Another question (many thanks for the replies to my previous thread, by the way) - could the expression "to dumb down" be synonymous with "to lower standards", depending on the context?
Thanks in advance,
I agree with 5jj.
Additionally, "dumb it down" is used to make things more understandable to a general or lay audience. Doctors are often requested to "dumb down" their presentations so that a wider audience can grasp what they are saying.
Yes. This phrase has been heard a lot in the UK over recent years due to the huge rise in the number of students obtaining the top scores in the exams they take at age 16 and 18.
For example, when I took my 'A' Levels at the age of 18 (in 1987), it was quite rare for a student to obtain the top grade in all three (or four) subjects. The best most of us could hope for was something like one A grade and 2 Bs.
A few years later, the grade "A*" (A star) was brought in, which was to be given to students who achieved an unusually high score on the exam. A student then might hope for perhaps one A*, one A and a B.
In the last three or four years, a lot of students have achieved three A* grades.
There are two possible explanations for this - either students have become much more intelligent/studious, or the exams have been made easier to pass with the highest grade.
Given the unlikelihood of a mass rise in intelligence in such a short period of time, the majority of people believe that the exams have been made easier. The phrase used over and over is that the exams have been "dumbed down".
A similar thing has happened with degrees in British universities,. When I graduated (before emsr2d2 was born ), the highest class of degree, 'a first', was rare, and was felt to be achievable by only brilliant and/or extremely hard-working students. Most students were very happy indeed if they graduated with the next class down, a '2:1' ( a 'two-one', or 'upper second'. A '2:2' (two-two', or 'lower second') was a respectable degree for most.
Nowadays, a much higher percentage of students gain a first, and some regard a two-two as almost a failure. This is seen by some a a sign of 'dumbing down'.