Education, Stimulation, Application……

3 Sep

‘The homogenisation of academia is yet another example of the Authorities to place the next generation into boxes, enabling them to be represented neatly on a spreadsheet.  Intelligence takes many forms; try observing Dolphins.  Unfortunately, if you don’t fit the mould, your genius may go unnoticed……’

Education provides a platform upon which our future industrialists, economists, scientist and entrepreneurs will go on toThe_Thinker_Rodin formulate great theories, build sustainable industries and make important discoveries, but there are some major shortcomings of our current systems from elementary schools all the way up to the entry requirements for universities……

First of all is the seemingly endless interference by the Department for Education (DfE) who, for reasons which evade me, continually meddles with the requirements for attaining qualifications.  Michael Gove MP, the Secretary of State for Education, has made numerous announcements of ‘new’ policies, only to perform a U-turn on them shortly afterwards.

Dimmus Witticus Maximus

Dimmus Witticus Maximus

Amongst the many proposed changes was the introduction of the English Baccalaureate (EBacc), which is a performance indicator linked to GCSEs, not to be confused with the English Baccalaureate Certificate which was a proposed academic qualification to be awarded in Secondary Schools in place of GCSEs.  There was also a proposal to scrap the GCSE system, introduced in 1986 to replace the GCE/CSE system, and return to ‘O’ Level and CSE qualifications.  There was also talk of re-labelling the results of the current GCSEs.  Gove performed U-turns on all of these proposals but did, however, announce a new ‘National Curriculum’ for the UK, with the exception of Scotland.  The only problem with Gove’s ‘National Curriculum’ is that it only applies to State run Comprehensives.  Academies, Free Schools, Private Schools, Faith Schools and schools in Scotland are not required to teach it.  This means less than one quarter of schools will be required to teach Mr. Gove’s ‘National Curriculum’……

In my own experience of Comprehensive education, completed just before the change to GCSEs, not only did I not know what I wanted to do when I left but, the subjects being taught seemed to hold no ‘real world’ applications.  When would I ever need to use Calculus or Trigonometry?  What use was German or French going to be as I had no intentions of working in either motherland or their territories?  I had an interest in physics and the mathematics came in useful for that but I had no plans to become a scientist.  I was one of the many who simply lost interest; partly due to the benign nature of the subjects and partly because they were never taught with any ‘real world’ applications and enthusiasm from the tutor that might have triggered my imagination……

It is 30 years since I sat in a classroom and cannot vouch for the way in which subjects are taught today, but if it is anything like my experience I’m sure just as many kids loose interest and become the NEETs of tomorrow.  My niece goes to an academy school and from the very first day the focus appears to have been on getting to university (there are the obligatory letters asking for donations toward projects they are working on; purely voluntary but do you want your kid to be the only one who has to hand in the ‘opt-out’ form?)  I’m sure a lot of kids want to go to university, but others don’t, and it is they who are allowed to fall through the net.  It is not through a lack of talent.  Many could be the next James Dyson or Richard Branson but all that matters to the school is the league tables that future parents will use to get their cherubs into the ‘best’ schools.

The reality of the academy systems is that they are a commercial enterprise and, just like any of the other commercialised public services it is money, and not well adjusted young adults with a feeling of self worth and accomplishment, that drives them.  If it was up to me there would be only one state run education system for all children, thereby abolishing the league tables.  It is not a coincidence that half of the Cabinet and a large majority of top Civil Servants just happen to have been educated at Eton and ‘chums’ with the PM……

Since deciding that the system had nothing to offer me I have developed an interest in physics; from the grandeur of Cosmology to the strange microscopic world of the Quantum.  I have read many text books, scientific papers and watched documentaries about the subject and, yes, some of that boring old Calculus and Trigonometry has eventually come in useful but at the age of 43 I am unlikely to achieve a Doctorate in the subject.  Perhaps, had it been taught with a little enthusiasm, instead of the ‘copy this down from the black-board’ method, I might have been the scientist that I feel it is now too late for me to be?

Of course, not all of the blame can be placed at the teachers’ doors.  It must have been hard enough back then when a well established curriculum existed.  It must be even harder now for teachers whose jobs are on the line if their department doesn’t feature high up in the league tables and, made harder still by an incompetent Minister who operates under Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle……

Genius comes in many guises not always labelled A thru E or 1 thru 5.  One wonders what marks would have been attained by Copernicus, Galileo or Euclid……?

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