Wednesday, 22 June 2011

The Sad Decline of Britain's Educational Standards

Lots of politicians, especially Tories, are wandering around telling any newspaper and TV show they can find that British children are the least-educated in the world, and that only privatised, Victorian-style schools can arrest the decline.

Take the case of this product of British education:
“What [students] need is a rooting in the basic scientific principles, Newton’s laws of thermodynamics and Boyle’s law.”
“My daughter does toys through the ages, then she does the Vikings, then the Greeks; and she gets confused.”
Poor Michael. Newton, of course, didn't come up with a law of thermodynamics. Even with my arts education I know that. He was interested in gravity and motion (and alchemy). Kelvin came up with some of the laws of thermodynamics. Meanwhile, the Greeks definitely came before the Vikings, and they're not really comparable: the Greeks are a cultural/national group, whereas the Vikings were military units of various Scandinavian national groups.

So why have I highlighted young Michael's education shortcomings? Isn't it cruel? Well, it's because - despite the obvious blind spots in his schooling - Michael's risen to be the Secretary of State for Education, and really do better, especially when lecturing the rest of us. It must have all gone wrong for him when he left his state school for the posh Robert Gordon's College and then Oxford University. Stick with the State, Mikey!

Perhaps he's a perfect example of the situation he explained to Parliament thus:
"In effect, rich thick kids do better than poor clever children when they arrive at school [and] the situation as they go through gets worse"

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