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 Post subject: Low standards
PostPosted: Mon Jun 22, 2009 1:43 pm 
“My life is destroyed because of this exam. Seriously.â€


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 22, 2009 2:08 pm 
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Location: Warwickshire.
I consider that I have a pretty reasonable level of literacy, and I enjoy learning new words, but faced with that I think I would have panicked!

You would not want your knowledge of more unusual words, or lack thereof, to jeopardise your history grade! They probably knew plenty about Hitler but weren't sure of the exact meaning of the question.

I would be disappointed if I had studied hard, only to find that I could not guarantee that I understood the question enough to really nail the answer. I confess to feeling a certain amount of sympathy for them.


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 22, 2009 2:15 pm 
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Location: Berkshire
Ooops I had one doing A Level History - hoping it was a different exam board, despots weren't mentioned :lol:


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Jun 22, 2009 2:48 pm 
Surely if you study Hitler to A'level you should have come across the word despot? :?


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Jun 22, 2009 2:49 pm 
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I'm sorry but if you have studied Hitler/WWII you would surely have come across the words despotic and tyranny.

It would be interesting to know how many students sat the exam overall, and then compare that to the number of complaints received.

Now I know why people complain about A levels being dumbed down :(

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 22, 2009 3:57 pm 
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Location: Warwickshire.
I'm sure that you are all right. I bet they would have met those words.

I just felt a tad sorry for them.

I'll go back to primary aged children - I bet some of them could answer the question if the meaning of the words was explained/confirmed to them!!


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 22, 2009 4:46 pm 
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If you had studied any period of history you should have come across despot and tyranny. The world's been full of both!
My memory of O and A level history is that they would be on every paper somewhere along with “compare and contrast....â€


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 22, 2009 5:24 pm 
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[quote]"This really does beggar belief. You could argue that the adjective was unnecessary but they should have worked out the meaning anyway.â€

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 22, 2009 5:44 pm 
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The only weakness I can find in the "despotic tyrant" expression is that indeed there is some tautology and you do not necessarily need both words. Both are Greek words; in modern greek the latter (tyrant) is a stronger word than the former (despot) and I can not think of a context where you would see both of them together. In ancient Greek the same applies although you could see both of them in the same sentence as a way of describing a deterioration in political governance for example from enlightened despotism to tyranny.

Since this is a test in History and not in language etymology all of the above is beside the point and the students are completely without an excuse. There is a Greek word to describe their conditition: "lexipenia" which means being literally poor in words.

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PostPosted: Wed Jun 24, 2009 2:13 pm 
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sj355 wrote:
The only weakness I can find in the "despotic tyrant" expression is that indeed there is some tautology and you do not necessarily need both words. Both are Greek words; in modern greek the latter (tyrant) is a stronger word than the former (despot) and I can not think of a context where you would see both of them together. In ancient Greek the same applies although you could see both of them in the same sentence as a way of describing a deterioration in political governance for example from enlightened despotism to tyranny.

Since this is a test in History and not in language etymology all of the above is beside the point and the students are completely without an excuse. There is a Greek word to describe their conditition: "lexipenia" which means being literally poor in words.


Ok, more after a big discussion with DH who is a big fan of 20th century history. Tyranny in ancient Greek did not necessarily had the implications of something bad or good as there were both good and bad tyrants in the Greek hisotry; hence the despotic characterisation is not redundant. However tyranny implies coming to power by unconventional methods and in this respect Hitler was not a tyrant as he was democratically electeted (in fact at that time no party obtained a majority following the elections, and so different parties were invited by the president to attempt to form a government and Hitler's party succeeded in doing so.)
I sincerely hope that the students' objections are stemming from purely etymological objections that may affect the "yes" or "no" tone of their answer rather than not knowing these words at all

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