Apparently, in the name of fairness, universities are hiding a list of supposedly ‘banned’ a-levels. What is clear from the list (see here) is that if you don’t fit the mould of a traditional student – who likes the classics whilst passionately involving oneself in a touch of economics or a splash of philosophy, you are at a severe disadvantage. But as many have pointed out, who defines this supposed ‘Z-list’? How is it fair to somehow classify subjects by one’s own subjective opinion of what is ‘easy’ and what is ‘hard’?
Easy and hard, and all the other related terms, are social constructs. Not everyone wants to become a scientist or an economist, and we are better off for it! Many people are very creative and are extremely good at it. They have talents that other’s don’t have, even if they can’t get past the dogmatic values of Oxbridge.
Furthermore, it illustrates the need for more informative teaching within schools of what universities are up to. However, the universities also need to become more open, what’s the point of keeping it secret when we all know how annoyingly prejudice they are to anything that they see as ‘pointless’? They should be asked to explain why they have these views. Do they not enjoy art or media productions? Do they think that kind of talent is not worth bothering with?
It really angers me how elitist and unbelievingly class based this type of snobbery is. It downgrades people’s ambitions and talents so that only those envisaged by the one’s who are seen as the ‘cleverest’ in terms of socially defined characteristics, are respected.
Gramsci’s views around ‘professional intellectuals’ and ‘organic intellectuals’ is a rather interesting aside here. Professional intellectuals are those that are very close to the ruling class, and help support their power. This is clear to see with the current government’s policies, such as free schools and a desire to import traditional aspects of schooling back into education. Free schools will only perpetrate this division, as the more privilege schooling will continue to get more advise around what is needed to get where. Also, they are more likely not to be given the choice of ‘banned’ a-levels.
However, that shouldn’t matter – there shouldn’t be such obvious elitist determination to stop those with equal, but different, talent from going to the best universities. Nor should assumptions be made on the ‘best’ degrees, people should be able to choose a course without being looked down at for not meeting a certain ‘ideal’.