On those ‘sweeteners’: Chapter 1: Academic Selection

Media outlets are tonight reporting the DUP as boasting that they have saved academic selection, and the Grammar schools with it. The theory goes that, if the British government does a u-turn on its stated intention of bringing into effect the proposed legislation to ban academic selection next month, the decision would require cross-community consensus in the Assembly, which unionists insist would not be forthcoming.
BUT wait a moment. All of this may be true, but the question remains: without the 11 Plus, what will replace it if academic selection is to be retained? And in the process of attempting to find an alternative, unionist parties will likely find the barrier of cross-community consensus being reciprocated.
Like it or not – and personally I’m in the latter category- the 11 Plus provides a clear cut mechanism to achieve academic selection, unlike some of the proposals being floated. One of these includes on-going teacher assessment of individual pupils, to be recorded in individual pupil files and sent to schools for consideration.
I know that the teaching trade unions have indicated they would fiercely resist any such moves on the grounds that they would be a recipe for disaster. Picture it: parents banging down the doors, demanding to know exactly what was being recommended to the Grammar school. Who could guarantee that each child would be treated equally, given the external- and in many cases internal- pressures which would be placed upon teachers to give ‘wee Johnny’ a glowing report?
The other major factor driving the reform debate has been the significant problem of empty school desks, which has meant that previously ‘Grammar’ oriented schools have begun to take in children reaching grades in the 11 Plus that wouldn’t have been sufficient to gain entry to the same schools only a couple of years previous. Right across the north, schools are contemplating closures, mergers and specialisation in specific educational fields in spite of the on-going wrangling about the 11 Plus and the method of transfer.
Like the other ‘sweeteners’ on Water Rates, Rate Capping and Reform of Local Government, this one’s far from over. The likely lesson which will be learnt when the dust settles in the post-March scenario is that the cross-community veto is a two-way sword which will either engender a culture of compromise or lead to a de-stabilising period of gridlock.

  • Mark McGregor

    On a related note this article in the Tele seems to show that the state education sector is seen as purely Protestant education medium beyond those from an Irish or Catholic background.

    Planning for Protestant schools is ‘in disarray’

    Or was it just a slip of the tongue?

  • Pete Baker

    Chris

    What will replace it – assuming that the 11 plus is actually dispensed with.. still no guarantees on that.

    How about the pupil profiles being available to the post-primary schools as they make their selections for the incoming year?

    Something I did mention earlier

  • Billy

    Chris

    Exactly right.

    It’s all very well sitting in an assembly and criticising direct rule decisions. However, if the local politicians are to scupper these proposals then they will have to bring in their own.

    The fact is that, locally elected or not, the assembly here will have to work within a budget decided by the Treasury. Therefore, hard economic decisions will have to be made.

    This process is hard enough for any govt in a “normal” democracy. However, with cross-community support needed here it may prove to be total gridlock.

    If the DUP adopt tactics similar to those they use in Castereagh and Lisburn Councils, it is inevitable that Nationalists will reciprocate and the whole thing will be “yet another” waste of time and money.

  • Reader

    Billy: However, if the local politicians are to scupper these proposals then they will have to bring in their own.
    Grammar schools faced with the loss of the 11+ combined with the option to select will find a way. The system in England is far worse (Each school with its own exam). But it’s a fallback option until the Assembly gets it’s arse in gear.
    The interesting thing is what will happen to the maintained grammars in the interim – will they save themselves through selection, thereby demonstrating the hypocrisy within the maintained sector? Or will they abandon selection, and watch the next generation of academically able pupils go through the controlled system instead? Do you think the Nationalist parties in the Assembly will just be spectators?

  • pacman

    I was under the impression that the children who are failing most academically are from working class unionist communities?

    That being the case, how does the DUP securing academic selection benefit their core electorate, given that they will be the ones most excluded from grammar schools?

  • Aaron McDaid (was Occasional Commentator)

    pacman,
    Excluding the less academic children from grammar schools could be the best thing for them. The problem is the way many non-grammar schools are managed and funded.

    Selection would have universal support if every school was managed and funded properly, and taught children well. The idea that every child should be given the same education is as absurd as giving every patient the same prescription. We just need to give everyone the education that suits them.

