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Author Topic: The Potter Stars: Watson, Radcliffe, Grint
BandoCommando
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So I just bought the new Harry Potter movie with all the special features. On it is a rather longer-than-usual interview with the leading trio of the cast.

These three kids, only slightly older than many of my own students (I teach middle school), exhibit an extraordinary intelligence. They clearly think beyond the surface of many ideas, and are able to eloquently phrase them in a manner beyond their years. I've met many college graduates here in the States who seem to have less intelligence than these teenagers. Even more incredible is that these three kids miss out on a great deal of schooling during their filming time, receiving much of their education through tutors.

The question that's nagging at me is this. Are these three kids representative of students their age in Britain? Or are they in fact above the average intelligence, which is perhaps why they were (brilliantly) cast in their roles? If the former, than the the U.S. education system really does pale in stark comparison to Britain. If the latter, well, I can only express my jealousy that I wasn't as smart as them at their age.

Or maybe it's just that people with British accents sound smarter.

I mean, obviously, the U.S. public education is not something that makes me proud to be an American, but dang! If that's the norm over there, I'm moving to England!

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Lupus
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child actors frequently seem older than their age. I think one reason, is they are thrust into an adult world early on...whether they are ready for it or not.

Of course then many of them go nuts and use an insane about of drugs...but that comes later.

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BandoCommando
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Sure, I understand about child actors, and I'm not talking about that they seem older. They are clearly as young as they are, with similar concerns. What I observed (and it may also be as simple as genius film editing) is that these children are simply intelligent to a degree unheard of in my experience in working with people their age.
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Lisa
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You should see an interview with Dakota Fanning. She's spooky. I think she's really a 30 year old midget.
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neo-dragon
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I also suspect that child actors get a fair amount of coaching on how to do interviews without sounding like dumb kids.
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Shan
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And perhaps, when children are treated as intelligent human beings, with responsibilities and expectations -- and aren't pandered to --they develop thinking/reasoning and speaking skills that we may simply be unaccustomed to here in the good 'ole U.S. of A?

Just speculating . . .

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Ender12
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I agree with you starLisa, see is a spooky one!

Kind of off topic, these three kids(especially the Radcliffe fellow) are making incredible amounts of money off this series! I forgot how much Radcliffe made on the last one but I know it was around 15 mil!

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Reticulum
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What did you think of the movie, Bando? I thought that in sheer enjoyability it was great. Loyalty to the book, I would rather be shot in the face, then watch it again.
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Epictetus
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I had an English teacher, my Freshman year of College, who used to teach high school in Glascow. According to her, in Britain's education system, a high school diploma is a little closer to an Associates Degree here.

If your an American trying to get into a British University, you either have to have astronomical SAT and ACT scores (higher than I had at least...damn Oxford [Razz] ), or have your Associate's with an excellent GPA.

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Reticulum
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How about 4.00? With lots of Extra Curruicular activities? That good enough for Britain?
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Atlantis
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I suspect that the Potter children have most likely spent a great deal of time in battleschool...I see no other explanation. None.

Of course I'm probably wrong ^_^

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imogen
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quote:
Originally posted by Reticulum:
How about 4.00? With lots of Extra Curruicular activities? That good enough for Britain?

Depends which university you want to go to.

I suspect that by itself may not be good enough for Cambridge/Oxford. I could well be wrong though.

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imogen
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I can only find requirements for graduate degrees at Oxford. Here we go:

Oxford says:

quote:
Though there are no formal requirements, successful candidates would generally have an excellent High School record, supplemented by:

Scores of at least 700 in Verbal and 700 in Math in SAT I (or 1400+ combined)(Or ACT with a score of at least 32 out of 36)
We would also expect:

SAT II in a good spread of three or four subjects at 700 or better;
Or, preferably, grades 4 or 5 in two or more Advanced Placement tests in appropriate subjects
Alternatively, a mixture of SAT II and Advanced Placement scores; both should be at the levels indicated above.
We also welcome candidates sitting the International Baccalaureate; successful candidates generally have an overall score of at least 38 with 6s and 7s in the higher level subjects.

