dwj-digest (Diana Wynne Jones) V1 #929

Emma Comerford emmaco at tpg.com.au
Wed Dec 15 18:40:46 EST 2004

Quoting "Dorian E. Gray" <israfel at eircom.net>:

> Jordan said...
> > You can choose whether to take AP's or not so since I am good at history I
> > am
> > in AP Euro. Hist. but I dont like chemistry very much so instead of doing
> > Honors I'm in normal (and can still try to take AP Biology next year). The
> > only
> > thing is that "advanced math" or Honors starts in 7th grade and then from 
> > that
> > point on they are always a year ahead but one of my friends really wants 
> > to
> > take Honors math next year so he is taking two math classes. So people can
> > do it
> > if they really want to....one is good enough for me. Of course getting 
> > into
> > college is so impossible now you have to take a bunch of AP's, and play a
> > sport, and do some arts thing, and start a club, all while having amazing 
> > grades
> > and a good personality. Curing cancer might also help. ugh
> The US education system always seems very weird to me, because it's so very 
> different from the Irish one.  Here, primary schools (age 4 to 11) have 
> mixed-ability classes, but once you start secondary school at age 12, you're
> "streamed".  I can see the argument for not streaming and how kids might 
> feel inferior if they're in a lower stream, but on the other hand, surely in
> a mixed-ability class the bright kids are bored and the slow ones are lost 
> (and still feeling inferior!).
> Then there's the whole college entrance thing.  We have State exams here; 
> everyone in the country, pretty much, sits the same Leaving Certificate 
> exams at the age of 17 or 18 (though you can do Higher or Lower level papers
> depending on your ability; I did Irish, English, French, German and 
> Chemistry at Higher level and Maths and Physics at Lower).  And college 
> places are allocated on the basis of your Leaving Cert results - with 
> certain caveats, like to get into a science course you need to have certain 
> minimum results in science subjects, and art courses require portfolios, and
> so forth.  Colleges here really don't care whether you play sports or run 
> clubs or wow complete strangers with your charm; if you get the grades, 
> you're in.
> How do other countries represented here do it?
> Dorian. 

I'm feelign very lucky after reading many of your descriptions!

I'm not sure how our state schools do it, but at my Catholic school (and in Australia 30% of students are at 
private schools as they get government funding) we didn't stream. I never felt lacking for challenges in the 
classes where I was one of the brighter students - perhaps because there's always more research and 
analysis that can be done on top of what the class is being taught. We also had a very flexible "unit" 
system where we were able to take independent study classes  in subjects we excelled at when we were 

My middle sister, who isn't at all academic, was able to do an apprenticeship in hospitality while still getting 
a high school certificate (but not sitting the subjects and tests that would get her into uni) - she's doing 
very well now and has never been mad to feel stupid because she didn't do well at traditional school 

Just after I went through (1 year later!) they introduced a system where senior students could do extra 
work and get credits for unviersity subjects. As far as I know, this option and the vocational stuff is 
available in lots of schools, including state schools. But of course it depends on the school, and I 
know "troublesome" students can still be passed from school to school until they are old enough to drop 
out. Especially when other parents don't want their children to be in school with disruptive children, and 
schools bring in "zero tolerance" approaches that mean quick expulsions.

But all in all my school system seemed to work.


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