  • T.Ruth

    Developing a totally integrated education system would be philosophically and economically a sound move at this stage in our development.
    The comprehensive education of young people could proceed beyond primary schools until 14 at junior high schools as in the Armagh system. the curriculum in these junior highs could be an enabling curriculum emphasising Personal and Social and Civic Education. Thereafter pupils should attend the school of their choice. Selection at 11 is wrong but academic selection is a necessary part of education-why else do we have university. We really do need to rethink all proposals for secondary education and now is the time to educate all children together in state schools.The expertise of our grammar schools can be preserved and the system can be improved to meet the needs of pupils from disadvantaged areas or backgrounds.
    T.Ruth education.

  • Grainne

    I despair… Not the grammar school lobby again. To those who have shall be given, eh? What about everyone else, most citizens, the majority of families whose children do not go to grammar schools? And those working away unthanked in schools thought of as second best? So, no secondary mod lobby? And what about the kids who hope for a grammar school place, fail the 11+ (or whatever kind of selection method is chosen)and take years recovering from discovering that they have been found wanting?

    I am a founder parent of two integrated schools and my kids have been well served by them. I am also a teacher in an excellent all-ability integrated school. The way we think in our looney wee statelet about academic selection is even weirder than the religious segregation we have learned to take for granted – it is apartheid thinking, inventing divisions and then reinforcing them so they look natural. Primary schools take all available children in an area (leaving religion out of it for a moment) regardless of ability, and they try to do a good job for the assortment born in any particular year. All ability schools are not like ‘giving all patients the same prescription’: they are more like giving everyone access to the same level of health service. We have all kinds of young people at our school, barring some with serious disabilities who absolutely have to have a special school. It works. We teach most things in mixed ability groups. Our students learn to accept that we are all different and do not expect to be in groups pre-sorted to consist of those as much as possible like themselves. The teaching style has to be flexible and we have to let the brainiest fly high, obviously, but they do not grow up thinking they are the only ones who are god’s gift as a result. They recognise others’ value too.

    There is no way of having competitive entry to some schools and genuinely treating the winners and losers equally. It will always be ‘four legs good, two legs better’ as long as we have selection.

    I don’t understand either how working class DUP voters can sell their birthright like this.

  • Reader

    Grainne: So, no secondary mod lobby?
    Well, there’s you. But you are busy solving the wrong problem. The problem is to fit the education to the child, right? So there will be streaming in schools, and selection between schools. Academic selection is certainly one aspect of this that can’t be sidestepped. But if we are all busy valuing different skills and talents, maybe it would be help if the anti-selection lobby didn’t rabbit on about failure all the time?
    What the Grammar schools have done is to increase social mobility, by preparing people for higher paying jobs. When society needs other valuable skills, it pays for those skills too. But guess what – some people don’t become good plumbers either.
    Grainne: I am also a teacher in an excellent all-ability integrated school.
    Glad to hear it – it’s a relief to know they aren’t all like Strangford, where the current year 11 has been pushed willy-nilly into vocational courses and you can’t do more than single science at GCSE. Not much high-flying there.

  • Ex-teacher

    Well said (ie. writ) by T Ruth! I’m with you.

    A junior high system is an excellent compromise. No segregation of children at the ridiculously young age of 11. No branding of ‘failure’ on half of those young children. Give everyone the same educational opportunities up to age 14 and then let them choose which GCSE courses they want to pursue after that.

    And let’s put an end to sectarian division while we are at it. A fully integrated, junior high system would help to put this stricken society on the path to normality. Our education system might start producing more tolerant citizens than sectarian bigots at last.

    Pity we are relying on politicians from the two most bigoted parties to implement the reform. The probability of it happening recedes as soon as they come into the picture.

  • Alan

    “But if we are all busy valuing different skills and talents, maybe it would be help if the anti-selection lobby didn’t rabbit on about failure all the time?”

    We do that because the pro selection lobby are happy to ignore the fact that the existing system is a failure. Their focus has been on the 1 to 2 % of the population that “do better” than in GB. They ignore the facts that N Ireland has one of the most unequal education systems in the western world for although 31% of schools have 80% plus 5 A-C grades, 54% of schools have 40% or under .

    If our selective education has been the envy of the world since it was introduced in 1948, we would not expect 24% of the working age population to have no qualifications, far worse than the 15% in England and Scotland and 17% in Wales. People here are not stupid – they are badly served by the system.