Generally speaking we are looking for candidates who are in the top 5% of school leavers nationwide; and most successful applicants will be in the top 2%.

The competition for places on all courses at Oxford is very strong. Please note that even excellent grades will not guarantee a place.



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Jeesh
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Oh man. Gotta bring up that B...
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Megan
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From what I understand from my British friends who are in grad school here, though, once you actually get to university, it doesn't have near the level of stress you get here. Note that this is only the opinion of a few people, though.
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Tresopax
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quote:
child actors frequently seem older than their age. I think one reason, is they are thrust into an adult world early on...whether they are ready for it or not.
I have a suspicion the main reason is because they have to give many interviews, and thus become pretty good at it. I doubt child actors are inherently smarter or more mature than other children - I'd guess they are just more experienced at sounding smarter and more mature. After all, being able to present yourself well is an important part of acting.
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password
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Not trying to brag here, but when I was very young (like 2... I have this story from my parents, so I guess it's actually hearsay), my parents were approached about making me an actor because of my intelligence (they had me officially tested early on and the results were public or something). I have always taken that to mean that child actors are often culled for their intelligence (which makes sense, in some respects... acting takes, at minimum, a great deal of imagination to do well).

Another child actor who was very impressive in interviews was Haley Joel Osment of "6th Sense" and "Secondhand Lions" (and, regrettably, or so I hear, "AI").

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Lisa
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A regular kid is not as likely to be able to really succeed in a demanding field like acting. Of course, you get the cutesy children like Lindsey Lohan, Macauley Culkin and the Olsen twins, who are selected, not for any acting ability, but really just because they're cute, but then there are people like Jodie Foster, Natalie Portman, Dakota Fanning, and the like.

Fanning was reading at the age of 2. That's not average by a long shot. Most kids don't have sufficient consciousness of self to be able to really portray someone who isn't them. Those who can tend to be on the far right of the bell curve. I don't think it has anything to do with US vs UK.

Btw, password, if you haven't seen the abomination called AI, don't.

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Chris Bridges
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AI is fine, just turn the movie off at the right time during the underwater scene...
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Uprooted
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Turning AI off at the right time is during the opening credits.
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Teshi
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quote:
And perhaps, when children are treated as intelligent human beings, with responsibilities and expectations -- and aren't pandered to --they develop thinking/reasoning and speaking skills that we may simply be unaccustomed to here in the good 'ole U.S. of A?
quote:
From what I understand from my British friends who are in grad school here, though, once you actually get to university, it doesn't have near the level of stress you get here. Note that this is only the opinion of a few people, though.
As far as I can tell, and from my experience and the experience of my parents and friends, these are both true. More is expected at a younger age, but University is somewhat easier.

I know when I moved there was a significant downward change in not only what we were learning (in all subjects) but the behavioral expectations for me and everyone else of my age, such as during recess.

I am not trying to belittle the education systems here- most of the education I have was recieved here- just saying what I truthfully remember.

I do remember being completely astonished when people in my grade four/five class were so happy when the teacher let them "print" (I'd never heard the word). We'd been writing "joined up" (as I called it) since I was six!

Reading, various mathematical skills and history I can all say were taught earlier and more comprehensively at the school I attended in England, and it wasn't a very good school.

However, there also seem to be behavioral and edcuational reversals. More people in North America attend University, for example and I'm pretty sure fewer drop out of school earlier. There also seems to be another kind of maturity that is reached earlier, although I couldn't put my finger on describing it. I kind of get the feeling that people in their late teens are more mature here than there, more focused on their work. Possibly because of the pressure to succeed and be great.

quote:
Are these three kids representative of students their age in Britain?
All in all, however. I would say yes and no. I think that when children spend a lot of time around adults (as child actors tend to) they will get more mature. They will also be very good at giving interviews.

But yes, there is an difference between ages and expectations.

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Chris Bridges
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All I know is I was peeved when I bought the HP DVD at Blockbuster for $21 (had a gift card to burn off) and got home to find I'd bought the single-disc version, without extras. You know, the one Best Buy has on sale for $15.
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BandoCommando
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As far as colleges in the U.K. are concerned, I understand that if you have a diploma from the International Baccalaureate program, you have a decent shot at most U.K. or other European/Australian universities. Many high school programs in the U.S. offer this degree option, but it involves a lot of extra work that often takes away involvement in other enrichment activities...like music.

