Wednesday, 22 April 2020
As the lockdown continues, people are inevitably talking about how and when to ease restrictions. There is talk of getting the kids back to school quite soon, which, when you think about it is like introducing super spreaders into every region of the country. Imagine; one kid has the virus, within a few days the whole school has it and within a week the whole catchment area is exposed. The kids shrug off the minor symptoms, but a generation of Conservative voters start dying off. I’m not sure if they’ve thought that one through. (Or have they?)
But when it comes to education there are wider issues to consider. Everybody gets arsey when a parent takes a child out of school for a week in term time so the family can go skiing without taking out a second mortgage to meet half-term holiday prices. But the schools have been closed for over a month already, what damage - or repair - might have been done to impressionable young minds who have instead been over-exposed to the thinking of some of their parents?
The kids are not preparing for or sitting exams, so it could be argued that they wouldn’t have been tackling any new material at this point, merely consolidating existing learning. But to be brutally honest, given the pitifully ill-educated state of many school leavers, getting them back in school now to learn more about how Britain is a racist, homophobic country of xenophobic war criminals, while simultaneously being a country of immigrants, is hardly going to assist in the country's future prospects.
Given that the average reading age of the adult population of the UK is that expected of an eleven-year old – and some estimates put it as low as nine – you might wonder what on earth they were doing for the thirteen years most of them now spend in school. And for many decades now, fully one-fifth are functionally illiterate yet manage to survive, procreate and pass on their worrisome genes to the next generation. As reading is the foundation of all learning, what the hell does the education profession think it is there for?
Maybe it’s time to re-open the debate about school-leaving age? Many resent being effectively detained against their will until eighteen when they could be out doing a lot of the work we now rely on low-cost immigrants to do. At sixteen kids can easily learn whatever it takes to stock shelves, pick crops, staff production lines and pick up some valuable lessons in being useful contributors to society along the way. Frankly, I’m astonished this hasn’t been seriously mooted before.
Another boon, for which the benefit could be incalculable, would be a massive reduction in the harmful cost to the economy of non-degrees. Exposed to the world of work an element of common sense might be inculcated in the population. On a national level surely this would be preferable to 50% of them continuing to absorb leftist doctrine as they progress from school, through gap years, through university, eventually emerging from the educational chrysalis not as bright, beautiful butterflies, but as ugly, dusty moths almost a decade after some of their schoolmates began paying tax, saving money and being part of the solution.
So, they’ve lost a few weeks, I doubt another few weeks is really going to make that much of an impact. It is reported that two-thirds of them haven’t logged into online learning during the lockdown; I expect that the third who have are not the ones who will end up semi-literate with Masters degrees in finger painting. And some of the greatest minds in history had little or no formal schooling. Education; the solution, or a big part of the problem?