Friday, 13 September 2013
"Give me the child..."
It has been a charge levelled at graduates for as long as I can remember, that they turn up with all the gear but no idea, lacking what was once considered a pre-requisite for a useful working life – common sense. Long considered to reside in those with less lofty aspirations, the ability to sort the wheat from the chaff and get down to business is nothing more than habits acquired by experience to cut the crap and get on with the job. Given that child-centred education has for so many years mitigated against anybody taking personal responsibility for anything at all it’s little wonder that, once again, employers are bemoaning the quality of graduates, even as the so-called experts are tinkering around with what they collectively call ‘life skills’ and we used to call simply ‘living’.
There is no future in just doing a good job any more, it seems. No wonder bright youngsters are drawn to nebulous ‘consultancy’ jobs where instead of getting their hands dirty they can simply tell others from the safety of a remote desk how they should get their hands dirty. Instead of toting dat barge they can charge far more for spending their hours locked away in ivory towers drafting learned reports on how the colour of dat barge can synergise more intuitive outcomes and enhance life chances. Meanwhile dat barge remains untoted.
With unwavering certainty and against the evidence of experience and yes, common sense, the expert tells us mere mortals that diversity improves everybody’s lives, that the solution to overspending on welfare is to spend more on welfare and that important ‘life skills’ can be taught by ideology-stuffed young teachers who have yet to leave school themselves. Wielding teetering stacks of research papers, drafted in isolation and with no input from their subjects the theorists banish common sense to the status of misinformed, knee-jerk and counter-productive reaction.
And worse, those elected to lead us, lacking any coal face experience themselves, actually listen to these self-proclaimed, self-obsessed experts and simply zone out the rising hubbub of those who will have to live in their brave new world. In response to the common sense voices from the shop floor the experts hold their unstable high ground and sneeringly tell us that common sense is too simplistic, outmoded and represents a bigoted point of view. The future is bright, the future is expert and all the narrow-minded ‘common-sensers’ are no better than, humanophobic Luddites.
It doesn’t even matter that in the long term almost every ‘expert’ proclamation on social engineering is eventually proved wrong – sod common sense, let’s try it anyway - after all, it’s just another generation fucked over and there’s always be another one to experiment on.
Which brings me on to a current expert theory about early years education. Not content with simply not bothering to teach pupils the boring basics of reading, ‘riting and ‘rtihmetic the edu-alchemists are now saying we shouldn’t even start not-educating them until age seven. As Toby Young argues in his excellent article, this is driven by the usual Marxist meddlers and will produce a new generation of illiterates the like of which would have Victorian schoolteachers burning their mortar boards.
Toby’s argument (and you should read it in full) is so obviously correct that it will have lefties spitting into their frothy mocha-choco-lattés at the indignity and the effrontery of the bigoted bloody common-sensers and their damnedly un-nuanced reduction of a complex problem to a clumsy cause and effect analysis, which may have made the Victorians into the most advanced nation on the planet but will be inadequate in our glittering multi-faceted bright orange future… where many kids will nevertheless still leave school unable to read.
But for what possible purpose can those on the left want to turn out yet another batch of entitlement-obsessed, unemployable welfare fodder? Why would they even dare to propose more of the sort of social changes that have reduced a once effective, if not entirely satisfied society to one where even fewer have a chance of getting on? Why would they as they so caringly put it, rub our noses in it? For our benefit? Really? Whatever their deluded common purpose – and it’s by no means certain what that purpose really is - it defies common sense.