Monday, July 7, 2008

On Getting Marks for Swearing

Over at Why Homeschool there's a post on a story I've been seeing around lately on:

A British high school student received credit for writing nothing but a two-word obscenity on an exam paper because the phrase expressed meaning and was spelled correctly.

Now, every post I've seen and every comment on this issue has involved some sad head shaking. People are dismayed that swearing on an exam could be worth some credit.

I'm thinking there's some classic dry English humour being lost in the American translation here. As a Canuck who was reared on British humour (The CBC and my parents loved it) I have to say, I think you're all getting this wrong.

What happened is some kid wrote a snotty response thinking he was going to shock whoever was marking the paper. The examiner saw this and with an arched brow and the faintest of smiles gave an absolutely useless grade. Shock me child? I don't think so.

If you've got this picture in your head then the examiner's comments will send you into giggles.

"It would be wicked to give it zero because it does show some very basic skills we are looking for, like conveying some meaning and some spelling," Buckroyd was quoted as saying.
"It's better than someone that doesn't write anything at all."
Buckroyd said the student would have received a higher mark if the phrase had been punctuated.

I can't wipe the grin off my face. That guy is brilliant.

The English sense of humour at it's subtle best.


Anonymous said...

LOL! I understand completely, but I still watch Monty Python and Fawlty Towers...

It really is funny.

Henry Cate said...

Humm ... I guess it is possible that the examiner was being humorous. I've seen some pretty silly responses from government officials who were perfectly serious, that I tend to think all silly school responses are serious.


molytail said...

I wouldn't be surprised at all if that's exactly what it is LOL

Andrea R said...

I think you are spot on, and that's hysterical. (first I've heard of the story)

Luke said...

I did grin when I read the report. However, I see why people are concerned about the state of children today... but I could see this happening at my high school.

So, I guess the bigger question is:

What else should we do about it besides smirk? Would expressing the disappointment in the child's lack of respect cause him to suddenly say, "Oh my, I shouldn't be doing that!"

I think not.

Good, thoughtful response.