Friday, 26 February 2021

The Happiest Days of Your Life

Another year, another obstacle to believing that western education actually achieves very much. And, just as throughout history, the adults of today are suspicious of the stuffing that teachers are using to fill the heads of their current charges. Actually, on second thoughts, the historical tendency is not to blame the teachers so much as the pupils themselves. A moment’s consideration, however, of the master-apprentice system and honest reflection of our own past will reveal that callow youth has never been fully-formed clay.

What was always expected of school was that they would turn out literate, numerate, sentient, learning-enabled rough-casts which could be further refined into worthwhile citizens. Young people who knew their true place in society as half-adults, who would then learn a trade, earn their spurs and go on to take their full place in the national convocation. It worked for centuries and teachers were an important, but expectedly neutral cog in the wheel.

But today the locus of concern is the teaching profession, and in particular the teaching unions, with their avowedly Marxist leanings and their certain intent on social engineering. Let society do the engineering, I say, and relieve the teachers of their assumed duties as the guardians of moral propriety. Teach ABC, not LGBT and let those kids form their own opinions. When they are ready.

So what are we to make of the decision to let teachers determine the future prospects of pupils not by exam results, but by opinion? For – let there be no doubt – no matter what safeguards are in place, no matter what evidence is required, pupils with the right ‘attitudes’ will benefit from appraisal by teachers who know them and approve. This isn’t even corruption; it is normal human behaviour.

One outcome might be that students with the most malleable personalities, those who seek favour, will become the beneficiaries of inflated grades. And if those biddable sheep enter higher education, perhaps persuaded to go into politics, economics, social studies and the like, maybe we will see yet more ideologues wedded to leftist programmes, eventually influencing public policy. Maybe this is what you want?

But before you give it the thumbs up, whatever happened to simple merit? Given that exam grades are a poor predictor of future ability – exam grades are merely the entry requirement to the next stage – why not, instead, look at what employers want? Instead of ramping up qualification requirements – qualifications only poorly correlate with competence anyway – let employees take on whoever they wish but lower the tests for dismissal.

Employers know what they want, but they are hampered by labour laws, burgeoning human rights and the fear of cancel culture should they make the wrong personnel decisions. If the company culture does not easily accommodate diversity, then remove that burden from them. Any decent employer will take on those who best fit their ethos and advance the mission. Let them. And if it doesn’t work out, allow them to fire without fear of reprisal and with minimal financial penalty.

Who cares what exam grades their teachers wish to bestow on them today? How many prominent high-fliers actually boast of low academic achievement? And forget about schooling for individual fulfilment; there is little enough time for the basics, let alone life goals. We expect adults to comprehend difficult issues, to sort the wheat from the chaff and to then make voting decisions based on their analysis and informed preferences.

Education, education, education...

That is the least likely outcome from the right-on, full woke, protest-everything, kiddy-power institutions of academe. Give me the child till seven, said the Jesuits, and I will show you the man. Yes, but give me the child till eighteen and I will fill his head with my ideals, say the educators of today. It is little wonder to me that the western world is currently so riddled with strife and uncertainty; the child lunatics, made mad by their schooling, are running the asylum. This isn’t just about education; this is about the future of democracy.

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