Wednesday, 19 August 2009


I used to play my mother at Scrabble. I played to a tight pattern to score as often as possible in two directions for letters and to close down the possibility of long words without cost. You can stretch words out, but it must be your word that reaches the triple word scores. Towards the end you need to get rid of high scoring letters and have a places to drop these and as many letters as possible. Dementia of course has ruined my mother's ability to play, and represents another 'death' before death.

Now thanks to Facebook I can play remotely, though the difference is words can be checked before play (and two letter words are displayed), letters used are monitored (with such information mattering near the end. In the Scrabble I played with mother a word could be challenged after it was placed and a successful challenge opening the dictionary/ word list book and finding no such word meant you lost the go. Nevertheless, how fascinating that for the very first game, I ended up with 338 points and Dominic 339, but he has a J and C left (11 points to remove) and I have a C left (3 points to remove) and these cannot be played. So I win. Here is the board at the point where he has to pass, I then pass and the game is over. Click on the image to see a bigger image.

Meanwhile, and also concerning words, I am starting a small project to produce a booklet about examinations in the past and present. It is not just about whether exams have become 'dumbed down' (compare a set of 1970s O level questions with an A level paper in the 2000s; see a CSE question in the 1970s and compare with a GCSE question in the 2000s) but also what exams are used for and how also they reflect the status of teaching as a profession and how education has moved from distrusting the quantifiable to now when everything has to be quantified in order to be justified. The input-output model, once so distrusted in education, is now set in stone - but the stone is cracking. Results can be so deceptive!

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