Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Video Games & Stand-Up Comedy as Academic Disciplines?

I thought the proposed revamping of the British national middle-school curriculum was bad, but this is utterly ridiculous!

In place of traditional subjects such as history, 14-year-olds will be able to take a media course in which they examine 'the historical development of computer games'.

Sixth-formers taking the advanced media diploma will be encouraged to 'critically respond to a range of computer games' and discuss why enthusiasts like playing them.

Other suggested activities include printing banners for a party and performing stand-up comedy routines.

Okay, designing computer games is a valid academic pursuit. Programming, digital animation, and multimedia skills are in demand and I have no problem with them being taught as electives in schools. But the history of video games? Stand-up comedy? Makes one wonder what Schools Secretary Ed Ball has been smoking...
Alan Smithers, a professor of education at Buckingham University, warned: "The purpose of the diplomas is deeply confused. The concept is academic learning through applied knowledge but it means diplomas are neither one thing nor the other. They have been dreamed up by bureaucrats and are not sufficiently demand-led by employers."
I'm leery of letting corporate interests dictate what students in government-schools study, but Professor Smithers has a point. Students need to have a diploma that is worth something to potential employers.

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