    “What the Grammar schools have done is to increase social mobility, by preparing people for higher paying jobs.”

    Utter nonsense and completely disregarding of the facts. Less than 7% of those attending grammar schools are in receipt of free school meals. The NI non-grammar average is 28%. Just accept that academic selection discriminates against the poorer sections of the community. Most kids who sit the 11+ currently pay £20 – £25 per week for tutoring – something you can’t afford on low wages.

    “The problem is to fit the education to the child, right? So there will be streaming in schools, and selection between schools.”

    I think you are on to something there – just leave out the last bit, because it is completely unnecessary and doesn’t work. It should read :

    The problem is to fit the education to the child, right? So there will be streaming in schools.

    Actually, I would prefer “banding”, which allows children to move up and down in subject groups according to their effort and achievement, rather than streaming which is rigid and restricts children to the stream they start in, no matter how hard they try.

  • Reader

    Alan: the existing system is a failure.
    Oops – I lost my first response. Here it is in brief:
    If you have banding or streaming without Grammar schools, how big a year group do you need to support enough bands to challenge the best ans support the least able? (Huge anonymous comprehensives vs. not enough bands vs. Grammar schools)
    I agree that the statistics at the bottom end of the spectrum are terrible. So fix that problem; you can’t blame the Grammar schools.
    Schools meals – 7% vs. 28%. What does that mean unless you have an idea what the figures ought to be? Surely you don’t expect there to be no difference?
    There’s no point in attacking the 11+ specifically – I didn’t defend the 11+, and I haven’t seen anyone do so. I am supporting selection and Grammar schools.
    unequal education systems – It looks as though you are calling for equality of outcome for schools – surely not? But why else complain about “31% of schools…”. It is a selective system, after all…

  • rapunsel

    “Schools meals – 7% vs. 28%. What does that mean unless you have an idea what the figures ought to be? Surely you don’t expect there to be no difference'”

    Surely Reader it means that if the grammar system was genuinely meritocratic then one might expext the level of free school means to be similar in grammar and secondary schools and that this might reflect income deprivation in the particular catchment areas– unless that is you believe that poor people are stupid and expect there to be a difference.

  • rapunsel

    One more point. This is blackmail. A significant way to express your opinion and effect change on this DUP side deal is to vote no or against the DUP in the planned referendum / election. So the choice is to oppose selection and also be accused of not supporting a stable future for the country. It’s sickening and at the minute over this and a few other issues I’m in the abstention /no camp wrt any future deal.

  • Reader

    rapunsel: Surely Reader it means that if the grammar system was genuinely meritocratic then one might expext the level of free school means to be similar in grammar and secondary schools
    Why would you expect that? Do you assume that poverty is randomly allocated to families? Instead, surely poverty is correlated with the abilities and efforts of the adult members of the family, and therefore correlated with the abilities and efforts of the children. Maybe 28/7 *is* to high a ratio, but 21/21 is certainly too low.

  • Is part of the reason for bad results in secondary (non-grammar) schools the rigid national syllabus, which seems not to allow for more vocational education for the less academic pupils?

    Or might it be related to the dreadful results from some of the primary schools that feed these secondary schools? The schools where hardly anyone achieves a “pass” grade at 11+

    It seems crazy to put so much effort into complaining about selection, and completely ignore the dreadful failures in the primary and secondary sectors. Surely it can’t ALL be because of selection – especially for pre-selection primary schools?

    Might there be issues, either in schools or homes, which tend to hamper academic attainment? Should they be examined?

  • idunnomeself

    Sweetners:

    Does anyone know if the Irish Language Act will be put through Westminister or the Assembly?

  • stand still laddie

    This is such a fantastic development that I might actually register to vote to endorse it. Life is about winning or losing, like it or not. The grammer schools are for the most able and at least smart children are seperated from the useless who would otherwise do their damndest to drag everyone down to their level.
    It also means I won’t have to shell out a fortune to keep my children away from slack-jawed proles. Good to see SF taking a principled stand on this too. Is there nothing they won’t sell out in a scramble for power?!

  • kensei

    Grammar schools can have an effect on social mobility – a glance at the decline of working class representatives in British politics will tell you that.

    The problem is two fold though – 1. those at the bottom get screwed and 2. It is incredibly biased towards the middle class.

    As a step towards fising the second, a scoring system that takes into account economic background might help readdress the balance. The first is a much bigger problem.

