Thursday, August 27, 2015


Look at the first five minutes of this (thanks so much, JD) (for the impatient, from c. 3:30 on):

Mother told by her father to sacrifice everything for a good education for her children... 1944 Education Act... grammar school... competitive ethos... grant to go to University... free public access to museums and art galleries...

Sir Roy Strong - son of a commercial traveller... Sir Peter Hall - son of a railway station master...


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A K Haart said...

I can't see a link.

Sackerson said...

Oops! Now done.

What silly s** hit "dislike" - what's there to dislike in those few words? A comment would clarify.

A K Haart said...

Grammar schools were something we could all aspire to. Take them away and the goal has gone too, so where does that leave the aspiration?

I suppose the silly s** problem is a problem with the tick box. Unlike approval it isn't much use without a comment.

hatfield girl said...

The view that instruction and education can be geared objectively to capacity to use it is very widespread and powerful (a lot of us who were on the advantageous receiving end of this, like Strong and many later students until the seventies, tended to end up with the means to support the view). There are so many considerations and values and external necessities involved that it's not correct though. You would know this better than most S.

I would argue that the only criterion to use is individual realisation of potential. For this end we should be allocating as much of our resources as we can to educating; not just the young but all of us, all the time.

Another factor that undermines this 'Strong' view of education is that it's false to believe that it all started post 1944. Certainly our parents and grandparents were well-schooled and intellectually competent although there were very few universities, and access to professional training was restricted. There were, instead, extensive socially-provided (both by charity and municipalities and by various organisations) access routes to knowledge and understanding. The collapse of these networks is the bitter fruit of their crowding-out by a state-provided 'education' system in the name of 'fairness', and squarely the responsibility of the false Left, not of the right.

The closing of the grammar schools is as nothing to the closing of the libraries, working people's educational associations, municipal provision of cultural organisations and the closing of musical education to most children. There are lots of other 'closings' - sports facilities, access to arts, crafts (who studies sewing and embroidery at a state school within their curriculum?) even simple access to open spaces (look at any city park, clogged with thousands of people).

It's not the grammar schools that were closed but an idea of society that was destroyed.

Sackerson said...

HG, a hearty welcome back!

I certainly don't mean that others should not be educated!

But I do have some concerns about what I've seen in modern education:

1. A focus on bringing up laggers to the average, to some extent ignoring the top end on the false assumption that they'll do OK anyway. There was briefly some notice given to this and for a while schools were also encouraged to make a "G&T" (gifted and talented) list and stretch them; don't see much of it now.

2. Attention limited to teaching what is required and what can be tested and how it will be tested, so that all will bark successfully at the right command. Strong tells us how his teacher would direct him to art exhibitions - nothing to do with the wretched National Curriculum.

3. Politicisation of Ofsted, so that they are being used as icebreakers to turn schools into "academies" (i.e. proto-privatisation).

4. The use of schools to transmit politician-originated "values". As you say, the State had crowded out other, different providers. This recent spat is quite illuminating: - and at the same time there has been an airbrushing-out of British history and culture, of which an essential strand is the Christian religion (no, I'm not a Bible-thumper, but clearly there has been an agenda and it was fostered not just under the Labour Party).

5. Teachers sneered at, vilified and blamed, with moments of praise when it suits leaders to tell the public how much *they* have achieved.

6. Teachers marked down by Ofsted for failure to teach in a universally pleasing and constantly entertaining way, rather than children expected to do the job of learning. That recent programme in which Chinese teachers came to a British school should be an eye-opener.

7. Students crippled with loans for college years, so that either they will defer house purchase, family starts etc or there will be massively expensive defaults - this is becoming a worry for the US banking system I understand.

8. The use of "education" to disguise structural unemployment.

We need an elite based on merit and talent, not Tim Nice-But-Dims from rather well-off families, going to private schools (or State ones with a very select catchment area) bred in the expectation that it will all be theirs someday - like the current Eton mess ruling us.

I agree entirely with your last comment. We have lost the sense of one nation even as we have to listen to preaching about community and values (from people who look at us as zookeepers look at koalas - "it's what they go for".) It's not what my father fought for.

Was it Attlee who, when asked why middle class people should vote Labour, said "Because it's the right thing to do"?

hatfield girl said...

Transgenerational epigenetic inheritance (if it is as hypothesized by some researchers) really puts the cat among the pigeons for a lot of cultural and educational theory too.

Paddington said...

As Sackerson knows, I went to a grammar school, and a selective mathematical school. The results of that selection were a decent competitive spirit, which didn't have to be fostered.

By contrast, I see what happens to most of the better students here in the US. They are allowed to drift through, to the point that they arrive at university with insufficient work habits. In short, they fail.

Selective education is cruel and hard work. The non-selective system here has students believing that they 'can do anything', only to spend year after year in futile pursuit of a hopeless dream. At least the selective system didn't impoverish people.

Sackerson said...

HG: could you elucidate/expatiate, please?

Paddington: So non-selective education is crueller and harder, in the long run.