Reticulum, about the HP movie. I enjoyed it. Given the time constraints, they were able to cover an incredible amount of plot material. Also, the level of emotional interaction between the characters was upped quite a bit for this film. I do with the opening scenes had more length to them, however.

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Chris Bridges
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Same problems with the movie. Loved the settings and interpersonal relationships, hated the more violent Dumbledore, the incredibly ineffectual Fleur, and the lack of any real "war is coming" urgency at the end.
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Lupus
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quote:
Originally posted by Chris Bridges:
All I know is I was peeved when I bought the HP DVD at Blockbuster for $21 (had a gift card to burn off) and got home to find I'd bought the single-disc version, without extras. You know, the one Best Buy has on sale for $15.

I accidentally picked up the single disk version as well. Oh well.

I still think the best line was in the water task when Nevile said "Oh my God, I killed Harry Potter." [Smile]

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TheGrimace
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As people have been mentioning this has got to be the combination of a number of factors:
1) Smart kids to start with (especially in the field of public speaking, as it's kinda necessary for actors)

2) Being around adults (Being around so many adults and in such adult situations at such early ages has got to help push your social development forward, perhaps off a bit to the side as well, but that's besides the point)

3) Coaching (I'm sure they have some sort of coaching/rehearsal for interviews like this)

4) The British education system. This system definately has different styles and focuses than the US education system which can result in kids who are/appear smarter than their US counterparts. For example, my nephew spent 5 years of grade school in England before coming back to the states. When he came back he was about 1.5 years ahead in many subjects (and was very eloquent etc) but at the same time was perhaps 0.5 years behind in other subjects such as math (if I remember correctly).

5) If someone is eloquent they will appear to be far smarter than someone who is not, even if they are on par with overall intelligence. It's quite possible that they couldn't add 2 and 2 (though I doubt it) but would still appear very intelligent as long as they can come up with a witty riposte to some verbal sparring.

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Bella Bee
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For those who might be interested in going to universities in Britain - remember that there's more to life than Oxford and Cambridge!

There are a lot of other excellent universities, in London, the North, Scotland etc. Oxbridge is wonderful, and it certainly is beautiful, but there are plenty of other options available.

As for the actors - I believe they went to quite good schools before Harry Potter (Watson, I know, went to an expensive private school). Spending most of their time around adults at work tends to improve kid's ability to speak in a more adult, rational sounding way. Plus, confident people tend to sound more intelligent, as there are less 'ums' and 'ers' in their speech.

Finally, I'd guess that these kids are just clever. I mean, if you could pick from as many child actors as the Harry Potter crew had to choose from, why not choose the best?

In the British education system... you get good schools, you get bad schools. Like everywhere. I've never been to school anywhere else, so I can't compare, but kids tend to start Primary school at age 4, and summer holidays are six weeks long at most. I believe that most American kids don't start school until age 6?

Anyway, it's nowhere near perfect. It manages to fail plenty of kids. I was lucky to get the chance to go to an excellent state school, but plenty of people don't get that opportunity.

[ March 09, 2006, 03:18 PM: Message edited by: Bella Bee ]

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BandoCommando
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I think you've fairly summed it up TheGrimace. Thanks for your input.
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msquared
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Daniel Radcliffe is American.

That was the big hubalo when he was first cast. How dare Christopher Columbus cast a colonial as Harry Potter.

msquared

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Bella Bee
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What? He's not American.

*Checks IMDB, fount of all knowledge.* Nope. He's from Fulham.

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Mirrored Shades
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...And people really do sound smarter with british accents. [Big Grin]
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Bella Bee
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...But American accents sound more friendly. [Smile]
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Epictetus
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quote:
For those who might be interested in going to universities in Britain - remember that there's more to life than Oxford and Cambridge!
Boy, I learned that the hard way! I spent several months moping over the fact that I didn't have the scores to get into Oxford. It took me a while to realize there are excellent schools in England, that just aren't as well known.
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Mirrored Shades
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...But British accents are sexier... [Wink]
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imogen
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[quote} For those who might be interested in going to universities in Britain - remember that there's more to life than Oxford and Cambridge!
[/quote]

I know. [Smile] I just thought they were good examples of the hardest requirements, entry wise.

