Education: Is It Safe In Their Hands?

The Dolphin's Brain By The Dolphin's Brain, 17th Jul 2013 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL
Posted in Wikinut>Writing>Politics

Nick Clegg has today announced yet more changes to the nation's education system. Within this particular avalanche of dogmatic impositions is the proposal to rank every single 11 year-old in the country. There may be no ACTUAL suggestion that such a ranking should be permanently branded on the foreheads of our children, but the consequences are likely to be similar.

The True Cost of Dogma

Occasionally, just once in a while, a politician, or a political party, announces an idea that makes sense. When it happens, I, like many others, am truly surprised and delighted. Sadly, today is not one of those days and the proposal to ‘rank’ all primary school children is not one of those ideas.

To some degree we can tell that the idea is fundamentally flawed as the Prime Minister has, somehow, convinced his deputy and coalition ‘partner’ to make the announcement. Whatever possessed Clegg and the Liberal Democrats to associate themselves with this particular policy is, frankly, beyond me.

That the Conservative Party possesses little, if no, understanding of the education needs of children is hardly a surprise. Fuelled by a desire for our children to outperform the Chinese, or whichever other nation is the current economic flavour of the month, the party of the privileged, the powerful, the owners of capital sees education as a one-dimensional process for producing workers. For the Tories, success is about money and in an educational context, success is all about producing children with just enough education to provide fodder for the workplace and yet just little enough to prevent revolt. Politicians of the right wing share this educational approach with all the major religions of the world, which cannot afford a flock so educated that individuals are capable of discerning the inconsistencies that are central to these ‘world views’. (That the Catholic Church maintains the fiction of the ‘miracle’ in the absolute belief that its followers will accept such occurrences is proof enough of my point.)

For the more left-leaning Liberal Democrats to be equally afflicted by such a lack of insight is both baffling and depressing. It would appear as if they have been ‘Goved’, i.e. brought down to the level of Michael Gove’s ‘understanding’ of the education process.

The Real Value of Experience

One of the main problems with our politicians, whatever their hue, is the sense that they distrust anybody who has specialist knowledge and experience in a given area, often preferring, it would seem, a string of ‘consultants’ and ‘gurus’ who make a fat living off the taxpayer. These consultants are often money people with no understanding of value, as opposed to cost. This is an affliction that the country has suffered from for some time.

Gove, as far as I am aware, has no formal education-related training or expertise. His ‘experts’ will be within his cohort of civil servants in the department of which he is the head. They, sadly, are not fully independent but like any servant in a political context, are bound by the political doctrine of their masters. Gove’s approach to education is entirely coloured by political dogma and it is fuelled by a philosophy that does not have, at its core, the principle of education for its own sake or even for the sake of producing fully-rounded, intelligent, questioning individuals with a passion for learning and a desire to enquire. An educated population is a dangerous population.

Ranking children, even into broad 10% bands, will do nothing for those children at the bottom of the pile. It will not enhance their self-esteem; it will not improve their capacity to learn at secondary level; it most certainly will not make the lives of secondary school teachers any easier, quite the opposite. All these are things which the teaching professionals and child development experts could have told the politicians with no difficulty had they been asked. As I have been sitting here writing this, I suspect that many of them will have said as much already. In the education context, teachers and their representatives seem to be the last people consulted before any sweeping changes are proposed. I am certain, also, that no child psychologist would have received a minister’s ‘phone call asking for a piece of child-centred advice before this particular ‘ranking’ proposal was committed to paper.

There is, no doubt, much more we can do to educate our children in a better way. I am sure that part of the problem, however, is that we have the wrong underlying principles. Our approach to education is fundamentally flawed. And the saddest fact of all is that a holistic, child-centred system that promotes a rounded education producing children who are taught HOW to learn more than WHAT to learn will, if left to grow and flourish in the hands of motivated teachers, provide the politicians with a brighter, better-educated population more able to enable the country to find its proper place in the world in general and the global economy in particular.

It would also, as it happens, eventually produce better politicians who would be very unlikely to conceive a policy as potentially catastrophic as this one, for which there really is only one description – ‘rank’.

© The Dolphin’s Brain 2013


Children, Conservative Party, Dogma, Education, Michael Gove, Nick Clegg, Ranking, Schools

Meet the author

author avatar The Dolphin's Brain
I am a mixed bag of lawyer, vegan, environmentalist and sports nut and my writing is likely to be passionate, of-the-moment articles on a wide variety of topics. I also write the occasional poem!

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