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The death of General Studies

Discussion in 'Personal' started by lanokia, Aug 13, 2020.


Is the decline of General Studies to be welcomed?

  1. Yes

    7 vote(s)
  2. No

    10 vote(s)
  3. Erm...

    2 vote(s)
  1. lanokia

    lanokia Star commenter

    I remember doing this when I was at school. It came across as cobbled together and at the whims of the teacher.

    I remember teaching it a few years back and discovering it was largely cobbled together and at the whims of the teacher.

    But I enjoyed it... I remember discovering I knew more at the Bosnia conflict than my teacher ... and I remember putting lessons together on the fall of Iraq and it's impact [that BBC doc would be great to dip in and out of on that now].

    But as with all things it has died a death.


    Critical Studies and Communication Studies are also reported as zero entry subjects.

    So is this a great loss or a valuable gaining of time for other subjects?
  2. florian gassmann

    florian gassmann Star commenter

    Many universties will not accept General Studies as one of the accepted qualifications for entry, which I guess is the main reason for its decline (there are a few that will accept it for specific courses, such as History at Sheffield).
    mothorchid likes this.
  3. LondonCanary

    LondonCanary Star commenter

    My child did this but it was just pitch up and do the exam. There was no teaching time spent on the subject matter during the preceding 2 years.
    agathamorse likes this.
  4. smoothnewt

    smoothnewt Star commenter

    Critical Thinking was not usually counted by universities as one of the three subjects on which offers would be based. It was OK as a fourth subject in the days of AS, but has no role now that the standard is three A Level subjects studied in the sixth form.
  5. red_observer

    red_observer Star commenter

    It was as you say very much up to the teacher to design their own courses. I think teenagers ought to have a subject like it but they should have had a more structured syllabus imho.

    there is a lot of frivolity kind EPQ at KS5 so yes I would argue for it as well.
  6. grumbleweed

    grumbleweed Star commenter

    My general studies lessons were defined by listening to the original radio series of the Hitchhiker's Guide then discussing it. Guess that dates me.
    I don't remember anything else.
    strawbs likes this.
  7. BillyBobJoe

    BillyBobJoe Lead commenter

    I think the decline of GS started when they began making you take lessons (my sister wasn't required to and got her A grade more or less for free prior to Curriculum 2000). I think the withdrawal of funding for anything beyond 3 A-Levels in recent years finally killed it off.
    agathamorse likes this.
  8. SparkMaths

    SparkMaths Occasional commenter

    I did it in 2005 and nobody ever asked me about it or cared about that grade. The past paper question on dress making puzzled me, I don't know how you were meant to revise for it so I didn't revise and eventually didn't attend the lessons.

    Was the subject ever alive?

    I remember you also had to do "Key Skills" and do paperwork to get Literacy/Maths/IT criteria ticked of by your teacher, but I was fortunate enough to have exemptions for all three because I chose A Levels in all three categories.
  9. magic surf bus

    magic surf bus Star commenter

    I think I got an 'O' level in General Studies in the lower sixth, but I'd have to fInd the certificate to confirm it. Can't remember much about it, apart from the occasion when our elderly Headteacher came to observe a lesson and fell asleep. I think the teacher was wondering whether he'd died along with her self-esteem. Made us laugh anyway. He retired not long afterwards.
  10. smoothnewt

    smoothnewt Star commenter

    I remember "teaching" GS in the '90s and showing and discussing some of the 7UP series.
  11. maggie m

    maggie m Lead commenter

    I remember teaching part of it in the mid 2000's. My input was getting students to look critically at science as it was reported in mainstream news. The year 12's seemed to enjoy it and I found it a bit of light relief
  12. Aquamarina1234

    Aquamarina1234 Star commenter

    I got an A in 1976, so clearly it is a rigorous and harshly-marked qualification. We had no choice. 3 A-levels of your choice plus Gen St unless you were taking 4 subject A-levels.
  13. blazer

    blazer Star commenter

    It was always just a makeweight subject taught by any warm body with too many frees in their timetable. Long time ago (In a galaxy far far away) I was asked to pick up a period a week of GS. For the first term the school had used a supply teacher to cover them but they were looking to reduce costs and here was me, a freshly minted teacher keen to impress. So I went to see the guy i/c the subject. He just threw me a couple of old exam papers and said "pick something" So I thought I'd start with something sciency (My subject). Found a bit about the environment and pollution. I found a load of old newspapers (Pre internet) with stories of oil tanker wrecks and other horrors and waited for the lesson. No-one turned up. Next lesson the same, no-one turned up. Following week the same. I queried this with colleagues in the prep room and their advice was to stay schtum. The guy i/c (A historian IIRC) also said to stay quiet and enjoy the extra free period.Following was another quiet week and then about 5 weeks into the term the DHT saw me using the photocopier in the period I should have been teaching and challenged me. No class turning up and I had not been supplied with a class list (pre SIMs/etc) I couldn't chase anyone up. He went away and the following week came to the lesson. Still no students. He scratched his head and went away. The following week he returned to tell me that he had gone through the teaching timetable and that the group I was supposed to be teaching didn't actually exist and so I won an extra free for the remains of the year. However he was quite cross they had been paying a supply for a whole term to teach them!
    Pageant, mothorchid, Ellakits and 4 others like this.
  14. install

    install Star commenter

    Isn’t it a like Citizenship Studies available now?
  15. Over_the_hill

    Over_the_hill Star commenter

    I did General Studies A Level. The only question I remember was about how to wire a plug correctly.
  16. Doitforfree

    Doitforfree Star commenter

    I did it in 1982. There was always a cogs type question, to test your spatial awareness. The was a huge paper of general knowledge multiple guess questions, and an English comprehension. I think there was one more thing but I've no idea what it was. We got a few lessons to look at old papers. You were considered irredeemably thick if you didn't get an A! We just thought it was a bit of fun. I don't think anyone's university offer included GS. I did Greek O level alongside my A levels and that was a thousand million times harder than GS A level.
  17. hhhh

    hhhh Star commenter

    I also want to know why? You've taught me something new-as I haven't been in a school with a sixth form since 2013, I wasn't aware of this. I last taught A-levels nearly a decade ago, and taught all of these 'extras', as did all staff, alongside their main subjects. I'd say they were very well taught (I did have to do some extra research myself before teaching certain parts) and the students generally liked them.
    lanokia likes this.
  18. Mainwaring

    Mainwaring Lead commenter

    My school allowed fourth form pupils to take O Levels in their strong subjects. The knock on effect was that I acquired four A levels at sixteen including a General Studies in which the school didn't have a course until the following year. Being far too wet behind the ears to embark on a degree course I spent a third year in the sixth form dossing around with bits and pieces. By this time the school had started a GS course but I arrogantly informed the teacher running it that I shouldn't be in his class because I already had an A in the subject. Being a gentleman he merely smiled and gently ushered my out through the door. I later taught both A Level GS and ToK in the IB Diploma. If any of my students had spoken to me like that I hope I would have convinced them that education didn't end when one had acquired a bit of paper. Either that or left them as a smoking hole in the parquet.
  19. magic surf bus

    magic surf bus Star commenter

    Are any of your classmates who didn't remember it still around today? :)
    primarycat and (deleted member) like this.
  20. Over_the_hill

    Over_the_hill Star commenter

    LOL probably not! :D

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