Wednesday, 6 December 2006

Timmy on Teaching

Picked up this excellent post by Tim Worstall on the plan to raise the school-leaving age to 18.

Gosh, what an excellent idea:

Teenagers should be forced by law to stay in school or training up to the age of 18, the review of skills ordered by Gordon Brown said yesterday.

More than one in six young people leave school unable to read, write and add up properly and the proportion of 16- year-olds staying on in full time education in the UK is below the average for developed countries, it said.

After 11 years of compulsory State education 17% have learnt nothing. So we'll insist that they have another two years where they'll also learn nothing. Great, good thinking Batman.

Why not be sensible and get the readin', 'ritin' and 'rithmetic stuff done a little earlier? You know, in years one through five of the education process?

Not only will they not learn anything more, but the teenagers forced to stay at school after 16 will also destroy the traditional atmosphere of the A Level (if it still exists). It was a space where the teachers could actually teach, to people who had made a positive choice to learn that subject, and was therefore a place and time where you could really grow up. That will all be wrecked if teenagers who have their GCSEs and want to go and do something else are forced to stay in the classroom. Anyone who wants to stay can - and that is how it should be, given that we treat 16 year olds as adults in other areas. Sex, for example.

The argument is, as it usually is, that people who leave at 16 earn less than people who don't. Fair enough. But they leave school because they are not academic, have been taught badly, or are otherwise demotivated, and have reached an age where society allows them increasing control over their lives. Why remove that right to get work or to start training? To look for something you really want to do? People who leave school at 16 and join the right trade or industry can make moves quickly and build up a stock of experience that graduates of 21 just can't catch up on.

The answer is probably to broaden the provision of training schemes and technical education post 16 (post 14 in fact), and to do away, once and for all, with the garbage that getting any degree is automatically better than not. Employers are already finding that many of the graduates they're getting are not "fit for purpose", but we have such a snobbery in this country towards real vocational or technical training that we see academic study as the be all and end all. I'm not arguing for the creation of another proletariat, to serve the material needs of the bourgeoisie - the opportunities for education in academic areas already exist. The opportunities for other kinds of education are limited. 16 year olds at work could be supervised, assessed, ooh, I don't know, "apprenticed", even; they could be given the opportunity to return to school if they change their minds, or study for A Levels later on: there is a whole raft of ways of making the choices of 16 years olds more relevant to them and to society without making them sit A Levels in subjects they don't want to do, in places they don't want to be.

I like the comment too:

"Why not be sensible and get the readin', 'ritin' and 'rithmetic stuff done a little earlier? You know, in years one through five of the education process?"

If you do that then when the hell are you going to fit the brainwashing in? There's anti-globalisation, anti-racism, global warming and class warfare to be to be peddled first. Best do that at a young age and let the less important stuff like literacy and numeracy wait for later. Come to think of it, do we really want a population that's articulate and that can think for itself? I don't think so!

This might sound like right-wing paranoia, but there is more than a grain of truth in it. Quite apart from the new "Science as Green Propaganda" GCSE, the primary science curriculum is promoted on PGCE courses, as I've pointed out before, precisely to indoctrinate children; the geography curriculum is seen by a significant proportion of academics (ie the ones who designed it) as a way of changing the world; and the history curriculum is currently under assault from special interest groups, who all want a slice of what they regard as a political subject.

No comments: