Rishi Sunak is back on his maths obsession, but like so many others he is entirely missing the point, The reason we are so far behind other ‘advanced’ nations is that the political will to point at the whole herds of elephants in the room is absent. And this is by design. Education is still the path to future prosperity, but not for the nation. The way we are going we will soon be world leaders in mediocrity and identity politics.
The HR tails has been firmly wagging the dog for decades now and nobody with the power to hire, to shape the demography of the workforce, believes in merit any more. What matters most is a virtuous blend of the diverse. As long as a corporation can field a team of multicoloured, multicultural, neuro-diverse, gender-fluid incompetents it will be hailed as the pinnacle of human achievement even as it achieves the square root of fuck-all.
For years I have declared that while 20% of UK adults are said to be functionally illiterate, the other third are bad at maths. This used to get a chuckle; now it is met with silence and blank incomprehension… probably because fully half of UK adults have the numeracy of a six-year old, so can’t put two and two together. Rishi Rich wants to address all of this by making maths compulsory in some form until eighteen.
Too late, mate. Back in the bad old days of bricks in the wall at least each school-leaver entered the workforce with a role to play. Now, they don’t want to be bricks but identify instead as decorative planters, as corporate performance art, as influencers, copycatting other influencers in their turn. Children are no different from seventy years ago, they have just had the wrong thoughts put into their heads throughout their lives. Nothing wrong with being a brick – at least those bricks could read a bus timetable and add up their overtime.
Without bricks you just can’t build any walls at all. Only a very few have the talent to lead, to innovate, to design, to plan; the rest of us would be far happier just getting on with our own tasks and leaving the hard stuff to those who can do it. But no, the modern ethos is that you can somehow earn a living by not fitting in at all, and then altering society to look like you. Again, however, a tiny few will do the influencing and the lumpen masses will just follow them… over an economic cliff.
We need doers. We need plumbers and wiremen, builders and road-repairers. We need drivers and waiters and cleaners and shelf-stackers. We need doctors and engineers and scientists and entrepreneurs, too, but we will always need bricklayers if we ever want to build a wall. If you think about it the old bricks ended up being wonderfully diverse, simply by pursuing what they could. The irony is that by pursuing diversity above all we end up with herds of useless, bland, self-declaring morons without a talent between them.