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Trivial pursuit


I cannot understand how these students are taking this exam, when they do not even have a grasp of basic, very basic English.

It is a damning indictment of the eductaion system and of the quality of our teachers, especially as these pupils are presumably supposed to be at higher levels of attainment than the majority.

The issue was made even more appalling by the reported comment of Graeme Ball, Chair of NZ History Teachers Association 

He called the exam a “little bit of a snafu” on the part of NZQA, and said the language used in questions should be “accessible to all”

The exam was not testing comprehension, so it was “unfair” to make that part of the assessment, he said.

I beg to differ with Mr Ball. All eams test comprehension, they are supposed to do so. They are tests of understanding, thus they require comprehension.


Year 13 secondary school pupils have launched a petition in fear of failing a history exam because they didn’t know what trivial meant.

Students sitting the NZQA Level 3 History causes and consequences paper on Wednesday were confronted with the word in a quote from Julius Caesar: “Events of importance are the result of trivial causes.”

What does this say about the vocabulary of 17 and 18 year-olds?

Is it unreasonable to expect them to know the word trivial?

Is it an indictment on the education system that they don’t, or is it just a fact of modern life?

Is knowledge, including students’ own language, now merely a trivial pursuit?

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