Jon Cooper


Black-headed gulls of Oslo

Some particularly photogenic black-headed gulls enthusiastically chasing crisps hurled towards them in Oslo, Norway.

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China, August 2014

A level Results

I found out my A level examination results: the long-awaited culmination of my high school education, which concludes my submission to that state apparatus. Prepare in the way that is taught, write what is more or less expected and deemed correct, and one does well. Shift too far from expectations, lose whatever banal structure, dare to be different and you’re sending a costly signal. In all probability, your academic success will tumble down a ladder of alphabetic characters. An A level marks an imperfect measure of a student’s circumstance: their security, wealth, values, and support, and whether they have the opportunity, interest, and time to do what the work requires. These exist in a sort of inextricable amalgamation, to which must be added no small amount of effort.

Perhaps there is benefit in talent, but more so a good school, cultural capital and a resilient, even wry attitude. The diligent reader of mark schemes and examiners reports will find questions they have already seen. One systematically learns not the subject, but how to please the examiner burdened to distill your script to a mere letter. I’m pleased to say that the initiation went well for me. Of course my excitement lies not in the vapid production of letters on a piece of paper but the ability to move on to the next stage of education, where independent thought receives more merit. The pleasure of learning finally comes for me and many others in October.