  • kensei

    “Why would you expect that? Do you assume that poverty is randomly allocated to families? Instead, surely poverty is correlated with the abilities and efforts of the adult members of the family, and therefore correlated with the abilities and efforts of the children.”

    Please tell me you aren’t saying that people are in poverty because they are thick, here. I’m reading that wrong, right?

  • barnshee

    “Please tell me you aren’t saying that people are in poverty because they are thick, here. I’m reading that wrong, right?”

    Personal intellectual attainment is surely ONE factor in eventual success/failure?? “people are in poverty because they are thick” is perhaps a tad emotive way of expressing it but in amongst parental support and attitude, family resources, peer group pressure et al it has its place?

    It`s a competitive unfair world

  • kensei

    “Personal intellectual attainment is surely ONE factor in eventual success/failure?? “people are in poverty because they are thick” is perhaps a tad emotive way of expressing it but in amongst parental support and attitude, family resources, peer group pressure et al it has its place?

    It`s a competitive unfair world ”

    No – it is precisely the right way of putting it. Jesus. If I had know that was the attitude in support of academic selection I would have been out fighting it tough and nail. I came top of my year at Queens (twice), top disseration mark and was shortlisted for a business competition. A generation ago I might not have got the chance. I might have been like my father with 13 brothers and sisters, less encouragement and more responsibility earlier.

    Ability plays it’s part, but I have found it means so little in comparison to having the right attitude, the right encouragement and the right oppurtunities.

    And anyway, does that mean that those people deserve to be at the bottom because they aren’t quite as bright? Or have the same standard of education as anyone else.

    This is the single worst fucking attitude I have ever heard on here, ever.

  • peter fallow

    “does that mean that those people deserve to be at the bottom because they aren’t quite as bright?”

    Yes. Yes it does. Thank God the grammars are saved. Let the scum fester in their own mess.

  • Ex-teacher

    The education system in N. Ireland must be one of the most divisive in Europe. Not only are the children segregated on the basis of religion on their very first day at school, they then have another division inflicted on them at age eleven when the top third go to grammar school and the remaining two-thirds are sent to ‘intermediate’ schools.

    It is an education system dedicated to the ‘them and us’ ethos. First there is the sectarian version where ‘them’ is the other side of the religious divide and the children are taught which side they ‘belong to’. Later there is the great weeding-out, when the winners get a grammar school place and a career, while the non-winners get a different type of school and a job: in short, a ‘them and us’ of social class.

    I wonder if these two processes interact?

    By the time that a boy or girl is eleven, they have experienced seven years of religious segregation. They probably know where the schools for the ‘other side’ are and have learned to classify local school uniforms on a ‘them and us’ basis. Doubtless, they have heard their parents talking about the Troubles and have seen riots and destruction on TV, if not on the streets. And so the sectarian segregation which they have experienced at school is given a context and becomes part of the way that they understand the whole society. The child learns that the two communities are mutually hostile and feels that segregated schools are the result.

    Now let us suppose that this boy or girl finishes the seven years of primary education, sits the transfer tests, but is not awarded a grammar school place. Surely that is a situation where disappointment can easily turn into resentment? The child sees former companions going on to the grammar school, with its promise of a better career, while he/she is left to go with the rest to a less prestigious school. So they feel some resentment against the system which has branded them in such a way. And the natural channel for that resentment to follow is the one provided by all those years of sectarian segregation. There is a target ready-made, just right for the antagonistic feelings that the 11+ rejection has stirred up.

    Could that be true? Could the divisiveness of the education system be a major source of antagonism in Ulster society? Are feelings of rejection after the 11+ finding an outlet in sectarian animosity?

    Supporters of selection and segregation will say that this theory is mere speculation, has no foundation in empirical evidence and cannot be tested. But that is not the case. One testable implication would be that grammar school pupils will be found to be under-represented in an analysis of the educational backgrounds of people actively involved in the Troubles. They will be under-represented because 11+ success will have prevented the resentment which fuels sectarian animosity. So if research reveals that 40% or more of those imprisoned during the Troubles attended grammar school, then the theory above has been disproved. But if research shows that only 20% or less attended grammar school, then the theory has been confirmed and must be taken seriously as a criticism of a divisive and dangerous education system.

    Let us hope that the necessary research will soon be under way.

