Tuesday, 25 March 2014
A Piece of Paper
In the absence of any concrete policy to argue about, the subject of qualified teachers raised its diversionary head again yesterday as opposition MPs confused Michael Gove’s quest for educational excellence and competence with socialism’s insistence that all must have qualifications, titles or some form of accreditation – yes, we are all winners. Curious then, how they seem less concerned that parents, who produce the offspring that the state must then attempt to educate, should be suitably vetted and certified and examined and qualified. Of course, the last thing we need is politicians deciding what qualifications would be suitable to judge people fit to breed. But it’s not a bad idea, is it?
We routinely and robustly proscribe all sorts of natural human activity on the basis that it is counter to civilised behaviour. Humans steal almost by instinct – you have to actively teach children that theft is wrong, yet our supposed rulers regularly demonstrate that crime goes effectively unpunished. Maybe MP criminality is more acceptable than proletariat wrongdoing? Humans also cause intentional harm to each other with an astonishing regularity; you could hardly credibly state that murder is dying out, for instance. And one of the most basic drivers of human violence is the competition for mating rights. Surely, in the quest for responsible parents there should be obstacles to surmount, exams to pass and qualifications to be attained?
Of course, as in all things, one of the most difficult of human instincts to suppress is the opportunism – red in tooth and claw – that ensured our very survival as a species. Introduce a legal requirement for a parenting diploma and in the twenty years or so before ministers wake up to the abuses reported to them from day one by a multitude of whistle-blowers, bogus bratting colleges will spring up and award undeserved degrees in getting up the duff. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if an awful lot of lecturers will happily help their paying students with their ‘homework’. Yes, you say, wagging your finger at me, you would paint humanity in such a sordid light but, you see, unlike politicians, I am not seeking election and can therefore tell the truth.
And the truth is that no matter how you layer on the veneers of civilisation the animal within all of us will find ways to scratch it off and reveal the crude plywood beneath. It seems to me that some regulation is needed, but you can only go so far. You can prohibit the physical aspects of racism, for instance – making it illegal to discriminate on grounds of differentness and punishing verbal and physical expressions of the same – but you can’t eradicate antipathy; we haven’t yet perfected thought control. You can also mandate the acquisition of paper qualifications, but you’re on a hiding to nothing if you believe that everybody can justify holding them or demonstrate the actual worth that such parchment purports to confer.
But for some reason, despite all the millennia of evidence against, our rulers are obsessed with putting barricades in the way of reason and are too quick in creating structures open to abuse. Insist on teaching qualifications for all and I guarantee you that standards will not only not improve, they will probably go down as the unworthy will find ways of obtaining the closed-shop entry ticket, while assessing their actual competence will take a back seat for a while. It is as clear as day to those of us who live in the real world; why is it so difficult for governments to understand?
Maybe, rather than MPs insisting on forever regulating the rest of us, the rest of us should be quietly regulating them. Next year, if you hadn’t noticed, there is to be a general election. But why should we have to put up with candidates selected by obscure and often hereditary processes to fill party ambitions? I propose that only suitably qualified candidates be allowed to stand – no diploma, no hat in the ring. That gives them all a year to stop meddling, put in some hard graft, hand in their homework for scrutiny and revise for the big day. And we will all be marking the exams.