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Icarus
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Um, wow. Talk about making an assumption and running with it. And extrapolating an entire nation's educational system from three kids . . . sheesh!

I am not a big defender of American schools, but the fact is, British schools are, on average, terrible by comparison. I teach in an area where we have staggering numbers of British immigrants, and you can just about always count on them to drop to the bottom of whatever class they are placed in*. I have one really strong Welsh kid . . . and that's about it. British entering high school typically have never seen variables before in a math class, and have extremely limited abstraction skills.

I'm willing to believe the stereotype that their universities are excellent, but what you need to realize is that Britain tracks students extremely aggressively. Studies show that tracking benefits primarily high achieving students, so yeah, I'm sure that the kids who are being groomed for Cambridge and Oxford are astonishingly prepared. But they are a tiny minority. British schools do not share the American expectation that most graduates will go to college--and it may certainly be worth debating whether that is a worthwhile goal--but consequently, kids not expected to have an academic future receive very little academic education. And, as I noted, there may be a philosophy that says this is for the best. But the assumption I'm seeing here, that British schools are churning out eloquent geniuses by the thousand, is simply not accurate.

*It seems worth noting that I also teach in a state ranked at or near the bottom by a variety of different academic measures.

[ March 09, 2006, 10:28 PM: Message edited by: Icarus ]

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JennaDean
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So Icarus, where should we move to? I don't want my kids with a "bottom-ranked" education!

(Or should I say, To where should we move?)

As if that'll happen...

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Icarus
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Well, as you can see, our low educational ranking and our low pay for teachers (currently ranked 46th, I believe) have not yet caused me to leave, so I guess I'm the wrong one to ask. [Smile]

I have some friends from Pittsburgh who rave about how good the schools they used to work at were, and yet, they're down here too . . .

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Teshi
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quote:
I am not a big defender of American schools, but the fact is, British schools are, on average, terrible by comparison. I teach in an area where we have staggering numbers of British immigrants, and you can just about always count on them to drop to the bottom of whatever class they are placed in*. I have one really strong Welsh kid . . . and that's about it. British entering high school typically have never seen variables before in a math class, and have extremely limited abstraction skills.

Wow, Icarus. You react strongly to this. You're talking high school, right? I don't think that the level of schooling is so different, but I do think that there is a strong difference in the type of schooling that probably manifests itself in a huge drop in marks.

Recall first before anything else than any immigration to a different country and a different educational system is going to cause a drop in marks in the average student. It's not a comforting experience for a child, let alone a teenager. As an immigrant who experiened probably the most trouble-free immigration ever I still feel qualified to say this.

It changes who you are forever.

Aside from that,I think that the focus in high school in North America is quite different from the focus in England. My brother, who's incredibly intelligent (although stubborn), was doing very well in his high school in Britain. When he moved, his grades slipped and he struggled through many of his classes except for things like Computer Science, in which he was self-taught. Classes in English and Math, especially, the change in what was taught and how it was taught was enough to throw him off significantly for the rest of High School.

I don't think it was to do with not knowing enough, but not knowing the right things.

Just for one example, I know for sure that the entire concept for a structured essay is not taught in the same way is it is taught here. 1-3-1 essays and their adult offspring are not a feature of the educational system in England. I can imagine that a student who was used to a different style of writing would do very badly if they never learnt to play the 1-3-1 game or never could fit their brain into the whole somewhat inane 1-3-1 way of writing.

I learnt fine, just the same as any other North American student does.

quote:
But the assumption I'm seeing here, that British schools are churning out eloquent geniuses by the thousand, is simply not accurate.
I don't think anyone's suggesting this.

