There seems to be so much controversy today concerning education, with constant changes in how schools and examinations are run, that I decided to put my own view point.. Education comes in many forms if the school is doing its job. The children will be taught to think for themselves, to research, to know where to research, find their weaknesses and their strengths, learn to work as an individual and as part of a team, and at the end of the day make a reasonable stab for what they would be best at in later life. As one who had lost two whole years of education at the age of eight, and forever thought he was stupid, I realise just how much responsibility is placed on the shoulders of the teachers, as they, possibly more than the parents, mould the child and his or her psyche. Some teachers I have come across have such an ego that the child is only secondary to it and the laughter they can generate in the rest of the class with snide remarks, and others have wisdom and compassion that help a lot of lame dogs over stiles.
A university education has become a status symbol, like a fast car or a fancy pair of trainers. If you can’t drive, it is not much point in having a swanky car. In the same way if you can’t complete your course, because the quality of your education at the outset was not strong enough to carry it forward, you should never have been there in the first place, and to remedy this they are now having an additional exam. The wastage is exorbitant. In my close family as a boy, I only had one relative who had been to university, and it wasn’t until I matriculated that i even thought that the university was on the horizon. As it was, with the war and becoming articled as a surveyor, a routine route to the professions in those days, the university was a non-starter I was also given an opportunity to be a trainee with Unilever to learn advertising. Prior to 1946 few people even expected to go to university, irrespective of their ability, and it was often a school teacher who told the parents of the child, she or he would be wasted without further education. In many of these cases, these same children were sent to factories, shops and other employment, because the family needed the income. In my engineering experience I generally found that the Foreman, and especially the General Foreman had as much or more knowledge of the site work than many of the engineers who had been to university. So university education is not a guarantee of excellence.
Today, teachers of the old school, of which my Sophie is one, will tell you repeatedly that without good grammar, and a good grounding in mathematics, access to university will get you nowhere, and the problem is that the schools no longer teach grammar in the way they did, nor mathematics. When shop-girls, educated to at least 16, can’t add the cost of two products without using a calculator, it is fair to say that the educational system has collapsed. When people speak on television, and I’m not excluding councillors, politicians and other people in high places, their grammar is often appalling. It is as if inverse snobbery has placed us all in a position with thick regional accents, bad language, and ignorance as an acceptable condition. However, if they don’t teach grammar, how can they expect their students to be able to write coherently, and lucidly, and learn foreign languages which are essential today with our multiracial society. It is bad enough that many of our call centres are overseas in countries where the people may speak English, but their regional accent is such that they are almost incoherent to the average Brit. Is it not therefore worse that our own people are in a similar state?