  • Reader

    kensei: Please tell me you aren’t saying that people are in poverty because they are thick, here. I’m reading that wrong, right?
    kensei: Ability plays it’s part,
    Which is no more than what I said. I suggested there was a correlation. I didn’t claim 100% correlation – but then, who would? And it seems you don’t claim 0% correlation, but then, who would?
    So, somewhere in between, then…

  • peter fallow

    “Are feelings of rejection after the 11+ finding an outlet in sectarian animosity?”

    Aw, the poor little mites! Ever occurred that these people are labelled failures because that’s precisely what they are? And it’s not like we put them down the mines, they go to perfectly alright schools funded by my taxes where if they so choose they can make an effort and do their best.

  • rapunsel

    So Peter why should their taxes go to fund the education of the children of the middle classes in Grammar schools. ” Perfectly alright” but probably not good enough for the likes of you.

  • 4thlanark

    Anyone know what the purpose is of our current educational system? Is it to create tomorrow’s economic powerhouse catalysts? Is it to provide pliable citizens? Is it to address character over fact retention?

    An analysis of the purpose might provide a better persepective for the current debate. But then, who decides on the purpose?

  • peter fallow

    I see taxes going to grammar schools as an investment in society: they produce productive, educated, law abiding ciztizens who generate nearly all of the wealth in society, perform vital functions in health and the judiciary, etc.
    I do resent paying taxes for the proles to fritter away with slack jawed lack of gratitude but I suppose it keeps them off the streets for some of the time, might give them some vague idea of social responsibility / discipline and some of them even go on to get jobs and contribute to society. No matter how much that goes against the grain of the natural slovenly instincts of the working classes in Northern Ireland.

  • kensei

    “Which is no more than what I said. I suggested there was a correlation. I didn’t claim 100% correlation – but then, who would? And it seems you don’t claim 0% correlation, but then, who would?”

    Don’t dare quote me out of context. What I said was that ability plays it’s part but that is so small in comparison with everything else.

    What you said amounted to 2People are there because they deserve it”. Not the same. My full feelings on that attitude can’t be printed.

  • peter fallow

    Errr, they do deserve to be there! Who else’s fault is it?!
    We do more than enough to give the proles a chance, at great expense to those of us who actually contribute something to society. When people try to expunge them of blame for their own inherent uselessness, my views become unprintable.

  • willis

    At present, as far as I can see we have

    A great number of schools which do a very good job, have good discipline, and which are often oversubscribed. I am not just talking about Grammar schools.

    A much smaller number of schools which, for a variety of reasons, are in terminal decline.

    A generation of unionist politicians who are unable to accept the fact that selection creates the above situation.

    They will happily troop through the lobby to vote for the 11+ (and let’s face it, if selection stays the 11+ stays) but will not serve on education boards to implement the inevitable results of selection.

  • Animus

    Peter – is this satire? Do you really think grammar school pupils are the cream of society because of their divine birthright or the fact that their parents have enough money to sort them out? The fact that grammars take thick kids who pay fees is well-established. I love your hilarious “we and them” attitude as well – it’s because people like you exist that shows up the fact that education is failing to create citizens, rather than economic tools. There is also little truth in the fact that grammar school pupils all turn out to be law-abiding wealth generators. In fact, it is poorly paid, poorly educated people working for low wages who are propping up the idle in generating wealth.

    As for inherent uselessness, you amply prove the case that this condition isn’t confined to the working classes.

  • Reader

    kensei: What you said amounted to 2People are there because they deserve it”. Not the same. My full feelings on that attitude can’t be printed.
    Sheesh, and you complained about being quoted out of context before putting words in my mouth!
    If you want to argue about ‘attitude’ and the ‘deserve’ word, try Peter Fallow. I never used the word.
    I believe that ‘ability plays its part’- that isn’t an attitude, it’s an observation. I find it hard to accept that people might really think otherwise.
    Of course people can be dragged down by their family, or their neighbours, by illness, misfortune, addiction or caring responsibilities. They may be let down by their school or their culture. There may be important gaps in their abilities – intelligence, application or personal skills. People with immense potential may be left behind – but they will be sharing their circumstances with rather a lot of people who have little potential to succeed in the first place. Of *course* there’s a correlation between wealth and ability

  • Yer Woman

    Permit me a “mwwaaahhaaahhaaa!” at this theory that grammar schools promote “social mobility and higher salaries.” This might certainly be the case if you choose to find a job anywhere other than Northern Ireland!
    The education system here churn out some of the most academically qualified and gifted graduates in both in the UK and RoI, but it means damn all if all you can hope to get if you choose to stay in the North is minimum wage in a call centre or being bored to death in the bottom rungs of the Civil Service.

