15.02.08, Culture Classes.

If I were a schoolteacher I think I would pack it in, buy a rucksack and go walkabout. It is incredible that we have two members of Parliament, called secretaries, to deliver one message from the Cabinet, the culture Secretary, Andy Burnham, and the school’s secretary, Ed Balls, telling schoolteachers and the parents that the children today are insufficiently cultured and need the equivalent of more than one days teaching added to the curriculum per week for the appreciation of the arts, sport and suchlike. A quotation from the New Testament, ‘ God, forgive them for they know not what they do.’ do they really believe that teachers, without going on another course, spending hours mugging up, can deliver an interesting, light-hearted exposition on the merits of a collection of pictures in a local museum or art gallery that is going to teach young children anything about Art? In the list that was featured by the MP when he gave his explanation. It is no wonder the educational system is in the chaos it is.? Think of the time that will be wasted on gathering the children together, taking them to an art gallery, or whatever, and returning

Our schools are struggling, structurally falling apart, through lack of funds, they have sold off the playing fields, for the same reason. They have added additional classes for those not reaching the standards in the three Rs, and I recently discovered that my great-grandchildren, aged eight and 10, had to sit three hour entrance examinations, to obtain a place in the school of their choice. Neither the parents nor the children in this case,are moaners, all their lives they have knuckled down, to do the best they can, and have as wide a range of interests as possible. However, having to sit these incredible exams at that age, and having tuition in order to be sure of passing, says something about the educational system.

In the 30s, in elementary school, we had, I think, two periods a week devoted to painting and messing about with plasticine, we did physical jerks, and we went swimming, and nobody grumbled about the quality of the education, and most of us were reasonably well educated, enough to hold down a job at 14, pass an entrance exam at 11 to get into a secondary school, and while there was an element among the parents of being selective in the choice of the school, the weight of it didn’t fall on the shoulders of the children. Coming up to the 11 plus, there were certainly tantrums and weeping, when it came to mathematical problems in homework, but nothing like the pressures of today, nor the constant tinkering with the system. We did music, three or four classes coupled together, singing traditional songs, and I remember at least two Christmases where I acted in plays which we put on for the parents. This was an ordinary LCC primary school, open to everyone and approved of by everyone. We had a couple of pretty desperate teachers, but the majority were interesting and interested.

Some will say I am an old idiot living in the past, but the old saying ‘if it ain’t broke don’t fix it’ should have been drilled into the politicians many years ago, and the kids coming up now would have the same qualities of education that we had, instead of this repetitious mishmash that clearly doesn’t work, is making the better teachers leave the profession and go and do something else, or never join it in the first place, and I believe money by the shed full is being thrown down the drain for no valid return.

Categorized as General

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