document to the tune of £96 although the student must of course 'write the final draft himself'.  Academics are not fools and quickly sift through the submissions to sort the wheat from the chaff and the plagiarisms.  One famous institution "The London Oratory School' encourages its students to spend a whole term refining their efforts, the teachers limiting their help to grammar and sentence construction. Their efforts are not always foolproof: one boy, explaining his love of playing the harp had written, "I have always enjoyed pleasuring myself with the harp.." His teacher somewhat ruefully commented "this portrayed a certain level of dexterity with the instrument that we wouldn't expect him to have."  LOL !


  1. Love it! I had a part-time job in admissions for a major university here in the U.S. for 20 years and it was very easy to spot the Personal Statements that had been professionally written by someone else vs. statements written from the heart. The competition really is so terrible here as well. I worry about the stress some very hard-working and motivated students are under. But I Do love that harp comment!

  2. I get impatient with cheating. Seems to me if a student is applying for university, they ought to be able to write and think well enough on their own.

    Just a grouchy comment!

  3. You're allowed your grouchy comment, Linda - but did you giggle at the harp thing?