There’s a reasonable response to this complaint

Year 13 students are worried they might fail their history exam because they didn’t know what the word “trivial” meant.

The senior students have launched a petition asking for the essay to be marked based on students’ own definition of the “unfamiliar” word. It has so far received more than 1300 signatures.

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.”

Students were asked to analyse the extent to which they agreed or disagreed with Caesar, with reference to the causes and consequences of a historical event.

“You’re too ignorant to pass this exam” being a reasonable response perhaps?

Via Matthew in standingonheadland

18 thoughts on “There’s a reasonable response to this complaint”

  1. Year 13. That’s 17/18 yr olds, yes? ‘6th form’ in old money in they UK.

    What are they teaching them in NZ these days?

  2. Are you taking the piss Tim?

    Obviously its good that you are ignoring unimportant stuff like the Fish Faced Cows attempt to put this nation under the EU’s yoke but to do so for an article literally about something trivial suggests you are trying to add insult to injury.

  3. Tri- via – three ways – crossroads. Despite what Latin teachers say you can’t really work out the modern English meaning from the latin root. Apparently it referred to tit-bits and gossip picked up from travellers at the crossroad and this morphed into small unimportant events or facts.
    So i have some sympathy for the kiwis- but i also suspect that that the shinier history talents would have shone through without a knowledge of this word.

  4. Good grief. This is history A-level, so a wordy subject, and they don’t know basic English.

    They don’t even know what your website’s slogan means literally, never mind its implications.

  5. Bloke in North Dorset

    Its a very long time since I took exams but when I did we were always allowed to ask the invigilator to clarify a question. Bizarre as it seems that 17/18-year-old don’t understand the word “trivial” the problem is they didn’t have the gumption to ask for a meaning. Its a history exam not English comprehension.

    And if they weren’t allowed to ask I suggest the problem is in the exam process not those taking it.

  6. I’m astonished by this. I reckon a fair number of the 1300 understood the word and just fucked up the exam a bit anyway, so would quite like another go. Still, it doesn’t exactly suggest a wide, or even any, reading list. It suggests a really, really profound ignorance.

  7. And yet for, what was it, 20 years O and A level results got a little bit better every single year. Our kids were a little bit brighter every single year.

    No dumbing down. No sirree.

    People getting 167 AAAA* A levels and jumping in the air for their newspaper pictures.

    I used to ponder why it was that people my age who seemed to me had brains the size of planets got nowhere near the volume of A levels which every second pupil seemed to now be getting but was poo-pooed. It was because kids worked hard and had amazing teachers. 1.4% harder and 1.4% more amazing. Every single year.

  8. The last National government, at the behest of its ACT partners, implemented a voucher system, in a very small way. These charter schools were effective and popular. Often it was poor Maori children who benefited most.
    Hated by the teachers’ union of course, and the new Labour government – the armed wing of the teachers’ union – has closed them down; throwing all their pupils under the bus in order to maintain the union’s monopoly.

  9. I’m fairly sure I knew what the word ‘trivial’ meant aged 16, let alone 18. I remember writing an essay about “Animal Farm” in my ‘O’ level English Literature exam, so the syllabus must have been testing enough to examine basic English words.

  10. I thought it derived from trivium, the first part of a medieval undergraduate degree. The sense of “simple” was by way of comparison with quadrivium, the next (and more advanced) stage.

  11. I saw this story in the local paper yesterday and I wondered where this poor kid’s parents are and why they were allowing him to humiliate himself in public like this. Presumably they are also too stupid to know what ‘trivial’ means.

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