I think I've mentioned on a previous occasion, that I'm appalled by the frequency that education issues appear in headline news. Not a day seems to go by without this or that new announcement, initiative, review, enquiry etc etc etc being declared.
Now when I were a lad, you never heard nuffink abat edukashun from one year to the next. And life seemed a whole lot better for that.
Today's bandwagon is that old chestnut about the 'high' percentage of school-students attaining leaving age without developing a satisfactory ability in reading and/or writing.
Now while I recognise that in the UK there seems to have been a 'golden age' in school performance probably peaking in the 60s or 70s, I would contend that there always was and always will be a certain amount of school failure in the 'basic skills'.
The reason for this is obvious to me - that is they are not basic at all. In fact they are totally artificial - figments of our fertile human imaginations, pounced upon by the powers that be as a useful stick with which to beat us.
If The Supreme Being had intended us to be readin', writin' amnd rithmetisin' it'd not have waited till the Lil Ol Yuman race commed along afore it started insistin' on it.
Trilobites, Stromatolites, Dinosaurs, CumuloNimbus, Cannabis Sattiva and everything else would have been reading, writing and arithmetising well before now. But no, that doesn't seem to have happened. And even when Our Lot pops up it seems to take squillions of years before anyone thinks about these activities and lots more before it's even suggested that the majority should aquire these entirely invented skills.
Is it not possible that for any number of reasons to do with neurological development, personal preference or different priority many many many folk may just not be equipped to acquire the so-called basic skills? I think this is entirely possible.
My experience 'in the workplace' has shown me that in all age groups there are small numbers of very good workers who struggle with literacy and/or numeracy and it does not make them any less a valuable citizen even though the dim-witted among them might persecute them for being differently skilled.
So, I'm happy with Mr Gordon Brown to be trying to restore the place in the curriculum for methods which identify struggling pupils at the age of six or any age for that matter, but I am not happy with people who use statistics to try and convince us that things are getting worse and everybody should be getting PhDs even though they think that standards are falling etc etc etc
We should not be thinking that the system is failing just because X% cannot read and write. Rather we should be asking what else can these people be doing to help them feel included and take up useful positions in society.
In the Old Days there were tons of manual and manufacturing jobs in which they could develop other skills and feel highly valued. Successions of short sighted governments - mainly under the influence of Mrs T [a fore-rummer of mrsa!] - have demolished British Industry and only replaced it with crappy second rate service industries which most of us don't really need anyway.
Meanwhile schools still go on as if we're still in charge of the world and need to churn out godzillions of Oxbridge educated bureaucrats to keep the rest of the buggers in their proper place! Skools are an outdated relic of the Industrial Revolution. We probably do not need universal schooling at all any more. Education should be almost entirely experiential. Kids should have the freedom to explore and time to enjoy the wider world around them and creatively find out where they want to take their lives - something skools are VERY VERY BAD at. Besides real life, there are plenty of good educational tools around in the form of computers, TV & Radio, libraries, etc etc etc from which they can draw inspiration in the company of grown up more mature friends and neighbours and if they deem it useful and necessary they will learn to read and write - at least just as many will do as do so at present.
The NUT has perpetrated a grievous mendacious myth with its slogan..
'If you can read this, thank a teacher'
Teachers can and do do a lot of good but when it comes down to it most kids actually teach themselves to read and motivation is the most important ingredient in the mix which will get them there, although it should be accepted that some people will never acquire the skill, and many only barely adequately.
Please let's become a little more tolerant and imaginative about what folk need to achieve to be good citizens and stop demonising those who have different levels of skill and ability and find them good roles in society so that they can feel included and proud of their abilities and the contributions they can make.Climb down off soapbox.....
Labels: art, education, lunacy, politics