    I studied hard for my 11 Plus, got into grammar school, studied hard for and passed all my GCSE’s and A’levels with flying colours, got into a reputable University and obtained an undergraduate degree (2:1) as well as a Masters degree. Despite this academic achievement (aided by the grammar school system) I can’t seem to get arrested in Northern Ireland never mind land the “higher salary” some people on this thread predict as the long-term reward of passing the 11 plus and getting into grammar school.

    Seriously, what is the point of changing the current selection system into a more universal and equal model if you are STILL left with two choices at the end of the perceived educational Rainbow – find work in another country or settle for a job you’re over-qualified and underpaid for in dear old Norn Iron?

  • kensei

    “There may be important gaps in their abilities – intelligence, application or personal skills. People with immense potential may be left behind – but they will be sharing their circumstances with rather a lot of people who have little potential to succeed in the first place. Of *course* there’s a correlation between wealth and ability”

    And there you go again. Arggghhhhh. People are poor because they don’t have any ability.

    I would wager that correlation is nothing like as strong between your class, and your parent’s class. But sure, that’s genetics, isn’t it?

  • Reader

    kensei: I would wager that correlation is nothing like as strong between your class, and your parent’s class.
    Hard to work out a meaningful correlation with a sample size of me plus two parents. However, they are the Grammar school educated children of semi-skilled workers, and very comfortable now thank you. I am the Grammar school & Uni educated child of two self-employed parents. I never had private tuition, ever, but I did extremely well at University, and cruised into a comfortable job. Is that as sinister as you wanted?
    Why is it so difficult for you to accept that what you can do might affect what you can earn? Are you in a job that absolutely anyone could do? Because I’m not.

  • Animus

    Let’s be honest Reader, most people are working in jobs that many others could do, given the right training. My job entails a great deal of specialist knowledge and information but I didn’t even grow up in Northern Ireland and I am able to cope with it. I suspect people’s preciousness about their jobs is largely down to personal ego, rather than a set of skills alone.

    Don’t we all know doctors who have never cracked open a novel? And lawyers who can barely string a sentence together? Or teachers of one discipline who have negligible knowledge of any other area than thier specialism? And yet these are the professions which are supposedly the acme of achievment.

    The market value of a job isn’t necessarily an indication of its importance either, so enough guff about higher salaries.

  • kensei

    “Hard to work out a meaningful correlation with a sample size of me plus two parents.”

    The wonderful thing about “you” in English is that it doubles as both the singular and plural. I was quite obviously talking about a wider “you”.

    “Why is it so difficult for you to accept that what you can do might affect what you can earn? Are you in a job that absolutely anyone could do? Because I’m not.”

    No, not absolutely anyone could do my job. But more people could do it than they think, probably. Here’s a few questions – why is social mobility such a concern for governments, if the stupid people just go to the bottom? If social mobility is decreasing, doe sthat mean people are getting more stupid? Do countries with higher social mobility have smarter people?

  • Reader

    kensei: social mobility
    I’m in favour of social mobility. It operates imperfectly, but at least I think it is happening. Social mobility may decrease because aspiration has collapsed, with celebrity and a vague desire for wealth being the main identifiable ambitions for lots of people. If I can give my children a bit of ‘class’ instead, I damned well will.
    I don’t think that that either high or low social mobility says anything about the average intelligence in a community. It does say something about the talent wasted, or available for the harder jobs. But what is the point of social mobility for someone who doesn’t believe in real differences of ability? Is it just a plea for justice by lottery? A roll of the dice in each generation?
    And while I expect each new generation to stir the mix a lot, I also can’t help but think of why other sorting algorithms slow down and stop…

  • Reader

    kensei: No, not absolutely anyone could do my job. But more people could do it than they think, probably.
    Could you be replaced by someone willing to work for the minimum wage? I promise I won’t tell.
    Did you have to present a stack of qualifications to prove you were the most overqualified applicant for the job? (That’s the way it is in the Fair Employment era – Yer Woman knows that).