Saturday, 16 July 2011

Educational Priorities

There are many things that should be compulsory in our schools; educating our children, for me, is the first. Back in 1997, a failed rock star became Prime Minister of the UK. Early in his tenure of office he famously invoked the mantra of 'Education, education, education' when setting out his priorities. Actually, as a failed rock star what he meant to say was 'Testing, testing, testing'.

Because, for the past thirty-some years our kids are not being educated they are being groomed to pass tests. Monkeys and lab rats can pass tests given the enough prompting and stimulus. All too often children are forced to cram for tests; the knowledge they pick up this way, unless utilised, becomes learning fodder. It is learned for the short-term gain of a test pass, and then it disposed of.

Unless what we learn is put into practical use it becomes, for the large part, useless. Learning to cook in schools is, sadly, probably one of those subjects that would prove pointless unless the student had an opportunity to go away and put it into practice.

From the age of 16 to some time in my mid-thirties I barely wrote anything. Postcards, forms, and crosswords were the only time I held and used a pen. In that time I forgot the rules of English, the written, and to some degree the spoken language. This occurred because I left the tools of language locked away and they rusted. This would have been the same with cooking, except it would appear I needed cooking more than the rules of grammar.

What we should be calling for in this country is a complete overhaul of the education system. Our education system is predicated on academia. Everything is driven towards university. Yet, not all children are academically inclined, or interested. What is wrong with having vocational education? Trades people don't necessarily need to be educated to degree level; chefs, carpenters, plumbers, electricians, etc benefit more from a vocational style education.

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