Wednesday, 24 September 2014

The Search for a New Alcuin

In all the wealthier countries of the world children are forced to spend much of their childhood in circumstances of semi-imprisonment and hard labour under the nominal charge, command and control of people appointed by the government for the purpose. Most children would change some aspects of this experience, and many would, at some point, prefer to stop experiencing it at all. This is generally accepted as a good thing, presumably because people don't think about it very much, and in any case, it has always been that way. As soon as you compare the price paid by children with the benefit they gain from it, you should realize that sacrificing 10-12 years of their youth in order to learn to read and write and add up, and acquire a rudimentary knowledge of some aspects of the world, which is all that most do get out of their education, is absurd. Further compare this with the reasons given by governments for forcing children to do this, and the promises they make about the benefits, and you will see that these things do not match. There is a serious problem then, which I have been observing from within for many years. Children waste their childhood for empty promises backed by force against them and their parents. This is a stark way of putting it, but it is true. The idea of this blog is to present and discuss some of my ideas about the purpose of education, the problems that currently exist with it , and how they might be solved. It's going to be messy, I warn you now. I don't have the time I would need or want to construct the argument from scratch in a coherent way. In fact one of the reasons I have started this blog is to use it to put it al together and turn it into a book, which I don't seem able to do any other way. It may never happen. There will be repetition, jumping from place to place, incoherence, randomly interploated posts about hedgehogs and my rural wanderings, possible also about cricket, football and baseball, and 1970 sitcoms. I do not know everything and I am not always right. I hope that a conversation might develop around the blog, and between us we can work out what is wrong, and come up with practical solutions that might stand some chance of being accepted by those who decide these things. It doesn't matter how right you are if no one's listening.


Vincent said...

As one both ignorant and opinionated in this arena, I greatly look forward to the development and exposition of your ideas.

My starting point in this matter is to accept as a good thing precisely those aspects which you clearly deplore. I don't quite know why I am prejudiced in this way, but I feel myself fortunate to have received a private education, partly as a boarder, according to the English system which still ruled intact in the Forties and Fifties. It was harsh and I was miserable some of the time, but . . . I have developed a retrospective prejudice in its favour.

And it did teach me about Alcuin.

Olé! Let toro and torero enter the arena. I hope to remain an excited but well-behaved member of the audience.

The Hickory Wind said...

My experience of education from within has given me strong opinions, hardened and sharpened them over the years, and doubtless obscured many things which should have helped to shape them better. I don't want to do politics, the subject is too important for that, but many factors contribute to the views I have evolved, some I hold very strongly, and there may be much that I'm missing, which is why I welcome heckling, critique and challenges in general, in the hope of adding some polish and focus to my understanding of the problems and their solutions.

Incidentally, as I shall make clear in a post as soon as possible, this is about state education. Private education generally has different motivations and ends, and is in any case a matter of choice, of negotiation between parents and schools. In the state sector you have to accept what you are given, and it isn't as good as it could be.

Let the lidia commence.