Yes, students in Britain are tracked aggressively, which of course affects the type of learning that goes on, especially in a culture that almost encourages people to leave school at 16. The tradition is so different, even children in the top stream, even kids who get A-levels don't go to University because they is no culture to do so. The flaws in the system are massive.

But there are flaws in the American system, too. Children in Britain learn to read earlier, for example.

quote:
British schools are, on average, terrible by comparison
I'm not trying to start a war, but I think you're exaggerating. The difference in education systems and the discrepancy in apparant skills is not to be sniffed at.

I believe that American students going to Britain have the same problems as the opposite way.

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Icarus
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Assuming you don't move, I think you can get a good education anywhere (where you have access to schooling), but that in Florida public schools, it just takes being a bit more proactive. Being willing to push for, get, and drive to a better school within the district, maybe, or choosing a challenging course of study at your own school when less challenging options are available. If your kids aren't self-motivated, though, that may require you to be the motivator for them. [Smile] My father busted his butt to pay for me to attend private school, and we always heard about how much better our schooling was, and then I discovered my senior year, when we started doing math competitions and things like that, that there were tons of public school kids who could mop the floor with us. But they pushed themselves to succeed, whereas in my school, drifting along was not an option. (I don't know if I'm being clear here. I'm basically saying it was almost easier because our school was rigorous across the board. We didn't have any temptation to slack, because we would have simply failed out. There were no easy classes.)
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Icarus
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Okay, Teshi. I acknowledge that my wording was strong--perhaps too strong. As I mentioned, British schools have slightly different philosophical foundations, and one could certainly debate which outlook is better.

But the assumption inherent in the supposition that Daniel Radcliffe is a typical product of British schooling was that British schooling was achieving that level of eloquence and analytical skill in all of their students, not simply a select few. And I felt that that supposition was absurd on the face of it.

quote:
Recall first before anything else than any immigration to a different country and a different educational system is going to cause a drop in marks in the average student.
True. However, we have a lot of immigrant students from a lot of other places as well. (For a comparison, the students we get from India, who are very often British in culture, but not in schooling, tend to be extremely strong. Also, the kids I'm describing do not merely suffer from adjustment issues; they actively have a weak foundation for high school.

quote:
quote:
But the assumption I'm seeing here, that British schools are churning out eloquent geniuses by the thousand, is simply not accurate.

I don't think anyone's suggesting this.
On the contrary, it's all over this thread.

quote:
But there are flaws in the American system, too.
Yes. I acknowledged this in my post.

I am not a wholesale supporter of the way we seem to do things either. If I had to pick, though, I would say that our approach is, in my opinion, better than the British approach. (If there are competing philosophies, it is only natural to have an opinion on which is better.)

But I apologize if my choice of wording was offensive.

I think part of my reaction is as much to the cultural inferiority complex that Americans have as it is to the actual issue. (See the posts by Mirrored Shades, for instance. [Wink] )

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Teshi
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quote:
they actively have a weak foundation for high school.
For American High School. ALthough, they could be just weak students. There's no way of really knowing.

The rest of it's fair, though.

I couldn't choose which way is better, because I have no way of comparing. Yes, I got my elementary education in Britain and the rest of it in Canada, but that doesn't make me able to judge whether I would be a smarter or more educated person here or there entirely.

Heck, many of the things I really value having learnt, I taught myself.

And personally, I think the stereotype that people sound smarter with British accents is totally rididculous. Some British accents, yes; the "educated" or "upper class" accents, yes. But in general, some accents can sound decidedly un-educated and rather unfortunate, rather like the stereotyped Texan accent of America which people think of as "uneducated".

Judging people based on their accent is just as bad as judging people based on the colour of their skin, even if you're doing it positively. Liking an accent is one thing, but suggesting that an accent has somekind of inherent worse or betterness is pathetic.

And Icarus, I would ordinarily be the first person to attack British schools and the culture that creates them for their flaws, but I am as reactive as anyone when challanged.

I think there is something to be learnt from all schools, everywhere.

[Smile] [Smile]

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Icarus
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quote:
And Icarus, I would ordinarily be the first person to attack British schools and the culture that creates them for their flaws, but I am as reactive as anyone when challanged.
I know just what you mean. [Smile]
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